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Sustainability

Why is SO Much Food Wasted?
January 11, 2013 07:02 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

A new report titled "Global food, waste not, want not" published by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers has found that 30 to 50 percent of all food produced in the world never reaches a stomach. The authors of the study warn that these figures are quite conservative. The large amounts of land, energy, fertilizers and water that are wasted in the food production have not been accounted for.

iWind Power?
January 9, 2013 05:58 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Apple may be the world’s valuable company and brand, but to sustainability and corporate social responsibility advocates, the company is often a pariah. But a patent application the company filed last year, first revealed on the Apple Insider blog, shows that some of that cash on which Apple is sitting could be invested in a new clean energy technology. Filed last year, the application describes a set of rotating blades that converts rotational energy from a wind turbine into heat that is then stored in a vessel containing "low heat capacity fluid." The system would then selectively transfer the heat as needed from that low heat capacity fluid to a "working fluid" and hence would generate electricity. Heat, not rotational energy, would would be the result of the turbine's blades rotating; and even more exciting, energy could be used when needed, as when there is little or no wind.

More Fin whales in the Mediterranean Sea
January 8, 2013 02:50 PM - Editor

The scientific journal Marine Ecology recently published a study undertaken by the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, ISPRA (Istituto Superiore per la Ricerca e Protezione Ambientale) showing that frequency of occurrence of fin whales in the central Tyrrhenian sea increased by 300% over 20 years. From 1989 to 1992 dedicated cetacean surveys along a trans regional fixed-transect in the central Tyrrhenian sea were carried out twice a week, using passengers ferries as a research observation platform. Collected data provided new information about cetacean species and their distribution in the region. From 2007 the research restarted with same protocol, the fixed line transect seasonally monitored the line from Civitavecchia (Rome district) to Golfo Aranci (Sardinia), along a strategic area just out of the southern border of the Pelagos Sanctuary.

Climate Change Finally Getting Our Collective Attention
January 2, 2013 07:02 AM - Gia Machlin, Triple Pundit

It's that time of year when we look back and reflect on the past year and make silly lists. ENN Affiliate, TriplePundit has assembled a Top Five list of the reasons that Climate Change is finally getting more attention. This list is far from silly — it is quite sobering news for many of us to accept. In 2012, climate change came to the forefront. Here are 5 reasons why: 5) 2012 was the hottest year on record. A December 2012 report by the independent non profit organization Climate Central states: "There is a 99.99999999 percent chance that 2012 will be the hottest year ever recorded in the continental 48 states, based on our analysis of 118 years of temperature records through Dec. 10, 2012." Not that we won't see more days with below freezing temperatures and chilling winds, but those days are becoming less frequent. While this is good news for those that hate the cold, it is bad news for the planet, as sea levels rise and arctic habitats disappear.

Touchdown for Sustainability: College Football Bowls Increase Efforts
December 31, 2012 08:57 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

As is the case with most sports, college football—not to mention bowl games—and sustainability do not intuitively go in the same sentence. The long-term sustainability of many of these games themselves come into question considering how many of them there are; 6-6 teams have an opportunity to play in showcases such as the Beef-o-Brady's Bowl. Then, you have the dubious "charity" distinction and questions about whether these "nonprofits" contribute to local communities as much as they say; the nonprofit organizations that organized 24 bowl games two years ago donated less than two percent of total proceeds to charity.

Two Arctic Ice Seals Gain Endangered Species Act Protection - Warming Climate a Key Factor
December 29, 2012 09:41 AM - Center for Biological Diversity

Responding to a 2008 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the federal government today finalized Endangered Species Act protection for two ice-dependent Arctic seals threatened by melting sea ice and snowpack due to climate change. Ringed seals and bearded seals, found in the waters off Alaska, are the first species since polar bears to be protected primarily because of climate change threats. "Arctic animals face a clear danger of extinction from climate change," said Shaye Wolf, the Center's climate science director. "The Endangered Species Act offers strong protections for these seals, but we can't save the Arctic ecosystem without confronting the broader climate crisis. The Obama administration has to take decisive action, right now, against greenhouse gas pollution to preserve a world filled with ice seals, walruses and polar bears."

Marshes on U.S. Coast Need More Protection NOW
December 27, 2012 09:52 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

A hundred years ago we thought that we had to fill in the marshes near populated areas along the eastern US coastline since they represented prime locations for commercial and residential development. Even after some protections were put in place to reduce the impacts of runaway development, marshes continued to serve are the places we dumped our garbage, and sent the effluents from our wastewater treatment plants. They also receive the nutrient-rich run off from agricultural land use and urban street runoff to our rivers. A major nine-year study led by researcher Linda Deegan points to the damage that human-caused nutrients inflict on salt marshes along the U.S. East Coast. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, she describes what these findings mean for an ecosystem that provides critical services, from nourishing marine life to buffering the coast from storms like Sandy.

Come With Me on a Plastic Carpet Ride!
December 26, 2012 11:45 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Cities are often littered with trash and plastics on every street corner. The haphazard candy wrapper, bottle or plastic bag blowing in the wind creates eyesores for locals and tourists alike. But what is the litter situation in the desert? You won't find too much garbage where there aren't any people, that is unless it's a piece of plastic artwork. Dutch collective, WE MAKE CARPETS, was recently commissioned by the Taragalte Festival in southern Morocco to turn ordinary plastics into a magic carpet piece of artwork.

Sweet Potatoes Unexpected Reaction to Rising CO2 Levels
December 26, 2012 08:56 AM - Zoraida Portillo, SciDevNet

Rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere caused by human-driven emissions might lead to larger sweet potatoes, a staple food for many African and Asian countries, research reveals. Sweet potatoes could double in size with the increase in CO2 levels currently forecasted for the end of this century, according to research by a team from the University of Hawaii, United States. The team presented their finding at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, in San Francisco this month (3-7 December).

Christmas Trees Absorb Greenhouse Gasses
December 25, 2012 08:04 AM - Larry O'Hanlon, Discovery News

Your Christmas tree and its brethren are absorbing methane, a super greenhouse gas that they were previously suspected of emitting. In fact, previous studies put the global methane output by plants at between 62 and 236 teragrams each year. That's not small potatoes (if you will pardon the vegetable pun), but 10 to 30 percent of all methane entering the atmosphere. I refer to methane as a "super" greenhouse gas because it does what carbon dioxide does, but packs about 25 times the punch, which is bad. However, methane does not last very as long in Earth's atmosphere, which is good. Then again, one of the things methane degrades into is carbon dioxide. Bad again. Ugh.

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