THERE WILL BE FLOOD: Floods are debilitating Washington state and Oregon, and have cut off a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5 between Seattle and Portland. Parts of Washington have received 15 inches of rain in recent days, worsened by a warm spell melting 7 feet of snow in Puget Sound. This is the second flood to slice between Seattle and Portland in 13 months, but climate experts warn against looking for a trend. While similar, the two floods were caused by different circumstances. A University of Washington climatologist explains with eloquent internal contradiction (emphasis mine): "Unusual flooding usually occurs somewhere in the state most years." (Sources: CNN, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
POWERS THAT BE: The International Energy Agency is obstructing the rise of renewable energy around the world, instead advising governments on the virtues of coal, oil and gas, according to a group of politicians and scientists. In a report published today, Energy Watch accused the IEA of showing "ignorance and contempt" toward wind energy — which it has consistently predicted would fare much worse than it actually did — and promoting fossil fuels and nuclear energy as "irreplaceable." The group blames the IEA's ties to the oil, gas and nuclear industries. (Source: The Guardian)
ROCKET SCIENCE: The EPA is rethinking its decision last year to not regulate a toxic rocket-fuel ingredient in drinking water, but will wait to decide anything until the National Academy of Sciences studies the chemical. Perchlorate has been found in nearly 400 sites in 35 states, at levels high enough to threaten development and thyroid function in humans. The EPA has issued an interim limit of 15 parts per billion in water, which is still much higher than many states' limits. (Source: The Associated Press)
CROP DROP: Global warming will most likely cut crop yields in the tropics 20 to 40 percent by 2100, leading to worldwide food shortages, scientists warn in a study released Thursday. Their data suggest it's 90 percent likely that the lowest growing-season temperatures in the tropics within 100 years will be higher than the highest current temperatures. Temperate regions won't be spared, either; the researchers say agriculture in much of the United States and Europe will be "equally daunting." (Sources: USA Today, Scientific American)
BUYING LOCAL: The Worldwatch Institute has a report this week on local, "complementary" currencies that are popping up as national currencies plummet in value and civic leaders try to keep local wealth in their areas. One of the most successful alternates to the U.S. dollar is the "Berkshare" in Berkshire, Mass., which is printed by five local banks and has about 185,000 notes in circulation. A co-founder of the euro who's now a local-currency proponent estimates that there are 4,000 complementary currencies operating worldwide, up from fewer than 100 in 1990. (Source: The Worldwatch Institute)
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