Three friends set off on a 400 km biking and packraft expedition through the heart of the sacred headwaters in northwestern British Columbia, birthplace of three critical salmon rivers, and home to the Tahltan people. In the wake of the devastating Mount Polley Mine disaster, the team’s goal is to understand what is at stake as a wave of new mines are developed across this remote corner of the province.
Their journey offers an exciting and sobering window into this wild landscape as they pedal through vast boreal forest, paddle frigid whitewater, battle monster trout, outrun a grizzly, learn about the Tahltan’s fight to protect their homeland and glimpse inside a massive open pit mine.
More at salmonbeyondborders.org
Puffins are in trouble.
The birds have been in precipitous decline, especially since the 2000s, both in Iceland and across many of their Atlantic habitats. The potential culprits are many: fickle prey, overfishing, pollution. Scientists say that climate change is another underlying factor that is diminishing food supplies and is likely to become more important over time. And the fact that puffins are tasty, and thus hunted as game here, hardly helps.
Read more at the NY Times (paywall)
There are many benefits to staying cool. Including saving lives. But it doesn’t come without a price.
At the moment, only 8% of the 3bn people in the tropics have air-conditioning, compared with over 90% of households in America and Japan. But eventually, it will be near universal because so many trends are converging behind its spread: ageing, since old people are more vulnerable to heat stroke; urbanisation, since fields cannot be air-conditioned but offices and factories must be; and economic growth, since, after mobile phones, the middle class in emerging markets want fans or air-conditioners next. Even the proliferation of skyscrapers in the developing world’s megacities encourages air-conditioners. Because tall buildings have different air pressures at top and bottom, they usually have to be sealed, and cooled in summer. Shopping malls, open-plan offices and data-processing centres are all inconceivable without air-conditioning.
Environmentalists fret about this. An article in the Washington Post excoriated “the deluded world of air-conditioning”. Another in the New York Times castigated buildings so cold in summer that “I could preserve dead bodies in the office.” Yet air-conditioning makes people, literally, healthier, wealthier and wiser. A study by Tord Kjellstrom of Australian National University found that, in South-East Asia, people without cooling could not work during 15-20% of working hours. It was too darned hot. Solomon Hsiang of the University of California, Berkeley calculated that, in the Caribbean and Central America, GDP falls by 1% for each degree above 26°C. In the tropics, cooling boosts productivity.
The same goes for learning. A recent study in PLOS Medicine, a weekly journal, by Jose Guillermo Cedeño of Harvard University, followed two groups of college students in Boston during the summer of 2016. Those living in air-conditioned rooms did significantly better in a variety of cognitive tests than their peers in uncooled digs. Studies in Denmark showed that air-conditioning schools improved children’s ability to learn mathematics and languages.
More at The Economist
The algae turns the water toxic for marine life, and in recent weeks beachgoers have been horrified to find turtles, large fish like goliath grouper and even manatees wash up dead. In late July, a 26-foot long (8-meter-long) whale shark washed ashore on Sanibel Island, which is known for its pristine beaches. In places like Longboat Key, more than 5 tons of dead fish have been removed from beaches. This week, nine dead dolphins were found in Sarasota County, and marine biologists are investigating whether the deaths are related to red tide.
The Florida Wildlife Research Institute says the number of dead and stranded sea turtles is nearly three times higher than average. More than 450 stranded and dead sea turtles have been recovered in four affected counties this year, and the institute estimates that 250 to 300 died from red tide poisoning.
How climate change is making ‘red tide’ algal blooms even worse – Washington Post (paywall)
Florida Declares State Of Emergency As Red Tide Spreads – Huffington Post via Yahoo
Florida’s Gulf Coast Battles Deadly And Smelly Red Tide – NPR