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` Time to stop destroying the `Great Barrier Reef ‘ by eradicating the `Throwaway Society’ we all Live ‘


#AceEnvironmentNews says that time is running out for Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef, with climate change set to wreck irreversible damage by 2030 unless immediate action is taken, marine scientists said Thursday.

In a report prepared for this month’s Earth Hour global climate change campaign, University of Queensland reef researcher Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said the world heritage site was at a turning point.

“If we don’t increase our commitment to solve the burgeoning stress from local and global sources, the reef will disappear,” he wrote in the foreword to the report.

“This is not a hunch or alarmist rhetoric by green activists. It is the conclusion of the world’s most qualified coral reef experts.”

Hoegh-Guldberg said scientific consensus was that hikes in carbon dioxide and the average global temperature were “almost certain to destroy the coral communities of the Great Barrier Reef for hundreds if not thousands of years”.

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#Peru : ” Mysterious Death’s of Dolphin’s in Peru Cause Still Not Known”


#AceEnvironmentNews says `Over 400 Dead Dolphins Found in Peru in January’

- Tursiops truncatus A dolphin surfs the wake ...

– Tursiops truncatus A dolphin surfs the wake of a research boat on the – near the . Français : Un Grand dauphin (Tursiops truncatus) surfe dans le sillage d’un bateau de recherche sur la Banana river, près du Centre spatial Kennedy. Magyar: Palackorrú delfin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the report in Press TV the Peruvian officials say more than 400 dead dolphins were found last month on the Pacific Ocean beaches on the northern coast.

Jaime de la Cruz, a technician from Peru’s IMARPE marine life agency, said Monday that the dead dolphins were found at various times in January.

The latest discovery took place in the last week of January, when some 220 dead dolphins were found in the Lambayeque region on the northern coast.

Officials have begun performing autopsies on the latest dolphin deaths, focusing on lungs, kidneys and livers. De la Cruz said the results were expected in two weeks.

The latest dolphin deaths were discovered in the same area where more than 870 dolphins were encountered in 2012.

Peruvian authorities never established the cause of the 2012 deaths, as results of autopsies were inconclusive.

Speculations have ranged from bio-toxins in the sea to seismic testing to an unknown ailment.

Yuri Hooker, director of the marine biology unit at Cayetano Heredia University, said determining the cause is “complicated” in Peru since government laboratories lack a wide range of chemical reagents used to determine the dolphin’s death.

According to Hooker, the Peruvian government laboratories only have three or four of the world’s 100 or so chemical reagents.

Hooker also said dolphin deaths in other parts of the world are usually caused by environmental contamination, when they eat fish or other smaller species filled with toxins. Another cause for dolphins to die is ingestion of discarded plastic floating in the sea.

 

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#Australia : `Great Barrier Reef’ Under Threat as `Big Business’ Gets Go-Ahead’ from UNESCO”


#AceEnviromentNews says Great Barrier Reef to get backyard mud dump after coal port expansion.

Published time: January 31, 2014 07:41

 Great Barrier Reef

A tourist swims on the Great Barrier Reef in this undated file picture. (Reuters / Great Barrier Reef National Park Authority)

Vast quantities dredged sand and mud will be dumped right by Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef to create a multi-billion-dollar coal port – the world’s biggest. The authority watching over the UNESCO World Heritage site just gave the green light.

What the dumping permit awarded by The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority does is allow two Indian firms and an Australian billionaire miner Gina Rinehart to expand the country’s port of Abbot Point in order to tap into the coal-rich inland Galilee Basin.

The companies and Rinehart have a collective $16 billion in coal projects waiting to be started, Reuters explains. The two terminals planned by Adani Enterprises and the joint GVK-Hancock venture between India’s GVK group and Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, wish to export 120 million tons of coal a year together.

UNESCO had declared the place a World Heritage site in 1981. It supports a fantastic array of marine species and plant life. The Great Barrier Reef is nearly the size of the US state of Montana, covering an area of some 350,000 square kilometers. Over 2,000 different fish species exist there, with new ones being discovered each year; while coral species number a huge 4,000 species.

Environmentalists, scientists, tour operators and many others had fought the plan on the premise that ship traffic around the fragile corals and seagrass will double. After all, the beauty of the landmark is already quickly fading due to rising water temperatures and changing ecological conditions.

A collective letter was sent to the chairman of the independent watchdog authority, Russell Reichart, explaining that “the best available science makes it very clear that expansion of the port at Abbot Point will have detrimental effects on the Great Barrier Reef. Sediment from dredging can smother corals and seagrasses and expose them to poisons and elevated nutrients.”

Greenpeace joined the chorus, saying that the dump will become an“international embarrassment,” adding that going ahead with the project is tantamount to dumping garbage onto Vatican City or into the Grand Canyon and other sites of cultural importance.

But even UNESCO itself, in consultation with the Australian government, has decided to hold off on its decision to classify the place as “in danger”, or alter its heritage status in any way until June 2014. It says it is waiting for the government to submit a report on how it plans to address all the environmental concerns.

Reichart said in response to all the concerns that Abbot Point’s expansion will mean less dredging than expanding other ports. The chairman told reporters in a statement that “it’s important to note the seafloor of the approved disposal area consists of sand, silt and clay and does not contain coral reefs or seagrass beds.”

A reef shark swims past as Sydney Aquarium divers unveil a Greenpeace banner urging UNESCO to save the Great Barrier Reef (AFP Photo / Greg Wood)

A reef shark swims past as Sydney Aquarium divers unveil a Greenpeace banner urging UNESCO to save the Great Barrier Reef (AFP Photo / Greg Wood)

The authority did impose strict guidelines on the dumping. They dictate that no damage is to be done to areas beyond 20km from the disposal site.

Many, however, believe that the idea of having guidance is very dubious, given the lessons of history, including sediment leakage at other sites. Jon Brodie, a senior researcher at James Cook university added in an interview to ABC News Online that the three million cubic meters of sludge, mud and sands will have a dangerously cumulative effect on the surrounding areas as well, setting a precedent for harmful developments along the Queensland coast.

In reference to similar projects along the Great Barrier Reef coast, he added that the initiative “will add to the destruction of a system that is already going downhill badly.”

When the projects will kick off is yet to be decided. The fluctuating prices of coal and China’s attempts to stabilize its smog situation by curtailing its reliance on coal energy have put a dent in Adani and GVK-Hancock’s plans.

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” Americans Global Warming Beliefs and Attitudes”


#AceEnvironmentNews says this was sent to my news-desk today and is really worth reading and  you can download the report at the bottom of the post.

climatechange-report-cvr1-nov13_copyWe are releasing the first report from our latest national survey. In Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs and Attitudes in November 2013, we report that there has been an increase in the proportion of Americans who believe global warming is not happening (23%, up 7 percentage points since April 2013). The proportion of Americans who say they “don’t know” whether or not global warming is happening has dropped 6 points – from 20% to 14% – since spring of 2013. Finally, a majority of Americans (63%) believe global warming is happening, a number that has been consistent since spring 2013.

Other findings:

  • Nearly half of Americans (47%) believe global warming – if it is happening – is caused mostly by human activities, while 37% believe that global warming is due mostly to natural changes in the environment.
  • More Americans believe that most scientists think global warming is happening than believe there is a lot of disagreement among scientists (42% versus 33% respectively). However, few Americans (22%) correctly estimate that more than 80% of climate scientists think global warming is happening (in reality, more than 97% of climate scientists agree).
  • About half of Americans (53%) say they are “somewhat” (38%) or “very worried” (15%) about global warming.
  • Asked how strongly they feel specific emotions when thinking about global warming, a majority says they are strongly or moderately interested in the subject (59%).
  • Fewer than half strongly or moderately feel any of the other emotions asked about, and relatively few say they feel angry (35%), afraid (35%), guilty (26%), or depressed (24%) when thinking about global warming.
  • Global warming evokes the strongest emotional responses among the Alarmed and Concerned. Large majorities within both groups say they feel “moderately” or “very” interested in global warming (96% and 81% respectively).
  • Majorities of the Alarmed report that they feel afraid (85%), sad (81%), angry(79%), and disgusted (76%), while the Concerned feel primarily helpless (61%),sad (59%), and disgusted (56%), but also hopeful (56%).
  • The Dismissive also report negative emotions regarding global warming, including disgusted (30%) and angry (24%), though this is likely due to their frustration that the topic – which many of them view as a hoax – receives so much attention.

The report includes an Executive Summary and reports trends in key indicators over the past several years. It can be downloaded here:

Climate Change in the American Mind: Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs and Attitudes in November 2013 

 

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#Fracking Causing Environmental Damage “But It Is Our Children’s Health That Will Really Suffer” in the End


#AceEnvironmentNews says latest news about #fracking is intensifying as more evidence comes to light, not just about damage to our environment and people are starting to want answers.

Question is do we want  cheap energy at the cost of our health?

English: Mind map showing a Summary of Growth ...

English: Mind map showing a Summary of Growth Hormone Physiology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This recent report from University of Missouri and U.S. Geological Survey researchers suggested that fracking may be responsible for elevated levels of hormonedisrupting chemicals found in some water.

University of Missouri System

University of Missouri System (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The release of this report was followed by a rash of fear-mongering headlines like “Sex-change chemicals linked to fracking” (The Telegraph) and “Fracking chemicals could cause infertility, cancer and birth defects” (ABC 7 News).

But such coverage steamroll over many of the study’s crucial complexities.

In fact, there’s no evidence that exposure to fracking chemicals will change your sex or disrupt your sexual function or cause infertility, cancer, or birth defects.

The new study these stories were based on was published Dec. 16 in the journal Endocrinology. While it did find higher levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in water collected near the sites of fracking accidents, understanding what that means and whether you should be concerned requires a more nuanced understanding of both EDCs and fracking.

Endocrine disruptors: the basics

EDCs are substances that have the potential to affect the behavior of hormones like estrogen and insulin, and research in animals and in the lab suggest they may have a role in infertility, cancers, even obesity and diabetes. Fetuses, babies, and young children may be especially vulnerable. Some scientists also suspect that EDCs may have an effect on sexual development, though evidence of these effects in human populations is scant.

Researchers run into a big problem though when they try to link the presence of EDCs to illness: Such chemicals are known to be widespread in the environment and come from many different sources.

They’ve been in drinking water for more than a decade and are also in the air, our food, cosmetics, pesticides, and countless man-made materials, most famously in the common chemical BPA, which is found in many plastics, on store receipts, and in the lining of cans of food and soda. Even naturally occurring substances like some found in soy can disrupt the endocrine system.

The term EDC just stands for a general class of chemical: those that have the potential to interfere with our hormone-regulating (endocrine) system. They can mimic, block, or cause over- or under-production of certain hormones. But different chemicals will have different effects, which will vary by species, gender, age, and amount of exposure.

Crucially, the presence of an endocrine disruptor does not mean that it is doing damage, and  little agreement about the levels at which EDCs may be safe in humans. One recent roundup of the research in Endocrine Reviews suggested that traditional methods for assessing chemical safety might not be applicable to EDCs.

Hormone feedback cycles

Hormone feedback cycles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On one hand, the Endocrine Society, an international professional group of hormone researchers and practicing endocrinologists, released a statement on EDCs last year concluding that, especially in fetuses and newborns, “very low-dose EDC exposures [could] have potent and irreversible effects.”

On the other, in a comprehensive report on endocrine disruptors, the European Food Safety Authority emphasizes that “for most toxic processes, it is generally assumed that there is a threshold of exposure below which no biologically significant effect will be induced.” And substances may have physiological effects on the endocrine system, the report notes, without provoking any adverse consequences.

In sum, the potential dangers of environmental EDCs are very complex. As the EPA notes in a primer on endocrine disruptors, “the relationship of human diseases of the endocrine system and exposure to environmental contaminants is poorly understood and scientifically controversial.”

The fracking question

Fracking, Cabot OilWhat does this have to do with natural gas? Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly called “fracking,” is a process that shoots a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals deep into the ground to extract natural gas.

These chemicals are somewhat mysterious, and for years there have been anecdotal reports of miscarriages, headaches, nausea, tumors, and other health problems that sufferers attribute to fracking, but there is precious little data.

Some conclude most evidence suggests fracking is safe; others argue that we shouldn’t be guinea pigs.

The Endocrinology study researchers wanted to see if they could offer more clues about fracking chemicals by finding out whether there were increased levels of EDCs in areas near fracking sites and spills.

The exact mixture injected into wells is kept secret by fracking companies, but an investigation by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce identified 750 of the chemicals used, which ranged from “harmless” (salt, citric acid), to “unexpected” (instant coffee), to “extremely toxic” (benzene, lead). The most widely used chemical was methanol, a toxic air pollutant

Just because a chemical is used during the fracking process does not mean that it leaches into the water or the air. The potential of such contamination is a reasonable fear, noted in the House report — it’s even a documented problem — but it’s not a certainty. While a preliminary Department of Energy analysis has yet to determine that fracking-related contamination is a problem, much more research is needed.

One small study of a Colorado town associated #fracking with higher levels of toxic chemicals like benzene in the air. Another study in Pennsylvania suggested that home-owners living less than 1 kilometer from fracking sites are more likely to have drinking water that’s been contaminated by stray gases.

But even if toxic chemicals are detected, they might not reach levels high enough to harm humans. As NPR detailed in its 2012 series on fracking, “the mere presence of a chemical isn’t enough to show it caused a symptom.”

Are fracking chemicals messing with your hormones?

In short: We really don’t know, and anyone who claims to know for sure — either way — may have an agenda.

Theo Colborn, an anti-fracking activist and zoologist who pioneered research into endocrine disruption, published a recent study for which she sampled the air quality of a fracking-dense Colorado county and detected 30 suspected endocrine disruptors. But the design of that study meant that while it insinuated that fracking was the source of the EDCs, it could not actually prove any relationship between the chemicals and nearby fracking sites.

The new Endocrinology study also did not prove that fracking causes EDC contamination. But the researchers did find a strong association between fracking-dense areas and water with higher levels of EDCs.

To show this, they purchased twelve suspected EDCs known to be used in #fracking operations and ran a cell culture test to measure whether each chemical would either mimic or block the behavior of certain hormones. They confirmed that — in cells in the lab — all but one had some effect on estrogen or androgens like testosterone, which proved that they were indeed EDCs but not that they were harmful (or safe) to humans. These tests gave the researchers a blueprint of what kind of activity they were looking for in the fracking sites.

Then the researchers collected water samples from several sites in Garfield County, Colo., where fracking is widespread and a fracking accident had occurred in the past six years. (These can include things like fracking fluids spilling into a creek or a fracking wastewater tank leaking.) They also collected water samples from the Colorado River, where runoff from the region collects.

As a control, they collected water from sites in Garfield County where drilling was sparse and in (unfortunately faraway) Boone County, Mo., where drilling was absent.

Back in the lab, they didn’t identify any specific chemicals in the water, but they used the same cell culture test to measure the overall endocrine activity of the water samples. Eighty-nine percent of the samples — including the controls — showed at least some effect on hormone production, but the levels of activity varied widely, and endocrine activity was elevated across the board in the water from fracking-dense regions.

Anti-androgenic activity, which suppresses the functions of hormones like testosterone and was an observed effect of some of the tested fracking chemicals, was detected in samples from all but one of the fracking sites and none of the control sites. (The researchers suggest that the one fracked site without such activity may have been different because the fracking accident there involved chemicals spilling into a creek, perhaps carrying them away more quickly.)

Still, the study did not examine the health effects of fracking on humans directly. It did not investigate whether non-spill sites also contain elevated levels of EDCs. And sampling water from regions in two different states, from counties with very different population densities, may have confounded the results somewhat — although since the Missouri control county is more urban, EDCs from wastewater contamination and other sources may have actually been higher there than in a comparable rural region.

Unquestionably, this is the beginning of research into fracking and EDCs, not an open-and-shut conclusion.

“It is the first tiny little study in what needs to be a wealth of research attention focused on this issue,” study author Susan Nagel, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri School of Medicine at Columbia, Mo., told Business Insider.

Says who?

So how did this study come to be?

It was a collaboration between an endocrinologist, a research toxicologist, a bio-statistician, and others. The authors, some of whom have a longstanding research interest in EDCs in the environment, suspected that fracking might be yet another a source of these increasingly ubiquitous chemicals.

The lead author, Christopher Kassotis, is a graduate student in biology funded in part by a $126,000 EPA grant “to determine the relationship between various hormonal activities in natural sources of water with hydraulic fracturing processes.” The results aim to “increase understanding of the potential hazards associated with hydraulic fracturing and provide a basis for regulatory agencies to develop science-based standards of safety and containment of waste from hydraulic fracturing processes.”

Key funding for the study was also provided by the Passport Foundation’s Science Innovation Fund, designed to provide support for projects “advancing the environmental health science needed to promulgate effective chemicals regulation [and] public health policies.” (Passport Foundation, the now-defunct philanthropy arm of Passport Capital, also made grants to organizations that either oppose fracking or support stricter regulations, including the Environmental Defence Fund, Earth Justice, the Environmental Working Group, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.)

Given this funding mix, it’s clear that while the science is solid and the findings are notable, there was probably an endgame in mind: more effective regulation around a potentially harmful but still largely mysterious process.

Energy in Depth, an oil-and-gas industry group that clearly has a horse in this race, quickly responded to the study, highlighting what they saw as several problems. They pointed out, for example, that the researchers can’t know for sure that all the EDCs they detected were from fracking, which is true, but they unfairly took issue with the fact that data was collected from fracking spill sites — such accidents are a pervasive problem, not an anomaly.

The bottom line

The upshot is this complicated tale: The Endocrinology study is a cause for concern, not alarm. It suggests scientists should do more research to investigate how fracking might be interfering with our sensitive endocrine system and that fracking accidents in particular may be a source of risk. But the only route to clear proof of harm or safety may be human tests that would be unethical and illegal.

In any case, fracking’s hormonal effects would likely be subtle, varied, and hard to track. With EDCs all around us, we can’t yet know how much fracking contributes to them.

So are the chemicals used in fracking really responsible for elevated levels of endocrine disruptors in the water? As Nagel told Business Insider, “it’s a hypothesis that we’re testing, not a proven phenomenon.”

 

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” Creation is Not Just For Our Purpose But God Had a Reason”


English: RPMNF's ROV recording the 4th-century...

English: RPMNF’s ROV recording the 4th-century CE Joni wreck site in Albania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#AceEnvironmentNews says LS of CHICAGO — Oysters, barnacles and corals that cling to ancient artifacts strewn about the seafloor are often a scourge in the eyes of marine archaeologists; researchers might spend days carefully scraping stubborn life forms off vases pulled from shipwreck sites. But some scientists say these nuisances deserve more attention.

English: RPMNF Expedition Areas 2012

English: RPMNF Expedition Areas 2012 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The RPM Nautical Foundation is starting to document the creatures clung to ancient ceramic amphoras, as they map shipwrecks throughout the Mediterranean. These new data points promise to help scientists learn more about the region’s underwater ecology and history, Derek Smith, a researcher at the University of Washington and RPM team member, explained here Friday (Jan. 3) at the Archaeological Institute of America‘s annual meeting.

To study how species spread and colonize in different underwater regions, ecologists traditionally lay down small square tiles and return to them in a year or so to see what’s latched on, but amphoras are actually a much better proxy for the natural environment, Smith said. [See Underwater Photos of the Life Thriving on Ancient Vases]

“The amphoras have shape to them, they’ve got little cracks and crevices, they’ve got an interior and an exterior space, they’ve got different material types like different clays from around the region — things like that inspire all different communities to show up,” Smith told LiveScience. “So looking at things that have been in the ocean for 2,000 years versus one year on a settlement tile provides clues to settlement and recruitment processes that you can’t get anywhere else in ecology.”

Courtesy of: LS

 

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