Agriculture

Farm Pesticides Linked to Melanoma
April 2, 2010 11:34 AM - Organic Consumers Association, Environmental Health News

Workers who apply certain pesticides to farm fields are twice as likely to contract melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, according to a new scientific study. The researchers identified six pesticides that, with repeated exposure, doubled the risk of skin cancer among farmers and other workers who applied them to crops. The findings add to evidence suggesting that frequent use of pesticides could raise the risk of melanoma. Rates of the disease have tripled in the United States in the last 30 years, with sun exposure identified as the major cause. Four of the chemicals - maneb, mancozeb, methyl-parathion and carbaryl - are used in the United States on a variety of crops, including nuts, vegetables and fruits. Two others, benomyl and ethyl-parathion, were voluntarily cancelled by their manufacturers in 2008.

Depopulation may be harming the Amazon rainforest
April 1, 2010 10:08 AM - Rhett A. Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Urbanization may be having unexpected impacts in the Amazon rainforest by leaving forest areas vulnerable to exploitation by outsiders, report researchers writing in Conservation Letters. Conducting field surveys during the course of 10,000-kilometers of travel along remote Amazon rivers, Luke Parry of Lancaster University found that a sharp decrease in rural habitation has not been accompanied by a decline in harvesting of wildlife and forest resources, indicating that urban populations exact a heavy toll on distant forests through hunting, fishing, logging, and harvesting of non-timber forest products.

Mongolia winter kills herds
March 29, 2010 05:58 AM - Tyra Dempster, Reuters

A severe winter has left 4.5 million dead animals in stockyards across the Mongolian steppes, and many poor herders face the loss of all their property just before the important breeding season. About a tenth of Mongolia's livestock may have perished, as deep snows cut off access to grazing and fodder. The damage to the rural economy could increase demands on Mongolia's already-stretched national budget, which relies on mining revenues to meet spending commitments. The Red Cross launched an emergency appeal for 1 million Swiss francs to assist Mongolian herders, after it estimated that 4.5 million livestock have died in the country since December.

Groundwater Vulnerability
March 25, 2010 03:09 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

The Earth is truly a blue planet; 70% of its surface is covered with water. Unfortunately 97.5% of that is salt water, unusable for humans. Fresh water accounts for the other 2.5%, however, about two thirds of that is locked up in glaciers and in the icy poles. That leaves humans (and every other living creature on land) only about 1% of all the water on Earth to use.

Reclaiming a derelict site to create a community garden
March 25, 2010 09:36 AM - Matilda Lee, The Ecologist

The story of how a group of dissatisfied residents pulled together, got funding, and created a blooming community garden where the work, and the rewards, are shared Not far from the 2012 Olympic Village in Stratford, another local regeneration project, albeit on a much smaller scale, has energised a small residential street.

Rapid Increases in Tree Growth Found in US
March 23, 2010 09:11 AM - Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2010) — Researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Earthwatch met in Panama from Mar. 1-5 to present mid-term research results from the HSBC Climate Partnership, a five-year initiative to identify and respond to the impacts of climate change. The program is supported financially by HSBC and involves a global team of bank employees -- 'climate champions' -- in vital forest research.

Science justifies California water limits
March 20, 2010 11:30 AM - Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

Federal limits on water that can be pumped out of a major river delta for California farmers are scientifically justified, a much-anticipated report said on Friday, a finding hailed by environmentalists in the state's epic water wars. But the National Academy of Sciences stopped short of handing a decisive victory to environmental interests over agricultural interests. The academy said further study was required and that threats to Chinook salmon, delta smelt and other endangered fish were not entirely caused by the pumping.

Horses Never Forget Human Friends
March 19, 2010 11:02 AM - Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Human friends may come and go, but a horse could be one of your most loyal, long-term buddies if you treat it right, suggests a new study. Horses also understand words better than expected, according to the research, and possess "excellent memories," allowing horses to not only recall their human friends after periods of separation, but also to remember complex, problem-solving strategies for ten years or more.

California to get more water
March 17, 2010 06:45 AM - Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

California's drought-baked cities and farms will get considerably more water this year than last from federal officials, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Tuesday, making good on forecasts issued in February after a series of strong winter storms. Irrigation districts south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which represent farmers on the west side of the state's Central Valley, will get 25 percent of their contracted water allotment from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Salazar said, up from just 5 percent in February.

EPA Makes Chemical Information More Accessible, and for Free
March 16, 2010 06:23 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The web has been a valuable source of information on the releases of toxic chemicals in our communities, and for citizens and environmental action groups to see what companies and facilities are emitting air pollutants, discharging water pollution, and generating hazardous wastes. Finding the information you were looking for was not always easy, and not always free. Now things are getting a little easier, and more information is obtainable for free. US EPA announced that it is providing web access, free of charge, to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory. This inventory contains a consolidated list of thousands of industrial chemicals maintained by the agency. EPA is also making this information available on Data.Gov, a website launched to provide public access to important government information.

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