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Sierra Magazine: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.
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UP TO SPEED | Two Months, One Page

A polar bear swims continuously for nine days in search of sea ice, losing its cub along the way. Summer sea ice may disappear entirely by 2030.

Agreeing with the Bush administration, Obama's Fish and Wildlife Service deems polar bears unworthy of endangered-species status.

Even though walrus also depend on summer sea ice, Fish and Wildlife doesn't think they are endangered enough for endangered status.

Shell Oil abandons plans to drill in Alaska's Beaufort Sea in 2011.

A judge orders Chevron to pay $8 billion for polluting Ecuador. Chevron doesn't want to pay.

Citing threats to clean water, the EPA denies a permit for Spruce No. 1, one of the largest mountaintop-removal coal mines ever proposed in the United States.

A full accounting of coal's effects would triple its price, according to Harvard Medical School.

President Obama urges an end to subsidies for the oil industry. Congress ignores him. FoxNews.com blames Obama for oil-industry subsidies.

The eastern cougar is declared extinct.

Obama calls for 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015.

China plans to build 1 million electric cars a year.

The House of Representatives votes to strip the EPA's power to regulate carbon dioxide.

Obama proposes cutting the EPA's budget by 13 percent. The House GOP proposes cutting it by 30 percent. Newt Gingrich proposes abolishing the EPA.

For the first time, the USDA approves unrestricted use of a genetically modified perennial crop: alfalfa.

Britain's Conservative Party leaders abandon plans to sell off nearly all of the country's public woods, including Sherwood Forest.

Global fish consumption is at an all-time high. Two-thirds of the world's large predatory fish, like tuna and swordfish, have been eaten in the last century. They are expected to be all but gone by 2050.

Half of Africa's lions have been killed in the past 20 years, leaving only 40,000. Since 1998, U.S. sport hunters have imported 4,000 lions for stuffing. Conservationists are petitioning to end trophy hunting.

Rangers in South Africa shoot and kill nine suspected rhino poachers.

At least 36 baby dolphins wash up dead on the Gulf Coast, 10 times more than usual.

Since 1980, says the New York Times, the number of American workers who commute via carpool has fallen by almost half.

A study in the journal Nature suggests that global warming could tip the U.S. Southwest into a "mega-drought," lasting as long as 1,000 years.

After floods in Queensland submerge an area the size of France and Germany combined, Australia is hit by Category 5 Cyclone Yasi. Mudslides and floods in Brazil kill more than 700.

Two papers in Nature link heavy rainfall to fossil-fuel burning ("Human Contribution to More-Intense Precipitation Extremes" and "Increased Flood Risk Linked to Global Warming").

Each of the 268 pregnant women in a University of California at San Francisco study had 43 chemicals—including PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, flame retardants, and phthalates—in her bloodstream._

After a 9.0 earthquake and devastating tsunami in Japan, cooling systems fail at all six reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. —Paul Rauber


 

First column, from top: iStockphoto/JohnPitcher, iStockphoto/3alexd; second column, from top: iStockphoto/floop, iStockphoto/aldomurillo



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