Global Warming and the Earth’s climate zones

A new study being released in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is causing a stir; it shows how Global Warming may alter the Earth’s climate zones, creating novel climate regions, while complete eliminating others.  A number of articles about this press release can be found, e.g. here, here , and here.

From National Geographic News:

Specifically, brand-new climates will appear in the tropical and subtropical regions, while some climates of the tropical mountains and the regions around the Poles will be entirely replaced by 2100…”It won’t be like anything we’ve experienced since the last interglacial period,” [researchers] said. “Some of these novel climates have probably never existed on Earth, or at least not in the last few million years.”

The study should not be taken as gospel however since its conclusions are based on computer models using the data from the latest IPCC report.

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EPA 2005 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Data

EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data is now available for 2005 (and previous years as always). The website includes links to the data, and a link to TRI Explorer, EPA’s electronic tool for data analysis.

Links:

EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Site

2005 TRI Public Data Release

Use the TRI Explorer to find out who’s been releasing toxins into your neighborhood!  Always fun.

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New York’s Costly Special Districts

A number of newspapers are reporting on a State comptrollers report on Special town districts. Statewide there are 6927 special district and 4200 local governments while New Yorkers pay some of the highest property taxes in the Nation. The implication of course is that these special districts and other inefficiencies in local government contribute to this high tax burden.

Snippets below

Posted in Local Communities, New York Economy, Urbanism and Planning | 1 Comment

Something for your iPod

Why this appropriate to Central New York, more about I have no idea, but its an ode to a salt truck from Eleni Mandell.

Grab it here (before the RIAA has me arrested)

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Endicott pollution data to be released

From the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin:

ENDICOTT —When health officials found that a polluted area in the village had a disproportionately high rate of premature births and certain cancers, help it raised more questions than answers. Was pollution making people sick? Were factors other than pollution—such as smoking or occupational exposure—responsible? Were women living in the area more prone to miscarriages?

Tuesday night, scientists working on the problem with federal and state agencies are scheduled to release their latest findings regarding these and other questions to a citizens group—called the Western Broome Environmental Stakeholders Coalition—and discuss future plans.

Presenters will include representatives from the federal Agency of Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, the state Department of Health and the federal National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health.

After looking at the most current available data regarding clusters of illness in areas south and southwest of the former plant of IBM Corp. on North Street, officials will be better equipped to address some questions.

But they are still a long way from determining a causal relationship with exposure to the pollution, mainly from a chemical called trichloroethylene…


Full Article Here

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Bad Weather for Maple Syrup

Sunday’s Post-Standard had this article on lagging production Maple Syrup locally.

The temperature must be in the low 20s at night and the low 40s during the day for the sap to flow. Warm weather in early winter caused the season to start late, in mid-March instead of mid-February. The fluctuations of very cold and very warm weather have meant that there hasn’t been the cold-warm cycle necessary for the sap to flow.

Reuters, a day earlier, had a similar article with a slightly different perspective on lagging Maple syrup production, Warmer world puts squeeze on U.S. maple syrup. (Maybe the wise men at the Post Standard are concerned about public fatigue over Global Warming?):
In the seasonal rhythm of New England, March marks the start of sugar season, when farmers tap thawing maple trees for their sap. But some worry that a warming climate is endangering their future….

concerns, shared by several syrup-makers around the state, were piqued by a study by the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont, which showed that the month-long season has gotten about three days shorter over the past four decades.

“What we’re seeing is about a 10 percent reduction in the season,” said Timothy Perkins, the center’s director.

If that trend continues, it could mean that one day sugaring—the process of boiling the sap down to sweet, aromatic, amber maple syrup—would no longer be economically feasible in the region.


But who reads Reuters anyway?

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Environmental costs of organic versus non-organic food

A U.K. Defra report, discount Environmental Impacts of Food Production and Consumption (pdf warning), compared organic versus non-organic food “life cycles” and concludes that in some circumstances organic agriculture can be more detrimental to the environment than conventional agriculture.

Buying organic and local foods is not necessarily better for the environment, according to a new life-cycle assessment examining the environmental impacts of food from cultivation to consumption.

The report (pdf warning) by researchers at the Manchester Business School was conducted for the U.K. environment agency Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Among its conclusions, the team finds that organic farming can use more land and release more nutrients to local water sources than conventional agriculture, and can have a larger carbon footprint. But the researchers also say that no clear-cut answer is readily available for this complex comparison.


From ES&T Online News: Environmental costs of organic food.

Posted in Agriculture & Food, Research | 1 Comment

Soil Vapor Intrusion in Rochester and Beyond

The Rochester D&C has a series of articles and interactive sites on vapor intrusion in the region.


One of the latest public health concerns involves a new problem at old locations: toxic vapors that could rise from long-known dump sites.

In recent years, patient environmental and health officials in New York and around the nation have come to the conclusion that volatile chemicals pooled far below ground have the capacity to rise in vapor and accumulate in the basements of homes and other buildings.

This has triggered fresh concern about thousands of old hazardous wastes nationwide. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has singled out 421 older waste sites for special attention — and 47 are in the Rochester region.

Danger below: Toxic vapor woes in Victor also a threat elsewhere

Old waste poses new woe: Toxic vapors

Reporter Steve Orr talks about the project in this audio slide show.

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Hinchey on Colbert

Updated: So much for YouTube. Here is the original file.

Hinchey.wmv

Posted in Misc | 1 Comment

Movement in the Antarctica and Greenland Glaciers

Apparently scientists are at a loss to explain some of the unusual movements they’ve been observing in the Antarctica and Greenland Glaciers. While many point to these phenomena as indications of global warming, “it remains unclear what is causing the glaciers of frigid Antarctica and their “ice streams” to lose ice to the ocean in recent years, the researchers said.”  Washington Post, March 16, 2007: Antarctic Glaciers’ Sloughing Of Ice Has Scientists at a Loss

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