Explosive caterpillar infestation in New England is visible from space

July 18, 2016 by  
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There’s been a gypsy moth caterpillar ” population boom ” in New England and mid-Atlantic states, and the infestation isn’t only evident to locals on the ground – it can be seen from space. NASA Earth Observatory satellite images of Rhode Island show how much the caterpillars have chewed through the region’s forests . These caterpillars go for deciduous trees, and the NASA images reveal the damage they’ve done. In the Rhode Island satellite images, shown above, swaths of brown reveal where the caterpillars have been at work. The few green trees that remain are the coniferous trees the caterpillars shun. There are a few factors that led to the boom. Ecologists think one is a white-footed mice population decline; these mice typically prey on the caterpillars. Even worse is the drought taking hold of the region that weakens a fungus and virus that usually keep the caterpillars from infesting. Related: 107 Million Spiders Found in 4-Acre Nest at Baltimore Wastewater Plant It turns out disease and insects yearly damage ” 45 times more forest area ” than fires, according to one 2001 Oxford Journals’ BioScience study . Gypsy moth caterpillars were introduced to the United States during the 1860’s from Europe, and according to the NASA Earth Observatory, their populations tend to boom in certain years based on what is going on in the environment. Scientists aren’t worried – at least for now. Usually gypsy moth caterpillar infestations just make an area look browner than it should in the summer. But if the infestation goes on for three or more years, trees can die. Birds might be able to help out soon; when the caterpillar populations soar, the bird populations generally increase as well. Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Forest Health Program Coordinator Paul Ricard said , “Though weak or sick trees could succumb, we are not worried about significant tree mortality yet.” Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia Commons , NASA Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen , and Paul Ricard

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Explosive caterpillar infestation in New England is visible from space

Climate change department closed by British Prime Minister

July 18, 2016 by  
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In voting to exit the European Union , the United Kingdom may also have voted to take a step back from the reality of climate change . In one of her first acts as Prime Minister, Theresa May dissolved the national Department for Energy and Climate Change and repackaged climate change policy into the new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. This follows May’s appointment of Andrea Leadsom, an industry friendly climate skeptic , as Environmental Minister. Scientists, environmentalists and many elected officials are not pleased with the new turn that the post- Brexit United Kingdom has taken. “Climate change is the biggest challenge we face, and it must not be an afterthought for the Government,” says Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. The recent climate policy decisions “show a lack of understanding posed by climate change to the UK and the world,” says Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven. “If we are to continue to have a key global role in environmental action, we need urgent reassurance from the new government that the hard won progress on climate and renewables targets, air pollution and the protection of wildlife will not be sidelined or abandoned in the Brexit negotiations.” Related: UK’s Brexit vote could reverse environmental protections and contribute to climate change The UK government’s apparent loss of interest in climate change is a stark contrast to recent progressive policy decisions. In 2008, Parliament passed a Climate Change Act that committed the UK to an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The UK was also one of 178 countries that signed the Paris Agreement, further cementing its commitment to climate change action. The unexpected outcome of the Brexit vote should serve as a warning to the United States. If the American electorate makes a similar decision in November, it would empower climate skeptics and industry politicians to dismantle the progress that has been made by the Obama Administration . Via the Independent Images via UK Home Office and Matt Brown

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Climate change department closed by British Prime Minister

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