ENN Weekly: May 29th - June 2nd

ENN rounds up the most important and compelling environmental news stories of the week. In the news May 29th - June 2nd: Yellowstone air quality, whalers against whaling, the quest for energy alternatives, a tropical Arctic, and much more.

The Week's Top Ten Articles

In the news May 29th - June 2nd: Yellowstone air quality, whalers against whaling, the quest for energy alternatives, a tropical Arctic, and much more.

1. U.S. Senate Confirms Kempthorne to Head Interior
The U.S. Senate confirmed President Bush's nominee, Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, as interior secretary Friday, after several lawmakers lifted procedural holds that allowed the vote to proceed. Kempthorne replaces Gale Norton and will be the 49th interior secretary, charged with overseeing federal lands.

2. Study Finds Yellowstone Air Quality Worsening
Air quality in four of six categories is worsening at Yellowstone National Park, a new study by the National Park Service shows. One pollutant on the rise in Yellowstone is ground-level ozone, which can cause respiratory problems and threaten plant health.

3. Whalers May Take Step to End Hunting Ban, Whaling Commissioner Says
Whaling nations Japan, Norway and Iceland may take a step towards ending a 20-year moratorium on hunting at an international meeting in mid-June, Norway's top whaling official said on Thursday.

4. From Biofuels to Wind, Quest for Energy Alternatives Steps Up
The future of energy is bright in Said Al-Hallaj's invention lab at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and not just because of the solar window that lies in development on a table. All around the lab are advanced alternative energy projects that testify to the war on oil that's proceeding quietly at laboratories and research centers across the country.

5. China Says It's Slowing Rate of Desertification
China, with desert covering one third of its landmass, is slowing the rate at which desertification is eating up arable and other land but the problem remains serious, a government official said on Monday.

6. Scientists Say Arctic Once Was Tropical
Scientists have found what might have been the ideal ancient vacation hotspot with a 74-degree Fahrenheit average temperature, alligator ancestors and palm trees. It's smack in the middle of the Arctic.

7. Poorly Mapped and Policed, Amazon Rain Forest Suffers from a Settler Influx
Izidio Orlando de Brito used to walk for hours down a jungle path thinking how much easier life would be if there was a road to his village. The road finally arrived, and with it bad news. The land Brito and his neighbors considered their own was actually inside Amazonia National Park.

8. States Restrict Firewood to Stop Bug
A tiny green beetle that decimates ash trees is nibbling away at traditional summer campfires as states try to halt the insect's spread through infested firewood that campers unwittingly haul into parks.

9. New Orleans Sinking Faster than Thought
Everyone has known New Orleans is a sinking city. Now new research suggests parts of the city are sinking even faster than many scientists imagined -- more than an inch a year.

10. Study Finds Global Warming Boosts Poison Ivy
Another reason to worry about global warming: more and itchier poison ivy. The noxious vine grows faster and bigger as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise, researchers report.

Photo: La Jolla Cove in California. Credit: www.pdphoto.org.

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