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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
Number of posts: 43,170

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Sunday's Doonesbury- Free Wristband!

Weekend Toon Roundup







U.S. ordered to lower Navy sonar levels to protect whales

Source: SF Gate

U.S. officials have wrongly allowed the Navy to use sonar at levels that could harm whales and other marine mammals in the world’s oceans, a federal appeals court in San Francisco has ruled.

The decision Friday by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would scale back the Navy’s use of low-frequency sonar in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans and the Mediterranean Sea under authority that was granted in 2012.

Sonar, used to detect submarines, can injure whales, seals and walruses and disrupt their feeding and mating. Environmental groups led by the Natural Resources Defense Council filed suit in San Francisco in 2012, arguing that the Obama administration had approved emissions at sound levels that violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

A federal magistrate disagreed but was overruled Friday by the appeals court, which said government officials had disregarded their own experts’ warnings about the potential impacts of sonar.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/U-S-ordered-to-lower-Navy-sonar-levels-to-8381417.php

Bernie Sanders will launch organizations to spread progressive message

by Nicole Gaudiano, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — His presidential aspirations behind him, Bernie Sanders is looking ahead to a busy future in which he continues to focus on nothing less than transforming the Democratic Party and the country.

In an exclusive interview with USA TODAY, the Vermont senator detailed plans to launch educational and political organizations within the next few weeks to keep his progressive movement alive. The Sanders Institute will help raise awareness of "enormous crises” facing Americans. The Our Revolution political organization will help recruit, train and fund progressive candidates' campaigns. And a third political organization may play a more direct role in campaign advertising.

Sanders plans to support at least 100 candidates running for a wide range of public offices — from local school boards to Congress — at least through the 2016 elections. And he’ll continue to raise funds for candidates while campaigning for them all over the country. He said he probably will campaign for Tim Canova, a progressive primary challenger to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who chairs the Democratic National Committee.

“If we are successful, what it will mean is that the progressive message and the issues that I campaigned on will be increasingly spread throughout this country,” Sanders said. “The goal here is to do what I think the Democratic establishment has not been very effective in doing. And that is at the grass-roots level, encourage people to get involved, give them the tools they need to win, help them financially.”


Track Palin In Custody On Domestic Violence Charges, This Could Explain Sarah Missing GOP Convention

Little Green Footballs blogger Charles Johnson tonight directed his Twitter followers to the website of Alaska’s judicial system, which shows that Track Palin has been “remanded into custody” on the three charges that resulted from his drunken attack on his girlfriend in January.

Those three charges are Class A misdemeanors and at this writing there’s no news account on why they would result in Track Palin being remanded. However, the Twitterverse is already buzzing that this may be why Mama Grizzly will not speaking at the GOP convention. Earlier today Donald Trump waved away questions about Palin’s absence from the list of convention speakers, saying that “Alaska is a long ways away.” Uh huh.

According to police reports released after the arrest, Track Palin drunkenly beat his girlfriend, then put an AR-15 to his head and taunted her for not believing he’d kill himself, saying, “Do you think I’m a pussy?” Sarah Palin then earned national ridicule when she declared that her son beats women because President Obama doesn’t have “respect for veterans.”


Friday TOON Roundup 3 - The Rest






Friday TOON Roundup 2 - Violence here and abroad



Friday TOON Roundup 1 - Cheeto Jesus

Ducklings are much smarter than you think, study finds

by Brett Smith
Researchers from the University of Oxford revealed ducklings can understand the concepts of 'same' and 'different', a capability only observed in intelligent animals like primates, crows, and parrots.

Young animals typically learn to identify and follow their mother through a kind of learning known as imprinting, which can take place in less than 15 minutes after hatching. Imprinting is a potent kind of learning that helps ducklings to follow any moving object, provided they see it inside the 'sensitive period' for imprinting.

Imprinting on a Strange Object

In this new study, published in the journal Science, hatchlings were shown a pair of items moving in a circular path that were either the same as or different from each other, in form or in color. This was designed to 'imprint' these pairs of moving items on the ducks.

Read more at http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1113415023/ducklings-intelligence-071416/

How much biodiversity loss is too much?

by Tom H. Oliver

How much of something do we need to keep people safe and well? This question is frequently asked by those working in risk management. Across diverse sectors from flood protection to health care, practitioners assess risk as the product of the impact of a given event and the probability of its occurrence. Although these estimates are often uncertain, policy-makers must ultimately make spending decisions aimed at averting these risks, because the costs of inaction to society can be substantial. Biodiversity loss is a similarly critical, yet uncertain, issue. On page 288 of this issue, Newbold et al. (1) quantify global biodiversity losses, providing much-needed information on the encroachment of proposed “safe limits.”

Economic analyses suggest that the total global value of ecosystem services is in the realm of tens of trillions of dollars (2). Many of these ecosystem services are underpinned by biodiversity. However, there is currently a lack of coordinated action to halt biodiversity declines, despite repeated setting of international targets (3). We know, broadly, the types of actions that are needed. They include habitat restoration as well as limiting human-derived pressures such as habitat loss, pollution, and invasive species. But the opportunity costs of these actions, in combination with the high levels of uncertainty around biodiversity change, appear to hamper commitment to action.

This uncertainty has multiple components. We must ascertain both the current extent of biodiversity losses and the effects of these losses on people's health and well-being. Newbold et al. report a crucial advance in tackling these issues. Their analysis is the most comprehensive quantification of global biodiversity change to date, considering over 1.8 million records of abundance from 39,123 species across 18,659 sites. Biodiversity losses vary widely across biomes. The authors find that, on average, the local abundance of each species has fallen to ~85% of its original value in the absence of human land use; that is, there is 85% “biodiversity intactness” (4). The authors then go further to relate these losses to a planetary safe limit of 90% biodiversity intactness, as proposed in a recent study (5). The hypothesis is that below the safe limit, the wide range of services provided by biodiversity that underpin human well-being—such as crop pollination, waste decomposition, regulation of the global carbon cycle, and cultural services that are central to emotional and spiritual health—are critically threatened (5). Newbold et al. find that ~58% of the world's land surface, and 9 out of 14 of the world's terrestrial biomes, have fallen below this safe threshold.

If such a large proportion of land has already passed the safe planetary boundary for biodiversity loss, why have we not already noticed more widespread negative effects on humans? Biodiversity loss can clearly lead to dramatic and rapid effects on ecosystem services. For example, invasion by the spiny water flea Bythotrephes longimanus in Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, caused declines in key algal-grazing zooplankton species and consequent reductions in water quality, which will cost $86 million to $163 million to restore (6). In many other cases, however, effects may be delayed, with ecosystem services only lost after further perturbation (7). By analogy, cumulative structural damage to a bridge may only lead to sudden collapse after an extreme storm. Recovery from such catastrophic “tipping points” can be very costly if the replacement cost far exceeds ongoing repair costs. But the environment may be unique in that the extinction of species is essentially irreversible.

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