Morning photo: The mountain zone

High in the Rockies …

FRISCO —Early mornings are the best during these long summer days in the Colorado high country. Before the heat and haze build, before the traffic gets thick, it’s quite and calm, and the glow of dawn suffuses the landscape with warmth. But if you want to catch the sunrise, you’ll have to get up plenty early. If not, follow us on Twitter and Instagram for daily photo updates and visit our online Fine Art America gallery for more Colorado landscape photography.

Study tracks global warming threats to tropical shellfish

Some of the best oysters in the world come from Apalachicola Bay.

Shellfish face multiple threats linked to global warming.

Commercial mussel hatcheries in India seen as threatened by climate change

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ocean acidification isn’t the only threat to the planet’s shellfish. In parts of the tropics, warming ocean temperatures and increased rainfall is likely to dilute salt concentrations on the surface of the sea, which will change microscopic communities of bacteria and plankton.

That, in turn, will affect other species higher on the food chain, especially as future conditions may favor disease-causing bacteria and plankton species which produce toxins, such as the lethal paralytic shellfish toxin. These can accumulate in shellfish such as mussels and oysters, putting human consumers at risk. Continue reading

Nobel laureates warn of global warming risks

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2015 is on track to be the warmest year on record for Earth.

Unsustainable plunder of the planet represents a serious threat to humanity

Staff Report

FRISCO — When several dozen of the world’s smartest people — all recognized as Nobel Laureates — gather on an island and declare that climate change and the unsustainable plunder of natural resources are a serious threat, it might be time to listen.

That’s what happened this week during the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, as physicists, chemists and many Nobel Prize winners ended their conference by signing a declaration on climate change, urging nations of the world to “take decisive action to limit future global emissions.” Continue reading

Lawsuit challenges federal plan for Mexican gray wolves

Wildlife advocates say arbitrary caps on population and habitat won’t allow for full recovery of the species

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife advocates say a federal plan to cap the Mexican gray wolf population at 300 to 325 animals won’t ensure the long-term survival of the species, and they’re going to court to make sure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopts policies that give endangered Mexican gray wolves a fair shot at recovery in their historic U.S. range.

At issue is a final federal rule issued early this year that would likely prevent the wolves from recolonizing suitable habitat in northern Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.

“Unfortunately, politics supplants wildlife biology in key parts of the USFWS Mexican gray wolf plan,” said John Mellgren, the Western Environmental Law Center attorney representing the advocacy groups in the lawsuit. “Our goal in this case is to put the science back into the management of Mexican wolves in the U.S.” Continue reading

Climate change: New polar bear prognosis not good, as feds prepare to publish recovery plan

‘Addressing sea ice loss will require global policy solutions …’

polar bear map

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Staff Report

FRISCO — Loss of Arctic sea ice caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases remains as the primary threat to polar bears, U.S. Geological Survey researchers said after updating their research models.

Even if greenhouse gas emissions drastically reduced, sea ice will continue to shrink for decades, leading to a significant loss of polar bear habitat in many parts of the Arctic. The Canadian Archipelago is a notable exception. That region may serve as a climate refuge for the bears and other ice-dependent species, the federal scientists said. Continue reading

Climate: Ocean acidification threatens Alaska’s burgeoning shellfish hatchery industry

Costly seawater treatment may be needed by 2040

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Shellfish are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ocean water around parts of Alaska is acidifying so fast that shellfish hatcheries may soon have to use costly treatment systems to continue commercial operations.

“Our research shows there could be significant effects from ocean acidification on Alaska’s emerging shellfish hatchery industry in a matter of two and half decades,” said Jeremy Mathis, Ph.D., an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and a co-author of the study, published this week in PLOS ONE.

“We need to continue to partner with industry and other stakeholders to make sure we’re providing the environmental intelligence needed by industry to answer key questions and make decisions to meet these challenges,” Mathis said. Continue reading

UNESCO highlights ‘brutal and deliberate destruction’ of World Heritage sites

One of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan, destroyed by the Taliban in 2011.

One of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan, destroyed by the Taliban in 2011. Photo via Wikipedia. Click here to see full photo credits.

‘World Heritage is under attack today …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Most years, the annual meeting of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is a time to celebrate the best of humanity and nature, as world leaders gather to designate new sites based on outstanding cultural and natural attributes that are of value to the whole world.

But this week in Bonn, the meeting started on a somber note, as speakers warned of the unprecedented threat  of violent extremism and cultural cleansing that has specifically targeted world heritage sites in the Middle East.

“Heritage is under attack today. In Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, we see the brutal and deliberate destruction of heritage on an unprecedented scale. This is a call for action,” declared the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. Continue reading

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