UN Climate Panel Urges Critical Action on Global Warming

The Free Press WV

The team of experts from 40 countries warns that the world needs “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels.

They warn that a 2-degree increase would dramatically boost the risk of dangerous weather and “irreversible changes” to ecosystems and species.

But the forecast looks sunnier for some investors: There’s money to be made in renewable energy sources to combat warming and, failing that, building sea walls and other defenses against the coming storm.

Learn More:    The Scientist    Science Daily    Bloomberg

Farmers Worried as Death Rates Surge for Female Pigs

The Free Press WV

Operators of farms with a large number of female pigs are seeing a worrying trend—death rates are surging among the sows. One industry group, Swine Management Services, says the death rate increased from 5.8% to 10.2% from 2013 to 2016, per National Hog Farmer. “This makes you wonder what has changed,“ says Ron Ketchem of SMS. Many of the sows appear to be dying from prolapse, the collapse of the pig’s ######, rectum, or uterus, explains the Guardian. So what’s going on? The industry is trying to figure that out, with one theory being that booming demand for pork in the US has led industrial-scale farms to adopt unhealthy breeding practices for the sows, including confined quarters, in order to keep them churning out the average 23.5 piglets a year.

“They’re breeding the sows to produce a lot of babies,“ renowned animal behaviorist Temple Grandin tells the Guardian. “Well, there’s a point where you’ve gone too far.“ A soon-to-be-departing official with Compassion in World Farming adds that the pigs also are being bred to have less fat, which is in sync with consumer demand but not with biology in terms of producing a lot of piglets. “Their bones are weak and they don’t have enough fat to support the reproductive process,“ she says. “We’ve bred them to their limit and the animals are telling us that.“ At TreeHugger, Katherine Martinko’s suggestion for concerned consumers is to skip supermarket pork and find a small, local farmer.

Foliage continues to provide color show in West Virginia

The Free Press WV

Fall foliage is continuing to produce vibrant colors in West Virginia.

The state Tourism Office and Division of Forestry say trees in most areas are starting to turn.

It says trees in Canaan Valley are nearing peak color and trees at higher elevations in Greenbrier County are starting to show early color.

The agencies say the next two weekends will provide prime viewing in Blackwater Falls and Dolly Sods Wilderness Area.

In southeastern counties, higher elevations are showing some color with maples, birches, gums and poplars turning.

Oaks remain solid green. Lower elevations are just on the brink of turning.

The region should provide good fall foliage views during the next three weeks.

Fall fire season sparks return of burning restrictions

The Free Press WV

Fall fire season starts today, October 01. The West Virginia Division of Forestry reminds residents that from October 01 through December 31, outdoor burning is permitted only between the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The state’s forests are most vulnerable to fire in fall and in spring, when trees have no leaves to protect the ground cover from drying out.

“With no leaves to provide shade, solar radiation reaches the forest floor directly, drying out the leaf litter,” said Walt Jackson, state fire supervisor and assistant state forester - forest protection.“The dry leaves become highly flammable.”

Low relative humidity also increases the risk of wildfire.

“After 5 p.m., the air temperature decreases significantly throughout the night and relative humidity increases,” Jackson said. “The leaf litter absorbs moisture from the more humid air, making it less flammable. The law limits outdoor burning to 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.forsafety protection.”

The Division of Forestry reports that debris burning ranks as the state’s second most common cause of fires, behind arson.

The West Virginia Division of Forestry provides a summary of forest fire laws on its website at

The fire safe law includes:

  • No burning from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Fires must be attended at all times.
  • Before leaving any fire for any length of time, the fire must be completely extinguished.
  • Clear at least a 10-foot area around the fire and make sure the area is clear of all burnable material.
  • If your fire escapes, you are liable for the costs of fighting the fire and any damage the fire may cause.
  • Violation of the burning law is punishable by a fine up to $1,000.

The Division of Forestry protects nearly 12 million acres of forestland across West Virginia. More information on fire safety and programs such as forest legacy, logging and landowner assistance, visit the website

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