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News Article | November 10, 2016
Site: www.bbc.co.uk

Voters across one Florida county have signalled their approval for releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in a bid to fight Zika virus. But in a separate poll, the town where officials plan to carry out a scientific trial, voted to reject the proposal. The planned release is being seen as an important test for the technology's acceptance in the US. Florida has reported more than 1,100 cases of Zika this year. British biotech firm Oxitec plans to evaluate the effectiveness of their engineered mosquitoes for combating the virus. They want to release male insects across a 17-hectare region of Key Haven, a small suburb located on an island on Florida's southern tip. Zika is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The idea is that Oxitec's male mosquitoes (which do not bite) mate with wild females, but genetic modification ensures that any offspring do not survive until adulthood. Successive releases across the neighbourhood should cause Aedes aegypti populations to crash. The non-binding poll in Monroe County, which covers the Florida Keys and a large part of the Everglades National Park, asked: "Are you in favour of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District conducting an effectiveness trial in Monroe County, Florida, using genetically modified mosquitoes to suppress an invasive mosquito that carries mosquito-borne diseases?" Voters in Key Haven were asked specifically about the release of GM mosquitoes in their town. About 58% of voters across Monroe County favoured the trial. But in Key Haven, some 65% opposed the release. Now, the results of the November 8 poll will be put to board members in charge of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. They will use the results to decide whether to proceed with the scientific trial at a meeting on 19 November. Dr Derric Nimmo, who has been leading Oxitec's proposed trial in Key Haven, told BBC News: "Key Haven was chosen about four years ago, based on the fact that it's surrounded by water and it's an almost perfect scientific site where you have a control area where you don't do any releases, an area where you can do releases, and a buffer zone in between. "You don't want wild female mosquitoes coming into the area, because they will affect the quality of the results." Oxitec has previously conducted five trials in three different countries - the Cayman Islands, Panama and Brazil, where Dr Nimmo says, the company achieves reductions in mosquito populations of 90% or more. Aedes aegypti is an urban mosquito that can breed in bodies of standing water as small as a bottle cap. Its larvae can find refuge indoors, beyond the reach of insecticide spraying programmes. But a proportion of local residents wanted the trial cancelled; they have been concerned about potential unanticipated consequences of releasing lab insects into the wild. Mila de Mier, a Florida realtor who has founded an opposition group called Never Again, told BBC News: "This technology is treated as an animal drug, but we believe it should be treated as a human drug." She added her concern that "when you reduce the population of Aedes aegypti, another aggressive mosquito species could come in and become established - like the Asian tiger mosquito". But Dr Nimmo stressed: "We've had six years of releases, involving millions of male mosquitoes, and there have been no reports of any adverse effects." "It's important we're as transparent as possible... we've been trying to give people the facts and information so they can make an informed choice."


News Article | November 15, 2016
Site: www.prnewswire.co.uk

The sweeping legalization of various forms of Cannabis and Legal Marijuana operations across the United States is serving to help mature the industry, bolstering the already existing revenue streams, as well as diversifying new opportunities for investors and consumers alike. The cannabis performers this week include: Arcturus Growthstar Technologies Inc. (OTC: AGSTF), mCig, Inc. (OTC : MCIG), OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (OTC: OGRMF), United Cannabis Corporation (OTC: CNAB) and MassRoots, Inc. (OTC: MSRT). Arcturus Growthstar Technologies Inc. (OTCQB: AGSTF) (CSE: AGS) is pleased to announce that it has signed a Letter of Intent ("LOI") to acquire a 15-acre parcel of land in Redland, Florida, in a county that is designated to legally cultivate, process and dispense cannabis. Redland is an unincorporated community within Miami-Dade County, with Biscayne National Park to the east and Everglades National Park to the west. Redland is primarily a Miami suburb and a major agricultural area. Miami-Dade County is referred to as the nation's "Salad Bowl" and "Winter Bread Basket." "We are pleased to have reached this LOI to acquire this prime parcel of land as it has a long history as a plant nursery, which was first established in 1963," says Mr. William Gildea, Arcturus Growthstar Technologies Inc.'s CEO and Chairman. "This acquisition will be an all-stock deal and greatly adds to our geographic footprint and overall strategy in the state of Florida. With the recent passage of Amendment 2, an initiative which significantly broadens Florida's medical marijuana program, we want to be firmly established in the state and solidify our first mover advantage in one of the biggest potential cannabis markets in the United States." With this acquisition and the previously announced 10-acre greenhouse acquisition near Orlando, Arcturus has the potential, if fully licensed, to develop 25-acres of cannabis crops. If current state projections for the cannabis market size hold up to their $1.8B projection by 2020, Florida will have considerable demand for medical marijuana, even without factoring in the potential for recreational legislation.    This is an exciting acquisition for Arcturus as the 15-acre farm is located in a designated legal grow zone with close proximity to Miami. Other Cannabis stocks performing well in the markets this week: mCig, Inc. (OTCQB : MCIG) closed up over 30% at $0.195 on over 19.4 Million shares traded by the market close.  MCIG, a diversified company servicing the legal cannabis, hemp, and CBD markets announced Monday the second quarter, MCIG generated $620,015 in revenue, a 126% increase from the previous quarter. The company reported to be profitable during the quarter and MCIG reported $10,469 in net income, an increase of $675K in its bottom line compared to same period last year. MCIG's adjusted net income for the period was $102,550, an adjusted net profit margin of 20%. OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (OTCQB: OGRMF) closed up over 26% on Monday at $2.93 trading over 750,000 shares by the market close.  OrganiGram Holdings Inc., through its subsidiary, Organigram Inc., produces and sells medical marijuana in Canada. The company was founded in 2013 and is based in Moncton, Canada. United Cannabis Corporation (OTCQB: CNAB) also closed up over 20% on Monday at $1.81 on over 1.68 Million shares traded by the market close.  United Cannabis Corporation last week announced that its Joint Venture, which is 50% owned with Jamaica-based Cannabis Research & Development ("CRD"), has submitted its application for a license to cultivate, process, transport and conduct research on cannabis within Jamaica. MassRoots, Inc. (OTCQB: MSRT) closed up just under 10% at $0.84 on Monday trading over 945,000 shares by the market close.  MassRoots announced earlier this month that it has released product and strain reviews within its iOS and Android applications. Through community-driven reviews, MassRoots aims to connect consumers with the best products to treat their ailments. DISCLAIMER:  MarketNewsUpdates.com (MNU) is a third party publisher and news dissemination service provider, which disseminates electronic information through multiple online media channels.  MNU is NOT affiliated in any manner with any company mentioned herein.  MNU and its affiliated companies are a news dissemination solutions provider and are NOT a registered broker/dealer/analyst/adviser, holds no investment licenses and may NOT sell, offer to sell or offer to buy any security.  MNU's market updates, news alerts and corporate profiles are NOT a solicitation or recommendation to buy, sell or hold securities.  The material in this release is intended to be strictly informational and is NEVER to be construed or interpreted as research material.  All readers are strongly urged to perform research and due diligence on their own and consult a licensed financial professional before considering any level of investing in stocks.  All material included herein is republished content and details which were previously disseminated by the companies mentioned in this release.  MNU is not liable for any investment decisions by its readers or subscribers.  Investors are cautioned that they may lose all or a portion of their investment when investing in stocks.  For current services performed MNU has been compensated three thousand nine hundred dollars for news coverage of the current press release issued by Arcturus Growthstar Technologies Inc. by the company.  MNU HOLDS NO SHARES OF ANY COMPANY NAMED IN THIS RELEASE. This release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended and such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. "Forward-looking statements" describe future expectations, plans, results, or strategies and are generally preceded by words such as "may", "future", "plan" or "planned", "will" or "should", "expected," "anticipates", "draft", "eventually" or "projected". You are cautioned that such statements are subject to a multitude of risks and uncertainties that could cause future circumstances, events, or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements, including the risks that actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, and other risks identified in a company's annual report on Form 10-K or 10-KSB and other filings made by such company with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You should consider these factors in evaluating the forward-looking statements included herein, and not place undue reliance on such statements. The forward-looking statements in this release are made as of the date hereof and MNU undertakes no obligation to update such statements.


News Article | December 15, 2016
Site: www.prnewswire.co.uk

New legal marijuana markets and opportunities within the US cannabis industry are spurring development of new products and services as well as fueling the acquisition of land and other resources to capitalize on early momentum and cultivate efficiently heading into the new year. Today's Cannabis / Legal Marijuana companies in focus include: Arcturus Growthstar Technologies Inc. (OTC: AGSTF), American Cannabis Company, Inc. (OTC: AMMJ), Medical Marijuana, Inc. (OTC: MJNA), Terra Tech Corp. (OTC: TRTC) and GB Sciences, Inc. (OTC: GBLX). Arcturus Growthstar Technologies Inc. (OTCQB: AGSTF)(CSE: AGS.CN) is pleased to announce that it has signed a Definitive Agreement ("the Contract") to acquire a 15-acre parcel of land in Redland, Florida, in a county that is designated to legally cultivate, process and dispense cannabis . Redland is an unincorporated community within Miami-Dade County, with Biscayne National Park to the east and Everglades National Park to the west. Redland is a Miami suburb and a major agricultural area. Miami-Dade County is referred to as the nation's "Salad Bowl" and "Winter Bread Basket." Read this and more news for Arcturus Growthstar at http://www.marketnewsupdates.com/news/agstf.html "We are pleased to have reached this Contract to acquire this prime parcel of land as it has a long history as a plant nursery, which was first established in 1963," says Mr. William Gildea, Arcturus Growthstar Technologies Inc.'s CEO and Chairman. "Florida's Legislature is beginning the process of figuring out how to implement Amendment 2, which expands the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida by allowing higher-strength marijuana to be used for a wider list of medical ailments. With this 15-acre acquisition, Arcturus is positioning itself to be a part of Florida's cannabis market as it rolls out in 2017." With this acquisition and the previously announced 10-acre greenhouse acquisition near Orlando, Arcturus has the potential, if fully licensed, to develop 25-acres of cannabis crops. If current state projections for the cannabis market size hold up to their $1.8B projection by 2020, Florida will have considerable demand for medical marijuana, even without factoring in the potential for recreational legislation. This is an exciting acquisition for Arcturus as the 15-acre farm is located in a designated legal grow zone with close proximity to Miami. Arcturus and its experienced team of operators, including John Sweeney, former VP of Operations for Tilray's 60,000-square foot Vancouver facility, is in a unique position as a Canadian based company because it is poised to quickly commence operations within the United States rather than potentially wait years to become a licensed producer under Canadian law. In performances from yesterdays market activity and recent developments of note: American Cannabis Company, Inc. (OTCQB: AMMJ) closed up over 3% on Wednesday at $0.8177 trading over 550,000 shares by the market close. American Cannabis Company, Inc., together with its subsidiary, Hollister & Blacksmith, Inc., doing business as American Cannabis Consulting, provides solutions for businesses operating in the cannabis industry in the United States and Canada. Medical Marijuana, Inc. (OTC PINK: MJNA) closed up over 9% on Wednesday at $0.1325 trading over 39 Million shares by the market close. Medical Marijuana, the first-ever publicly traded cannabis company in the United States, announced this week that it commends the Mexican senate for voting in favor of extending regulations for certain cannabis products. With the new regulations, more people in need of cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) for medical care will have more access to products, including our RSHO brand of products. Terra Tech Corp. (OTCQX: TRTC) closed down slightly on Wednesday at $0.268 trading over 4.5 Million shares by the market close. Terra Tech Corp., through its subsidiaries, engages in the design, marketing, and sale of hydroponic equipment with proprietary technology to create sustainable solutions for the cultivation of indoor agriculture in Newport Beach and Irvine, GB Sciences, Inc. (OTCQB: GBLX) closed up over 3% at $0.305 on Wednesday trading over 440,000 shares by the market close. GB Sciences announced this week that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Growblox Life Sciences, LLC has licensed intellectual property from Makai Biotechnology, LLC. The patent underlying the license was issued by the USPTO in July of 2015, and claims therapeutic methods for the treatment of cardiac hypertrophy and associated pathologies through regulation of the cannabinoid receptor, TRPV1. TRPV1 can be regulated therapeutically by plant-based cannabinoids, which creates a plethora of potentially new therapeutic agents for the treatment of cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure. DISCLAIMER: MarketNewsUpdates.com (MNU) is a third party publisher and news dissemination service provider, which disseminates electronic information through multiple online media channels. MNU is NOT affiliated in any manner with any company mentioned herein. MNU and its affiliated companies are a news dissemination solutions provider and are NOT a registered broker/dealer/analyst/adviser, holds no investment licenses and may NOT sell, offer to sell or offer to buy any security. MNU's market updates, news alerts and corporate profiles are NOT a solicitation or recommendation to buy, sell or hold securities. The material in this release is intended to be strictly informational and is NEVER to be construed or interpreted as research material. All readers are strongly urged to perform research and due diligence on their own and consult a licensed financial professional before considering any level of investing in stocks. All material included herein is republished content and details which were previously disseminated by the companies mentioned in this release. MNU is not liable for any investment decisions by its readers or subscribers. Investors are cautioned that they may lose all or a portion of their investment when investing in stocks. For current services performed MNU has been compensated three thousand nine hundred dollars for news coverage of the current press release issued by Arcturus Growthstar Technologies Inc. by the company. MNU HOLDS NO SHARES OF ANY COMPANY NAMED IN THIS RELEASE. This release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended and such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. "Forward-looking statements" describe future expectations, plans, results, or strategies and are generally preceded by words such as "may", "future", "plan" or "planned", "will" or "should", "expected," "anticipates", "draft", "eventually" or "projected". You are cautioned that such statements are subject to a multitude of risks and uncertainties that could cause future circumstances, events, or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements, including the risks that actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, and other risks identified in a company's annual report on Form 10-K or 10-KSB and other filings made by such company with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You should consider these factors in evaluating the forward-looking statements included herein, and not place undue reliance on such statements. The forward-looking statements in this release are made as of the date hereof and MNU undertakes no obligation to update such statements.


News Article | November 15, 2016
Site: www.prnewswire.co.uk

The constantly evolving cannabis and legal marijuana markets has its sights set on even more growth after recent and current massive momentum following a strong performance on latest introduction of products and services and expanded operations in North America. The cannabis performers this week include: Arcturus Growthstar Technologies Inc. (CSE: AGS.CN), Canopy Growth Corporation (TSX: CGC.TO), OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (TSX-V: OGI.V), Mettrum Health Corp. (TSX-V: MT.V) and Aphria, Inc. (TSX-V: APH.V). Arcturus Growthstar Technologies Inc. (CSE: AGS) (AGSTF) is pleased to announce that it has signed a Letter of Intent ("LOI") to acquire a 15-acre parcel of land in Redland, Florida, in a county that is designated to legally cultivate, process and dispense cannabis. Redland is an unincorporated community within Miami-Dade County, with Biscayne National Park to the east and Everglades National Park to the west. Redland is primarily a Miami suburb and a major agricultural area. Miami-Dade County is referred to as the nation's "Salad Bowl" and "Winter Bread Basket." "We are pleased to have reached this LOI to acquire this prime parcel of land as it has a long history as a plant nursery, which was first established in 1963," says Mr. William Gildea, Arcturus Growthstar Technologies Inc.'s CEO and Chairman. "This acquisition will be an all-stock deal and greatly adds to our geographic footprint and overall strategy in the state of Florida. With the recent passage of Amendment 2, an initiative which significantly broadens Florida's medical marijuana program, we want to be firmly established in the state and solidify our first mover advantage in one of the biggest potential cannabis markets in the United States." With this acquisition and the previously announced 10-acre greenhouse acquisition near Orlando, Arcturus has the potential, if fully licensed, to develop 25-acres of cannabis crops. If current state projections for the cannabis market size hold up to their $1.8B projection by 2020, Florida will have considerable demand for medical marijuana, even without factoring in the potential for recreational legislation.    This is an exciting acquisition for Arcturus as the 15-acre farm is located in a designated legal grow zone with close proximity to Miami. Other Canada Cannabis stocks performing well in the markets this week: Canopy Growth Corporation (CGC.TO) closed up over 19% at $11.16 on Monday trading over 12.3 Million shares traded by the market close.  Canopy Growth Corporation (CGC.TO) on Monday released its financial results for the second quarter fiscal 2017 ended September 30 , 2016. Second Quarter Fiscal 2017 Highlights included Revenue of $8.5 million; a 22% increase over first quarter fiscal year 2017 and 245% over the three-month period ended September 30, 2015 OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (OGI.V) closed up over 27% at $3.99 on Monday trading over 7.78 Million shares traded by the market close.  OrganiGram Holdings Inc., through its subsidiary, Organigram Inc., produces and sells medical marijuana in Canada. The company was founded in 2013 and is based in Moncton, Canada. Mettrum Health Corp. (MT.V) closed up on Monday at $5.95 trading over 2.6 Million shares traded by the market close.  Mettrum Health Corp. engages in the research, development, production, and distribution of medical cannabis and cannabis products in Canada. It operates as a licensed producer under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations. Aphria, Inc. (APH.V) closed up over 13% on Monday at $5.22 trading over 7.2 Million shares by the market close.  Aphria Inc. produces, supplies, and sells medical cannabis in Canada. Its cannabis products include dried flowers and cannabis oils. DISCLAIMER:  MarketNewsUpdates.com (MNU) is a third party publisher and news dissemination service provider, which disseminates electronic information through multiple online media channels.  MNU is NOT affiliated in any manner with any company mentioned herein.  MNU and its affiliated companies are a news dissemination solutions provider and are NOT a registered broker/dealer/analyst/adviser, holds no investment licenses and may NOT sell, offer to sell or offer to buy any security.  MNU's market updates, news alerts and corporate profiles are NOT a solicitation or recommendation to buy, sell or hold securities.  The material in this release is intended to be strictly informational and is NEVER to be construed or interpreted as research material.  All readers are strongly urged to perform research and due diligence on their own and consult a licensed financial professional before considering any level of investing in stocks.  All material included herein is republished content and details which were previously disseminated by the companies mentioned in this release.  MNU is not liable for any investment decisions by its readers or subscribers.  Investors are cautioned that they may lose all or a portion of their investment when investing in stocks.  For current services performed MNU has been compensated three thousand nine hundred dollars for news coverage of the current press release issued by Arcturus Growthstar Technologies Inc. by the company.  MNU HOLDS NO SHARES OF ANY COMPANY NAMED IN THIS RELEASE. This release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended and such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. "Forward-looking statements" describe future expectations, plans, results, or strategies and are generally preceded by words such as "may", "future", "plan" or "planned", "will" or "should", "expected," "anticipates", "draft", "eventually" or "projected". You are cautioned that such statements are subject to a multitude of risks and uncertainties that could cause future circumstances, events, or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements, including the risks that actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, and other risks identified in a company's annual report on Form 10-K or 10-KSB and other filings made by such company with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You should consider these factors in evaluating the forward-looking statements included herein, and not place undue reliance on such statements. The forward-looking statements in this release are made as of the date hereof and MNU undertakes no obligation to update such statements.


News Article | March 31, 2016
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

Aerial view Turkey Point looking to Biscayne Bay. Used with permission from FP&L This will be a multi-part post aimed at addressing a convoluted and emotional issue. It will attempt to satisfactorily answer the following questions. Why are organizations targeting the Turkey Point power station? Why do they claim that the plant is threatening the Everglades National Park, the Biscayne Bay National Park and the groundwater adjacent to the facility? What are the documented concerns and what impact do they have? Do the tritium measurements that have been reported in various news media really indicate that Turkey Point Units 3 & 4 (the nuclear units at the 5-unit power station) are “leaking?” I’m biased This is a story with a very personal aspect. Many of you have heard me tell the story of the time nearly 50 years ago when my father came home from work and told me about the new power plant that his company was building that did not even need smokestacks. Turkey Point was the unnamed power plant in that story; its construction began in 1967, the year I celebrated my 8th birthday. That was the beginning of my appreciation of the advantages that nuclear fission has over its hydrocarbon competition. I also have a life long fondness for Florida Power & Light (FP&L). The company and its employees were topics of many family discussions while I was growing up; in fact, Mom occasionally expressed some minor annoyance at Dad for bringing his work home so often. A fair portion of the adults that played a role in my life while growing up proudly worked in various roles at the company. I eagerly looked forward to the annual company Christmas party and the annual company picnics held on the site of the Cutler Plant. The big banyan trees were great fun for climbing and swinging on the roots. I fondly remember the Tuesday each month when my white collar, long distance-commuting Dad was able to linger with us at breakfast in his more casual “storm training” attire. Unlike the Miami office where he worked the other 19 days of the month, storm training was held in much closer and accessible Ft. Lauderdale; he didn’t need to allow 45-60 minutes for the traffic. On storm training days, Dad made sure that his hardhat was in the car before he left for the monthly practical exercises in power system restoration, which is an “all hands on deck” effort for a power company. I’ve lived in places where the power was knocked out by storms and remember at least three separate instances where the whole neighborhood gathered on the street and cheered the power company employees who turned the lights back on. Sometimes the crews were from companies located several states away. Living in the home of a good man devoted to his service-oriented profession helped inspire me choose a career in the service of others. To this day, FP&L is a positive influence on my family; Mom is one of those famous “widows” — as in “this stock is suitable for widows and orphans” — that receives reliable dividend checks from FP&L. She also receives the survivor’s portion of the pension Dad earned during his 35 years of employment with the company. There are hundreds of thousands of people who can share similar personal stories about positive family associations with FP&L. There are tens of millions of Florida residents and tourists that have benefitted from FP&L’s 90 years of service as a rate-regulated electric utility with an obligation to provide power to all customers at the highest possible level of reliability within cost constraints determined by the public utility commission. All of that information is my way of disclosing that I instinctively distrust people that demonize “the power company.” I’m offended when out-of-state special interest groups like the deceptively-named1 “Southern Alliance for Clean Energy” attack an admirable company that has achieved a long record of service and stewardship. If you’re looking for balanced reporting, you might want to stop reading now. If you want informed answers to the questions I listed at the beginning of the article from someone who is not a company spokesperson or an employee but is also not an anti-corporate hater with an agenda, I hope to make this worth your time. Turkey Point is under attack I started hearing about recent efforts to publicize what opponents have characterized as “leaks of radioactive elements and other pollutants into Florida surface and ground water” a couple of weeks ago. I was energized into action after finding a March 22 New York Times story titled Nuclear Plant Leak Threatens Drinking Water Wells in Florida. Though the headline — obviously designed to attract attention — claimed that the nuclear plants were “threatening” groundwater, the story clearly stated that tritium “was found in doses far too low to harm people” and later quoted a company spokesperson. He [Robert L. Gould] emphasized that the trace levels of tritium were far below the danger levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency for drinking water. The company has been in contact with the federal agency, he said. None of these problems, Mr. Gould said, are threatening the state’s drinking water supply or even the bay’s health. The problem is mostly in areas right near the plant, he added. The closest the saltwater plume is to the water wells is about four miles away. “I really need to stress that there is no safety risk: There is no risk to the bay or to the drinking water,” Mr. Gould said. “The way it’s been portrayed by some is simply unfair. It’s extremely misleading.” Before providing what should be calming information, here’s how the New York Times story sought to capture readers that were initially attracted by the sensational headline. When Florida’s largest power company added two nuclear reactors to an existing plant that sat between two national parks — Biscayne Bay and the Everglades — the decision raised the concerns of environmentalists and some government officials about the possible effects on water quality and marine life. Now more than four decades later, Florida Power & Light’s reactors at Turkey Point, built to satisfy the power needs of a booming Miami, are facing their greatest crisis. A recent study commissioned by the county concluded that Turkey Point’s old cooling canal system was leaking polluted water into Biscayne Bay. There are several problems with that statement. Problem 1: The Turkey Point power station existed long before Biscayne National Park, which was formally established in 1980. It existed before 1968 when the area first gained some development protection when it was designated by Congress and President Johnson as a National Monument. At the time that the power station was built, the area was a prime development target for a project known as the city of Islandia. FP&L’s 1964 decision to purchase land and build a power plant at Turkey Point is one of the prime reasons that the area was protected from intensive development. McGregor Smith, the chairman of the board of FP&L was committed to preserving as much of the waterways and land surrounding the plant as possible. Found on Newspapers.com He envisioned the area as a multi-use area that would include a wildlife refuge, a Boy Scout and Girl Scout camping area, a marine research laboratory, picnic areas and beaches. Smith’s visions were largely achieved. Much of what the company preserved from development was later incorporated into the Biscayne National Park. The park is a place that has received numerous accolades over the years lauding its environmental and recreational value. Park Vision has a nicely illustrated story about the park. Crocodile Hatchlings from Turkey Point CCS. Used with permission from FPL One positive, but unintended effect of the Turkey Point plant and its cooling canal system (CCS) is that endangered crocodiles were attracted to the warm salty waters as a good place to lay eggs and incubate them to hatchlings. The crocodile’s decision to begin using Turkey Point’s CCS as an incubator, along with the protection afforded the reptiles by FP&L biologists and security personnel has been credited by conservationists with helping the crocodile population increase enough to move it off of the endangered species list to a status of “threatened.” Problem 2: The easternmost boundary of Everglades National Park is about six miles west of the CCS for the Turkey Point Power station, on the other side of US 1. That’s a pretty substantial buffer area. Problem 3: The referenced study did not prove that the plant was leaking polluted water into Biscayne Bay. Analysis of study being used as basis for recent attacks Dr. David Chin, a civil engineering professor at the University of Miami, was commissioned by Miami-Dade County to perform a study and produce a deliverable within a 120 day time frame. He documents the limitations of the study and what it was unable to determine. His commissioned study does not list any other authors and does not display the obvious signs of having been peer reviewed. Chin’s document includes measurements indicating that there are deep pockets of water adjacent to the CCS that exhibited higher than expected concentrations of certain chemicals or elements. Dr. Chin hypothesized that the isotopes and compounds migrated from the cooling canals into the dredged deep spots and from there into the adjacent aquifer and bay waters. Those deep areas are identified by dark blue circles on the map below. Chin asserts that the boundary of the hypersaline that has percolated from the cooling canals is defined by a tritium concentration of 20 pCi/liter. He states that level is sufficiently elevated from the natural level to be a good marker. His chosen marker is 1/1000th of the 20,000 pCi/liter EPA says is safe for safe drinking water. Aside: Here is the basis for the EPA limit. If a person drank nothing but water containing that level of tritium, her dose from tritium would be 0.04 mSv/year. According to the Health Physics Society position paper titled Radiation Risk in Perspective, no discernable health effects occur for doses below 50 – 100 mSv. End Aside. This is Dr. Chin’s explanation for his selection of 20 pCi/liter as the boundary. Note: A picocurie (pCi) is 10e-12 curies. That is one millionth of a millionth curies. A picocurie is even smaller than the incredibly tiny SI unit of a bequerel (defined as one decay per second). It takes 27 picocuries to equal one bequerel. Natural groundwater at the base of the Biscayne Aquifer would be expected to have relatively low concentrations of tritium. A threshold concentration of 20 pCi/L has been used as a baseline to infer the presence of groundwater originating from the CCS. Groundwater with concentrations below 20 pCi/L are presumed not to be affected by the CCS. FPL does not concur with the selection of 20 pCi/L as a threshold or background tritium concentration for surface water, pore water, or shallow groundwater. The basis of FPL’s contention regarding the 20 pCi/L threshold is that multiple factors such as atmospheric deposition, vapor exchange, and errors in laboratory analysis can influence reported tritium levels. The FPL assertion is reasonable and is supported by measured data that indicate atmospheric and vapor exchange effects on tritium concentrations can be particularly significant in surface water and shallow groundwater, with significance decreasing with distance from the CCS. However, at depth, the CCS appears to be the primary source of tritium, and using tritium as a tracer in the lower elevations of the Biscayne Aquifer is reasonable. Reported measurements show groundwater tritium concentrations in excess of 3000 pCi/L near the CCS, with concentrations decreasing with distance from the CCS, and found at concentrations of hundreds of pCi/L three miles west of the CCS at depth. The approximate limit of the 20 pCi/L concentration contour is 3.8 – 4.7 mi west of the CCS and 2.1 mi east of the CCS. Based on the strength of these data and supporting analyses, it is reasonable to conclude that operation of the CCS has impacted the salinity of the Biscayne Aquifer within the limits of the 20 pCi/L contour. (Source: Chin, David A. The Cooling-Canal System at the FPL Turkey Point Power Station Pg 12-13) I question Dr. Chin’s logic. He does not explain why he says “at depth, the CCS appears to be the primary source of tritium…” FP&L’s reactors, like all other water cooled reactors, produce some tritium. That low activity hydrogen isotope is inseparable from water. The company is permitted to discharge tritiated water into the cooling canal system, which is separated from the surrounding waters and aquifers by soil boundaries. Tritium concentration in the cooling canals range from about 1200 pCi/liter to about 15,000 pCi/liter at certain peak times. There is no cover on the canal system; tritiated water in the canal water will evaporate along with all other water. Especially on cool days during dry spells, when the cooling canal temperature is roughly 100 ℉, there is vapor above the body of water. Any breezes coming off of the Bay and blowing across the CCS will move tritiated vapor inland. Winds in the opposite direction move tritiated vapor towards the Bay. It will precipitate out and sink into the aquifer like any other water. The tritium concentration falls as distance from the source increases. The people attacking the plant point out that the cooling canal system is not lined, but that is the way that the system was designed and approved. It is a permitted industrial waste water facility. It’s worth contemplating the environmental consequences of building and maintaining a lined canal system that covers 9 square miles of swampland lined with mangrove forests. It’s also important to note that the water depth in the CCS is less than 4 feet, with an average of less than 3 feet. Since FP&L is a rate regulated monopoly utility, it would be allowed to include any costs associated with building a lined system in its rate base and it would be allowed to receive a modest rate of return on that investment. Despite what some opponents say, FP&L’s decision to build the canals as they are was not driven by corporate greed. Salt Water Intrusion Even after defining the plume boundary as just 20 pCi/liter, Dr. Chin concluded that the hypersalinity water — which he blames on seepage from the CCS — was still several miles seaward of the closest drinking water wells. Historical documents indicate that saltwater intrusion was measured at about the same location (5 miles inland from the Biscayne Bay) before the Turkey Point power station was ever built. As a reasonably aware middle and high school student in South Florida, I have a clear memory of studying salt water intrusion issues and learning that the effect is often exacerbated by pumping too much water out of aquifers. Excessive withdrawal reduces the pressure (head) that generally keeps salt water out and allows it to invade the fresh water deposits. The problem is worsened by droughts, thirsty green lawns, green golf courses, limestone quarries and the impervious development roads, parking lots and shopping centers associated with suburbia. Here is what Dr. Chin wrote about sea water intrusion. The landward extent of the saltwater interface (i.e., the 1000 mg/L isochlor) varies naturally in response to a variety of factors, such as seasonal variations groundwater recharge and variations in rates at which groundwater is pumped from the aquifer. For example, prolonged droughts or excessive water usage inland that reduce water-table elevations can cause increased salinity intrusion. Prior to the construction of the CCS, the groundwater underlying the Turkey Point site was naturally saline due to the proximity of the site to the coast. In fact, had the groundwater not been saline, construction of the cooling-canal system at Turkey Point would not have been permitted. … It has always been recognized that construction of the CCS without any mitigating salinity-control systems would cause the saltwater interface to move further inland. (Emphasis added) Dr. Chin’s study hypothesizes that small variations in levels in the cooling canal, along with changes in density due to variations in salinity from the balance between rainfall and evaporation plays a large role in pushing water out of the canals and through the porous limestone characteristic of the South Florida subsurface. He does not mention the impact of withdrawal rates in helping saltwater plumes to move, if that is what is actually happening. Dr. Chin also makes a few guesses about the source of recent temperature, salinity and algae challenges in the cooling canals that are demonstrably false. For example, he calculates that the heat rejection rate from the power plants into the cooling canals experienced a step increase from 2800 MW to 5500 MW. He attributes that jump to a power upgrade on units 3 & 4. That uprate changed the licensed thermal power generation from each plant from 2300 MWth to 2644 MWth. During the time that elapsed between the two measured total heat rejection rates, FP&L shut down a 450 MWe oil/natural gas steam plant that also used the CCS as its heat sink. Since that time, it has shut down the other fossil unit using the CCS. In a future article, I’ll provide more details about the actual heat balances. With the information already provided, it should be reasonably obvious that Dr. Chin’s model was giving incorrect information. One of the major problems I have with Dr. Chin’s study is that it only includes the word “drought” once, and that was just in a paragraph describing hypothetical effects. He is apparently unaware that the measured rainfall into the canal cooling system in 2012 and 2013 averaged 20″ per year when the normal average is 75″. As of September 2014, only 26″ of rain had fallen into the canal system. To be continued. 1 “Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization working to promote responsible energy choices that solve climate change problems and ensure clean, safe and healthy communities throughout the Southeast.” (IRS Form 990, SACE 2014) What that description fails to mention is that SACE actively campaigns against nuclear energy. The post Who is targeting FP&L’s Turkey Point power plant? Why? Part I appeared first on Atomic Insights.


News Article | September 15, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

The species of alligator roaming Florida's swamps and golf courses may be millions of years older than previously thought, scientists from the University of Florida said. What's more, the sharp-toothed reptiles we see today may be almost biologically identical to their millennia-old ancestors — an incredibly rare trait for most living species, according to a pair of studies shared with Mashable this week. "What we saw 8 million years ago in Florida is virtually the same thing as what we have there today," Evan Whiting, the studies' lead author and a vertebrate paleontologist, said by phone from Gainesville. SEE ALSO: Greenland sharks could be the world's longest-living vertebrates Whiting and his research team compared the fossils of the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) with those of extinct alligator species. They found that the minute differences in each species' forms were instead just variations of the same singular species. Their findings extend the American alligator's lineage by about 6 million years, according to the study published in the Journal of Herpetology. Scientists had previously believed the species emerged about 2 million years ago, when the most recent Ice Age began. "To hit this exact set of features in the American alligator, and for them to keep such a huge presence in the area that's now the Southeast U.S. for 7 to 8 million years, is nothing short of spectacular," Alex Hastings, the assistant curator of paleontology at the Virginia Museum of Natural History, told Mashable. "The fact that their populations are doing pretty well today is a testament to their evolutionary success," said Hastings, who was not involved in the University of Florida studies. The Florida researchers also found that, millions of years ago, American alligators shared the Florida peninsula with a species of 20-foot-long crocodiles, according to a separate study in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. While the crocs fed mostly on marine-based prey, the alligators stuck to freshwater or terrestrial sources — a trait that still persists in American alligators, which lack the salt-secreting glands needed to thrive in saltwater. The Alligator mississippiensis has proved resilient to naturally occurring changes in the climate and environment over millions of years. But in the modern era, the species' survival is increasingly at risk. Image: journal of herpetology/"Cranial Polymorphism and Systematics of Miocene and Living Alligator in North America" Florida's booming population and sprawling real estate have steadily destroyed the alligators' habitat in recent decades. The reptiles landed on the U.S. endangered species list in the late 1960s, although the species was removed in the 1980s after the population recovered thanks to habitat protection efforts. Encroaching on alligators' habitat has dangerous consequences for humans, as well. In June, an alligator killed a toddler visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando, marking the fourteenth deadly alligator attack in Florida since 2000.  Human-caused climate change poses another serious threat to the American alligator. Florida's low-lying landscape and porous bedrock make it particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and saltwater intrusion, which could destroy the gators' freshwater dwellings along with homes and communities across the peninsula.  An American Alligator swims in Everglades National Park, Florida, on June 23, 2016. "With increasing sea levels, we may see the available habitat for American alligators disappear," Whiting said. As Florida sinks underwater and global temperatures warm, the alligator may move north over centuries to perhaps as far north as modern-day South Dakota and Nebraska, where Alligator mississippiensis likely originated. "These things could be recolonizing parts of the United States that they haven't occupied in millions of years," Hastings said.


News Article | September 7, 2016
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

Trees are dying across Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks. Glaciers are melting in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Corals are bleaching in Virgin Islands National Park. Published field research conducted in U.S. national parks has detected these changes and shown that human climate change – carbon pollution from our power plants, cars and other human activities – is the cause. As principal climate change scientist of the U.S. National Park Service, I conduct research on how climate change has already altered the national parks and could further change them in the future. I also analyze how ecosystems in the national parks can naturally reduce climate change by storing carbon. I then help national park staff to use the scientific results to adjust management actions for potential future conditions. Research in U.S. national parks contributes in important ways to global scientific understanding of climate change. National parks are unique places where it is easier to tell if human climate change is the main cause of changes that we observe in the field, because many parks have been protected from urbanization, timber harvesting, grazing and other nonclimate factors. The results of this research highlight how urgently we need to reduce carbon pollution to protect the future of the national parks. Human-caused climate change has altered landscapes, water, plants and animals in our national parks. Research in the parks has used two scientific procedures to show that this is occurring: detection and attribution. Detection is the finding of statistically significant changes over time. Attribution is the analysis of the different causes of the changes. Around the world and in U.S. national parks, snow and ice are melting. Glaciers in numerous national parks have contributed to the global database of 168 000 glaciers that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has used to show that human climate change is melting glaciers. Field measurements and repeat photography show that Muir Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska lost 640 meters to melting from 1948 to 2000. In Glacier National Park in Montana, Agassiz Glacier receded 1.5 kilometers from 1926 to 1979. Snow measurements and tree cores from Glacier National Park, North Cascades National Park, and other national parks contributed to an analysis showing that snowpack across the western U.S. has dropped to its lowest level in eight centuries. On land, climate change is shifting the ranges where plants grow. A global analysis that colleagues and I published in 2010 found that, around the world, climate change has shifted biomes – major types of vegetation, such as forests and tundra – upslope or toward the poles or the Equator. This type of research requires long-term monitoring of permanent plots or reconstruction of past vegetation species distributions using historical information or analyses of tree rings or other markers of the past. In the African Sahel, I uncovered a biome shift by hiking 1,900 kilometers, counting thousands of trees, reconstructing past tree species distributions through verified interviews with village elders and counting thousands of trees on historical aerial photos. Research has documented biome shifts in U.S. national parks. In Yosemite National Park, subalpine forest shifted upslope into subalpine meadows in the 20th century. In Noatak National Preserve, Alaska, boreal conifer forest shifted northward into tundra in the 19th and 20th centuries. Wildlife is also shifting. In Yosemite National Park, scientists compared the species of small mammals they captured in 2006 to the species originally captured along an elevation transect from 1914 to 1920 and showed that climate change shifted the ranges of the American pika and other species 500 meters upslope. Across the United States, the Audubon Society organizes its annual Christmas Bird Count in numerous national parks and other sites. Analyses of bird species results from 1975 to 2004 and possible local causes of changing distributions found that climate change shifted the winter ranges of a set of 254 bird species northward. Examples include northward shifts of the evening grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) in Shenandoah National Park and the canyon wren (Catherpes mexicanus) in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Climate change is driving wildfires in and around many national parks in western states. Fire is natural and we need it to periodically renew forests, but too much wildfire can damage ecosystems and burn into towns and cities. Field data from 1916 to 2003 on wildfire in national parks and across the western U.S. show that, even during periods when land managers actively suppressed wildfires, fluctuations in the area that burned each year correlated with changes in temperature and aridity due to climate change. Reconstruction of fires of the past 2,000 years in Sequoia and Yosemite national parks confirms that temperature and drought are the dominant factors explaining fire occurrence. Climate change is killing trees due to increased drought, changes in wildfire patterns and increased bark beetle infestations. Tracking of trees in Kings Canyon, Lassen Volcanic, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks has contributed to a database that revealed how climate change has doubled tree mortality since 1955 across the western United States. High ocean temperatures due to climate change have bleached and killed coral. In 2005, hot sea surface temperatures killed up to 80 percent of coral reef area at sites in Biscayne National Park, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument. When the U.S. Congress established the National Park Service a century ago, it directed the agency to conserve the natural and cultural resources of the parks in ways to leave them “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” By altering the globally unique landscapes, waters, plants and animals of the national parks, climate change challenges the National Park Service to manage the parks for potential future conditions rather than as little pictures of a past to which we can no longer return. For example, Yosemite National Park resource managers plan to use climate change data to target prescribed burns and wildland fires in areas that will be different from the areas selected using estimates of fire distributions from the 1850s. At Golden Gate National Recreation Area, resource managers have examined stewardship plans resource-by-resource to develop actions that account for climate change. At Everglades National Park, managers are using sea level rise data to help plan management of coastal areas. It is in our power to reduce carbon pollution from cars, power plants and deforestation and prevent the most drastic consequences of climate change. In the face of climate change, we can help protect our most treasured places – the national parks. From Patrick Gonzalez, Principal Climate Change Scientist, National Park Service. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


News Article | December 19, 2016
Site: www.prweb.com

Sportsman’s Adventures with Captain Rick Murphy, saltwater’s prestigious fishing show, is BACK with an all-new season. The #1 rated fishing show premiers on the Pursuit Channel beginning January 2017. Catch the show four times a week— January through June — Sundays, 7:30 p.m.; Tuesdays, 6 p.m.; Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 6:30 a.m. Each 30-minute segment highlights a variety of fishing styles and sought-after species. Sportsman’s Adventures with Captain Rick Murphy first aired in 1994. “With Rick’s knowledge and sense of humor, expect a high-energy sports fishing experience which includes personal fishing tips and the latest trends,” said Kathy Murphy, Vice President and Executive Producer with Sportsman’s Adventures Productions. A South Florida resident his entire life, Rick Murphy spent his childhood fishing and hunting. He became a licensed captain and earned his reputation as a fishing expert in the waters of Biscayne Bay, Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys. Rick is one of only two fishing guides to ever win the four major Tarpon fly fishing championships. Captain Murphy has crossed saltwater boundaries to win tournaments and Angler of the Year honors in the ESPN and Florida Pro Redfish Tournaments. He’s reeled in plenty of wins in the South Florida Sailfish Circuit as well. “I see myself as an ambassador to the fishing community. I look forward to sharing my knowledge (and secrets) about fishing. Fishing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and encourage conservation. Promoting the outdoor community is what the Pursuit Channel is all about,” said Captain Murphy. Sportsman's Adventures Productions is the umbrella organization for Captain Ricky Murphy (the brand), the Chevy Florida Insider Fishing Report, the Texas Insider Fishing Report and Sportsman's Adventures with Captain Rick Murphy. With televised fishing programs, Captain Murphy's public and promotional appearances and community involvement, along with national recognition as an in-and-offshore angler in every fishing category, the Captain Rick Murphy “brand” is well established. Sportsman's Adventure Productions utilizes television, websites, tradeshows, print advertising and extensive social media exposure to reach the fishing enthusiast. For more information, contact Kathy Murphy at 305-246-0673; or visit the website and social media sites at SportsmansAdventures.com


News Article | April 27, 2016
Site: www.washingtonpost.com

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, Florida — The shallow coastal waters of Florida Bay are famed for their crystal clear views of thick green seagrass – part of the largest stretch of these grasses in the world. But since mid-2015, a massive 40,000-acre die off here has clouded waters and at times coated shores with floating dead grasses. The event, which has coincided with occasional fish kills, recalls a prior die-off from 1987 through the early 1990s, which spurred major momentum for the still incomplete task of Everglades restoration. “It actually started faster as far as we can tell this year,” said James Fourqurean, a Florida International University marine scientist who studies the system. “In the ’80s, it continued to get worse for 3 years.” Fourqurean and government Everglades experts fear they’re witnessing a serious environmental breakdown, one that gravely threatens one of North America’s most fragile and unusual wild places. When most people think of the Everglades, they envision swamps — but seagrass is just as important, if less romanticized. Besides being the home to majestic sea turtles, dolphins, and manatees, Florida Bay also hosts pink shrimp, spiny lobsters, spotted seatrout, and much more – sport fishing alone here is worth $ 1.2 billion per year, according to the Everglades Foundation. And although there is at least some scientific dissent, Fourqurean and fellow scientists think they know the cause of the die-off. It’s just the latest manifestation, they say, of the core problem that has bedeviled this system for many decades: Construction of homes, roads, and cities has choked off the flow of fresh water. Without fast moves to make the park far more resilient to climate change and rising, salty seas, the problem will steadily worsen. The Everglades ecosystem “being out of balance at a time of climate change is really going to have a huge impact on South Florida, if we don’t do something about it,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who surveyed the seagrass die-off last week during an Everglades Trip. Holding dead grasses in her hand in a National Park Service boat in the more than half-a-million-acre estuary, Jewell told a group of staff and reporters, “This is what we get when we don’t take care of Florida Bay.” Florida Bay encompasses roughly one-third of Everglades National Park. And like the park’s mangroves and sawgrass prairies, it relies on the same broad water system. Both need fresh water to flow southward from Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, and the central part of the state, to preserve their unique characteristics. And both have suffered from highway and water management projects that have blocked or diverted much of this water away. “It’s basically a permanent manmade drought, created by the drainage and development patterns to the north in the Everglades,” said Robert Johnson, director of the National Park Service’s South Florida Natural Resources Center, on the boat trip with Jewell. The seagrass die off, according to Johnson, was caused when this perennial problem was further exacerbated by a 2014-2015 South Florida drought. Flows through Shark River Slough, which feeds water to the Everglades and eventually Florida Bay, plunged to just 200,000 acre-feet in 2015. That’s just a quarter of standard annual flows, which themselves are less than half of historic flows of 2 million acre-feet per year before major projects blocked and redirected the Everglades’ water. The center of the bay then heated up last summer, saw considerable evaporation, and became quite salty – for some parts of the bay, twice as salty as normal sea water. “It’s a really delicate balance between how much freshwater comes in each year, how much rainfall falls, and then how much evaporation occurs,” Johnson said. “In the absence of rainfall, salinity takes off in the bay, and we get a lot of harmful impacts of that.” In very salty conditions, waters hold little of the oxygen that seagrasses need to live. At the same time, other marine organisms turn to a different “anoxic” process – one that goes forward without oxygen – that has a nasty by-product: hydrogen sulfide. The chemical “is a notorious toxin,” said Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “It kills life, including human.” And that’s just the beginning. Once the seagrass dies off, it becomes a feedback – the water becomes filled with dead grasses that release nutrients, and those can stoke huge algal blooms (which happened the last time around, but so far have not appeared en masse). That clouds the water and prevents light from reaching remaining seagrasses, which then also die, because they need the light for photosynthesis. “You have this water that’s notoriously gin clear water, because the seagrasses and the biology kept the light penetrating, and then all of a sudden it changes pretty dramatically to a system without grass, and very turbid waters,” Boesch said. Granted, there are some dissenters. Brian LaPointe, a researcher with Florida Atlantic University, contends that Florida Bay seagrass die-offs are caused by the runoff of too many nutrients, like nitrogen, into the Bay’s waters, which in turn stoke algal blooms. “There really isn’t a correlation over time of high salinity and problems in the Bay,” LaPointe said. Seagrasses, he said, “can handle pretty high salinities.” During the last dieoff, a large scientific debate erupted over whether changes in salinity were indeed the cause. But Boesch, who led a scientific review of the last die-off during the Clinton administration (which failed to reach a conclusion at the time), said that the high-salinity explanation “has now become kind of the mainstream scientific explanation,” although that now encompasses other related processes involving oxygen content of waters and buildup of hydrogen sulfide. It’s not just Florida Bay: Seagrasses the world over are threatened. In a 2009 study, scientists found that segrass extent had declined globally by 29 percent since the late 19th century. They concluded that seagrasses were just as threatened as their companion coastal ecosystem, coral reefs, though the latter tend to get far more attention. The Obama administration, in collaboration with Florida state agencies and local leaders, has been moving lately to simultaneously restore historic Everglades water flows and to try to safeguard the park against climate change. President Obama visited last year, telling his audience that “You do not have time to deny the effects of climate change…nowhere will it have a bigger impact than here in South Florida.” And this year Jewell visited the Everglades on Earth Day to announce a $ 144 million “bridging” project that will elevate 2.5 miles of Highway 41, more popularly known as the Tamiami Trail, which connects Miami to Tampa and runs through the Everglades. Constructed in the 1920s, the highway impairs water flow southward, from Lake Okeechobee, into the Everglades (and, eventually, the Bay). It’s like a dam across the famed “river of grass.” Lifting it could restore a substantial part of historic freshwater flow levels. But that will take years – the project should be completed in 2020 — too long to stop the current seagrass die off from running its course and perhaps having many cascading effects, scientists fear. And it’s not just nature that needs this fresh water: It’s people. South Florida, the home to 6 million people now and growing steadily, relies on the Biscayne aquifer, which is refilled by the Everglades, for drinking water. The aquifer’s water flows through limestone that is quite porous, which means that saltwater and freshwater can both penetrate it. In effect, two walls of water abut one another, facing off — and for the sake of nature and people alike, freshwater needs to hold its ground. If inadequate freshwater flows southward in Florida, then Florida Bay can get too salty even as the seas also creep into the Everglades, potentially causing land to subside and sink – but also penetrating the aquifer and threatening drinking water. In short, it’s bad news across the whole system. And even as governments at the local, state, and national level move faster to send the Everglades and the Bay more fresh water, the question remains just how much climate change will worsen problems like the seagrass die-off. After all, it will raise seas, increase air and water temperatures, and perhaps drive more droughts as well. “The questions I would ask, from a climate perspective, going forward, is first of all, are we going to have more conditions of really high temperature, due to, you know, the atmospheric warming, coupled with these extended periods of still water?” Boesch said. “Are we going to have longer periods of drought in the Everglades?” Boesch said that while higher temperatures are a given, precipitation patterns are difficult to predict, but notes that there is some reason to fear South Florida could get drier in the future. “What happened to the Bay is very much a climate change issue,” Jewell said in an interview during her Everglades tour. “It’s tied in to a drought. Now, is the drought tied to climate change? None of us could tie any single hurricane or storm event or drought to climate change, but we do know that the weather here is getting more extreme. And we do know that those extreme weather patterns are having a dramatic impact on our ecosystems, as we saw today on Florida Bay.” Still, much of Florida Bay remains unaffected – for now. That includes an area of lush seagrass meadow near a small island named Johnson Key. A trio of bottlenosed dolphins approached the National Park Service skiff there, and as the boat trolled slowly through the clear, only 3- to 4-foot-deep water, started to lead the way ahead of it. Nonetheless, the second major seagrass die off in three decades certainly suggests that something has changed recently in the system. “The really disturbing thing is, this unprecedented event has now happened twice in my career,” Fourqurean said. Six years later, we’re still learning how badly the BP spill damaged the environment This key psychological factor could explain why you care about the environment These striking numbers show just how fast we’re switching off coal For more, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter here, and follow us on Twitter here.


News Article | October 6, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

Hurricane Matthew is whipping away at Florida's shores this week—threatening lives and homes and parties. If you know any Floridians, you know that no one is really freaking out yet. We are masters of disaster in the worst kind of way, having endured hurricanes, tornados, weird crimes, Rick Scott, and a growing Zika virus problem in the past year alone. That's why business owners in Miami this week were prepping for Hurricane Matthew with a kind of calm, cooperative indifference. "Summer down here in Miami has been a real hoot, first we had Zika and now we had Hurricane Matthew," said Zak Stern, owner of Zak the Baker in Wynwood Miami. "I'm starting to think there's a bigger conspiracy here. I'm pretty sure Obama is behind it all. And that makes me feel better," he joked. But that statewide chill may not be enough to get everyone get through what's coming next: rising sea levels, more powerful storms and probably a few more disease outbreaks. In a case study of Miami from earlier this year, for example, researchers from the University of Miami reported that rain-induced events have increased by 33 percent in the past decade, partly due to both human-driven global warming. Plus, flooding and the rising sea level in south Florida will reach more than four feet above high tide by 2050. Thousands of people live below that line already. This isn't just a burden on the land, coastal flooding is also a huge expense. Miami could lose upwards of $672 million, according to an analysis in the journal Nature. More tropical storms and rain mean more tropical disease. Florida's climate makes it a haven for viruses and mosquito-borne illness like Zika. Right now there are 672 cases of Zika in Florida, and 59 of them were locally transmitted, according to the CDC, which means the mosquitos are only thriving. Other diseases that have hit Florida include the West Nile virus and two types of encephalitis. The state government hasn't been very proactive—apparently Florida's Department of Environmental Protection was even previously banned from using words like climate change, global warming and sustainability, according to fact-checking site, Politifact. Governor Rick Scott has spent about $100 million on water projects in the Florida Keys and invested some money in the Everglades National Park, but despite campaign promises, he hasn't done much to address future sea rise. Meanwhile, a Yale survey in 2008 reported that the majority of Floridians aren't convinced that global warming is happening. So it's not certain that the residents will even push for more funds to combat climate change, rising sea levels, or the side effects. For now, Florida remains under a slow siege, and will most likely lose a significant portion of its beaches and coastal towns in the next century. But for better or worse, Floridians are remaining cool as the world around them heats up. "If we make it this year we can make it every year. It's testing our strength," said Fernando de la Cruz, operating manager of El Callejon in Wynwood, Miami. "We just gotta keep on point and keep pushing. Greatness is not easy. Everyone would be Michael Jordan or Mohammad Ali if it was easy."

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