Sustainability

The Future of Chocolate
March 28, 2013 08:46 AM - Maryam Heinen , Organic Consumers Association

Back in the Mayan age, around 1100 BCE, cacao was recognized as a "super" food, traded as a precious currency with a value on par with gold and jewels Bythe 17th century the Spanish added sugar (cane) to sweeten it and the rest is history. As other European countries clamored to get in on the action—and started exporting cacao trees to their colonies—Africa soon became the world's most prominent grower of cacao, even though it's not native to that continent. Today, cacao has devolved into a byproduct of itself. Instead of being viewed as the sacred fruit that it is, with all its nutritional benefits, cacao is largely seen as a candy bar, a mid-day fix, loaded with sugar, milk, and other substandard ingredients.

The Hidden Conservation Costs of Renewable Energy
March 27, 2013 01:55 PM - Luke Dale-Harris, Ecologist

Ecologist writer Luke Dale-Harris questions the ability of Natura 2000 to work as an effective environmental regulator. The birds that migrate freely across Europe are unaware of the invisible borders that lie below them. They follow the same routes that have carried them to warmth every year for an eternity, marked out by the indomitable features of the landscape - the coast of the Atlantic on one side and the curve of the Carpathian Mountains on the other. But it is what they miss that matters most; their future, along with that of the rest of us, is dictated by the political and economic tides that shift shape across the continent.

Loss of wild pollinators could threaten food security
March 27, 2013 10:16 AM - Claudia Mazzeo, SciDevNet

The loss of wild pollinators from agricultural landscapes could threaten global crop yields, a study has found. Led by Lucas Garibaldi, an assistant professor at the National University of Río Negro in Argentina, a team of researchers compared fields containing many wild pollinators - mostly insects - with those containing few. They studied 41 crop systems across all continents except Antarctica to understand how the loss of wild pollinators impacts crop production.

Teach Your Children Well - About Climate Change
March 27, 2013 06:04 AM - JENNIFER LUDDEN, NPR

By the time today's K-12 students grow up, the challenges posed by climate change are expected to be severe and sweeping. Now, for the first time, new federal science standards due out this month will recommend that U.S. public school students learn about this climatic shift taking place. Mark McCaffrey of the National Center for Science Education says the lessons will fill a big gap. "Only 1 in 5 [students] feel like they've got a good handle on climate change from what they've learned in school," he says, adding that surveys show two-thirds of students say they're not learning much at all about it. "So the state of climate change education in the U.S. is abysmal."

Majority of US Streams and Rivers are in 'Poor Condition,' says EPA Survey
March 26, 2013 12:32 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released the results of a comprehensive survey that looks at the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, and frankly the results are not very encouraging. The survey was conducted as part of an ongoing effort by the EPA to determine which rivers and streams are healthy, which are improving, and which require more protection and restoration efforts.

Urban Greening May Reduce Crime Rates in Cities
March 26, 2013 09:01 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Urban planning is not only important to the strategic design behind a city’s infrastructure, but now one study finds that the landscaping itself which emphasizes urban greening and the introduction of well-maintained vegetation, can lower the rates of certain types of crime such as aggravated assault, robbery and burglary, in cities. According to a Temple University study, "Does vegetation encourage or suppress urban crime? Evidence from Philadelphia, PA," researchers found that the presence of grass, trees and shrubs is associated with lower crime rates in Philadelphia.

Verizon Introduces 'MAGIC' Buses to Reduce Carbon Footprint
March 25, 2013 08:58 AM - Editor, Justmeans

To help reduce traffic congestion and carbon dioxide emissions in New York City, and better serve customers, Verizon has rolled out a fleet of 25 buses that will pick up company technicians at central locations throughout the city and then transport them to local job sites. The fleet - known as MAGIC, which stands for Mobile Area Garage Installation Center - removes approximately 250 Verizon trucks from the city's roads and frees up the same number of parking spots.

Solar Cell Power Breakthrough
March 25, 2013 05:40 AM - University of Copenhagen - Niels Bohr Institute, via EurekAlert

Scientists from the Nano-Science Center at the Niels Bohr Institut, Denmark and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, have shown that a single nanowire can concentrate the sunlight up to 15 times of the normal sun light intensity. The results are surprising and the potential for developing a new type of highly efficient solar cells is great. Due to some unique physical light absorption properties of nanowires, the limit of how much energy we can utilize from the sun's rays is higher than previous believed. These results demonstrate the great potential of development of nanowire-based solar cells, says PhD Peter Krogstrup on the surprising discovery that is described in the journal Nature Photonics.

Earth Hour 2013 Inspires Many Around the World
March 24, 2013 06:13 AM - WWF

WWF's Earth Hour has just concluded another record sweep around our planet from Samoa on one side of the International Date Line to the Cook Islands on the other, with hundreds of millions again uniting to send a clear message - we are determined to create a sustainable future for our planet. The event was observed in more than 7000 cities, towns and municipalities in more than 150 countries and territories, with many of the world's best known human and natural landmarks going dark as the backdrop to a multitude of "beyond the hour" activities and initiatives generating outcomes for the movement and the planet on which we live. "What is most important is the ever increasing extent to which Earth Hour's supporters are participating in or taking actions themselves," said Earth Hour CEO and Co-Founder, Andy Ridley.

Achieving a Sustainable Food System with Organic Farming
March 22, 2013 10:13 AM - Editor, Worldwatch Institute

Despite a slight decline between 2009 and 2010, since 1999 the global land area farmed organically has expanded more than threefold to 37 million hectares, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). Regions with the largest certified organic agricultural land in 2010 were Oceania, including Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island nations (12.1 million hectares); Europe (10 million hectares); and Latin America (8.4 million hectares), write report authors Catherine Ward and Laura Reynolds.

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