15,000 scientists warn it will soon be 'too late' to save Earth

Published: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 @ 10:17 AM

U.S. Withdraws From Paris Climate Deal

More than 15,000 scientists have signed a dire warning letter to humanity, urging society to address major environmental concerns.

» RELATED: What’s in the federal climate report? 7 key takeaways

"Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out," scientists wrote in the letter signed by 15,364 of their colleagues from 184 countries. "We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home."

Titled as a "Second Notice," the stern warning comes 25 years after similar concerns were expressed in a letter backed by more than 1,700 scientists. However, as the updated warning points out, things have significantly worsened since then.

» RELATED: The best US cities to avoid effects of climate change, according to report

"Humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse," the letter says.

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Freshwater resources and vertebrate species have dropped by approximately 25 percent since 1960. At the same time, marine dead zones have increased dramatically by 75 percent and carbon dioxide emissions have risen by 62 percent. The human population has also skyrocketed from 3 billion to roughly 7.6 billion.

» RELATED: What is the Paris climate agreement? 9 things you should know

Furthermore, human activity has "unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century," the scientists warn.

The only hopeful part of the letter points to the stabilization of the stratospheric ozone layer. According to Newsweek, scientists revealed this month that the hole in the ozone layer, which hovers above Antarctica, is the smallest it has been since 1988.

» RELATED: GAO: Climate change already costing US billions in losses

But this one positive development isn't enough to curb the impending crisis, according to the scientists.

"Humanity is now being given a second notice ... We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats," they wrote.

» RELATED: Doctors: Global warming is taking a toll on people's health

The scientists said humanity must quickly "limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species ... Humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperiled biosphere.”

Drastic solutions are required to solve the coming global crisis, according to the scientists. These include phasing out fossil fuels while encouraging renewable energy sources, transitioning to a more plant-based diet, reducing food waste overall and prioritizing reserves for Earth's land, marine, freshwater and aerial habitats.

» RELATED: Atlanta makes ambitious commitment to 100 percent clean energy by 2035

"To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual," the scientists wrote.

While nations around the world have officially recognized the need to address these concerns and the threat to humanity's existence, the current U.S. administration appears uninterested in heeding such warnings.

President Donald Trump said in June that he would pull the U.S. out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement, joining only two other nations -- Syria and Nicaragua -- which had not signed the international accord.

Since then, Nicaragua agreed to sign the agreement in October, and Syria followed earlier this month.

» RELATED: US cities, states defy Trump, still back Paris climate deal

Instead of addressing greenhouse gas emissions as the Paris accord requires, the White House said it "will promote coal, natural gas and nuclear energy as an answer to climate change,” a decision scientists around the globe have warned against.

IN SPACE - In this handout photo provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) on July 17, 2014, German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst took this image of the Earth reflecting light from the sun whilst aboard the International Space Station (ISS). (Photo by Alexander Gerst / ESA via Getty Images)(ESA)

Florida group raffles off rifle to benefit children's program

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 5:50 PM

An assault rifle is a prize in a raffle to raise money for programs to help disadvantaged children. (Photo: WFTV.com)
An assault rifle is a prize in a raffle to raise money for programs to help disadvantaged children. (Photo: WFTV.com)

An assault rifle is a prize in a raffle to raise money for programs to help disadvantaged children.

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Channel 9 found out that phone calls to buy tickets for the raffle go to three Central Florida county jails.

The flyer advertising the raffle was created by the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency.

It advertises a chance to win an AR-15 rifle. There are phone numbers on the flyer to buy $20 tickets.

Every one of the numbers directs the caller to someone's desk at the Orange, Seminole and Osceola County jails.

Some were perplexed by the offer.

“Probably a good value, but it’s very bizarre and counterintuitive,” said Andrew Shure.

Information on the raffle to win the $1,200 gun was tweeted by the St. Cloud police.

The local Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency chapter said the $6,800 or so raised would be used for community projects, like buying gifts for underprivileged children.

“They could raffle off a car or something other than a gun. That doesn’t make sense to raffle off a gun,” said Laura Stephenson.

Officials in Orange and Seminole counties seemed surprised that calls for information about the AR-15 raffle were going to county jail offices.

There is an asterisk on the flyer that said the winner must comply with applicable laws and background checks.

A member of this organization said that they won't really be handing over a rifle to the winner, but instead a certificate they can use to pick up the gun.

Girl, 9, unknowingly hands out THC-laced candy to classmates, school says

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 8:35 PM

File photo.    (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
David McNew/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)(David McNew/Getty Images)

A 9-year-old girl unwittingly ate, and handed out to other classmates, THC-laced candy, school officials said. 

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The girl brought the candies to school last Thursday and said she could not see; another girl ate them and started to feel dizzy, Albuquerque School of Excellence Dean of Elementary School Students Kristy Del Curto told KRQE

“We noticed the student who initially brought the edible to our school was acting strange. She started saying she couldn’t see,” Del Curto said.

Three students shared one gummy and the student who handed it out had three or four pieces, Del Curto said. 

Paramedics were called and monitored the students, who eventually recovered. 

The student who brought them to school did not know they were medicinal, THC-laced gummies, Del Curto said.

“As marijuana becomes legal in each state, it’s going to become more and more of an issue, I believe,” Del Curto said.

Man shot in leg during drug deal outside Walmart, police say

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 8:30 PM

A man was shot in the leg during a drug deal outside a Walmart, police say. (Photo: Journal-News)
A man was shot in the leg during a drug deal outside a Walmart, police say. (Photo: Journal-News)

Police are looking for the suspect who shot a man during a drug deal around 3 p.m. Saturday in a Walmart parking lot.

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According to Sgt. Brandon McCroskey of the Fairfield Township police, the suspect shot the victim in the leg during a drug deal while the victim was in his vehicle. The victim then accelerated his vehicle and struck other vehicles and a cart corral.

The suspect fled the scene on foot. Police believe the suspect was picked up by the same vehicle that dropped him off: a red 2007 Toyota Camry reported stolen Friday. 

The victim, who is in his late teens, was taken to the West Chester Hospital. His injuries are not life threatening, McCroskey said.

According to McCroskey, the suspect is in his late teens to early 20s with a goatee.

The incident remains under investigation.

Government shutdown: What will close; will you get your Social Security check; what will happen to SNAP, WIC

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 12:35 PM

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

Update: While the House passed legislation on Thursday to fund government  services, the Senate on Friday failed to vote on a continuing resolution that would keep the government up and running. With no bill to fund the government, non-essential services have been shutdown. 

Below is the original story that explains what will happen now that the government has been shut down.

The fight over a border wall, the fate of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, and the wrangling over the funding of an insurance program for children could force a U.S. government shutdown after midnight on Friday if Congress does not pass legislation that would keep the government running.

While negotiations on a temporary spending bill, called a continuing resolution, are ongoing, House Republican leaders said late Wednesday that  they lacked the votes to prevent a shutdown, but that they are pressing members to back Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R-Wisconsin), on the  temporary spending bill.

“I think it passes,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker, (R-North Carolina), told reporters on Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s overwhelming, but I think it passes.”

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What would happen if no bill is passed and the government “shuts down?” Here’s what to expect:

First, a government shutdown doesn’t mean the government completely shuts down. Employees and services deemed “essential” would remain in place. About half of the federal employee workforce, however, could be furloughed – sent home without pay.

Government agencies would shut down because of the lack of a bill that funds services those agencies provide. What Congress will be considering Thursday night and Friday is a continuing resolution, a way to temporarily fund the government.

What is a continuing resolution?
A continuing resolution, or “CR,” is legislation that funds government operations at the current spending level. In normal years, a bill that funds government operations is signed by Oct. 1, which is the end of the fiscal year. That didn’t happen this year.

CRs can fund the government for days, weeks or months. The CR that could be considered Thursday would fund the government through Feb. 16.

Here is a list of services and how they would be affected if a CR is not passed by Friday night:
Air travel
Air travel would not be affected as federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and Transportation Security Administration screeners would remain in place.
Federal court
For about two weeks, federal courts would continue operating normally. After that time, the judiciary would have to furlough employees not considered essential.
Food safety
The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls. Most routine safety inspections would be halted.
Health
Patients in the National Institutes of Health would continue to be treated. New patients would not be accepted until a funding bill is in place.
International travel 
You could still get a passport and visa applications would still be processed by the State Department. Fees collected when someone applies for a visa or a passport fund those services.
Loans 
The Federal Housing Administration, the agency that guarantees about 30 percent of all American home mortgages, wouldn't be able to underwrite or approve any new loans during a shutdown, causing a delay for those using one of those loans to purchase a home. 
The mail
You would still get mail, as the U.S. Postal Service is not funded by taxpayer dollars for everyday operations.
Military
Active-duty military personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed.
National parks
All national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums. Visitors in overnight campgrounds in national parks would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park.
School lunches, SNAP and WIC
School breakfasts and lunches funded by the federal government would not be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, could be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which used to be called the Food Stamp Program, would continue to be funded and SNAP benefits would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.
Science
The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather.
Social Security
Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits would be paid, but new applications for those payments could be delayed. 
Veterans services
Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs would continue.

Sources: The Associated Press; Politicothe Congressional Research Service