Sustainability

New way to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere
September 4, 2014 07:01 AM - Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, Kyoto University, via EurekAlert

Researchers in Japan have engineered a membrane with advanced features capable of removing harmful greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Their findings, published in the British journal Nature Communications, may one day contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner skies. Greenhouse gases, originating from industrial processes and the burning of fossil fuels, blanket the earth and are the culprits behind current global warming woes. The most abundant among them is carbon dioxide, which made up 84% of the United State's greenhouse gases in 2012, and can linger in Earth's atmosphere for up to thousands of years.

The tragic fate of the Passenger Pigeon
September 3, 2014 01:46 PM - Joel Greenberg, Yale Environment360

This September 1 is the 100th anniversary of a landmark event in the history of biodiversity. On that day in 1914, at about one o'clock in the afternoon, Martha - the last surviving passenger pigeon - died at the Cincinnati Zoo. It is extraordinary to know with virtual certainty the day and hour when a species ceases to be a living entity. And it was a stunning development because less than half a century earlier, the passenger pigeon had been the most abundant bird in North America, if not the world. As late as the 1860s, passenger pigeons had likely numbered in the billions, and their population was neither evenly distributed across the landscape nor in any way subtle. These birds had a propensity for forming huge aggregations that are difficult to imagine today. John James Audubon, America's best-known student of birds, recorded a flight of passenger pigeons along the Ohio River in Kentucky that eclipsed the sun for three days. Other accounts, written over the course of three centuries and in several languages, testify to the birds darkening the sky for hours at a time over the major cities of the eastern third of the United States and Canada.

Innovative Recycling Program Turns Bottles Into Subway Rides
September 3, 2014 09:18 AM - Lauren Zanolli, Triple Pundit

Forget your reusable bottle at home this morning and find yourself towing an unwanted plastic bottle? If you are in Beijing, you are in luck — you could trade in that empty bottle for a subway ticket. "Reverse vending machines" in subway stations around the city allow riders to deposit polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles in exchange for a commuter pass or mobile phone credit.

California FINALLY gets serious about protecting its groundwater
September 3, 2014 07:43 AM - Union of Concerned Scientists

As California suffers through the third year of a record-breaking drought, state lawmakers agreed today to require more sweeping oversight of the state’s groundwater resources. California legislators approved Senate Bill 1168 and Assembly Bill 1739, which together call for stricter management of groundwater supplies by local agencies while giving the state the ability to step in when necessary. Up until now, California was the only state in the nation that did not comprehensively monitor or regulate groundwater.

Bike sharing benefits
September 2, 2014 07:27 AM - Raz Godelnik , Triple Pundit

While the sharing economy seems to have a growing number of fans, it also seems to generate more questions about its economic and social impacts. Interestingly, one part that is still missing from these discussions (well, not entirely) is the environmental impacts of the sharing economy. The general notion is that the sharing economy has a positive environmental impact as it promotes a greater use of underutilized assets. But is this true?

Puffins in New England
August 29, 2014 03:36 PM - PETER BAKER/ecoRI News contributor

I can't help but smile when I see a puffin, and I know I'm not alone. Thousands of people board tour boats each summer in Maine to get a glimpse of these charming seabirds with their tuxedo plumage and rainbow beaks. But what's in those beaks is serious business. The forage fish that puffin parents bring back to their island nests mean the difference between life and death for the chicks, and the past few years offer stark evidence of what happens when those fish become scarce.

Reducing Water Scarcity
August 29, 2014 02:53 PM - McGill University

Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and U.S. federal officials last year warned residents of Arizona and Nevada that they could face cuts in Colorado River water deliveries in 2016. Irrigation techniques, industrial and residential habits combined with climate change lie at the root of the problem. But despite what appears to be an insurmountable problem, according to researchers from McGill and Utrecht University it is possible to turn the situation around and significantly reduce water scarcity in just over 35 years.

"Global Roadmap" Created to Balance Development with Environmental Protection
August 28, 2014 11:49 AM - Morgan Erickson-Davis, MONGABAY.COM

Roads make it possible to bring goods to market, to get to the office, to log a forest, to hunt its wildlife. Without roads, human society as we know it could not exist. However, to build roads, trees must be cleared and swamps drained, shrinking valuable wildlife habitat and fragmenting populations in the process. A new study, published today in Nature, unveils an innovative map that defines which areas of the world would best be used to build roads — and which should be left alone. Scientists estimate more than 25 million kilometers of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, representing a 60 percent increase over 2010 numbers. Many of these are slated for environmentally valuable places with high numbers of unique species and pristine forest, such as the Amazon Basin.

A Fukushima-Sized Problem
August 27, 2014 11:45 AM - Karl Grossman, The Ecologist

A newly-exposed report by Diablo Canyon's lead nuclear inspector shows that the twin reactors are unsafe, writes Karl Grossman. An earthquake on nearby geological faults could trigger a Fukushima-scale accident causing 10,000 early fatalities. The owner's response? Apply to extend the site's operation for another 20 years. As aftershocks of the 6.0 Napa earthquake that occurred Sunday in California continued, the Associated Press revealed a secret government report pointing to major earthquake vulnerabilities at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plants which are a little more than 200 miles away and sitting amid a webwork of earthquake faults.

Dams vs. Rivers
August 27, 2014 08:40 AM - Editor, The Ecologist

A new 'State of the World's Rivers' database shows how the world's rivers have been impoverished by dams and their ecosystems devastated - and provides a valuable resource to help save river basins that remain in good health. International Rivers has launched 'The State of the World's Rivers', an interactive online database that illustrates the role that dams have played in impoverishing the health of the world's river basins.

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