Climate change, tar sands and invasives

Each week, the Freshwater Society posts a digest of some of the best regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to where they originally were published.

Climate change reverses cooling in Arctic
Human-generated greenhouse gas emissions have helped reverse a 2,000-year trend of cooling in the Arctic, prompting warmer average temperatures in the past decade that now rank higher than at any time since 1 B.C., according to a study published in the online version of the journal Science.

The analysis, based on more than a dozen lake sediment cores as well as glacier ice and tree ring records from the Arctic, provides one of the broadest pictures to date of how industrial emissions have shifted the Arctic’s long-standing natural climate patterns. Coupled with a separate report on the region issued by the World Wildlife Fund, the studies suggest human-induced changes could transform not only the Arctic but climate conditions across the world.

“It’s basically saying the greenhouse gas emissions are overwhelming the system,” said David Schneider, a visiting scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and one of the Science article’s co-authors.
–The Washington Post

Tar sands debate hits Minnesota
The fight over global warming and Canadian oil is heating up, and Minnesota, which gets 80 percent of its oil from Canada, is sitting on the griddle.

A group of oil companies and big industries launched a TV and radio ad campaign to try to snuff out rules that might raise the cost of piping Canadian tar-sands oil through the Dakotas to refineries in the Twin Cities.

Meanwhile, environmentalists appealed a federal decision that allows construction of another major pipeline across northern Minnesota to bring in even more tar-sands oil from Alberta.
–The St. Paul Pioneer Press

White House ‘green jobs’ adviser resigns
Van Jones resigned as the White House’s environmental jobs “czar” after weeks of controversy over his past comments and affiliations had slowly escalated.

Appointed as a special adviser for “green jobs” by President Obama, Mr. Jones did not go through the traditional vetting process for administration officials who must be confirmed by the Senate. So it was not until recently that some of Mr. Jones’s past actions received broad airing, including his derogatory statements about Republicans in February and his signature on a 2004 letter suggesting that former President George W. Bush might have knowingly allowed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to occur in order to use them as a “pre-text to war.”
–The New York Times

Mille Lacs zebra mussels increase
The number of zebra mussels in Lake Mille Lacs — Minnesota’s most popular fishing lake — has increased tenfold from last year.

Officials say the invasive species, discovered in the state’s second largest lake in 2005, is growing exponentially. Such rapid growth could be a mere nuisance or pose a serious new threat to the famed walleye fishery that annually attracts more than 400,000 anglers from Minnesota and beyond.
–The Star Tribune

Investing in climate: The next mega-trend?
It is being dubbed the next “mega-trend” for the stockmarket. Companies that focus on alternative energy and combating climate change will offer outstanding growth for investors, while the environmental laggards will face increasing pollution taxes and penalties. Surely this is a one-way bet for investors with both profits and principles in mind?

Already British investors, even those with as little as £50 a month to invest, can choose from a number of funds promising to direct your cash into the environmental industries of the future. Schroders and HSBC were among the first to launch climate change funds in 2007, followed soon after by Virgin Money. Other big-name providers include F&C and BlackRock (formerly Merrill Lynch).
–The Guardian

Army Corps to restore Louisiana wetlands
The Army Corps of Engineers expects to spend between $400 million and $1.1 billion on coastal restoration and forest-rebuilding projects to make up for the destruction of similar habitat caused by its ongoing levee improvement program, corps officials said.

Federal law requires the corps to replace each acre of habitat damaged during construction with an equal number of acres of similar wetlands and forested areas.
–The New Orleans Times-Picayune

Rule would require water treatment in Wisconsin
A proposed rule that will affect as many as 70 Wisconsin communities by requiring treatment of public drinking water supplies will be the subject of statewide public hearings in October, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

Lee Boushon, who manages the DNR’s public drinking water programs, said the treatment requirement is one of several drinking water rule changes that will be discussed at five public hearings around Wisconsin this fall.

Among the other proposals on the agenda for the hearings are plans for heightened groundwater monitoring, a rule regulating contaminant by-products produced by water treatment systems and new design and construction standards for water systems.

Most communities already treat drinking water but Boushon said about 70 water utilities will have to install treatment systems as a result of the rule. Among those communities in southern Wisconsin, according to the agency, are Spring Green, Mineral Point, Hollandale and Dane.