Environment

While America has dramatically dematerialized its environmental footprint in recent decades, producing far more food on far less land than 30 years ago, that's not true for the rest of the world. 

Heavy financial incentives in places like Europe - which accounts for 85% of the agricultural subsidies for the entire world - mean there is no reason to embrace modern science and technology. But a new paper notes that allowing land use to be determined purely by those agricultural constituencies results in considerable financial and environmental costs to the public. 


There was a period of time when hunters were the greatest conservationists.  Think President Teddy Roosevelt, who evangelized national parks and setting aside wilderness for the public.

Later, environmentalism became an occupation for urbanites and they distanced themselves from sportsmen and people who enjoyed nature - they even listed them as enemies, in the case of hunting and fishing. 

Rat poison used for marijuana fields is killing fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada, according to a new paper. 


If you live in an arid region, you know keeping it green is an environmentally stressful activity. But some arid regions have been getting greener on their own and scientists have long suspected that a flourishing of green foliage around the globe, observed since the early 1980s in satellite data, springs at least in part from the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere.

A study of arid regions around the globe looked into the potential of a "fertilization effect" of   carbon dioxide and found that it has, indeed, caused a gradual greening from 1982 to 2010.


New Arctic - New Discoveries

The world is warming, but the Arctic is warming fastest.  The Arctic of today is not the Arctic which 18th or 19th century explorers knew.  Where ships were once likely to be crushed in heavy ice there is now often no ice in summer.  Where ice shove once built natural sea walls we find coastal erosion as waves are now free to erode melting permafrost.  New islands are being discovered, even as older islands erode away into sandbanks.

 Much like in Frank Herbert’s "Dune", a science-fiction epic about characters attempting to rule a planet torn apart by conflict, the issue of balancing desires for resources, and their impact on people, faces much of Africa today. The planet that serves as the stage for that story, a barren desert where control over said resources dictates human events, in many ways mimics the present situation on the African continent.

Researchers have detected microplastic pollution - a concern in oceans because small bits of plastic can be harmful to fish and birds that feed on plankton or other small waterborne organisms
 - in one of Western Europe's largest lakes, Lake Geneva, in large enough quantities to raise concern.  


The Arctic's Warming Islands