In today’s On the News segment: One in five animal species are at risk of extinction; the Great Barrier Reef will soon be home to one of the world’s biggest coal mines; scientists discover 23 fracking chemicals are endocrine-disrupting in mice; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Science and Green News …
You need to know this. Ecowatch has a sobering article. One in five animal species are at risk of extinction. This rapid decline of our wildlife is what experts are calling a planetary “sixth mass extinction.” It appears to be happening 100 times to 1,000 times higher than before humans were around. Almost 900 extinctions have been recorded, but scientist are concerned that tens of thousands of lesser-known or undiscovered species have likely disappeared as well. Deforestation, climate change, urbanization, habitat fragmentation, pollution, overhunting, overfishing and the global transport of invasive species and diseases have all push the acceleration of extinction in the last few centuries. We need new tools and strategies to stop the rapid decline of wildlife species before they become endangered and need the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
Science World Report is reporting an amazing story. The world-wide sea level rise might be locked in with 2 degrees Celsius of warming for thousands of years. Scientists have discovered if the global average temperature increases 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius, it could cause the Antarctic ice shelves to collapse. Nicholas Golledge, one of the researchers in a news release, says “the warming we generate now will affect the ice sheet in ways that will be incredibly hard to undo.” There is also something new about this prediction. The scientists include what happens when ice sheets come into contact with the ocean. Tim Nalsh, another one of the researchers, says “about 93 percent of the heat from anthropogenic global warming has gone into the ocean, and these warming ocean waters are now coming into contact with the floating margins of the Antarctic ice sheet, known as ice shelves.” He added, “If we lose these ice shelves, the Antarctic contribution to sea-level rise by 2100 will be nearer 40 centimeters.” Is this what’s in store for our future?
According to the University of California, the formation of coastal sea ice in North Pacific drives ocean circulation and climate. Their analysis of the North Pacific ocean circulation over the past 1.2 million years has found that sea ice formation in coastal regions drives deep ocean circulation, influencing climate on local and global scales. Coastal sea ice forms on relatively small scales, and is not captured well in global climate models. First author Karla Knudson, a graduate student in Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz says, “We have identified an important process that current global climate models don’t adequately capture. Coastal sea ice formation may be important to future climate change because the arctic and subarctic regions are warming at twice the rate of other parts of the world.” When sea ice forms, it throws salt into the surrounding water, increasing the density of the water and causing it to sink, carrying oxygenated surface water into the depths. One outcome is a flow of cold deep water toward the equator and warm surface water toward the poles, and this “overturning circulation” plays a important role in circulating heat around the planet. Coauthor Christina Ravelo, professor of ocean sciences at UC Santa Cruz adds, “It helps to modulate the climate by transferring heat from the equator to the poles.”
Oh-oh. according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s journal Endocrinology, fracking chemicals are tied to reduced sperm count in mice. Prenatal exposure to a mixture of chemicals used hydraulic fracturing, at levels found in the environment, lowered sperm counts in male mice when they reached adulthood. The scientists tested 24 chemicals used in fracking and found that 23 of them were endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or EDCs. EDCs mimic, block or otherwise interfere with hormones. Hormones interact with receptors that regulate the activity of cells and biological processes such as metabolism, reproduction, growth and digestion. Despite these dangers, oil and gas companies are not required to disclose all of the chemicals in the mixtures they use for fracking.
ThinkProgress is reporting the Great Barrier Reef in Australia will soon be home to one of the world’s biggest coal mines, now that the government has given its approval for the controversial project. Greenpeace has spoke out: “The federal government and Environment Minister should be in the business of protecting the Reef and the climate, not giving mining companies license to destroy them.” They added, “This project means more dredging in the Great Barrier Reef, more ships through its waters and more carbon emissions.” Some economists have said, because the price of coal has dropped 52 percent since 2011, investing in another mine doesn’t add up. While the company is boasting the creation of 10,000 jobs in Queensland from the mine, a separate analysis found that the project would likely only add 1,464 jobs. The Great Barrier reef has already lost half of its coral cover in the last 30 years and, and is already being harmed by ocean acidification and warming.
And finally … Gooseberries for health! A new study shows that Ceylon gooseberries have high antioxidants levels, which prevent oxidative stresses that can cause cancer and heart disease. Gooseberries have higher levels of antioxidant activity than blueberries and cranberries, according to the researchers. The purple, shiny berry grows in the southwest tropics of Brazil and it is used for making jams, jellies and sold as a fresh fruit. Hmm … now where do we find them here in America?
And that’s the way it is for the week of October 12, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.