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

Two years after the BP oil spill, oysters in the Gulf of Mexico contain high concentrations of the heavy metals found in crude oil.

Dolphins in the Gulf are dying at record rates. More than 700 have been found dead on the beaches of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

The first criminal charges relating to the spill are filed against a BP employee for destroying evidence.

The retreat of glaciers in the Alps is causing the Matterhorn to crumble.

The 12-month period from May 2011 to April 2012 is the hottest in U.S. history.

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reach 391 parts per million, the highest in 800,000 years.

A blistering March sets more than 7,700 U.S. daily-high temperature records. More than 90 cities set monthly-high records. In the Midwest and Great Lakes states, average monthly temperatures are at least 10 degrees warmer than normal.

117,000 electric-drive vehicles are sold, compared with 78,000 in the first quarter of 2011—a 49 percent increase.

Birds are singing more loudly than they did 30 years ago in order to be heard above the urban din.

In 2008, polar bears were the first animal to be listed under the Endangered Species Act because of the dangers of climate change. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues new rules for their protection, but excludes action to limit greenhouse gases.

DNA evidence shows that polar bears are not descended from brown bears after all. Both bears branched off from a common ancestor 600,000 years ago.

As of May 8, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives had passed 209 anti-environmental bills, making it the most anti-environmental Congress in history.

Saguaro National Park in Arizona bans the sale of soda and water in disposable bottles.

The Food and Drug Administration discourages the use of antibiotics in animal feed because of fears that they promote the creation of drug-resistant "superbugs."

The percentage of U.S. electricity generated from coal dips to 36.7percent in February, the lowest level since 1973.

In five states, electricity generation from wind equals or exceeds 10 percent. In South Dakota, the figure is 22 percent.

The EPA proposes a rule to limit CO2 emissions from new coal-fired power plants—effectively nixing any new conventional coal plants in the United States. —Paul Rauber


Left column, from top: iStockphotos by Suzifoo, SteveByland;
Right column, from top: iStockphotos by VisualCommunications, Tsuji, jangeltun

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