Tag Archives: biodiversity

Lawsuit: EPA has dragged feet on oil spill dispersant rules

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Environmental groups and women from Alaska and Louisiana are suing the Environmental Protection Agency, asking a federal court to make the agency set new rules for use of oil spill dispersants

NEW ORLEANS —
Environmental groups and women from Alaska and Louisiana are asking a federal court to make the Environmental Protection Agency set new rules for use of oil spill dispersants, citing worries about the chemicals’ health and environmental effects.

“We want our foods to come to us. What’s going to happen to them if they come through these areas where dispersants are used?” said Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, who lives in a village on the Arctic Ocean, in a telephone interview. She’s a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed Thursday afternoon in federal court in Washington, D.C.

An EPA spokeswoman in Washington, Maggie Sauerhage, said she was checking on the lawsuit.

Ahtuangaruak said people in her indigenous community depend on oily fish and fatty marine mammals for the energy they need to survive in an area where temperatures are often far below zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius).

Ahtuangaruak said she began investigating dispersants after working as a health aide in Utqiagvik, formerly Barrow, following the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. The hospital treated some people who had applied dispersant and blamed it for symptoms ranging from respiratory and skin disorders to fatigue and foggy thinking, she said.

The EPA’s current rules were last updated in 1994, five years after the tanker ran onto rocks in Prince William Sound. The agency made its proposed revisions public in January 2015 and received 81,000 comments, but has done little since then, according to the lawsuit.

“The EPA’s outdated response plan is increasingly dangerous as the Trump administration guts other rules aimed at preventing offshore oil spills,” Kristen Monsell, oceans program legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity said in a news release. “Deepwater Horizon was a wake-up call that current response methods only increase the destruction oil spills cause. The EPA’s delay in revising its rules, last updated in 1994, is increasing the harm to wildlife and public health.”

The center is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The introduction to the proposed rules says they are based on information learned from spills including the BP oil spill of 2010. It says they take into consideration “not only the efficacy but also the toxicity, long-term environmental impacts, endangered species protection, and human health concerns raised during responses to oil discharges, including the Deepwater Horizon blowout.”

That spill spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days, starting in April 2010. Estimates of the amount varied widely; a judge set a figure of nearly 134 million gallons (507 million liters) for the purpose of levying penalties.

The Environmental Law Clinic at the University of California Berkeley is asking the court to rule that EPA violated federal law by dragging its heels, and to set a schedule for updating the rules. The clinic notified EPA in March and again in September that its clients would sue if rules were not completed within 60 days.

In addition, EPA has not provided any documents in response to a December 2018 freedom of information request for documents showing any progress since 2015, the suit states.

The current rules allow “open-ended” use of chemical dispersants in offshore oil spills, the lawsuit says. “However, overwhelming scientific evidence indicates that dispersants likely do more environmental harm than good, and generally exacerbate a spill’s ecological impact,” it alleges.

Terry C. Hazen, a professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and a coauthor of “The Use of Dispersants in Marine Oil Spill Response” — a 364-page report published last year by the National Academy of Sciences — laughed when he heard that sentence.

“I guess everybody’s entitled to their opinion, especially if it’s in a lawsuit,” he said.

He said scientists who worked on the report generally considered that the dispersant used at the Deepwater Horizon wellhead and on the surface wasn’t harmful overall and “may have improved things.”

The Berkeley university law clinic represents Ahtuangaruak (ah-TOON-gah-rook), who lives in the Inupiat village of Nuiqsut (noo-IK-sut), Alaska; Kindra Arnesen of Buras (BYOO-ruhs), Louisiana; and several environmental groups. Those include Alaska Community Action on Toxics; Cook Inletkeeper, also from Alaska; and Earth Island Institute’s ALERT project, which is based in Berkeley. They have more recently been joined by the Center for Biological Diversity, a Tucson-based environmental nonprofit represented by one of its own lawyers.

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Joling reported from Anchorage, Alaska.

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This is a single cell ciliate in the genus Frontonia. It’s a microbial eukaryote…

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This is a single cell ciliate in the genus Frontonia. It’s a microbial eukaryote. This cell is green due to the numerous symbiotic algae cells living within it. The mouth is middle left, and the macronucleus is the large oval at right, with the small oval the contractile vacuole. This cell is home to numerous other cells, and makes up the unseen biodiversity at the bottom of the food chain. Collected from a freshwater Florida pond and viewed with 400x DIC by @microbialecology #ciliate #algae #symbiosis #symbiotic #green #protist #protozoa #ecology #biology #biodiversity #pondlife #florida #cellbiology #microalgae #creature #foodchain #cell #life

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Yellow cedar rejected for threatened species itemizing

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An iconic Alaska tree with roots that may freeze to dying if not lined by snow was rejected Friday by a federal company for the threatened species checklist.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mentioned that yellow cedar doesn’t warrant extra protections as a result of timber will persist in areas the place local weather change doesn’t have an effect on the timber.

Warming impacts timber in lower than 6 p.c of yellow cedar vary that stretches alongside the Pacific Coast from northern California to Alaska’s Panhandle, in response to the company.

“Regardless of impacts from results of local weather change, timber harvest, hearth, and different stressors, the species is predicted to persist in hundreds of stands throughout its vary, in quite a lot of ecological niches, with no predicted lower in total genetic range into the foreseeable future,” the company mentioned in its dedication.

A spokeswoman for the Middle for Organic Variety, one of many teams that petitioned for the yellow cedar itemizing, referred to as the choice reckless and a blow to the Tongass Nationwide Forest, the nation’s largest.

“Alaska’s yellow cedar are struggling a double-whammy from the local weather disaster and intensifying logging of their stronghold on the Tongass,” mentioned Shaye Wolf in an e mail response to questions. “As a substitute of defending these historical timber, the Trump administration is fueling the important thing threats to the species with its reckless local weather denial and logging assault on the Tongass.”

A analysis overview achieved for the Alaska Division of Fish and Sport indicated that 12 p.c of yellow cedar vary in Alaska is affected with 70% to 80% cedar mortality in these areas, she mentioned. Die-offs are projected to worsen, she mentioned.

“If pressing motion shouldn’t be taken to reign in carbon air pollution, by 2070 yellow cedars might now not be capable of survive in half the areas of their vary which might be presently climatically appropriate, with 75 p.c of yellow cedar forests in Alaska experiencing unsuitable situations,” she mentioned.

Yellow cedar timber can reside greater than 1,000 years and are a key a part of southeast Alaska Native tradition.

Native Alaska Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian folks use the rot-resistant wooden for canoe paddles and totem poles. They take lengthwise strips of bark from dwelling timber for weaving baskets and hats, and as backing in blankets. The timber can get better after the bark strip is eliminated and proceed rising.

The itemizing petition, filed in June 2104, mentioned that throughout 781 sq. miles (2023 sq. kilometers) of Alaska’s Panhandle, greater than 70 p.c of yellow cedar timber had died due to root freeze induced by local weather change.

Yellow cedar was amongst a dozen species rejected for itemizing by the company. The company additionally rejected the Berry Cave salamander, cobblestone tiger beetle, Florida clamshell orchid, longhead darter, Ocala vetch, Panamint alligator lizard, Peaks of Otter salamander, redlips darter, Scott riffle beetle, southern hognose snake and yellow anise tree.

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Here’s a time lapse video of a microbial mat in a single water drop. You possibly can se…

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Here’s a time lapse video of a microbial mat in a single water drop. You possibly can see it’s comprised of assorted species of Cyanobacteria and different filamentous micro organism. These creatures actively transfer, and are widespread meals for Tardigrades. I collected this from a freshwater spring and enlarge 400x with Section microscopy, sped up 6x. #cyanobacteria #micro organism #timelapse #drop #microbe #microbiology #freshwater #pondlife #algae #ecology #section #science #microbe #micro #microscopy #biodiversity #ecology #foodchain

 

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Here is a single cell ciliate in the genus Frontonia. This microbe is full of i…

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Here is a single cell ciliate in the genus Frontonia. This microbe is full of items it has consumed, including algae and a large strand of Cyanobacteria. The cell is under polarized light and appears to glow. This microbe is half a millimeter in length. From a freshwater pond, 200x DIC. #ciliate #protist #protozoa #microbe #microbiology #algae #cyanobacteria #glow #ecology #species #foodchain #cellbiology #cell #biodiversity #pondlife #nature #life

 

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AP Explains: The causes and dangers of the Amazon fires

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Fires have been breaking out at an uncommon tempo in Brazil this 12 months, inflicting international alarm over deforestation within the Amazon area. The world’s largest rainforest is usually referred to as the “lungs of the earth.” This is a have a look at what’s taking place:

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WHAT’S BURNING?

Brazil’s Nationwide Area Analysis Institute, which displays deforestation, has recorded 76,720 wildfires throughout the nation this 12 months, as of Thursday. That is an 85% rise over final 12 months’s determine. And a little bit over half of these, 40,341, have been noticed within the Amazon area.

The company says it does not have figures for the realm burned, however deforestation as an entire has accelerated within the Amazon this 12 months. The institute’s preliminary figures present 3,571 sq. miles (9,250 sq. kilometers) of forest — an space in regards to the dimension of Yellowstone Nationwide Park — had been misplaced between Jan. 1 and Aug. 1. That already outstrips the full-year determine for 2018 of two,910 sq. miles (7,537 sq. kilometers).

Stricter enforcement of environmental legal guidelines between 2004 and 2014 had sharply curbed the speed of deforestation, which peaked within the early 2000s at about 9,650 sq. miles a 12 months (25,000 sq. kilometers).

In the meantime, massive fires even have been burning in neighboring international locations akin to Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.

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WHAT’S CAUSING THE FIRES?

Paulo Moutinho, co-founder of the Amazon Environmental Analysis Institute, mentioned this week that “it is vitally tough to have pure fires within the Amazon; it occurs however the majority come from the hand of people.”

Moutinho, who has been working within the Amazon forests for almost 30 years, mentioned fires are principally set to clear land for farming, ranching or logging, they usually can simply get uncontrolled, particularly throughout the July-November dry season. Moutinho says this 12 months hasn’t been particularly dry. “We’re fortunate. If we had had droughts like previously 4 years, this could be even worse.”

Critics of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro say ranching and mining pursuits wanting to increase their holdings have been emboldened by his oft-stated want to extend growth within the area.

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HOW IMPORTANT IS THE AMAZON?

The world’s largest rainforest, ten occasions the scale of Texas, is usually referred to as the “lungs of the earth,” and 60% of it lies inside Brazil.

Timber retailer carbon absorbed from the ambiance, and the Amazon every year takes in as a lot as 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gasoline that contributes to international warming.

The Amazon’s billions of timber additionally launch water vapor that varieties a thick mist over the rainforest cover. It rises into clouds and produces rain, affecting climate patterns throughout South America and much past.

It is also residence to an estimated 20% of the earth’s plant species, lots of that are discovered nowhere else.

“With every hectare burned we may very well be dropping a plant or animal species that we did not even find out about,” mentioned Andre Guimaraes, director of the Amazon Environmental Analysis Institute.

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WHAT IS ‘THE TIPPING POINT?’

Local weather scientist Carlos Nobre of the College of Sao Paulo and Thomas Lovejoy, an environmental scientist at George Mason College, have estimated that the “tipping level for the Amazon system” is 20% to 25% deforestation. With out sufficient timber to create the rainfall wanted by the forest, the longer and extra pronounced dry season may flip greater than half of the rainforest right into a tropical savannah, they wrote final 12 months within the journal Science Advances.

If the rainfall cycle collapses, winter droughts in components of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina may devastate agriculture, they wrote. The impacts might even be felt as far-off because the American Midwest, in line with Invoice Laurance, a tropical ecologist at James Cook dinner College in Cairns, Australia.

Lovejoy mentioned Friday that near 20% of the Amazon already has been deforested.

“I fear that the present deforestation will push previous the tipping level resulting in large lack of forest and biodiversity,” he mentioned.

Lovejoy additionally mentioned that the federal government has proposed infrastructure tasks “which might push but additional past and speed up the dieback. It would add to the local weather change problem, large lack of biodiversity and all which means in foregone human well being and financial profit.”

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BOLSONARO’S VIEW

Bolsonaro took workplace on Jan. 1 after campaigning on guarantees to loosen protections for indigenous lands and nature reserves, arguing that they had been serving to choke Brazil’s now-struggling economic system by stifling its main agricultural and mining sectors.

He has expressed a want to guard the surroundings, “however with out creating difficulties for our progress.”

Bolsonaro has additionally feuded with non-governmental teams and overseas governments, together with Germany and France, which have demanded Brazil do extra to guard the Amazon. Bolsonaro calls it meddling by individuals who ought to enhance the surroundings in their very own international locations. This week he even steered, with out proof, {that a} non-governmental group or activists may very well be setting fires to make him look unhealthy.

He has disputed figures launched by the house analysis institute, and the company’s head not too long ago was compelled out after defending the figures.

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Tardigrades are robust, however clearly not immortal. They’re resilient, and ready …

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Tardigrades are robust, however clearly not immortal. They’re resilient, and capable of adapt, which is vital within the micro world. Right here a smaller Tardigrade (water bear) is feeding on a big useless one. They’ve piercing mouth elements, together with claws on their eight toes. The big quick oval is a ciliate within the genus Frontonia, a single cell. Collected off a microbial mat in a freshwater Florida spring at 4m depth. 200X DIC and 6x timelapse. #tardigrade #waterbear #feeding #microbe #ciliate #circleoflife #foodchain #pondlife #microbiology #science #mosspiglet #cyanobacteria #timelapse #video #animals #wildlife #nature #biodiversity #alien #algae #phd #micro

 

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The teany tiny sundew is fiercer than it looks. This small plant is carnivorous,…

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The teany tiny sundew is fiercer than it looks. This small plant is carnivorous, trapping and digesting insects with it’s sticky excretions before absorbing the insect soup. But this isn’t some exotic plant from far flung lands, it’s found on peatlands across the UK!
A-maz-ing
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#Peatland #bog #moss #sundew #carnivore #insecteater #habitat #ecosystem #foodchain #nature #plant #climatechange #protectingourpeatlands #biodiversity #naturewalk #rangerlife #explore #scotland #amazing #naturalworld #wildlife #ecology #weirdandwonderful

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