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Ocean pollution. Sea "dead zones", oxygen-deprived, fishless: 1st recorded in 1970, 417 in 2008, largest covers 70,000 sq km
A new global study of Earth’s oceans shows a rapid rise in the number of “dead zones” - areas of seafloor with too little oxygen to sustain most marine life. The oxygen-starved waters have proliferated since the 1960s and now rank as one of the world's most pressing environmental problems.
Clocking in at over 8000 square miles (21,000 km2) this year, probably the largest dead zone today stems from the Mississippi River delta in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a site at the confluence of significant farming in the midwest and significant fishing (and shrimping) in the Gulf area. The dead zone spans east to west along the Louisiana and Texas coasts.
Several visible sites with expanding dead zones. Mississippi Delta at the top, with Yangtze River in the bottom left and Pearl River in the bottom right. The dead zones are the tinted clouds swirling at the coastal edge.
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Humans drive extinction faster than species can evolve; diversity loss due to destroyed habitats & climate change
Threatened. L: the red squirrel will be lost within the next 20-30 years unless effective action is taken. This poor fella's just heard the news. R: the pine marten. One of England’s rarest, & cutest, mammals.
A pair of giraffes nuzzle as they stand in the bush near Koure, Niger. The IUCN lists west African giraffes as an endangered species.
A giraffe from Africa's most endangered giraffe subspecies. Their numbers have quadrupled to 200 since 1996, an unlikely boon experts credit to the impoverished government keen for revenue that has enacted laws to protect them, a conservation program that encourages people to support them, and a rare harmony with humans who have accepted their presence.
Climate change is robbing polar bears of their habitats, & is the greatest threat to their survival.
Polar bear products are used for furs, rugs and taxidermy. Melting sea ice in Arctic will kill thousands of bears in coming years; US says commercial trade must not be allowed to make the situation worse. read more »
Giant iceberg, 965sqmi (2500sqkm, 400m thick) split fr Antarctica, holding "enough water to fill River Thames 100 times."
An giant iceberg has broken off from Antarctica, created when it was hit by another iceberg two weeks ago. The size of Luxemberg, it could disrupt ocean circulation patterns.
The 965 sq mile (2,500 sq km) block of ice broke off from the Mertz Glacier which ends in a floating tongue of ice that protrudes 100 miles (160 km) out into the Southern Ocean. The 'calving' - or splitting of the ice sheet - resulted a collision with another iceberg.
Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, cloud forests are drying, and wildlife is scrambling to keep pace. It's becoming clear that humans have caused most of the past century's warming by releasing heat-trapping gases as we power our modern lives. Called greenhouse gases, their levels are higher now than in the last 650,000 years.
A large iceberg was spotted off an island about halfway between Antarctica and Australia, a rare sight in waters so far north. read more »
Pope Benedict XVI: "human dignity must be preserved", criticizing body scanners which Rabbis say violate Jewish women's rights
"Every action, it is above all essential to protect and value the human person in their integrity". "For you this reality represents an ever more task of complex organization and it is a labour that if often discreet and barely known, not always noted but which does not escape the eyes of God, who sees all of Man's works even those that are hidden."
The Pope made his comments during an audience with airport workers held at the Vatican. Although the Pontiff did not mention the words body scanner it was clear what he meant as he told the 1,200 strong crowd: "Every action, it is above all essential to protect and value the human person in their integrity.
"Respecting these principles can seem particularly complex and difficult in the present context.
"The economic crisis has had problematic effects on the civil aviation sector, the international terrorist threat which, precisely, has in its line of fire airports and aircraft to realise its destructive schemes. read more »
US bailout tab: $3 trillion. Why not rescue Arizona's heritage of Nature? Prevent entire state parks to close due to budget cut
Arizona decides to close most state parks
Facing a multibillion-dollar shortfall, the state will shut 13 parks by June. Several had already been closed. Wrestling with a multibillion-dollar budget deficit, Arizona decided Friday to close nearly all of its state parks, including the famed Tombstone Courthouse and Yuma Territorial Prison. The State Parks Board unanimously voted to close 13 parks by June 3. Eight others had already been closed, and the decision would leave nine open -- but only if the board can raise $3 million this year. The action represents the largest closure of state parks in the nation, although several other states are considering similar moves.
21 of 30 state parks will be closed: The Arizona State Parks Board voted unanimously Friday to begin shuttering state parks, a move that will leave the parks system with fewer than one third of its properties open by June 3 read more »
2010 International Year of Biodiversity. Ongoing extinction at 1000 times natural rate: most species to disappear in <100 years
Green sea turtles, whose ancestors evolved on land and took to the sea to live about 150 million years ago, are one of the few species so ancient that they watched the dinosaurs evolve and become extinct.
World's biodiversity crisis needs action, says UN. With species extinction running at about 1,000 times the "natural" or "background" rate, some biologists contend that we are in the middle of the Earth's sixth great extinction - the previous five stemming from natural events such as asteroid impacts.
The United Nations has launched the International Year of Biodiversity, warning that the ongoing loss of species around the world is affecting human well being. Eight years ago, governments pledged to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, but the pledge will not be met. read more »
Filmmaker to swim across Pacific & Garbage Patch, floating mass of plastic junk size of North America, 10-meters deep
The floating mass of plastic junk - almost the size of the Northern Territory - in the Pacific is an environmental catastrophe: "...the nature of the problem is so immense and the fact it doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of any particular country means as a cause it's kind of like the runt of the litter, something that no particular country wants to take responsibility for." According to the United Nations Environment Program, it causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 mammals including whales, dolphins, turtles and seals.
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