The Associated Press on the militarization of the Arctic Don't count the world's militaries among the global-warming deniers. Eyeing soon-to-be unfrozen resources near the North Pole, countries on the Arctic Ocean are preparing to flex their military muscle in the region as ices melt with potential Cold War-like standoffs between powers, according to the AP's Eric Talmadge. The United States, Canada, Denmark, and Norway have all completed major military exercises in the Arctic over the past two months while simultaneously looking for new investments. At stake: new shipping routes and oil and gas reserves under the unfrozen waters -- as if the atmosphere needed another source of carbon.
The Texas Tribune on uranium in the Lone Star State Err, "yellow gold"? That's a name that probably won't stick, but in any case, uranium miners in Texas are trying to to extract more of the mineral (processed into a powder called "yellowcake") in anticipation of a nuclear energy boom in the coming years, according to The Texas Tribune. "They are ramping up for a new push, despite concerns from environmental groups that past operations have not been sufficiently cleaned up and pose a threat to aquifers that people drink from," reports Kate Galbraith. Two of the U.S.'s six uranium mines are in Texas, with state government granting five new permits for uranium exploration last year. The reason: the miners feel that, despite Fukushima, Americans appetite for nuclear energy will continue unabated -- especially since the one big source of uranium for the U.S., a program repurposing defunct Russian warheads (what a world), is set to end next year. Environmentalists are worried that careless mining practices could contaminate drinking water.
Christian Science Monitor on the dark cloud over solar in Germany The solar panel industry in Germany, which wants half of its energy to come from renewable sources by 2050, was once so thriving it was compared to the United States' tech industry with the name "Solar Valley." However, with four solar panel manufacturers declaring bankruptcy in less than a year, the industry's not doing so hot today. "Once built, solar power plants require little maintenance and don't provide much long-term employment," explains Alexander Bakst for Christian Science Monitor. This -- along with Asian (particularly Chinese) factories pricing German firms out of the international markets with cheap labor -- is dampening demand for German solar panels, along with job growth in German solar panel production. Experts offer a few remedies, including the German government increasing renewable energy subsidies and manufacturers switching focus onto the more specialized crafts of building the components and machines that go into solar panel production, instead of the panels themselves.
The Washington Post on how to save the seahorse A fourth of the world's 36 sea horse species is threatened with extinction, and The Washington Post rounds up the efforts of professional oceanographers and hobbyists alike in figuring out the best ways to breed the creatures in captivity in order to keep them around. Mating for life and usually living in low-density populations, sea horses were historically difficult to breed in captivity before the 1990s. But today, "Researchers in several countries — primarily the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia — have made strides in the past couple of decades, though reproducing the animals remains challenging," writes Juliet Eilperin. With declining sea horse populations in the wild, depleted with habitat destruction and overfishing, the hope is that farming sea horses will save them, both by supplementing demand of sea horses (used in Chinese medicine) and reintroducing creatures into the wild.
The Guardian on England dry spell Like the U.S., England is facing a drought like its cousins across the Atlantic, with its version of the EPI wringing its hands today over how long it will take for significant rains to come. "Most of England is now in drought and the dry spell could last beyond Christmas, the Environment Agency will announce on Monday, as government officials started planning for a long-term water shortage that could be disastrous for wildlife, the landscape and farming." A ban on household hoses has been in place for most of April in southern and eastern England, and now there's increasing worries over drought in western England and Wales too. According to The Guardian's Fiona Harvey and Madeleine Cuff, only a "very wet autumn and winter could prevent the drought stretching into next year," with wildlife loss and wildfires looming if the drought continues.