Oil and gas leases open up in Bears Ears National Monument area

March 20, 2018 by  
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Despite all its rhetoric to the contrary, the Interior Department is offering up 51,000 acres of oil and gas leases in the areas surrounding Bears Ears National Monument . Conservationists warn that fossil fuel extraction threatens priceless Native American artifacts, historical sites, dinosaur fossils and the southern Utah environment. The move comes just weeks after it was revealed that mining and extraction interests played a primary role in determining the new boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments. Today, officials will auction off 51,000 acres of land near areas previously protected under the Bears Ears monument boundaries. It also opens extraction near Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients monuments, and the cultural rich Alkali Ridge area. “BLM’s ‘lease everything, lease everywhere’ approach to oil and gas development needlessly threatens iconic red rock landscapes and irreplaceable cultural history in the ill-conceived push for ‘energy dominance,” said Stephen Block, legal director with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance . Related: New evidence shows oil and coal were central in the decision to reduce Bears Ears Local officials cheered the move, saying it will help bring economic opportunity to the rural towns of San Juan County. However, when the region was opened to mining on February 7 this year, no one submitted an application for a plot in the area. Oil and gas developers also hold stockpiles of unused land they have leased from the government – less than 40 percent of leased land is actually under development in Utah. Via Reuters Images via Larry Lamsa  and John Fowler

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Oil and gas leases open up in Bears Ears National Monument area

New evidence shows oil and coal were central in the decision to reduce Bears Ears

March 2, 2018 by  
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Despite lip-service to the contrary, new evidence reveals that oil and mining played a central role in the decision to reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has repeatedly stated that mineral extraction was not a factor in drawing up the new boundaries for the monuments, but documents obtained by the New York Times show that this is untrue, and that Zinke – along with Utah Senator Orrin Hatch – encouraged removing protections from areas known to have oil, coal or uranium deposits. Documents show that in March 2017, Hatch asked the Interior Department to look at the boundaries of Bears Ears in order to “resolve all known mineral conflicts.” In May, Bureau of Land Management officials asked for information on a uranium mill within the monument. The resulting map, which was drawn to exclude protected areas that were thought to contain minerals, is almost exactly the same as the map Trump unveiled as he cut the size of Bears Ears. Documents also show that Zinke’s staff used coal deposit estimates when determining which parts of Grand Staircase-Escalante should be excluded from protection. “The Kaiparowits plateau, located within the monument, contains one of the largest coal deposits in the United States,” a Spring 2017 Interior Department memo said. Staff members were asked to research “annual production of coal, oil, gas and renewables (if any) on site; amount of energy transmission infrastructure on site (if any).” Minerals weren’t the only determination used in changing the boundaries. Cattle grazing and timber were also factored in. When Trump reduced the national monuments, the Bureau of Land Management started to ramp up for a practice known as “chaining” in Grand Staircase-Escalante. Chaining involves putting a large chain between two bulldozers, which then move through forests to destroy native vegetation and open the land for cattle – a devastating practice that decimates the local environment. Related: President Trump shrinks Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments by 2 million acres Zinke claimed in December that he had recommended reducing the size of Utah’s protected areas because he wanted to take “an approach in which we listen to the voices of the people, not Washington, D.C., special interests,” citing the fact that Utah government leaders were opposed to the designation of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. While about half of Utahns want Bears Ears reduced , a vast majority oppose the break-up of Grand Staircase-Escalante. Local Utah leaders have sought to reduce the monuments since they were established in order to generate money by leasing the land – but even they were surprised by the size of the ultimate reduction. “Obviously they were looking at facts other than the ones we had raised, we assume,” said John Andrews, associate director of the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. Despite Zinke’s language, it was clear early on that mining and oil extraction were the real focus for reducing the national monuments. In December it was revealed that large Uranium firms were lobbying for access to the areas . At the time, Zinke denied that energy extraction was a factor in the decision-making process. “This is not about energy. There is no oil and gas assets. There is no mine within the Bears Ears…” he said. Via The New York Times Images via Patrick Hendry and the BLM

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New evidence shows oil and coal were central in the decision to reduce Bears Ears

UK’s first polar bear cub in 25 years born in Scotland

January 3, 2018 by  
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25 years have passed since a polar bear was born in Britain – but the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) just announced some exciting news. The United Kingdom’s only female polar bear Victoria recently gave birth to a cub at Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland. And it’s possible there could be more than one – Head Keeper for carnivores Una Richardson said in a statement , “We first heard promising noises in the week before Christmas and these have now continued into the new year. Because we don’t have sight inside her cubbing box we can’t be sure if Victoria has had more than one cub but we can confirm the birth.” The UK has at least one new animal resident: a baby polar bear! Highland Wildlife Park staff started hearing what the society described as distinct high-pitched sounds from the maternity den, and have now confirmed at least one cub was indeed born. You can listen to the pretty adorable noises in the park’s video below: Related: Watch a little polar bear cub experience snow for the first time RZSS’s statement did caution the first three months are dangerous for the cubs, whether they’re born in captivity or in the wild . The babies are born blind and don’t weigh much more than a guinea pig, so they’re completely dependent on the mother polar bear. Richardson said, “While we are absolutely thrilled, we are not celebrating prematurely as polar bear cubs have a high mortality rate in the first weeks of life due to their undeveloped immune system and the mother’s exaggerated need for privacy, with any disturbance risking the cub being killed or abandoned.” Naturally the park is taking steps to give the baby or babies a chance. Richardson said they’re monitoring Victoria, and her enclosure is closed to the public. Keeper activity will be kept to a minimum too. If all goes well, visitors might be able to glimpse the cub (or cubs) around March. + Royal Zoological Society of Scotland Images via Highland Wildlife Park on Twitter and BIAZA on Twitter

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Climate change is squishing the Earth and making oceans heavier

January 3, 2018 by  
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The ocean floor may be sinking under the weight of heavier oceans as a result of climate-change -induced glacier melting and sea level rise, according to a new study. Scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands discovered that the deforming impact of a heavier ocean on the seafloor is too large to be accurately measured using traditional satellite altimeters. This means that measurements of sea level rise based on the assumption of a static seafloor may be inaccurate. Researchers suspected that traditional sea level measurement methods might be off. “We have had tide gauge sea level rise measurements for more than a century,” Delft University of Technology geoscientist and study Thomas Frederikse told Earther . “You put an instrument at the sea bottom and see how far sea level changes relative to the bottom. Satellites orbiting the Earth measure sea level from space . We wanted to see how large is the difference.” After modeling and analysis of new data, the team determined that, as a result of sea level rise and climate change, the ocean floor had been sinking on average by about 0.1 mm/year between 1993-2014, or 2.1 mm in total. This relatively small change can have a big impact on the accuracy, or inaccuracy, of sea level measurements if not taken into account. Related: Scientists find the Earth’s constant hum is coming from the ocean floor In their study recently published in Geophysical Research Letters , researchers determined that traditional satellite measurements are underestimating sea level rise by about four percent. Now that this disparity is known, corrections can be made. “The effect is systematic and relatively easy to account for,” wrote Frederikse and his co-authors. Over the course of the study, the researchers uncovered some unexpected impacts of heavier oceans, including a slight ocean floor rise in areas most impacted by sea ice and glaciers, such as Greenland and the Arctic. The small but significant change in our measurements of sea level is a reminder of all that we still do know about climate change and its impacts on every part of this planet. “ The Earth itself is not a rigid sphere, it’s a deforming ball,” said Frederikse, according to Earther . “With climate change, we do not only change temperature.” Via Earther Images via NASA and Frederikse, et. al.

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New Jersey’s beloved walking bear "Pedals" may have been killed by hunters

October 17, 2016 by  
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Beloved New Jersey bear Pedals is said to be dead. A Facebook fan page for the American black bear who ambled around on two legs reported Pedals dead on Friday, possibly killed by hunters . Fans of Pedals are calling out for justice for the bipedal bear. Locals began to post about the upright bear on social media in 2014. It was unclear if Pedals had a congenital defect or suffered an injury; Lisa Rose-Rublack, who started a petition for the walking bear, reported he was “missing one front paw and the other is permanently injured.” Related: Criminal charges possible in Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe’s death Many people were attempting to get help for Pedals and send him to The Orphaned Wildlife Center in New York. A GoFundMe page had amassed over $22,000, and over 300,000 signatures had been attached to Rose-Rublack’s petition petition calling on Governor Christie and the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife to send Pedals to the sanctuary, paid for by those who donated to the GoFundMe page. But Pedals may have been killed during a five-day black bear hunting season which took place last week. According to The New York Times, 487 bears were killed during the hunt. A Facebook page for Pedals posted, “PEDALS is dead…PEDALS is at peace now because his beautiful soul left his body when he was killed.” The NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife responded with a statement that said, “While the Division appreciates the concern for the bear, it has no way of verifying the identity of any bear that has not been previously tagged or had a DNA sample previously taken.” A spokesperson for the Division told The New York Times they had snapped photos of a bear with injuries that may or may not have been Pedals, and that they planned to release the photos some time this week. One Facebook page for Pedals asked fans to sign this petition to stop New Jersey’s “bear hunt” and write on Governor Christie’s Facebook page ” as he is the only guilty one .” Via The New York Times Images via RIP Pedals The Walking Bear Facebook

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New Jersey’s beloved walking bear "Pedals" may have been killed by hunters

Tesla taps Panasonic to build solar panels for their Powerwall and Powerpack systems

October 17, 2016 by  
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Tesla wants to dip even further into the solar power pool with newly announced plans to partner with Panasonic to build solar panels for Tesla’s Powerwall and Powerpack battery backup systems . Panasonic has already been building Powerwall batteries, as well as electric car batteries, at Tesla’s sprawling Nevada Gigafactory , but this would be the electronics company’s first foray into solar panels with Tesla as a partner. There’s just one hitch: none of this can happen until Tesla’s $2.6-billion acquisition of SolarCity goes through, a move which has been plagued by legal hurdles and awaits a shareholder vote in November. If Tesla ‘s acquisition of SolarCity  is completed, Panasonic would quickly begin building photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules at SolarCity’s $750 million manufacturing facility in Buffalo, New York, which is incidentally also called a Gigafactory. In a statement, Tesla explained that the Panasonic-produced solar components would be sold as part of a “solar energy system that will work seamlessly with Powerwall and Powerpack, Tesla’s energy storage products.” Tesla has agreed to a long-term deal under which it would purchase PV cells from Panasonic, while providing the facility in which to build them. Related: Elon Musk plans to launch Tesla/SolarCity solar roof and Powerwall 2.0 on October 28 Tesla’s main motivation behind the partnership is to create a reliable source of low-cost PV cells designed to be integrated into its other products. “We are excited to expand our partnership with Panasonic as we move towards a combined Tesla and SolarCity,” said Tesla co-founder and Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel. “By working together on solar, we will be able to accelerate production of high-efficiency, extremely reliable solar cells and modules at the best cost.” The announcement of this product line comes on the heels of Tesla/SolarCity’s promise of a solar roof with integrated connections to the Powerwall storage system (and, of course, an included Tesla car charger). The official product unveil for the solar roof is set for October 28, despite the fact that Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity won’t be a done deal before the shareholders vote on November 17. Via Engadget Images via Shutterstock and  SolarCity

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Tesla taps Panasonic to build solar panels for their Powerwall and Powerpack systems

Scientists Dress Up as Pandas to Fool Them (and Us?)

December 10, 2010 by  
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Photo: the Independent O.k.; which one is the real panda and which is the scientist? It’s a tough one: scientists in China are dressing up as pandas in order to prepare the bears for release into the wild. Pandas are an endangered species, there are just 2,500 left and they can’t get too used to human contact because it will make them too tame.

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Today on Planet 100: Bad News Bears (Video)

November 10, 2010 by  
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Today on Planet 100: Bad News Bears (Video)

Starving Polar Bears Resort to Cannibalism: Global Warming to Blame?

November 29, 2009 by  
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Shrinking sea ice may be to blame for recent polar bear cannibalism incidents in Canada.

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Starving Polar Bears Resort to Cannibalism: Global Warming to Blame?

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