SETAC MultiBrief
Feb. 6, 2014

Environment loses out in Russia's race to Sochi
AFP via Discovery
Just outside the Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia, where the Winter Games open on Friday, is a green space with benches, artificial ponds and a couple of hides. "Ornithological Park," the sign declares. The problem is that there is not a bird in sight in the park, which was set up as a replacement for sensitive wetlands that were covered over for the construction of Games venues. Many environmentalists are bemoaning wrecked habitat, destroyed wildlife populations and bungled attempts to remedy the consequences of a massive program to ready Sochi for the opening ceremony.More

How the rise of citizen science is democratizing research
Yale Environment 360
Citizen science is changing the relationship between science and society, helping meet environmental challenges by fostering more collaborative, interdisciplinary research, says Caren Cooper, a research associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "A lot of the ways for us to move forward in certain fields require massive collaboration," says Cooper. "And so we're building all the infrastructure for these collaborations, all of the web tools — whatever we need to make that happen." More

Report: Nature dampens human-caused global warming
Nature World News
Some natural processes caused by global warming are softening the full effects of climate change, scientists report. Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, John Hopkins University and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center found evidence of a negative feedback loop for global warming in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.More

Chemical spill hearings focus on possible legislation
The Wall Street Journal
In two Congressional hearings, federal lawmakers hashed out possible federal legislation responding to regulatory and information gaps that many said were laid bare after the chemical Crude MCHM spilled in West Virginia and sullied the water supply for more than 300,000 people. The Senate hearing discussed a bill that would require states to do an inventory of chemicals stored upriver from a water supply and inspect above-ground storage tanks near water facilities ever three years and other storage tanks every five years.More

Report: Tar sands mining pollution far worse than industry reports
Common Dreams via eNews Park Forest
The amount of pollutants being emitted from tar sands extraction sites in Alberta is far higher than industry-reported estimates, according to research published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Using predictive computer models, University of Toronto Environmental Chemistry professor Frank Wania and his Ph.D. candidate Abha Parajulee found that officially reported emissions of the atmospheric pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons do not factor in "indirect pathways" of pollution, such as those which blow off mining sites or evaporate from tailings ponds.More

Federal trustees: GE misstated chemical harm to NY's Hudson River
General Electric Co. has understated or misstated the environmental harm of its chemical dumping into New York's Hudson River, federal officials alleged. The company's recent report to New York state officials failed to mention harm done to fish, waterfowl and groundwater, the Federal Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees said in a letter to the company that the trustees made public.More

Scientists: Drug trafficking poses surprising threats to rain forests
National Geographic
Illegal drugs have a surprising new victim: ecologically important lands in Central America, where criminal activities associated with the drug trade are wreaking havoc, scientists report. It has long been known that rain forests are often cleared to grow coca for cocaine, but a new paper in the journal Science warns that the business of transporting illegal drugs and laundering the proceeds is contributing to deforestation, too.More

Shipwrecks removed from protected coral reefs
National Geographic
The Fish and Wildlife Service recently completed a $5.5 million conservation project to remove three wrecked ships, weighing a total of one million pounds, from protected wildlife areas in the Pacific Ocean. The restoration project is part of an ongoing investigation to see how shipwrecks damage the coral reefs and how fast the reefs can recover after the vessels are removed.More

Seeking balance between environment and economy
The New York Times
Can the European Union's environmental aspirations coexist with industrialists like Lakshmi Mittal, the steel mogul? That question is very much influencing the debate about how Europe should go about combating climate change in the future.More

Scientists: Penguins suffering from climate change
Press Association via The Guardian
Penguins are in peril because of extreme environmental conditions linked to climate change, research has shown. Two new studies highlight the plight of penguin colonies trying to cope with the effects of global warming in Argentina and Antarctica. At both locations, the beguiling birds face an uncertain future.More

Duke fracking tests reveal dangers driller's data missed
When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared that a group of Texas homes near a gas-drilling operation didn't have dangerous levels of methane in their water, it relied on tests conducted by the driller itself. Now, independent tests from Duke University researchers have found combustible levels of methane in some of the wells, and homeowners want the EPA to re-open the case. More