Agriculture

Milkweed loss to blame for declining Monarch populations
June 5, 2014 09:01 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Populations of the popular Monarch butterfly have been declining in recent years and a new study is citing habitat loss on US breeding grounds as the main culprit. The eastern North American monarch population is known not only for its iconic orange and black colors, but also for its late summer migration from the United States to Mexico, a migration covering thousands of miles. And despite the long-held belief that monarch butterflies are most vulnerable to disturbances on wintering grounds in Mexico, new research from the University of Guelph shows lack of milkweed in the US which provides breeding grounds for the species is playing more of a role for species decline.

Climate change and nutrition
June 4, 2014 10:32 AM - Karin Kloosterman, GreenProphet

Researchers now say in a revealing Nature paper that the most significant health threat from climate change has started to happen. Crops that provide a large share of the global population with most of their dietary zinc and iron will have significantly reduced concentrations of those nutrients at the elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 anticipated by around 2050, according to research by Israeli scientists published in Nature this month.

Longer growing season does not yield growth increase for trees and shrubs
May 21, 2014 09:29 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

As the earth's temperatures rise, some have speculated that trees and shrubs in the colder climates might experience and increase in growth as a result of the extended growing season. "Not so," says a recent study authored by a University of Washington biology and applied mathematics postdoctoral student. Her study demonstrates that bushes achieve less yearly growth when cold winter temperatures are interrupted by warm spurts that trigger growth.

Antarctica, Australia and Climate Change
May 17, 2014 07:52 AM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

Rising greenhouse gas levels are causing stronger winds over the Southern Ocean. It's good news for Antarctica, writes Tim Radford, as the circumpolar winds are keeping its ice caps cold. But Australia is getting hotter and drier - and its problems will only increase. The answer to one of the enduring puzzles of global warming - the apparently sluggish response of the Antarctic continent to rising greenhouse gas levels - may have been settled by Australian scientists.

Overwhelming the Mississippi
May 14, 2014 10:52 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

New evidence from University of Texas at Austin researchers posit that the great Mississippi's natural ability to chemically filter out nitrates is being overwhelmed. UT's hydrologists demonstrate the enormity of the filtering process for almost every drop of water that enters into the 311,000-mile long course ending in the Gulf of Mexico.

Bee booby-traps defend African farms from elephants
May 14, 2014 08:02 AM - Georgia Achia, SciDevNet

Wire fences booby-trapped with beehives are being built in five African countries to prevent elephants from raiding farms, while also providing local people with honey. 'Beehive fences' are now being put up in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda by UK charity Save the Elephant, says Lucy King, leader of the Elephants and Bees Project in Kenya — and they are already in use at three communities in Kenya.

A greener barbecue
May 12, 2014 02:17 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer and outdoor cooking season is right around the corner. Unfortunately, outdoor cooking is too often connected with a tremendous amount of waste. Make this year's summer the "summer of green" with these eco-friendly alternatives for a low-impact summer barbecue:

GM food and toxic herbicides
May 11, 2014 09:01 AM - Pat Thomas, The Ecologist

GM crops that resist herbicides are bringing ever higher levels of toxic chemical residues to our food, even mothers' milk, writes Pat Thomas. As the 'endocrine disrupting' effects take place at minute concentrations, there is only one answer - to keep the herbicides off all food crops. If it is accumulating in breastmilk not only is it a danger to mothers, but it is being passed on to their babies as well with potential consequences for their developmental and reproductive health. Question: "How many government officials does it take to make sensible decisions about pesticide regulation?" Answer: "Nobody knows, because it's never been done."

First Standardized Global Land Cover Map Released
May 2, 2014 08:10 AM - Giovanni Sabato, SciDevNet

The first map of detailed information on worldwide land cover collected using uniform international standards, the Global Land Cover-SHARE database, was released in March by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Experts say it will help to improve research into natural resources and monitor global environmental changes.

Thoughtfully green Mother's Day gifts for your mother and Mother Nature
May 1, 2014 03:11 PM - Editor, ENN

No one is more special that your own mother - especially on Mother's Day. Celebrate your own mother and "Mother Nature" with one of these five great green gift ideas. These options offer a sustainable alternative to the chemical-laden flowers and mass-produced chocolates that dominate the market on Mother's Day. 1. Buy eco-friendly flowers- Although they are a beautiful part of nature, flowers aren't always eco-friendly. Most flowers are grown with a slew of chemicals and pesticides. They also typically come from warmer climates, such as South America, and have to make a long temperature-controlled journey before they reach your door. Opt for a greener option instead. There are several companies that sell eco-friendly flowers that are organically and locally grown. You could also purchase a potted plant from your local nursery. Not only are potted plants greener, they typically last a lot longer than a fresh-cut bouquet.

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