The Latest On: science
As the environmental ministers of the Arctic nations, including the United States, meet in Sweden next week, they have an opportunity to show leadership on an important though less well-known climate pollutant, black carbon (soot).
While carbon dioxide remains the most important, long-lasting pollutant forcing climate change, recent studies have revealed that short-lived climate forcers like black carbon are equally damaging, especially in the Arctic.
There’s a dangerous type of mouse and rat poison on the market that when eaten by the rodents, causes them to bleed to death internally. Problems arise when the poison sometimes finds its way into the hands of kids or pets or moves up the food chain from rats and mice to foxes, bobcats, owls and the like that pounce on sickly rodents.
Crops shriveled to dust this summer while thermometers hit continuous triple digits in the Midwest and Southwest regions. Yet, what about the current “snowmageddon” occurring in our mountain regions, and record lows on the east coast?
The mention of soot conjures images of black clouds pouring out of unfiltered cars, or of cities lost in dark fog. At times in our history, soot pollution has helped stain entire ecosystems black, famously causing moths in Britain to change color from white to black to better hide in their environment. These images are well-deserved: soot is dangerous to both humans and the environment.
We were thrilled in July when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled to uphold a clean air standard that limits dangerous intense bursts of sulfur dioxide pollution from power plants, factories and other sources. Sulfur dioxide is a pretty nasty agent that causes a variety of adverse health impacts including breathing difficulties, aggravation of asthma and increased hospital and emergency room visits for respiratory illnesses.
A far right anti-environmental group based in Sacramento, California is trying to get federal Endangered Species Act protections removed from a small extended west coast family group of killer whales.