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Wednesday, Aug 27th

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Global warming is already here and could be irreversible, UN panel says

Global warming irreversibleGlobal warming is here, human-caused and probably already dangerous – and it’s increasingly likely that the heating trend could be irreversible, a draft of a new international science report says.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Monday sent governments a final draft of its synthesis report, which combines three earlier, gigantic documents by the Nobel Prize-winning group. There is little in the report that wasn’t in the other more-detailed versions, but the language is more stark and the report attempts to connect the different scientific disciplines studying problems caused by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas.

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'Incredible' rate of polar ice loss alarms scientists

Ice loss 'incredible'The planet's two largest ice sheets – in Greenland and Antarctica – are now being depleted at an astonishing rate of 120 cubic miles each year. That is the discovery made by scientists using data from CryoSat-2, the European probe that has been measuring the thickness of Earth's ice sheets and glaciers since it was launched by the European Space Agency in 2010.

Even more alarming, the rate of loss of ice from the two regions has more than doubled since 2009, revealing the dramatic impact that climate change is beginning to have on our world.

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Ozone-Depleting Compound Persists Despite Ban, NASA Research Shows

Ozone depleting chemicals persistNASA research shows Earth's atmosphere contains an unexpectedly large amount of an ozone-depleting compound from an unknown source decades after the compound was banned worldwide.

Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012.

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Mudslides hit area in Washington State charred by wildfires

Mudslides in Washingston StateThunderstorms in the area in Washington State charred by the massive Carlton Complex wildfire brought mudslides that blocked highways.

Two highways in Okanogan County remained closed Friday morning, officials said. At least two houses had been damaged by mud.  Some drivers were stranded by mudslides, but no injuries were reported.

The thunderstorms that hit the area in north-central Washington brought flash flooding Thursday that affected the fire teams.

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Alabama community alleges race bias over toxic landfill site

Alabama toxic wasteFive-and-a-half years have passed since an earthen dam holding toxic coal ash from a coal plant failed in Harriman, Tenn., spilling more than a billion gallons of the ash into rivers and forests, and destroying several homes. The TVA Kingston Fossil Plant disaster was widely considered one of the worst in U.S. history, or at least one of the biggest by volume. And it’s still causing headaches, hundreds of miles away.

Last week, Environmental Protection Agency investigators traveled to Uniontown, Ala., to interview residents and activists who say a local landfill that accepted much of the Tennessee coal ash is polluting air and water sources nearby, causing people who live in the area to become sick. The residents of the poor, predominantly black area say they are being unfairly burdened with the literal remnants of a disaster they had nothing to do with.

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Drought is causing Earth's crust to rise in the West

eath's crust risingAbout 63 trillion gallons of water have been lost to drought in the western United States, enough to blanket the region with 4 inches of water, according to a study published Thursday.

Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, arrived at the conclusion by measuring the level of the earth's crust with a network of GPS stations that is normally used to predict earthquakes.

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Environmental groups warn of 'taint' by official on nuclear regulator decisions

William MagwoodNearly three dozen environmental groups are pressing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to postpone key votes until after outgoing commissioner William Magwood steps down, warning his involvement would "taint" the agency.

The NRC is scheduled to hold two votes on nuclear waste storage and reactor licensing on Aug. 26, but Magwood does not plan to leave for his new gig until Aug. 31.

Earlier this year, Magwood announced he would join the Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency on Sept. 1, as its director general.

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