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World's Catholic bishops issue appeal to Paris climate talks

Catholic bishops urge climate change policiesCatholic patriarchs, cardinals and bishops representing five continents appealed to climate negotiators on Monday to approve a "transformative" and fair, legally binding agreement that sets global temperature limits and decarbonization goals to save the planet from climate-induced catastrophe.

The representatives of bishops' conferences from around the globe signed the appeal in a renewed push to encourage climate negotiators meeting in Paris next month to heed Pope Francis' call to protect God's creation and the poor who suffer most from its exploitation.


Fracking Disaster: Kansas Went From 1 Earthquake Per Year To 42 A Week

fracking disasterThe revolutionary method of natural-gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – has left in its wake a trail of contaminated water supplies, polluted air, health problems, and environmental degradation. But what is potentially the most damaging aspect of the process is just coming to light in the form of a tremendous spate of earthquakes in the heart of the United States.

In the past week, northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas have suffered forty two earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 on the Richter scale – 17% of all earthquakes in the world. This brings the year-to-date count up to 680 such tremors – and this in area that until recently was almost completely seismically dormant. Up until 2009, the area experienced an average of 1.5 of these quakes each year. What has changed since then is the massive influx of fracking operations seeking to take advantage of the Woodford Shale that straddles the two states’ border.


Study: Bubble plumes of methane escaping warming ocean

methane bubble fumesThe most infamous and abundant greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. But though less prolific, methane actually packs a meaner climate-warming punch.

To the dismay of climate scientists (and anyone concerned by global warming), there appears to a new and growing source of methane -- the deep sea.

In analyzing instances of bubble plumes, columns of rising methane gas bubbles, researchers found a growing number have been measured at a transition zone. The transition zone, beginning a third of a mile below the surface, is significant to stability of methane hydrates -- an area where warming water temperatures could encourage sublimation.


Brazil pledges absolute carbon emissions reduction of 37 percent

Brazil pledgeds carbon emissions reductionBrazil has pledged a 37 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2025, making the South American country the first major developing nation to pledge an absolute emissions reduction.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff made the announcement on Sunday at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit. She also announced an "intended reduction" of 43 percent by 2030.


Giant Viruses Are Hiding in Permafrost, But Not for Long

Giant viruses in permafrostIf you’re a germophobe, you won’t find comfort even in bleak Siberian expanses. Scientists have made another massive discovery of ancient (and giant) viruses hidden dormant in the permafrost. As the planet warms, finding these things—and waking them—is going to become more commonplace.

That’s significant, especially when you understand the gravity of the findings for experts involved in the ongoing research.


Drinking water systems imperiled by failing infrastructure

Drinking water in dangerDeep inside a 70-year-old water-treatment plant, drinking water for Iowa's capital city is cleansed of harmful nitrates that come from the state's famously rich farmland.

Without Des Moines Water Works, the central Iowa region of 500,000 people that it serves wouldn't have a thriving economy. But after decades of ceaseless service, the utility is confronting an array of problems: Water mains are cracking open hundreds of times every year. Rivers that provide its source water are increasingly polluted. And the city doesn't know how it will afford a $150 million treatment plant at a time when revenues are down and maintenance costs are up.


The pope at White House: Climate change action can't wait

Pope Francis at White HouseJumping into the issues of the day, Pope Francis opened his visit to the United States with a strong call Wednesday for action to combat climate change, calling it a problem that "can no longer be left to a future generation." President Barack Obama, in turn, hailed the pontiff as a moral force who is "shaking us out of our complacency" with reminders to care for the poor and the planet.

The White House mustered all the pageantry it had to offer as the pope arrived at the White House before an adoring crowd of thousands and a nation that seemingly cannot get enough of the humble pontiff who is rejuvenating American Catholicism while giving heartburn to some of its conservatives.


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