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Sustainability

Electric Vehicles are Cool, Literally.
March 19, 2015 02:02 PM - Michigan State University

A study in this week’s Scientific Report by researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) and in China add more fuel to the already hot debate about whether electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly than conventional vehicles by uncovering two hidden benefits.

They show that the cool factor is real – in that electric vehicles emit significantly less heat.  That difference could mitigate the urban heat island effect, the phenomenon that helps turn big cities like Beijing into pressure cookers in warm months.

Amazon forest trees dying younger, reducing carbon uptake
March 18, 2015 05:54 PM - University of Leeds

From a peak of two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year in the 1990s, the net uptake by the forest has halved and is now for the first time being overtaken by fossil fuel emissions in Latin America.  

The results of this monumental 30-year survey of the South American rainforest, which involved an international team of almost 100 researchers and was led by the University of Leeds, are published today in the journal Nature.

Oregon State University study provides new insight into forest life cycles and carbon storage
March 18, 2015 07:50 AM - Oregon State University

A century-long study in the Oregon Cascades may cause scientists to revise the textbook on how forests grow and die, accumulate biomass and store carbon.

In a new analysis of forest succession in three Douglas-fir stands in the Willamette National Forest, two Oregon State University scientists report that biomass – a measure of tree volume – has been steadily accumulating for 150 years. In the long term, such a trend is not sustainable, they said, and if these stands behave in a manner similar to others in the Cascades, trees will begin to die from causes such as insect outbreaks, windstorms or fire.

“Mortality will occur in the future,” said Mark Harmon, professor and Richardson Chair in Forest Science at OSU. “It just hasn’t arrived.”

Renewable energy sources really making a difference!
March 15, 2015 07:12 AM - Click Green staff, ClickGreen

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn, according to new data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

"This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today," said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, recently named to take over from Maria van der Hoeven as the next IEA Executive Director.
 

Success Story: Baby Tortoises Return to Pinzón
March 13, 2015 08:58 AM - Judy Molland, Care2

Wonderful news! Ten baby tortoises have been spotted on the Galapagos island of Pinzón, in Ecuador. This might not seem like such a big deal–after all, aren’t the Galapagos famous for their tortoises? But in this case, it’s been more than 100 years since the last baby tortoise was seen on Pinzón. Sadly, it was human activity that brought these cute animals to the brink of extinction. Sailors first arrived on Pinzón Island in the mid-18th century, bringing with them on their boats numerous rats that quickly gained a foothold in the fragile ecosystem, feasting on the eggs and hatchlings of the island’s tortoises who, up until then, had few natural predators.

Why post-fire logging is important
March 12, 2015 09:21 AM - US Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station

Harvesting fire-killed trees is an effective way to reduce woody fuels for up to four decades following wildfire in dry coniferous forests, a U.S. Forest Service study has found.

What inspires people to support conservation?
March 10, 2015 09:11 AM - Cornell University via EurekAlert!

What inspires people to support conservation? As concerns grow about the sustainability of our modern society, this question becomes more important. A new study by researchers at Cornell University provides one simple answer: bird watching and hunting.

This survey of conservation activity among rural landowners in Upstate New York considered a range of possible predictors such as gender, age, education, political ideology, and beliefs about the environment. All other factors being equal, bird watchers are about five times as likely, and hunters about four times as likely, as non-recreationists to engage in wildlife and habitat conservation. Both bird watchers and hunters were more likely than non-recreationists to enhance land for wildlife, donate to conservation organizations, and advocate for wildlife-all actions that significantly impact conservation success.

Solar Impulse going around the world on sunshine
March 10, 2015 07:48 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

After 13 years of planning, the Solar Impulse SI2 took off last night from Al-Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi at 7:12 a.m. local time. This initiated the first leg of its historic attempt to be the first solar-powered airplane to fly around the world. If all goes well, the plane will return to Al-Bateen in June or July. As reported here in January, the first leg was a short 12-hour “shakedown cruise” to Muscat, Oman, piloted by Andre Borschberg. The plane landed safely in Muscat, more or less on schedule, at 12:14 p.m. Eastern time.

Of the two pilots who will take turns behind the wheel, Borschberg is the engineer and former fighter pilot who is intimately familiar with every detail of the plane’s design and construction.

Newest 'green' burial method? Turn your loved ones into trees
March 4, 2015 07:01 AM - Tex Dworkin, Care2

Have you ever considered what might be a more eco-friendly alternative to coffins? How about organic burial pods where, instead of headstones, trees are planted on top. Two Italian designers–Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel– came up with up a project called Capsula Mundi, an innovative design concept with an environmental twist that addresses the exorbitant use of natural resources associated with traditional burials. Described as “the first Italian project created to promote the realization of green cemeteries in our country,” Capsula Mundi is an egg-shaped pod created to house a deceased human body in the fetal position, which eventually becomes nutrients that nourish the tree above.

An Organic Future
March 2, 2015 07:52 AM - Tim Sparke, Triple Pundit

The words ‘organic’ and ‘sustainability’ are bandied around quite a bit. While some won’t eat anything but organic, others deny that there’s any future in organic farming. After all, with a population that’s seven billion-strong and growing, how can we possibly expect organics to feed the world? Or so the critics ask. In their view, feeding the masses simply can’t be done without strong chemicals and genetic modification.

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