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Recycled shrimp nets used to remove marine debris

Recycled shrimp nets used to remove marine debris

University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant has devised a creative way to clean up the Georgia coast and provide financial support to local commercial shrimpers whose income was limited during the pandemic.

Through Trawl to Trash, funded by the National Sea Grant College Program, commercial shrimpers are recruited to sew bags made of recycled shrimp net material that can be used to collect marine debris.

Two fishermen work to create a bag for Trawl to Trash. (Photo by Shannah Montgomery)

“It’s exciting to find a new purpose for these trawl nets and who better to make the bags than the shrimpers who have spent countless hours mending their nets ahead of shrimping season?” said Dodie Sanders, marine educator at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, and lead on the Trawl to Trash project.

The shrimpers earn $20 for each bag they sew.

One fisherman, Jonathan Bennett, used the money he earned from the nets to pay the people working for him.

“It was extra money, it helped us out,” said Bennett, a fifth-generation commercial shrimper from Brunswick, who now captains his own boat, the Flying Cloud. Bennett has been shrimping since he was 4. His grandfather taught him how to repair the shrimp nets.

“For years I was the only man on the boat who knew how to sew so I got pretty good at it,” he said. He and his grandfather, who is still a shrimper, joined the Trawl to Trash project during the off season when their boat was being repaired.

(Photo by Shannah Montgomery)

In an effort to produce more bags for outreach efforts, Sanders teamed up with the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium to recruit additional shrimpers into the program. As of January 2022, 15 shrimpers in both Georgia and South Carolina have earned a total of $30,700 for 1,535 bags.

“This opportunity came along at a great time, in that shrimpers are making the bags in between the peak of the brown shrimp season and white shrimp season, when landings and income are lower than the rest of the year,” said Graham Gaines, living marine resources program specialist at the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium and partner on the project.

With more than a thousand bags in hand, Sanders and other educators at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island have been working to distribute them to the public through education programs and community science efforts.

“We’re educating and engaging ecotour guides, students, recreational boaters beach goers and others who can make a difference by alleviating the impacts of marine debris,” Sanders said.

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The Ocean Cleanup has deployed its first full-scale system designed to clean-up ocean plastics to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Scientists have found what could be a 'secret weapon' in the battle against climate change


The single-celled microbe, which is capable of photosynthesis as well as hunting and eating prey, could be “a secret weapon in battle against climate change”.

As part of their outreach effort, the team launched a Marine Debris Community Science Program, which engages volunteers in removing marine debris from barrier islands and salt marshes along the Georgia coast while tracking what they collect using the Marine Debris Tracker App.

Since April 2021, community scientists involved in the program have conducted more than 25 marine debris cleanups across three sites on the Georgia coast and collected thousands of items.

They are also working with ecotour guides who have been certified through Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s Coastal Awareness and Responsible Ecotourism program. The guides are providing bags to their customers and encouraging them to collect debris while exploring Georgia’s beaches and barrier islands.

This summer, educators will deliver hands-on after-school programs to Boys and Girls Clubs in Chatham and Glynn counties, educating the next generation about marine debris and encouraging them to make a difference by using the Trawl to Trash bags to clean up their communities.

“These efforts illustrate and reinforce the importance of building community capacity and encouraging behavior change as a way of supporting the long-term prevention of marine debris,” Sanders said.


Emily Kenworthy at UGA Today

50% of U.S. Lakes and Rivers Are Too Polluted for Swimming, Fishing, Drinking

50% of U.S. Lakes and Rivers Are Too Polluted for Swimming, Fishing, Drinking

Fifty years ago, the U.S. passed the Clean Water Act with the goal of ensuring  “fishable, swimmable” water across the U.S. by 1983. 

Now, a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) finds the country has fallen far short of that goal. In fact, about half of the nation’s lakes and rivers are too polluted for swimming, fishing or drinking. 

“The Clean Water Act should be celebrated on its 50th birthday for making America’s waterways significantly cleaner,” EIP Executive Director Eric Schaeffer said in a press release announcing the report.  “However, we need more funding, stronger enforcement, and better control of farm runoff to clean up waters that are still polluted after half a century. Let’s give EPA and states the tools they need to finish the job – we owe that much to our children and to future generations.”

The report was based on reports that states are required to submit under the Clean Water Act on the pollution levels of their rivers, streams, lakes and estuaries. According to the most recent reports, more than half of the lakes and rivers are considered “impaired,” meaning that they fall short of standards for fishing, swimming, aquatic life and drinking. 

Specifically, around 51 percent of rivers and streams and 55 percent of lake acres are considered impaired, The Hill reported. Further, 26 percent of estuary miles are also impaired. 

The Clean Water Act was a landmark legislative achievement when it was passed in 1972. It promised to end the discharge of all pollutants into navigable waters by 1985, according to the press release. However, it has fallen short of that goal for several reasons, according to the report. 

  1. The act has strong controls for pollution pumped directly into waterways from factories or sewage plants but not for indirect pollution such as agricultural runoff from factory farms.
  2. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has dragged its feet in updating industry-specific technology-based limits for water pollution control systems. By 2022, two-thirds of these industry-specific limits had not been updated in more than 30 years.
  3. Budget cuts have hampered the ability of the EPA and state agencies to enforce the law.
  4. Permit requirements are poorly enforced.
  5. Total Maximum Daily Loads, a kind of pollution control plan, are insufficient. 
  6. There are problems effectively managing watersheds that cover two or more states. 

The report also broke down pollution by state. Indiana has the most miles of rivers and streams too impaired for swimming and recreation.

“Indiana’s waters have benefited from the Clean Water Act, but unfortunately, they also illustrate some of the gaps in the law,” Dr. Indra Frank, Environmental Health & Water Policy Director for the Hoosier Environmental Council, said in the press release. “We have seen persistent, unresolved impairments, especially for E coli bacteria in our rivers and streams, in part from industrial agricultural runoff.  And we have also seen examples of Clean Water Act permits used to send water contaminated with coal-ash into our rivers. We need to halt pollution like this.”

Florida, meanwhile, had the most lake acres impaired for swimming and aquatic life. 

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Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from the window of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, February 6, 2022. Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS


Dumping plastic in waterways is “criminal” and must end if humanity wants to save the planet for future generations, Pope Francis said in a television interview on Sunday.


Nelson’s Rotomairewhenua/Blue Lake, which has the clearest water in the world, is facing the threat from lake snow, an invasive diatom that blooms into a slimy, clinging algae-like substance that could disturb its pure waters.

“Florida’s toxic-algae crisis is the direct result of lax enforcement of phosphorus and nitrogen pollution limits in cleanup plans required by the Clean Water Act,” Friends of the Everglades Executive  Director Eve Samples said in the press release. “Because these limits rely on voluntary ‘best management practices’ and a presumption of compliance, agricultural polluters regularly exceed phosphorus runoff limits while dodging responsibility — leading to harmful algal blooms in Florida’s lakes, rivers, estuaries, and even on saltwater beaches.”

The report did propose several solutions that range from making sure that the EPA and other agencies carry out their duties under the existing law to strengthening the act with new legislation to control runoff pollution. 

This last is particularly important because agricultural runoff and other indirect pollution sources are the leading causes of waterway pollution. 

“Factory-style animal production has become an industry with a massive waste disposal problem and should be regulated like other large industries,” the study authors wrote.   


Olivia Rosane at EcoWatch

Nature Conservancy To Build Solar Farms At Abandoned Coal Mines In Virginia

Nature Conservancy To Build Solar Farms At Abandoned Coal Mines In Virginia

The Nature Conservancy has a plan to move the renewable energy revolution forward.

Renewables are the key to a sustainable future. Instead of torturing the Earth to extract coal, oil, and gas that leave billions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane in their wake, solar and wind farms produce clean electricity power directly and indirectly from the sun. There are no emissions from renewable energy and the fuel — sunlight — is free and inexhaustible.

Yes, it is true there are emissions associated with obtaining the raw materials for making solar panels and wind turbines and in manufacturing them, yet those emissions are offset once they are placed in service. The emissions are just beginning when fossil fuels are burned to create electricity. Also, renewables generate electricity locally. Because the cost of fuel never varies the way oil and gas prices do, long term power purchase agreements can be entered into with the certainty that a war in Ukraine or Taiwan will not send fuel costs spiraling out of control.

While we all agree that solar is a vital part of the transition to renewable energy, not everyone wants a solar farm next door. People shouldn’t be clear cutting forests or taking arable land out of production to put up solar panels (although there can be a happy symbiosis between solar energy and agriculture.)

Transforming Coal Country

In 2019, the Nature Conservancy acquired 253,000 acres of forest in the central Appalachian Mountains that it calls the Cumberland Forest Project. “We’ve identified the Appalachians as one of the most important places on Earth for us to do conservation,” Brad Kreps, the Nature Conservancy’s Clinch Valley program director, tells the Washington Post. “We put the Appalachians in a very rare company along with the Amazon, the wild lands of Kenya and the forests of Borneo.”

The Cumberland Forest includes several abandoned mine sites scattered throughout Virginia coal country. Those mines have large areas that are flat and exposed to sunlight — a rarity in the mountains and the by-product of strip mining that literally takes the tops off of mountains to get at the coal below. What’s left behind are open plains where none existed before. One advantage of such abandoned mining sites is that they are close to electrical transmission lines, which means there is no need to build expensive new infrastructure to connect the electricity from solar farms to the grid.

6 former mining sites owned by the Nature Conservancy will become the first utility scale solar farms in the region in cooperation with partners Dominion Energy and Sun Tribe. The hope is that converting those six abandoned sites will serve as a model that can be replicated nationwide. One of them is the Highlands Solar project, which will re-purpose 1,200 acres of the former Red Onion surface mine and surrounding properties in Wise and Dickenson Counties. The project will generate approximately 50 megawatts of solar energy, enough to power 12,500 homes at peak output, and provide benefits to the area such as an increase in local tax revenues and the creation of clean energy jobs.

Solar & Coal Fields

Brad Kreps adds in a Nature Conservancy blog post, “Southwest Virginia and the wider Central Appalachian coal fields have an important role to play in the renewable energy economy Some of the region’s former mined lands are well suited for solar development and by directing development towards these areas it will help us conserve the region’s intact forests for wood products, carbon storage, wildlife habitats, outdoor recreation and tourism. By collaborating with Dominion Energy and other companies on these initial projects, we hope to develop a model that can be replicated in other coal mining regions across the U.S.”

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Waste coal is seen loaded into a truck at an Abandoned Mine Land reclamation site in Clinchco, western Virginia, U.S., May 12, 2021. REUTERS/Dane Rhys


The Biden administration on Monday said $725 million in federal funds would be available to states this year to clean up abandoned coal mines, one of several initiatives aimed at reducing pollution from decades of fossil fuel development.


Portugal shut down its last remaining coal plant over the weekend, ending the use of the polluting material for electricity generation and becoming the fourth country in the European Union to do so.

“In the coal field region, there’s about 100,000 acres that’s been impacted from mining,” says Daniel Kestner of the Virginia Department of Energy. “Better to build on a lot of these mine sites than some prime farmland or some areas that maybe don’t want solar in their community.”

He’s also hopeful the projects will bring tax revenue and jobs to the area. Lou Wallace, chair of the Board of Supervisors for Russell County, Virginia is pushing for counties in the coal fields to diversify their economies. She’s been promoting the beauty of the area’s rivers and mountains for recreation and tourism. Her family relied on coal for generations.

“We’re very proud to be an energy producing community,” she says when asked about the new solar farms being built on abandoned coal mines. “This is helping us to re-imagine how we produce the energy. So we’re still able to say we’re keeping the lights on somewhere.”

For more than 100 years, thermal generating stations have supplied America and the world with electric power. But creating it also blasts the atmosphere with waste products that threaten us all. The age of thermal is past. Renewables are the future. The question now is whether that transition will happen quickly enough to prevent the collapse of human society. Kudos to the Nature Conservancy for showing us one way to move forward with the renewable energy revolution.


Steve Hanley at CleanTechnica

Nearly half of US bald eagles suffer lead poisoning

Nearly half of US bald eagles suffer lead poisoning

America’s national bird is more beleaguered than previously believed, with nearly half of bald eagles tested across the U.S. showing signs of chronic lead exposure, according to a study published Thursday.

While the bald eagle population has rebounded from the brink of extinction since the U.S. banned the pesticide DDT in 1972, harmful levels of toxic lead were found in the bones of 46% of bald eagles sampled in 38 states from California to Florida, researchers reported in the journal Science.

Similar rates of lead exposure were found in golden eagles, which scientists say means the raptors likely consumed carrion or prey contaminated by lead from ammunition or fishing tackle.

The blood, bones, feathers and liver tissue of 1,210 eagles sampled from 2010 to 2018 were examined to assess chronic and acute lead exposure.

“This is the first time for any wildlife species that we’ve been able to evaluate lead exposure and population level consequences at a continental scale,” said study co-author Todd Katzner, a wildlife biologist at U.S. Geological Survey in Boise, Idaho. “It’s sort of stunning that nearly 50% of them are getting repeatedly exposed to lead.”

Nearly half of US bald eagles suffer lead poisoning

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In this photo provided by David Brandes in February 2022, a golden eagle feeds on a deer carcass in Pennsylvania. A study published in the journal Science on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, estimated that lead exposure reduced the annual population growth of bald eagles by 4% and golden eagles by 1%. (David Brandes via AP)

Lead is a neurotoxin that even in low doses impairs an eagle’s balance and stamina, reducing its ability to fly, hunt and reproduce. In high doses, lead causes seizures, breathing difficulty and death.

The study estimated that lead exposure reduced the annual population growth of bald eagles by 4% and golden eagles by 1%.

Bald eagles are one of America’s most celebrated conservation success stories, and the birds were removed from the U.S. Endangered Species List in 2007.

But scientists say that high lead levels are still a concern. Besides suppressing eagle population growth, lead exposure reduces their resilience in facing future challenges, such as climate change or infectious diseases.

Nearly half of US bald eagles suffer lead poisoning

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This undated photo provided by The Raptor Center, University of Minnesota, shows a lead-poisoned bald eagle in St. Paul, Minn. Victoria Hall, veterinarian and executive director of the center, said that “85 to 90% of the eagles that come into our hospital have some level of lead in their blood," and we know that no level is safe.” X-rays often show fragments of lead bullets in their birds' stomachs. The Raptor Center, University of Minnesota via AP)

“When we talk about recovery, it’s not really the end of the story — there are still threats to bald eagles,” said Krysten Schuler, a wildlife disease ecologist at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, who was not involved in the study.

Previous studies have shown high lead exposure in specific regions, but not across the country. The blood samples from live eagles in the new study were taken from birds trapped and studied for other reasons; the bone, feather and liver samples came from eagles killed by collisions with vehicles or powerlines, or other misfortunes.

“Lead is present on the landscape and available to these birds more than we previously thought,” said co-author Vince Slabe, a research wildlife biologist at the nonprofit Conservation Science Global. “A lead fragment the size of the end of a pin is large enough to cause mortality in an eagle. ”

The researchers also found elevated levels of lead exposure in fall and winter, coinciding with hunting season in many states.

During these months, eagles scavenge on carcasses and gut piles left by hunters, which are often riddled with shards of lead shot or bullet fragments.

Slabe said the upshot of the research was not to disparage hunters. “Hunters are one of the best conservation groups in this country,” he said, noting that fees and taxes paid by hunters help fund state wildlife agencies, and that he also hunted deer and elk in Montana.

However, Slabe said he hopes the findings provide an opportunity to “talk to hunters about this issue in a clear manner” and that more hunters will voluntarily switch to non-lead ammunition such as copper bullets.

Lead ammunition for waterfowl hunting was banned in 1991, due to concerns about contamination of waterways, and wildlife authorities encouraged the use of nontoxic steel shot. However, lead ammunition is still common for upland bird hunting and big game hunting.

The amount of lead exposure varies regionally, with highest levels found in the Central Flyway, the new study found.

At the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center, veterinarian and executive director Victoria Hall said that “85 to 90% of the eagles that come into our hospital have some level of lead in their blood,” and X-rays often show fragments of lead bullets in their stomachs.


Bright lights at a luxury Hawaii resort are killing endangered seabirds, according to a lawsuit filed Monday by conservation groups that say hotel officials need to do more to protect the species.


Some birds have mastered living in the scorching, dry environment of a desert. But even desert-adapted birds can’t handle extreme temperatures like those seen during heat waves.

Eagles with relatively low levels can be treated, she said, but those with high exposure can’t be saved.

Laura Hale, board president at nonprofit Badger Run Wildlife Rehab in Klamath County, Oregon, said she’ll never forget the first eagle she encountered with acute lead poisoning, in 2018. She had answered a resident’s call about an eagle that seemed immobile in underbrush and brought it to the clinic.

The young bald eagle was wrapped in a blanket, unable to breathe properly, let alone stand or fly.

“There is something hideous when you watch an eagle struggling to breathe because of lead poisoning – it’s really, really harsh,” she said, her voice shaking. That eagle went into convulsions, and died within 48 hours.

Lead on the landscape affects not only eagles, but also many other birds — including hawks, vultures, ravens, swans and geese, said Jennifer Cedarleaf, avian director at Alaska Raptor Center, a nonprofit wildlife rescue in Sitka, Alaska.

Because eagles are very sensitive to lead, are so well-studied and attract so much public interest, “bald eagles are like the canary in the coal mine,” she said. “They are the species that tells us: We have a bit of problem.”


Christina Larson via Associated Press

U.S. to spend $725 mln this year on abandoned coal mine cleanup

U.S. to spend $725 mln this year on abandoned coal mine cleanup

The Biden administration on Monday said $725 million in federal funds would be available to states this year to clean up abandoned coal mines, one of several initiatives aimed at reducing pollution from decades of fossil fuel development.

The money represents a portion of the $11.3 billion allocated to mine reclamation in the infrastructure law that Congress passed last year. The program is part of President Joe Biden’s pledge to create jobs and improve health and safety while combating climate change.

The Interior Department said it will distribute $725 million every year for the next 15 years to states and tribes based on their needs. For fiscal year 2022, the funding is available to 22 states and the Navajo Nation.

Pennsylvania is eligible for the most funding, nearly $245 million, followed by West Virginia, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio.

A pile of waste coal at an Abandoned Mine Land reclamation site is pictured in Clinchco, western Virginia, U.S., May 12, 2021. Picture taken May 12, 2021. REUTERS/Dane Rhys

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey said his state is home to a third of the nation’s abandoned mine lands and expects to receive about $3 billion from the program in the coming years.

“That’s going to go a long way. We’ve never had that kind of investment in our abandoned mine lands at one time in history,” Casey said on a call with reporters.

The funding will prioritize projects that hire displaced coal workers, Interior said. The administration is hoping the funds will create union jobs and will help mining regions like Appalachia as they seek to diversify their economies.


Portugal shut down its last remaining coal plant over the weekend, ending the use of the polluting material for electricity generation and becoming the fourth country in the European Union to do so.


NSW Police Commissioner has warned of 25 year jail sentences under the Crimes Act.

Such work could include closing dangerous mine shafts, reclaiming unstable slopes, treating acid mine drainage, and restoring water supplies damaged by mining, Interior said.

The state and tribal allocations are based on the number of tons of coal historically produced in each state before the 1977 passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, which created a fund for the cleanup of abandoned mine lands.

That fund, however, relies on per-ton fees paid by coal companies and has declined as the amount of coal mined in the United States has fallen.

The administration will soon release guidance to states and tribes on how to apply for the funding. It is expected to be disbursed later this year.


Nichola Groom via Reuters

Flights canceled as wide swath of US braces for winter storm

Flights canceled as wide swath of US braces for winter storm

Airlines canceled hundreds of flights, governors urged residents to stay off roads and schools closed campuses as a huge swath of the U.S. braced for a major winter storm that was set to put millions of Americans in the path of heavy snow and freezing rain.

The approaching blast of frigid weather, which was expected to begin arriving Tuesday night, put a long stretch of states from New Mexico to Vermont under winter storm warnings and watches. More than a foot of snow was possible in Michigan, on the heels of a vicious nor’easter last weekend that brought blizzard conditions to many parts of the East Coast.

“It will be a very messy system and will make travel very difficult,” said Marty Rausch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland.

The projected footprint of the storm extended as far south as Texas, where nearly a year after a catastrophic freeze buckled the state’s power grid in one of the worst blackouts in U.S. history, Gov. Greg Abbott defended the state’s readiness. The forecast does not call for the same prolonged and frigid temperatures as the February 2021 storm and the National Weather Service said the approaching system would, generally, not be as bad this time for Texas.

A major winter storm is expected in a large swath of the U.S., including Texas, nearly a year after a storm devastated the state’s power grid and caused hundreds of deaths. But Texas officials say the grid is ready. (Feb. 1)

“No one can guarantee that there won’t be any” outages caused by demand on the power grid, Abbott said Tuesday. “But what we will work to achieve, and what we’re prepared to achieve is that power is going to stay on across the entire state.”

In November, Abbott had, in fact, made a guarantee for winter: “I can guarantee the lights will stay on,” he told Austin television station KTBC.

Abbott, whose handling of last year’s blackouts is a top line of attack for Democrats as the Republican seeks a third term in 2022, said thousands of miles of roads in Texas will become “extraordinarily dangerous” over the coming days. Energy experts said the forecast this week, although below freezing, should not pose a challenge for Texas’ grid.

Flights canceled as wide swath of US braces for winter storm

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A City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation salt truck waits for a load in a city salt dome in anticipation of a winter storm Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in Chicago. A major winter storm is expected to affect a huge swath of the United States beginning Tuesday, with heavy snow starting in the Rockies and freezing rain as far south as Texas before it drops snow and ice on the Midwest. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

“The question has always been if we get a repeat of last year, would the power stay on? And this is nowhere near a repeat of last year,” said Doug Lewin, an energy consultant in Austin who has criticized Texas’ response to the blackouts as insufficient.

Airlines canceled more than 1,000 flights in the U.S. scheduled for Wednesday, the flight-tracking service FlightAware.com showed, including more than half taken off the board in St. Louis. In an effort to stay ahead of the weather, Southwest Airlines announced Tuesday that it would suspend all of its flight operations Wednesday at St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Thursday at its Dallas Love Field hub.

“Around the country, we’re planning to operate a limited or reduced schedule from some cities in the path of the storm but will make adjustments to the schedule as needed,” Southwest spokesman Dan Landson said.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson declared a state of emergency as school districts and universities shifted classes to online or canceled them entirely.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport also canceled more than 100 departing flights, and airports in Kansas City and Detroit were also canceling more flights than usual.

Illinois lawmakers canceled their three scheduled days of session this week as the central part of the state prepares for heavy snow, ice and high wind gusts in the region.

The National Weather Service said 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of snow was expected by Thursday morning in parts of the Rockies and Midwest, while heavy ice is likely from Texas through the Ohio Valley.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the weather service said 8 to 14 inches (20 to 36 centimeters) of snow was possible in parts of Michigan. That includes Detroit, where the mayor activated snow emergency routes and city crews were expected to work 12-hour shifts salting and plowing major roads.


Extreme weather events – including powerful heat waves and devastating floods – are now the new normal, says the World Meteorological Organisation.


One of the most populated cities in the US is preparing for what may now be inevitable: submersion. New York city has started a huge climate resiliency project to try and avoid the mistakes of the past and protect itself against the extreme weather of the future.

In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt has declared a statewide state of emergency as the winter storm approaches. That suspends requirements for size and weights permits of oversized vehicles transporting materials and supplies used for emergency relief and power restoration. The declaration would remain in effect for seven days.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, where up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) of snow and sleet are forecast but little ice, emergency management director Joe Kralicek said the event is not expected to cause large-scale power outages based on an ice index used by the National Weather Service.

“We could see some power outages, however, it’s also suggesting that they be limited in scope and nature and very short term in duration,” Kralicek said.

Becky Gligo, director of the nonprofit Housing Solutions in Tulsa said teams are working to move homeless people into shelters ahead of overnight lows that are expected to drop into single digits by Friday night.


Paul J. Weber via Associated Press

Winter storm whipping northeast US with snow, thunderstorms

Winter storm whipping northeast US with snow, thunderstorms

A dangerous winter storm brought significant snowfall, strong thunderstorms and blustery winds to the northeastern U.S. on a holiday Monday.

The storm system dropped a foot (30 centimeters) or more of snow in parts of New York state, Ohio and Pennsylvania Sunday night through Monday morning after pummeling parts of the Southeast on Sunday.

“We’ve had a very strong area of low pressure that’s kind of moved up the coast, with pretty heavy snowfall accumulations from Tennessee, North Carolina all the way into the northeast,” said meteorologist Marc Chenard at the weather service’s headquarters in College Park, Maryland.

Forecasters in Buffalo, New York, said almost 18 inches (45 centimeters) of snow fell by 1 p.m. Monday. The city advised people not to travel if they didn’t need to on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, while some surrounding towns instituted a travel ban.

“WOW! (Latest) snow measurement at 1 AM was 4.6 inches in the last hour at the Buffalo Airport!” the National Weather Service in Buffalo tweeted overnight. “And tack on another 4 inches in the last hour ending at 2 AM! Total so far since late Sun evening – 10.2 inches.”


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Snow, a four-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier runs through the snow with his companion, Marlin Rayney from Wilkinsburg in tow during his morning walk/run along Braddock Avenue Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. (Pam Panchak/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

Weather service meteorologist Alexa Maines said 15 inches (38 centimeters) or more of snow were reported in Cleveland, Ohio, and 25 inches (63 centimeters) in parts of Ashtabula County in the northeast corner of the state.

Power outages affected tens of thousands of customers in the northeast, and hundreds of flights were canceled. Many COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites had to close down.

New York City got less than an inch of snow, which was washed away by rain overnight. The weather service said spotty showers and snow showers might continue through Monday night.

Forecasters said wind gusts in New York City could top out around 45 mph (72 kph), and around 60 mph (97 kph) on Long Island.

Sleet and rain were the main threats for much of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Periods of snowfall transitioned to rain overnight. NWS meteorologists in Boston said wind gusts could reach 70 mph (113 kph).

The howling winds spread a fire that destroyed a motel and two other structures in coastal Salisbury, Massachusetts, early Monday.

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Extreme weather events – including powerful heat waves and devastating floods – are now the new normal, says the World Meteorological Organisation.

Lightning bolts descend from dark clouds in northern Alaska. Lightning tracker Vaisala reported a significant uptick in far-northern Arctic lightning in 2021.


As extreme weather wreaked havoc across the globe in 2021, a stunning change was happening in the far northern Arctic, largely out of sight but detectable by a network of sensors. Lightning increased significantly in the region around the North Pole, which scientists say is a clear sign of how the climate crisis is altering global weather.

The storm brought similar conditions Sunday to the Southeast, where thousands were still without power Monday.

Multiple states reported heavy snowfall, and two people died Sunday in North Carolina when their car drove off the road. The roof of a dormitory partially collapsed in the state at Brevard College, with officials saying it broke under the weight of snow. There were no injuries.

Severe thunderstorms in Florida spun up a tornado with 118 mph (190 kph) winds, destroying 30 mobile homes and majorly damaging 51 more. Three minor injuries were reported.

Wet roadways in the South were expected to refreeze Monday, creating icy conditions for motorists.

Plow trucks were scattered along roads and highways up the East Coast, working to clear the way for travelers. Some crashes were reported in the early morning hours, including an ambulance involved in a wreck on Interstate 279 in Pittsburgh, KDKA-TV reported. It was unclear whether anyone was injured.


Julie Walker & Karen Matthews via Associated Press

‘Our Atmosphere Is Broken’: US Tops Record for Hurricane-Force Winds in a Day

‘Our Atmosphere Is Broken’: US Tops Record for Hurricane-Force Winds in a Day

“The last Dust Bowl stemmed from degradation of the soil,” said writer and activist Bill McKibben. “This time it’s the climate we’ve upended.”

The United States on Wednesday had the most hurricane-force gusts ever recorded in a single day after an after an “off the charts” storm system tore through the central part of the country, bringing tornadoes and triggering widespread power outages, dust storms, and warnings of the climate emergency.

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center said there were 55 such wind events throughout the day, more than ever seen at least since current record-keeping began in 2004.

“This is just the kind of thing that happens when you’re in the process of breaking the planet’s climate system.”

“I’ve been doing this 30 years,” said CNN meteorologist Tom Sater, “and we’re seeing things today in the CNN Weather Center we have never seen before.”

Hundreds of thousands of people are still without power on Thursday, according to PowerOutage.US, with the highest number—over 230,000—in Michigan. The second-highest number is in Wisconsin, where over 147,000 customers are without power.

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) on Wednesday also issued for the first time in its history an “extremely critical fire weather outlook” for the Southern and Central Plains during the month of December, and the Weather Prediction Center noted that dozens of cities were experiencing record-warm daily temperatures.

Tornadoes were reported in Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

The Weather Channel further noted:

More than 425 reports of severe weather were tallied up Wednesday, mostly in parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, northern Missouri, southern Minnesota, and western Wisconsin. That’s the most severe weather reports for a December day in the U.S. since at least 2000, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) database.

The severe weather came just days after an outbreak of 41 tornadoes across eight states caused widespread damage in large swathes of the South and Midwest.

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More powerful, destructive, and deadlier storms will be the “new normal” as the effects of climate change take root, the top US emergency management official said Sunday after massive tornadoes ravaged six states.

“Incredible. And in December. Our atmosphere is broken,” said Minnesota Public Radio chief meteorologist Paul Huttner in a tweet responding to the announcement of the most 75-mile-per-hour or higher thunderstorm wind gusts in a day.

Sharing video of severe wind conditions on the ground Wednesday in Elkhart, Kansas, author and climate activist Bill McKibben said: “The last Dust Bowl stemmed from degradation of the soil. This time it’s the climate we’ve upended.”

Writing Wednesday at his Substack “The Crucial Years,” McKibben framed Wednesday’s storm system as an unsurprising outcome of the climate emergency:

It’s hard to overstate how hellish the storm now raging across the central plains really is: half the lower 48 is under a weather warning of some kind, as the National Weather Service describes a “historic weather day,” with tornado warnings extending farther north than we’ve ever seen in December. In Colorado winds as high as 107 mph swept down the Front Range of the Rockies. “Amid the high winds, blinding dust storms have swelled over parts of southeast Colorado and western Kansas, with wildfires erupting in Kansas and the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles.”

None of this comes as a great surprise—it’s been a record hot December across much of the continent, with temperatures in the 70s across the northern midwest. This is just the kind of thing that happens when you’re in the process of breaking the planet’s climate system.

The developments come after scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information said earlier this month that Earth had its fourth-warmest November and that the U.S. had its third-warmest meteorological autumn on record.


Andrea Germanos at Common Dreams

Severe weather ‘new normal,’ US emergency chief warns after tornadoes

Severe weather ‘new normal,’ US emergency chief warns after tornadoes

More powerful, destructive, and deadlier storms will be the “new normal” as the effects of climate change take root, the top US emergency management official said Sunday after massive tornadoes ravaged six states.

Meteorologists and other scientists have long warned of the growing intensity of weather events like storms, fires and flooding.

But the crisis hit home in a terrifying way overnight Friday into Saturday when more than two dozen twisters raked across large swaths of the American heartland, leaving more than 90 people dead, dozens missing and communities in ruin.

“This is going to be our new normal,” Deanne Criswell, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told CNN’s “State of the Union” as she did a round of national Sunday morning talk shows before she headed to Kentucky to assess the damage and help coordinate the federal response.

“The effects that we’re seeing from climate change are the crisis of our generation,” the FEMA chief added.

Criswell warned of the challenge that the United States faces in addressing such severe weather events.

“We’re seeing more intense storms, severe weather, whether it’s hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“The focus I’m going to have is, how do we start to reduce the impacts of these events?”

Heavy damage is seen downtown after a tornado swept through the area on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The tornado that reduced several towns to rubble was a gargantuan twister. It rumbled along the ground for over 200 miles (320 kilometers), one of the longest, if not the longest, on record.

US President Joe Biden said Saturday the storm system was likely “one of the largest tornado outbreaks in our history.”

And while he stressed that the impact of climate change on these particular storms was not yet clear, “we all know everything is more intense when the climate is warming—everything.”

Scientists have stopped short of conclusive determinations that more violent storms are the result of climate change, but they agree that evidence is building.

One paper published recently by scientific association AGU says its analysis “suggests increasing global temperature will affect the occurrence of conditions favorable to severe weather.”

Daniel Swain, a UCLA climate scientist, tweeted Saturday in response to the study, saying that while the effect of climate change on severe weather like tornadoes is not well established, “there is a growing body of research (including this late-breaking paper) suggesting that warming likely does increase such risks in many regions globally.”



‘Deluge of plastic waste’: US is world’s biggest plastic polluter

‘Deluge of plastic waste’: US is world’s biggest plastic polluter

At 42m metric tons of plastic waste a year, the US generates more waste than all EU countries combined

The US is the world’s biggest culprit in generating plastic waste and the country urgently needs a new strategy to curb the vast amount of plastic that ends up in the oceans, a new report submitted to the federal government has found.

The advent of cheap, versatile plastics has created “a global scale deluge of plastic waste seemingly everywhere we look”, the report states, with the US a leading contributor of disposable plastics that ends up entangling and choking marine life, harming ecosystems and bringing harmful pollution up through the food chain.

Plastic waste has increased sharply in the US since 1960, with the country now generating about 42m metric tons of plastic waste a year, amounting to about 130kg of waste for every person in America. This total is more than all European Union member countries combined. The overall amount of municipal waste created in the US is also two to eight times greater than comparable countries around the world, the report found.

Recycling infrastructure has failed to keep pace with the huge growth in American plastic production. Littering, dumping and inefficient waste disposal in landfills has caused up to 2.2m tons of plastic – including everything from plastic bottles and straws to packaging – to “leak” into the environment each year. The total waste may be even greater than this due to data gaps in tracking it.

Much of this plastic ends up, via rivers and streams, in the world’s oceans.

Worldwide, at least 8.8m tons of plastic waste enters the marine environment each year, the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck filled with plastic into the ocean every single minute. If current trends continue, scientists have estimated this total could leap to 53m tons annually by 2030, which is roughly half of the weight of all fish caught from the oceans globally each year.

“Plastic waste is an environmental and social crisis that the US needs to affirmatively address from source to sea,” said Margaret Spring, chief conservation and science officer at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Spring chaired a committee of experts who compiled the congressionally mandated report for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The proposed Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act introduced by Democratic lawmakers, would be the most ambitious regulation the US plastics industry has ever seen.
The proposed Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, introduced by Democratic lawmakers, would be the most ambitious regulation the US plastics industry has ever seen. Photograph: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

Spring added: “Plastic waste generated by the US has so many consequences, impacting inland and coastal communities, polluting our rivers, lakes, beaches, bays, and waterways, placing social and economic burdens on vulnerable populations, endangering marine habitats and wildlife and contaminating waters upon which humans depend for food and livelihoods.”

The committee’s report recommends that a new national strategy is required by the end of next year to stem the flow of plastics into the ocean. The strategy, the report states, should aim to slash plastic production, particularly for plastics not reusable or recyclable, help promote alternative materials that can be reused and set better standards for waste collection and capture.

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A new eco-friendly plastic made from salmon sperm has been invented by scientists in China.

Two short strands of DNA from the sperm were combined with a chemical from vegetable oil that binds them together. What this creates is a squishy material known as hydrogel.

Broader international and industrial trends will influence any effort to cut plastic pollution. The US, along with many other developed countries, used to outsource its waste problem by shipping plastics to China but these imports were halted by the Chinese in 2018. This has led to an increase in plastic waste sent to other countries, such as Vietnam and Thailand, as well as “recycled” plastic being burned in domestic landfills unable to cope with the sheer volume of waste.

The fossil fuel industry, meanwhile, is considering a huge expansion in plastic production as it sees its primary business squeezed due to concerns over the climate crisis. Plastic polymers can be formed from a feedstock of crude oil and the industry is pinning its hopes on a glut of new plastic to flood the market and therefore waterways, beaches and oceans, in the coming years.

“There is an urgency to the issue because production is increasing, waste generation is increasing and therefore leakage impacts have the potential to increase too,” said Jenna Jambeck, a member of the scientific committee behind the report.


Oliver Milman at The Guardian