Sustainability

Underestimating the Impacts of Old-Growth Logging
August 1, 2014 09:28 AM - Rhett A. Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Ecologists may be underestimating the impact of logging in old-growth tropical forests by failing to account for subtleties in how different animal groups respond to the intensity of timber extraction, argues a paper published today in the journal Current Biology. The study, led by Zuzana Burivalova of ETH Zurich, is based on a meta-analysis of 48 studies that evaluated the impact of selective logging on mammals, birds, amphibians, and invertebrates in tropical forests. Burivalova, together with co-authors Cagan Sekercioglu and Lian Pin Koh, found that biodiversity is inversely proportional to logging intensity.

Drilling in the Dark
August 1, 2014 08:54 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison

As production of shale gas soars, the industry's effects on nature and wildlife remain largely unexplored, according to a study by a group of conservation biologists published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on August 1. The report emphasizes the need to determine the environmental impact of chemical contamination from spills, well-casing failure, and other accidents. "We know very little about how shale gas production is affecting plants and wildlife," says author Sara Souther, a conservation fellow in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "And in particular, there is a lack of accessible and reliable information on spills, wastewater disposal and the chemistry of fracturing fluids. Of the 24 U.S. states with active shale gas reservoirs, only five maintain public records of spills and accidents." The 800 percent increase in U.S. shale gas production between 2007 and 2012 is largely due to the use of hydraulic fracturing. Also called fracking, the process uses high-pressure injection of water, laden with sand and a variety of chemicals, to open cracks in the gas reservoir so natural gas can flow to the well.

Importance of Air Quality and Employee Productivity
July 30, 2014 09:19 PM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

A number of credible studies have shown that indoor air quality can have a significant effect on employee productivity. And we're not just talking about air that's so bad that you can't see or breathe. Generally speaking, OSHA takes cares of those (though I could tell you a story about an agricultural processing job I once worked in Arkansas). What we're talking about here is much more subtle than that.

Green Turtle success story
July 30, 2014 07:48 AM - Staff, Click Green, ClickGreen

More than 70 years after major turtle nesting beaches became protected on the remote UK overseas territory of Ascension Island researchers are now reporting a boom in population numbers. Scientists from the University of Exeter and Ascension Island Government Conservation Department report that the number of green turtles nesting at the remote South Atlantic outpost has increased by more than 500 per cent since records began in the 1970s.

General Motors, OnStar, EV's and the Smart Grid
July 29, 2014 01:09 PM - Editor, Justmeans

General Motors is bringing its OnStar-enabled Smart Grid solutions, to one of the largest electric vehicle collaborations to take place within the industry. Eight global automakers, including GM, and 15 electric utilities are working with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop and implement a standardized Smart Grid integration platform. "One thing that’s missing from most Smart Grid programs is a sense of collaboration," said Tim Nixon, chief technology officer, Global Connected Consumer, GM. "Companies will showcase a meaningful solution, but without widespread acceptance in the industry, its usability is limited. That's what makes this partnership unique."

Coffee Rust in Guatemala
July 28, 2014 07:32 AM - Carrie Khan, NPR

Outside the northern Guatemalan town of Olopa, near the Honduran border, farmer Edwin Fernando Diaz Viera stands in the middle of his tiny coffee field. He says it was his lifelong dream to own a farm here. The area is renowned for producing some of the world's richest Arabica, the smooth-tasting beans beloved by specialty coffee brewers. "My farm was beautiful, it was big," he says. But then, a plant fungus called coffee rust, or roya in Spanish, hit his crop. "Coffee rust appeared and wiped out everything," he says.

How to encourage recycling and feed stray animals at the same time!
July 27, 2014 08:28 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

Istanbul, Turkey recently unveiled awesome new machines that help both the environment and needy animals. Each time a person recycles a plastic bottle in the designated receptacle, pet food is ejected into a bowl at the bottom so hungry stray animals have something to eat. So far, the machines have been a hit with residents. People who would normally toss bottles in a trash can might wait to carry the plastic a bit longer to dispose of it in the recycling bin now that they know they can assist animals. It’s a win-win scenario that doubles Turkish people's incentive to do the right thing.

The important role of community forests
July 25, 2014 07:49 AM - Yale Environment360

Expanding and strengthening the community forest rights of indigenous groups and rural residents can make a major contribution to sequestering carbon and reducing CO2 emissions from deforestation, according to a new report. The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Rights and Resources Initiative said that indigenous people and rural inhabitants in Latin America, Africa, and Asia have government-recognized rights to forests containing nearly 38 billion tons of carbon, equal to 29 times the annual emissions of all the world’s passenger vehicles. By enforcing community rights to those forests, the study said, governments can play a major role in tackling climate change. In the Brazilian Amazon, for example, deforestation rates are 11 times lower in community forests than in forests outside those areas. In areas where community forest rights are ignored, deforestation rates often soar. The report made five major recommendations, from better enforcement of community forest zones to compensating communities for the climate and other benefits their forests provide.

Groundwater depletion and western US water supply
July 24, 2014 04:34 PM - NASA and UC Irvine

A new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine, scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought. This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years.

Save the Bluefin Tuna
July 24, 2014 08:23 AM - Center for Biological Diversity

The National Marine Fisheries Service opened a public process today to determine whether to prohibit fishing for Pacific bluefin tuna, which have suffered a 96 percent decline since large-scale fishing began. The action followed the Center for Biological Diversity’s rulemaking petition sent in April. The Pacific bluefin population’s historic low triggered a requirement for new regulations to better manage overfishing by April 8, 2014, but regulators thus far have declined to take any steps to help the fish. Today’s request for comments is the federal government’s first step to spur action from the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

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