Want to be famous? Don’t pursue a career in the sciences. That’s one of the key findings from a new study that tasked computers to pick out cultural trends from about 4 percent of all the words ever printed in books.
As rivers and reservoirs shrink across the parched West, cheap sources of water-generated electricity are starting to dry up.
Historically low flows on the McKenzie River that snakes west of Oregon’s snow-starved Cascades, for example, forced the closure of a hydroelectric generation turbine at the Trail Bridge dam in early July. Two more hydropower facilities downstream of the dam are likely to meet a similar fate in the coming weeks.
Thirsty? Drink tap water.
That’s the message being pushed in parched California, where companies such as Swiss food giant Nestle are bottling for profit water that they pipe from public lands, pump from the desert, and draw from municipal water supplies as citizens are asked to curtail their own water consumption.
“In a historic drought like we are having, it just seems like a really, really poor use of a scarce resource,” said Eddie Kurtz, the executive director of the California-based Courage Campaign which is petitioning the California Water Resources Control Board to immediately shut down Nestlé’s water bottling plants.
The campaign, he said, “is a gateway, an opportunity for us to engage people” in a broader dialogue about water management in California.
Glacier, Washington, is the final stop for coffee and treats on the Mt. Baker Highway, which ends at a ski area holding the world record for most snowfall in a season. The small town in the woods might seem an unlikely spot for a $9.6 million warehouse to store excess energy, but it might prove the perfect testing ground.
The area’s winter storms routinely knock out power to Glacier, home to about 250 residents year-round and more than 1,000 on busy weekends. Come 2016, its outages should be less frequent thanks to a shipping container humming with lithium-ion batteries hooked up to a substation that will provide up to 18 hours of backup electricity.
The two-megawatt system will allow Puget Sound Energy to study broader applications for grid-scale energy storage such as using it to provide power during peak-hour demand and to maintain minute-by-minute grid balance.
Blue crab season in the Chesapeake Bay is just around the corner. To fill his coffers between now and then, third-generation Virginia waterman J.C. Hudgins is fishing for menhaden, a type of fish used for bait. What he’s seen in recent days comes as good news: clear water to a depth of eight feet.
“Ten years past, you couldn’t do that,” he said. “And so you know the water quality has improved considerably.”
The Chesapeake Bay is a 200-mile long estuary that runs from Havre de Grace, Maryland, to Norfolk, Virginia and is fed with waters streaming in from a 64,000-square-mile watershed that includes portions of six states and the District of Columbia.
Until recently, the bay was choked with nutrients and sediment spilling in from the 17 million people that call the watershed home.
Seeking the beauty of nature, Americans just can’t stop building houses among trees that will, sooner or later, go up in flames.
“It is truly a when, not if,” Sean McVay, a homeowner in Evergreen, Colorado, said of the threat that a wildfire will tear through his wooded community in the Rocky Mountain foothills west of Denver. But that doesn’t mean he plans to move. McVay bought the house last year. Like most homeowners there, he’s an outdoor enthusiast.
“Being part of the wooded environment is a big draw,” he said.
McVay is not alone. More than 1.1 million properties in the western United States were identified as highly vulnerable to wildfire in a 2015 risk report from analytics firm CoreLogic. The cost to rebuild those homes would total $269 billion, according to the report, which was written to inform the insurance industry and, perhaps, sway policymakers to encourage fire-safe construction in areas susceptible to wildfires.
Call them the spies who love elephants (or rhinos or tigers).
The top spy agencies in the U.S. are sharing intelligence and personnel to bust international wildlife trafficking rings, which rake in more than $20 billion a year in the trade of everything from elephant ivory and rhino horn to the bladders of a Mexican fish.
Without intelligence of the sort used to fight drug and sex traffickers, according to experts, some of the planet’s most iconic creatures face extinction.
“We didn’t have the same resources to fight this trade that other agencies had,” Edward Grace, the deputy chief of law enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said. “That is a gap we are filling in now.”