Ecosystems

How Farm Pests Can Threaten Food Security
September 2, 2014 12:49 PM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

Agricultural pests - viruses, bacteria, fungi, blights, mildews, rusts, beetles, nematodes, flies, mites, spiders and caterpillars - are spreading thanks to trade, travel and global warming, writes Tim Radford. The world faces a dire future of increased crop losses and growing insecurity. Coming soon to a farm near you: just about every possible type of pest that could take advantage of the ripening harvest in the nearby fields.

Puffins in New England
August 29, 2014 03:36 PM - PETER BAKER/ecoRI News contributor

I can't help but smile when I see a puffin, and I know I'm not alone. Thousands of people board tour boats each summer in Maine to get a glimpse of these charming seabirds with their tuxedo plumage and rainbow beaks. But what's in those beaks is serious business. The forage fish that puffin parents bring back to their island nests mean the difference between life and death for the chicks, and the past few years offer stark evidence of what happens when those fish become scarce.

Reducing Water Scarcity
August 29, 2014 02:53 PM - McGill University

Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and U.S. federal officials last year warned residents of Arizona and Nevada that they could face cuts in Colorado River water deliveries in 2016. Irrigation techniques, industrial and residential habits combined with climate change lie at the root of the problem. But despite what appears to be an insurmountable problem, according to researchers from McGill and Utrecht University it is possible to turn the situation around and significantly reduce water scarcity in just over 35 years.

Study Suggests More Research before Fracking Continues
August 29, 2014 07:22 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

An independent report on fracking has recommended a temporary moratorium on the controversial process and says that communities should give permission before it can proceed. The interdisciplinary expert panel set up by the Nova Scotia regional government says the science of fracking is relatively unknown and therefore its introduction should be delayed in the Province until the science and its environmental effects are better understood.

"Global Roadmap" Created to Balance Development with Environmental Protection
August 28, 2014 11:49 AM - Morgan Erickson-Davis, MONGABAY.COM

Roads make it possible to bring goods to market, to get to the office, to log a forest, to hunt its wildlife. Without roads, human society as we know it could not exist. However, to build roads, trees must be cleared and swamps drained, shrinking valuable wildlife habitat and fragmenting populations in the process. A new study, published today in Nature, unveils an innovative map that defines which areas of the world would best be used to build roads — and which should be left alone. Scientists estimate more than 25 million kilometers of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, representing a 60 percent increase over 2010 numbers. Many of these are slated for environmentally valuable places with high numbers of unique species and pristine forest, such as the Amazon Basin.

Monarch Butterflies need Endangered Species Act protection
August 28, 2014 09:49 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

As monarch butterflies are beginning their epic migration from Canada and the U.S. to Mexico for the winter, concerns about the drastic rate at which they're disappearing from the landscape have led environmental and health organizations to petition the government for federal protection. This week, the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Xerces Society and monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower filed a legal petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking protection for monarchs under the Endangered Species Act.

Mystery Behind Slithering Rocks of Death Valley Revealed
August 28, 2014 09:38 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

In California's Death Valley, a geological phenomenon exists. Sailing stones, or moving rocks can be observed on the valley floor inscribing long trails on the ground without human or animal intervention. For over 60 years of observations, no one has been able to uncover the mystery of what is actually pushing these stones across the sand. That is, until now.

Dams vs. Rivers
August 27, 2014 08:40 AM - Editor, The Ecologist

A new 'State of the World's Rivers' database shows how the world's rivers have been impoverished by dams and their ecosystems devastated - and provides a valuable resource to help save river basins that remain in good health. International Rivers has launched 'The State of the World's Rivers', an interactive online database that illustrates the role that dams have played in impoverishing the health of the world's river basins.

Drought Causes Western US to Rise
August 22, 2014 02:00 PM - Editor, ENN

Severe drought affecting the western United States in recent years is not only influencing water restrictions for residence and creating problems for crops and wildlife, but it's changing the landscape by causing land to rise up in elevation.

Fracking's Chemical Cocktails
August 22, 2014 09:15 AM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

Fracking is once again in trouble. Scientists have found that what gets pumped into hydrocarbon-rich rock as part of the hydraulic fracture technique to release gas and oil trapped in underground reservoirs may not be entirely healthy. Environmental engineer William Stringfellow and colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of the Pacific told the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco that they scoured databases and reports to compile a list of the chemicals commonly used in fracking.

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