"January 9 News: Boreal Ducks “Doomed by Earlier Snow Melts Brought on by Global Warming, Study Finds”"
Other stories below: Fight Against EPA Orders Heads to Supreme Court; 600,000 homes damaged by floods, freezing and droughts in Mexico in 2011
Scientists long puzzled by the rapid decline in millions of Canadian boreal ducks since the 1970s think they may finally have the cause: global warming.
“Because of climate change, the ducks don’t have the food that they need when they need it,” Stuart Slattery, a research scientist with Ducks Unlimited Canada, told CBC News on Friday.
Slattery and a team of scientists from the University of British Columbia, the University of Saskatchewan and Environment Canada have long been trying to solve a mystery in Canada’s boreal forests: why have two duck species, the scaup and scoter, dropped so dramatically in numbers — by 40 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively — in just three decades?
The scaup population, for instance, plunged from six million to 3½ million.
In a case watched closely by energy companies and manufacturers, the Supreme Court is set to consider Monday whether to blunt one of the government’s chief tools for enforcing the Clean Water Act.Based on “any information”—even a newspaper article or an anonymous tip—the Environmental Protection Agency can issue an administrative compliance order directing a property owner to stop discharging pollutants or restore a damaged wetland. The government says such directives, similar to stop-work orders by local zoning inspectors, allow it to respond rapidly to prevent environmental damage.
But business groups contend that the EPA acts as a judge and jury, forcing property owners either to comply, often at great expense, or risk penalties of up to $37,500 a day if the agency later obtains a court ruling to enforce its directive.
Challengers say that by issuing compliance orders without first giving property owners a chance to contest them in court, the EPA skirts the federal law and the Fifth Amendment guarantee of due process.
U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will announce a 20-year ban on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, according to an environmental group monitoring the issue.Salazar will impose a moratorium today on new mining claims on 1 million acres of public land around the Arizona tourist site, according to a representative of the group who spoke on condition of anonymity before the official announcement.
A press conference scheduled in Washington will be about the “conservation of the Grand Canyon,” the Interior Department website said. Agency spokesman Adam Fetcher declined in an e-mail to provide details, which were reported earlier by the New York Times and the Associated Press.
After glacial temperatures in early December, the new year brought temperatures across the country reminiscent of spring, not winter. Last week, Lincoln’s temperature was almost 70 degrees.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a winter this mild since I moved to Nebraska,” said Daniel Baquet, a freshman international business and Spanish major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who moved to Lincoln 12 years ago. He began this year by driving around town with his car windows down.
The warmth was hardly limited to Nebraska. Hundreds of high-temperature records were broken in dozens of states. Nearly the entire country was above freezing. In the Dakotas, some towns saw highs 40 degrees above normal. Lincoln’s temperature was the same as Miami’s.
The snow cover across the U.S. can be best described by one word: pathetic. Here it is January 6, and just 16 percent of the U.S. has snow on the ground. Last year at this time, about 45 percent of the country had snow.
The lack of snow is taking a serious toll on the ski industry and other forms of winter tourism.
“Nationwide, the lack of snow is costing tens of millions of dollars in winter recreation, restaurant, lodging and sporting goods sales,” the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Reporting for Climate Central, CWG’s Andrew Freedman talked to David Robinson, director of the Global Snow Lab at Rutgers University, who said snow cover in December was 11th least extensive in the 46-year satellite record.
Wundergound.com’s Jeff Masters found “95% of the country that normally has snow at this time of year had below-average snow cover” (in December).
In a sunny courtyard made of reeds, about 60 students from the Torani primary school, on Lake Titicaca, do the roll call in neat rows, wearing colourful uniforms.
They belong to the Uros people, who still live in small floating islands in the bay of Puno in south-eastern Peru.
Like their ancestors centuries ago, these residents of pre-Inca descent continue to build their houses and islands with the aquatic plants that abound in the lake.
The school itself is floating. And this is where the children learn to read Aymara and Spanish, and also where they have recently begun to connect to the rest of the world.
“For us, it was a joy when we got an internet signal,” says Santos Pineda, the school’s head teacher.
Mexico’s social development secretary says an estimated 600,000 households suffered property damage or crop losses due to an unusual combination of floods, drought and freezing weather in 2011.
Heriberto Felix Guerra says the drought has been so bad that about 2.6 million people in about 1,650 villages and towns in northern Mexico do not even have drinking water.
The day Maryland lawmakers left Annapolis nine months ago, Gov. Martin O’Malley chided them, saying the legislature had “choked” on his signature environmental initiative: a measure to subsidize development of a multibillion-dollar offshore wind farm.
The plan would have added a couple of extra dollars to every Marylander’s monthly electric bill for 20 years and thousands onto those of the state’s largest businesses. O’Malley (D) argued the costs would be worth it for about 2,000 jobs and a foothold for Maryland in a promising new green-energy market.
But as the legislature returns this week to Annapolis for the start to the 2012 session, there is little evidence that O’Malley’s ambition for offshore wind has grown easier for lawmakers to swallow.