Night Music: Down To Zero

January 16, 2015

In my opinion, Joan Armatrading is one of the most under-rated UK artist of the last 30 years.

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What Are We Doing To The Planet #6

January 16, 2015

The following articles on our devastating effect on the Earth caught my attention this week:

In North America, European colonization and agriculture led to as much soil loss in just decades as would have occurred naturally in thousands of years, new research shows.

The scientists made a startling discovery: rates of hillslope erosion before European settlement were about an inch every 2500 years, while during the period of peak land disturbance in the late 1800s and early 1900s, rates spiked to an inch every 25 years. “That’s more than a hundred-fold increase,” says Paul Bierman, a geologist at the University of Vermont who co-led the new study… “Our study shows exactly how huge an effect European colonization and agriculture had on the landscape of North America,” says Dylan Rood, “humans scraped off the soil more than 100 times faster than other natural processes!”

These are lessons we are still not learning.  In South America, a new gold mining rush is adding to the deforestation of the Amazonian forests already caused by agriculture and urbanization:

Lead author of the research Nora L. Álvarez-Berríos said: “Although the loss of forest due to mining is smaller in extent compared to deforestation caused by other land uses, such as agriculture or grazing areas, deforestation due to mining is occurring in some of the most biologically diverse regions in the tropics” … Some of the long-term impacts include the failure of vegetation to regrow, changing of rainfall patterns, the permanent loss of biodiversity, and a release of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Closer to home, a new study reveals ever more worrying issues with oil and gas drilling operations:

Scientists have discovered high levels of two potentially hazardous contaminants, ammonium and iodide, in wastewater being discharged or spilled into streams and rivers from oil and gas operations. Levels of contamination were just as high in wastewater coming from conventional oil and gas wells as from hydraulically fractured shale gas wells … “Wastewater from both conventional and unconventional oil and gas operations is exempted from the Clean Water Act, which allows their disposal to the environment. This practice is clearly damaging the environment and increases the health risks of people living in these areas, and thus should be stopped,” [Avner] Vengosh [professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment] said.

 

Previous What Are We Doing posts.