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The Times Square New Year's Eve ball test on Dec. 30, 2016. Times Square Ball / YouTube

10 Ways to Be a Better Environmental Steward in 2018

Protecting the natural environment may seem overwhelming with increased natural disasters, melting sea ice, and threatened wildlife. But your choices can truly go a long way for your community and your health. Here are ten ways to be a better steward in 2018 and help others do the same!

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Animals
Polar Bear in Nunavut Canada. Andre Anita / iStock Photo

The Polar Bear, Climate Change’s Poster Child, Ignites Controversy

By Jason Bittel

Twenty years ago, polar bears made people think of Coca-Cola. Ten years ago, the bruins became the face of climate change because their melting Arctic ice habitat perfectly captured the dangers of a warming world. More recently, as a direct result of the bears' environmental poster child status, science deniers have begun using them in attempts to turn the argument for climate science on its head. But now, there's no way to talk about polar bears without talking about one particular viral video.

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Shutterstock

Welcome to the ‘New Arctic’: The Region ‘As We Once Knew It Is No More’

By Andy Rowell

For many people in the Northern Hemisphere who celebrate Christmas, the iconic image is one of snow or a Santa Claus driving a sleigh through the snow driven by reindeer.

Depending on which version of the Santa Claus story you read, his home is in the Arctic, possibly at the North Pole. Images of snowy Santas will adorn many holiday cards sent this year.

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Union of Concerned Scientists

Arctic Report Card 2017: Ice Cover Is Shrinking Faster Compared With Prior 1,500 Years

By Brenda Ekwurzel

The 2017 Arctic Report Card reflects contributions from 85 scientists representing 12 countries. The pace of sea ice area (hereafter extent) decrease is unprecedented over the past 1,500 years, according to Emily Osborne's et al. 2017 contribution to the Arctic Report Card released Tuesday.

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Two centuries of eruptions by Mt Takahe altered the ancient Antarctic climate considerably. NASA ICE / Flickr

How the Ancient Antarctic Explains Today’s Warming World

By Tim Radford

Deep in the last Ice Age, 17,700 years ago, the ancient Antarctic suddenly began to warm. Climate change, unexpectedly, made itself felt in the Southern Hemisphere.

Glaciers in Patagonia and in New Zealand began to retreat. Lakes in the Bolivian Andes began to swell with meltwater. Rain fell in the desert of Australia, and the gusts of dust that normally leave a trace in polar snows began to diminish.

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U.S. Forest Service

Halloween Horror Story: 5 Scariest Aspects of Climate Change

By Casey Ivanovich

Halloween has arrived, and it's time once again for goblins, gremlins and ghost stories.

But there's another threat brewing that's much more frightening—because it's real.

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September 2017: Earth's 4th Warmest September on Record

By Dr. Jeff Masters

September 2017 was the planet's fourth warmest September since record keeping began in 1880, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and NASA this week. The only warmer Septembers came during 2015, 2016 and 2014. Minor differences can occur between the NASA and NOAA rankings because of their different techniques for analyzing data-sparse regions such as the Arctic.

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One of the dead penguin chicks found in Terre Adélie. Y. Ropert-Couder / CNRS / IPEV

Only Two Penguin Chicks Survive in Catastrophic Antarctic Breeding Season

Thousands of Adélie penguin chicks in Terre Adélie, Antarctica died of starvation at the start of 2017 due to unusually thick sea ice that forced their parents to travel an extra 100 kilometers (62 miles) to find food, according to French scientists.

The colony of over 18,000 pairs of Adélie penguins suffered a "catastrophic breeding failure" that left with only two chicks surviving at the beginning of the year.

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United States Geological Survey

Trump Administration Signs 'Death Sentence' For Pacific Walrus

The Trump administration announced Wednesday it would decline to list the Pacific walrus on the endangered species list, reversing an Obama-era finding that the walruses should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended in 2011 that the walrus be considered for endangered species status in the near future due to increased habitat loss from disappearing Arctic sea ice. While its Wednesday announcement acknowledged the species faced "stressors" due to habitat loss, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it could not determine if the walrus will become endangered "in the foreseeable future"—a date the agency defines as 2060.

"This disgraceful decision is a death sentence for the walrus," Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. "Walruses face extinction from climate change, and denying them critical protections will push them closer to the edge."

For a deeper dive:

AP, The Guardian, CBS, USA Today, Washington Examiner

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