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Leipzig’s St. Thomas Boys Choir copes with voices deepening at a younger age. For 800 years, the St. Thomas Boys Choir has been filling churches with pure, young voices. Now it’s confronting a confounding phenomenon: Every year, those voices are cracking with teenage angst just a little earlier than before. Washington Post [Registration Required]
Sunny days are here again – but is that good? Across the country, more than 7,700 daily temperature records were broken last month, on the heels of the fourth warmest winter on record. And climate scientists are worried. They say all these sunny days are actually an extreme weather event – one with local and global implications. All Things Considered, NPR.
Windfall of cash could hit California treasury from global warming program. For the past 10 years, California has struggled with huge budget deficits and wrenching cuts. Suddenly, however, the state is poised to raise billions from an unusual new source: the proceeds from its landmark global-warming law. San Jose Mercury News, California.
Scarce water spreads fatal bird disease. Standing in line for scarce water behind both endangered fish and agriculture, Lower Klamath Lake has watched one marsh after another dry up in recent years. Now migratory geese, ducks and other waterfowl that come here by the millions are so closely packed together that an outbreak of avian cholera has killed more than 10,000. Associated Press
Texas doctors get more active on the environment. Some Texas doctors are becoming more active in environmental politics, calling for stricter regulation of air pollution, fracking and workplace hazards. Houston KUHF Radio, Texas.
Betting on technology to help turn consumers green. U.S. consumers tell researchers they want to buy environmentally friendly products, but so far they haven’t been doing that on a large scale. Now a host of companies and nonprofits are trying to use new technology — from smartphones to social networking — to make it easier for buyers to make the green choice. Yale Environment 360
Genetic and environmental links to autism. The number of children born with autism is skyrocketing. Now new evidence links the role of genetics, and possible environmental factors, to autism. Living On Earth
Resistance spread ‘compromising’ fight against malaria. Scientists have found new evidence that resistance to the front-line treatments for malaria is increasing. They have confirmed resistant strains of the malaria parasite on the border between Thailand and Burma, 500 miles away from previous sites. BBC
Rabies outbreaks put some cities on edge. Rabid skunks are causing a stink in Carlsbad, N.M. The skunks are in search of food and water amid a persistent drought, one of the reasons—along with a mild winter—that experts cite for an increase in rabid skunks in states ranging from New Mexico to South Dakota. Wall Street Journal [Subscription Required]
Antibiotic use on the farm. Over the years scientists have created many different antibiotics, but it’s been an on-going war between the powerful drugs and bacteria that can evolve and become resistant. Farms, where antibiotics are routinely fed to animals, are one of today’s main battlefields. Living On Earth
Your saltwater fish tank may be killing the ocean. Scientists are struggling to raise tropical fish on farms so that fishermen who now poison coral reefs with squirts of sodium cyanide to catch fish will no longer be needed. Scientific American
Thousands of dolphins may have died in Peru’s massive die-off; cause could remain mystery. When a retired fisherman called to report that about 1,500 dolphins had washed up dead on Peru’s northern coast, veterinarian Carlos Yaipén’s first reaction was, “That’s impossible.” But when Yaipén traveled up the coast last week, he counted 615 dead dolphins along a 135-kilometer stretch of coastline. Environmental Health News
Cell phones and cancer: Critics say kids risk brain tumors. Scientists are calling into question a study published last year that failed to find a link between cell phone use and brain tumors in children and teens. They say the study actually shows that cell phone use more than doubles the risk of brain tumors in children and adolescents. ABC World News Tonight
Dangers posed by pesticides during pregnancy. An expectant mother’s exposure to commonly used pesticides might pose risks to her developing fetus comparable to those long associated with tobacco smoking, new research suggests. Huffington Post
Climate change linked to waterborne diseases in Inuit communities. As global warming triggers heavier rainfall and faster snowmelt in the Arctic, Inuit communities in Canada are reporting more cases of illness attributed to pathogens that have washed into surface water and groundwater, according to a new study. National Geographic News
Extreme weather and climate change. U.S. tornado season started early this year and has been blamed for 57 deaths so far. That follows some of the most unusual weather in memory, including an exceptionally mild winter in much of the country and extended drought in the Southwest and parts of California. But how much is climate change to blame? Talk of the Nation, NPR.
Yet another study links insecticide to bee losses. A new field trial exposing bee colonies to neonicotinoid pesticides strengthens even more the case arguing that bees have been poisoned by these chemicals. This latest research also points to a potentially novel source of the chemicals: corn syrup. Science News
States’ readiness ranked in face of water threats. New Mexico, Arizona and more than two dozen other states could face increased threats to water supplies if they don’t do more to plan for rising temperatures and changes in rain and snowfall patterns. Associated Press
Half of giant panda habitat may vanish in 70 years, scientists say. There are fewer than 1,600 pandas left in the wild, and a new study found that more than half of the bears’ already diminished natural habitat will be unlivable in 70 years thanks to climate change. LiveScience
Maryland Senate approves bill banning arsenic in chicken feed to avoid food, water pollution. The state Senate signed off on a bill to ban chicken feed containing arsenic, bringing Maryland a step closer to being the first state to prohibit the additive. The bill bans the use of roxarsone, a chemical used to help the birds grow and fight parasites. Associated Press
Fishermen harvest dinner in the San Francisco Bay – at their own risk. It’s an enticing prospect: Aspiring fishermen on the shores of San Francisco Bay can expect salmon, croaker, sturgeon, and even the occasional rock crab – all for free. But there’s a big tradeoff – mercury, PCBs and other industrial chemicals in the fish. San Francisco KALW Public Radio, California.
500-plus hospitals join forces to green the health care industry A coalition of hospital and health care groups in the U.S. has written a detailed prescription on how to transform the industry by tackling waste, runaway energy consumption, lax supply chains and other major obstacles to sustainability. The group, which collectively represents more than 500 hospitals, has also pledged to take its own medicine and will follow a six-point sustainability agenda that the coalition issued this week.
A study in Beijing finds that face masks can help protect those with coronary heart disease from symptoms and health effects triggered by exposure to polluted air. Heart disease symptoms and blood pressure were both reduced when older men and women diagnosed with CHD wore the masks while walking in the city. The masks effectively filtered out almost all of the harmful fine and ultrafine particles released from cars and other traffic in the urban area. The results show that individual actions - in this case, wearing a special, high-efficiency mask - can alleviate some health effects linked to more serious cardiovascular problems in those susceptible to urban air pollution.
Warming climate reveals links to infectious disease. Diarrhea, cholera and tick-borne illness: As the climate changes, a host of health threats are predicted to escalate, experts say. Environmental changes already underway are allowing public health experts to establish stronger links between global warming and infectious disease. Daily Climate
Pollution playing a major role in sea temperatures. The Atlantic Ocean is peculiar: Every few decades, the average temperature of surface water there changes dramatically. Scientists want to know why that is, especially because these temperature shifts affect the weather. New research suggests that human-created air pollution from aerosols is part of the cause. All Things Considered, NPR.
Ice age data bolsters greenhouse gas, warming link. The dramatic temperature increases that thawed the last ice age followed spikes in carbon dioxide levels in the air, a new study finds. Researchers say that further strengthens the scientific case explaining current man-made global warming. Associated Press
Plan to let poultry plants inspect birds is criticized. Federal food safety inspectors said a proposal by the Agriculture Department to expand a pilot program that allows private companies to take over the inspections at poultry plants could pose a health risk by allowing contaminated meat to reach customers. New York Times [Registration Required]
The magic Bullitt. Denis Hayes coordinated the first Earth Day in 1970, which was to influence millions of people and later spread to more than 180 countries, becoming the largest secular holiday on the planet. Now 67, Time magazine’s “Hero of the Planet” circa 1999 is in the process of constructing “the greenest commercial building in the world.” Colorado Springs Independent, Colorado.
HP, Intel and GE start fund to boost conflict-free minerals It’s the blood-diamond issue of the electronics industry: Many of the minerals used in electronics—including tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold—come from areas awash in corruption, child labor and slavery, where mines are controlled by armed groups. A U.S. law requiring companies to disclose if they source key minerals from conflict-torn areas has lit a fire under businesses to trace their supply chains and find conflict-free supplies.
Burning irony: Flame retardants might create deadlier fires. In one of the deadliest nightclub fires in American history, 100 people died at a concert in Rhode Island nearly a decade ago. But the biggest killer wasn’t the flames; it was lethal gases released from burning sound insulation and other plastics. Environmental Health News
Want young customers in China? Cut your emissions - Businesses have been urged to accelerate their environmental footprinting strategies to include emerging economies, after new research by the Carbon Trust revealed young people in China could hold the key to unlocking mass demand for greener products. The survey of 2,800 young people across six countries carried out by TNS found 83 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds in China would be more loyal to a brand if they could see it was reducing its carbon footprint. In contrast, just 57 percent of U.S. respondents and 55 percent of young people in the U.K. made the same claim.
FDA takes step toward reducing antibiotics for food-producing animals. For the first time ever, federal authorities are banning an antibiotic in livestock because of fears that some diseases in people are becoming resistant to it. The Food and Drug Administration’s ban of cephalosporin, which begins Thursday, will only apply to uses not specified by the drug’s label. Great Lakes Echo, Michigan.
Change in food rules will be felt down on the farms. Decades of concern over the effects of animal antibiotic use on the health of the humans at the end of the food chain have boiled to the point where federal regulations are in the works that could curb their use. New FDA guidelines have gotten the attention of Minnesota farmers. Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota.
Dying corals: Milestones along a meandering path to famine. As oceans warm, reefs are dying and many commercial fish stocks are moving poleward in search of cooler waters. Scientists believe that climate change will ultimately separate fish species, fisheries and the 1.5 billion people depending on them into winners and losers. ClimateWire
US science integrity effort hits troubled water. In 2011, the US Department of the Interior became the first agency to finalize a new policy on scientific integrity and hired ten scientific-integrity officers. But it may also be the first to run into a problem with the way the policies are implemented, as one of those officers claims to have been fired for upholding the guidelines. Nature
EPA puts off chromium-6 water rule. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s determination of how much chromium-6 in drinking water is unsafe won’t be coming any time soon. In Coachella Valley, chromium-6 naturally occurs in the area’s groundwater at 150 to more than 1,000 times above California’s public health goal. Palm Springs Desert Sun, California.
Controversy continues over safety of bisphenol A. Over the years, the topic of BPA has divided scientists, industry, and regulatory agencies. One side thinks that there are several discrepancies among the studies claiming an effect on health. The other side argues why, with so much evidence in place, there is even a question of whether BPA should be banned from use in food packaging. Lancet
Move to market gene-altered pigs in Canada is halted. A Canadian project aimed at creating a genetically engineered pig whose manure would be less harmful to the environment is being halted after failure to find a company willing to bring the animal to market, according to the lead researcher. New York Times [Registration Required]
FDA rejects petition to ban BPA from food packaging - The controversial plastic-hardening chemical bisphenol A can continue to be used in food and beverage packaging in the U.S., despite studies that raise concerns about the substance, hormone disruption and long-term effects of exposure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration let current practices stand today, when it rejected a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council, which sought to eliminate BPA from all food packaging.
Capturing carbon from the air to help solve the climate crisis - I loved my conversation with Marc Gunther this week. We focused most of the discussion on his new e-book, Suck it Up, that covers the issue of climate change, geoengineering, and direct air capture of Co2. This book was a wonderful read and—at only 49 pages long—an easy read.
Ted Smith: ‘Think different’, Apple, and use some excess cash to help factory workers In 1997, Apple unveiled an ingenious marketing campaign telling us to “Think different.” It included posters of Mohandas Gandhi, Albert Einstein and John Lennon to promote its reputation as the company that cares and is truly different. What a contrast to Apple’s recent announcement on how it will address its $100 billion cash surplus.
Harmful pesticide not in Fresno reports. For years, Fresno County has been No. 1 on a California list that you won’t find at the Chamber of Commerce—pesticide detections in water wells. But the real news is what the state leaves out of its pesticide reports. There is no mention of TCP, perhaps the most dangerous and widespread chemical related to pesticides in the San Joaquin Valley. Fresno Bee, California.
Weed killer causes animal shape changes. The world’s most popular weed killer, known as Roundup, can induce morphological changes in vertebrate animals, US biologists studying its effect on amphibians say. The study is the first to show that a pesticide can induce morphological changes in a vertebrate animal, the researchers say. United Press International
Accounting for nature’s benefits: The dollar value of ecosystem services. Healthy ecosystems provide us with fertile soil, clean water, timber, and food. They reduce the spread of diseases. They protect against flooding. Worldwide, they regulate atmospheric concentrations of oxygen and carbon dioxide. They moderate climate. Without these and other ‘ecosystem services,’ we’d all perish. Environmental Health Perspectives
Bill McKibben on Keystone, Congress, and big-oil money. Author/activist Bill McKibben says environmentalists cannot ease up after their recent victory in the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline. In a conversation with Yale Environment 360 contributor Elizabeth Kolbert, he talks about what he’s learned about the power of the fossil fuel industry — and why the battle over Keystone is far from over. Yale Environment 360
BPA gets a reprieve — for now. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention biomonitoring survey found that Americans have traces of 212 environmental chemicals in their bodies — including so-called endocrine disrupters like bisphenol-A (BPA), which may have a major impact on human health even though the dose is barely perceptible. Time Magazine
Controversial bird flu research set for publication. The full details of controversial research that led to the creation of a highly infectious form of birdflu virus, including the precise DNA sequence of the five mutations that transformed the virus, will be published despite fears that the work could be misused by bioterrorists, scientists said Monday. London Independent, United Kingdom.
Fishing for answers on fish consumption. Nutritional advice is usually straightforward. There are things we’re supposed to eat more of: vegetables, fruit, whole grains. There are things we’re supposed to eat less of: trans fats, added sugars, anything coated with salty orange dust. And then there’s fish. Washington Post [Registration Required]
Brominated battle: Soda chemical has cloudy health history Patented as a flame retardant for plastics, and banned in food throughout Europe and Japan, a brominated chemical called BVO has been added to sodas for decades in North America. Now some scientists have a renewed interest in this little-known ingredient, found in 10 percent of sodas in the United States. Research on its toxicity dates back to the 1970s, and some experts now urge a reassessment.
Renewable Energy is No Longer a Pipe Dream - In October 2011, the global population reached seven billion. It is on its way to more than nine billion, and it took only a dozen years to add the last billion.While the population explodes and economies grow, a significant number of people are becoming increasingly affluent. With money to spend, they simply consume more. More consumption means more demand for energy.
Military sees threats, worry in climate change. Climate policy may be a minefield in U.S. politics, but the Pentagon sees liabilities of a different kind and is forging ahead with plans to reduce the military’s carbon footprint and prepare for climate impacts. Daily Climate
Flame retardants present in the air around Great Lakes, Arctic. New flame retardants meant to replace their toxic predecessors are showing up in the air around the Great Lakes in increasing concentrations and travelling as far north as the Arctic. Windsor Star, Ontario.
Weed killers threaten Lange’s metalmark butterfly. Weed killers commonly used to control invasive plants in the Bay Area also kill off butterflies, a federal toxicology study has found. San Francisco Chronicle, California.
California officials want ‘fracking’ sites disclosed. The governor’s administration is scrambling to convince an increasingly wary public that state regulators are getting a handle on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial oil extraction method that can pose a hazard to drinking water. Los Angeles Times [Registration Required]
The big, overlooked factor in the rise of pandemics: The human vector. Mother Nature doesn’t create pandemics; human beings do. We create the settings that allow new, deadly diseases to evolve and invade. Understanding those settings, which can be thought of as disease factories, and taking steps to disrupt them are far better preparation than sending families down to huddle in the basement. Discover
What’s inside the 26-ingredient school lunch burger? Thiamin mononitrate, disodium inosinate, pyridoxine hydrochloride. Why are these hard-to-pronounce ingredients added to everything from a burger served in schools to veggie burgers in the frozen food aisle of the grocery store? It turns out the answers are as varied as the ingredients. Morning Edition, NPR.
Scientists play down price tag on invasive species in Great Lakes. A new U.S. report says foreign species carried into the Great Lakes by ships are causing tens of millions of dollars in damage to the ecosystem. However, Canadian experts are questioning the figures, saying you cannot easily put a price on damages caused by invasive species. Postmedia News