Sustainability

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.

Children and the Environment: How gardening lessons impact positively on school kids
September 3, 2013 12:03 PM - Camilla Scaramanga, The Ecologist

Pending reforms to the UK's school curriculum mean that from September 2014, pupils aged 7-14 can expect to learn gardening skills. Camilla Scaramanga takes a look at some of the initiatives that are already taking the lead... Growing food in schools looks set to become part of the curriculum starting from September 2014, furthering the positive impacts of those very successful initiatives already working to promote gardening and 'grow your own' schemes in schools nationwide. There are currently 4,500 schools enrolled on the Food for Life Partnership plan (FFLP) and figures show that twice as many schools received an outstanding OFSTED rating after working with the Food for Life partnership. In addition, the uptake of free school meals in FFLP schools has risen by an average of 13%.

Could alkaline batteries be the future of electric vehicle power?
September 3, 2013 09:07 AM - MOVEFORWARD, Electric Forum

While lithium ion batteries are all the rage in the electric vehicle industry the US government has confirmed that researchers at Princeton University have been awarded a near $1 million grant to look at developing commercially viable alkaline batteries for the electric vehicle industry. This is part of the $36 million Department of Energy’s "Robust Affordable Next Generation Energy Storage Systems" program which was announced recently.

Rhode Island school sets an example in waste reduction
September 3, 2013 06:23 AM - KEVIN PROFT/ecoRI News

Sophia Academy is an all-girls middle school on Branch Avenue with less than a hundred students. During the 2011-12 school year, the academy’s 62 girls sent 10,000 Styrofoam lunch trays to the landfill. "We did some simple 'tray math' in class," said Alyssa Wood, science teacher at the school. Wood had her students multiply the 180-day school year by the 62 students enrolled at Sophia Academy, almost all of whom receive a free or reduced lunch. The students were amazed by the result, she said.

EV Tax incentives can't last forever
August 31, 2013 07:31 AM - MOVEFORWARD, Electric Forum

At this moment in time there seems to be no stopping the electric vehicle industry which is going from strength to strength. Sales are increasing, more automobile manufacturers are joining the party and motorists seem more at ease with electric vehicles there than they ever have been. While one of the reasons the industry has been kick started over the last couple of years is tax incentives and financial incentives some governments around the world, would you still buy an electric vehicle with no tax incentives today? The likelihood is that the vast majority of EV enthusiast would not buy an electric vehicle today without the tax incentives and financial attractions offered by governments around the world. This is an industry which is still very much in its infancy, the technology is still developing and perhaps many people are still yet to fully appreciate the impact which petrol/gasoline vehicles have upon the environment.

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