Other stories below: Tennessee is a national lab for clashes over science in the classroom; Global warming impacts Russia more than others
Climate Change Linked to Waterborne Diseases in Inuit Communities [National Geographic]
As global warming triggers heavier rainfall and faster snowmelt in the Arctic, Inuit communities in Canada are reporting more cases of illness attributed to pathogens that have washed into surface water and groundwater, according to a new study.
The findings corroborate past research that suggests indigenous people worldwide are being disproportionately affected by climate change. This is because many of them live in regions where the effects are felt first and most strongly, and they might come into closer contact with the natural environment on a daily basis. For example, some indigenous communities lack access to treated water because they are far from urban areas. (See a map of the region.)
“In the north, a lot of [Inuit] communities prefer to drink brook water instead of treated tap water. It’s just a preference,” explained study lead author Sherilee Harper, a Vanier Canada graduate scholar in epidemiology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. “Also, when they’re out on the land and hunting or fishing, they don’t have access to tap water, so they drink brook water.”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is likely in the coming days to sign into law a bill requiring that public schools allow science teachers to discuss purported weaknesses of theories such as evolution and global warming in their classrooms.
Supporters, including a socially conservative organization in the state and supporters of creationism, say the law allows teachers and students to critique scientific theories they believe have flaws. They point out the bill says the law “shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine.”
No major cases of Tennessee science teachers being punished for questioning widely held theories have come to light, but the bill’s proponents argue it will provide a safeguard for those who want to raise questions.
To many people the most prominent debate of the day is seemingly between the economy and the environment, and in today’s economic climate the health of the economy is often deemed more important.
Environmentalism, in some circles, is still thought to be only about protecting trees and cuddly animals instead of trying to protect the environmental conditions necessary to ensure the health of people all over the world. While environmentalists and environmental NGOs actually spend a great deal of time studying and reporting on how climate change will impact human and economic health, many people consider environmentalists to be critical and dismissive of any type of resource extraction or energy production and as never giving a thought to job creation or the impact environmental regulations would have on the profitability of certain industries.
Promises by both major political parties three years ago to do something about climate change have gone by the wayside. Today’s Republican presidential candidates have, in fact, gone further in the opposite direction, rejecting evidence that humans are responsible for (or principle contributors towards) the warming of the earth.
Could it be that the Republican candidates are now all conservative white men?
Ron Kramer, a sociologist at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, says there is reason to think so.
Averting the worst consequences of human-induced climate change is a “great moral issue” on a par with slavery, according to the leading Nasa climate scientist Prof Jim Hansen.
He argues that storing up expensive and destructive consequences for society in future is an “injustice of one generation to others”.
Hansen, who will next Tuesday be awarded the prestigious Edinburgh Medal for his contribution to science, will also in his acceptance speech call for a worldwide tax on all carbon emissions.
In his lecture, Hansen will argue that the challenge facing future generations from climate change is so urgent that a flat-rate global tax is needed to force immediate cuts in fossil fuel use. Ahead of receiving the award – which has previously been given to Sir David Attenborough, the ecologist James Lovelock, and the economist Amartya Sen – Hansen told the Guardian that the latest climate models had shown the planet was on the brink of an emergency. He said humanity faces repeated natural disasters from extreme weather events which would affect large areas of the planet.
Brooklyn is fast becoming the borough of farms. On Thursday, Bright Farms, a private company that develops greenhouses, announced plans to create a sprawling greenhouse on a roof in Sunset Park that is expected to yield a million pounds of produce a year — without using any dirt.
The hydroponic greenhouse, at a former Navy warehouse that the city’s Economic Development Corporation acquired last year, will occupy up to 100,000 square feet of rooftop space. Construction is scheduled to start in the fall, with the first harvest expected next spring.
Russia is suffering from global warming more than any other country, say state meteorologists. The weathermen’s latest report focuses on climate indicators in 2011, as well as on the trends of the last 35 years.
The scientists say that climate change in Russia appears to be double that in other countries. In the last 35 years, the average temperature in Russia went up by 1.5 degrees, while the average figure across the world is 0.8 degrees.
“The report shows that global warming is not a gradual process,” said Aleksey Kokorin, the head of WWF Russia climate service. “Although the average temperatures are going up slowly, the temperatures’ actual leaps are 10 times bigger. The number of alarming climate phenomena has gone up by two times.”
Companies making devices that generate renewable energy from the ebb and flow of tides and waves around the UK could win a share of a new £20m government prize announced on Thursday.
It is hoped the scheme, the Marine Energy Array Demonstrator (Mead), will encourage growth in the industry, which has been struggling to create a commercially viable projects. Ministers believe wave and tidal power could in the future generate up to 20% of Britain’s energy needs and create 10,000 jobs in the sector.
The energy and climate change minister, Greg Barker, claimed Mead would help move the industry into the next stage of development. “This will take us one vital step closer to realising our ambitions of generating electricity from the waves and tides, powering homes and businesses across the whole of the UK with clean, green electricity,” he said.
The prize money will be shared between two winners, who will develop the first wave and tidal devices to sit in array formation – much like clusters of wind turbines create a windfarm.