The Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico
June 7, 2010 02:45 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

While the Deepwater Horizon oil gusher continues to mire the Gulf of Mexico, another threat could be growing below the oil slicked surface. This is the "Dead Zone". Currently the most well known dead zone is about 8,500 square miles in size and lies in the Gulf of Mexico, where the Mississippi River dumps high nutrient runoff from its vast drainage basin, which includes the heart of the U.S. agriculture business from the Midwest. This is equivalent to a dead zone the size of New Jersey. Dead zones are hypoxic (low oxygen) areas in the world's oceans, the observed incidences of which have been increasing since oceanographers began noting them in the 1970s.

Oil spill a nightmare for Obama
May 27, 2010 06:14 AM - Steve Holland, Reuters

Up from the briny deep of the Gulf of Mexico came a nightmare for President Barack Obama. Unlike Hurricane Katrina and its immediate, frightful images of people in crisis, the gushing BP oil well has been a slow-moving behemoth that is now taking a political toll on the U.S. president. Obama was already immersed in a long list of problems -- pushing a financial regulation overhaul, prodding Europe to stem a financial crisis, pressuring Iran and North Korea. And don't forget the 9.9 percent U.S. jobless rate, two wars and Obama's hopes for immigration and energy legislation before Washington stops for November 2 congressional elections. Now the greatest environmental calamity since the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 has fallen into his lap. He declared it "heartbreaking." "We will not rest until this well is shut, the environment is repaired and the cleanup is complete," Obama said on Wednesday. He makes his second visit to the Gulf on Friday.

Fishing restrictions bring better catches, says study
May 25, 2010 09:13 AM - Naomi Antony, SciDevNet

Closing fishing areas and regulating the use of fishing gear can result in more profitable catches that boost fishermen's incomes, according to a study. The conclusion has emerged from a long-term investigation in Kenya on the effects of fishery closures on fishermen's profits. The study, published today in Conservation Biology, used data on 27,000 fish caught in three locations off the Kenyan coast over a period of 12 years.

Brazilian Lessons for Industrial Policy
May 21, 2010 02:43 PM - Tarun Khanna and Santiago Mingo, Global Policy Innovations Program

Few economic ideas are more lauded and reviled than that of industrial policy. Proponents, such as those who studied the rise of the East Asian economies, swear by it. Opponents see red at its very mention. The former point to economic development; the latter maintain that tens, even hundreds, of billions of dollars have been squandered.

Shifting rivers threaten India's top tea region
May 19, 2010 06:40 AM - Biswajyoti Das, Reuters

Shifting rivers in India's largest tea producing state and abnormally high rainfall this year is destroying hundreds of acres of tea gardens and could cut output in the world's second-largest tea grower. More than a tenth of the 18,000 hectares of plantations, or tea gardens, in India's northeast state of Assam could be washed away as the mighty Himalaya-born Brahmaputra and other smaller rivers flood the region where century-old operations grow over half of India's tea. "Some tea gardens have already fallen into rivers and some of them are on the verge of disappearing," said Dipanjol Deka, secretary general of Tea Association of India (TAI) in Guwahati, the main city in the region.

Cumberland River Crest Highest in 73 Years
May 17, 2010 09:52 AM - USGS Newsroom

Rivers throughout middle Tennessee crested at record high levels last week. They exceeded previous highs at many streamgages by as much as 14 feet, according to preliminary estimates released today by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The highest flood levels were recorded on May 2 and 3, from Nashville west toward Jackson, extending about 40-miles north and south of Interstate 40, and affecting major tributaries to the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers.

Which Fish to Eat? Study Finds Lower Mercury in Most Top-Selling Seafood
April 28, 2010 09:23 AM - Jennifer F. Nyland, Organic Consumers Association

Experts send a mixed message to consumers when it comes to eating fish: it's good for your heart health but beware of the methylmercury. A new way of organizing and ranking the pollutant's levels in fish and shellfish may help consumers navigate this apparent contradiction, according to the study's author.

Soil Production of C02 May Decline As World Warms
April 27, 2010 08:02 AM - Yale Environment 360

Contradicting earlier studies showing that soil microbes will emit more carbon dioxide as global warming intensifies, new research suggests that these microbes become less efficient over time in a warmer environment and would actually emit less CO2. The research, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, could have important implications for calculating how much heat-trapping CO2 will accumulate in the atmosphere as temperatures rise. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, as well as Colorado State and Yale universities, found that soil microbes, in the form of bacteria and fungi, rapidly exhale CO2 for a short period of time in a warmer environment.

Volcano disrupts African rose exports
April 20, 2010 06:06 AM - Jeremy Clarke and Antony Gitonga, Reuters

Kenyan flower farmer Jack Kneppers was forced on Monday to throw 6.5 tons of his exquisite roses into a compost pit after flights headed for Europe were canceled because of the ash cloud. Kenya's horticulture industry has already lost $12 million to the European airspace closure and it will take several weeks to recover even if flights resume now, its association of exporters said. Kneppers' farm by picturesque Lake Naivasha in southwest Kenya produces 11 varieties of pristine roses worth tens of thousands of dollars every day. "We have to throw them into big pits and turn them into compost," Kneppers said, standing in front of rows of boxes full of flowers that he fears will meet the same fate.

Mercury surprise: Rice can be risky
April 19, 2010 09:22 AM - Janet Raloff, Science News

Ask toxicologists how best to avoid mercury poisoning and they’ll almost certainly advise against eating too much of the wrong types of fish. (Never mind that there’s considerable confusion about what the wrong types are.) But a new study out of China shows that for millions of people at risk of eating toxic amounts of mercury-laced food, fish isn’t the problem. Rice is.

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