Chinese lose 2.5 billion years of life expectancy due to coal burning
July 9, 2013 08:42 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM
Chinese who live north of the Huai River will lose an aggregate 2.5 billion years of life expectancy due to the extensive use of coal burning in the region, concludes a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, which involved researchers from MIT, China, and Israel, estimated the impacts of particulate matter from coal-powered heating on life expectancy. In the process, the authors developed a rule-of-thumb for the effects of air pollution: "every additional 100 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter in the atmosphere lowers life expectancy at birth by three years," according to a statement from MIT.
Global Warming Down Under
July 9, 2013 05:39 AM - ScienceDaily
Green spaces, trees and bodies of water are must-have design features for future development in Sydney's suburbs after researchers found that by 2050 global warming combined with Sydney's urban heat island effect could increase temperatures by up to 3.7°C. The researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science found new urban developments, such as the multitude of new estates on Sydney edges expected to house more than 100,000 residents, were prone to the greatest temperature increases.
Conifers threatened globally
July 8, 2013 10:36 AM - Population Matters
A third of the world's conifers, the biggest and longest-lived organisms on the planet, are at risk of extinction, with logging and disease the main threats, scientists said. The study of more than 600 types of conifers — trees and shrubs including cedars, cypresses and firs — updates a "Red List" on which almost 21,000 of 70,000 species of animals and plants assessed in recent years are under threat.
European Air Pollution still an issue
July 5, 2013 06:45 AM - EurActiv
The health effects of air pollution have been underestimated and Europe should revisit its laws to tackle the problem, UN scientists have concluded after a major review of new evidence. Sixty international scientists, commissioned by the World Health Organization, analysed eight years of studies to see how minute specks of soot, gases such as ozone and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and other pollutants from road and rail traffic, industry and indoor fires harm human health. In addition to premature deaths from respiratory and heart diseases, they found links to new conditions such as diabetes and still births and adverse effects on the cognitive development of children born to mothers exposed to even small levels of air pollution.
US Initiative to Combat Elephant and Rhino Poaching in Africa
July 4, 2013 08:35 AM - Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian , MONGABAY.COM
Barack Obama launched a new initiative against wildlife trafficking on Monday, using his executive authority to take action against an illegal trade that is fueling rebel wars and now threatens the survival of elephants and rhinoceroses. The initiative, announced as the president visited Tanzania on the final stop of his African tour, was the second time in a week Obama has used an executive order to advance environmental policy, after announcing a sweeping new climate change plan.
Ocean bacteria found greatly impacted by CO2 in the atmosphere
July 3, 2013 06:26 AM -
Climate change may be weeding out the bacteria that form the base of the ocean's food chain, selecting certain strains for survival, according to a new study. In climate change, as in everything, there are winners and losers. As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and temperature rise globally, scientists increasingly want to know which organisms will thrive and which will perish in the environment of tomorrow. The answer to this question for nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria (bacteria that obtain energy through photosynthesis, or "blue-green algae") turns out to have implications for every living thing in the ocean. Nitrogen-fixing is when certain special organisms like cyanobacteria convert inert -- and therefore unusable -- nitrogen gas from the air into a reactive form that the majority of other living beings need to survive. Without nitrogen fixers, life in the ocean could not survive for long.
IUCN Red List reports decline in world’s oldest and largest species
July 2, 2013 08:49 AM - Kathryn Pintus, ARKive.org
The latest update to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species highlights a worrying decline in many economically and medicinally valuable species, from small freshwater shrimps and cone snails to gargantuan conifers, some of the world's oldest and largest organisms. An impressive 4,807 species have been added to the IUCN Red List this year, bringing the total number of assessed species to 70,294, of which 20,934 are threatened with extinction.
Texas A&M University plans huge solar project
July 2, 2013 05:58 AM - DailyTech, Justmeans
The proposed "Center for Solar Energy" at Texas A&M University's Central Texas branch will make the school the world's first all-solar university. The university has come up with this innovative project to save power costs and reduce its carbon footprint. It will utilize nearby unused land for the world's biggest solar test farm. The solar farm will be developed exclusively for solar prototyping and R&D, and not as a commercial farm. As a test farm, it will host hundreds of solar cell designs from various manufacturers. The university hopes to have more than a hundred solar technology manufacturers and other players on board for the project. The project is expected to draw in very large investments in solar technology research and development over the next five to six years.
Croatian fishermen worry about EU rules
July 1, 2013 05:53 AM - EurActiv
An English-language sign at the fishermen's pier in the Croatian town of Umag reads: "This fishing port was rebuilt with the support of the European Union". But most of the 3,700 fishermen who ply their trade in Croatia's eastern Adriatic fear that the country's accession to the EU on 1 July, and strict new laws and regulations that come with it, may be the end of their jobs. "I'm afraid we're in for a lot of unpleasant surprises," said Danilo Latin, whose family have been fishermen for four generations.
Humans pushing Sumatran Tigers to extinction
June 30, 2013 07:33 AM - Population Matters
A subspecies of tigers called the Sumatran Tiger is nearly extinct due to human involvement in its habitat, according to a new research paper. These tigers are found exclusively on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and only 400 of them live today. According to researchers from Virginia Tech and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the number of existing Sumatran tigers is much lower than the current estimate. Their study showed that a high level of human activity in this region has led to a decline in the tiger population. The WWF says that deforestation and poaching is pushing the rare Sumatran tigers towards extinction, just like its cousins, Javan and Balinese tigers that are now extinct.