What is causing drop in Monarch Butterfly population?
July 16, 2013 06:06 AM - Lacey Avery , MONGABAY.COM
In the next few months, the beating of fragile fiery orange and black wings will transport the monarch butterfly south. But the number of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) reaching their final destination has steadily declined, dropping to its lowest level in two decades last winter, according to a recent survey. The insect's journey begins in late summer and August, when monarchs fly from Canada and the Northeastern U.S. to highly selective overwintering sites in Mexico. Individually weighing less than a paperclip, monarch butterflies employ an inherited compass to make the longest insect migration in the world, flying up to 4000 kilometers (2,485 miles) to reach their final destination by November.
Drought seriously impacting rangeland, cattle
July 15, 2013 06:14 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
The Bureau of Land Management has been tracking range conditions as the current drought lingers on. Drought conditions across the West have impacted rangelands, leaving little water and forage for animals and livestock, prompting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to undertake targeted actions, such as providing supplemental water and food for wild horses; reducing grazing; and enacting fire restrictions. Hot, dry conditions continue to persist west of the Mississippi River, with at least 15 states experiencing drought. For example, 93 percent of rangeland and pastures are rated poor or very poor in New Mexico; 59 percent in Colorado; 35 percent in Wyoming; and 17 percent in Utah. Similar conditions exist in Nevada, where more than 60 percent of the state has been in severe or extreme drought conditions since the beginning of 2013.
Satellite monitoring of ice sheets
July 15, 2013 06:02 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Data from satellites have been used a lot recently to monitor the loss of ice from ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. Having these data is relatively recent, however. It would be better if the data existed for a longer period so more accurate predictions of future rates of ice loss or accretion could be made. The length of the satellite record for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is currently too short to tell if the recently reported speed-up of ice loss will be sustained in the future or if it results from natural processes, according to a new study led by Dr Bert Wouters from the University of Bristol. The findings, published in Nature Geoscience, underscore the need for continuous satellite monitoring of the ice sheets to better identify and predict melting and the corresponding sea-level rise.
The Penobscot River will flow to the sea once more!
July 14, 2013 07:29 AM - Editor, Justmeans
On Monday, July 22, contractors will begin to remove the Veazie Dam from Maine’s Penobscot River, reconnecting the river with the Gulf of Maine for the first time in nearly two centuries. The 830-foot long, buttress-style Veazie Dam spans the Penobscot River at a maximum height of approximately 30 feet, with an impoundment stretching 3.8 miles. Breaching the Veazie Dam—the dam closest to the sea— marks a monumental step in the Penobscot River Restoration Project, among the largest river restoration projects in our nation’s history. Combined with Great Works Dam removal in 2012 and additional fish passage improvements at dams in the upper watershed, the Veazie Dam removal is a key component of the historic effort to greatly improve access to 1000 miles of spawning, rearing, and nursery habitat for endangered Atlantic salmon, American shad and river herring, and benefits the entire suite of native sea-run fish. Once removed, endangered shortnose sturgeon, threatened Atlantic sturgeon, striped bass, rainbow smelt and tomcod will be able to access 100% of their historic habitat.
Global Population Keeps on Increasing
July 13, 2013 07:47 AM - Population Matters from Portland Press Herald
The African population could increase fourfold by 2100, making poverty and hunger issues more severe. In advance of World Population Day, United Nations demographers have once again revised official projections — upward. This meticulous band of number crunchers doesn’t mean to be alarmist, but its statistics can be startling: ”¢ Nigeria, the West African nation slightly larger than Texas, is on track to surpass the United States as the world’s third-most populous country by 2050. The size of its population may rival that of China by the end of the century, unless something dramatic happens.
MLB and Forest Service Team Up to Reduce Frequency of Shattered Bats
July 12, 2013 02:15 PM - Editor, ENN
According to Louisville Slugger, one of the nation's oldest and most well known producer of wood baseball bats, it takes nearly 40,000 trees to produce one season's worth of baseball bats and the company alone produces 1.6 million wood bats each year! So it's no surprise that the US Forest Service has decided to team up with Major League Baseball in order to ensure that we preserve as many bats as possible.
Eco Technology now and in the future
July 11, 2013 08:08 AM - Emily Buchanan, The Ecologist
As we march towards an "irreversible change" on our planet, scientists are urgently searching for alternatives to our unsustainable consumption of natural resources. Whilst a cultural and political overhaul is needed before any of these alternatives are considered a social priority, they display a scientific willingness to change and to live in harmony with nature. Yes, the technology for a number of the following ideas does not actually exist yet however, it's important to bear in mind that only a few hundred years ago we believed that man would never fly.
Smooth Dogfish need protection too!
July 11, 2013 06:46 AM - WCS
It may have happened to you. You're out for a sail and you spot a fin in the water. Someone begins his best impression of the familiar pulsating cello line as another person jokes, "We gotta get a bigger boat," and talk turns to the film whose release one weekend 38 years ago forever changed our nation's relationship to sharks. Now, after studying sharks and their conservation for more than two decades, I assert that these fascinating predators suffer from an identity crisis: Sharks are greatly maligned for their fierce reputation yet, in reality, are among the most vulnerable animals on the planet. Nearly four decades after the release of Jaws, it remains difficult to convince the average beach-goer and even some of my friends and relatives that sharks in fact have much more to fear from us than we do from them. Yet it is true. Overfishing of sharks and their close relatives skates and rays across the globe has in recent decades led to sharp declines in shark numbers. Some species have been reduced by more than 80 percent. Much of that reduction is tied to the international trade in shark fins. The fins of as many as 70 million sharks end up in the coveted Asian delicacy shark fin soup each year. At the same time, some of the most heavily fished sharks and closely related skates and rays are prized primarily for their meat.
Beef to Fish: A Historic Shift in Food Production
July 10, 2013 09:04 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
The human diet is evolving as world farmed fish production has over taken beef production. Reports from 2012 show that 66 million tons of farmed fish were produced in comparison to 63 million tons of beef and experts are predicting that this year may be the first year that people eat more farm-raised fish than those caught in the wild. Annual beef production climbed from 19 million tons in 1950 to more than 50 million tons in the late 1980s. Over the same period, the wild fish catch ballooned from 17 million tons to close to 90 million tons. But since the late 1980s, the growth in beef production has slowed, and the reported wild fish catch has remained essentially flat.
The Sea could provide much of Scotland's power!
July 10, 2013 06:02 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
What is one of the greenest ways to generate lots of electricity? What if we could harness the immense energy in ocean currents? Tidal power has been developing rapidly as a viable means of generating electricity. Scotland is nearly surrounded by ocean and strong currents are common. A new study, led by Oxford University researchers, provides the first reliable estimate of the maximum energy that could be generated from Pentland Firth. The 1.9GW figure is considerably lower than some early estimates as it takes into account factors such as how many tidal turbines it would be feasible to build, how a series of turbines would interact with each other, and averages out variations caused by the fortnightly and seasonal cycle of the tides. Tidal turbines stretched across Pentland Firth, which separates the Orkney Islands from mainland Scotland, could generate up to 1.9 gigawatts (GW) of power — equivalent to almost half of Scotland's electricity needs.