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[1THING] Blog: Archive for August, 2016

[ Report: Rising Sea Levels Threaten Wildlife ]

Rising sea levels from global climate change are threatening wildlife, recreation and economies along the America’s eastern seacoast, but a new report outlines steps to reduce the impact and adapt to changes.

The National Wildlife Federation report, “Changing Tides,” says sea levels could rise more than 6 feet by the end of this century.

According to Ray Najjar, a professor of oceanography at Penn State University, the impact on coastal areas of such a rapid increase could be devastating.

“The amount of damage that we see will depend first on how much sea level rises, and then second on how well prepared we are to handle that,” he states.

The report recommends steps such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions to help slow the rise in sea levels, and ways to adapt so that the impact can be minimized.

Planning for coastal infrastructure, including roads, bridges and sewage systems, needs to take rising sea levels into account.

But Najjar emphasizes there’s also a need to ensure that wetlands, which are critical as natural buffers to storms and as wildlife habitat, can adapt as well.

“Zoning our shorelines in a way that allows wetlands to migrate inland is one way that we can maintain the integrity of the ecosystem or at least avoid the largest damages,” he explains.

As global temperatures rise, the number of strong hurricanes, the amount of associated rainfall and the impact of storm surges also will increase.

But Najjar believes the worst is not yet inevitable. He points to other ecological crises, such as the hole in the ozone layer that have been dealt with effectively, and reversed course.

“We should be able to solve it, but it’s going to take action and it’s going to take a lot of work,” he stresses. “And we shouldn’t be discouraged by the naysayers that say it’s an unsolvable problem or too expensive to solve.”

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

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[ Report: Oil and Gas Pollution Linked to Asthma Attacks ]

Ozone smog from oil and gas pollution will cause more than 30,000 summertime childhood asthma attacks in Pennsylvania in 2025, according to a new report.

There are more than 100,000 oil and gas wells, compressors and other facilities in the state. And while you can’t see it, those facilities leak tons of methane and other ozone forming pollutants into the air.

As Janice Nolen, assistant vice president for national policy with the American Lung Association, points out, that can have a huge impact on health.

“Breathing ozone at higher levels is something that’s associated with shortened lives, and that is a crucial impact that people don’t always appreciate when they’re hearing ‘ozone,'” she explains. “They think of it as being not terribly toxic.”

The report, “Gasping for Breath,” by the Clean Air Task Force, compiles estimates of ozone emissions from oil and gas facilities around the country and the number of asthma attacks in key states, including Pennsylvania.

While the health risks are greatest near the original sources, airborne pollution from oil and gas facilities has health impacts far downwind.

Jackie Smith-Spade is a teacher in Philadelphia. Her son suffers from asthma and she says the connection to smog levels is clear.

“The dirtier the air, the worse my son’s breathing is,” she relates. “And I always know when I’m going to have fewer kids in my classroom, because they’re the same days my own son is having an asthma flare up.”

According to the report, by 2025, smog from oil and gas pollution will cause children in Pennsylvania to miss more than 22,000 days of school a year.

In June, the Environmental Protection Agency published federal standards to limit pollution from new and modified oil and gas facilities.

Paul Billings, senior vice president for advocacy with the American Lung Association, says the agency is working on standards for older facilities.

“Moving forward with common sense best practices and setting strict standards and enforcing them, and ensuring that players comply by these rules will go a long way to address the pollution that’s caused by oil and gas extraction,” he states.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has outlined a plan to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production, but the plan still needs to be developed into regulations.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

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[ There’s more to energy independence than phasing out foreign oil ]

We can’t ignore the impact from how other countries power their economies.

     
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[ Happy anniversary to the Wilderness Act! ]

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[ History is made with creation of largest protected area in the world ]

Michael Reinemer

The Wilderness Society commends the Obama Administration for making history today by quadrupling the size of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, now the largest protected area in the world, measuring 582,578 square miles.

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[ President Obama creates world’s largest protected area with ocean monument expansion ]

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[ California’s carbon market is a big success. Here are the facts. ]

California is ahead of schedule in meeting its ambitious climate goals, thanks in no small part to its emissions trading program.

     
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[ Looters, vandals threaten some of America’s great archaeological sites in Bears Ears ]

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[ Donated land in Maine protected by President as a national monument on 100th birthday of National Park Service ]

Michael Reinemer

The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument will be a unit of the National Park Service and was announced on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, which was established on August 25, 1916.

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[ Climate change is messing with clouds – and it’s a really big deal ]

Climate change is pushing clouds higher and toward the poles, triggering a cycle of ever-rising global temperatures.

     
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