September 19, 2014

5:26 PM | Obama to Superbugs: We're Watching You
By Susan Cosier Antibiotic-resistant microbes, strains of bacteria that fight off drugs, are a serious problem. Two million people a year in the United States get sick with those so-called superbugs, and at least 23,000 of them die. Yesterday President Obama signed an executive order to begin addressing this growing public health issue.Under the new order, a task force led by the departments of health and human services, defense, and agriculture will […]
2:51 PM | Bloomberg's Climate Challenge
By Andrew Revkin Michael R. Bloomberg has been one of the most vocal leaders, at any level of government, when it comes to sounding the alarm about what climate change is doing, and will continue to do, to our planet—including exposing the deep vulnerability that human communities face from climate extremes and coastal flooding. As the mayor of New York City during Hurricane Sandy, Bloomberg was tasked with handling not just one but two disasters of […]
1:50 PM | Louisiana’s Boot Is Shrinking in Size
By Susan Cosier When learning the states as I child, I always remembered Louisiana as the “boot-shaped” one. But as you can see in the illustration on the right, the sole of that boot is wearing thin as the Gulf coastline disappears, thanks to oil and gas drilling, canal channeling, and sea-level rise (see "Losing Lousiana"). Between 1932 and 2000 the state lost nearly 1,900 square miles of land, and an area the size of a football field […]

September 18, 2014

7:27 PM | Thar They Blow!
By Brian Palmer The Earth almost lost its largest living creature in the last century. Whalers killed more than 350,000 blue whales worldwide, nearly hunting the species to extinction. But according to a recent study, a group of these behemoths living off the West Coast has recovered to almost pre-whaling levels.Worldwide, only 10,000 to 25,000 blue whales remain today, and few communities of these mammals—which can be found in all of the […]
2:35 PM | The UN Is About to Get Wild
By Susan Cosier Ahead of the Peoples’ Climate March in New York City on Sunday, the Ocean Preservation Society will begin projecting endangered species onto the side of the United Nations Headquarters (where eight days of international climate talks will kick off on Tuesday). These animals—chimpanzees, whales, parrots, and more—will move across the building on the east side of Manhattan, highlighting how humans are contributing to mass […]

September 17, 2014

8:15 PM | NRDC Names New Leader
By The Editors Rhea Suh, an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Interior, was today named the new president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the nation’s leading environmental advocacy groups (and the publisher of OnEarth). Suh is the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for policy, management and budget, appointed to the post by President Obama in 2009. She oversees the agency’s $12 billion budget and more […]
2:36 PM | What’s Inside a 13-foot Colossal Squid? There’s Only One Way to Find Out…
By Susan Cosier It’s an octopus! It’s a giant squid! No, no … it’s a colossal squid, a species so mysterious and elusive that humans rarely get a glimpse of one (outside of their nightmares). But now you can see the second intact specimen ever caught—though, this dissection video shows the squid becoming very much less intact. If you can handle it, skip to minute 6:57 for all the gooey goodness. Fishermen hauled up the […]
1:13 PM | To Catch a Predator
By Mary X. Dennis This week marks the beginning of black bear-hunting season across much of upstate New York, with wildlife officials permitting the "sport" in some parts of the state for the first time in decades.At last count, New York had as many as 8,000 black bears, and many of them have been venturing out of remote territories in the Adirondack, Catskill, and Allegheny mountains to more populated places in central New York, increasing the number of […]

September 16, 2014

4:36 PM | faulty cement well casings cause of fracking related contamination
A new study finds that the well casing – the cement that seals the drill holes – to be the cause of fracking related water contamination.  It has been a little unclear if the well casings were the cause of … Continue reading →
2:39 PM | Fore! Critically Endangered Bat Hits the Putting Green...
By Susan Cosier The Miami Bat Squad (not the Vice squad, though we wish) just found what could be the first known roost of the critically endangered Florida bonneted bat in decades. The bat is one of the rarest mammals in the world, and scientists don’t know much about them—except that only a few hundred remain, thanks to pesticides and habitat destruction (a.k.a. development). But without swampy forests and wetlands, these mysterious night […]

September 15, 2014

4:52 PM | Forging a New Path
By Kim Tingley More than a century ago, as America’s first national parks began taking shape out West, there really wasn’t too much else out there. Few people back then could imagine a day when those vast swaths—2.2 million acres for Yellowstone; one million for Glacier; three-quarters of a million for Yosemite—would come to seem more like specks amid an ever-growing expanse of human settlement. But at the very least, people thought, […]
2:12 PM | Will Scotland Bet the Kingdom on Offshore Oil?
By Susan Cosier Scots will vote Thursday on whether to remain in the United Kingdom, and many separatists are hoping to rely on revenue from offshore oil rigs—like this one off the Scottish Highlands—to power the country and fund its schools, health care, and social welfare programs. There’s just one problem: the oil beds off Scotland's coast are drying up. Four decades of drilling in the North Sea has substantially decreased the amount of […]

September 12, 2014

6:59 PM | Saving a Sea of Strange
By Jason Bittel Coral is weird stuff. Reefs can stretch for miles, but the actual animal (yes, coral’s an animal) is pretty tiny—a single polyp attaching itself to other polyps to form massive undersea ecosystems. Coral have tentacles, mouths, and exoskeletons. Some look like fans. Some look like trees. Others look like brains. And they range from the rock-hard to the soft and slimy. But many of the 6,000-plus coral species have at least one […]
2:30 PM | Canada Lynx Protections Slink into New Mexico
By Susan Cosier The Fish and Wildlife Service announced yesterday that it will protect the Canada lynx in New Mexico. Yay! The big cat—which lives in forested areas of Canada (duh), New England, the Northwest, and the Rockies down to New Mexico—is now considered "threatened" throughout the Lower 48. The agency, however, did not designate any critical habitat for the species in the southern Rockies or New England. This means hunting the animal […]

September 11, 2014

4:08 PM | Chalk Like an Egyptian
By Brian Palmer The year is 9014. While digging up the remains of our civilization, our distant descendants happen upon the painting below. You may recognize the work as Edward Hicks’ The Peaceable Kingdom, but what will future humans—or perhaps the mutant rats that have inherited the Earth—think of it? Many big-cat species may not survive two more decades, let alone seven millennia. What will future beings think of those two enormous […]
2:23 PM | Jiminy Crickets! These Aren’t Your Grandma’s Insects
By Susan Cosier
1:54 PM | Fast Track to a Spill?
By Susan Cosier An oil pipeline called Flanagan South that is currently under construction would stretch nearly 600 miles across four Midwestern states, over three major rivers, and through about 2,000 wetlands. The pipeline would carry diluted bitumen, or dilbit—a corrosive and sticky type of oil derived from Canadian tar sands that’s difficult to clean up. And it would be owned by Enbridge, a company notorious for spilling dilbit. Yet a […]
7:52 AM | Interview: Inequality is a lifelong story
Tarja Halonen was the 11th President of the Republic of Finland and Finland’s first female head of state from 2000 to 2012. She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the UN High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, and the Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. She is also a member of the high-level reflection … Continue reading →

September 10, 2014

7:08 PM | Hey Birds, Wear a Helmet
By Brian Palmer Football and dead birds seem to go together. Super Bowl Sunday brings an enormous bump in chicken wing sales, and for many Americans, digesting Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t seem right without a little gridiron action. The Minnesota Vikings, however, are preparing to offer a much less festive threat to our feathered friends: a new stadium featuring 200,000 square feet of glass, situated on a major bird migration route. Audubon Minnesota […]
2:22 PM | NASA Turns Forests into Laser Light Show (Cue Pink Floyd?)
By Susan Cosier The world’s forests have never looked so good! Well, that’s not exactly true, but NASA is developing a laser probe that will map our forests in colorful 3D. Once the GEDI lidar is completed in 2018, it will measure canopy heights and internal structures (branches, bushes, and the like) in order to give researchers a better idea of how much carbon forests contain (and how much would be released into the atmosphere if we chop or […]
1:20 AM | The road to Modelr: my EuroSciPy poster
At EuroSciPy recently, I gave a poster-ized version of the talk I did at SciPy. Unlike most of the other presentations at EuroSciPy, my poster didn't cover a lot of the science (which is well understood), or the code (which is esoteric). Instead it focused on the advantages of spreading software via web applications, rather than only via source code, and on the challenges that we overcame — well, that we're still overcoming — to get our Modelr tool out there. I wanted other […]

September 09, 2014

4:54 PM | Power Hungry
By George Black Two years ago, as Indians sweated through 115-degree temperatures on the eve of an unusually late monsoon, the electricity grid collapsed across the entire northern tier of the country. The two successive blackouts that resulted represented the biggest power outage in history, affecting more than 620 million people. Airports, railways, and offices shut down. Streets were gridlocked. Miners were trapped underground. Hospitals struggled to […]
2:19 PM | Bye Bye Birdies
By Susan Cosier Climate change threatens more than half the bird species in the United States and Canada. According to a new study published by the National Audubon Society, numerous species are at risk of going extinct over the next century, as changes in temperatures, precipitation, and migration seasons disrupt their habitats. No more orioles in Balitimore. No more loons in Minnesota. And trumpeter swans, it could be time for your swan song.Other things […]

September 08, 2014

9:35 PM | Texas Electricity Providers Perform Well In Survey
Green Mountain Energy has taken the top spot in the JD Power 2014 Retail Electric Provider Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.  The study, now in its seventh year, surveys electric customers in Texas and several other deregulated electricity states.  Using the … Continue reading →
8:10 PM | What's Up with All the Climate Events in NYC?
By John Upton This story originally appeared on Climate Central.The climate buzz in the Big Apple later this month will have more effervescence than a bottle of hard cider. You may have heard of Climate Week NYC, the U.N. Climate Summit, and the People's Climate March. They're all scheduled at around the same time, but they're all different things. Here's the skinny on all of them.Does “Climate Week NYC” mean the Big […]
3:00 PM | New cellulosic RINs – torch passing from KiOR to POET?
Anyone keeping an eye on our Cellulosic RIN Volumes page will have noticed that it hasn’t been updated in a while.  That’s not just laziness on our part- the glimmers of US cellulosic biofuel production that emerged this past winter … Continue reading →
2:38 PM | The Fires at Night Are Big and Bright...
By Susan Cosier As you can see from this compilation of satellite images of our world at night, flares from the oil and gas industry really light up the sky (see "In Space, Everyone Can See You Frack"). Burning methane can be cheaper than capturing it, but according to the non-profit SkyTruth, what these companies waste could provide a quarter of the United States’ demand for natural gas. Just look at western North Dakota, its oil boom is […]

September 05, 2014

8:08 PM | Gross Negligence
By Rocky Kistner It was fitting that I was standing on board an oyster boat in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay yesterday when news broke that a federal judge had ruled BP “grossly negligent” for the largest oil spill in U.S. history—a ruling that could cost the company up to almost $18 billion for “willful misconduct” that caused an oil rig explosion that killed 11 people and spewed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of […]
Editor's Pick
2:05 PM | Tear Down This Dam!
By Jason Bittel <p><br /></p><p><br […]

September 04, 2014

6:17 PM | Julia in a nutshell
Julia is the most talked-about language in the scientific Python community. Well, OK, maybe second to Python... but only just. I noticed this at SciPy in July, and again at EuroSciPy last weekend. As promised, here's my attempt to explain why scientists are so excited about it. Why is everyone so interested in Julia? At some high level, Julia seems to solve what Steven Johnson (MIT) described at EuroSciPy on Friday as 'the two-language problem'. It's also known as Outerhout's dichotomy. […]
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