Environment

Dams keep the boom and bust of flooding from being too severe, they prevent water shortages, they make human existence better. But they clearly change nature.

Why is a human building a dam unnatural but a beaver building a dam natural? Only an environmentalist can figure that out, but what was a great idea 10 years ago - hydroelectric power and storing water - is now the enemy of the paid activism community, and politically sympathetic researchers have increasingly begun to curry media attention by writing papers to prove them right, as has happened again in Nature Sustainability, a journal which, like something might be called Nature UFOs, was created to make money legitimizing the beliefs of the activism community inside academia.
A new study in Nature Communications suggests that climate change could pose a threat to male fertility by increasing the number and severity of heat waves which damage sperm.

The authors contend that climate change is already having an impact on species populations, including climate-related extinctions in recent years. The authors suggest that sperm function is an especially sensitive trait. Sperm function is essential for reproduction and population viability, and so they sound a warning that biodiversity is already collapsing.
Before the arrival of European immigrants to the western United States, up to 12 percent of it would burn each year. Somehow, even though science is well aware of that fact, political media today claim that wildfires are unprecedented and we are doomed. 

A new study notes again that the amount of wildfire occurring in the western U.S. remains far below the acreage burning when native Americans were not managing the ecology. The context is not to debunk modern beliefs about how superior native Americans were, but to talk about water.

The basic message of the IPCC report is that we need to act now before 2040, to avoid more expensive mitigation measures in the last 60 years of the century. The worst effects are for 2100. And that if we aim for 1.5°C, it is far better than 2 °C.

This is scaring some people - because they describe dramatic things that could happen like floods tens of meters deep, and the world too hot for humans. Most of this is for far into the future. The sea rising 10s of meters would be thousands of years into the future - many of the news stories didn’t make that clear.

Though countries like the United States and Ireland have far more forest than they did a century ago, professional environmentalists insist there needs to be more. From butterflies to bees, some groups insist more of the modern world must be reverted to nature, even when it comes to formerly ecologic wins like hydroelectric dams. 

Large ecosystems bring stability, they insist. But that isn't really true. Instead, stability and diversity happen when the ecosystem is complex, not just because it is large. And he branching complexity of rivers are absolutely vital in affecting regional population stability and persistence in nature.
American cities nationwide, riding a wave of populism brought about by media attention, are looking to ban straws, claiming they will save the planet doing so. Companies are naturally following suit - companies always will, because consumers pay the cost and if they are happy paying more while giving marketing departments something to promote it is an easy choice.
It is a cultural placebo that will make people feel like they did something important but it is meaningless. 
Instead, pollution is up because the world is wealthier, rich and relatively poor alike, than ever before. 

Millions of Americans head outdoors in the summer, whether for a day at a nearby lake or a monthlong road trip. For environmental economists like me, decisions by vacationers and outdoor recreators offer clues to a challenging puzzle: estimating what environmental resources are worth.

In 1981 President Ronald Reagan issued an executive order that required federal agencies to weigh the costs and benefits of proposed major new regulations, and in most cases to adopt them only if the benefits to society outweighed the costs. Reagan’s order was intended to promote environmental improvements without overburdening economic growth.

Across Europe, 95 percent of people claim to have seen seen litter when they visited the coast - yet they say they don't litter. And they don't trust scientists, corporations or government to solve it, which leaves environmentalists who don't ever actually send people into the wilderness to clean up litter.

Marine litter is a big deal thanks to environmental publicity but it is highly exaggerated - think mercury in salmon, alar on apples, floating barges of garbage, estrogen in drinking water and more to get an idea of how these issues get magnified. 

While environmentalists raise millions of dollars insisting they will get targeted pesticides (e.g. neonicotinoids) banned to save bees that aren't really in peril, science is looking at things which do actually put bees at risk.

At the top of the list is not pesticides, it's nature. An international team has discovered evidence of 27 previously unknown viruses in bees, which could help scientists design strategies to prevent the spread of viral pathogens among these important pollinators.