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

2012: hottest year on record in the United States.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hits a record 393.65 parts per million. Some climatologists consider 350 ppm to be the highest safe level.

Costa Rica bans wild-game hunting. Botswana will do the same in 2014.

Ecuador will spend $1.8 million to kill invasive rats in the Galápagos.

Africa's mountain gorilla population increases by almost 13 percent over two years—to 880.

BP settles 14 criminal charges—including manslaughter—associated with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill for $4 billion. It's the largest such settlement in U.S. history. The government temporarily suspends BP from any new federal contracts because of its "lack of business integrity."

The day after the BP settlement, a drilling rig belonging to Black Elk Energy catches fire and burns in the Gulf of Mexico, killing three.

An oil rig used by Shell for exploratory drilling in the Arctic breaks free from towboats in heavy seasand runs aground near Kodiak, Alaska.

The state of Washington spends nearly $77,000 to eliminate the seven-member Wedge wolf pack.

Montana suspends wolf hunting in the vicinity of Yellowstone National Park after the popular alpha female of the Lamar pack is legally killed by a hunter in neighboring Wyoming. Up to 10 other Yellowstone wolves, 7 of which are wearing radio tracking collars, are also killed.

Low water levels, due to the worst drought in 50 years, threaten to halt barge traffic on the Lower Mississippi River.

A study finds that in the past 20 years, Greenland and Antarctica have lost 4 trillion tons of ice. During that time, global sea levels rose 60 percent more than past rates would have predicted. Another study finds that West Antarctica is warming three times faster than the global average.

The U.S. birth rate declines to 63.2 per every 1,000 women of childbearing age, the lowest ever recorded. The decline is led by a steep drop in the birth rate among immigrant women.

California puts a price on carbon dioxide emissions via a cap-and-trade system. Initial price: $10.09 per metric ton. Within weeks, the price hits $14.50.

The pine marten, thought for 40 years to be extinct in much of Great Britain, is proved to still exist after one is killed by a car in Wales.
—Paul Rauber

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