National Lakes Assessment 2012 Key Findings | National Aquatic Resource Surveys | US EPA

GR:  In a new report, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency says that 40% of American lakes are polluted, and the situation is getting worse.  The EPA blames “nutrient pollution,” but I’ll be more clear:  The principal cause of American freshwater pollution is farming and the excess fertilizer that washes off the fields or soaks into the ground water. The photo below is from one of my ponds that has excess nitrogen that is probably from the nearby farm.

Algae Bloom BackgroundPeople can avoid harmful effects of polluted water by staying out of the water, by not eating fish from the water, and by not drinking unfiltered water. Wildlife does not have these options. Animal species that spend all or part of their time in water are leading the way down to extinction. Yay humans!

“Lakes and reservoirs provide many environmental, economic, and public health benefits. We use lakes for drinking water, energy production, food and recreation. Fish, birds and other wildlife rely on them for habitat and survival. In the National Lakes Assessment (NLA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its partners surveyed a wide array of lakes representative of those found in the U.S., from small ponds and prairie potholes to large lakes and reservoirs. The NLA is part of the National Aquatic Resource Surveys, a series of statistically-based assessments designed to provide the public and decision-makers with nationally consistent and representative information on the condition of the nation’s waters.”  (Continue reading:  National Lakes Assessment 2012 Key Findings | National Aquatic Resource Surveys | US EPA

Environment: Study finds neonicotinoid pesticides widespread in streams across the U.S.

Will fish and water bugs be decimated by systemic pesticides?

FRISCO — Neonicotinoid pesticides are spreading throughout the environment with as-yet unknown effects on human health, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The agency found the systemic pesticides in more than half the streams sampled across the country and in Puerto Rico during a survey between 2011 and 2014. This study is the first to take a nationwide look at the prevalence of neonicotinoid insecticides in agricultural and urban settings.

The research spanned 24 states and Puerto Rico and was completed as part of ongoing USGS investigations of pesticide and other contaminant levels in streams.  Sourced through Scoop.it from: summitcountyvoice.com.

GR:  The levels are low, but here’s the thing:  They are not alone.  Several other classes of chemical wastes are in the water.  We know that insects such as dragonflies are responding to something in the water, so it would be prudent to asses the combined impact of neonicotinoids and other chemicals on wildlife.

Mercury Contamination of Arizona Fish

#Mercury #Contamination of #Fish in Bartlett Lake, Arizona

Bass - Largemouth

Largemouth Bass

Channel cat

Channel Catfish

Here is another threat to Arizona wildlife. Because it threatens humans, the state government is acknowledging it publicly. According to an email sent this morning by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), “the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), in association with the AZGFD, has issued a fish consumption advisory recommending that people limit consumption of channel catfish and largemouth bass caught from Bartlett Lake [an artificial reservoir on the Verde River] in Maricopa County. ADEQ is issuing this advisory because recent fish tissue samples from Bartlett Lake contained elevated levels of mercury.”

“ADEQ recommends that adults limit consumption of channel catfish and largemouth bass to 2.4 ounces (uncooked weight) per week and children 12 years of age and under limit consumption to two ounces per month (uncooked weight). 
This advisory does not limit the use of this water body for fishing, bird watching, swimming, or other recreational uses. In general, the level of contaminants in fish is several folds higher than levels found in water.”

“Any health risks associated with eating fish from this advisory area are based on long term consumption and are not representative of risk from eating fish occasionally.  Fish are an excellent source of protein and can be an important part of a healthy, diverse diet as they are low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids.  The American Heart Association recommends that individuals eat at least two fish or seafood meals weekly.”

Bald-Eagle-And-BabiesGR:  Unfortunately, wildlife eat these mercury-contaminated fish their whole lives. Unlike humans, they can’t “limit their consumption.” Mercury pollution is nothing new in Bartlett Lake or many other streams and lakes in Arizona.  It and the many other pollutants that wash into the State’s waters are helping destroy Arizona wildlife. The Bass and Catfish covered in the advisory are not native Arizona species, but they are often eaten by native amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, snakes, and turtles that live in around the lake. Thus, mercury works its way into the food chain and causes illness and shortened lives. Bald Eagles, for example have mercury in their eggs and tissues (Driscoll et al. 2006).  According to Robin Silver, Southwest Center for Biological Diversity, this mercury contamination is “worrisome.” You could also call it “harmful” or “deadly.”

What is the Origin of Mercury?

Mercury washes into streams and lakes after exposure by floods, mining, and construction.  Some probably comes from roads and urban wastes around and upstream from the lake.  And some comes from power plants in and around Arizona:  “Mercury is one of the most harmful pollutants faced by fish and wildlife. Toxic mercury is released from coal burning power plants across the country and accumulates in rivers, lakes, and forests.” — National Wildlife Federation.

Mercury is just one of many pollutants that humans feed into the Verde River and Bartlett Lake. Worldwide, human wastes are a major cause of wildlife disease and decline.  ADEQ makes little or no effort to regulate the sources of pollutants, but as wildlife declines and extinctions become public knowledge, the agency may have to step up and face the developers and . . . . Well, that’s not going to happen.  Not until private citizens force their political representatives to ignore their donors and future employers and direct the agency to say “enough is enough” without fear of retribution.

References

  • Driscoll, et al. 2006. Conservation assessment and strategy for the Bald Eagle in Arizona. Tech Rept 173, Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, AZGFD, Phoenix, AZ, 69 p.
  • ADEQ. 2015. Arizona Fish Consumption Advisories – July 2015. Lists 15 waterbodies of concern.

Fiction, Reality, & Responsibility: #EcoSciFi, #Climate-Change

#EcoSciFi and #Climate-Change)

The Tsaeb warriors appeared at a time when Earth’s intelligent creatures were endangering their own existence. War and environmental pollution were destroying the planet. These destructive forces were also sorting out Earth’s intelligent species by extinguishing those least able to compete. Evolutionary trial and error favored the swift and strong, and it favored species with a long-term view of their lives and instinctive acceptance of responsibility for their behavior. The rabbits were the first evolving species to understand and reject the destructive effects of industry and war; they formed the warrior guild and began helping evolution weed out irresponsible species.

Great Basin shrubland replaced by fire-prone invasive weeds.

Great Basin shrubland replaced by fire-prone invasive weeds.

In Corr Syl’s time and in ours, Humans are endangering their own existence. Unchecked, the Human population is spreading across the land plowing and bulldozing natural ecosystems. We are introducing invasive species, and harvesting plants and animals so fast that nature can’t recover. It is not surprising that wildlife biologists report that the numbers of many animal and plant species are sinking toward extinction.

1-SunThe lands that we do not destroy, we pollute with artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and a plethora of chemicals in municipal wastes. However, the most widespread and deadly pollutants of all are the big-molecule greenhouse gasses emitted by our industries, automobiles, and fires. CO2 is the principal culprit among these gasses. When we burn fuels such as wood, coal, or gasoline, oxygen from the air combines with the carbon in the fuel. A 6.3-pound gallon of gas produces about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned. Though the new big CO2 molecules float in the atmosphere, they weigh more than the original carbon atoms in the fuel. Here’s a clear explanation of what happens from the U. S. Department of Energy.

CO2 drifts up into the air where it admits light from the sun and blocks heat radiating back from Earth’s warmed surface. The oceans absorb some of the CO2 and this causes seawater to become more acidic.

The oceans also absorb some of the heat trapped in the atmosphere by CO2. Since the Industrial Revolution when our CO2 production shot up, the oceans have protected Earth’s climate by absorbing CO2 and heat.

The atmosphere and the oceans are warming. As they warm—and it takes only a few degrees—mountain glaciers and the great polar ice sheets begin to melt. This adds fresh water to the oceans, diluting their salinity and further increasing acidity. Rising ocean acidity is reaching the point where it is beginning to kill corals and shellfish. At the same time, our harvest of fish from the oceans has substantially reduced many species’ numbers. Since all sea creatures, like all land creatures, depend on one another, numbers of many species are falling.

Very hot temperature anomalies throughout the Eastern Pacific running from Equator to Northern Hemisphere Pole were a major contributor to record-breaking global heat during June. Still warming waters in the Equatorial zone are likely to pump still more heat into an atmosphere overburdened with human greenhouse gas emissions through at least early 2016. Image source: Earth Nullschool

“Very hot temperature anomalies throughout the Eastern Pacific running from Equator to Northern Hemisphere Pole were a major contributor to record-breaking global heat during June. Still warming waters in the Equatorial zone are likely to pump still more heat into an atmosphere overburdened with human greenhouse gas emissions through at least early 2016”–Robert Scribbler. Image source: Earth Nullschool

As the atmosphere and oceans warm, changes occur in the great atmospheric pressure systems that steer cyclones and hurricanes. The North Polar Region is becoming warmer even more rapidly than other latitudes. In the past, cold heavy air at the pole blocked warm moist air from the south. Now, that air flows farther north than it used to and the global pattern of atmospheric and oceanic circulation is changing.

We are entering a period when evaporation from the warmed oceans is increasing, and the oceans are returning stored heat to the atmosphere. Storms, floods, droughts, cold spells, and heat waves are growing stronger.

Evolution took millions of years to cull the Tsaeb for species capable of living as stable elements of Earth’s ecosystems. I wrote that the Tsaeb wars were terrible, but I let them run for millions of years without destroying the Earth. Had they been as destructive as the side effects of our current population growth and pollution, there wouldn’t have been time for evolution to select for wisdom. The challenge for Humans today is greater than it was for the Tsaeb. Our impact on the Earth is far more abrupt than the damage caused by Tsaeb wars. In hundreds, not millions, of years, our pollution and habitat destruction will transform Earth into a barren planet with few species, little soil, and horrible storms. We’ve known this for only a few decades. Now we have only decades to change our ways and save our forests, seas, and ourselves.

What’s Next for Earth?

Some believe that we already have the wisdom needed to take the long view of things and change our way of life. If you agree and you want to help, you may wish to begin by acquiring a general picture of what’s happening. Some of the best sources are those that fuel the Rebel Mouse newsletters on my website. Go to https://garryrogers.com/climate-news, and https://garryrogers.com/natcon-news. Many of the sources I use for the newsletters have excellent libraries of reviews and information. For more combined climate and nature-conservation news and information try http://www.scoop.it/t/ecoscifi. One of the sources is the blog by Robert Scribbler.

There are many good books on human impacts. Here are two on climate change that I like.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein
Storms Of My Grandchildren: Truth About The Climate Catastrophe And Our Last Chance To Save Humanity by James Hansen

Header Image

From near my home in central Arizona, left to right:  1) Long strands of algae in stream water polluted by fertilizer runoff from farms. 2) Total algae cover of pond polluted by fertilizer runoff from farms. 3) Land with its surface scraped in preparation for destruction by houses and streets. 4) Jet condensation trails. 5) Recreation destruction of a stream bank.