The Bulletin Board of Doom!



How long can you go without checking email, or glancing at your smartphone? Clifford Nass, a psychology professor at Stanford University, says today’s nonstop multitasking actually wastes more time than it saves—and he says there’s evidence it may be killing our concentration and creativity too.  NPR



DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s largest energy company announced plans Wednesday to spend $1.9 billion to install hundreds of wind turbines by the end of 2015, marking what the governor described as the largest economic development project in the state’s history…. The company wants to build 656 turbines, though the locations have yet to be chosen…. MidAmerican began building wind turbines in 2004, and it currently has 1,267 wind turbines in Iowa.



Coal burning, gold mining, and other human activities release mercury into water bodies or the atmosphere, where it can travel great distances before settling back to Earth. Mercury contamination is ubiquitous and hotspots are common around the world, with fish and human hair collected in 14 countries regularly exceeding U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, according to a BRI report released just before the Geneva negotiations. And while mercury emissions are declining in North America and Europe they are rising quickly in the developing world, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, the treaty coordinator.

Harmful levels of mercury have turned up in all sorts of animals, from fish and birds living around the world to pythons invading the Florida Everglades and polar bears roaming far from any sources of pollution. In recent years, biologists have been tracking mercury’s footprints in unexpected habitats and species. Their research is illuminating the subtle effects of chronic exposure and is showing that ever-lower levels cause harm.  Yale Environment 360


“For the first time, Canada’s food safety regulator is allowing Nova Scotia salmon infected with a flu-like virus to be processed for supermarkets and restaurants.

Last week the Canadian Food Inspection Agency declared fit for human consumption 240,000 Atlantic salmon with infectious salmon anemia — a disease it says poses no risk to human heath. The ruling is the first time the CFIA has opted not to destroy fish carrying the virus since it started regulating the fish farming industry in 2005. Because the U.S. won’t import fish with the virus, the fresh whole salmon, fillets and steaks will have to find dinner plates to land on somewhere in Canada.”



The natural gas extraction technique known as fracking uses so much water that it could threaten groundwater resources, especially in the Western U.S., two new reports conclude……The first report, from the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), found that hydraulic fracking removes 7 billion gallons of water every year in just four states: North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado. The organization blames inadequate federal and state-level protections for the use and/or contamination of fresh water. Huffington Post



Wildlife That Isn’t Wild And Isn’t Alive

Bit by bit, bot by bot, robots are slipping into the real world. Yes, they are born in science labs, but more and more, they’re joining us outdoors, up in the sky as drones or spybots or swimming in the ocean. These newborns are built to cope with what’s out there. They’re tough. They have to be because outdoors isn’t like an MIT lab; it’s got gullies, streams, weather and Things That Get In Your Way, like, for example, trees.   NPR (excerpt)



Despite getting fewer headlines in recent years, the population of U.S. honeybees has continued to plunge, with billions dying each year from a condition known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). The demise of the bees is now raising greater concerns about the cost to the nation’s food supply and the sustainability of the beekeeping industry itself. CNBC


marsHuge numbers of people on Earth are keen to leave the planet forever and seek a new life homesteading on Mars. 

About 78,000 people have applied to become Red Planet colonists with the nonprofit organization Mars One since its application process opened on April 22, officials announced Tuesday. Mars One aims to land four people on the Red Planet in 2023 as the vanguard of a permanent colony, with more astronauts arriving every two years thereafter.

“With 78,000 applications in two weeks, this is turning out to be the most desired job in history,” Mars One Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Bas Lansdorp said in a statement.


Intelligent Robots Will Overtake Humans by 2100, Experts Say

Some believe in a utopian future, in which humans can transcend their physical limitations with the aid of machines. But others think humans will eventually relinquish most of their abilities and gradually become absorbed into artificial intelligence (AI)-based organisms, much like the energy making machinery in our own cells.





The Arctic seas are being made rapidly more acidic by carbon-dioxide emissions, according to a new report. Scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) monitored widespread changes in ocean chemistry in the region.

They say even if CO2 emissions stopped now, it would take tens of thousands of years for Arctic Ocean chemistry to revert to pre-industrial levels. They forecast major changes in the marine ecosystem, but say there is huge uncertainty over what those changes will be.

It is well known that CO2 warms the planet, but less well-known that it also makes the alkaline seas more acidic when it is absorbed from the air. BBC News



LNG-oriented companies like Cheniere Energy (LNG) and Southern LNG Company LLC (SO) would have been delighted to hear President Obama speaking Saturday at a development forum that ended his three-day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica. Obama said the U.S. might be able to help relieve Central America’s growing energy demands by exporting LNG (UNG). Helping Central America would be a factor in the decision-making.

Obama added that the U.S., profiting from a surge of natural gas production, is likely to be a net natural gas exporter as soon as 2020. Seeking Alpha



Scientists say that foxes in Arctic regions who feed on ocean prey are being exposed to dangerous levels of mercury.

On one Russian island where the population of foxes has crashed, the researchers believe the toxin has played a key role in the decline. They say thefox findings could have important implications for conservation………

The study raises some important questions about the how mercury is accumulating in the marine food chain in the Arctic region. Mercury levels there have for decades been linked to industrial pollution but recent research from Nasa has suggested that declining levels of sea ice in the region could be helping to push up levels of the substance. BBC News


A famed rainforest in Nicaragua is under growing threat from illegal loggers, say indigenous leaders.

The Bosawas Biosphere Reserve is Central America’s largest tropical forest with clouds constantly drifting over the hilly terrain. But the Mayangna and Miskito people who live there say 30,000 hectares a year are being deforested by “colonists”.

Next week, indigenous peoples from all over the country will bring their demands for better protection for their forests to the capital Managua.

“We are going to have a march here in Managua so that the government can see it has a responsibility to comply with the laws and the property rights of the country,” said [Arisio  Genaro, president of the Nacion Mayangna] . “We believe that if there is no intervention, there will be no Biosphere reserve in five to 10 years.” BBC News


Climate change is gradually altering the fish that end up on ice in seafood counters around the world, according to a new study.”The composition of the [global] fish catch includes more and more fish from the warmer areas, and cold water fish are getting more rare, because the temperatures are increasing,” says Daniel Pauly at the University of British Columbia, a co-author of the study. (excerpt, NPR)


China topped the U.S. in overall auto sales in 2009 and surpassed Europe in 2012. Although demand kept rising last year, some predicted it would flatten as new government controls took hold and the country’s once-feverish economic growth continued cooling.  Instead, the market is off to its best start since 2010. Passenger-vehicle sales were up 16% year-over-year during the first four months of 2013. And in April, SUVs — China’s fastest-growing market segment — surged 46% from a year earlier.



Builders appear to be ramping up for more construction projects. Newly issued building permits, a gauge of future construction, rose 14.3 percent from a month earlier to an annual rate of 1.017 million, the highest level since June 2008….Permits for single-family homes, which comprise about two thirds of the total, rose 3 percent to a 617,000-unit rate, the highest since May 2008.



Snow cover across the entire Rocky Mountain range has been shrinking due to warmer spring temperatures over the past 30 years, a new study finds.

Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) studied historic snowpack variations in the Rocky Mountains and found that warmer spring temperatures since 1980 are triggering an estimated 20 percent decline in snow cover throughout the range, which runs for more than 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) in western North America. Yahoo News

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