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By Donald Scavia

Every year in early summer, scientists at universities, research institutions and federal agencies release forecasts for the formation of "dead zones" and harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay and Lake Erie. This year the outlook is not good.

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CrackerClips / iStock / Getty Images Plus

If you're looking to cool off in the waters of Mississippi's Gulf Coast, think again.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Algae blooms in Lake Erie. NASA

By Anne Schechinger

Over the Fourth of July holiday, many of us love to beat the heat in a favorite lake, pond or river. But this year, vacationers from coast to coast will have to look out for a potentially record-breaking number of algae blooms.

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The Lady K tow boat kicks up a wake full of green algae a few hundred feet from the city of Toledo's Water Intake on Lake Erie, for testing on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. Ty Wright / The Washington Post / Getty Images

By Valerie Vande Panne

In February, the voters of Toledo, Ohio, passed a ballot initiative that gives Lake Erie and those who rely on the lake's ecosystem a bill of rights. The idea is to protect and preserve the ecosystem so that the life that depends on it — humans included — can have access to safe, fresh drinking water.

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Gilles Messian / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

There are growing concerns about both the safety and proliferation of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller.

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A "chicken confinement system" in North Carolina. Friends of Family Farmers / CC BY-ND 2.0

North Carolina, a state known for the devastating environmental and public health impacts of industrial-scale hog production, now has more than twice as many poultry factory farms as swine operations, according to a new investigation from the Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance.

The groups' research found that in 2018, manure from 515.3 million chickens and turkeys joined the waste from 9.7 million hogs already fouling waters and threatening North Carolinians' health. By scouring satellite data, examining U.S. Department of Agriculture imagery and conducting site visits, EWG and Waterkeeper experts identified more than 4,700 poultry and about 2,100 swine concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOS.

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The rare white-letter hairstreak butterfly was spotted in Scotland for the first time since 1884. Ian Kirk / Wikipedia

By Lucy Goodchild van Hilten

A towering elm tree stands 30 meters (approximately 98 feet) tall, somewhere near the border between England and Scotland, defying the fate that so many of its cousins met when Dutch elm disease ravaged the species in the 1970s. One of relatively few elm trees left, it is a haven for wildlife. Look closely and you can see the erratic fluttering of a small brown butterfly, with a W-shaped white streak across its wing.

This butterfly is making history: It's crossed the border into Scotland, where it has settled happily in a native wych elm tree and been sighted in the country for the first time in 133 years. The white-letter hairstreakSatyrium w-album—has been squeezed slowly out of its habitat over the last 40 years, but now it seems to be getting a helping hand from an unexpected source: climate change.

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A Lake Worth lifeguard wearing a protective mask asks a surfer to exit the ocean as Palm Beach County officials announced that all county beaches are closed due to red tide affecting coastal areas on October 4, 2018 in Lake Worth, Florida. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

The same red tide choking Florida's Gulf coast has spread to waters off Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, forcing the closure of many popular beaches on Thursday and leaving hundreds of dead fish in its wake, according to local reports.

This is the first time in decades the toxic algae has affected both of Florida's coasts at the same time, the Associated Press reported.

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Vladimirovic / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Sarah Graddy and Robert Coleman

This summer, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is tracking outbreaks of potentially toxic algae across the U.S. We have been startled to find that these outbreaks are erupting everywhere: from the East Coast to the West Coast, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.

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By Robynne Boyd

Off the coast of Broward County in southeast Florida, a 330-year-old coral colony has withered in the water thanks to a mysterious pathogen. At the height of its health, this slow-growing variety of coral, known as mountainous star, looked like a car-size brown mushroom cap scored by ridges and valleys and colored with splashes of fluorescent green. Today the countless minuscule sea-anemone-like polyps that form the colony have turned white and died, laying bare the skeletal structure below.

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Smoggy downtown Houston. Kyle Jones / Flickr

By Rachel Leven

Engineer Jim Southerland was hired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1971 to join the nascent war on air pollution. He came to relish the task, investigating orange clouds from an ammunition plant in Tennessee and taking air samples from strip mines in Wyoming. Among his proudest accomplishments: helping the agency develop a set of numbers called emission factors—values that enable regulators to estimate atmospheric discharges from power plants, oil refineries, chemical plants and other industrial operations.

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