Environment

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The Battle for the Beach

Aug 6, 2018

The world is running out of sand. And it’s a problem.

Here’s how Vincent Beiser, writing for Wired, puts it.

Changing Autos, Changing Climate

Aug 6, 2018

The Trump administration wants to relax fuel efficiency standards. But some states are fighting back.

From Reuters.

The Real Estate We're In

Aug 6, 2018

Home prices and rents are skyrocketing, especially in urban areas. Wages are stagnating.

“The national median rent [rose] 20 percent faster than overall inflation in 1990–2016 and the median home price 41 percent faster,” according to the State of the Nation’s Housing report, produced by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

Updated at 4:12 p.m. ET

Germany enjoys a reputation as a pioneer of clean energy. Its leader Angela Merkel was even dubbed the "climate chancellor" when she decided to ditch nuclear power in 2011. But the reality is much dirtier.

Centuries-old villages across the country are being bulldozed to make way to mine brown coal — one of the filthiest and cheapest fossil fuels. As the world's biggest brown coal miner, Germany is at risk of missing its 2020 carbon emissions targets.

A team at Stanford University has started using a genetic editing tool called CRISPR to identify the genes that make corals more heat-tolerant.

As the climate changes, warming oceans pose a huge threat to coral reefs. In 2016, nearly a third of the corals on the Great Barrier Reef died off. A quarter of all the fish species in the sea rely on corals for habitat, so die-offs aren’t just bad news for corals.

It was, so to speak, a perfect storm for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The agency was already stretched beyond its capacity when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last year, so much so that it did not properly attend to the damage done by the worst storms in memory. 

First, Hurricane Irma had just leveled the Virgin Islands two weeks prior. In response, all of the supplies in FEMA’s warehouse in San Juan had been moved and used there. Second, a string of massive wildfires were raging in California at the time. Hurricane Maria was the third strike.

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Sand. It's everywhere, even in places you don't expect.

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Last week was a momentous one for the future of genetically engineered foods, both in the U.S. and in Europe. On July 24, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Impossible Burger, an all-veggie burger that "bleeds" and sizzles just like meat.

Local NGOs repair Puerto Rico’s coral reefs in Maria’s aftermath

Aug 4, 2018

On a beach in Vega Baja on Puerto Rico’s northern coast, Ernesto Vélez Gandía stands next to a fallen loved one.

“We got a lot of love for him,” he says. “We saw him alive, very alive … so we just admire him and remember him. It’s very sentimental. I don’t know, but it’s deep in the heart.”

The deceased in this instance is a dead piece of coral, sitting in shallow, warm water at the entrance to a reef — a likely casualty from a warming ocean. This particular piece of coral was one of the oldest in the reef, he says.

Boston faces a daunting future of rising seas

Aug 4, 2018

Boston got a wake-up call earlier this year when the first of a string of nor’easter storms hit just as the tide was peaking. The ocean spilled into the subway and into homes up and down the coast.

The Union of Concerned Scientists projects that by the end of the century, Boston will see close to 7 feet of sea level rise, putting 89,000 Massachusetts coastal homes worth $63 billion at risk from tidal floods.

At a pier in San Diego, researchers on Wednesday recorded the warmest sea surface temperature since record-keeping began there in 1916.

Every day, researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego collect data — by hand — from the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier.

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Farmers face a growing dilemma. Specifically, a food-growing dilemma.

How do you feed an increasing number of people without harming the environment?

As it turns out, growing as much food as possible in a small area may be our best bet for sustainably feeding the world's population, according to new research.

It all comes down to how we manage greenhouse gases and climate change.

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NOAA has released the latest State of the Climate report, its annual checkup on our planet.

So, how did Earth fare in 2017?

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere: record highs. Global surface temperature: near-record high. Sea surface temperature: near-record high. Global sea level: highest on record.

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For a brief moment last week, just off the coast of southwestern Canada, the typically grim outlook confronting orcas took on a hopeful hue. A whale watch operator, staring through binoculars, had caught sight of a healthy calf swimming beside its mother — a rare beacon for a population that had not seen a healthy infant in years.

It was not to last, however. By the time experts with the Center for Whale Research arrived, just half an hour later, the calf had already died.

But that's not the end of this story.

Updated on Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Ruben de Kock has been training South Africa's park rangers for over two decades — but last month was the first time one of his former students was killed on the job.

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A mother orca was still carrying her dead calf in the waters off the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday more than a week after the baby whale died.

A hint of optimism creeps into Darius Kasprzak's voice as he pilots his boat, the Marona, out of Kodiak harbor on a recent calm day.

"We're in the morning, we're at the start of the flood tide," he says. "This is where you want to be."

He is fishing a bay on the northwestern edge of the Gulf of Alaska, about 200 miles southwest of Anchorage. The chilly waters here are some of the most productive fish habitat on Earth. In a good year, Kasprzak could catch more than 100,000 pounds of cod.

This summer, NASA's Parker Solar Probe will embark on a mission to "touch the sun."

San Francisco may become the next U.S. city to ban plastic straws. The city's board of supervisors approved the ban on a preliminary basis last week and the final decision is on its agenda Tuesday. That has shops that sell boba, or bubble tea – a drink that has to be sucked through a straw – concerned.

Bubble tea is typically served in a big plastic cup over ice. It has balls of tapioca at the bottom the size of small marbles. You use a wide straw to suck up the tapioca — or boba — from the bottom of the cup.

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Standing between peach and cherry trees on her 6.5-acre Utah farm, Blake Spalding points to the Kaiparowits Plateau. The looming bluff is dotted with thousand-year-old pinyon pine and juniper trees.

"That is one of the areas they're hoping to mine," she tells a group of visiting chefs from Salt Lake City. "It's full of dinosaur fossils and more than 650 documented species of wild bees."

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