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Friday Finds: All the Climate Scientists’ Men

Conspiracy theorists descend on Florida climate change plan
Plans to prepare for rising sea levels and other climate change affects in south Florida are being attacked by conspiracy theorists who believe climate change is a hoax perpetuated by a group of “progressive elites” who want to raise taxes, reports the Sun Sentinel. Though the majority of comments on the draft Southeast Florida Regional Climate Action Plan came from government agencies and nonprofits that want to improve the plan, a small faction of conspiracy theorists are bent on taking it down, but that doesn't mean policymakers will listen. Said John Van Leer, associate professor of meteorology and physical oceanography at the University of Miami, “A lot of people believe the earth is 5,600 years old. A lot of people believe the human landing on the moon was staged in a Hollywood studio…but that doesn't mean we should base public policy on that." Meanwhile, other states like Hawaii are moving forward on bills to prepare their states for sea level rise. Whether those bills will sink or swim under climate climate change conspiracies remains to be seen.

Clean seas could boost economies’ green
It turns out that oceans that don't have heaps of garbage patches in them don’t just look better, they also make more money for the world economy, reports Reuters. A recent report by the United Nations Environment Program found that pollution from events like oil spills and chemical dumps, coupled with rampant over-fishing, have heavily damaged the oceans’ productivity and health. Add to that the fact that the oceans have acidified more in the last 200 years than the previous 21,000 years and it’s clear that the oceans and its critters need some help from its land-based brethren. In order to clean up oceans, the report recommends "key steps for ‘greening’ the seas across areas” like tourism, fishing and deep-sea mining. Though greening the sea may be costly upfront, the long-term benefits include a $50-billion boost to the economy each year just by restoring fish stocks and reducing fishing capacity. Find out more about how Earthjustice is working to clean up the deep blue sea and why the high value of the oceans is crystal clear.

Gardeners dig in to climate change adaptation
For the first time in more than two decades, the USDA has revised the color-coded map of planting zones found on the back of seed packets to reflect warmer temperatures, reports the AP. Climate change is causing a “new normal” for the nation’s 80 million gardeners that’s reflected in milder temperatures and plants that can now survive farther north. Though the new map won’t show up until next year’s seed packets come out, many gardeners have known for years that the climate is changing just by looking in their own backyards. But despite the growing evidence of climate change's affects, the USDA continues to back away from the issue, saying that the map is “simply not a good instrument” to demonstrate climate change. Check out the map and decide for yourself.

Mercury causes birds to turn from sopranos to tenors
The negative effects of mercury extend far beyond species like humans, bald eagles and river otters who eat mercury-contaminated fish, to many other wildlife species, reports the New York Times. According to a new study by the Biodiversity Research Institute, when terrestrial invertivores like bats and songbirds—which have been largely ignored in mercury investigations to date—are exposed to even very small amounts of mercury, they begin to experience negative neurological effects. For example, zebra finches exposed to mercury were unable to hit the high notes in mating songs, which affects their ability to reproduce. Given this new evidence, it's clear that Obama’s recent announcement of the first-ever clean air protections against the nation’s dirtiest polluters, which will reduce mercury emissions from these sources by 92 percent, will not only save the lives of humans, but of other species, too.

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