Sustainability

The Eugen Maersk and the Future of Clean Shipping
September 9, 2013 10:04 AM - ShipServ via, Clean Techies

Unless you're a particularly dedicated shipping enthusiast, it's safe to say that you have probably not come across the name "Eugen Maersk" before. However, it's time that you commit it to memory, as she may well be the future of clean shipping. At full capacity, she weighs in at well over 150,000 tonnes (a weight equivalent to almost a thousand adult blue whales). This bulk is matched by her size — she stretches for more than four football pitches in length, coming in at 397 metres. She takes more than four miles to come to a complete stop from full speed, and burns through significantly more than two hundred tonnes of bunker fuel in one single day. This fuel gives off a large amount of pollution; the total sum of all global shipping activity is responsible for more than three per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions.

Happiness found to be a good target of policy
September 9, 2013 06:10 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Everyone yearns to be happy. Some think obtaining the next hot gadget or cell phone will do it. Others the new hot sports car. For others, a warm bed and food for their family will bring happiness. But what does our yearning for happiness have to do with government policy? How can governments increase our happiness? As heads of state get ready for the United Nations General Assembly in two weeks, the second World Happiness Report further strengthens the case that well-being should be a critical component of how the world measures its economic and social development. The report is published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), under the auspices of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Leading experts in several fields — economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, and more — describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations. The Report is edited by Professor John F. Helliwell, of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Lord Richard Layard, Director of the Well-Being Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; and Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Director of the SDSN, and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General. "There is now a rising worldwide demand that policy be more closely aligned with what really matters to people as they themselves characterize their well-being," said Professor Jeffery Sachs. "More and more world leaders are talking about the importance of well-being as a guide for their nations and the world. The World Happiness Report 2013 offers rich evidence that the systematic measurement and analysis of happiness can teach us a lot about ways to improve the world’s well-being and sustainable development."

Fracking fight heats up in Ohio
September 8, 2013 07:21 AM - Nick Cunningham, Duncan Gromko, DC Beureau

What could make a former Marine, retired cop, and self-described "ultra-conservative" oppose fracking in his home state of Ohio? At a diner off of Route 22 near Steubenville, OH, Ed Hashberger had the answer. Dressed in a red polo shirt emblazoned with the U.S. Marine Corps logo and carrying a Marine Corps notebook, Hashberger first described his bona fides. He served three years in Panama. He recited half a dozen close relatives who served in World War II, the Vietnam War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. His son was badly injured from an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan and remains confined to a wheel chair as a result.

NASA study supports soot as cause of glacier retreat in late 1880's
September 7, 2013 06:02 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Several other studies have pointe to the role that soot plays in altering the earth's albedo, its ability to absorb or reflect sunlight, and its role in causing glaciers to retreat. Now a new study by NASA provides crucial evidence supporting these theories. A NASA-led team of scientists has uncovered strong evidence that soot from a rapidly industrializing Europe caused the abrupt retreat of mountain glaciers in the European Alps that began in the 1860s, a period often thought of as the end of the Little Ice Age. The research, published Sept. 3 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may help resolve a longstanding scientific debate.

Small birds save big money for Costa Rica's farmers
September 6, 2013 11:13 AM - Nature News, SciDevNet

The yellow warbler may not pull a perfect latte, but it turns out it's a friend to coffee drinkers all the same. Research in Costa Rica shows that hungry warblers and other birds significantly reduce damage by a devastating coffee pest, the coffee berry borer beetle.

Is War becoming less frequent?
September 6, 2013 06:27 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Nations have been going to war against other nations since before recorded history. There have been periods of peace, and then periods of war. As our societies become more advanced, do they become more civilized, does war decrease as less destructive ways are found to settle differences? Interesting research by Ohio State University sheds light on this. While some researchers have claimed that war between nations is in decline, a new analysis by Bear Braumoeller, associate professor of political science at The Ohio State University suggests we shouldn't be too quick to celebrate a more peaceful world. The study finds that there is no clear trend indicating that nations are less eager to wage war. Conflict does appear to be less common than it had been in the past, he said. But that's due more to an inability to fight than to an unwillingness to do so.

Hawaii Coastlines on Track to Lose 100 Feet of Beach
September 5, 2013 09:29 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Hawaii is known for it's pristine beaches and it's 750 miles of coastline. However with looming sea water rise due to melting ice caps and climate change, a new study by the University of Hawaii shows the state is on pace to lose 100 feet of beach in the coming decades. According to the study, Maui beaches are most at risk as the sea-level rise is approximately 65% higher compared to the island of Oahu. While many beaches have been faced with erosion for years, predictions show that beaches will start to disappear even faster.

Wheat production would be reduced by rising temperatures
September 5, 2013 06:04 AM - ScienceDaily

Any producer will tell you, growing a healthy, high-yielding wheat crop takes skill and hard work. Quality drought-tolerant varieties that are resistant to pests and disease are important. And cooperation from Mother Nature in terms of temperature and precipitation doesn't hurt, either. To quantify the impact of genetic improvement in wheat, disease and climate change over a 26-year period, a team of researchers at Kansas State University examined wheat variety yield data from Kansas performance tests, along with location-specific weather and disease data. Their results showed that from 1985 through 2011, wheat breeding programs boosted average wheat yields by 13 bushels per acre, or 0.51 bushel each year, for a total increase of 26 percent.

World's biggest owl depends on large old trees
September 4, 2013 03:06 PM - Natalie Millar, MONGABAY.COM

The Blakiston fish owl (Bubo Blakistoni) is the world's largest — and one of the rarest — owl species, with an impressive 6 foot (2 meter) wingspan. The giant owl, found exclusively in northeast Asia, shares its habitat with a menagerie of endangered and impressive animals, including Amur tigers, Amur leopards, Asiatic black bears and wild boars. Now, a recent study in Oryx, led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has discovered that these owls rely on threatened old trees for nesting and foraging sites.

Well-managed mangroves 'can survive rising sea levels'
September 4, 2013 08:05 AM - Richa Malhotra, SciDevNet

The prevailing idea that sea-level rise will inevitably wipe out mangrove forests — fragile ecosystems that protect nearby communities from natural hazards such as floods and storms — is challenged by a recent report. Mangroves in some areas will be able to survive climate change-induced sea-level rise as they can slowly increase the level of soil in which they thrive, but only if they are managed and protected, according to 'The response of mangrove soil surface elevation to sea level rise' report. Activities such as building dams on rivers and converting mangrove areas into shrimp farms may have a stronger impact on the health of mangroves than sea-level rise, the report adds. Once weakened by such changes, mangroves will be less able to adapt to changes in sea level.

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