Environment

Scientists tackle mystery of thunderstorms that strike at night

Written by WiG Wire Thursday, 21 May 2015 09:14

Thunderstorms that form at night, without a prod from the Sun's heat, are a mysterious phenomenon. This summer scientists will be staying up late in search of some answers.

From June 1-July 15, researchers from across North America will fan out each evening across the Great Plains, where storms are more common at night than during the day. The research effort, co-organized by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and several collaborating institutions, will use lab-equipped aircraft, ground-based instruments, and weather balloons to better understand the atmospheric conditions that lead to storm formation and evolution after sunset.

Coalition presses for fracking ban in California

Written by The Wisconsin Gazette Monday, 18 May 2015 08:12

A coalition of more than 100 mayors, city council members and other local officials from dozens of communities want California Gov. Jerry Brown to halt fracking to protect the water supply from contamination during a devastating drought.

In a letter to the Democratic governor, the coalition warns that fracking and other dangerous oil production techniques “will exacerbate many of our environmental threats, particularly local air and water pollution and climate disruption.”

Seattle mayor, kayaktivists protest oil drilling fleet

Written by The Associated Press Saturday, 09 May 2015 05:00

Royal Dutch Shell wants to park two massive Arctic oil drilling rigs in Seattle's waterfront, but the petroleum giant will have to get around protesters in kayaks and a mayor determined to take on climate change.

The fast-approaching battle with so-called kayaktivists is unfolding in a city well-known for embracing environmental causes, laying bare the high-stakes feud over oil exploration in the icy waters off Alaska.

Pocan aims to protect public lands from fracking

Written by Lisa Neff,
Staff writer
Tuesday, 05 May 2015 10:19

UPDATED: U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois marked Earth Day with the introduction of the Protect Our Public Lands Act, H.R. 1902. Pocan said the bill would ban fracking on public lands.

“Our national parks, forests and public lands are some of our most treasured places and need to be protected for future generations,” said Pocan, a Democrat from Madison. “It is clear fracking has a detrimental impact on the environment and there are serious safety concerns associated with these type of wells. Until we fully understand the effects, the only way to avoid these risks is to halt fracking entirely. We should not allow short-term economic gain to harm our public lands, damage our communities or endanger workers.”

U.S. residents' exposure to extreme heat could increase four- to six-fold by mid-century due to both a warming climate and a population that's growing especially fast in the hottest regions of the country, according to new research.

The study, by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the City University of New York, highlights the importance of considering societal changes when trying to determine future climate impacts.

Scientists seek to mimic how fish produce sunscreen

Written by The Wisconsin Gazette Wednesday, 13 May 2015 06:36

Scientists from Oregon State University have discovered that fish can produce their own sunscreen, and they have copied the method used by fish for potential use in humans. 

In the study published in the journal eLife, scientists say zebrafish can produce a chemical — gadusol — that protects against UV radiation. The researchers reproduced the method that zebrafish use by expressing relevant genes in yeast. The findings open the door to production of gadusol for sunscreen and as an antioxidant in pharmaceuticals.

Alberta election could boost fight against Keystone pipeline

Written by AP
and WiG reports
Saturday, 09 May 2015 04:25

Alberta, Canada's most conservative province, elected a left-of-center provincial government, ending a 44-year-old conservative party dynasty this week.

And that vote could be important in the fight against the Keystone Pipeline project proposed to stretch from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.

Six Flags wants to clear trees for solar farm

Written by The AP Tuesday, 05 May 2015 05:53

Environmental groups have filed suit over a New Jersey theme park's plans to cut nearly 19,000 trees to build a 90-acre solar farm.

The groups claim Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson is violating the state's municipal land use law. They say the plan would be harmful to the Barnegat Bay watershed.

1 in 3 live in 'sneeziest and wheeziest' cities
Milwaukee at No. 14

Written by The Wisconsin Gazette Monday, 18 May 2015 08:25

One-in-three Americans lives in the “sneeziest and wheeziest” cities and regions where they are exposed to both ragweed pollen and ozone smog pollution that can worsen respiratory allergies and asthma, according to a new Natural Resources Defense Council report.

NRDC said some 109 million Americans are more likely to suffer itchy eyes, runny noses and sneezing, and may find it hard to breathe. And they become more ill than those exposed to only ragweed or ozone pollution.

PETA sues U.S. wildlife service, accuses it of ‘pay-to-play’

Written by MATTHEW BARAKAT,
AP writer
Monday, 11 May 2015 08:35

An animal-rights group has sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stop a policy it says allows trophy hunters, circus acts and others dealing with threatened species to skirt the Endangered Species Act by making token donations to conservation groups.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria by Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, alleges that the wildlife service is sanctioning a massive loophole in the Endangered Species Act. The law allows exceptions in the import or export of endangered species when granting a permit aids the species’ survival. PETA says the agency is granting exceptions for applicants making donations as small as $500 to conservation groups.

GOP resists efforts to protect sage-grouse habitat

Written by Lisa Neff,
Staff writer
Thursday, 07 May 2015 08:04

The greater sage-grouse. — PHOTO: Courtesy

Political animals in late April gave priority to the oil and gas industry over a species threatened by dramatic decline. The U.S. House Armed Services Committee on April 29 voted to maintain a sweeping provision in defense spending that delays for at least a decade any effort to provide federal protections for the greater sage-grouse.

Lawsuit filed over bird habitat in Everglades National Park

Written by The AP Monday, 04 May 2015 09:11

The Center for Biological Diversity is suing the federal government over the flooding of habitat for the endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow in Everglades National Park.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington says the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violate the Endangered Species Act by flooding the western part of the park during South Florida’s dry season.