Like most people I once viewed dead trees as an indicator of some presumed problem in the forest—that a ‘healthy” forest was one with a minimum of dead trees and largely free of wildfire, insects, and disease. Oh yes, I knew that a few snags were good for woodpeckers, and as a fly fisherman I understood that trout tended to be found hiding behind logs in the stream. I suffered from the same cultural bias as most people and thought that large numbers of dead trees meant that the forest was “out of balance” or “sick.” But the more I studied ecology, the more I questioned these assumptions.
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Biodiversity / Biodevastation
Stories about Biodiversity and Biodevastation.
The researchers used information from the U.S. Geological Survey on the quality of groundwater across the country and looked specifically at salinity — how salty the water is. “We looked basin by basin at how that depth of fresh and brackish water changes across the United States,” says McIntosh.
The results were about half as much usable water as previous estimates. That means that deep groundwater reserves are not nearly as plentiful as we’d thought in some places.
That’s important because when shallow groundwater reserves become depleted or polluted, the strategy so far has been to drill deeper and deeper wells to keep the water flowing.
But we may not always be able to drill our way out of water shortages.
In the early 1970s, when a young Elem girl started to have convulsions a local doctor said were caused by mercury poisoning, the Elem realized there might be a connection between the high rate of health problems in their small community and the mine next door.
If you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening to the nonhuman life forms with which we share this planet, you’ve likely heard the term “the Sixth Extinction.” If not, look it up. After all, a superb environmental reporter, Elizabeth Kolbert, has already gotten a Pulitzer Prize for writing a book with that title.
A UN Special Rapporteur who last August joined two colleagues in sounding an urgent alarm about the plight of Fukushima workers, has now roundly criticized the Japanese government for returning citizens to the Fukushima region under exposure levels 20 times higher than considered “acceptable” under international standards.
Tthe Gates Foundation recently started Ceres2030, a Cornell University-based project to capture the science and drive the policy agenda of agriculture and development. Ceres2030 has purchased a forthcoming special issue of prestigious Nature magazine that it will populate with articles and authors of its own choosing. These articles will in turn be used for future media and policy work. The evidence so far is that the goal of Ceres2030 is not sustainability but to spearhead chemical-intensive and GMO agriculture in developing countries.
An insightful followup interview with former GMO researcher Caius Rommens, who recently declared his blight- and bruise-resistant GMO potatoes to be a likely health hazard. Should be read to accompany Rommens' own article.
A former GMO researcher for Monsanto and JR Simplot reveals why the GMO potatoes he helped develop for Simplot are likely hazardous to health and should be pulled from the market.
Despite years of public promises from officials that the tailings ponds would shrink and go away, they are growing. And in the meantime, troubling gaps are opening in the oversight system meant to ensure the oilpatch cleans up its mess. Alberta has collected only $1 billion from companies to help remediate tailings— a problem that is now estimated to cost about 100 times that.
The thing that really gets me in the gut about global warming from fossil fuel combustion is how long it will last. Carbon mined from the deep Earth and injected into the “fast carbon cycle” of the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface will continue to affect atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and climate, for hundreds of thousands of years into the future, unless we clean up the atmosphere ourselves.