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How Can Cities Reduce the "Heat Island" They Create?
September 4, 2012 06:19 AM - RICHARD HARRIS, NPR
More than 20,000 high-temperature records have been broken so far this year in the United States. And the heat is especially bad in cities, which are heating up about twice as fast as the rest of the planet. High temperatures increase the risk of everything from asthma to allergies, and can even be deadly. But a researcher in Atlanta also sees this urban heat wave as an opportunity to do something about our warming planet. The story starts at Ebenezer Baptist Church, arguably the most famous place in Atlanta; it was Martin Luther King Jr.'s church and the heart of the civil rights movement.
Atmospheric Methane Reductions Attributed to not Venting it!
September 3, 2012 08:51 AM - ScienceDaily
Increased capture of natural gas from oil fields probably accounts for up to 70 percent of the dramatic leveling off seen in atmospheric methane at the end of the 20th century, according to new UC Irvine research being published in the journal Nature. "We can now say with confidence that, based on our data, the trend is largely a result of changes in fossil fuel use," said chemistry professor Donald Blake, senior author on the paper. Methane has 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, although CO2 is filling the atmosphere in far larger amounts. After decades of increases due to worldwide industrial and agricultural activity, the tapering off of methane from the 1980s through 2005 was remarkable. Scientists have long wrestled with the cause.
Highway in Boliva would cut through National Park
September 2, 2012 09:16 AM - Jean Friedman-Rudovsky, Yale Environment360
Growing conflicts over development in South America have come to a head in Bolivia, where indigenous groups are resisting a highway project that would slice through a national park. How Bolivia resolves this showdown could point the way for other regions seeking to balance economic growth and the environment. Carmelo Aguilera steadies the dugout canoe as his 11-year-old son, Juan Gabriel, stands precariously and aims his bow and arrow toward the Secure River below. "Fish flesh makes better bait," says the boy, explaining why the dawn expedition begins with a hunter's weapon rather than a hook and line. Deep inside Bolivia's Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory, known as TIPNIS, the Aguileras live more than 30 hours by boat from the nearest city, surviving mainly on fish and a few homegrown crops. "The river is our lifeblood," says Aguilera, 62.
Incandescent Light Bulbs have served us well but now it is time to turn them off!
September 1, 2012 10:09 AM - EurActive
After more than a century lighting up the world, the switch will be flicked off across the EU for the final time on incandescent bulbs on Saturday as the phased ban on their sale is completed. From 1 September, an EU directive aimed at reducing the energy use of lighting means that retailers will no longer be allowed to sell 40W and 25W incandescent bulbs. Similar bans came into effect for 60W and 100W incandescent bulbs over the past three years. The restrictions are predicted to save 39 terawatt-hours of electricity across the EU annually by 2020. Earlier this year, the UK government said the ban would bring an "average annual net benefit" of £108m to the UK between 2010 and 2020 in energy savings. But the phase-out of incandescents has been met with resistance by some users who say replacement technologies, such as CFLs, halogens and LEDs, do not perform as well. Despite the substantial long-term financial savings promised, the higher upfront price of replacement bulbs has also been criticised by those opposing the ban.
American Meteorological Society confirms Climate Change and Man's Role
August 31, 2012 06:29 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit
Weathercasters in the U.S. not only tend to not ever mention climate change, but the majority of them do not even believe it is human-caused, as an article I recently wrote shows. However, that may change. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) released an official position statement on climate change this week which not only said that it is occurring, but it is human-caused. What is so great about the statement by the AMS is that it includes so much information about climate change, including that there is scientific consensus. The AMS makes it clear that the statement is "based on the peer-reviewed scientific literature and is consistent with the vast weight of current scientific understanding." The statement details how the climate is changing, both in the U.S. and around the world. The changes listed include increases in globally averaged air and ocean temperatures, the widespread melting of snow and ice, and the rising of globally averaged sea level. As the statement puts it, "Warming of the climate system now is unequivocal, according to many different kinds of evidence." That is not good news for the world's population, but it is good news that the AMS is acknowledging that climate change is real and is occurring.
Isaac packs a punch to the Gulf Coast
August 30, 2012 06:21 AM - SCOTT NEUMAN, NPR
Isaac might not be in the same league as Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, but the latest storm to batter Louisiana's Gulf Coast is punching above its weight class in more ways than one, scientists say. The 2005 Hurricane Katrina, which devastated Louisiana and parts of Mississippi and Alabama, was a Category 3 storm (sustained winds of 125 mph) moving at about 15 mph when it made landfall on the Gulf Coast. By comparison, Isaac was a weak Category 1 storm as measured on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with sustained winds of 74-95 mph. By Wednesday afternoon, Isaac had been downgraded to a tropical storm, although it still was close to the Gulf Coast and continued to dump torrential rain. While Isaac is considerably less intense than Katrina, it is large and slow — a dangerous combination — and it's moving west of the Mississippi River, a track that intensifies storm surge, says Timothy Shott, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Tropical Cyclone Program.
Study Reveals that Drought Brought Down Ancient Egypt
August 29, 2012 06:33 AM - Tim Wall, Discovery News
The drought parching the United States is one of the worst in the nation's history, but it hasn't been as destructive as the drought that may have withered ancient Egypt's Old Kingdom. Pollen and charcoal buried in the Nile Delta 4,200 years ago tell the tale of a drought of literally Biblical proportions associated with the fall of the pyramid builders. "Even the mighty builders of the ancient pyramids more than 4,000 years ago fell victim when they were unable to respond to a changing climate," said U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt in a press release. "This study illustrates that water availability was the climate-change Achilles Heel then for Egypt, as it may well be now, for a planet topping seven billion thirsty people."
Will Batman Celebrate International Bat Night?
August 28, 2012 07:02 AM - Rebecca Sennett, ARKive.org
International Bat Night is happening this weekend, an event that hopes to inspire people across Europe to understand more about how bats live and why they are so important to conserve. A series of presentations, exhibitions and bat walks are happening in more than 30 countries, including the UK — check out the bat walk at Harcourt Arboretum in Oxford this Thursday. To join in the celebrations, we have delved into the ARKive collection to come up with some truly batty facts to get you in the mood for International Bat Night and to hopefully inspire you to take part in an event near you!
Living with cats is good for your health (Dogs too!)
August 22, 2012 06:48 AM - Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
News headlines over the past few years have linked cat ownership to everything from cancer to craziness, but new studies suggest that cats are actually beneficial to human health, and may even reduce our risk for cancer and other diseases. Reports in this week's issue of Biology Letters, for example, counter the tabloid-suggested link between cats and human brain cancer. Marion Vittecoq of the Tour du Valat research center and her colleagues conclude that cats should not be blamed for human cancer. In fact, studies show just the opposite.
Cape Wind Gets Final Approval
August 21, 2012 07:36 AM - Sean Teehan, Cape Cod Times
Cape Wind cleared its last bureaucratic hurdle Wednesday when the Federal Aviation Administration released its finding that the project poses no hazard to planes. The finding came after a court-mandated re-evaluation of possible safety hazards the 130-turbine project poses to planes and a GOP inquiry into whether the FAA's initial approval in 2010 was the result of political pressure from the left. "(The FAA's) aeronautical study revealed that the structure does not exceed obstruction standards and would not be a hazard to air navigation," the latest FAA determination reads. The project presents no hazard as long as Cape Wind marks and lights obstructions to planes, files required construction forms with the FAA and builds no turbines exceeding 440 feet above ground level, the decision reads.