Blue Marble Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2013/03/climate-change-making-canada-look-more-united-states http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en 5 New York Epidemics That Were Way Worse Than Ebola Will Be http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/new-york-city-epidemics-worse-ebola <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="board of health" class="image" src="/files/board-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>An 1865 cartoon from <em>Harper's Weekly</em> ridicules the incompetence of the New York City Board of Health, first established to fight yellow fever. </strong>US National Library of Medicine</div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/10/new-york-city-health-care-worker-being-treated-possible-ebola" target="_blank">Ebola has arrived in New York City</a>. So should residents here be worried about a widespread outbreak? Almost certainly not: The disease is <a href="http://preparedness.columbia.edu/how-ebola-different-influenza-or-other-common-diseases-0" target="_blank">not airborne</a>, and infected patients are only contagious once they show symptoms. Craig Spencer, the infected doctor in New York, has said he didn't have symptoms Wednesday night when he rode the subway between Manhattan and Brooklyn and went bowling. Three people he came into contact with, who have not shown symptoms, have been <a href="http://gawker.com/three-quarantined-in-nyc-after-doctor-tests-positive-fo-1650217501" target="_blank">placed in precautionary quarantine</a>. And unlike West Africa, where health care is sparse and low-quality, the US is well equipped to handle cases of the virus; the hospital where Spencer is being treated <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/bellevue-hospital-prepared-treat-doctor-contracted-ebola-article-1.1985538" target="_blank">has been preparing to treat Ebola patients</a>. (Public heath officials in the city <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/24/nyregion/craig-spencer-is-tested-for-ebola-virus-at-bellevue-hospital-in-new-york-city.html" target="_blank">expected cases of Ebola to turn up sooner or later</a>.)</p> <p>But the prospect of a deadly disease outbreak in the Big Apple is still pretty scary, and the city hasn't always dodged the pathogen bullet. Here are a few epidemics in New York that were far worse than Ebola is likely to be.</p> <p><strong>Yellow fever (1795-1803):</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Arch_Street_Ferry.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The wharf in Philadelphia where yellow fever cases were first identified. </strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_Fever_Epidemic_of_1793#mediaviewer/File:Arch_Street_Ferry.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a></div> </div> <p>The city's first health department <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/bicentennial/historical-booklet-1805-1865.pdf" target="_blank">was created in 1793</a> to block boats from Philadelphia, which at the time was in the grips of a yellow fever epidemic that <a href="http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/nycdata/disasters/yellow_fever.html" target="_blank">left 5,000 dead</a>. The tactic didn't work: By 1795 cases began to appear in Manhattan, and by 1798 the disease had reached epidemic proportions there, with <a href="http://www.columbia.edu/itc/hs/pubhealth/rosner/g8965/client_edit/readings/week_5/condran.pdf" target="_blank">800 deaths that year</a>. Several thousand more died over the next few years. (The disease causes victims' to vomit black bile and their skin to turn yellowish, and the fatality rate without treatment is <a href="http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs100/en/" target="_blank">as high as 50 percent</a>.)&nbsp;This was no small blow for a city that at the time had <a href="https://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/fast_facts/1800_fast_facts.html" target="_blank">only about 60,000 residents</a>. As is the case today with Ebola in West Africa, misinformation was a big part of the problem: Doctors at the time had only just begun to speculate that the virus was carried by mosquitoes (other theorized sources included unsanitary conditions in slums and rotting coffee). Little effort was made to publicize the epidemic for fear of a mass exodus from the city, <a href="http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/nycdata/disasters/yellow_fever.html" target="_blank">according to Baruch College</a>. Today yellow fever is extremely rare in the United States&nbsp;but still <a href="http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs100/en/" target="_blank">kills 30,000 people every year</a>, 90 percent of whom are in Africa.</p> <p><strong>Cholera (mid-1800s): </strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="cholera" class="image" src="/files/Cholera_Epidemic_poster_New_York_City.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>An 1865 poster from the New York City Sanitary Commission offers advice on how to avoid contracting cholera. </strong><a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cholera_Epidemic_poster_New_York_City.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a></div> </div> <p>By the 1830s New York was a booming metropolis of 200,000, with swarms of newcomers arriving daily on boats from Europe. When word of a raging cholera epidemic in Europe reached the city's Board of Health, it instituted quarantines on incoming ships and tried to clean up the filthy streets. But again the board was reluctant to make public announcements, this time to avoid disrupting trade, according to <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/bicentennial/historical-booklet-1805-1865.pdf" target="_blank">city records</a>. One resident claimed the board was "more afraid of merchants than of lying." By June 1832, the disease, which causes severe diarrhea and can kill within hours if untreated, arrived in New York via boats traveling down the Hudson River from Quebec. Within two months, 3,500 people were dead&mdash;mostly poor Irish immigrants and blacks living in the city's slums. Outbreaks occurred again in 1849, with some <a href="http://www.columbia.edu/itc/hs/pubhealth/rosner/g8965/client_edit/readings/week_5/condran.pdf" target="_blank">5,000 deaths</a>, and in 1866, with <a href="http://www.virtualny.cuny.edu/cholera/1866/cholera_1866_set.html" target="_blank">1,100 deaths</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Polio (1916): </strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/polio-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A physical therapist works with two children with polio in 1963. </strong>Charles Farmer/CDC</div> </div> <p>New York City was the epicenter of an outbreak of polio in 1916 that began with a <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1473030/" target="_blank">handful of cases reported to a clinic in Brooklyn</a>. The disease, which advances from feverlike symptoms to paralysis and sometimes death, ultimately <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/bicentennial/historical-booklet.pdf" target="_blank">spread to 9,000 New Yorkers</a> and caused 2,400 deaths. Across the Northeast, the infection toll climbed to 23,000 by the fall. The disease remained prevalent in the United States until the 1954 introduction of Jonas Salk's polio vaccine. Polio is now extremely rare here. But worldwide, <a href="http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs114/en/" target="_blank">it still infects 200,000 people every year, particularly in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan</a>.</p> <p><strong>Influenza (1918): </strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="influenza" class="image" src="/files/influenza-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>In 1918, soldiers with influenza are treated at an Army hospital in Kansas. </strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic#mediaviewer/File:CampFunstonKS-InfluenzaHospital.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a></div> </div> <p>In August 1918, a Norwegian ship called the <em>Bergensfjord </em><a href="http://www.influenzaarchive.org/cities/city-newyork.html#" target="_blank">pulled into New York Harbor</a> carrying 21 people infected with a new and virulent strain of the flu. Over the next several weeks, dozens more arrived, mostly on ships from Europe, and sick passengers were quarantined in a hospital just blocks from the modern-day Bellevue, where Spencer is currently being treated. Those unfortunate sailors were just the first in what would become the deadliest disease outbreak in the city's history to that date. Over 30,000 deaths were recorded <a href="http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/1918/your_state/northeast/newyork/" target="_blank">by November</a>&mdash;the actual number was likely much higher&mdash;including 12,300 during the first week of November alone. One health worker visited a family in lower Manhattan and found an <a href="http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/1918/your_state/northeast/newyork/" target="_blank">infant dead in its crib and all seven other family members severely ill</a>.</p> <p>Other nearby cities fared even worse: The death rate in New York was 4.7 per 1,000 cases, compared to 6.5 in Boston and 7.3 in Philadelphia, <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2862336/#B2" target="_blank">according to the National Institutes of Health</a>. That may not sound like a lot, given that the Ebola death rate is closer to 50 percent, but because influenza is so easily spread it can infect a much greater number of people. Globally, the 1918 flu killed between 50100 million people, the worst public health crisis in modern times. Today, the flu is still considered the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/08/5-diseases-are-scarier-ebola" target="_blank">greatest infectious disease risk</a> for Americans, killing between 3,000 and 50,000 every year, <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/us_flu-related_deaths.htm" target="_blank">according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a>. In other words, it's possible that more people could die from the flu this year in America than have <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/22/us-health-ebola-who-idUSKCN0IB23220141022" target="_blank">died worldwide from Ebola</a> during this outbreak. And yet only 1 in 3 Americans get a flu shot. Get a flu shot, people!</p> <p><strong>HIV/AIDS (1981-present): </strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AIDS-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>An AIDS poster from New York City in the 1980s&nbsp;</strong>US National Library of Medicine</div> </div> <p>The scourge of HIV/AIDS is the most familiar epidemic for modern New Yorkers, <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/bicentennial/historical-booklet.pdf" target="_blank">beginning with the June 1981 discovery </a>of 41 cases of a rare cancer among gay men across the country. Throughout the 1980s, campaigns by the city encouraged New Yorkers to use protection during sex and not to share needles or use intravenous drugs. By 1987, according to city records, $400 million had been spent on AIDS services. But activists for AIDS rights groups like ACT UP accused city officials, led by Mayor Ed Koch, of dragging their feet and ignoring the true scale of the crisis. It took until the mid-'90s for anti-retroviral drugs to become widely available. Today, for people who have access to adequate health care, HIV is often manageable. But to date, <a href="http://nycaidsmemorial.org/aids-statistics" target="_blank">more than 100,000 New Yorkers</a> have been killed by AIDS-related maladies, according to state health statistics. Despite recent advances in medical treatment, infection rates are still high in New York, disproportionately affecting racial minorities and gay men.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Science Top Stories Ebola Fri, 24 Oct 2014 20:18:45 +0000 Tim McDonnell 263166 at http://www.motherjones.com Environmentalists Don't Like Europe's New Climate Plan. Can Obama Do Better? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/europe-climate-deal-greenhouse-gas-obama <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Environmental groups are warning that a new European agreement to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 sets the bar far too low.</p> <p>The pact&mdash;which was reached early Friday in Brussels&mdash;makes the European Union the first major bloc of countries to commit to emissions targets ahead of next year's crucial climate change talks in Paris. At the Paris meeting, world leaders will attempt to hammer out a global agreement that will keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).</p> <p>The <em>Guardian</em> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/24/eu-leaders-agree-to-cut-greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-40-by-2030" target="_blank">reports</a> that in addition to their commitment to cut greenhouse emissions by 40 percent, European leaders also agreed to increase the portion of the region's energy that comes renewable sources to 27 percent by 2030. That provision is legally binding for the EU as a whole, but not on a national level, potentially opening the door to disagreements about how to get there. The third notable part of the pact is a plan to increase energy efficiency by 27 percent,&nbsp;but that target is&nbsp;not legally binding.</p> <p>Oxfam&mdash;the global development NGO&mdash;<a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/grow/pressroom/reactions/europe-must-review-climate-targets-after-weak-climate-package-deal" target="_blank">slammed</a> the deal as "insufficient," saying the targets are too low and not enforceable enough.&nbsp;The group's Deputy Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, Natalia Alonso, said in a statement: "Today's deal must set the floor not the ceiling of European action, and they must arrive in Paris with a more serious offer." Oxfam called for a much for aggressive policy: 55 percent cuts in emissions.</p> <p>Greenpeace also <a href="http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/en/News/2014/EU-leaders-pull-handbrake-on-clean-energy/" target="_blank">criticized</a> the deal, saying the EU leaders pulled the "handbrake on clean energy."</p> <p>"These targets are too low, slowing down efforts to boost renewable energy and keeping Europe hooked on polluting and expensive fuel," the group said in a statement.</p> <p>Greenpeace EU managing director Mahi Sideridou added, "The global fight against climate change needs radical shock treatment, but what the EU is offering is at best a whiff of smelling salts."</p> <p>Nevertheless, European leaders hailed the deal as a major breakthrough. "This package is very good news for our fight against climate change," said Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president.</p> <p>Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said the pact "will ensure that Europe will be an important player, will be an important party, in future binding commitments of an international climate agreement."</p> <p>World Resources Institute, a leading climate policy research group, <a href="http://www.wri.org/news/2014/10/statement-wri-reacts-eu-climate-deal" target="_blank">struck a more conciliatory tone</a> than other environmental groups, while also calling for more aggressive targets. "Despite facing a dismal recession and difficult internal debate, European leaders demonstrated their resolve by staying the course," said the institute's director of climate and energy programs, Jennifer Morgan, in a statement. "At the same time, it is clear that all of the targets could have been&mdash;and should have been&mdash;more ambitious."</p> <p>The deal raises the stakes for other countries to get serious about climate commitments ahead of Paris. According to the <em>Guardian</em>, it contains a clause that would trigger a review of the new targets&mdash;potentially torpedoing today's&nbsp;agreement&mdash;if other countries don't come to the table with comparable proposals next year.</p> <p>It remains unclear precisely what the US government will seek at next year's negotiations. <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-climate-change-proposal-20141015-story.html" target="_blank">Early indications suggest</a> the Obama administration is considering a plan that would require countries to limit emissions according to a specific timetable but wouldn't dictate to individual countries how deep those cuts would be.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Economy Energy Top Stories Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:14:27 +0000 James West 263191 at http://www.motherjones.com In Just 15 Years, Wind Could Provide A Fifth Of The World's Electricity http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/wind-energy-electricity-one-fifth-global-2030 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Up to one fifth of the world's electricity supply could come from wind turbines by 2030, according to a <a href="http://www.gwec.net/" target="_blank">new report</a> released this week by Greenpeace and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). That would be an increase of 530 percent compared to the end of last year.</p> <p>The report says the coming global boom in wind power will be driven largely by China's rebounding wind energy market&mdash;and a continued trend of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/04/renewable-energy-spending-bnef" target="_blank">high levels of Chinese green energy investment</a>&mdash;as well as by steady growth in the United States and new large-scale projects in Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa.</p> <p>The report, called the "Global Wind Energy Outlook," explains how wind energy could provide 2,000 gigawatts of electricity by 2030, which would account for 17 to 19 percent of global electricity. And by 2050, wind's share of the electricity market could reach 30 percent. That's a huge jump from the end of 2013, when wind provided around 3 percent of electricity worldwide.</p> <p>The report is an annually produced industry digest co-authored by the GWEC, which represents 1,500 wind power producers. It examines three "energy scenarios" based on projections used by the International Energy Agency. The "New Policies" scenario attempts to capture the direction and intentions of international climate policy, even if some of these policies have yet to be fully implemented. From there, GWEC has fashioned two other scenarios&mdash;"moderate" and "advanced"&mdash;which reflect two different ways&nbsp;nations might cut carbon and keep their commitments to global climate change policies.&nbsp;In the most ambitious scenario, "advanced," wind could help slash more than 3 billion tons of climate-warning carbon dioxide emissions each year. The following chart has been adapted and simplified from the report:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/chart1_5.jpg"></div> <p>In the best case scenario, China leads the way in 2020 and in 2030:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/chart2_2_0.jpg"></div> <p>But as the report's authors note, there is still substantial uncertainty in the market. "There is much that we don't know about the future," they write, "and there will no doubt be unforeseen shifts and shocks in the global economy as well as political ups and downs." The more optimistic results contained in the report are dependent on whether the global community is going to respond "proactively to the threat of climate change, or try to do damage control after the fact," the report says.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Charts Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Infrastructure Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:36:44 +0000 James West 262981 at http://www.motherjones.com Drinking a "Medium" Soda Every Day Can Age You As Much As Smoking Does http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/study-drinking-daily-soda-ages-you-smoking <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Just as soda companies <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/berkeley-measure-d-soda-tax-advertising-sugar" target="_blank">plunk down millions</a> of dollars to defeat local soda-tax ballot measures, researchers have found a link between regular soda consumption and premature aging.</p> <p>Published in the peer-reviewed <em>Journal of Public Health</em>, a <a href="http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2014.302151?journalCode=ajph&amp;" target="_blank">study</a> of 5,300 adults compared the cells of people who drink soda every day to those of their non-soda-drinking counterparts. In the soda group, the ends of the chromosomes&mdash;known as telomeres&mdash;were shorter, a sign of their cells' diminished ability to regenerate. Our telomeres naturally shorten as we age, but scientists have discovered that a few behaviors&mdash;including smoking&mdash;can shorten them prematurely.</p> <p>And here's the really interesting part: People who drank a 20-ounce soda every day experienced an additional 4.6 years of telomere aging&mdash;the same amount observed in smokers. "The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism," lead author Elissa Epel, a professor of psychiatry at University of California-San Francisco, <a href="http://time.com/3513875/soda-may-age-you-as-much-as-smoking/" target="_blank">told</a> <em>Time</em>.</p> <p>The researchers didn't find the same effect in those who drank diet sodas or 100 percent fruit juice.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Health Mon, 20 Oct 2014 18:28:31 +0000 Kiera Butler 262881 at http://www.motherjones.com Now Congressional Republicans Are Digging Through Scientists' Grant Proposals http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/lamar-smith-climate-science-investigation-nsf <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>When scientists across the country need money for research projects, one place they often turn is the National Science Foundation. The NSF is <a href="http://www.nsf.gov/about/" target="_blank">an independent federal agency</a> with an annual budget of about $7 billion, which it doles out to fund about a quarter of all federally supported science research.</p> <p>Of course, the agency doesn't just give money away to anyone who asks. Proposals have to survive a rigorous review process that includes close scrutiny by a panel of top scientists in the relevant field. Competition is fierce: Of the <a href="http://dellweb.bfa.nsf.gov/awdfr3/default.asp" target="_blank">49,000 proposals</a> submitted in 2013, only a fifth were ultimately funded. So as far as most scientists are concerned, an NSF grant is about the highest mark of scientific legitimacy a research project can get.</p> <p>Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) apparently disagrees. Over the last 18 months, Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, has launched an aggressive campaign against what he sees as misguided money management at NSF that fritters funds away on frivolous research. Research on ridiculous things like, you know, climate change.</p> <p>Smith's committee is responsible for setting the NSF's budget. But in the last year, the Congressman has gone to unprecedented lengths to scrutinize the agency's scientific operations. His staffers are sifting through the archives of NSF grant proposal materials, which are normally kept strictly confidential to preserve scientific objectivity. They're looking for projects to highlight as evidence that NSF is wasting money on research that, from their view, aren't in the "national interest."</p> <p>A <a href="http://news.sciencemag.org/policy/2014/10/battle-between-nsf-and-house-science-committee-escalates-how-did-it-get-bad" target="_blank">great recent story in <em>Science</em></a> lays out Smith's strategy:</p> <blockquote> <p>Four times this past summer, in a spare room on the top floor of the headquarters of the National Science Foundation (NSF) outside of Washington, D.C., two congressional staffers spent hours poring over material relating to 20 research projects that NSF has funded over the past decade&hellip;</p> <p>The peculiar exercise is part of a long-running and bitter battle that is pitting Smith and many of his panel's Republican members against [Rep. Eddie Bernice] Johnson [the committee's ranking Democrat] and the panel's Democrats, NSF's leadership, and the academic research community&hellip;</p> <p>Smith, however, argues he is simply taking seriously Congress's oversight responsibility. And he promises to stay the course: "Our efforts will continue until NSF agrees to only award grants that are in the national interest," he wrote in a 2 October e-mail to <em>Science</em>Insider.</p> </blockquote> <p>The tally of projects under scrutiny by Smith's team has now grown to 47 (a listing of them is linked to in the <em>Science</em> story above). On one hand, that's a lot. The confidentiality of the NSF review process is a long-established, sacred scientific practice that protects research from bias and makes sure only the cream rises to the top. So any cracks in that firewall, and certainly any whiff of political interference, are of great concern to the scientific community.</p> <p>On the other hand, the 47 grants represent only a tiny fraction of the NSF's total operation; together, they amount to about $26 million, or 0.37 percent of NSF's budget. Which raises the questions of why Smith would (a) throw himself into an investigation of spending that, all things considered, is barely a drop in the federal bucket and (b) pick these specific projects to focus on. A spokesperson from Smith's committee&mdash;who provided a statement on behalf of Smith's office (the same statement quoted by <em>Science </em>above)&mdash;did not respond to these questions.</p> <p>Many of the studies at issue involve social sciences (a study of caste systems in Ethiopia, for example, and one about rural sanitation in India) that fall outside the core areas of engineering, mathematics, computer science, and biology that Smith, in a <a href="http://science.house.gov/press-release/future-nsf-stop-wasting-taxpayer-money" target="_blank">press release this spring</a>, singled out as "the primary drivers of our economic future."</p> <p>But some of the biggest-ticket items up for public dissection focus on climate change. They include a $3 million grant awarded in 2008 to study how federal agencies can better communicate climate science to the public and a $5.6 million award to a Columbia University team to carry out public education work on the impacts of climate change at the poles. You know, totally frivolous questions that have nothing to do with the "national interest" on things like rising sea levels, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/08/arctic-methane-hydrate-catastrophe" target="_blank">epic releases of methane</a>, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/pentagon-climate-change-shift-wars" target="_blank">US military engagement in the Arctic</a>, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/walruses-arctic-shell-oil" target="_blank">new areas for offshore oil drilling</a>, and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/walrus-photo-alaska-climate-change" target="_blank">35,000 stranded walruses</a>. Definitely not stuff you need to worry about, or have our top scientists investigate and explain.</p> <p>The <a href="http://democrats.science.house.gov/sites/democrats.science.house.gov/files/Complete_Correspondence.pdf" target="_blank">letters over the past few months</a> between Smith and NSF director France C&oacute;rdova, an astrophysicist and former president of Purdue University, are a great new entry in the annals of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/09/watch-jon-stewart-explain-science-climate-deniers-congress" target="_blank">government scientists explaining Science 101 to Republican Congressmen</a>.</p> <p>"NSF's investment in meritorious research projects enables new and transformative discoveries within and among those fields and disciplines, resulting in the expansion of our scientific knowledge and understanding," she wrote to him on May 19.</p> <p>In other words, basic science shouldn't be judged by how closely it hews to a predetermined, profitable advance. The Large Hadron Collider probably isn't ever going to do much for the US economy, but that doesn't mean it's not in the "national interest" for us to understand the basic physics of the universe. Sometimes, even research on the <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/04/duck_penis_controversy_nsf_is_right_to_fund_basic_research_that_conservatives.html" target="_blank">mechanics of corkscrew-shaped duck penises</a> can be a worthy investment of taxpayer dollars.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Congress Science Top Stories Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:22:12 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262801 at http://www.motherjones.com Hurricane Gonzalo Is Going to Slam Bermuda Today http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/hurricane-gonzalo-going-slam-bermuda-today <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The photo above was <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/content/hurricane-gonzalo-viewed-from-the-international-space-station/#.VEEz7-c7pUk" target="_blank">taken yesterday</a> by an astronaut on the International Space Station. It shows Hurricane Gonzalo barreling across the Atlantic Ocean toward Bermuda.</p> <p>Gonzalo, currently a Category 3 hurricane, is expected to make landfall in Bermuda this afternoon before veering back out to sea and away from the US East Coast. AccuWeather.com meteorologists <a href="http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/major-hurricane-gonzalo-takes/35765219" target="_blank">are warning</a> that the damage could be severe, with "a large and life-threatening storm surge [that] could exceed 10 feet and cause a major rise in water levels over coastal areas and causeways."</p> <p>Stay safe, Bermudans.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Science Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:47:50 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262766 at http://www.motherjones.com People Are Trying to Sell Cinnamon Bark as an Ebola Cure http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/no-vitamins-cant-ward-ebola <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Marion Nestle <a href="http://www.foodpolitics.com/2014/10/todays-food-politics-of-ebola/" target="_blank">reports</a> that several supplement manufacturers are selling vitamins that promise to prevent or treat Ebola. The claims caught the attention of the FDA, which has issued <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/09/24/fda-warns-three-companies-against-marketing-their-products-as-ebola-treatments-or-cures/" target="_blank">warning letters</a> to three of the manufacturers: <a href="http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2014/ucm416051.htm" target="_blank">Natural Solutions Foundation</a>, <a href="http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2014/ucm416023.htm" target="_blank">Young Living</a>, and <a href="http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2014/ucm415809.htm" target="_blank">DoTERRA International LLC</a>. The agency lists specific claims it finds worrisome; for example, on a Young Living consultant's website, "Ebola Virus can not live in the presence of cinnamon bark."</p> <p>Here's a screenshot from Natural Solutions Foundations' website:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-10-16%20at%2011.50.59%20AM_0.png"></div> <p>An <a href="http://drrimatruthreports.com/general-bert-isis-ebola/" target="_blank">article</a> on the Natural Solutions site talks about "the intentional introduction of Ebola into the United States by what will appear to be ISIS terrorists." It continues, "And it will happen soon, since we know from Dr. Rima's research that Ebola can become an airborne disease in temperate climates, such as North America's coming winter." It urges readers to prepare by stocking up on supplements that contain nanoparticles of silver: "The only protection we have against this new level of tyranny is making sure we do not get sick!!! The best way to do that is to make sure that EVERYONE you can reach has Nano Silver and knows how to use it."</p> <p>Another supposed natural Ebola cure making the rounds: Vitamin C. Nestle found this gem on an alternative health information site called <a href="http://www.naturalhealth365.com/natural_cures/ebola-virus-thomas-levy-1095.html" target="_blank">NaturalHealth365</a>, which claims that a giant dose of vitamin C can cure Ebola (though it doesn't actually sell Vitamin C):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/ebola-vitamin.gif"><div class="caption">NaturalHealth365</div> </div> <p>It's not terribly surprising that supplement manufacturers have seized on Ebola. A new Harvard School of Public Health <a href="http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/poll-finds-most-believe-ebola-spread-by-multiple-routes/" target="_blank">poll</a> has found that 38 percent of Americans&nbsp;(up from 25 percent <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/08/ebola-debunked-0" target="_blank">a few months ago</a>) "are now concerned that they or someone in their immediate family may get sick with Ebola over the next year." That's quite a market.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:57:45 +0000 Kiera Butler 262701 at http://www.motherjones.com Sorry, California. Winter Isn't Going to Fix Your Drought. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/map-californias-drought-going-get-worse <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/drought-map-630.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA</div> </div> <p>California's crippling drought is not expected to improve over the winter, according to <a href="http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/sdo_summary.html" target="_blank">new forecast data</a> released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.</p> <p>Nearly 60 percent of the state is experiencing exceptional drought&mdash;the worst category&mdash;NOAA reported. The map above shows that the northern California coast could see some improvement. But in the Central Valley, a critical source of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/wheres-californias-water-going" target="_blank">fruits, nuts, and vegetables</a> for the whole country, conditions won't be getting better any time soon. A little rain is expected, NOAA forecaster Mike Halpert said in a statement, but not enough to reverse the trend.</p> <p>"While we're predicting at least a 2 in 3 chance that winter precipitation will be near or above normal throughout the state, with such widespread, extreme deficits, recovery will be slow,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>The report adds that El Ni&ntilde;o, which tends to brings wet weather for the West Coast, is expected to be weak this winter and thus won't provide much relief.</p> <p>California's winter is also more than 50 percent likely to be warmer than average:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="temp map" class="image" src="/files/temp-map.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA</div> </div> <p>And in case you're still wondering why you should care about California's drought, try this: The state is the country's number-two pumpkin producer. And with Halloween approaching, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/16/pumpkin-prices_n_5996726.html" target="_blank">pumpkin prices have jumped 15 percent</a> because of the drought. Scary!</p></body></html> Blue Marble Maps Climate Change Climate Desk Science Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:32:35 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262676 at http://www.motherjones.com Nepal Just Had a Deadly Freak Avalanche. Is Climate Change To Blame? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/nepal-just-how-freak-deadly-avalanche-climate-change-blame <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Hikers on one of Nepal's most popular mountaineering routes may have had a deadly face-off with climate change this week, when a freak storm swept in and triggered an avalanche that <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/article2788280.html" target="_blank">killed at least 27 people</a>.</p> <p>Rescue work is underway for dozens of hikers who are still missing. October is typically a time for clear skies in Nepal, and already some scientists are pointing a finger of blame at global warming for the unseasonable storm. From the <em><a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/10/15/four_canadians_killed_in_avalanche_in_nepal_other_trekkers_still_stranded.html" target="_blank">Toronto Star</a>: </em></p> <blockquote> <div class="text combinedtext parbase section"> <p>The current situation in Nepal &mdash; the incessant rain, blizzard and avalanche &mdash; appears to have been triggered by the tail of <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/10/12/cyclone_hudhud_lashes_indias_eastern_seaboard_typhoon_vongfong_pounds_japan.html">Cyclone Hudhud</a> in neighboring India. The cyclone, reports suggest, was among the strongest storms recorded off the Indian coast.</p> </div> <div class="text combinedtext parbase section"> <p>&ldquo;Storms in that region are getting stronger,&rdquo; said John Stone, an IPCC lead author and adjunct professor at Carleton University in Ottawa. &ldquo;It is not inconsistent with what scientists have been saying.&rdquo;</p> </div> <div class="text combinedtext parbase section"> <p>The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, a regional agency based in Kathmandu that serves eight countries, said in a May report &mdash; just weeks after the April avalanche on Mt. Everest &mdash; that rising temperatures have shrunk Nepal&rsquo;s glaciers by almost a quarter between 1977 and 2010, with an average of 38 square kilometers vanishing annually.</p> </div> <div class="text combinedtext parbase section"> <p>The report said that besides bringing more intense and frequent floods, avalanches and landslides affecting millions of people living in remote mountain areas, such changes could also hit adventure-seeking mountaineers.</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>As if summitting a giant Himalayan peak wasn't scary enough already.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk International Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:32:04 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262666 at http://www.motherjones.com Survey: Four Out of Five Nurses Have Gotten No Ebola Training At All http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/nurses-union-training-ebola-hospitals <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em><strong>Update, October 15, 1:50 p.m. EDT</strong>: A <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/16/us/ebola-outbreak-texas.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=HpSum&amp;module=span-ab-lede-package-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">second hospital worker </a>who treated the Dallas Ebola patient has tested positive for the disease. Health officials <a href="http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USCDC/bulletins/d5e6ab" target="_blank">have confirmed </a>that prior to her diagnosis she boarded a flight from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Frontier Airlines. The CDC is monitoring potential risk of exposure to 132 passengers aboard.</em></p> <div><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/ebola-mini.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More <em>MoJo</em> coverage of the Ebola crisis. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-262966"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/10/ebola-nurses-osha-federal-rules"> These Rules Can Protect Doctors and Nurses From Ebola&acirc;&#128;&#148;If They're Followed</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-262976"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/10/watch-how-ebola-took-over-liberia"> This GIF Shows Just How Quickly Ebola Spread Across Liberia</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-262361"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2014/10/nurses-union-training-ebola-hospitals"> Survey: Four Out of Five Nurses Have Gotten No Ebola Training At All</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-262416"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/10/liberia-ebola-going-need-lot-more-bodybags"> Liberia Says It's Going to Need a Lot More Body Bags</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-261801"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/10/how-long-ebola-sperm"> How Long Does the Ebola Virus Survive in Semen?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-260876"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/09/ebola-crisis-liberia-way-worse-you-think"> Liberians Explain Why the Ebola Crisis Is Way Worse Than You Think</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> </div> <p>A new survey conducted by the National Nurses Union shows US hospitals may&nbsp;not be adequately prepared to handle Ebola patients, should the virus continue to spread.&nbsp;Out of the 2,200 nurses who responded to <span>the union's questionnaire</span>, 85 percent reported that their hospitals had not provided education on Ebola. 76 percent said their institution had no policy for how to admit and handle patients potentially infected with the virus. More than a third claimed their hospitals didn't have enough safety supplies, including eye protection and fluid resistant gowns.</p> <p>The survey results were announced on Sunday, just after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/10/cdc-confirms-second-case-ebola-in-the-us">confirmed</a> that a health worker in Texas had tested positive for the virus. The CDC's director, Thomas <span>Frieden</span> cited a "breach of protocol" as the likely reason.</p> <p>Now&mdash;as agency officials scramble to figure out just what that breach was&mdash;nurses are pushing back. On Monday, NNU nurses in red shirts rallied in Oakland, Calif. with signs reading, "Stop Blaming Nurses. Stop Ebola."</p> <p>"We have been surveying nurses for almost two months about Ebola preparedness," Charles <span>Idelson</span>, an NNU spokesman<span>,</span> said Monday. "What these survey results clearly indicate is that hospitals are still not doing enough to be properly prepared to respond."</p> <p>The CDC has <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ebola-outbreak-u-s-to-create-ebola-response-team-1.2798065" target="_blank">announced plans</a> to deploy an Ebola response team "within hours" at any hospital where an Ebola patient is admitted. At a press conference, Frieden said the agency is responding to calls from hospitals that are underprepared to handle the crisis.</p> <p><a href="http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/t1013-ebola-reponse-update.html">On Monday, </a><span>Frieden</span><span style="font-family:Verdana"> said the the CDC is also working with hospitals to better train health workers on Ebola precautions."We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control," he said</span>. For example, he said, in some cases health workers may actually be wearing too much protective gear, making it harder to remove and dispose of the material.</p> <p>The <span>NNU</span> survey showed that, even as the CDC called for more hands-on training, especially on how to properly put on and remove safety equipment, few hospitals have provided it for their employees. <span>Ideslson</span> says most are simply pointing nurses to information on their websites, or linking to CDC information. Staffing is another concern, with 63 percent of nurses reporting that hospital facilities won't adjust the number of assigned patients per nurse to reflect the additional time required to care for infectious patients.</p> <p>"We are going to continue to protest the failure of so many of these hospitals to put adequate safety measures in place," <span>Idelson</span> said; he wouldn't rule out the potential for healthcare workers to walk out on strike, much as <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/liberia-faces-healthcare-strike-over-ebola-130520281.html">Liberian health care workers have</a>.</p> <p>The American Hospital Association, an organization that represents nearly 5,000 hospitals nationwide, is now calling on hospitals to bolster their training regimens, turned down my request for an interview, but sent a statement saying, "We strongly encourage all hospitals to conduct employee retraining on how to use personal protective equipment to protect themselves from Ebola and other potentially deadly communicable diseases."</p> <p>Even if hospitals are prepared, however, it can be difficult to comply with both patient needs and the social <span>blowback</span> that comes with an Ebola diagnosis. <em>The New York Times </em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/14/us/questions-rise-on-preparations-at-hospitals-to-deal-with-ebola.html?_r=1">reported </a>yesterday that&nbsp; Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, a center that had prepared for an outbreak long before the current crisis began, struggled with the county threatening to stop sewer service, couriers refusing to transport blood samples, and pizza delivery services refusing to come to any part of the hospital. And as my colleague Tim Murphy has <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/10/buddy-caldwell-louisiana-ebola" target="_blank">reported</a>, Louisiana's attorney general has said the state, which processes a wide variety of hazardous wastes from around the nation, may take legal action to stop the incinerated belongings of deceased Ebola patient Eric Duncan from coming to one of its landfills.</p> <p>In his press conference, Frieden warned that such fears are unfounded and counterproductive. "The enemy here is a virus. It's not a person, it's not a country, it's not a place, it's not a hospital&mdash;it's a virus. It's a virus that's tough to fight, but together I'm confident that we will stop it."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Ebola Wed, 15 Oct 2014 07:42:35 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 262361 at http://www.motherjones.com A Place With the Population of West Virginia Just Powered A Work Day Entirely on Clean Energy http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/south-australia-100-percent-renewable-solar-wind <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's one for the naysayers who insist renewable energy can't keep the lights on and power our cities. An entire state in Australia with a population of &nbsp;around 1.7 million people just used&nbsp;renewable energy to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs throughout an entire working day. According to industry news site <a href="http://www.energybusinessnews.com.au/energy/wind/sa-completes-business-as-usual-on-100pc-renewables/" target="_blank">Energy Business News</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Between 9.30 and 6pm on Tuesday, September 30, a day not unlike most Tuesdays, with business and homes using electricity as usual, the state received the favourable weather conditions allowing solar and wind infrastructure to work side by side to achieve the impressive achievement.</p> </blockquote> <p>The analysis comes from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pittsh.com.au/" target="_blank">Pitt &amp; Sherry</a>, an Australian energy consultancy. As the wind picked up, all but two of the state's coal-fired&nbsp;power generators, and one gas-powered unit, were shut down;<strong> </strong>the excess&nbsp;power was exported to other regions, according to the report.&nbsp;There were a few moments during the previous days&mdash;on September 27 and 28&mdash;when the state actually produced more wind power than the state's total energy&nbsp;demand. Normally, <a href="http://www.aemo.com.au/Electricity/Planning/South-Australian-Advisory-Functions/South-Australian-Fuel-and-Technology-Report" target="_blank">nearly a third</a> of the state's energy comes from renewable sources, according to figures from 2012 to 2013.</p> <p>South Australia, home to the city of Adelaide, has almost half of the country's wind capacity; 25 percent of its households have rooftop solar installations, according to the report. The state is aggressively pursuing green energy goals, <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-23/sa-commits-to-50-per-cent-renewable-energy-target/5763640" target="_blank">upping its 2025 renewable energy commitment from 33 percent to 50 percent</a>, having met its <a href="http://cleantechnica.com/2014/08/28/22-6-homes-use-solar-south-australia/" target="_blank">previous goal six years ahead of schedule</a>.</p> <p>This is despite the conservative federal government under Prime Minister Tony Abbott <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/aug/28/renewable-energy-target-review-calls-scheme-closed-new-entrants" target="_blank">threatening to gut</a> a national renewable energy target, having already defunded several government agencies responsible for the country's climate change policies. In July, Australia became the world's first developed nation to repeal a carbon tax.</p> <p>All of that policy uncertainty is having an impact on the renewable energy sector in Australia. Investment has virtually frozen in a land famous for being bathed in sun. Recent data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance <a href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/australia-behind-algeria-in-clean-energy-investment/story-e6frg8zx-1227079563371" target="_blank">shows</a> Australia is on track to record its lowest level of financing for big renewable projects since 2002, dropping the country from the 11th largest investor to 31st in Bloomberg's rankings. In the third quarter of this year, <a href="http://about.bnef.com/landing-pages/investment-freeze-australia-continues/" target="_blank">investment was down</a> 78 percent from the same time last year.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk Energy Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:39:36 +0000 James West 262306 at http://www.motherjones.com Pentagon: We Could Soon Be Fighting Climate Wars http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/pentagon-climate-change-shift-wars <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In one of its strongest statements yet on the need to prepare for climate change, the Defense Department today released a report that says global warming "poses immediate risks to US national security" and will exacerbate national security-related threats ranging "from infectious disease to terrorism."</p> <div><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/green_tech.jpeg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-214871"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/02/navy-climate-change-great-green-fleet"> The US Military's Next Big Battle? Clean Energy.</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-214906"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/03/green-projects-us-military"> 14 Weird Ways the US Military Is Becoming a Clean, Green Fighting Machine</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-214911"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/02/biofuels-military-great-green-fleet"> How the Military Repelled the GOP's Biofuel Attack</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-217066"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2013/02/watch-whats-it-land-aircraft-carrier"> WATCH: What's It Like to Land on an Aircraft Carrier?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-217366"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/02/us-navy-spends-4-billion-fuel-every-year"> The US Navy Spends $4 Billion on Fuel Every Year</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> </div> <p>The report, embedded below, builds on <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/02/navy-climate-change-great-green-fleet" target="_blank">climate readiness planning at the Pentagon</a> that stretches back to the George W. Bush administration. But today's report is the first to frame climate change as a serious near-term challenge for strategic military operations; previous reports have tended to focus on long-term threats to bases and other infrastructure.</p> <p>The report "is quite an evolution of the DoD's thinking on understanding and addressing climate threats," said Francesco Femia, co-director of the Center for Climate and Security. "The Department is not looking out into the future, it's looking at what's happening now."</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1312288-dod-report-on-climate-change-readiness-october">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1312288-dod-report-on-climate-change-readiness-october.js", { width: 630, height: 700, sidebar: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1312288-dod-report-on-climate-change-readiness-october" }); </script><noscript> <a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1312288/dod-report-on-climate-change-readiness-october.pdf">DoD Report on Climate Change Readiness--October 2014 (PDF)</a> <br><a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1312288/dod-report-on-climate-change-readiness-october.txt">DoD Report on Climate Change Readiness--October 2014 (Text)</a> </noscript></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/10/pentagon-climate-change-shift-wars"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Military Top Stories Infrastructure Mon, 13 Oct 2014 17:45:06 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262266 at http://www.motherjones.com Photos: This Year's Strongest Typhoon Pounds Japan http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/photos-powerful-typhoon-vongfong-pounds-japan <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Typhoon Vongfong&mdash;the word means "wasp" in Cantonese&mdash;brought torrential rain and damaging winds to Japan overnight, as it continued its northward trajectory across the Japanese islands. The powerful storm arrived just a week after Japan was hit by another typhoon, Phanfone, which <a href="http://www.weather.com/news/update/airmen-missing-typhoon-phanfone-japan-20141006" target="_blank">took the lives of three US airman off Okinawa</a>, a southern Japanese island where the US maintains a large military base. Last week, Vongfong became the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/08/world/asia/typhoon-vongfong-japan/" target="_blank">strongest cyclone system observed all year</a>, anywhere in the world&mdash;equivalent to a category 5 hurricane.<strong>&nbsp;</strong>It was&nbsp;downgraded to a tropical storm as it hit the Japanese island of Kyushu. The <em>Japan Times</em> <a href="http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/13/national/typhoon-vongfong-slams-into-japan/#.VDvre9TF9xs" target="_blank">is reporting</a> that the storm has left at least 61 people injured and one missing, with hundreds of thousands advised to evacuate. Authorities <a href="http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/tropical-storm-vongfong-slams/35196345" target="_blank">took steps to protect</a> the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the site of the 2011 meltdown.</p> <p>Here are some photos of the storm as it moved through northeast Asia:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon1.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The storm created powerful waves in Wenling, in the coastal Chinese province of Zhejiang, on Sunday, drawing thrill-seeking crowds</strong>&nbsp;Whitehotpix/ZUMA</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon2.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Not exactly the safest place to attempt a selfie.</strong> Whitehotpix/ZUMA</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon3.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The view of the storm <a href="https://twitter.com/Astro_Alex/status/521253310427590656" target="_blank">from the International Space Station</a> last Thursday reveals its enormity. It was downgraded to a tropical storm as it made land fall in Japan. </strong>Alexander Gerst/NASA</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon4.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A huge tree upended by Vongfong's force on the coast of Setouchi, Kagoshima, on Sunday October 12. While the storm has been downgraded, it has increased in size, and still contains a huge amount of moisture.</strong> The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon5.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Waves pound the coast in the city of Kochi on the Japanese island of Shikoku on Monday October 13, 2014. The storm <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-29591910" target="_blank">grounded 300 flights</a>.</strong> Kyodo/AP</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon6_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>This photo of the super typhoon last week showed the eye of the storm was approximately 50 miles wide. </strong>NOAA/NASA</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/typhoon7.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Streets were (almost) empty and shops shuttered in Toyko as Vongfong approached last night. The storm is expected to pass over the capital on Tuesday.</strong> kodomut/Flickr</div> </div></body></html> Blue Marble Photo Essays Climate Desk Top Stories Mon, 13 Oct 2014 16:04:46 +0000 James West 262286 at http://www.motherjones.com Alaska's Stranded Walruses Face a New Threat: Oil Drillers http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/walruses-arctic-shell-oil <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="walrus map" class="image" src="/files/2013_Final.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Yellow lines show the movement of radio-tracked walruses in 2013; the green highlighted section is where offshore drilling leases are available. </strong>USGS</div> </div> <p>Remember that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/walrus-photo-alaska-climate-change" target="_blank">jaw-dropping photo</a> from last week that showed 35,000 walruses crammed onto a narrow strip of land because they couldn't find enough space on the disappearing Arctic sea ice? Turns out melting ice isn't the only thing the walruses have to worry about.</p> <p>Last month, the energy blog Fuel Fix <a href="http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/09/16/feds-reveal-details-on-shells-arctic-ambitions/" target="_blank">reported on details</a> of Shell's newest plans to drill for oil in the Arctic. The company has a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/03/shell-arctic-drilling-timeline" target="_blank">history of failure</a> in the Arctic since it first got a federal green-light to explore there in 2012. Now they'll be heading back out next summer for another try, with up to six new wells in the Chukchi Sea.</p> <p>The ocean expanse north of Alaska where Shell wants to drill is the most popular hangout for Alaskan walruses, as the map above, from a <a href="http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/walrus/2013animation.html" target="_blank">US Geological Survey study</a> of walruses last year, shows. The yellow lines show the movements of a group of walruses over a two-week period in July 2013; red X's mark where researchers deployed radio tags on the walruses. The green outline indicates the cluster of Arctic oil drilling lease locations administered by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, including those Shell is eyeing. The wells would be <a href="http://www.alaskapublic.org/2012/08/09/scientists-research-ecosystem-downstream-from-drill-sites/" target="_blank">upstream of Hanna Shoals</a>, a biologically rich shallow shelf that tends to hold sea ice longer than other areas.</p> <p>The Shoals are vital walrus habitat, especially as climate change <a href="http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/" target="_blank">diminishes sea ice throughout the Arctic</a>, said Margaret Williams, Arctic programs director for the World Wildlife Fund. Risks to the walruses (and other marine life, for that matter) include disturbance by ship traffic and the fallout from oil spills. Spill cleanup is particularly challenging in icy waters, and the nearest Coast Guard station is across the state in Kodiak.&nbsp;</p> <p>"It's an amazing place that is full of life, with a very rich food chain," Willaims said. If oil and gas drilling goes forward, "you have a huge potential mess."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Maps Animals Climate Change Climate Desk Corporations Energy Fri, 10 Oct 2014 16:07:41 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262081 at http://www.motherjones.com This Is Your Teenager's Brain on Soda http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/new-study-teens-may-have-memory-trouble-if-they-keep-drinking-soda <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A growing number of doctors and public health experts now see sugar as one of the main culprits behind both widening waistlines and <a href="http://www.globalresearch.ca/sugar-killing-us-sweetly/5367250" target="_blank">chronic health problems </a>like heart disease and diabetes. But scientists are only just discovering how the sweet substance affects the brain&mdash;especially the developing brain. As you might guess, sugar isn't exactly making young people sharper. In fact, researchers at the University of Southern California recently published a <a href="http://dornsife.usc.edu/news/stories/1863/sugar-linked-to-memory-woes/" target="_blank">study</a> showing a connection between sugar consumption and memory problems.</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/soda-225.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More <em>MoJo</em> soda coverage. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-261881"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2014/10/new-study-teens-may-have-memory-trouble-if-they-keep-drinking-soda"> This Is Your Teenager's Brain on Soda</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-261831"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/10/inside-san-franciscos-7-million-soda-tax"> Inside the $7 Million Fight to Tax Soda in San Francisco</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-182311"> <li><a href="/media/2012/06/supersize-biggest-sodas-mcdonalds-big-gulp-chart"> Too Big to Chug: How Our Sodas Got So Huge</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-243686"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2014/01/sodas-contain-caramel-colored-carcinogen-4-mei"> These 11 Popular Sodas Tested Positive for a Potential Carcinogen</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-181331"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2012/06/diet-soda-tax-fat"> Why Diet Soda Should Be Taxed, Too</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>For the USC study, scientists gave adolescent rats sugar-sweetened drinks that contained either sugar or high-fructose corn syrup in "concentrations comparable to popular sugar-sweetened beverages." They observed the animals' ability to navigate through mazes compared to a control group of rats given plain water. The adolescent rats on sugar "were impaired in learning and remembering the task," says Scott Kanoski, the corresponding author of the study and an assistant professor of biological sciences at USC-Dornsife.</p> <p>The researchers also found evidence of swelling in the part of the brain called the hippocampus. The swelling appeared in the adolescent rodents who consumed both sugary solutions, although the results were more pronounced for the rats given high-fructose corn syrup (usually the sweetener used in soda). Damage to this part of the brain is often found in people who suffer from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-10-07%20at%206.47.42%20PM_0.png" style="height: 311px; width: 400px;"><div class="caption"><strong>The results of a memory test conducted. </strong> "Effects of Sucrose and High Fructose Corn Syrup Consumption on Spatial Memory Function and Hippocampal Neuroinflammation in Adolescent Rats," Hsu et al.</div> </div> <p>Kanoski says they did not determine why sugar influences the brain this way, but stressed that there was a clear connection to how it could impact youth. "We know that not only with adolescents, but with all critical period of development, there seems to be a higher susceptibility to environmental influences on behavior and biological systems," he says.</p> <p>The study came out of a long line of research, headed by Kanoski and others, looking at the negative effects of the Western diet. This diet is high in saturated fats and simple sugars, and rats raised on it don't turn out too well: "They gain weight, they have increased adiposity, impaired glucose tolerance," Kanoski has found. Maybe even more disturbingly, they have "impaired cognitive processes," he says. Since these animals have similar physiological and neurobiological systems as humans, they serve as a reflection of how this diet might be screwing with our health and memories, too.</p> <p>In Kanoski's study, adult rats were also fed sugary diets and had to go through the mazes, but they didn't suffer the same cognitive defects as adolescents high on sugar. Assuming the results would hold true for people, that means we're feeding the population whose brains are more vulnerable to sugar the most sugary beverages. According to a 2011 <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22617020" target="_blank">National Center for Health Statistics&nbsp;Data Brief</a>, teens and young adults consume more sweetened drinks than any other age groups. A food marketing <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/documents/reports/review-food-marketing-children-and-adolescents-follow-report/121221foodmarketingreport.pdf" target="_blank">study</a> published by the Federal Trade Commission in 2012 shows that spending on soda marketing to teens was "higher than any other food category for teen marketing." This publicity appears to be <a href="http://edsource.org/wp-content/uploads/PolicyBrief.pdf" target="_blank">working</a>. The Center for Science in the Public Interest <a href="https://www.cspinet.org/new/pdf/facts-on-sugar-drink-consumption.pdf" target="_blank">reports</a> that more than a quarter of teens drink at least a soda a day, and close to a fifth drink two or more.</p> <p>There might still be hope, though. Kanoski's team is now looking into whether sugar's negative affects can be turned around. Although Kanoski says he doesn't have results on this yet, "there have been other studies showing that animals can recover from cognitive deficits." But until stronger evidence of this turnaround arrives, add soda to the list of things you only realize later in life you wish you hadn't indulged so much in as a teen.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Science Top Stories soda Fri, 10 Oct 2014 14:46:50 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 261881 at http://www.motherjones.com Study: Hospitals Give Patients Antibiotics for No Reason at All http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/antibiotics-hospital-patients-superbugs-resistance <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Some hospital patients are on antibiotics for good reason: They have an infection, or they're at high risk for getting one. But according to a new <a href="http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1911328" target="_blank">study</a>, other patients are&nbsp;given antibiotics for no reason whatsoever. Researchers could find "no documented rationale" for 7 percent of surveyed participants who had been given prescriptions.&nbsp;</p> <p>Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed patients in 183 hospitals across 10 states over the course of five months to capture a clearer picture of how often antibiotics are prescribed, how much is prescribed, and for how long. Of the roughly 11,000 patients surveyed close to half confirmed they had been given antibiotics. Most of this group also reported they were taking more than one form&mdash;some up to four different kinds at once.</p> <p>To understand how to improve antibiotic use, researchers also sought to identify which drugs are most commonly used and why. Though there are 83 different antibiotic drugs available, four specific kinds (parenteral vancomycin, piperacilintazobactam, cefriaxone, and levofloxacin) are used most often, sometimes when they are not the best fit for the infection being treated.</p> <p>"Despite the evidence supporting early, appropriate therapy, a substantial proportion of antimicrobial use in the US acute care hospitals may be inappropriate," the researchers write. "Inappropriate antimicrobial use needlessly puts patients at risk."</p> <p>Antibiotics are essential to battling a variety of bad bugs, and that's why it is so important that they are used sparingly. Superbugs are developing at an <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/04/sinus-infections-antibiotics-resistance" target="_blank">alarming rate</a>, and antibiotic resistance is a worldwide problem. A <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/threat-report-2013/pdf/ar-threats-2013-508.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> released by the CDC last year detailed the rise in "nightmare bacteria" that stand to "pose a catastrophic threat." More than 2 million people in the US contract dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections each year, killing more than 23,000. The CDC reports that even more die from complications from those infections. And, because these infections require long hospital stays and prolonged treatment, the cost is immense. Some estimates range as high as $20 billion in healthcare costs and up to $35 billion for productivity lost.</p> <p>There have been <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/02/one-weird-trick-curb-antibiotic-overuse" target="_blank">attempts to curb the demand</a> for the drugs, and the CDC even implemented a "Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Program," intended to improve the way doctors prescribe the drugs. But researchers involved in this study say more needs to be done. "To minimize patient harm and preserve effectiveness, it is imperative to critically examine and improve the ways in which antimicrobial drugs are used," they write. "Improving antimicrobial use in hospitals benefits individual patients and also contributes to reducing antimicrobial resistance nationally."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Fri, 10 Oct 2014 10:00:10 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 261966 at http://www.motherjones.com Walmart Is the Biggest Corporate Solar User. Why Are Its Owners Funding Groups That Oppose Solar? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/walmart-biggest-corporate-solar-user-why-are-its-owners-blocking-solar <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Walmart loves solar power&mdash;as long as it's on their roof, and not yours.</p> <p>That's the takeaway from a <a href="http://www.ilsr.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/ILSR-WaltonSolar-Report-Final.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> released today by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which found that between 2010 and 2013 the Walton Family Foundation has donated just under $4.5 million to groups like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, which have worked to impede state-level policies that promote clean energy.</p> <p>The list of groups that have received funding from the Walton Foundation reads like a who's who of "the groups who are leading the charge against rooftop solar," said Stacy Mitchell, who authored the report. Rob Walton, who sits on the <a href="http://dbd7853403f6a0e4167e-9fe3b5899f298e1c7d591332d27bb114.r52.cf1.rackcdn.com/documents/13c83532-f3fa-469b-9bb7-51a01b6612fd.pdf" target="_blank">Foundation board</a>, is also the chair of <a href="http://corporate.walmart.com/our-story/leadership/board-of-directors/" target="_blank">Walmart's board</a>; his family are <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2013/06/13/as-walton-family-solidifies-majority-wal-mart-workers-promise-dissent-for-fair-pay/" target="_blank">majority shareholders of Walmart</a> and some of the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/walmart-walton-heirs-net-worth-cities" target="_blank">richest people in America</a>.</p> <p>The funny thing is that Walmart, the world's biggest company, is also the world's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/09/top-solar-companies" target="_blank">biggest commercial solar user</a>. Indeed, solar power is a key aspect of its <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/03/walmart-china-sustainability-shadow-factories-greenwash" target="_blank">much-touted green makeover</a>. According to data <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-24/wal-mart-now-has-more-solar-than-38-u-s-states-drink-.html" target="_blank">released last year</a> from the Solar Energy Industries Association, Walmart has 89 megawatts of installed solar capacity on its retail rooftops. That's twice the capacity of second-ranked Costco and more than the total capacity of 37 individual states. Of course, those figures are less impressive when looked at in a light that better reflects the company's mind-boggling size: Less than 3 percent of the company's total power comes from renewables&mdash;including solar, wind, and biogas&mdash;according to <a href="http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/toplists/top30retail.htm" target="_blank">EPA data</a>.</p> <p>Here's the list of groups receiving funding from the Walton Foundation that have taken positions against state-level clean energy policies, according to the report:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="walton chart" class="image" src="/files/walton-donations_0.jpg"><div class="caption">Courtesy Institute for Local Self-Reliance</div> </div> <p>The dollar figures in the chart above come from the Walton Family Foundation's last four annual reports. All the groups listed, Mitchell said, have opposed state-level clean energy policies like renewable portfolio standards or <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/07/barry-goldwater-tusk-arizona-solar-net-metering" target="_blank">net-metering</a>, both of which are key tools in helping more households go solar.</p> <p>Clearly the groups listed here are involved in a host of conservative and free-market issues beyond energy, so there's no direct evidence that the Waltons' foundation donated to these groups <em>because </em>of their opposition to policies promoting renewables. Indeed, a foundation spokesperson said that the report is misleading because it ignores the foundation's donations to environmental groups and instead "chooses to focus on a handful of grants none of which were designated for renewable energy-related issues."</p> <p>But backing groups like this has a direct impact on the growth of clean energy, Mitchell said.</p> <p>The upshot, she said, is "not that their vision of the future doesn't include some solar power. It's just solar power they own and control."</p> <p>Walmart declined to comment on the report.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Charts Climate Change Climate Desk Corporations Energy Infrastructure Thu, 09 Oct 2014 21:57:35 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262031 at http://www.motherjones.com This Is What the Most Powerful Storm of the Year Looks Like From Space http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/super-typhoon-vongfang-space <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Super Typhoon Vongfang is mercifully <a href="http://http://www.wired.com/2014/10/super-typhoon-vongang-from-space/" target="_blank">expected to weaken</a> before making landfall in Japan Monday, but at its peak it has reached <a href="http://www.newsy.com/videos/super-typhoon-vongfong-now-the-strongest-storm-of-2014/" target="_blank">wind speeds up to 180 mph, </a>making it the <a href="http://www.voanews.com/content/super-typhoon-vongfong-threatens-japan/2477824.html" target="_blank">most powerful storm of 2014 (so far)</a>.</p> <p>Thursday morning, NASA astronaut Reid Weissman <a href="https://twitter.com/astro_reid/status/520165368275697664" target="_blank">showed</a> the world just what that type of storm looks like from, well, above the world.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SuperTyphoon?src=hash">#SuperTyphoon</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Vongfang?src=hash">#Vongfang</a> &ndash; I&rsquo;ve seen many from here, but none like this. <a href="http://t.co/i2ZwzPsJcV">pic.twitter.com/i2ZwzPsJcV</a></p> &mdash; Reid Wiseman (@astro_reid) <a href="https://twitter.com/astro_reid/status/520165368275697664">October 9, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>(via <a href="http://http://www.wired.com/2014/10/super-typhoon-vongang-from-space/" target="_blank"><em>Wired</em></a>)</p></body></html> Blue Marble Thu, 09 Oct 2014 21:13:18 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 262091 at http://www.motherjones.com Fracking Chemicals, Brought to You by Susan G. Komen http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/fracking-susan-g-komen-drill-bits <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's some news that frankly, I initially thought was a spoof: for the second year in a row, breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure&mdash;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/komen-board-bias-planned-parenthood" target="_blank">which caused massive outrage when it defunded Planned Parenthood</a> in 2012&mdash;has partnered with Baker Hughes, a leader in the fracking&nbsp;industry. The Houston-based oilfield services company&nbsp;will donate $100,000 to Komen over the year and sell 1,000 pink-painted drill bits used for fracking.</p> <p>According to Baker Hughes' "Doing Our Bit for the Cure" campaign <a href="http://public.bakerhughes.com/pink/" target="_blank">website</a>, "The pink bits serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting research, treatment, screening, and education to help find the cures for this disease, which claims a life every 60 seconds."</p> <p>The irony here is that one of the primary criticisms of fracking&nbsp;is&nbsp;that the fracking process injects possible and known carcinogens, including benzene, formaldehyde, and sulfuric acid, into the ground and surrounding environment. A 2011 senate <a href="http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Hydraulic-Fracturing-Chemicals-2011-4-18.pdf" target="_blank">investigation</a> of 14 leading fracking companies found that, between 2005 and 2009&mdash;far from the height of the fracking era&mdash;the companies had "injected 10.2 million gallons of fracturing products containing at least one carcinogen."</p> <p>Only adding to the irony is the fact that Komen's very own <a href="http://ww5.komen.org/KomenPerspectives/Environmental-Chemicals-and-Breast-Cancer-Risk.html" target="_blank">website</a>, "Environmental Chemicals and Breast Cancer Risk," informs readers of "Common chemicals that may be associated with breast cancer," and some of the chemical categories listed are exactly those released when fracking.</p> <p>Here are a few of those chemicals, along with the Komen <a href="http://ww5.komen.org/KomenPerspectives/Environmental-Chemicals-and-Breast-Cancer-Risk.html" target="_blank">website's</a> very own explanations of the cancer risks of their chemical categories:</p> <ul><li class="rteindent1">Naphthalene, a type of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon: "Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) &ndash; found in vehicle exhaust, air pollution, tobacco smoke, and grilled and smoked food...are produced by combustion and can be found in household sources such as car and other vehicle exhaust; cigarette smoke; and barbequed, smoked or charred foods. They are also found in industrial sources from petroleum production, waste incineration and coal or oil-fired power plants. Inhalation is the major means of PAH exposure because it can become suspended in the air. Like other chemicals associated with breast cancer risk, PAHs are stored in fat tissue and are considered EDCs because they can interact with the estrogen receptor. They can also act directly on DNA to cause mutations."</li> <li class="rteindent1">Lead and Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, a type of phthalate: "It has been well accepted that our body's own hormones, especially estrogen, play an important role in breast cancer risk. However, research has found that numerous environmental chemicals can act like estrogen. These chemicals are often referred to as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and some researchers believe they may contribute to breast cancer risk by mimicking or disrupting the effects of the body's natural estrogen. Some commonly recognized EDCs are DDT, BPA, PAHs, dioxin, PCBs, phtlalates and heavy metals (e.g., arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury)."</li> </ul><p>According to <a href="http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/10/03/breast-cancer-awareness-heads-to-oil-patch-on-a-pink-drill-bit/" target="_blank">Fuel Fix</a>, "Each steel bit&mdash;weighing 85 to 260 pounds&mdash;is painted by hand at the company's drill bit manufacturing facility in The Woodlands and then shipped to the drill site in a pink-topped container containing information packets with breast health facts, including breast cancer risk factors and screening tips."</p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">Advocacy group Breast Cancer Action called the&nbsp;</span>Komen<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">/Baker Hughes partnership "the most ludicrous piece of pink&nbsp;</span>sh<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">*t" they've seen all year.</span></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Econundrums Sex and Gender Thu, 09 Oct 2014 13:36:26 +0000 Julia Lurie 262001 at http://www.motherjones.com Buzz Kill: Pot Growers May Be Wiping Out This Cute Furry Mammal http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/marijuana-fisher-threatened-rat-poison <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Weed smokers, here's some news to bring you down from your high: On Monday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) <a href="http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/mammals/fisher/pdfs/Fisher_proposed_2014.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing the western population of fishers, furry relatives of weasels, as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. According to a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/cno/es/fisher/PDFs/External-Questions-Answers-WestCoastFisherDPSProposed-Listing.pdf" target="_blank">press release</a>, the "major threats" to the species include "toxicants associated with anti-coagulant rodenticides" used at "illegal marijuana cultivation sites...on public, private, and tribal lands."</p> <p>Fishers are forest-dwelling, cat-sized mammals&mdash;and one of the only known predators of porcupines&mdash;that were nearly wiped out by trapping and logging during the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the current threats to the fishers are familiar, like wildfires and logging. But FWS found the misuse of rodenticides, more commonly known as rat poison, to be a "relatively recent and troubling threat." There are now about 4,000 fishers left in dispersed pockets in California, Oregon, and Washington. FWS <a href="https://www.fws.gov/cno/es/fisher/PDFs/FisherInfographic2014-final.pdf" target="_blank">cited a study</a> that found rat poison in the blood of 85 percent of fishers studied between 2012 and 2014.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/marijuana-map-3_0.gif"></div> <p>The rise in rodenticide usage stems partly from the proliferation of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/marijuana-weed-pot-farming-environmental-impacts" target="_blank">"trespass grows,"</a> or hidden spots in public parks, forests, and tribal lands where marijuana growers cultivate their goods. Each year, the United States grows about 22 million pounds of marijuana, and nearly half of the cannabis eradicated by law enforcement comes from trespass grows. It's difficult to overstate how much the grows contribute to the weed industry: In 2013, 72 percent of the outdoor plants seized by law enforcement in California came from trespass grows.</p> <p>The decline of fishers is only one of a number of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/marijuana-pot-weed-statistics-climate-change" target="_blank">side-effects</a> to this booming, secretive cultivation. Illegal grows divert streams, use tremendous amounts of water and energy, apply unregulated or banned rodenticides, and, in some cases, pose <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/marijuana-weed-pot-farming-environmental-impacts" target="_blank">safety risks</a> to researchers like&nbsp;Mourad Gabriel, who led the rat-poison study cited by FWS.</p> <p>This video, produced by my colleagues Brett Brownell and Josh Harkinson for their <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/marijuana-weed-pot-farming-environmental-impacts" target="_blank">deep-dive</a> on the topic earlier this year, gives a sense of the shady world of trespass grows:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/YIBonwj9olM" width="629"></iframe></p> <p>Monday's proposal to add the western population of fishers to the threatened species list would make it illegal to harm, kill, wound, or trap fishers in Oregon, Washington, and California. The Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking <a href="http://www.fws.gov/cno/es/fisher/" target="_blank">comment</a> on the proposal for 90 days, during which several public informational meetings will be held in the three states.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Econundrums Food and Ag Marijuana Wed, 08 Oct 2014 10:00:14 +0000 Julia Lurie 261836 at http://www.motherjones.com Let's Watch the Moon Drip Red With Blood! http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/what-time-is-the-blood-moon <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Don't look now but the blood moon is back. The full lunar eclipse should begin to be visible <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/mbvd/everything-you-need-to-know-about-tonights-rare-blood-moon-e#2ldqbyw" target="_blank">around 2:15am PT</a>. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/04/blood-moon-end-of-days-john-hagee" target="_blank">No, it does not mean the world is ending.</a></p> <p>Watch it <a href="http://live.slooh.com/stadium/live/slooh-covers-the-total-lunar-eclipse-of-october-2014-as-it-slides-across-the-pacific-ocean" target="_blank">here</a> or, you know, just go outside and look up...or don't! You don't have to go outside. Maybe you're a shut in. Maybe it's cloudy. Maybe you're blind. Maybe you've never been outside because your father was killed by a bear when you were very young and now you have a debilitating fear of bears and there are a lot of bears outside so you don't go outside. Whatever. It's not important. What I'm saying is, your inability to go outside is not a deal breaker for me. I'm not going to let our relationship die on this hill. We can make this marriage work whether you want to go outside and watch it or not. Here's a <a href="http://www.space.com/27353-total-lunar-eclipse-october8-guide.html" target="_blank">livestream</a>:</p> <object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,47,0" height="354" id="flashObj" width="630"><param name="movie" value="http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1"><param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF"><param name="flashVars" value="videoId=3792415941001&amp;linkBaseURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.space.com%2F27192-octobers-lunar-eclipse-wont-be-unusually-dark-video.html&amp;playerID=1403109806001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAAAAFR6xVM~,85KKOZyvPf6qwFANvqEzo9EFltY58YnJ&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true"><param name="base" value="http://admin.brightcove.com"><param name="seamlesstabbing" value="false"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="swLiveConnect" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" base="http://admin.brightcove.com" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" flashvars="videoId=3792415941001&amp;linkBaseURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.space.com%2F27192-octobers-lunar-eclipse-wont-be-unusually-dark-video.html&amp;playerID=1403109806001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAAAAFR6xVM~,85KKOZyvPf6qwFANvqEzo9EFltY58YnJ&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true" height="354" name="flashObj" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash" seamlesstabbing="false" src="http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1" swliveconnect="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="630"></embed></object></body></html> Blue Marble Wed, 08 Oct 2014 06:39:01 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 261901 at http://www.motherjones.com If These 35,000 Walruses Can't Convince You Climate Change Is Real, I Don't Know What to Tell You http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/walrus-photo-alaska-climate-change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/walrus-630_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><span class="tooltip" id="previewtooltip_4304e3162dfe4e16a77973264f55370d" style="top: -161.8px; left: -449px; display: block;">AP Photo/NOAA, Corey Accardo</span></div> </div> <p>This an image from a <a href="http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/nmml/cetacean/bwasp/2014/ASAMM-Chukchi_Flight240_27September2014.pdf" target="_blank">NOAA research flight</a> over a remote stretch of Alaska's north shore on Saturday. It shows approximately 35,000 walruses crowded on a beach, which <a href="http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_268808/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=ZBaB2zoS" target="_blank">according to the AP</a> is a record number for this survey program.</p> <p>Bear in mind that each of the little brown dots in this image can weigh over 4,000 pounds, placing them high in the running to be the world's biggest climate refugees.</p> <p>Why are so many walruses "hauled out" on this narrow strip of land? Part of the reason is that there's not enough sea ice for them to rest on, according to NOAA.</p> <p>On September 17, Arctic sea ice <a href="http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/" target="_blank">reached its minimum</a> extent for 2014, which according to federal data is the sixth-lowest coverage since the satellite record began in 1979.</p> <p>"The massive concentration of walruses onshore&mdash;when they should be scattered broadly in ice-covered waters&mdash;is just one example of the impacts of climate change on the distribution of marine species in the Arctic," Margaret Williams, the managing director of WWF's Arctic program, said in a <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/walruses-crowd-shore-as-arctic-sea-ice-nears-minimum" target="_blank">statement</a>.</p> <p>If you've ever seen these <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxMc-INN-GA" target="_blank">blubbery beasts duke it out</a>, then you know there's some serious marine mammal mayhem in store. Thanks, climate change!</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Climate Change Climate Desk Science Thu, 02 Oct 2014 15:36:00 +0000 Tim McDonnell 261576 at http://www.motherjones.com Budget Cuts "Eroded Our Ability to Respond" to Ebola, Says Top Health Official http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/ebola-budget-cuts-sequester <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/first-us-case-ebola-confirmed" target="_blank">confirmed</a> the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States; the infected patient was a man who traveled from Liberia to visit family in Texas. It's the latest development in the ever-worsening outbreak of the virus, which so far has sickened more than 6,500 people and killed more than 3,000. The United States government has pledged to send help to West Africa to help stop Ebola from spreading&mdash;but the main agencies tasked with this aid work say they're hamstrung by budget cuts from the 2013 <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/03/the-sequester-explained" target="_blank">sequester.</a></p> <p>On September 16, the Senate Committees on Appropriations and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a <a href="http://www.c-span.org/video/?321494-1/hearing-ebola-outbreak-west-africa" target="_blank">hearing</a> to discuss the resources needed to address the outbreak. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) asked NIH representative Anthony Fauci about sequestration's effect on the efforts.</p> <p>"I have to tell you honestly it's been a significant impact on us," said Fauci. "It has both in an acute and a chronic, insidious way eroded our ability to respond in the way that I and my colleagues would like to see us be able to respond to these emerging threats. And in my institute particularly, that's responsible for responding on the dime to an emerging infectious disease threat, this is particularly damaging." Sequestration required the NIH to cut its budget by 5 percent, a total of $1.55 billion in 2013. Cuts were applied across all of its programs, affecting <a href="http://www.nih.gov/news/health/jun2013/nih-03.htm" target="_blank">every area of medical research.</a></p> <p>Dr. Beth Bell, director of the CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, testified before the committee, making a case for increased funding. Her department, which has led the US intervention in West Africa, was hit with a <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/fmo/topic/budget%20information/appropriations_budget_form_pdf/Sequester_Impacts.pdf" target="_blank">$13 million budget cut</a> as a result of the cuts in 2013. Though appropriations increased in 2014 and are projected to rise further in 2015, the agency hasn't yet made up for the deficit&mdash;according to Bell, $100 million has already gone toward stopping the Ebola epidemic, and much more is needed. The United Nations estimates it will take over $600 million just to get the crisis under control.</p> <div class="mininav-float-left"><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/ebola-mini.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More <em>MoJo</em> coverage of the Ebola crisis. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-262966"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/10/ebola-nurses-osha-federal-rules"> These Rules Can Protect Doctors and Nurses From Ebola&acirc;&#128;&#148;If They're Followed</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-262976"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/10/watch-how-ebola-took-over-liberia"> This GIF Shows Just How Quickly Ebola Spread Across Liberia</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-262361"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2014/10/nurses-union-training-ebola-hospitals"> Survey: Four Out of Five Nurses Have Gotten No Ebola Training At All</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-262416"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/10/liberia-ebola-going-need-lot-more-bodybags"> Liberia Says It's Going to Need a Lot More Body Bags</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-261801"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/10/how-long-ebola-sperm"> How Long Does the Ebola Virus Survive in Semen?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-260876"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/09/ebola-crisis-liberia-way-worse-you-think"> Liberians Explain Why the Ebola Crisis Is Way Worse Than You Think</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> </div> <p class="ember-view">Bell also argued that the epidemic could have been stopped if more had been done sooner to build global health security. International aid budgets were <a href="http://www.voanews.com/content/budget-cuts-hit-us-foreign-aid-programs/1633892.html" target="_blank">hit hard</a> by the sequester, reducing global health programs by $411 million and USAID by $289 million. "If even modest investments had been made to build a public health infrastructure in West Africa previously, the current Ebola epidemic could have been detected earlier, and it could have been identified and contained," she said during her testimony. "This Ebola epidemic shows that any vulnerability could have widespread impact if not stopped at the source."</p> <p>Still, CDC officials have pledged to do everything in their power to stop Ebola in its tracks. "The sooner the world comes together to help West Africa, the safer we all will be," Director Tom Frieden says in a <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0902-ebola-epidemic.html" target="_blank">statement</a> released in early September. "We know how to stop this outbreak. There is a window of opportunity to tamp this down&mdash;the challenge is to scale up the massive response needed."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Top Stories Ebola Wed, 01 Oct 2014 10:00:24 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 261466 at http://www.motherjones.com Half the World's Wildlife Has Disappeared in Just 40 Years http://www.motherjones.com/bluemarble/2014/09/wildlife-population-drop-half-1970 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Global wildlife populations have declined by a stunning 52 percent over the past four decades, and humans are largely to blame.</p> <p>That's according to a newly released study conducted by the <a href="http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/" target="_blank">World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London</a>, which analyzed an index of 10,000 different animal populations (referred to in the study as the Global Living Planet Index) comprised of more than 3,000 species of vertebrates, a group of animals that includes mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, and birds.</p> <p class="rteleft">The report attributes this insane drop almost entirely to human activity, including overfishing, unsustainable agriculture, a dramatic loss in natural habitats, and&mdash;of course&mdash;climate change.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="270" src="/files/newwildlife_0.jpg" width="580"><div class="caption"><a href="wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/">WWF</a></div> </div> </div> <p class="rteleft">The most severe decline was experienced by freshwater species, whose populations fell a shocking 76 percent&mdash;nearly twice the rate experienced by marine and terrestrial species (both of which dropped by 39 percent). The most significant reductions in wildlife occurred largely in the tropics, especially in South America.</p> <p>"This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live," <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/a8c5a58865494b3db4361733b82bf545/group-wildlife-populations-down-drastically" target="_blank">said the Zoological Society's Ken Norris</a>, according to the AP. "There is still hope. Protecting nature needs focused conservation action, political will and support from industry."</p> <p>While Norris' message leaves room for a bit of encouragement, it remains to be seen if the WWF's latest data will spur significant political action, particularly in light of the upcoming <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/23/obama-climate-speech-un_n_5869830.html" target="_blank">United Nations climate change and sustainability</a> meeting in 2015.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Climate Change Climate Desk Tue, 30 Sep 2014 20:54:45 +0000 Inae Oh 261296 at http://www.motherjones.com It's Now Illegal to Kill Wolves in Wyoming http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/09/wolf-hunts-canceled-wyoming-endangered-species-gray-wolf <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>For the past two years, killing a wolf in Wyoming was pretty simple. In a trophy game area near the border of Yellowstone, licensed hunters were allowed to take a certain number of gray wolves. In the rest of the state, or about 80 percent of Wyoming's land, anyone could kill a limitless number of them on sight.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/slideshows/2011/04/wolves-protect-climate-change/staring-wolf"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/1wolfgarykramersmallagain.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/slideshows/2011/04/wolves-protect-climate-change/staring-wolf" target="_blank"><strong>Read "10 Reasons We Need Wolves" </strong></a></div> </div> <p>But that's about to change. A judge <a href="http://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/files/14-09-23%20Doc%20%2068%20OPINION.pdf" target="_blank">ruled Tuesday</a> that the animals' delisting in 2012, which handed management of the species <a href="http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/wildlife-1000380.aspx" target="_blank">over to the Wyoming government</a>, was "arbitrary and capricious," and that the state isn't ready to manage wolf populations on its own. The move has wolf activists breathing a sigh of relief; Wyoming's management plan, as Sierra Club's Bonnie Rice put it, could have potentially taken wolves "back to the brink of extinction." Judge Amy Berman Jackson did not challenge the previous finding that wolves had recovered and that the species "is not endangered or threatened within a significant portion of its range." But even so, her ruling means that Wyoming's wolves will again enjoy protections under the Endangered Species Act and can no longer be hunted&mdash;at least in the short term.</p> <p>While as many as 2 million gray wolves once roamed North America, the carnivores were nearly wiped out by humans by the early 1900s. Roughly 5,500 remain today, though <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/09/map-which-states-hunt-wolves" target="_blank">an uptick in laws permitting wolf hunting</a> in states like Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, and Idaho all threaten to keep the animals scarce. Wyoming's hunting and "kill-on-sight" policies, for instance, meant 219 wolves were gunned down since 2012, according to Earthjustice.</p> <p>In part because wolves were <em>re</em>introduced in Wyoming, whether to kill or protect this predator remains a very polarizing issue in the state. Wolves kill farm animals and pets, pissing off ranchers and rural landowners alike and feeding into the attitude that the canids are just a deadly nuisance. A <a href="https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=564330240283396" target="_blank">Facebook photo posted last year</a> by hunting outfitters, for instance, shows a group of hunters posing with a dead wolf with blood covering its paws and mouth. The caption reads "Wyoming is FED up." Commenters responded with notes like "the only good Canadian gray wolf to me is a dead Canadian gray wolf" and "Keep on killing guys!"</p> <p>But scientists and conservationists have fought hard to restore this species into the North American ecosystem. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/slideshows/2011/04/wolves-protect-climate-change/yellowstone-wolf-project-tagging#" target="_blank">Studies have shown</a> that wolves maintain balance in the environment: they prey on other large mammals like moose and elk, whose populations (<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/slideshows/2011/04/wolves-protect-climate-change/mexican-wolf-near-stream" target="_blank">and eating habits</a>) can get out of control without a predator to keep them in check; their hunting <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/files/2-predatorpreymanagement.pdf" target="_blank">helps feed scavengers</a> like wolverines, bald eagles, and mountain lions; their predation can force elk to hang out in smaller groups, thereby <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/files/6elkherdresponse.pdf" target="_blank">reducing the spread of diseases</a>; and they've even been found to <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19967871" target="_blank">be good for the soil</a>.</p> <p>By restoring protections to gray wolves, states Rice <a href="http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2014/victory-for-wolves-in-wyoming" target="_blank">in a press release</a>, "the court has rightly recognized the deep flaws in Wyoming's wolf management plan." She argues that the state needs to reevaluate how it treats the animal and develop "a science-based management plan that recognizes the many benefits wolves bring to the region."</p> <p>The conservation groups that sued after the wolves were delisted in 2012 include Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity. Though yesterday's news comes as a victory to these groups, a bigger hurdle lies ahead: The US Fish and Wildlife <a href="http://www.fws.gov/home/wolfrecovery/" target="_blank">has proposed</a> to remove the gray wolf from the federal Endangered Species list altogether based on the animals' perceived recovery. A final decision is expected later this year.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Science Wed, 24 Sep 2014 17:24:08 +0000 Maddie Oatman 260896 at http://www.motherjones.com