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Sustainability

Happy Endangered Species Day!
May 15, 2015 08:43 AM - Editor, Population Matters

Started in 2006, Endangered Species Day is “a celebration of wildlife and wild places” intended to promote the “importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions people can take to help protect them”. Every year on the third Friday in May — and throughout the month — zoos, aquariums, parks, botanical gardens, wildlife refuges, museums, schools, community centers, conservation groups and other organizations hold tours, speaker presentations, exhibits, children’s activities and more to commemorate the Day.

World's largest herbivores in danger of extinction due to hunting and habitat loss
May 15, 2015 08:25 AM - UCLA Newsroom

Many of the world’s largest herbivores — including several species of elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses and gorillas — are in danger of becoming extinct. And if current trends continue, the loss of these animals would have drastic implications not only for the species themselves, but also for other animals and the environments and ecosystems in which they live, according to a new report by an international team of scientists.

The study, which was co-authored by Blaire Van Valkenburgh, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, was recently published in the open-access online journal Science Advances.

Urban development causes damage and loss of valuable ecosystems
May 14, 2015 06:29 AM - Harvard University

All land is not created equal. Some ecosystems do triple duty in the benefits they provide to society. Massachusetts forests, for example, filter public drinking water while also providing habitat for threatened species and storing carbon to combat climate change. 

Ecologists and conservation groups single out the hardest-working ecosystems – called “hotspots” – for their exceptional conservation value. A new study published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology reports that the number of ecosystem hotspots has increased in Massachusetts over the past decade, with more and more hotspots popping up in metro Boston. 

But, the study authors say, more hotspots may not be a good thing.

Cycling vs. Car Transportation
May 12, 2015 01:19 PM - ENN Editor

What's more expensive? Owning a car or a bicycle? Answer seems obvious doesn't it? But how much more expensive are cars compared to bicycles? First, we need to consider not only the actual cost of the vehicle, but the hidden costs which can be related to air pollution, climate change, travel routes, noise, road wear, health, congestion, and time. Lucky for us, researchers have compared the costs and according to a Lund University study, traveling by car is six times more expensive for society and individuals.

The environmental impacts of common consumer products
May 12, 2015 06:56 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

A new study estimates for the first time how much land and water well-known brands such as Apple, Kraft and Gap use in a year, and what’s needed to manufacture some of the products they sell.

Based on modelling by environmental data experts Trucost, the ‘Mind your step’ report published by Friends of the Earth examines the land and water ‘footprints’ of a range of diverse products including smartphones, leather boots, coffee, chicken curry ready-meals, t-shirts, and milk chocolate.

Hormones used to stimulate growth in farm animals lead to more human exposure than thought
May 8, 2015 07:39 AM - INDIANA UNIVERSITY via EurekAlert.

Research by an Indiana University environmental scientist and colleagues at universities in Iowa and Washington finds that potentially harmful growth-promoting hormones used in beef production are expected to persist in the environment at higher concentrations and for longer durations than previously thought.

"What we release into the environment is just the starting point for a complex series of chemical reactions that can occur, sometimes with unintended consequences," said Adam Ward, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs. "When compounds react in a way we don't anticipate -- when they convert between species, when they persist after we thought they were gone -- this challenges our regulatory system."

In-active devices waste billions of dollars of electricity
May 7, 2015 03:31 PM - National Resources Defense Council

Approximately $19 billion worth of electricity, equal to the  output of 50 large power plants, is devoured annually by U.S. household electronics, appliances, and other equipment when consumers are not actively using them, according to a groundbreaking study released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Germany is key market for the Tesla Home Battery system
May 5, 2015 06:24 AM - EurActiv

Electric car pioneer Tesla unveiled a "home battery" last week which its founder Elon Musk said would help change the "entire energy infrastructure of the world". Environmentally-conscious German customers are targeted as potential buyers of the product.

The Tesla Powerwall, unveiled on Thursday (30 April), can store power from solar panels, from the electricity grid at night when it is typically cheaper, and provide a secure backup in the case of a power outage.

In theory the device, which typically would fit on the wall of a garage or inside a house, could make solar-powered homes completely independent of the traditional energy grid.

Solar power in Scotland is not a little enterprise
May 4, 2015 07:25 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

The call by WWF Scotland follows the publication of new figures revealing that there was enough sunshine in April to have met more than 100% of the electricity needs of an average home in Scotland or 99% or more of an average household’s hot water needs.

Wind turbines in Scotland also generated enough electricity on average to supply the electrical needs of 69% of Scottish households - 1.66 million homes.

Last month, it was announced that work on Scotland’s largest solar park will start later this year in Angus.

Fracking wastewater and the risk to our food
May 3, 2015 06:42 AM - Roy L Hales

Unconventional drilling creates a huge amount of waste, some of which is being sprayed onto farmer’s fields. A 2005 report from New Zealand stated cows grazing on “dump farms” have elevated levels of hydrocarbons. “Cows are allowed to graze on land with high levels of hydrocarbons without any punishment and their food products are allowed to go to market without government testing,” a Green Party MP said last year. It is happening in Canada too. The field above is northwest of Calgary. Former energy consultant Jessica Ernst said, “We are eating & drinking drilling and fracking waste.”

“When they are drilling deep horizontal wells, they go a great distance and this produces a lot of drilling waste. It is toxic. There are a lot of naturally occurring toxics that are brought up. It is often radioactive. I have documentation that the formations they want to frack are radioactive. This comes up with metals and BTEX (Benzene, Tolulene, Ethylbenzyne, Xylenes)  carcinogens plus the mystery additives which companies refuse to disclose,” said Ernst.

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