Ways to recycle a Christmas tree
December 29, 2013 08:39 AM - Beth Buczynski, Care2
For nearly a month (maybe longer if you're one of those day-after-Thanksgiving types), your Christmas tree has formed the centerpiece of holiday celebrations. But now, as the New Year draws near, it's time to think about what to do with it. If, like millions of people, you chose a fresh cut tree, it's important to think long and hard about recycling. After all, a carbon-sucking plant gave its life so that you could honor the pagan tradition of decorating a tree. Just tossing it in the garbage is a depressing waste, especially when there are so many other creative options. Below is a list of the most creative ideas we've ever seen for repurposing Christmas trees. Although most of us will undoubtedly choose number one (the easiest option), the others will warm your heart as well.
Florida citrus at risk
December 28, 2013 09:04 AM - Gregg Allen, NPR
It's not been a good year for Florida's citrus industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that, for the second year running, the orange crop is expected to be almost 10 percent lower than the previous year. The culprit is citrus greening, a disease that has devastated Florida's oranges and grapefruits, and has now begun to spread in Texas and California. Back in the 1950s and '60s, the Florida Citrus Tower was one of the Orlando area's most important tourist attractions. "You could go up and see thousands and thousands acres of trees," says citrus grower Benny McLean. "And you could buy fresh-squeezed orange juice, or you could buy a bag of navels. So it was a big deal back then."
Smart is at a whole new level for homes
December 27, 2013 10:13 AM - Editor, ENN, Sierra Club Green Home
Smart homes have gone to a whole new level with Panasonic's showcase center in Tokyo, Japan. Panasonic's new technologies feature hydroponics, air ventilation, color customization, and energy consumption. The energy consumption specifically is integrated into a grid of other smart homes that share excess energy; respond to energy needs, and track community usage trends. The resultant home is a zero-emission smart house combining with nature’s elements.
COLLEGIATE CORNER: The Benefits of Laundry-to-Landscape Greywater Systems
December 26, 2013 04:28 PM - Madeline Valinski, University of Delaware, Class of 2015, Environmental Studies
Approximately 30% of household water use is for outdoor use in the form of garden irrigation. Outdoor water usage is very seasonal, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and outdoor water usage is highest when water availability is the lowest due to drought conditions and heat. The top three uses of water in the household are for landscaping, sewage, and laundry. Yet a simple laundry-to-landscape system could reduce one of these high water wasters. A laundry-to-landscape system might not be the only step to make the garden water neutral; approximately 15% of household water use is for laundry, which could at least reduce outdoor water usage by 50% if a laundry-to-landscape system were installed.
Climate change and livestock
December 21, 2013 07:46 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Climate change, and man's role in it is being extensively studied by universities and government agencies around the world. The impact of ruminant livestock has been studied, but the effects of livestock emissions may have been underestimated. A team of international scientists, including Oregon State University Professor William Ripple concludes that while climate change negotiators struggle to agree on ways to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, they have paid inadequate attention to other greenhouse gases associated with livestock, according to an analysis by an international research team. A reduction in non-CO2 greenhouse gases will be required to abate climate change, the researchers said. Cutting releases of methane and nitrous oxide, two gases that pound-for-pound trap more heat than does CO2, should be considered alongside the challenge of reducing fossil fuel use.
Brown trout crowding out native brook trout
December 20, 2013 08:50 AM - Editor, ENN
Native brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, populations could be at risk as a result of the introduction of Brown trout, Salmo trutta, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study. Both species are valuable sport fish that coexist in many parts of the world due to stocking introductions.
Good news for corn farmers worth millions of dollars
December 19, 2013 12:01 PM - Sara LaJeunesse, Penn State
Good news for corn farmers: a major corn crop pest, the European corn borer (ECB) has seen a significant population decline in the eastern United States. This information comes from Penn State researchers on the heels of reports of similar population declines in the Midwest. As a result, farmers will save millions of dollars in some parts of the country because they will no longer need to treat for this pest.
Damming the Congo
December 18, 2013 09:42 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is looking to capture the more of powers of the Congo River in what will be the largest and most powerful hydroelectric dam in the world. The Grand Inga Hydropower Project will produce up to 40,000 megawatts of electricity, doubling current dam champion, Three Gorges in China. The dam will generate more than one third of the electricity currently produced in Africa as it captures the force of the 1.5 million cubic feet per second cascading into the Atlantic Ocean.
COLLEGIATE CORNER: Must we drink bottled water?
December 16, 2013 04:10 PM - Alyson Leppla, Earth Science Education, Class of 2015, University of Delaware
More than 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water, two and a half times the population of the United States. More than half of all Americans drink bottled water, yet almost every U.S. household has access to safe drinking water.
Conventional satellite imagery may underestimate forest clearing for subsistence agriculture
December 10, 2013 09:02 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
Analysis of forest cover using medium-scale satellite imagery may miss deforestation for small-scale subsistence agriculture, finds a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The study, which involved researchers from the University of Maryland, the State University of New York and Woods Hole Research Center, is based on change in forest cover in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which accounts for the bulk of the world's second largest tropical rainforest.