Environment

California drought steady, according to new maps

Source: 
Los Angeles Times

Drought maps released Thursday show conditions in California are unchanged but not getting worse, although more than 80 percent of the state continues to suffer from extreme drought, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Ohio offers no-interest loans in water toxin fight

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's environmental regulators laid out a plan Thursday to assist cities with testing and treating their drinking water, a first step in the state's response to a water emergency in Toledo that left 400,000 people without clean tap water.

The state also will commit just over $1 million to help farmers add drainage systems and plant cover crops to reduce the amount of fertilizer that runs off their fields, dumping phosphorus into rivers and streams.

Phosphorus, found in both agriculture runoff and sewage overflows, feeds the blue-green algae found on Lake Erie that produce the toxin found in Toledo's water supply nearly two weeks ago.

Study blames humans for most of melting glaciers

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than two-thirds of the recent rapid melting of the world's glaciers can be blamed on humans, a new study finds.

Scientists looking at glacier melt since 1851 didn't see a human fingerprint until about the middle of the 20th century. Even then only one-quarter of the warming wasn't from natural causes.

But since 1991, about 69 percent of the rapidly increasing melt was man-made, said Ben Marzeion, a climate scientist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

Feral horse fight brewing in New Mexico village

PLACITAS, N.M. (AP) — For decades, free-ranging horses have roamed this mountain village in New Mexico, galloping on residents' property, dashing along roads and attracting tourists and wildlife fans hoping to catch a glimpse.

Their presence has long defined Placitas. But the horses are now drawing the ire of some residents who say their growing numbers are hurting the delicate desert landscape because they eat what little vegetation there is amid an ongoing drought.

"We're going to be living in a dust bowl in a few years," said resident Peter Hurley, noting that it may take possibly a decade before the vegetation in some areas in the village north of Albuquerque returns to normal.

Californians to vote on $7.5 billion water plan

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Driven to action by the state's historic drought, California lawmakers on Wednesday voted to place a $7.5 billion water plan before voters in November.

The measure marks the largest investment in decades in the state's water infrastructure and is designed to build reservoirs, clean up contaminated groundwater and promote water-saving technologies.

It replaces an existing water bond that was approved by a previous Legislature but was widely considered too costly and too bloated with pork-barrel projects to win favor with voters.

Flooding slows production at Detroit automakers

DETROIT (AP) — Record-setting rainfall in the Detroit area has slowed vehicle production, automakers said Tuesday.

Chrysler reopened its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, which makes the Chrysler 200 sedan, on Tuesday afternoon, but had to send workers home because of high absenteeism. The company said flooded roads made it difficult for workers and parts to get to the plant. Chrysler had halted operations at the plant around 9 p.m. Monday because of flooding.

Three other Chrysler plants, in Detroit and in the suburbs of Warren and Sterling Heights, were running but at a slower rate than usual Tuesday evening, the company said.

Despite improvements, climate change still threatens Great Barrier Reef

Source: 
Australian Associated Press

According to the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2014, climate change and warmer ocean currents pose a big threat to the coral ecosystem that’s listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Australian Associated Press reports.

2 Florida butterflies listed as endangered species

VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Two butterflies found only in South Florida have been added to the endangered species list.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday that it was listing the Florida leafwing and Bartram's scrub-hairstreak as endangered. It also is designating thousands of acres of critical habitat for both butterflies.

Both butterflies are found only in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Feds reverse course on wolverines

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. wildlife officials are withdrawing proposed protections for the snow-loving wolverine in a course reversal announced Tuesday that highlights lingering uncertainties over what a warming climate means for some temperature-sensitive species.

Wolverines, or "mountain devils," are rarely seen members of the weasel family that need deep, late-season snow to den.

But while there is broad consensus climate change will make the world warmer, drilling down to determine what that means for individual species remains difficult. That's stoking sharp disagreement over the fate of wolverines, with one researcher calling Tuesday's withdrawal a travesty of science.

Oil

Gulf oyster harvest nose-dives since BP spill

HOPEDALE, Louisiana (AP) — Gulf Coast oyster harvests have declined dramatically in the four years since a BP PLC oil well blew in the U.S.'s worst offshore oil disaster, spilling millions of gallons off Louisiana's coast in 2010.

Fisherman Randy Slavich dragged a clunky metal net through an underwater oyster bed recently in Lake Machias, a brackish body opening into the Gulf of Mexico. For generations before the spill, this has been a bountiful lake for harvesting oysters.

His cage-like net pulled up dozens of empty, lifeless oyster shells.

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