Andrew Small: What Cities Looked Like Before the EPA

CityLab:

This might be a good time to reflect on its legacy, especially in urban spaces. Though environmentalism conjures “America the Beautiful” images of purple mountains and unspoiled wilderness, much of the EPA’s heaviest lifting in rescuing this nation from its own filth happened in cities...

CO2 Levels At 400 ppm

Environmental News Service:

For the first time, monthly concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere topped 400 parts per million in April throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports.

This threshold is reinforces evidence that the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities are responsible for the continuing increase in heat-trapping greenhouse gases warming the planet said the WMO.
 Curt Carnemark / World Bank)

 Curt Carnemark / World Bank)

Severely altered an atmosphere, we has. How embarrassing. How embarrassing.

Acid Rain's Dirty Legacy

Brooks Miner, reporting for FiveThirtyEight:

Acid rain was rare among environmental problems in that it had a viable solution, and these days it’s often hailed as an environmental success story. The market worked as intended, sulfur and nitrogen emissions declined and rain became less acidic. And just two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision upholding the federal government’s authority to regulate power plants in this manner.

But what about the lakes and streams that were already so acidic? Nearly 25 years since those changes to the Clean Air Act, water bodies in the Northeast have recovered, while those further south have not.
Flickr - Rainforest Action Network

Flickr - Rainforest Action Network

Decrease the burden on lakes affected by past emissions, lower pollution in the present would. 

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Video Summary:

Michel Jarraud, the head of the World Meteorological Organization, at the press conference summarized the importance of the science behind this report said: “Thirty years ago, the previous generation maybe was damaging our atmosphere, [and] the Earth, out of ignorance. Now, ignorance is no longer a good excuse. We know—therefore, we have the information to make decisions and to act upon this information.”

Report -- Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability

Greenhouse Gas Discovered 7,100 Times Stronger Than CO2

Report from the Environmental News Network:

Scientists from the University of Toronto have identified a chemical in the atmosphere that appears to be a long-lived greenhouse gas that breaks all other chemical records for its potential to affect the climate.

The chemical – perfluorotributylamine, or PFTBA – is the most radiatively-efficient chemical found to date...

PFTBA is produced by humans, it does not occur naturally.

PFTBA has been in use since the mid-20th century for applications in electrical equipment. It is used in thermally and chemically stable liquids marketed for use in electronic testing and as heat transfer agents.

There are no known processes that would destroy or remove PFTBA in the lower atmosphere, so it has a very long lifetime, possibly hundreds of years. It is destroyed in the upper atmosphere.

What we don't know often gets us into trouble, especially in systems where the burden of proof is on environmental protection agency for harm rather than for industrial compound manufactures for no harm.

NASA says ozone hole stabilizing but won't fully recover until 2070

Tony Barboza, reporting for LA Times:

The hole in the ozone layer is stabilizing but will take until about 2070 to fully recover, according to new research by NASA scientists.
The assessment comes more than two decades after the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty that banned chlorofluorocarbons and other compounds that deplete the ozone layer, which shields the planet from harmful ultraviolet rays.

So the Earth's thin protective layer is predicted to take about 100 years to return to pre-pollution levels. Our ability to screw up our only place to live is without limit. Luckily politicians acted when they did. Can you imagine if the ozone hole was detected this year? Today's politicians would deny that there was a problem and radicalized citizens would argue that it was a government plot to take away their way of life! 

http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/Slides_AGUbriefing_FINAL_to_print.pdf

Supreme Court to tackle cross-state pollution

Mark Sherman, reporting for The Associated Press:

The Supreme Court indicated Tuesday it could breathe new life into a federal rule requiring states to reduce power plant pollution from the South and Midwest that fouls the air in the Eastern U.S.

Several justices suggested during a 90-minute argument that they believe the Environmental Protection Agency did not exceed its authority when it issued its cross-state air pollution rule in 2011. A divided federal appeals-court panel invalidated the rule last year.

Shouldn't the Executive Branch be allowed to govern without excessive litigation? 

Observed Atmospheric CO2 Hits 400 Parts Per Million

Over at Slashdot:

Over the past month a number of individual observations of CO2 at the Mauna Loa Observatory have exceeded 400 parts per million. The daily average observation has crept above 399 ppm, and as annually the peak is typically in mid-May it seems likely the daily observation will break the 400 ppm milestone within a few days. This measure of potent greenhouse gas in the atmosphere should spark renewed discussion about the use of fossil fuels. For the past few decades the annual peak becomes the annual average two or three years later, and the annual minimum after two or three years more.

One should always worry when something changes dramatically.

Sierra Nevada Lake Contains Atmospheric Contamination from Bronze Age

Peter Suciu, reporting for redOrbit.com:

Scientists have found atmospheric contamination, which is due to heavy metals and is currently a severe problem throughout the world, is not a recent fact and can be traced back to pre-historic times. This explains how the Romans may have contaminated the lake. The team of researchers, which included scientists from the Andalusian Institute of Earth Sciences and the University of Granada, discovered evidence of atmospheric pollution caused by lead. The team found traces of lead in a lagoon in Sierra Nevada (Granada) at an altitude of 3,020 meters and determined it was the result of pollution.

Humans have been using lead for a long time, and we keep making the same mistakes with this toxic element.