This past summer, Aedes aegypti -- the invasive African mosquito best known for carrying the potentially deadly diseases dengue and yellow fever -- made its unexpected debut in California, squirming up from Madera to Clovis to Fresno and the Bay Area.
For a blood-sucking nightmare, Aedes aegypti is surprisingly attractive: Its dark skin and bright white polka-dots make it hard to miss. Unfortunately, it is also notoriously difficult to control. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Aedes aegypti can lay its eggs in less than a teaspoon of liquid and survive without water for months.
While Aedes aegypti has long resided in Texas and the Southeastern United States, this is the first time it's reached California.
How many Tea Partiers does it take to swap out an incandescent lightbulb?
Nine percent of them. The rest don't believe in energy-efficient alternatives because they haven't figured out that humans are warming the globe. (Also, they're pissed about FASCIST GOVERNMENT PLOTS to control their sources of illumination.)
A Pew Research Center poll of 1,504 American adults last month found that about two-thirds of Americans understand that the climate is changing. That figure has been more-or-less unchanged during the last few years of Pew polling on the subject.
More Democrats than Republicans are clued in to the reality of climate change -- 84 percent of Democrats agreed that there is "solid evidence the Earth is warming," compared with 61 percent of Republicans. But within the Republican Party, there's about as much agreement over climate science as there was over the Tea Party-fueled federal government shutdown.
OK, so last year was a nightmare for the officials at Shell charged with figuring out how to plunder the Arctic for oil. Shell gets that. Both of the company's exploratory oil rigs in the region were damaged in accidents, wells were abandoned, a vice president lost his job, and the Obama administration prevented the company from resuming its Arctic work this year.
But Shell is delighted to announce that its problems have largely been fixed and it's ready to return to some American-controlled Arctic waters next year. From E&E Publishing:
In a teleconference with energy analysts, Shell Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry said the company will submit an exploration plan for the Chukchi "in the next few weeks." Shell officials added, however, that the company has not yet reached a final decision on drilling.
Send your question to Umbra! Q. I've been trying to eliminate preservatives and other food additives from my diet. Upon becoming more label aware, I've been shocked to discover how many foods contain "natural flavor.” Even butter contains it! I'm suspicious of how natural this flavor actually is! Do you have the scoop on natural flavor additives? Yours truly, Lindsay F. Seattle, WA A. Dearest Lindsay, Your question reminds me of one of my favorite old love songs, the one that goes “A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh, and butter is just cream that’s …
Earlier this year, a report was circulating from desk to desk in the White House. This document [PDF], from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, suggested that the United States was not prepared for the agricultural problems of the future: climate change, new pests, environmental degradation, and poor nutrition. Our Nation’s agricultural research enterprise is not prepared to meet the challenges that U.S. agriculture faces in the 21st century for two major reasons. First, PCAST finds that the proportion of Federal funding for agricultural research allocated through competitive mechanisms is far below the proportion in other agencies, …
For a long time I’ve been suggesting (as have scores of others) that environmentalists -- or activists in general -- aren’t necessarily their own best spokespeople; better to partner with doctors, local businesspeople, teachers, concerned parents, etc.
The problem? Environmentalism has been successfully cast as a fringe concern, not the basic, universal right of every man, woman, and child to have safe and healthy air, water, food, land, sea, and natural places -- not to mention economies based on security and sustainability not corporate profit and destruction.
But before I get too openly indignant about all this, thus giving myself away as a card-carrying greenie (whoops -- too late?), here’s more evidence that the environmentalist identity is not always compelling to those outside the choir.
It is puzzling that Monsanto’s Vice President Robert Fraley recently became one of the recipients of the World Food Prize for providing GMO seeds to combat the effects of climate change, just weeks after Monsanto itself reported a $264 million loss this quarter because of a decline in interest and plummeting sales in its genetically engineered “climate-ready” seeds. And since Fraley received his award, the production of GMO corn has been formally banned by Mexico, undoubtedly seen as one of Monsanto’s major potential markets.
The World Food Prize, offered each year on World Food Day, is supposed to underscore the humanitarian importance of viable strategies to provide a sustainable and nutritious food supply to the billions of hungry and food-insecure people on this planet. Ironically, what is engaging widespread public involvement in achieving this goal is not Monsanto's GMOs, but the great diversity of farmer-selected and heirloom seeds in many communities. Why? Because such food biodiversity may be the most prudent “bet-hedging” strategy for dealing with food insecurity and climate uncertainty.
Consumer demand in the U.S. has never been stronger for a diversity of seeds and other planting stock of heirloom and farmer-selected food crops, as well as for wild native seeds. One of the many indicators that the public wants alternatives to Monsanto is that more than 150 community-controlled seed libraries have emerged across the country during the last five years. And over the last quarter century, those who voluntarily exchange seeds of heirloom and farmer-selected varieties of vegetables, fruits, and grains have increased the diversity of their offerings fourfold, from roughly 5,000 to more than 20,000 plant selections. During the same timeframe, the number of non-GMO, non-hybrid food crop varieties offered by seed catalogs, nurseries, and websites has increased from roughly 5,000 to more than 8,500 distinctive varieties.
The impacts of climate change -- including an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise -- are already affecting communities, natural resources, ecosystems, economies, and public health across the Nation. These impacts are often most significant for communities that already face economic or health-related challenges, and for species and habitats that are already facing other pressures.
According to the administration, natural disasters cost the U.S. more than $100 billion in 2012. That includes damage from Superstorm Sandy, severe drought impacts on farmers, and the priciest fire season in recent memory. For the sake of our bank statements, if nothing else, it is time to invest in some real solutions.
When Kauai passed stringent regulations over transgenic crops, I made a big to-do, saying that the new law represented "an anti-GMO wave rising." Well, that wave has met a seawall in the form of Kauai's mayor, Bernard Carvalho, who vetoed it on Halloween.
Carvalho said he actually supports the spirit of the law, but thinks it that it conflicts fatally with other laws already on the books.
On Tuesday, the coal industry bused a few thousand miners from coal country into Washington, D.C., for a protest in front of the Capitol against the Obama administration's so-called "war on coal."
Speakers, many of them senators and members of Congress, and attendees interviewed by reporters complained that EPA restrictions on new coal-fired power plants would cost their community jobs. The complaints also pointed to secondary effects, such as higher electricity bills and reduced economic activity to support local businesses in states such as Kentucky.
Here's a typical line, from Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.): “Keep your regulatory hands off the throat of the coal mining industry and our coal mining jobs."
Politicians who represent coal states like to pretend that all they want is for government to leave them alone to go their rugged individualist way.
But the truth is a lot less "don't tread on me" and a lot more "thanks for the handout."