Will the U.S. and New Zealand cave on plans for the world’s biggest marine reserve?


Russia is almost as far away from the Antarctic as you can get without climbing aboard a spaceship, but it still wants to make sure it can fish the living hell out of Antarctic waters.

The U.S. and New Zealand have been pushing plans to create the world’s largest marine reserve, 890,000 square miles in the Ross Sea, an Antarctic bay in the Southern Ocean teeming with spawning fish, whales, seals, penguins, and other wildlife.

But that proposal was thwarted by Russia during the last two meetings of the multi-nation Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. (Russia also blocked a separate bid by Australia and Europe to establish a similar but slightly smaller chain of reserves nearby in East Antarctica.) Chile, China, Japan, Korea, and Norway, also members of the commission, share some of Russia’s concerns about the economic impacts of fishing restrictions in the Antarctic.

Now comes…

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Coal company accidentally turns a creek into concrete


Global mining giant Xstrata sent contractors with truckloads of grout to repair gaping cracks and chasms it created on a hilly ridge in an Australian conservation area while mining for coal.

You’re probably wondering to yourself, “How could this possibly go wrong?”

When the contractors got there, they made a blunder that would be hilarious were it not so devastating.

As grout was being poured into a crack at the top of the cliff, it was gushing out of another crack at the bottom. An estimated 200 tons of grout — enough to fill 12 cement trucks — flowed into a creek. There it hardened, turning what had been a tranquil waterway in the Sugarloaf State Conservation Area into a 370-yard concrete pathway. From the Newcastle Herald:

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Cooling Pacific has dampened global warming, research shows


Cooling waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean appear to be a major factor in dampening global warming in recent years, scientists said on Wednesday.

Their work is a big step forward in helping to solve the greatest puzzle of current climate change research — why global average surface temperatures, while still on an upward trend, have risen more slowly in the past 10 to 15 years than previously.

Waters in the eastern tropical regions of the Pacific have been notably cooler in recent years, owing to the effects of one of the world’s biggest ocean circulatory systems, the Pacific decadal oscillation.

Many people are aware of the El Niño and La Niña weather systems, which affect the Pacific and bring hotter and stormier or cooler weather in cycles of just a few years, and can have a strong effect on global weather. But few are aware that both of…

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Is global warming really slowing down?


Chances are you’ve heard people say that global warming has “stopped,” “paused,” or hit a “slowdown.” It’s a favorite talking point of political conservatives like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who recently declared that there has been “no recorded warming since 1998.” Climate skeptics frequently use these arguments to cast doubt on climate science and to downplay the urgency of addressing global warming. Last year, for instance, Fox News pronounced global warming “over.”

Scientists disagree. It’s true that they also acknowledge the slowdown: A new paper just out in the prestigious journal Nature, for instance, cites the “hiatus in global warming” and seeks to explain it with reference to changes in the tropical Pacific. The recently leaked Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, too, cites an “observed reduction in surface warming.” But scientists say the slowdown is only temporary — a result of naturally induced climate variability that will…

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