Caribbean biodiversity and the Mongoose
May 1, 2012 06:55 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
In a single paper in Zootaxa scientists have rewritten the current understanding of lizard biodiversity in the Caribbean. By going over museum specimens of skinks, scientists have discovered 24 new species and re-established nine species previously described species, long-thought invalid. The single paper has increased the number of skinks in the Caribbean by 650 percent, from six recognized species to 39. Unfortunately, half of these new species may already be extinct and all of them are likely imperiled. "Now, one of the smallest groups of lizards in this region of the world has become one of the largest groups," co-author Blair Hedges with Penn State University said in a press release. Hedges and his team determined the new species through morphological research as well as DNA studies.
Wind Turbines found to create local warming
April 30, 2012 06:37 AM - Sid Perkins, Science
Large wind farms can substantially influence local climate, most notably by boosting nighttime temperatures, a new study suggests. Utilizing the same analytical techniques used to discern temperature trends in urban heat islands, researchers scrutinized satellite images of a 10,000-square-kilometer area of west-central Texas, home to four of the world's largest wind farms (turbines near Fluvanna, Texas, shown). The team's analyses revealed that in the 9-year period from 2003 through 2011, when more than 95% of the turbines in the area were erected, the average nighttime land-surface temperature during summer months in areas where wind farms were located increased by 0.65°C more than did temperatures in nearby areas without wind turbines.
Take a Walk, its good for you AND for the Environment!
April 29, 2012 10:08 AM - Kara A. DiCamillo, Sierra Club Green Home
It seems like everyone is in a hurry these days. Look around while doing your daily errands. All of us have some place to be with not a minute to spare. Due to the pressure to keep a fast-paced lifestyle and the lack of reliable public transit, most Americans drive everywhere. Even if it is just to the store down the road, cars equal convenience. The U.S. is home to the largest number of cars in the world, and the number of motor vehicles has been rising by an estimated 3.69 million each year since 1960. As we know, this increase in cars leads to an increase in carbon emissions and pollution. While driving efficiently, participating in a carshare, and investing in fuel-efficient vehicles are all important ways to help, much of the problem is how dependent we are on driving itself. In a recent NPR article, writer Tom Vanderbilt explores pedestrian life in America and says that many parts of the U.S. are now designed specifically for cars, not pedestrians. He has been looking at the way towns are built, how Americans view walking and, most importantly, how to get them moving. Nonprofit organization America Walks says that 41 percent of all trips made in the United States are one mile or less, fewer than 10% of all trips are made by walking and biking.
Rio+20 Sustainable Development Talks too Focused on Technology?
April 28, 2012 08:07 AM - Aisling Irwin, SciDevNet
The conviction that new technologies will solve the world's environmental and social problems has overly dominated early negotiations leading up to the Rio+20 summit in Brazil in June, a UN General Assembly meeting has heard. Mentions of technology were "almost endless" in the first draft of the outcome document, known as the 'zero draft', according to Pat Mooney, executive director of the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group), a non-governmental organisation based in Canada.
Palm oil is a major driver of peatlands destruction in Indonesian Borneo
April 27, 2012 09:38 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
Developers in Indonesian Borneo are increasingly converting carbon-dense peatlands for oil palm plantations, driving deforestation and boosting greenhouse gas emissions, reports a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research concludes that nearly all unprotected forests in Ketapang District in West Kalimantan will be gone by 2020 given current trends. The study, which was led by Kim Carlson of Yale and Stanford University, is based on comprehensive socioeconomic surveys, high-resolution satellite imagery, and carbon mapping of the Ketapang, which is home to some of the most biodiverse forests on the planet including those of Gunung Palung National Park.
David Cameron outlines a Green Plan for Britain, gets mixed reviews
April 27, 2012 07:10 AM - Staff, ClickGreen
Prime Minister's speech on the UK's drive for low-carbon energy has been given a lukewarm reception by campaign groups and industry leaders. Commenting on David Cameron's address, Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins said he was still waiting to see evidence of the Coalition being the greenest Government ever. He added: "This falls a long way short of the green speech David Cameron should have given - tipping his hat to the need for a cleaner future and recycling a few announcements just won't measure up."
Concrete Degradation at New Hampshire, Nuclear Plant
April 26, 2012 01:19 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Concrete is considered fairly durable. The alkali—silica reaction (ASR) is a reaction which occurs over time in concrete between the highly alkaline cement paste and reactive non-crystalline (amorphous) silica, which is found in many common aggregates. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report today about potentially serious concrete degradation possibly due to this reaction at the Seabrook nuclear power plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire. The report was written by Paul Brown, a professor of ceramic science and engineering at Penn State University. (An executive summary also is available on line.) After reviewing publicly available documents, Brown concluded that neither plant owner NextEra Energy nor the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) fully understand the scope or origins of the problem and therefore cannot adequately assess the plant’s structural status.
Bee, extinct in the UK to be re-introduced
April 26, 2012 05:35 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen
The return of a bumblebee species extinct in the UK for nearly a quarter of a century has moved a big step forward. A team of conservationists is setting off to Sweden this weekend on a mission to collect up to 100 short-haired bumblebee queens before releasing them at the RSPB’s Dungeness reserve in Kent later this Spring. The project to return the bumblebee Bombus subterraneus to the UK is a partnership between Natural England, the RSPB, Hymettus and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and forms part of the wider Natural England-funded Species Recovery Programme.
Sharing a car is great, but watch the potential liability!
April 25, 2012 07:23 AM - Kara Scharwath, Triple Pundit
Call it whatever you like — the sharing economy, collaborative consumption, the peer-to-peer marketplace, the access economy — but there is no denying that the idea of renting other people’s stuff or loaning out your own for cash is catching on. Fast Company predicted that 2012 would be the year for explosion in the peer-to-peer accommodation market pioneered by Airbnb. And it seems that this growth is expanding to include other renting arrangements as well, with dozens of online services popping up to capitalize on the trend. This all sounds great, but a recent incident is bringing attention to some of the liability issues associated with these borrowing arrangements. An article in the New York Times details the complicated liability situation resulting from a fatal accident that occurred when someone who rented a car through RelayRides crashed into another vehicle and was killed. RelayRides is a popular car sharing company that has gotten backing from GM and Google. The driver injured four people that were in the other car, and although RelayRides provides $1,000,000 in liability coverage to renters, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be enough to cover their medical claims.
The Price is Right for Wind Power
April 24, 2012 07:11 AM - María Elena Hurtado, SciDevNet
Generating wind energy is more than twice as cheap as solar photovoltaic (PV) energy production, a study of alternative energy in six developing countries has found. The findings, published in Nature Climate Change last week (15 April), could help inform global debates on financing initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries.