New study suggests tropical storms will become more intense
Tropical storms may become less frequent as the planet warms up, but those that do form could be increasingly powerful, according to a new study published in the journal Science last week.
How global warming will affect tropical storm formation in the decades ahead has been the subject of intensive research. The new study says that, so far, the warming effects of greenhouse gases on tropical cyclones have been hard to discern because of natural variability and also because air pollution has been masking the impacts. Continue reading “Will global warming super-charge hurricanes?”→
Patients using cannabis as alternative to prescription drugs
A new study by health experts at the University of Georgia suggests that people are using marijuana as an alternative to prescription medications for ailments that range from pain to sleep disorders.
That trend translates to about $165.2 million in savings for Medicare’s prescription drug benefit program in 2013, the researchers reported in the journal Health Affairs.The results suggest that if all states had implemented medical marijuana the overall savings to Medicare would have been around $468 million.
New survey results show as few as 60 remaining vaquita porpoises in the Gulf of California
The population of vaquita porpoises in the Gulf of California may be down to just 60 individuals, according to conservation advocates, who released the results of recent surveys in a press release last week.
New research offers clues on global pollution pathways
Polluted dust from Asia is cutting oxygen levels in the tropical Pacific Ocean, researchers said this week, releasing a new study that traces a chain reaction that starts with land-based industrial pollution in China and other Asian countries.
“There’s a growing awareness that oxygen levels in the ocean may be changing over time,” said Taka Ito, an associate professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “One reason for that is the warming environment – warm water holds less gas. But in the tropical Pacific, the oxygen level has been falling at a much faster rate than the temperature change can explain,” Ito said.
Emergency provision still enables spy agencies to collect specific records without court approval
Federal spy agencies no long have the legal authority to gather bulk communications records. Instead, the National Security Agency will have to obtain a court order to obtain specific data, as outlined by President Barack Obama in March 2014.
Obama said the data should remain with communications companies, with a legal mechanism in place that would allow the government to obtain data pursuant to individual orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — to ensure that the data collection is “appropriately focused and targeted,” according to top spy officials.
Agency acknowledges potential for adverse impacts to park values
The recent surge in fossil fuel exploitation on public lands near national parks has raised serious concerns about air quality, wildlife and scenic values — to the point that the National Parks Conservation Association outlined threats in a report a few years ago.
Now, the National Park Service wants to tackle some of the concerns by updating drilling regulations. The proposal would revise current rules that are 36 years old, predating the modern fracking area. The agency hopes the update will give the fossil fuel industry more certainty, improve the agency’s ability to protect park resources and the values for which the parks were set aside, and protect visitors from potentially adverse impacts associated with fossil fuel development. Continue reading “National Park Service to update oil and gas drilling rules”→
Focusing on illegal trade could help protect world’s most endangered marine mammal
By Bob Berwyn
In a hopeful sign for the critically endangered vaquita, Mexican environmental and law enforcement officials have indicated they’ll work more closely with conservation groups to track illegal fishing in the upper Gulf of California, and try to stop the trade of illegal fish in the region.