Texas bans shark fin trade, closing the biggest US source

Texas has banned shark fin trading, ending what had become a major US source for the Chinese buying the fins, which are considered a delicacy used to make soup. But the world cannot afford such profligacy, according to conservation groups, which blame shark finning for driving shark populations into a steep decline. Texas’ move may help turn things around for the oceans apex predators.

Sea World squirms as stock plummets; announces new plan for orcas

Sea World’s squirming like a wet sea mammal as Wall Street takes a dim view of its anticipated revenue losses. Animals rights advocates are celebrating the fallout from the documentary Blackfish, which uncovered mistreatment of the park’s orcas as well as the dangers that Sea World’s trainers face in working with these wild animals.

Austin-based Whole Foods Market takes top place for seafood sustainability

How’s your favorite grocery doing when it comes to selling only sustainable seafood? Greenpeace puts out a report every year so you can see how well Whole Foods Market, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Trader Joe’s and many more are doing. Check out who’s received top marks for helping oceans, and who’s lagging.

24 Hours of Climate Reality: Fossil fuel polluters are causing havoc and must pay a ‘carbon price’

Al Gore’s 24 Hours of Climate Reality, a look at how climate change is costing billions around the globe, kicked off today, with segments covering North America and South America. Featured calamities include: Hurricane Sandy, Colorado’s recent flooding and drought in Mexico where farmers can no longer grow corn.

Let’s start treating climate change like the enemy

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is hovering at a landmark 400 parts per million, a level never before experienced by human beings. Scientists say we’re playing with fire, risking the planet’s future if we don’t start to lower the greenhouse gas levels forcing climate change. How should we react to this news? First, we need to envision climate change more accurately, as a deadly threat.

The state of our oceans, in a clamshell

Our oceans, long taken for granted, are being stressed by pollution, over-fishing and climate change. Plastic gyres, swirling pools of plastic refuse, occupy several spots in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The largest one, in the North Pacific, is estimated to exceed the size of Texas….These linked, but disparate problems — pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, jobs at risk — won’t be solved easily. That’s why several environmental and conservation groups working around the globe have formed the Global Partnership for Oceans. The groups hope that together they can work to save the marine environment before human pressures cause natural fisheries to collapse.

Galapagos Giant Tortoise goes un-extinct

In a story that gives new meaning to the phrase ‘slow and steady wins the race,’ a giant tortoise long thought extinct appears to be still alive on one of the Galapagos Islands.
Scientists have determined that the tortoise subspecies Chelonoidis elephantopus, thought to have disappeared nearly 150 years ago, may roam the northern reaches of the island of Isabela, several miles from the tortoise’s native island, Floreana.

EPA issues new standards that will curb mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants

Public health advocates and environmentalists praised the Obama Administration for adopting standards for air pollution to reduce mercury and other toxics released mainly from power plants.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for Power Plants, announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “are long overdue” and will help reduce the amounts of mercury, lead, arsenic and other pollutants that affect human health, American Lung Association leaders said.

“Since toxic air pollution from power plants can make people sick and cut lives short, the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are a huge victory for public health,” said Albert A. Rizzo, MD, National Volunteer Chair of the American Lung Association, and pulmonary and critical care physician in Newark, Delaware. “The Lung Association expects all oil and coal-fired power plants to act now to protect all Americans, especially our children, from the health risks imposed by these dangerous air pollutants.”

BP oil spill clean up by the numbers — post gusher

With the elections nearing, fall weather setting in and the holidays soon to follow, that BP oil spill horror is receding in the public’s rear view mirror.

But the U.S. government remains doggedly committed to the clean-up, according to Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft, who updated a handful of reporters today.

Here’s the scoop, by the numbers.

  • 11,200 people remain engaged in the oil spill response across the Gulf of Mexico. That’s down a lot compared to the 48,000 who responded at the peak of the disaster, but remains more than those who worked recovery at the peak of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

State of the Climate in 2010: Hot

Congress debates it. Nations argue about how to address it. But its existence is “unmistakable” according to the 2009 State of the Climate report released Wednesday.

Global warming is happening.

State of the Climate, which drew on work by 300 scientists in 160 research groups in 48 countries, confirms that the past decade of 2000-2009 was the warmest on record, and that Earth has been growing warmer over the past 50 years.
The research groups looked at 10 indicators, and confirmed that seven are going up, making the world slightly, but significantly warmer.

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