Enn Original News

ENN Community Launches
February 23, 2011 03:50 PM - Editor, ENN

Great news today! We've launched a brand new community for ENN! This feature brings a whole new dimension to our site by creating a vibrant space for our readers and environmental enthusiasts to interact with each other and weigh in with YOUR opinions about topics related to our news articles. That's right, it's your turn at the mic! Time to jump in and start sharing. We are really excited to have you all begin posting your thoughts and tips -- you can start by rating your favorite environment topics, and then begin to share tips and reviews as well. You can also check out the latest reviews from fellow readers to share your comments and compliments. There are lots of ways to get the most out of our new community -- take a few polls and see some of the badges that you can unlock, too. Have fun checking out the newest part of ENN and thanks for helping us kick off a thriving reader community!

New from BBC Earth: Polar Bears emerge
February 23, 2011 11:37 AM - BBC Earth

January and February is a fantastic time of year for new life all over the world! And activity in the Arctic is of no exception, even though the freezing temperatures may have you thinking differently. Surviving and succeeding in the most extreme elements, the Polar Bear is one of nature’s great fighters. And it starts from day one. Born in the darkness of December, within the mountainous areas of the Arctic circle, the first few weeks of these cubs' life would be fraught with danger...if it wasn't for one thing; the dedication of their mother. After consuming huge amounts of food (almost doubling their body weight!) in preparation for hibernation, the female Polar Bear will first wait for the sea ice to break up. Then in the snow drifts near the coastal waters, will go about making her den that will be her resting place for the next three to four months. Resting in their deep warm nesting place, the Polar Bear mother will usually give birth to a pair of cubs. Born blind and deaf, these vulnerable bears take several weeks to develop even the basic abilities of seeing, hearing, smelling and walking.

Sheep Brains
February 23, 2011 06:38 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Despite having a comparable brain size to other highly evolved animals, sheep have been historically perceived as unintelligent and were therefore not considered to be good animal models for studying diseases that affect learning and memory. However, new research recently published in the journal PLoS ONE shows that sheep are indeed smarter than previously believed. The researchers are hopeful the animals will prove useful for research into diseases that impair the cognitive abilities of patients, such as Huntington's disease (HD) and Alzheimer's disease. Sheep are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name "sheep" applies to many species in the genus Ovis, in everyday usage it almost always refers to Ovis aries. Numbering a little over one billion, domestic sheep are also the most numerous species of sheep.

Captive Gorillas Succumbing to Human Disease
February 22, 2011 11:20 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Life for humans is much easier than for animals in the wild. On a day-to-day basis, we generally do not have to worry about being eaten or starving to death. Depending on the individual's job, some can get by just fine by sitting around all day. However, this lifestyle brings forth its own set of health issues such as diabetes and heart disease, illnesses rarely found in the wild. These "human" diseases have spread to gorillas that are raised in captivity.

Bald Men and Prostate Cancer
February 22, 2011 08:03 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Men who start to lose hair at the age of 20 are more likely to develop prostate cancer in later life and might benefit from screening for the disease, according to a new study published online in the cancer journal, Annals of Oncology. The study set out to see if early-onset androgenic alopecia (which are directly connected to androgens such as testosterone) was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer later in life. Androgens play a role in the development of both androgenic alopecia, commonly known as male pattern baldness, and prostate cancer. Testosterone, which is a very potent androgen or male hormone, is responsible for increased muscle mass, deepened voice and strong bones characteristic of the male gender. In addition, testosterone can contribute to aggression, libido, and growth of genitalia during puberty. Male hormones also have an effect on the liver and cholesterol; however, when it is converted into another androgen, it acts on the skin and hair follicles, and in some cases, producing male pattern baldness.

EU Household Plastics Banning
February 18, 2011 12:58 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The European Union will ban six toxic chemicals within three to five years, three of which are commonly used in plastic household items. Among the compounds are three plastic softening phthalates, a musk fragrance, a flame retardant and a hardener for epoxy resin. Although the most toxic phthalates have been banned in children's toys since 1999, a survey last October showed some are commonly found in products on supermarket shelves, including items regularly used by children, such as pencil cases and erasers. The decision is being taken under the REACH regulation on chemicals, adopted in 2006 after major debate and discussion.

How Rising Sea Levels Will Affect the US Coastline
February 18, 2011 09:08 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Thankfully, no major US city has gone underwater due to rising sea levels caused from global climate change. What happened in New Orleans was an effect of Hurricane Katrina, a failure of the levees, and the fact that part of the city was built below the water level. However, climate experts predict that sea levels will rise as ocean temperatures increase and the polar ice caps melt. Contingency plans are already being formulated by vulnerable US coastal cities. According to a new study led by scientists at the University of Arizona (UA), rising sea levels could cover up to nine percent of the land area in 180 US cities by 2100.

New from BBC Earth: Wildebeest calves are born
February 18, 2011 07:45 AM - BBC Earth

As one of the largest groups of wandering animals, you would have thought that when it comes to their young, they would be in trouble from the beginning. Alike many animals that reside on the Eastern African savannas, it's a dog eat dog world...or more lion and hyena eats everyone else! However these magnificent animals have an ingenious solution up their sleeves! Known as the "follower-calf" system, an incredible 80% of the Wildebeest females intuitively give birth within the same two to three week period. This synchronization reduces the probability of the tender young wildebeest to become prey to the predominant predator of the area, the hungry spotted hyaena. And this is not the only technique these bovid (family of cloven-hoofed mammals!) have against this harsh nature of the Serengeti plains. They also choose to give birth in the middle of the herd, rather than straying away to find a secluded place — a clear example of there being power in numbers!

Lake Baikal Climate History
February 17, 2011 01:49 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world, with an average depth of over 5000 feet down and is 25 million years old so is therefore not only the deepest lake but oldest. Lake Baikal contains roughly 20% of the world's surface fresh water that is unfrozen and is located in the south of the Russian region of Siberia near the city of Irkutsk). has provided scientists with insight into the ways that climate change affects water temperature, which in turn affects life in the lake. The study is published in the journal PLoS ONE today. The research team discovered many climate variability signals, called teleconnections, in the data. For example, changes in Lake Baikal water temperature correlate with monthly variability in El NiƱo indices, reflecting sea surface temperatures over the Pacific Ocean tens of thousands of kilometers away. At the same time, Lake Baikal's temperatures are influenced by strong interactions with Pacific Ocean pressure fields described by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

Closer to the Cure for the Common Cold
February 17, 2011 09:42 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

There is no cure for the common cold, no magic elixir that will make all of your symptoms go away. However, over human's many millennia of battling the cold, we have found little tricks that can help fight it. According to new systematic review published in The Cochrane Library, we have found a new trick that could provide huge benefits. A way to significantly reduce severity and duration of the common cold is to take Zinc supplements.

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