Environment

Environmental lawyers are claiming in court that land, rivers and other natural features have intrinsic rights and should own themselves, rather than being considered property — similar to how the law treats corporations as "persons."

Hinchey remembered as Love Canal champion

Nov 30, 2017

Hundreds of mourners have paid their final respects to former U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, a New York Democrat who became a household name during the Love Canal saga in Niagara Falls.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have signed an agreement to build an 800-mile natural gas pipeline in Alaska, but economic hurdles could prevent its construction.

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 Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming/Flickr CC BY 2.0

A leaked draft of the US Department of Interior’s four-year strategic plan calls for massive fossil fuel extraction from public lands, with no mention of climate change impacts.

The document was leaked to Adam Federman, a reporting fellow with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.

A 26-year research project suggests that as global temperatures rise and heat the soil, the released carbon will trigger even more warming, leading to a dangerous feedback loop.

In 1991, a team of scientists began measuring carbon levels in the soil of the Harvard Forest, a field laboratory nestled in the hills of Massachusetts. The team laid underground electrical cables to heat small plots of soil and they have monitored these test plots ever since. During this time, they have measured two periods of rapid carbon loss, separated by one period of no carbon loss.

The Republican tax plan passed in the House of Representatives would end the $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit, a program that has spurred a boom in EV sales.

Analysts believe eliminating the tax credit for electric cars could set the EV business back in a big way.

When the state of Georgia removed its $5,000 state tax credit for electric vehicles, a credit that supplemented the federal tax credit, sales of EVs dropped an estimated 90 percent, says Joshua Goldman, a senior policy and legal analyst for the Clean Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Jay Moran/WBFO

The emerald ash borer is becoming an issue for Cattaraugus County. The invasive species is a major problem for a portion of the 2,000 acres of county forest.


Melting polar ice poses a serious global risk

Nov 18, 2017

The title of a new book says it all — "A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic."

The book, by Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge, is the result of nearly a half-century of personal ice research, mostly in the Arctic. 

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Michael Mueller/Flickr CC BY 2.0

The disappearance of bees and butterflies has concerned scientists and the public for years. Now, a new study from Germany confirms that the abundance of flying insects has dropped over 75 percent since 1989.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

A plan to restore the Niagara River Gorge’s original plant habitat will be unveiled Monday night in Niagara Falls.

Rising CO2 levels threaten global marine life

Nov 12, 2017

The rising acidity of ocean waters due to increased levels of atmospheric CO2 will have profound adverse effects on sea life, according to a new study.

The report, called “Exploring Ocean Change,” from the group Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification, or BIOACID, shows rising acidity leads to habitat loss and disrupts the growth and reproduction of sea life.

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 US Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr CC BY 2.0

Budget resolutions passed in the US House and Senate will likely lead to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s pristine coastal plain, if they’re approved in their current form.

This year’s deadly hurricanes, record-shattering firestorms and severe drought are linked to global warming, and the prospect of more unpleasant surprises seems likely, climate experts warn.

“What we're seeing is the veritable tip of the iceberg,” says Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth Systems Science Center at Penn State University.

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Jan van der Ploeg/CIFOR, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Conventional wisdom has long held that tropical forests soak up carbon dioxide and help blunt the impact of industrial greenhouse gas emissions. But new research finds that the tropics are now adding to the problem of global warming faster than they can absorb excess carbon.

In other words, tropical forests are now a net carbon source rather than the carbon "sinks" they were previously thought to be.

Last of inmate-raised pheasants released in Zoar Valley

Oct 31, 2017
Erie County Sheriff's Department

More than a thousand pheasants raised and cared for by New York jail inmates have flown the coop.

New research suggests that declining levels of iron, zinc and protein resulting from high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are putting human health at risk, especially in the developing world.

As global carbon dioxide levels climb, plants are becoming better at photosynthesis

Oct 28, 2017
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Bill Dickinson, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A recent study shows that increased carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere is leading to higher rates of photosynthesis in vegetation.

Many species of trees tend to move to higher, cooler habitats in response to a warming climate. Now, research on two pine tree species in the western US Great Basin shows some species move faster than others.

Brian Smithers, who led the research at the University of California, Davis, says when he wanted to look at how trees are responding to climate change, he realized the high-altitude tree line is a "really nice experimental spot to do that.”

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Staff Sgt. Wilma Orozco Fanfan, 113th MPAD/Puerto Rico Army National Guard, Flickr CC BY 2.0

Before Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Puerto Rico relied on an outdated, centralized power grid that burned imported fossil fuels. Now, some experts say the disaster offers Puerto Rico the chance to rebuild its power system with more resilience and less carbon.

Niagara Falls.ca

The Niagara Falls, ON Council meets Tuesday night and is expected to demand the Niagara Falls, NY Water Board do something to stop overflows of sewage into the Niagara River that borders the United States and Canada.

Wide-spread droughts and heat waves are making farming increasingly unpredictable, and some farmers are having to adjust on the fly to changing conditions from year to year.

After 22 years, Pennsylvania farmer Matt Herbruck says it’s undeniable: The climate is changing and it’s getting more extreme. “It’s not unusual at all in this area to go from in the 40s one night to 90 [degrees] 36 hours later. It happens. And that’s not normal. I think the weather is crazy.”

The first wave of rail tanker cars began arriving in the Adirondack Park last week. The mothballed industrial cars are being stored on track in the heart of the Park.

Iowa Pacific and its Saratoga North Creek Railroad subsidiary say they eventually hope to store thousands of mothballed oil and chemical tanker cars near the High Peaks Wilderness.

The company says it will drop the controversial plan only if it is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Following a four-month review of more than two dozen national monuments, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke submitted confidential recommendations to the Trump administration in August. A leaked report reveals that Zinke proposes to shrink a number of monuments and open some of them to extractive industries like mining, grazing and fishing.

High-tech, remote imaging developed for the military has become a powerful tool in the hands of scientists studying the health of natural ecosystems.

The technology allows scientists to assess forests and coral reefs from satellites and from specially equipped aircraft that can get an even closer look — down to individual branches of trees.

On board these custom-built aircraft is a system of instruments called ATOMS, which stands for Airborne Taxonomic Mapping System.

The growth of data publicly available on the internet has been a boon for biological science and conservation. But it is also being used by poachers and dishonest collectors to locate rare plants and animals and sell them illegally for a hefty price.

This situation presents researchers and the public with a quandary: How to find a middle ground that preserves the spirit of scientific discovery while protecting at-risk species.

Ontario Specialty Contracting

Buffalo's Green Code and federal law collided before the city Planning Board Tuesday in a dispute over planned commercial space on an old chemical plant site in South Buffalo.

Yet another discharge of cloudy black water was seen in the Niagara River Monday morning, just below Niagara Falls.

DEC seeks input on Southern Tier gas pipeline

Oct 9, 2017

The Department of Environmental Conservation is looking for input from Allegany County residents as National Fuel looks to install a 1.5-mile gas pipeline along Stone Dam Road.

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Spc. Hamiel Irizarry/The National Guard, Flickr CC BY 2.0 (image cropped)

While President Donald Trump has dismissed climate change as a hoax, the Department of Defense is focused on understanding and preparing for continued climate disruption and the security threats it poses in a warming world.

When Hurricane Irma hit Florida, it blasted an estimated 3 to 10 feet of storm surge into the Everglades. Combined with the drenching rain, the storm may change the vegetation patterns of the enormous wetland and perhaps prod the people of South Florida to rethink how it lives with its water.

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