September 17, 2012

    Photo: Tamás Görföl/Wikimedia Common

Nature Conservancy Builds Bat Cave

New attempt to combat white-nose syndrome

With up to 6.7 million North American bats dead of white-nose syndrome since 2006, the Nature Conservancy is putting the finishing touches on an artificial cave that they hope will protect the animals from the deadly ailment. Built into a hill 70 miles outside of Nashville, the concrete cave, which is about 78 feet long and 11 feet tall, can accommodate over 200,000 bats on its ridged ceiling. It will be scrubbed clean each autumn and spring to protect against the soil-based fungus believed to cause white-nose. Officials will attempt to use high-frequency sounds to draw bats from a nearby cave, but the hardest part will be maintaining the 35- to 45-degree temperatures that bats need for hibernation. Rather than using an expensive air-temperature-control system (the cave cost $300,000 to build), a concrete shaft—doubling as an entrance for the bats—will draw in cold air during the winter months. An air-conditioning system may also be brought in to cool down the cave before swarming season begins. Estimates suggest that insect-eating bats save the U.S. agriculture industry around $3.7 billion in pest control every year.

Via The Guardian

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Shaun White

Shaun White at U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix     Photo: Charles McCain/Flickr

Shaun White Charged With Vandalism, Public Intoxication

Pro snowboarder arrested fleeing

Olympic gold medalist and Summer and Winter X Games champion Shaun White was arrested Sunday on charges of public intoxication and vandalism at a hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. White, 26, was staying at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, where police were summoned at 2 a.m. after he drunkenly pulled a fire alarm. A hotel employee also reported seeing White destroy a hotel phone. When he attempted to flee, White fell into a fence, giving himself a black eye visible in a mug shot taken shortly after his arrest. "White appeared to be extremely intoxicated and smelled strongly of alcohol," the police report said. White was released on his own recognizance Monday morning with a court date set for October 10. White has won 16 X Games gold medals in snowboarding and skateboarding and is the two-time defending Olympic halfpipe snowboarding champion.

Via ESPN

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Arctic

Arctic     Photo: Polar Cruises/Flickr

Failures Force Shell to Halt Arctic Drilling

Ends oil exploration for the year

Shell has called off its attempts to drill for oil in the Arctic for the year following a series of technical mishaps that undermined operations in the area. Since work began a few weeks ago, the company has dealt with a damaged oil containment barge and spreading sea ice that forced them to pull up and move a drilling vessel. Environmentalists lauded the development, citing the lack of resources available to clean up a potential spill in the area. "We don't have the equipment for cleaning up oil on the ice," said Bellona Foundation founder Frederic Hauge. "The Deepwater Horizon cleanup had 45,000 workers and 4,500 ships working out of some of the biggest ports in the world. Where are the harbors for that? We don't have that at all." Instead of attempting to drill into oil deposits, the company will instead spend until October 31 drilling the beginnings of wells, known as top holes, for next year.

Via Los Angeles Times

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Chevron

Chevron station     Photo: philosophygeek/Flickr

E.U. to Limit Food-Based Biofuel

Revised policy after food prices rise

The European Union is set to limit the use of crop-based fuels after studies showed they resulted in minimal emission savings and contributed to price increases in the cost of food. The new plan calls for crop-derived biofuel use to max out at five percent of energy consumption by 2020 from its current level of 4.5 percent. Additionally, the E.U. will move to end subsides for crop-based biofuels by 2020, threatening a $21.7 billion a year sector. Because the E.U. still aims to source 10 percent of fuel from renewable sources, it plans to increase production of biofuels made from household waste and algae.

Via Reuters

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Tim DeChristopher

Tim DeChristopher in April, 2011, in D.C.     Photo: Linh Do/Flickr

Court Rejects Tim DeChristopher Appeal

Sentence necessary to 'promote respect for the law'

On Friday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Tim DeChristopher's conviction for disrupting the sale of federal oil and gas leases in an attempt to stop an auction he believed to be illegal. In a 2-1 decision, the court said that DeChristopher knowingly violated the law by participating in the Bureau of Land Management auction in Salt Lake City, bidding $1.8 million for 14 parcels of land with no intention to pay. "Whether the BLM complied with all applicable environmental regulations in conducting the auction has nothing to do with whether the defendant organized a scheme, arrangement or plan to circumvent or defeat" the law, the panel wrote in its decision. The court also found that the two-year sentence, which DeChristopher's lawyers had objected to as disproportionately harsh, was an appropriate response to his public promises to "continue to fight."

Via Washington Post

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Bull shark.

Bull shark.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Fisherman Survives 15 Weeks at Sea

Claims he was rescued by a lucky shark

A Kiribati policeman claims he was rescued by a shark after spending 15 weeks lost at sea. On May 28, Toakai Teitoi, 41, was traveling home from the capital of Tarawa with his brother-in-law in a 15-foot wooden fishing boat for what should have been a two-hour trip. They stopped to fish along the way and ended up falling asleep. When they awoke, they were unable to identify land and quickly ran out of fuel. Though they erected a sun shelter and were able to catch plenty of fish to eat, they had little water. Teitoi's brother-in-law succumbed to dehydration five weeks later. Although a storm the following day allowed Tetoi to fill two five-gallon containers, he continued to drift for another 10 weeks. He credits the aid of a shark, who nudged the raft while he was sleeping just as a fishing trawler was passing. "I couldn’t believe my eyes. I could just make out the crew who were looking at me through binoculars ... If that shark hadn’t nudged me awake the crew of the boat might have thought I wasn’t in trouble and might have carried on sailing past me." Teitoi has sworn off boats and will travel home by plane from Majuro in the Marshall Islands, where he has been treated for dehydration.

Via Daily Mail

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