Enn Original News

Arctic Wars and Change
June 6, 2011 10:47 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Arctic Ocean is a vast frozen sea bordered by Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway. It has been explored but is potential for mineral deposits and oil and gas deposits is not known clearly. Some of it is near these nations and the gradually melting northern areas are revealing more and more and allowing readier access. Then there are other regions that may be fought over. Those reserves have been known about for centuries, yet a combination of new extraction technology and rising demand means that the human race is ready to fight for them while raising the threat of devastating pollution to a uniquely clean environment. The melting arctic is a sign of global warming but the net result may be more exploitation and environmental change.

Bar Headed Goose Climb
June 6, 2011 10:05 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Bar-headed Goose is a goose which breeds in Central Asia in colonies of thousands near mountain lakes. Drs. Charles Bishop and Lucy Hawkes, from Bangor University, and a large international team of researchers, report that bar-headed geese can fly climb up to 6,000 meters in only 8 hours while passing over the massive Himalayan mountain range – a similar intense climb could kill a human without lengthy acclimatisation. The geese make the journey on their annual spring migration from India to Central Asia. The team followed the migrations of these geese every hour using GPS satellite tags, following capture of the birds in India and Mongolia, where they winter and breed, respectively. In the study published May 31, they show that the geese can make the long climb in a single flight and that, surprisingly, rather than waiting for potentially favorable and predictable wind conditions to help carry them up and over the Himalaya (as had been thought previously), they wait for the winds to die down, and then make the climb over the mountains in the relative calm and peace of the night and early morning.

Europe's New E. Coli Scare
June 3, 2011 11:13 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

A new E. Coli outbreak has struck Europe. It started with a few deaths in Germany from what were thought to be Spanish cucumbers. Then more people in Germany and around the continent got infected. Trade tensions mounted and vegetable producers from various other countries became affected by the new outbreak. Now there have been cases reported in the United States, and Russia has banned the importing of fresh vegetables from the European Union. Vegetable producers around the continent are suffering from a worried public not buying their goods.

Amazing new images from BBC Earth: Eating and living with Lions
June 3, 2011 11:00 AM - Jane Atkins, Human Planet Researcher, BBC Earth

While diving into Life Is Human, we've cherished catching up with the Human Planet Production team via their blog. Traveling to eighty of the most remote locations on Earth, to gather incredible stories about man's remarkable relationship with the natural world... just was not enough! They decided to share their personal experiences too. Over the next few weeks we will be featuring some of the posts we've been bowled over by, and bringing them directly to you! This week, we're featuring Human Planet researcher Jane Atkins who tells the exceptional tale of the Dorobo tribe's hunter scavengers. Using skills passed down over 1000's of years, this ancient lifestyle is rapidly in decline, but is it the end of the Dorobo? Dive in to find out more. "You see, Lions and the Dorobo, we feed each other." "If we hunt a large animal, we take away as much as we can, but leave the rest for the lions to feed on. And sometimes the lions kill a really fat animal and we say, lets take this one. It is not simple, you have to track carefully and quietly. You are scared... thinking – will I be mauled?" "Once you make the decision to steal meat from lions, you have to be committed" Rakita says. "But when you are hungry and know lions have killed first - you take your chance. There are days when we eat only what the lion has killed. We live on those lion kills until we finally make our own kills." When we filmed 3 Dorobo hunters stride up to 15 lions to steal from their fresh kill our hearts were in our mouths. Courageous? Ingenious? Suicidal? All of these perhaps, but this one act is undeniably impressive. The Dorobo say they are hunters just like lions. They watch lions, and how they hunt. Just as lions do, the Dorobo watch every animal on the great plains – and study each individual. Like lions they observe which ones are wounded, slower, easier to pick off. They wait and wait until the time is right to hunt. And if the lion gets there first, well the Dorobo turn that into another opportunity.

Iceberg Fertilizer
June 3, 2011 08:15 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Iceberg are just frozen water. Water picks up other stuff when it freezes whether as dissolved or scraped up. Icebergs calving off of Antarctica are shedding substantial iron — the equivalent of a growth-boosting vitamin — into waters starved of the mineral, a new set of studies demonstrates. This iron is fertilizing the growth of microscopic plants and algae, transforming the waters adjacent to ice floes into teeming communities of everything from tiny shrimplike krill to fish, birds and sometimes mammals. Iron is a trace element necessary for photosynthesis in all plants. It is highly insoluble in sea water and is often the limiting nutrient for phytoplankton growth. Large phytoplankton blooms can be created by supplying iron to iron-deficient ocean waters.

World Environment Day
June 2, 2011 01:31 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

World Environment Day is a day that is supposed to stimulate awareness of the environment and enhance political attention and public action. The official day is June 5. This was the day that the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment began. The first World Environment Day was on 1973. The theme this year is Forests-Nature At Your Service. Forests cover one third of the earth’s land mass, performing vital functions and services around the world which make our planet alive with possibilities. In fact, 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. They play a key role in the world ecology, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere while storing carbon dioxide. Thousands of activities are typically organized worldwide, with beach clean-ups, concerts, exhibits, film festivals, community events and much more. Each year there is a different host city. For 2011 it is New Delhi, India.

Tornadoes Strike Massachusetts
June 2, 2011 09:54 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

In one of the state's most bizarre weather events, Massachusetts was hit by several tornadoes yesterday, causing destruction, injuries, and the deaths of at least four people. The tornadoes occurred in several towns in the Springfield area including Westfield, West Springfield, Wilbraham, Sturbridge, Monson, Oxford, Charlton, Agawam, Brimfield, and Douglas. Massachusetts residents have been shocked by the extensive damage left in their wake.

Algae Treatment
June 1, 2011 09:44 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

It is like the Goldilocks fable. Too much algae chokes up an ecosystem. Too much nutrients can cause excessive biological growth. The just right amount of algae can balance the system just right. An article published in the June issue of BioScience describes the early scale-up stage of a new biotechnology with environmental benefits and possible commercial potential. Algal turf scrubbers are field-sized, water-treatment systems that can extract excess nutrients from streams, canals, and lakes polluted by agricultural, domestic, and some industrial runoff. They use sunlight as their principal source of energy and simultaneously restore oxygen levels. The devices work by pulsing contaminated water across algae that are allowed to grow on screens. algal turf scrubbers produce waste suitable for use as a nitrogen- and phosphorus-rich fertilizer and for conversion to biofuel or high-value nutraceuticals. Some algal turf scrubbers can even operate in open water, thus minimizing loss of agricultural land to the systems.

How to Bring Electric Vehicles to the Mass Market
June 1, 2011 09:41 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Electric cars are not a new concept in the automotive industry. They were around before the pre-eminence of the internal combustion engine in the 1890s. They were introduced again in the United States in the 1990s with GM's EV1, but were dropped when GM decided they are unprofitable. Now the Chevy Volt is out and several more models will be hitting the market soon. Automakers must figure out how to avoid having their electric vehicles suffer an agonizing death in the niche market, and instead, figure out how to get 100 million EVs on the road.

Mammoth Mating Habits
May 31, 2011 08:23 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Like their modern relative the elephant, mammoths were quite large. The largest known species, Songhua River mammoth, reached heights of at least 16 feet at the shoulder. Mammoths would probably normally weigh in the region of 6 to 8 tons, but exceptionally large males may have exceeded 12 tons. However, most species of mammoth were only about as large as a modern Asian elephant. A DNA-based study sheds new light on the complex evolutionary history of the woolly mammoth, suggesting it mated with a completely different and much larger species. The research, which appears in the biomed Central's open access journal Genome Biology, found the woolly mammoth, which lived in the cold climate of the Arctic tundra, interbred with the Columbian mammoth, which preferred the more temperate regions of North America and was some 25 per cent larger.

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