Sustainability

Beef to Fish: A Historic Shift in Food Production
July 10, 2013 09:04 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

The human diet is evolving as world farmed fish production has over taken beef production. Reports from 2012 show that 66 million tons of farmed fish were produced in comparison to 63 million tons of beef and experts are predicting that this year may be the first year that people eat more farm-raised fish than those caught in the wild. Annual beef production climbed from 19 million tons in 1950 to more than 50 million tons in the late 1980s. Over the same period, the wild fish catch ballooned from 17 million tons to close to 90 million tons. But since the late 1980s, the growth in beef production has slowed, and the reported wild fish catch has remained essentially flat.

The Sea could provide much of Scotland's power!
July 10, 2013 06:02 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

What is one of the greenest ways to generate lots of electricity? What if we could harness the immense energy in ocean currents? Tidal power has been developing rapidly as a viable means of generating electricity. Scotland is nearly surrounded by ocean and strong currents are common. A new study, led by Oxford University researchers, provides the first reliable estimate of the maximum energy that could be generated from Pentland Firth. The 1.9GW figure is considerably lower than some early estimates as it takes into account factors such as how many tidal turbines it would be feasible to build, how a series of turbines would interact with each other, and averages out variations caused by the fortnightly and seasonal cycle of the tides. Tidal turbines stretched across Pentland Firth, which separates the Orkney Islands from mainland Scotland, could generate up to 1.9 gigawatts (GW) of power — equivalent to almost half of Scotland's electricity needs.

Chesapeake Bay "Dead Zones" Reduce Diversity and Abundance of Near-bottom Species
July 9, 2013 01:37 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and even though President Obama has declared it a "national treasure" in 2009, this watershed is becoming emptier with fewer shellfish and fish populations mainly due to upstream pollution. Consequently, a 10-year research study conducted by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) indicates that low oxygen levels reduce diversity and catch rates of species that live and feed near the Bay bottom.

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.

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