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Environment - Global

The mission of this Working Group is to enhance our understanding and relationship with the environment and ecology.

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Nation's largest oil refinery forced to shut down as Harvey floods Port Arthur

money.cnn.com - Julia Horowitz and Jill Disis - August 30th 2017

The largest oil refinery in the country is shutting down as Hurricane Harvey causes more catastrophic flooding, and more have followed suit.

Early Wednesday, Motiva said it started closing its Port Arthur refinery "in response to increasing local flood conditions." The plant won't open until flood waters recede.

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Global fuel prices jump as Harvey's impact ripples beyond U.S. Gulf

reuters.com - Erwin Seba and Devika Krishna Kumar - August 31st 2017

Tropical Storm Harvey’s impact on the energy industry spread worldwide as flooded U.S. refiners and closed fuel pipelines threatened to squeeze national supply, roiling global fuel markets and rerouting millions of barrels of fuel to the Americas to avert shortages.

The storm, which lashed Louisiana with rain on Thursday, has pummeled the U.S. Gulf Coast, immersing Houston, Texas, and the surrounding area in several feet of water and forcing the closure of about a quarter of U.S. refining capacity.

Benchmark U.S. gasoline prices RBc1 and margins RBc1-Clc1 surged anew on Thursday.

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Fukushima: Robot Images Show Massive Deposits Thought to be Melted Nuclear Fuel

           

An underwater robot found solidified lava-like rocks at Japan’s destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant. Photograph: Supplied/AFP/Getty Images

Robot spots suspected debris of melted fuel for first time since 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed the plant

theguardian.com - Associated Press - July 22, 2017

Images captured by an underwater robot on Saturday showed massive deposits believed to be melted nuclear fuel covering the floor of a damaged reactor at Japan’s destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant.

The robot found large amounts of solidified lava-like rocks and lumps in layers as thick as 1m on the bottom inside a main structure called the pedestal that sits underneath the core inside the primary containment vessel of Fukushima’s Unit 3 reactor, said the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

On Friday, the robot spotted suspected debris of melted fuel for the first time since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused multiple meltdowns and destroyed the plant. 

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TEPCO Chair: Nuclear Plant Must Release Contaminated Water

           

Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s new Chairman Takashi Kawamura speaks during an interview at the TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo on Thursday, July 13, 2017. Kawamura said the utility needs to stop dragging its feet on plans to dump massive amounts of treated but contaminated water into the sea and make more money if it’s ever going to succeed in cleaning up the mess left by meltdowns more than six years ago at the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

abcnews.go.com - by Mari Yamaguchi - July 13, 2017

. . . Takashi Kawamura, an engineer-turned-business leader who previously headed Hitachi's transformation into a global conglomerate, is in charge of reviving TEPCO and leading the cleanup at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. In an interview Thursday with selected media including The Associated Press, Kawamura said despite the massive costs of the cleanup and meeting tighter safety requirements, nuclear power is still vital for Japan's national security.

Below are highlights from the interview, where Kawamura spoke in Japanese:

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Carbon in Atmosphere Is Rising, Even as Emissions Stabilize

           

The Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station in Tasmania. Credit Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization

nytimes.com - by Justin Gillis - June 26, 2017

CAPE GRIM, Tasmania . . . For more than two years, the monitoring station here, along with its counterparts across the world, has been flashing a warning: The excess carbon dioxide scorching the planet rose at the highest rate on record in 2015 and 2016. A slightly slower but still unusual rate of increase has continued into 2017.

Scientists are concerned about the cause of the rapid rises because, in one of the most hopeful signs since the global climate crisis became widely understood in the 1980s, the amount of carbon dioxide that people are pumping into the air seems to have stabilized in recent years, at least judging from the data that countries compile on their own emissions.

That raises a conundrum: If the amount of the gas that people are putting out has stopped rising, how can the amount that stays in the air be going up faster than ever? Does it mean the natural sponges that have been absorbing carbon dioxide are now changing?

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Why People Have to Learn to Live with Wildfires

           

REUTERS/Noah Berger

CLICK HERE - STUDY - PNAS - Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes

grist.org - by Bobby Magill - April 17, 2017

Communities across the Western U.S. and Canada may have to adapt to living with the ever-increasing threat of catastrophic wildfires as global warming heats up and dries out forests across the West, according to a University of Colorado study published Monday.

Residents living in neighborhoods adjacent to forests — known as “wildland-urban interface” zones — will have to accept that many wildfires may have to be allowed to burn and that building new homes in fire-prone forests should be discouraged, the study says.

Firefighters and policymakers will also have to adapt in new ways as catastrophic wildfires burn more land and destroy more homes than ever before.

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Polluted Environments Kill 1.7 Million Children a Year: WHO

           

Children look for plastic bottles at the polluted Bagmati River in Kathmandu March 22, 2013. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

CLICK HERE - WHO - News Release - The cost of a polluted environment: 1.7 million child deaths a year, says WHO

reuters.com - (Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Jeremy Gaunt) - March 5, 2017

A quarter of all global deaths of children under five are due to unhealthy or polluted environments including dirty water and air, second-hand smoke and a lack or adequate hygiene, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

Such unsanitary and polluted environments can lead to fatal cases of diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia, the WHO said in a report, and kill 1.7 million children a year.

"A polluted environment is a deadly one -– particularly for young children," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement. "Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water."

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Why Killer Viruses Are On The Rise

       

Once called the "Dutchmen" because of their large noses and large bellies, proboscis monkeys live only in Borneo. Ecosystems that have a lot of diverse animals, like this monkey, also tend to have a lot of diverse viruses.  Charles Ryan

npr.org - by Michaeleen Doucleff and Jane Greenhalgh - February 14, 2017

The next troubling outbreak could come from a rain forest . . . And a big reason why: all the crazy animals that live here.

. . . Wild animals are now refugees. They have no home. So they come live in our backyards. They pee on our crops. Share our parks and playgrounds. Giving their viruses a chance to jump into us and make us sick.

"So it's really the human impact on the environment that's causing these viruses to jump into people," Olival says.

And cause an outbreak? I ask. Or a pandemic, says Olival.

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Here’s How We Know Trump’s Cabinet Picks are Wrong on Human-Caused Global Warming

           

Summary of observational evidence that human carbon dioxide emissions are causing the climate to warm. Photograph: John Cook, SkepticalScience.com.

The research is clear – humans are responsible for all the global warming since 1950

CLICK HERE - IPCC - Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)

theguardian.com - by Dana Nuccitelli - January 30, 2017

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report – which summarizes the latest and greatest climate science research – was quite clear that humans are responsible for global warming . . . 

 . . . In fact, the report’s best estimate was that humans are responsible for all of the global warming since 1951, and greenhouse gases for about 140%. That’s because natural factors have had roughly zero net effect on temperatures during that time, and other human pollutants have had a significant cooling effect.

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U.S. Government Scientists Go 'Rogue' in Defiance of Trump

           

Badlands National Park in South Dakota is pictured in this July 16, 2014 handout photo.
Badlands National Park/Handout via REUTERS

reuters.com - by Steve Gorman - January 26, 2017

Employees from more than a dozen U.S. government agencies have established a network of unofficial "rogue" Twitter feeds in defiance of what they see as attempts by President Donald Trump to muzzle federal climate change research and other science.

Seizing on Trump's favorite mode of discourse, scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and other bureaus have privately launched Twitter accounts - borrowing names and logos of their agencies - to protest restrictions they view as censorship and provide unfettered platforms for information the new administration has curtailed.

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