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Eco-Fruit Farming: Reducing Pesticides while Promoting Best Farming Techniques
November 8, 2013 10:30 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
In a 2005 study conducted by the Pesticide Data Program (under the US Department of Agriculture), out of 774 apples that were analyzed in the United States, 727 samples detected residues of pesticides - that's a whopping 98%! Furthermore, apples rank number 1 on the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list, which ranks fruits and vegetables on their levels of pesticides. Why are these colorful fruits laced with so many pesticides? In order for farmers to have a successful growing season, they often use pesticides and insecticides on their produce, which has positive effects for crop yields, but also has hazardous negative effects on the environment and potentially for consumers. The problem is two-fold: apple growers want to use the best techniques to grow their crops, and agricultural scientists want to reduce pesticide use.
Exploration urged to discover new rice species
November 8, 2013 08:50 AM - Lotuslei Dimagiba, SciDevNet
More exploration is needed to discover new wild varieties of rice, before they are lost to science forever, heard the 7th International Rice Genetics Symposium held this week (5-8 November) in Manila, the Philippines. There are still many unexplored places and a danger of losing undiscovered rice species that "might be very important for future rice" breakthroughs, said Robert Henry, director of the research institute Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation. Henry, who was speaking at the symposium organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), said a lot of biodiversity is being lost because of the rapid pace of development. This means exploration is in a race with this biodiversity loss.
Relating the trees in the Amazon to west coast droughts
November 7, 2013 02:09 PM - Morgan Kelly, Princeton University
In research meant to highlight how the destruction of the Amazon rainforest could affect climate elsewhere, Princeton University-led researchers report that the total deforestation of the Amazon may significantly reduce rain and snowfall in the western United States, resulting in water and food shortages, and a greater risk of forest fires.
Hydrocarbon drilling impacts aquatic life
November 7, 2013 11:37 AM - Editor, ENN
Today, Hydrocarbons are the main source of the world’s electric energy and heat sources (such as home heating) because of the energy produced when burnt. Often this energy is used directly as heat such as in home heaters, which use either petroleum or natural gas.
Global map provides new insights into land use
November 7, 2013 08:49 AM - Editor, ENN
In order to assess the global impacts of land use on the environment and help provide appropriate countermeasures, a group of researchers under the leadership of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) has created a new world map of land use systems. Based on various indicators of land-use intensity, climate, environmental and socio-economic conditions, they identified twelve global patterns called land system archetypes. The scientists from UFZ with colleagues from the Humboldt-University Berlin and University Bonn have recently published their results in the journal Global Environmental Change.
Deep sea Drilling in New Zealand
November 6, 2013 01:51 PM - Rachel Shaw, The Ecologist
Deep sea drilling will soon commence in the rough waters off the New Zealand coast. This could mark the beginning of an oil rush in which democratic process, public concern, environmental protection and safety considerations are all swept aside. The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around New Zealand is fifteen times larger than the country's land area - it extends from the sub-tropical to the sub-Antarctic. Like the Arctic, New Zealand's EEZ supports a multitude of species which travel from far-flung areas of the globe to reach these rich waters. Like the Arctic, New Zealand's EEZ is fast becoming an oil exploration frontier.
Deforestation may hurt US agriculture, affect monsoon cycle
November 6, 2013 08:58 AM - Rhett A. Butler, MONGABAY.COM
Unchecked deforestation will have far-reaching impacts on temperature, rainfall, and monsoon cycles in regions well outside the tropics, affecting agriculture and water availability, warns a new report published by Greenpeace International. The report, titled "An Impending Storm: Impacts of deforestation on weather patterns and agriculture", is a synthesis of dozens of recent scientific papers that assess the effects of forest cover loss on weather patterns, local climate, and agricultural productivity.
2013 PCB dredging on the Hudson
November 5, 2013 02:50 PM - Editor, ENN
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that more than 612,000 cubic yards of river bottom sediment contaminated with PCBs were removed from the upper Hudson River during 2013, exceeding the annual goal of 350,000 cubic yards for this historic dredging project. This is similar to the amount dredged in 2012 when more than 650,000 cubic yards were removed. The Superfund cleanup required by the EPA calls for the dredging of approximately 2.65 million cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment from a 40-mile stretch of the upper Hudson River between Fort Edward and Troy, New York. The project began in 2009 and is about 73% complete, putting the dredging on track to be finished in two years. To date, about 1.9 million of the 2.65 million cubic yards million have been removed. Filling of previously dredged areas with clean sand and gravel will continue over the next several weeks, weather permitting. About 280 local area contractors, subcontractors, vendors and suppliers have provided goods or services related to Hudson River dredging.
Sea stars wasting away on both U.S. coasts
November 5, 2013 02:01 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Evidence suggests that we are at the onset of another sea star wasting event. Sea stars on both the east and west coasts of the United States have fallen victim to a wasting disease that overcomes the Pisaster ochraceus in a matter of days once an initial lesion appears. The disease, while currently not understood, is rapidly transmitted amongst the population once it takes hold. On the west coast studies show that the disease is bacterial but on the east coast it is viral. Both result in a similar disintegration of the flesh within a very short period of time.
Climate change likely to affect streams that quench Salt Lake City's thirst
November 5, 2013 12:26 PM - Editor, ENN
New research shows that in the Salt Lake City region, for every increased Fahrenheit degree, a significant drop in the annual flow of streams is likely to occur. While the impacts of a temperature increase would vary among the region's watersheds, it is predicted that the stream flow would decline by 1.8 to 6.5 percent for each degree of temperature rise, with an average reduction of 3.8 percent. This drop will also have serious consequences for the city’s water supply as some of the creeks and streams will dry up several weeks earlier in the summer and fall.