Saturday, August 8, 2009

More wildfire, more bad air

From: Bettina Boxall, LA Times

Harvard University scientists are predicting some forms of air pollution could increase significantly across the West as more of the region's wildlands burn as a result of rising temperatures.

Smoke from wildfires contains two main kinds of carbon particles: black soot, or elemental carbon, and lighter-colored particles, called organic carbon aerosols, which are a mix of chemicals.

"In large quantities, downwind of fires, organic carbon aerosols are hazardous," said senior research fellow Jennifer Logan, who led a study examining rising wildfire rates and the impact on air quality. "The particles irritate lung tissue and the chemicals they carry are toxic. But even at low concentrations, these aerosols may be dangerous. We don't know. There is no known threshold where damage begins."

Article continues

Can national parks be saved from global warming?

From: Margot Roosevelt, LA Times

The federal government must take decisive action to avoid "a potentially catastrophic loss of animal and plant life," in the national parks, according to a new report that details the effect of global warming on the country's most treasured public lands.

The 53-page report from the National Parks Conservation Assn., a Washington-based advocacy group, contains a litany of concerns related to climate change in the parks, from the bleaching of coral reefs in Florida to the disappearance of high-altitude ponds that nurture yellow-legged frogs in California.

The group, which has offices in California and 10 other states, called on the National Park Service to come up with a detailed plan and funding to adapt to temperature-related ecosystem changes.

"Right now, no national plan exists to manage wildlife throughout their habitat, which often is a patchwork of lands managed by multiple federal agencies, states, tribes, municipalities and private landholders," wrote Tom C. Kiernan, president of the group.

Article continues

How to Get Cancer: Move to the United States

From: Live Science

he risk of cancer for Hispanics living in Florida is 40 percent higher than for those who live in their native countries, a puzzling new study finds.

The finding holds even after researchers corrected for the increase detection rates in the United States. And access to health care

did not make things better.

"This suggests that changes in their environment and lifestyles make them more prone to develop cancer," said Dr. Paulo S. Pinheiro, a researcher in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Cancers of the colon and rectum among Cubans and Mexicans who moved to the United States was more than double that in Cuba and Mexico. Lung cancer among Mexican and Puerto Rican women living in Florida was also double the rates in their countries of origin.

Article continues

Alaskan Glaciers REALLY are Shrinking

"Fifty years of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research on glacier change shows recent dramatic shrinkage of glaciers in three climatic regions of the United States. These long periods of record provide clues to the climate shifts that may be driving glacier change."

Beginning in 1957, the USGS has taken annual measurements of the South Cascade Glacier in Washington state, and followed shortly thereafter monitoring the Gulkana Glacier on the coast of Alaska and Wolverine Glacier in Alaska's interior.

All three glaciers have shrunk and thinned, the report says, with the mass loss rapidly accelerating over the past 15 years. The South Cascade Glacier has lost nearly 25% of its weight, and the two Alaskan glaciers about 15%.

Between 1987 and 2004 all three glaciers consistently lost more snow and ice each summer as compared to years prior, the report says. Combined with less snowfall the loss has led to the net decline of the glaceirs.
The study raises concerns about diminishing freshwater runoff and the future availability for fresh drinking water in areas that depend on the glaciers for water supply as they continue to shrink - some possibly disappearing entirely. The shrinkage also changes water temperatures, effecting the habitat of fish, insects, and other animals downstream, says USGS scientist Shad O'Neel.

Photo shows the South Cascade Glacier in 1928 (top) and now (bottom).

Article continues:


"Manufactured Landscapes" SEE THIS BRILLIANT MOVIE! You'll never have the same shopping experience again.