Sustainability

Scientists start to tap marine microbes for biotech use
November 5, 2013 10:36 AM - Michelle Dobrovolny, SciDevNet

[PARIS] The hot, brackish waters of French Polynesia’s lagoons in the Pacific could harbour microbes with huge commercial potential, including for drug creation or to produce alternatives to plastics, say researchers. The extreme conditions found in some Polynesian aquatic ecosystems, which are often characterised by high temperatures and salinity, mean that unique marine bacteria have evolved there.

The Juncture of Politics and the Environment
November 5, 2013 08:41 AM - Duncan Jefferies, Triple Pundit

When announcing his plan to kick-start the U.S. economy in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt famously declared that the country had "nothing to fear but fear itself." In just 100 days, through a flurry of legislation and investment, his government dragged the country up off its knees — a towering political achievement.

We're burying ourselves in our own garbage
November 5, 2013 07:07 AM - Population Matters from Nature

Solid waste — the stuff we send down our chutes, discard at work and put on the curb every week — is a striking by-product of civilization. The average person in the United States throws away their body weight in rubbish every month. When waste management works well, we give it little thought: out of sight and, usually, quickly out of mind. Discarded materials are collected, some are recycled or composted, and most are landfilled or incinerated. But the global view is troubling. In the past century, as the world's population has grown and become more urban and affluent, waste production has risen tenfold. By 2025 it will double again1. Rubbish is being generated faster than other environmental pollutants, including greenhouse gases. Plastic clogs the world's oceans and rivers, causing flooding in developing-world cities. Solid-waste management is one of the greatest costs to municipal budgets.

Do dams bring more harm or more good?
November 4, 2013 09:01 AM - Editor, ENN

As China forges ahead with its goal to generate 120,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020, they are damming more and more rivers. According to China, this is a safe strategy that will curb pollution, control floods, and minimize climate change. Conservationists and scientists across the globe however, disagree.

Los Angeles aqueduct celebrates 100 years of service
November 4, 2013 06:22 AM - NPR STAFF - NPR

Today the beauty of Los Angeles is dramatically symbolic of the ancient prophecy: The desert shall "blossom like a rose." This blossoming was made possible by the birth of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, opened 100 years ago this month. The opening of the aqueduct might as well have been the birth of the modern West and the image of the city as a "Garden of Eden." The vast quantities of water the aqueduct moved made Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and other cities across the region possible.

President Obama Signs Executive Order, Addresses Preparedness for Climate Change Impacts
November 4, 2013 06:00 AM - Editor, ENN

On Friday, President Obama established a Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to advise the Administration on how the Federal Government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change. The Executive Order directs federal agencies to modernize Federal programs to support climate-resilient investments, manage me lands and waters for climate preparedness and resilience, provide information, and plan for climate change related risk.

Global warming and mammal size linked
November 2, 2013 07:32 AM - University of Michigan via EurekAlert

Mammal body size decreased significantly during at least two ancient global warming events, a new finding that suggests a similar outcome is possible in response to human-caused climate change, according to a University of Michigan paleontologist and his colleagues. Researchers have known for years that mammals such as primates and the groups that include horses and deer became much smaller during a period of warming, called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), about 55 million years ago. Now U-M paleontologist Philip Gingerich and his colleagues have found evidence that mammalian "dwarfing" also occurred during a separate, smaller global warming event that occurred about 2 million years after the PETM, around 53 million years ago.

Safe passage at last for the Pronghorn
November 1, 2013 04:56 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

U.S. Highway 191 in Trapper's Point, Wyoming is safer today for motorists and pronghorns alike as a result of a newly built 8-part overpass/underpass system designed to facilitate the travel and migration of local populations of pronghorn, mule deer, moose, elk and other wildlife safely over the highway. While the overpass was completed in time for last year’s migration, the pronghorn were hesitant to use the system last year making researchers nervous. However, this year the pronghorn were less confused by the alteration and used the passages willingly.

Falling fruit: A global collaborative foraging map
November 1, 2013 08:58 AM - Ruth Stokes, The Ecologist

Foraging for fruit just got easier, with a map bringing together foraging data around the world. Thought to be the first effort on such a large scale, Falling Fruit is a massive, collaborative urban harvesting map that aims to reduce waste while reconnecting people to their environments. Around 500 species are currently shown on the map, across locations as diverse as Australia, India, Mauritius, Israel and the Netherlands. It's just launched in the UK, collating more than 30 isolated maps from across Britain.

Impacts of climate change on soils
November 1, 2013 06:13 AM - Ollivier Girard/CIFOR, SciDevNet

The increased aridity expected this century as a result of climate change may disrupt the balance of key soil nutrients with a knock-on effect on soil fertility threatening livelihoods of more than two billion people, a study finds. The drop in nitrogen and carbon concentrations that occurs as soils become dryer could have serious effects on ecosystem services such as food production, carbon storage and biodiversity, according to the Nature paper published today.

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