Ecosystems

Oregon Kicks Dirty Coal Habit
March 7, 2016 07:41 PM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

Oregon is ready to kick its filthy coal habit, and now it has passed a law to hold itself to this pledge. The Clean Energy and Coal Transition Act blocks the state’s largest power companies from purchasing coal-based electricity by 2030. By taking this important step, the state will effectively double its reliance on renewable energy in the upcoming decades. Moreover, Oregon’s energy should be approximately 80% carbon-free by the year 2040.

The legislation makes Oregon the first state to commit to ditching coal completely. As such, it is easily one of the most progressive energy policies in the United States. Hawaii’s goal to go 100% renewable by 2045 and California’s ambitious 2020 wind and solar goals deserve some credit, too, though.

Oregon’s coal plan is not only exciting because of its unprecedented nature, but because it was a genuinely collaborative effort from all sorts of people in the state. Legislators, citizens, environmental groups, Governor Kate Brown and even the state’s two largest utility companies (Portland General Election and Pacific Power) teamed together to work out new energy goals.

Warming Arctic being exploited by trawlers
March 6, 2016 01:29 PM - Joe Sandler Clarke / Greenpeace Energydesk, The Ecologist

Ice melt in the Arctic Ocean is opening up previously untouched areas to industrial fishing fleets using ecologically risky bottom trawling methods, writes Joe Sandler Clarke. Ecosystems supporting walruses, polar bears, puffins and other sea birds could be stripped bare.

Bottom trawling is widely considered to be the among most destructive fishing techniques, with vast nets catching fish as they are dragged along the sea bed.

Using official data and ship tracking systems, researchers found that large numbers of fishing vessels owned by major companies have taken advantage of melting sea ice to fish in previously impossible to reach parts of the Norwegian and Russian Arctic.

Greenland's Ice is Getting Darker, Increasing Risk of Melting
March 4, 2016 07:31 AM - The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Greenland's snowy surface has been getting darker over the past two decades, absorbing more heat from the sun and increasing snow melt, a new study of satellite data shows. That trend is likely to continue, with the surface's reflectivity, or albedo, decreasing by as much as 10 percent by the end of the century, the study says.

Preserved moose with DNA of ancestors being studied in Russia
March 1, 2016 09:26 AM - NATIONAL RESEARCH TOMSK STATE UNIVERSITY via EurekAlert

Scientists of the Tomsk State University have found preserved moose in Western Siberia that have unique features of DNA structure. This discovery of Tomsk scientists will help determine the origin and path of moose movement in the last few tens of thousands of years and gives reason to believe that Siberia is a unique genetic repository. The research has been presented at International Conference "Theriofauna of Russia and adjacent territories" (X Congress of Russian Theriological Society).

Unique moose were found in the southeastern part of Western Siberia. Hunters of the Tomsk Region assisted in this discovery. Along with the license for opening the animals, they got set for the capture of prototypes and a small profile.

Scientists fight deadly banana fungus
February 29, 2016 07:11 AM - Editors, SciDev.Net

Around the world, banana farmers are fighting a losing battle against Tropical Race 4, a soil fungus that kills Cavendish bananas, the only type grown for the international market. The disease was first spotted in the early 1990s in Malaysia, but has now started to wipe out crops in large parts of South-East Asia as well as in Africa and the Middle East.

Beavers return to Britain
February 28, 2016 09:46 AM - Nigel Willby & Alan Law, University of Stirling, The Ecologist

Beavers are Britain's native aquatic engineers and their return to sites in Scotland and England is doing wonders for the local environment, write Nigel Willby & Alan Law: restoring wetlands, recreating natural river dynamics and ecology, filtering farm pollutants from water, and improving habitat for trout and other fish.

In Knapdale, damming by beavers transformed a small pond into a wetland of a type and complexity probably unseen in Britain for centuries. On the Bamff estate on Tayside, we found that grazing by beavers trebled the number of wetland plants in 9 years.

Beavers have recently made a tentative return to Britain.

New Heat Wave Formula Can Help Public Health Agencies Prepare for Extreme Temperatures
February 26, 2016 07:13 AM - University of Missouri Health

Extreme heat can pose several health risks, such as dehydration, hyperthermia and even death, especially during sustained periods of high temperatures. However, a uniform definition of a heat wave doesn’t exist. As a result, public health agencies may be unsure of when to activate heat alerts, cooling centers and other protective measures. A University of Missouri School of Medicine researcher has developed a uniform definition of a heat wave that may help public health agencies prepare for extreme temperatures.

Consumers have huge environmental impact
February 25, 2016 07:46 AM - Norwegian University of Science and Technology via EurekAlert!

The world's workshop -- China -- surpassed the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on Earth in 2007. But if you consider that nearly all of the products that China produces, from iPhones to tee-shirts, are exported to the rest of the world, the picture looks very different.

Urban soils release surprising amounts of carbon dioxide
February 24, 2016 07:04 AM - Boston University via EurekAlert!

In the concrete jungle at the core of a city, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are dominated by the fossil fuels burned by the dense concentrations of cars and buildings. Boston University researchers now have shown, however, that in metropolitan areas surrounding the city core, plant roots and decomposing organic material in soil give off enough CO2 , in a process termed "soil respiration", to make an unexpectedly great contribution to total emissions.

Swimming pig colony is site to see in Bahamas
February 22, 2016 07:13 AM - Tex Dworkin, Care2

In the Bahamas, there is an uninhabited island called Big Major Cay, located in the Exuma district.

Actually, that’s not exactly true. The island is uninhabited by humans, but considered the ‘Official Home of the Swimming Pigs.’

Visitors to the island’s “Pig Beach,” as it is commonly called, get to feed and sometimes swim with the pig residents.

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