Sustainability

Optimizing Corn Production in the Face of Climate Change
September 16, 2013 04:35 PM - Robin Valinski, ENN

Kenya is no stranger to adaptation when it comes to food production. Kenya’s cultural and political underpinnings are reliant upon adaptation to current climatic conditions. Present predictions are that drastic adaptation will be necessary once again. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), climate change is likely to threaten maize production for farmers in certain areas of Kenya. Conversely, other arable landmasses that have been less suited to maize production are likely to become better suited to this important crop forcing agricultural officials and farmers to reassess their farmland use and suitability.

Start-up promises to revolutionise shrimp farming
September 16, 2013 07:59 AM - Michelle Dobrovolny, SciDevNet

A UK start-up says it has developed a low-cost, ecological alternative to traditional shrimp farming by using bacteria as both a water filter and food for its shrimp. IKEA-like portable units using microbes and solar power to cheaply grow shrimp indoors could transform the booming aquaculture sector and prevent further environmental degradation, according to its inventors.

New insight on how tropical forests capture carbon
September 16, 2013 06:23 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Tropical forests are important globally in removing carbon from the atmosphere. It has been assumed that the tress were the mechanism that made this work. New research from Princeton University has shed insight on the importance of bacteria that co-exist with the trees have in absorbing atmospheric carbon. A unique housing arrangement between a specific group of tree species and a carbo-loading bacteria may determine how well tropical forests can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to a Princeton University-based study. The findings suggest that the role of tropical forests in offsetting the atmospheric buildup of carbon from fossil fuels depends on tree diversity, particularly in forests recovering from exploitation. Tropical forests thrive on natural nitrogen fertilizer pumped into the soil by trees in the legume family, a diverse group that includes beans and peas, the researchers report in the journal Nature. The researchers studied second-growth forests in Panama that had been used for agriculture five to 300 years ago. The presence of legume trees ensured rapid forest growth in the first 12 years of recovery and thus a substantial carbon "sink," or carbon-storage capacity. Tracts of land that were pasture only 12 years before had already accumulated as much as 40 percent of the carbon found in fully mature forests. Legumes contributed more than half of the nitrogen needed to make that happen, the researchers reported.

Severe flooding in Colorado linked to global warming
September 15, 2013 08:17 AM - Beth Buczynski, Care2

I live in Denver, Colorado, and for the past few days, we've had nothing but rain. Three months of rain in 48 hours, to be exact. The surge of water has caused rivers and streams to overflow their banks, drowning Boulder, Loveland, Longmont, Estes Park and many other towns along the Front Range under several feet of rushing water. Conditions were so bad, the National Weather Service felt compelled to use the words "biblical rainfall amounts" to communicate the risk to local residents. Any other time, extra precipitation is cause for rejoicing in Colorado. Ongoing drought has facilitated massive wildfires across the state for two years running. We'll take all the wet we can get, although as the past few days have shown, we'd prefer it doesn't all fall at once.

Scottish government to ban petrol and diesel cars from city centres
September 14, 2013 07:30 AM - MOVEFORWARD, Electric Forum

While many sceptics and supporters of the electric vehicle industry have been discussing aspects of a petrol and diesel car ban from city centres, few had expected this to emerge in the news in the short to medium term. However, the Scottish government has today announced plans to ban petrol and diesel vehicles from town and city centres across the country although the target date for this could be as far out as 2050. Even though the Scottish government has been one of the greatest supporters of green travel and renewable energy, even this is a major step forward for the Scottish National Party.

Adopting Healthy, Sustainable Diets
September 13, 2013 12:29 PM - Editor, ENN

Those who want to eat healthy tend to have a sustainable diet, and those who want to eat sustainably are often drawn to healthier foods. These two diet tracks go hand-in-hand as we are learning that the way we eat not only affects our health, but affects our environment as well. One of the clearest impacts of our food addiction is the destruction of forested areas for agricultural produce. This puts a heavy toll on our global CO2 output. For example, between 1990 and 2008 Europe imported and consumed about 9 million hectares of newly deforested land, (roughly three times the size of Belgium); and all this despite the fact that we throw away over one-third of the food we produce.

Studies Show Green Housing is a Solid Investment
September 13, 2013 09:02 AM - Editor, Triple Pundit

Along with the stock market achieving record highs earlier this year, the housing market is showing its strongest performance in the past seven years. In New Hampshire, single family home sales have increased almost 8.5 percent, and condos 18 percent, when compared to the same time last year. As properties switch to new owners and people prepare their homes for sale, the value of sustainable building, technology, and labeling is an important consideration for everyone in the market.

Time to Rethink Tax Policy for Diesel Fuel
September 12, 2013 12:49 PM - Walter Wang, Clean Techies

Paying for fuel to power our cars is never fun, especially when the price skyrockets quickly and comes back down oh so slowly. As we scan the different stations looking at the prices, taking in a momentary gasp, and then finally picking a station and filling up, we rarely think about the taxes that we pay on the fuel that are incorporated into the price at the pump. Well, it's time to think and rethink because those taxes have an effect on what type of car we buy.

New study of the Arctic Ocean finds alarming increase in acidity
September 12, 2013 06:35 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

If you ever had a marine aquarium (or a swimming pool) you know that it is very important to keep the level of acidity (ph) within a narrow range for optimum results. In the case of the pool, to minimize corrosion of the metal parts in a heater and to reduce damage to the pool lining or paint. In the case of the aquarium, the ph is directly related to the health of coral and fish. The ocean is no different. Acidity is an important parameter that relates to many other parameters including the health of marine animals and the rates at which corals and rocks grow or are dissolved. Globally, oceans are getting more acidic from CO2 emissions. Acidification of the Arctic Ocean is occurring faster than projected according to new findings published in the journal PLOS ONE. The increase in rate is being blamed on rapidly melting sea ice, a process that may have important consequences for health of the Arctic ecosystem. Ocean acidification is the process by which pH levels of seawater decrease due to greater amounts of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the oceans from the atmosphere. Currently oceans absorb about one-fourth of the greenhouse gas. Lower pH levels make water more acidic and lab studies have shown that more acidic water decrease calcification rates in many calcifying organisms, reducing their ability to build shells or skeletons. These changes, in species ranging from corals to shrimp, have the potential to impact species up and down the food web. The team of federal and university researchers found that the decline of sea ice in the Arctic summer has important consequences for the surface layer of the Arctic Ocean. As sea ice cover recedes to record lows, as it did late in the summer of 2012, the seawater beneath is exposed to carbon dioxide, which is the main driver of ocean acidification.

Solar-powered system used to produce clean water in rural villages
September 11, 2013 02:33 PM - Debra Goldberg, ENN

Clean drinking water is often an overlooked privilege in first world cities. However, in areas such as the rural villages of the Yucatan Peninsula, potable water is at least a day’s drive away and costs more than local residents can afford.

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