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Southwest U.S. could face 35-year 'megadrought'

southwest megadroughtMuch of the Southwest United States, the next century could feature a drought that lasts several decades -- or what climate scientists call a megadrought, one that lasts 35 years. By comparison, the Dust Bowl, which decimated farms in the 1930s, lasted less than eight years.

According to a new study, there is at least a 50 percent chance that most of the Southwest will face a decade-long drought at some point in the next 100 years. And the chance that states like Arizona, California and New Mexico will suffer a megadrought, researchers say, lies somewhere between 20 to 50 percent. For some portions of the region, the chance of a decade-long drought is as high as 90 percent.

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The Disaster That No One Is Talking About

Maryland sinkingThree millimeters, about one-eighth of an inch, may not sound like much. But when it’s the height water is steadily rising outside your doorstep every year, it may as well be three feet if it’s anything at all.

On the eastern shores of Maryland, ocean levels are climbing by at least this much — nearly two times the global historic average, according to the state’s Department of Natural Resources — and those waters are pushing several small fishing communities to the brink of extinction. Photographer Greg Kahn set out to capture what it’s like for these sinking towns in his new series “3 Millimeters.”

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Hawaii's GMO Battle: Federal Judge Strikes Down Kauai's Pesticide Regulations

Hawaii judge strikes down pesticide banA federal judge in Hawaii has struck down a local ordinance that would have regulated pesticide use at farms on the island of Kauai, where four of the world's largest agrichemical companies take advantage of long growing seasons to develop genetically engineered crops seeds, also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

On August 23, US Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ruled in favor of Syngenta, BASF, DuPont Pioneer and Agrigenetics, an affiliate of Dow Chemical in their challenge of Kauai County's Ordinance 960, arguing that the local ordinance illegally pre-empted state laws regulating pesticides.

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Utah grapples with toxic water from oil and gas industry

Utah - toxic waterA massive stream of wastewater tainted with hydrocarbons has been flowing into Utah from oil and gas mining on Colorado’s West Slope.

Evaporation ponds used to process the contaminated water in Grand County have released tons of toxic chemicals into the air since April 2008.

But the Colorado company running the 14-pond facility operated without a Utah air-quality permit for more than six years, public documents show, while providing officials faulty data that underreported its emissions and exaggerated the efficiency of its emission-control equipment.

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How the Fracking Industry Undermines Labor

frackingIs there a salary worth risking your health or even your life? Big Oil and Gas might think so, but the ex-industry workers with whom we spoke aren’t so convinced.

Today, Food & Water Watch released Toxic Workplace: Fracking Hazards on the Job, a research brief that exposes the dangers of working in the fracking industry. Subject to long hours on the job, sloppy safety regulations and reporting, lack of injury compensation and close contact with hazardous chemicals, former industry laborers agree that the fracking workplace is a toxic one. As we reflect on the social and economic successes of the labor movement over this holiday weekend, it becomes more evident that the fracking industry may have missed the memo.

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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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