Trouble for Tea
February 19, 2014 08:58 AM - Ann-Marie Brouder, The Ecologist
Britain's favorite tipple faces big challenges over coming decades, writes Ann-Marie Brouder. A new report sets out the challenges and proposes sustainable solutions to keep the 'cup that cheers' on the nation's tables. Tea is big business: three billion cups of it are consumed every day, 4.8 million tonnes are produced annually, and in Britain two in three people drink it daily. And tea is much more than just a business - many people and cultures have a deep emotional attachment to the 'cup that cheers', and would be horrified at the idea that there was any threat to their beloved beverage.
Fracking residual waters
February 18, 2014 09:40 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
As fracking amongst Marcellus Shale in the northeastern part of the United States increases so does the concern over its process. Fracking is done utilizing a hydraulic fracturing process, which pumps a high-pressure mixture of water, chemicals and sand deep into the sedimentary formations to extract naturally occurring gas. The resultant wastewater is then stored in large impoundment ponds and closed container tanks until it can be piped to wastewater treatment plants. Once cleaned it is discharged into local streams or trucked to Ohio to be pumped deep down into another injection well or into another fracking operation.
Protect the deep ocean now!
February 17, 2014 09:09 AM - University of California, San Diego via EurekAlert
The deep ocean, the largest domain for life on earth, is also its least explored environment. Humans are now encroaching more vigorously than ever into the ocean's deep regions, exploiting the deep's resources and placing its wealth of vibrant habitats and natural services for the planet at risk. Lisa Levin, a biological oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, believes the vital functions provided by the deep sea—from carbon sequestration to nurturing fish stocks—are key to the health of the planet. As humans ramp up exploitation of deep-sea fish, energy, minerals, and genetic resources, a new "stewardship mentality" across countries, economic sectors, and disciplines is required, Levin says, for the future health and integrity of the deep ocean.
How mountain trees help regulate climate
February 16, 2014 08:02 AM - Harriet Jarlett, Planet Earth Online
A new study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that if global temperatures were to rise over geologic timescales, trees at higher elevations could play an important role in encouraging more carbon dioxide to be removed from the atmosphere. The team, from the Universities of Sheffield and Oxford, conducted their research in the Peruvian mountains, where they found that in higher, colder conditions tree root growth slows. This means the roots don't reach far enough into the ground to cause the rocks beneath them to break down and combine with carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere - a process called weathering.
Predicting the Climate of the future
February 15, 2014 10:44 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Climate scientists rely on models to predict how the weather and climate will respond to changes in variable such as CO2 emissions, natural methane emissions, solar intensity and a host of other factors. No individual model can claim to accurately predict future climate. So it is very important to look at multiple models and compare their predictions. The Carnegie Institution for Science is a leader in this area. The pace of global warming over the last century has been about twice as rapid over land than over the oceans and will continue to be more dramatic going forward if emissions are not curbed. According to an analysis of 27 climate models by Carnegie's Chris Field, if we continue along the current emissions trajectory, we are likely facing the most rapid large climate change in the last 65 million years. This will clearly pose great challenges for a variety of terrestrial ecosystems.
Six Caribbean Islands Sign On to Replace Diesel with Renewables
February 14, 2014 08:05 AM - Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit
Brought together on Sir Richard Branson’s Caribbean island retreat by the Carbon War Room and Rocky Mountain Institute, to work out a framework to effect a transition away from fossil fuels, six Caribbean island nations have agreed to replace diesel-fueled power with a mix of clean, sustainable renewable power generation, energy storage systems, and greater energy efficiency.
Biodiversity conservationists get a little help with new online freshwater atlas
February 12, 2014 01:00 PM - Richa Malhotra, SciDevNet
An online repository of maps has been launched to make information on freshwater biodiversity available on a common platform for use by scientists, policymakers, conservationists and NGOs. The Global Freshwater Biodiversity Atlas will help developing countries identify biodiversity-rich areas for conservation. It was launched last month (29 January), as part of an EU-funded project called BioFresh, with the aim of putting together published maps and sharing them under a creative commons license.
California Drought May Cause Higher Food Prices For All Americans
February 12, 2014 09:55 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit
Living in rural Fresno County these days means reading about the drought in the local newspaper every day, seeing reports about it on the local news and praying for rain. The Fresno area is smack dab in the middle of California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley. It is considered to be the "agriculture center of the world." Valley farmers supply many of the nation’s fruit and vegetables. The Valley is also home to cotton, dairy and cattle ranches.
Climate migration in the face of climate change
February 11, 2014 09:41 AM - Julie Cohen, University of California, Santa Barbara
As climate change unfolds over the next century, plants and animals will need to adapt or shift locations to follow their ideal climate. A new study provides an innovative global map of where species are likely to succeed or fail in keeping up with a changing climate. The findings appear in the science journal Nature.
Climate Change and Human Health
February 11, 2014 08:19 AM - Geordan Shannon, The Ecologist
Sea—level rises, changes to the severity of monsoon seasons and rainfall, flooding, droughts and heatwaves are all having an increasing impact on human health, writes Geordon Shannon. The loss of healthy life years in low-income African countries is predicted to be 500 times that in Europe. It is beyond doubt that our emissions of greenhouse gases contribute to climate change. And climate change is making us sick. The World Health Organisation estimates that between 1970 and 2004, the environmental effects of climate change caused more than 140,000 deaths each year.