Permafrost thaw results in $20 million in water management expenses for Alaska zinc mine

“A company operating one of the world’s largest zinc mines in Northwest Alaska said thawing permafrost linked to global warming forced an expenditure of nearly $20 million on water storage and discharge management.

Teck Resources Ltd. says permafrost thaw in the watershed surrounding the massive Red Dog Mine is releasing higher natural levels of dissolved minerals and other particles into streams, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Tuesday.”

– via Anchorage Daily News. Read the full article here.

Trump orders fleet of icebreakers and new bases in push for polar resources

Article via The Guardian

“The intensifying rivalry over sea routes and mineral resources in the Arctic, itself a consequence of the climate emergency, has caused alarm over its environmental impact. 

“Even during a pandemic and nationwide protests against state violence, the Trump administration is still finding new ways to exploit the climate crisis. He is truly the worst president for the planet we’ve ever had,” Charlie Cray, a senior researcher for Greenpeace USA, said.

“There are so many ways our tax dollars could be used to support Arctic communities. Helping out the oil industry and the military with a new fleet of icebreakers is definitely last on the list.”

Polar military experts are also sceptical over the urgency of the “icebreaker gap” with Russia. 

“Icebreakers – even if armed – don’t really address some of the most commonly cited challenges that China and Russia might pose for the United States in the Arctic,” Paul Avey, assistant professor for political science at Virginia Tech university, argued. “This isn’t to say icebreakers can play no role in competition. But in narrow defence terms, I think that the best way to address China and Russia in the Arctic – and Antarctic – is to focus on issues in eastern Europe and the western Pacific.” 

Read the full article here

Intersectional Environmentalism: Why Environmental Justice Is Essential For A Sustainable Future

Words by Leah Thomas 

“Throughout my studies, I became startled by the facts that it was indeed harder for black, brown, and low-income communities to have access to clean air, water, and natural spaces. Even worse, minority and low-income communities were statistically more likely to live in neighborhoods exposed to toxic waste, landfills, highways, and other environmental hazards. As my textbooks encouraged me to protect public lands so they could be preserved and enjoyed, I couldn’t help but wonder, “for whom?”

I wanted to protect the natural environment, but I also wanted to protect vulnerable communities like mine back home. I wasn’t able to separate my identity from my environmentalism and this is when I discovered environmental justice. Environmental justice is the intersection of both social justice and environmentalism, where the inequity in environmental degradation is also considered. With the outrage from The Flint Water Crisis, The Environmental Protection Agency has included environmental justice and advocating for overburdened communities to their 2020 goals.”

“Environmental justice is the intersection of both social justice and environmentalism, where the inequity in environmental degradation is also considered.”

Read the full article here.

BBC: Arctic Circle oil spill prompts Putin to declare state of emergency

Image shows a large diesel spill in the Ambarnaya River outside Norilsk in Russia

“Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency after 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil leaked into a river within the Arctic Circle.

The spill happened when a fuel tank at a power plant near the Siberian city of Norilsk collapsed last Friday.

The power plant’s director Vyacheslav Starostin has been taken into custody until 31 July, but not yet charged.

The plant is owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, which is the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer.

The Russian Investigative Committee (SK) has launched a criminal case over the pollution and alleged negligence, as there was reportedly a two-day delay in informing the Moscow authorities about the spill.

Ground subsidence beneath the fuel storage tanks is believed to have caused the spill. Arctic permafrost has been melting in exceptionally warm weather for this time of year.

President Putin expressed anger after discovering officials only learnt about the incident on Sunday.” – BBC, Read the full article here.

RP: United States coronavirus crisis and environmental crisis

 

This 12 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself: The people who are most likely to get seriously sick from COVID-19 are those who have long suffered from the impacts of pollution and climate injustice in America — here’s why. In US news and current events today, people who are most likely to […]

via United States coronavirus crisis and environmental crisis — Dear Kitty. Some blog

The wonder women of ornithology

Writing by Dr Jo Wimpenny

“One of the most influential amateur ornithologists of all time, Margaret Morse Nice pioneered a new form of ornithology in the USA, uniting bird-banding techniques with new behavioural theories emerging from Europe, and her own background in child psychology.

Despite abandoning the prospect of a PhD to accompany her husband to Ohio and raise a family, Nice went on to publish three landmark monographs on the life history of the song sparrow, based on 14 years of data on the lives of ‘her’ backyard sparrows. The American Ornithologists’ Union recognised her work by awarding her the coveted Brewster Medal.

Nice corresponded with hundreds of people and played a central role in promoting the exchange of scientific information between US and European ornithologists. She published 250 research articles (seven of which were book length) and, as editor of Bird-Banding, a staggering 3,313 book and article reviews.”

“While others observed living birds, Annie Meinertzhagen was a skilled collector, who shot and skinned most of her birds herself. She was particularly interested in plumage and moulting of ducks and waders, and chick mouthpart colouration. For her expert knowledge, Henry Witherby invited her to author the relevant sections of his highly influential Handbook of British Birds, a work that became the standard authority on British birds for over a decade.

Indeed, to prevent publication delays, on marrying ornithologist Richard Meinertzhagen, she chose to spend part of her honeymoon studying birds at Lord Rothschild’s Museum in Tring. Her husband’s work was recently found to be largely fraudulent, and his role in her death – considered a tragic shooting accident at the time – remains suspicious.”

Read the full Discover Wildlife Article here

Scientists Use Underwater Sounds to Rejuvenate Coral Reef Populations

Writing by Michelle Estevez

” The same way we might hear a specific song and experience a range of emotions, underwater speakers surprise researchers as unhealthy corals positively respond to their study. They placed underwater speakers to emit sound frequencies resembling what a healthy coral reef would sound like. Not only did this influence the unhealthy coral reefs to regenerate, but it also attracted a variety of fish to help reestablish degradation.

“We use loudspeakers to broadcast healthy soundscapes on experimental coral-rubble patch reefs for 40 days during a natural recruitment season (November–December 2017) on Australia’s northern Great Barrier Reef. We compare the developing fish communities on these acoustically enriched reefs with those on two categories of acoustically unmanipulated control reefs (with and without dummy loudspeaker rigs). We find that acoustic enrichment enhances fish community development within an important reef fish family, across a range of specific trophic guilds and at the level of the whole community,“ researcher Timothy A. C. Gordon mentions. ”

Article by Michelle Estevez for Educate Inspire Change, Read the full article here

Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’

” Ask medieval historian Michael McCormick what year was the worst to be alive, and he’s got an answer: “536.” Not 1349, when the Black Death wiped out half of Europe. Not 1918, when the flu killed 50 million to 100 million people, mostly young adults. But 536. In Europe, “It was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year,” says McCormick, a historian and archaeologist who chairs the Harvard University Initiative for the Science of the Human Past.

A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months. “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year,” wrote Byzantine historian Procopius. Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2300 years. Snow fell that summer in China; crops failed; people starved. The Irish chronicles record “a failure of bread from the years 536–539.” Then, in 541, bubonic plague struck the Roman port of Pelusium, in Egypt. What came to be called the Plague of Justinian spread rapidly, wiping out one-third to one-half of the population of the eastern Roman Empire and hastening its collapse, McCormick says. ”

Writing by Ann Gibbons; Read the full article on Science Mag here.

Iceland Review: Tonnes of Salmon Die in Arnarlax Fish Farms

Around 500 tonnes of salmon have died recently in Arnarlax’s open-net fish farms in the Westfjords. The company’s board chairman told RÚV that number is within the limits projected by the company. The chairman of the Federation of Icelandic River Owners expressed concern about the deaths and the impact Arnarlax’s operations could have on wild salmon.

Though salmon regularly die in open-net fish farms, 500 tonnes is more than is usual for this time of year. Kjartan Ólafsson, the chairman of Arnarlax’s board says recent extreme weather has led to casualties. According to Kjartan, cool sea temperatures cause salmon to move further down in the nets and rub up against them. The rubbing can cause wounds that eventually lead to the fish’s death.

It is currently slaughter season for Arnarlax’s fish farms, and several ships are docked in the Westfjords to assist with the process. One of them is the Norwegian Gannet: equipped with 14 gutting machines, it is the world’s largest floating salmon processor. Arnarlax expects to harvest 10,000 tonnes of salmon this year, and Kjartan says the 500 tonnes of casualties were within the company’s projections.

Jón Helgi Björnsson, chairman of the Federation of Icelandic River Owners (Landssamband veiðifélaga), said the farmed salmon deaths were concerning. “Basically, it just can’t be normal for 500 tonnes of fish to die in a short period of time. If that’s natural, then of course people have to start wondering if this is an industry people can justify being engaged in. That’s a huge amount of fish that’s dying there.”

Jón Helgi also expressed worry that foreign ships like the Norwegian Gannet could transmit infections to Icelandic fish farms which could then affect wild stocks. “How are these ships disinfected? How does one disinfect an entire ship that is working at salmon farms abroad? We are very concerned that infections from abroad can be transmitted via these ships because of course they are used when similar situations occur elsewhere.””

Birds Sing to Their Eggs, and This Song Might Help Their Babies Survive Climate Change

Text from Smithsonian Magazine

” Embryonic learning—things birds pick up from their parents while still in the egg—may play a bigger role than imagined. ”

” Birds feeling the heat from warming weather may be able give their offspring an early weather advisory right through the eggshell—which could in turn help baby birds prepare for the forecast.

A new study shows that the songs zebra finches sing to their eggs late in development may give the young a head start in dealing with warm weather once they hatch.

Researchers have long known that birds like chickens or quails, which hatch fully capable of fending for themselves, can hear through their eggs—allowing them to imprint things like who their mother is. But or around 50 years, nobody believed anything happened inside the egg with birds that hatch dependent on their parents.

A new study published today in Science upends that wisdom, showing that certain zebra finch calls can change their young’s growth and behavior in adulthood.

Article by Joshua Rapp Learn. View the full article here.

Read the Scientific Journal: Design, synthesis, and testing toward a 57-codon genome.