Sustainability

Beavers return to Britain
February 28, 2016 09:46 AM - Nigel Willby & Alan Law, University of Stirling, The Ecologist

Beavers are Britain's native aquatic engineers and their return to sites in Scotland and England is doing wonders for the local environment, write Nigel Willby & Alan Law: restoring wetlands, recreating natural river dynamics and ecology, filtering farm pollutants from water, and improving habitat for trout and other fish.

In Knapdale, damming by beavers transformed a small pond into a wetland of a type and complexity probably unseen in Britain for centuries. On the Bamff estate on Tayside, we found that grazing by beavers trebled the number of wetland plants in 9 years.

Beavers have recently made a tentative return to Britain.

Consumers have huge environmental impact
February 25, 2016 07:46 AM - Norwegian University of Science and Technology via EurekAlert!

The world's workshop -- China -- surpassed the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on Earth in 2007. But if you consider that nearly all of the products that China produces, from iPhones to tee-shirts, are exported to the rest of the world, the picture looks very different.

Rutgers University Study finds sea level rise in the 20th Century was fastest in 3,000 years
February 23, 2016 09:15 AM - Todd B. Bates, Rutgers University.

Global sea level rose faster in the 20th century than in any of the 27 previous centuries, according to a Rutgers University-led study published today.

Moreover, without global warming, global sea level would have risen by less than half the observed 20th century increase and might even have fallen.

Instead, global sea level rose by about 14 centimeters, or 5.5 inches, from 1900 to 2000. That’s a substantial increase, especially for vulnerable, low-lying coastal areas.

“The 20th-century rise was extraordinary in the context of the last three millennia – and the rise over the last two decades has been even faster,” said Robert Kopp, the lead author and an associate professor in Rutgers’ Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Scientists unlock key to turning wastewater and sewage into power
February 23, 2016 07:16 AM - Virginia Tech

As renewable energy sources goes, solar rays have historically hogged the limelight. 

But two Virginia Tech researchers have stolen the spotlight from the sun by discovering a way to maximize the amount of electricity that can be generated from the wastewater we flush down the toilet. 

The impacts of a warming climate on Russian agriculture
February 22, 2016 08:01 AM - Corey Flintoff, NPR

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says last month was the warmest January on record. That sets off alarm bells for climate scientists, but for the average person living in a northern climate, it might not sound so bad.

That's what many people are saying these days in Russia, where the expected icy winter has failed to materialize this year – to widespread joy. Of course, any climate scientist will tell you that an unusually warm month — or even a whole warm winter — doesn't mean much. It's the long-term trend that counts.

Fukushima impacts hidden from Japanese public
February 21, 2016 07:25 AM - Linda Pentz Gunter, The Ecologist

The Japanese were kept in the dark from the start of the Fukushima disaster about high radiation levels and their dangers to health, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. In order to proclaim the Fukushima area 'safe', the Government increased exposure limits to twenty times the international norm. Soon, many Fukushima refugees will be forced to return home to endure damaging levels of radiation.

Once you enter a radiation controlled area, you aren’t supposed to drink water, let alone eat anything. The idea that somebody is living in a place like that is unimaginable.

As such, one might have expected a recent presentation he gave in the UK within the hallowed halls of the House of Commons, to have focused on Japan's capacity to replace the electricity once generated by its now mainly shuttered nuclear power plants, with renewable energy.

 

Warming climate is bad news for western US aquifers
February 19, 2016 06:39 AM - University of Arizona via ScienceDaily.

By 2050 climate change will increase the groundwater deficit even more for four economically important aquifers in the western U.S., reports a University of Arizona-led team of scientists.

The new report is the first to integrate scientists' knowledge about groundwater in the U.S. West with scientific models that show how climate change will affect the region.

Can ecotourism save threatened species?
February 19, 2016 06:09 AM - Griffith University

Ecotourism can provide the critical difference between survival and extinction for endangered animals, according to new research from Griffith University.

Using population viability modelling, the Griffith team of Professor Ralf Buckley, Dr Guy Castley and Dr Clare Morrison has developed a method that for the first time quantifies the impact of ecotourism on threatened species.

Smart water management could help produce much more food
February 16, 2016 08:17 AM - IOP Publishing via ScienceDaily

Improved agricultural water management could halve the global food gap by 2050 and buffer some of the harmful climate change effects on crop yields. For the first time, scientists investigated systematically the worldwide potential to produce more food with the same amount of water by optimizing rain use and irrigation. They found the potential has previously been underestimated. Investing in crop water management could substantially reduce hunger while at the same time making up for population growth. However, putting the findings into practice would require specific local solutions, which remains a challenge.

The differences between organic and non-organic milk and meat
February 16, 2016 07:13 AM - Newcastle University

A new study has shown that both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products. Analysing data from around the world, the team led by Newcastle University, reviewed 196 papers on milk and 67 papers on meat and found clear differences between organic and conventional milk and meat, especially in terms of fatty acid composition, and the concentrations of certain essential minerals and antioxidants.

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