"The major television and print outlets largely ignored climate change in their coverage of wildfires in Colorado, New Mexico and other Western states," reports Media Matters in a new study. "All together, only 3 percent of the reports mentioned climate change, including 1.6 percent of television segments and 6 percent of text articles."
The Audubon Society, protector of all things avian, tackles this question in a blog post.
An illegal fireworks display in Beebe, Ark., a year and a half ago was blamed for the deaths of up to 5,000 red-winged blackbirds. The blasts disturbed and disoriented a winter roost of the birds, sending them flying every which way and crashing into houses, cars, trees, you name it. “Necropsy report shows trauma primarily to the chest,” said Karen Rowe of CSI: Arkansas the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “Hemorrhaging in the body cavity, bruised skulls, blood clots in brain. It’s consistent with crashing into something rather than falling.” Yikes.
But before you chain yourself to your local Chamber of Commerce fireworks stash to prevent it from being detonated on the Fourth, it appears that the Arkansas carnage was unusual.
If you’re an underwater creature living in the Gulf of Mexico, summer is not your friend. All spring long, rain falls on America’s farmland and floods the waterways around factory animal farms, creating a steady stream of nitrogen from excess fertilizer and animal waste that heads down the Mississippi River and out to the Gulf. These nutrients create algae that sinks, decomposes, and eats oxygen. The result is an oxygen-free area or underwater desert -- a dead zone.
This year, one study from the University of Michigan estimates the Gulf dead zone might be a lot smaller than it has been in recent years -- a mere 1,200 square miles, compared to 6,765 square miles in 2011.
If this turns out to be the case, it won’t be the result of improved agricultural practices, but rather the result of what Reuters calls the Corn Belt’s “driest season in 24 years.” The article continues:
Chesapeake Energy Corp., the second-largest natural-gas producer in the U.S., has paid just 1 percent in income taxes over its 23-year history, Bloomberg reports. In theory, the U.S. corporate income tax rate is 35 percent.
The company and other U.S. oil and gas producers can thank a century-old rule that allows them to postpone income taxes in recognition of the inherent risk of drilling wells that may turn out to be dry. The break may be outdated for companies such as Chesapeake, which, thanks to advances in technology, struck oil or gas in 99.6 percent of its wells last year. ... When the tax policy first came into use, an average of 80 percent of all the wells drilled were dry holes, according to a 2008 Congressional Research Service report [PDF] on the history of energy tax policy.
We reported last week that many large American cities are growing at a faster rate than their suburbs, according to new Census Bureau figures. "If the numbers hold up," wrote Greg Hanscom, "they represent a dramatic shift ... that fits nicely into our favorite narrative about cities rising from rust while suburbs languish in big-box obsolescence."
Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, the numbers aren't quite so encouraging.
Brad Plumer at The Washington Post's Wonkblog points out the problem: "Urban cores are still much, much smaller than the suburbs. Which means they can show higher growth rates even if they’re adding far fewer people in absolute terms."
For five days last week, a brutal heat wave here crested at 115 degrees. Crops wilted. Streets emptied. Farmers fainted in the fields. Air-conditioners gave up. Children even temporarily abandoned the municipal swimming pool. Hill City was, for a spell, in the ranks of the hottest spots in the country.
“Hell, it’s the hottest place on earth,” [said] Allen Trexler, an 81-year-old farmer who introduced himself as Old Man Trexler. He spoke while standing in the shade of a tree on Saturday morning, the temperature already sneaking toward 100.
After a seven-month investigation, InsideClimate News has published an in-depth series on "the biggest oil spill you've never heard of" -- a million-gallon-plus spill of oil-sands crude near Kalamazoo, Mich., in July 2010. If you like your summer reading on the heavy side, dive right into part one, or download the whole series as an e-book.
Or you can get the highlights lowlights right here:
The takeaway: Tar-sands spills are incredibly, frighteningly difficult to clean up. And it's this same kind of oil that would be pumped through the Keystone XL pipeline if it gets built, sent 1,700 miles right down the middle of the country, and right over the Ogallala Aquifer, a major source of freshwater for drinking and irrigation.
Tar-sands or oil-sands crude -- technically called bitumen -- is goopy, tricky stuff:
After months of partisan gamesmanship, Congress finally coughed up a transportation bill today.
Both the House and the Senate voted to okay a compromise of a compromise that is a major letdown for fans of bikes and clean transit. President Obama is expected to sign it into law today or tomorrow.
Despite much back-patting and talk of bipartisanship, a semi-decent Senate version of the bill was gutted during the conference-committee process. First House lawmakers loaded it up with “poison pills,” including a provision that would have forced the approval of the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline. Those pills were dropped from the final bill, but so were measures that would have promoted public transit, walking and biking infrastructure, air quality, accountability, and environmental review.
What was left? Highways, highways, and more highways.
Since 2009, the U.S. government has required grocery stores to label meat with its country of origin. Sounds logical, right? Give customers basic information about the products they're buying.
But Mexico and Canada whined about the rule to the World Trade Organization, and today the WTO slapped it down. That's what happens when we "outsourc[e] our legal system to international commercial bodies that push corporate interests,” says Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.