A fisherman rows his boat on the water near Chaohu Lake in China. Since mid-June, blue-green algae have become a problem on the lake because of rising temperature and a lack of rain and wind. Since large amounts of blue-green algae has the potential to be toxic to humans and animals if ingested in large quantities, the local water department has measures in place to ensure the safety of the drinking water.
Credit: Yang Xiaoyuan / Xinhua via Zuma
Editor’s note: Ari Phillips is a graduate student at the University of Texas pursuing a dual degree in journalism and policy studies. This summer he is traversing the Southwest to chronicle energy, environment and climate change. We’ll be highlighting his journey -- and you can follow him, too, via On The Road With Ari Phillips -- as he makes his way from Texas to California over the next two months.
By Ari Phillips
Last year was the hottest and driest on record in Texas. There were 90 days of 100-degree heat in Austin. The Texas drought of 2011 was the driest 12-month period on record, by a large margin. The state is just beginning to emerge from under the deep red blotch that consumed it on precipitation maps.
2011 was my first full year in Texas. But meanwhile across the rest of the American Southwest, where I’ve spent most of my life, other inauspicious records were being set. The Wallow Fire became the biggest in Arizona’s history, burning 538,049 acres. New Mexico, with my hometown of Santa Fe, experienced its biggest forest fire ever just a few weeks ago.
The Southwest, with its fragile ecosystems and drought vulnerability, stands to face some of the worst impacts of climate change. In the introduction to William deBuys’ recent book “A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest,” Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist who co-directs the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona, says: “Climate ch...
Three new sea level rise studies published during the past week offer sobering lessons for coastal residents and policy makers, spelling trouble for portions of the East and West Coasts of the U.S.
The first lesson is that sea levels won’t rise at the same rate everywhere — in fact, some unlucky places are already seeing sea levels rise at rates that are dramatically faster than the global average. Specifically, the 600-mile stretch of coastline from North Carolina to Massachusetts is experiencing rates that are nearly three to four times higher than the global average, a trend that may continue during the coming decades.
This finding comes from a study published June 24 in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study makes clear that some of the most valuable real estate in the country, from the beaches of North Carolina to the posh Hamptons in Long Island, and including major cities such as New York and Boston, may see severe coastal flooding events much earlier than other parts of the country.
As Margaret Davidson, director of the Coastal Services Center for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Charleston, South Carolina, told the Associated Press that the new research has “huge” implications.
“Somewhere between Maryland and Massachusetts, you've got some bodaciously expensive property at risk," she said.
The study, by researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), emphasized that factors such as changing ocean c...
By Alex Kasdin
Lonesome George, the last known survivor of his subspecies of Galápagos giant tortoise. Credit: Thomas H Fritts/EPA
Almost always, when a species goes extinct, it happens quietly, without anyone noticing. But in the case of a rare subspecies of giant tortoise, the final passing comes with great mourning because the last known one not only had a name, but a beloved face.
The world lost a true character when Lonesome George died on Sunday. He was the last known of his subspecies, according to an article in the Guardian, which lived only on the small island of La Pinta in the Galapagos Islands. George, who scientists estimate was around 100 years old, had a long career as a charismatic symbol of the Galapagos, which is home to almost 9,000 species, many of them rare and unique to the islands.
But George was special. It's impossible to know how many tourists George drew to the islands, his noble face gracing countless travel brochures and posters. He was almost an ambassador to the rest of the planet, always calm and serene, a constant reminder of nature's wonders -- and now a reminder of how they can slip away.
George was the last of his kind because he was not able to reproduce with females of a closely related subspecies, despite the best efforts of scientists. Due to his lack of offspring and relatives, he was called the “rarest creature in the world,” the BBC reports.
George did well to live to 100, particularly as lonesome as he was, but according to the estimates of scientists, that is a mere half of the possible life span of the Galapagos...
The summer solstice sun pictured is rising over an ancient observatory in Kokina, Macedonia, which is believed to be more than 4,000-years old. The summer solstice is older than that, occurring every year exactly when the Earth's and the moon's axial tilt is most slanted towards the sun. It occurs in the Northern Hemisphere and it is when the sun reaches its highest position in the sky. In many regions around the globe as it is seen as time of fertility and celebration with bonfires, maypoles, dancing and festivals that have been a tradition for most of human history.
Credit: Robert Atanasovski/AFP/Getty Images