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Ecosystems

How Desalination Technology Is Helping Solve California's Drought
April 27, 2015 08:40 AM - Betty Ilovici, NoCamels

Four years of devastating droughts in California have pushed cities and counties in the Golden State to seriously consider turning to the one drinking source that is not depleting anytime soon – seawater. With the Pacific Ocean abutting their shores, water desalination may be the much-needed solution for Californians. But desalination has its disadvantages, the chief ones being the high costs and the potential environmental damage.

Mountains warming faster than expected
April 24, 2015 03:28 PM - Janet Lathrop, UMassAmherst

High elevation environments around the world may be warming much faster than previously thought, according to members of an international research team including Raymond Bradley, director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. They call for more aggressive monitoring of temperature changes in mountain regions and more attention to the potential consequences of warming.

Microbes have major effect on climate change
April 24, 2015 07:21 AM - Kathleen Haughney, Florida State University

Carbon, held in frozen permafrost soils for tens of thousands of years, is being released as Arctic regions of the Earth warm and is further fueling global climate change, according to a Florida State University researcher.

What countries have the most endangered animals?
April 23, 2015 10:55 AM - Susan Bird, Care2

If you had to guess which countries are losing the greatest number of endangered mammals to extinction, which would you pick? Actually, you don’t have to guess. There’s a new map that will show you, in no uncertain terms, where in the world we’re losing animals the fastest. The top three “winners” of this unfortunate contest are Indonesia (184), Madagascar (114), Mexico (101), with India following close behind at 94.

Putting a value on our Oceans
April 23, 2015 06:56 AM - World Wildlife Fund, Justmeans

The ocean’s wealth rivals those of the world’s leading economies, but its resources are rapidly eroding, according to a new World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report. The analysis, Reviving the Ocean Economy: The Case for Action, conservatively estimates the value of key ocean assets to be at least $24 trillion. If compared to the world’s top 10 economies, the ocean would rank as the seventh largest, with an annual value of goods and services of $2.5 trillion.

The report, produced in association with The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), combines scientific evidence of environmental degradation with an economic case for urgent conservation action. Using an innovative economic analysis, the ocean’s value is quantified based on assessments of goods and services ranging from fisheries to coastal storm protection, resulting in an overall asset value and an annual dividend output (comparable to a GDP).

A brief history of Earth Day
April 22, 2015 09:59 PM - Earth Day Network

Each year, Earth Day -- April 22 -- marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.

 

The Sage Grouse is NOT getting Endangered Species Act protection
April 22, 2015 07:23 AM - Center for Biological Diversity

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today abandoned its plan to give Endangered Species Act protection to Mono Basin sage grouse, a small and isolated population of prairie birds in Nevada and California that remain under threat from grazing, habitat loss and mining development. The agency’s decision ignores scientific recommendations for reversing the birds’ steep decline and relies on unproven conservation agreements with state and local communities.

The Mono Basin greater sage grouse population, located in eastern California and western Nevada and also known as the “bi-state” population, is fragmented and geographically isolated from all other greater sage grouse populations. 

Fishing impacts on the Great Barrier Reef
April 21, 2015 03:03 PM - ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

New research shows that fishing is having a significant impact on the make-up of fish populations of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s long been known that environmental impacts such as climate change and pollution are amongst the drivers of change on the Great Barrier Reef. Now researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University have found that removing predator fish such as coral trout and snapper, through fishing, causes significant changes to the make-up of the reef’s fish populations.

Limited nutrients may keep plants from growing as fast as scientists thought
April 21, 2015 09:00 AM - Tim Wogan, Science/AAAS

Plants are one of the last bulwarks against climate change. They feed on carbon dioxide, growing faster and absorbing more of the greenhouse gas as humans produce it. But a new study finds that limited nutrients may keep plants from growing as fast as scientists thought, leading to more global warming than some climate models had predicted by 2100.

Decreasing biodiversity affects productivity of remaining plants
April 20, 2015 03:32 PM - University of Alaska Fairbanks

When plant biodiversity declines, the remaining plants face diminishing productivity, say scientists in study published April 20 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "The loss of biodiversity is threatening ecosystem productivity and services worldwide, spurring efforts to quantify its effects on the functioning of natural ecosystems," said lead author Jingjing Liang, a forest ecologist from West Virginia University.

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