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

Atmospheric CO2 levels in the Arctic reach 400 parts per million. Many climatologists say the level necessary to avoid climate disaster is 350 ppm.

The 12-month period from June 2011 to May 2012 surpasses the record set by May 2011 to April 2012 as the hottest in U.S. history. That's more than 3 degrees higher than the 20th century average.

According to the National Research Council, global sea levels are likely to rise 20 to 55 inches by 2100.

The International Energy Association reports that since 2006, U.S. emissions of CO2 have fallen by 7.7%, more than in any other country. The major reason is a shift away from coal-fired power plants.

After shutting nearly half of its nuclear plants, Germany is burning 13.5 percent more coal this year. Cheap emissions permits, a result of Europe's recession, have boosted coal-plant profits there dramatically.

Japan restarts the third reactor at the Ohi nuclear complex, despite protests by anti-nuclear activists. It's the first reactor to go back online after all 50 of the country's plants were shut down for safety checks following the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in March.

Bluefin tuna contaminated with radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi plant are caught off the coasts of California.

Debris from the March 2001 tsunami washes ashore in Oregon and Washington, including a 65-foot dock bearing 2 tons of invasive sea creatures.

After a dry and blistering spring, wildfires char huge areas of New Mexico and Colorado. The region's forests are not regenerating and may be replaced by grasslands.

Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park flash their famous synchronized display weeks early, frustrating thousands of ticketholders to the traditional early June viewings.

Already beleaguered native birds in Hawaii take another hit as mongooses turn up on Kauai, previously one of two mongoose-free islands in the chain.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison buys Lanai.

The United States imposes large tariffs on Chinese solar panels after finding that China was dumping them on the U.S. market at prices below production costs.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rules unanimously to uphold the EPA's authority to regulate CO2 in the interest of protecting the public from climate change.

Responding to a petition by environmentalists, the EPA declines to address global-warming pollution from aircraft, ships, and non-road vehicles.

The fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, already responsible for killing 7 million bats in the eastern United States and Canada, spreads to the endangered gray bat. The deadly fungus has now spread as far south as Alabama and west of the Mississippi River to Missouri.

After 115 years together in Klagenfurt Zoo in Austria, Galápagos tortoises Bibi and Poldi break up. All of a sudden, [Bibi] just couldn't stand Poldi anymore, said a zookeeper.

Lonesome George, the last giant Galápagos tortoise of the subspecies Chelonoidis abingdoni, dies at 100 in the archipelago where he was found 40 years ago, leaving no known heirs. —Paul Rauber


 

Left column, from top: iStockphoto/Suzifoo, iStockphoto/SteveByland;
Right column, from top: iStockphoto/VisualCommunications, iStockphoto/Tsuji, iStockphoto/jangeltun


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