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Algae fuel potential greater than thought
May 10, 2012 06:35 AM - Charlotte Dormer, Planet Earth
For algae to power our cars and planes, production needs to be low carbon and cost effective, which means working with natural processes, not against them, say scientists. Algae could become an important source of sustainable biofuel, as production doesn't compete with food crops for land. But we may need to change the way we grow algae from closed systems to open ponds if it is to be low-carbon and cost-effective. This is because current algae production in closed systems — usually for cosmetic ingredients — uses too much energy keeping the ecosystem isolated from the surrounding environment.
Major Natural Gas Project approved for Uinta Basin, Utah
May 9, 2012 07:10 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved this week a major natural gas project in Utah’s Uinta Basin that could develop more than 3,600 new wells over the next decade. The project will support up to 4,300 jobs during development. By signing the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Greater Natural Buttes Project, proposed by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Secretary Salazar approved up to 3,675 new gas wells in an existing gas producing area in Uintah County, Utah. The decision follows a landmark comprehensive public consultation and conservation stakeholder involvement effort that resulted in a balanced approach to energy production and environmental protection that will boost America's energy economy. The project encompasses approximately 163,000 acres — but will bring new surface disturbance to just five percent of that area (approximately 8,100 acres) as a result of the 1,484 well pads approved in the ROD, which would be drilled over a period of 10 years.
Israel To Help India Clean Up The Ganges River
May 6, 2012 09:43 AM - Shifra Mincer, GreenProphet
Young Israeli tourists are so common in India that in certain regions, restaurants hang signs and write menus in Hebrew. But Israel is now in the process of sending more than just tourists to the region. At the end of April, Israeli news site Ynet reported that Israel would be sending engineers, researchers and representatives from water technologies companies to help India clean up the notoriously-polluted Ganges River. The river has become an increasingly problematic site for India as it has caused the spread of infections and diseases. Since February, the Indian government has been gearing up a campaign to clean up the river, promoting its importance as a religious site and also as a freshwater resource.
Greenland's Ice Melting Overestimated
May 4, 2012 07:32 AM - Richard Harris, NPR
A new study has some reassuring news about how fast Greenland's glaciers are melting away. Greenland's glaciers hold enough water to raise sea level by 20 feet, and they are melting as the planet warms, so there's a lot at stake. A few years ago, the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland really caught people's attention. In short order, this slow-moving stream of ice suddenly doubled its speed. It started dumping a whole lot more ice into the Atlantic. Other glaciers also sped up. "Some people feared if they could double their speed over two or three years, they could keep doubling and doubling and doubling and reach very fast speeds," says Ian Joughin of the University of Washington's Polar Ice Center.
Are there toxic chemicals in your gardening equipment and supplies?
May 4, 2012 06:45 AM - Akhila Vijayaraghavan, Triple Pundit
Spring time is here and a lot of people are indulging in gardening. But did you know that there are a lot of chemicals that may be harmful to your health in your gardening supplies? According to Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, high amounts of lead, phthalates and the toxic chemical BPA were all found in the water of a new hose after it sat outside in the sun for just a few days.
GMO Labeling to Go Before Voters in California
May 3, 2012 01:34 PM - Georgina Gustin, Strait to the Source, Organic Consumers Association
It doesn't take an agricultural expert to know that you can't grow vegetables without water. So it wasn't surprising that after hundreds of people marching under the banner "Occupy the Farm" took over a University of California (UC) agricultural testing station on April 22, UC officials responded by shutting off water to the site. The next day, a late-season storm brought a half-inch of rain to the San Francisco Bay Area, irrigating the thousands of vegetable starts in the ground and lifting the spirits of the urban farming activists who are determined to save the site from development. Score: Occupiers, 1 - UC administrators, 0. Social change activists in Berkeley, Calif., have always been ahead of the curve. Today, May Day, is the spring reemergence for the Occupy movement as activists around the United States engage in work stoppages, street marches, and various forms of civil disobedience to press their demands for a more equitable economy. The folks with Occupy the Farm got started early. On Earth Day, they marched from Berkeley's Ohlone Park to a five-acre plot of land in the adjacent bedroom community of Albany. They cut the locks on the gates of the UC-Berkeley and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) field trial plot, pulled up nearly an acre of thick mustard growing there, and got busy working the soil with a pair of rented rototillers. Then, scores of volunteers planted 150-foot rows of lettuce, beans, cucumbers, and leafy greens. By the end of Earth Day, the Bay Area had a new urban farm.
Biodiversity loss significant impact on ecosystems
May 3, 2012 07:16 AM - Click Green Staff, ClickGreen
Loss of biodiversity appears to affect ecosystems as much as climate change, pollution and other major forms of environmental stress, according to results of a new study by an international research team. The study is the first comprehensive effort to directly compare the effects of biological diversity loss to the anticipated effects of a host of other human-caused environmental changes. The results, published in this week's issue of the journal Nature, highlight the need for stronger local, national and international efforts to protect biodiversity and the benefits it provides, according to the researchers, who are based at nine institutions in the United States, Canada and Sweden.
Australia lists koalas as 'vulnerable'
May 2, 2012 06:19 AM - Editor, ARKive.org
The koala has been listed as a threatened species in parts of Australia due to its shrinking population, according to officials. One of Australia's most iconic marsupials, the koala is facing a range of threats, including habitat loss, urban expansion, dog attacks, vehicle collisions and disease. Its specialised diet of eucalyptus leaves confines it to quite specific habitats, while increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may be reducing the nutrient content of the leaves it eats. Climate change is also increasing the risk of drought and fires, with koalas being particularly vulnerable to bushfires as their slow movements and tree-dwelling lifestyle make it difficult for them to escape.
Caribbean biodiversity and the Mongoose
May 1, 2012 06:55 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
In a single paper in Zootaxa scientists have rewritten the current understanding of lizard biodiversity in the Caribbean. By going over museum specimens of skinks, scientists have discovered 24 new species and re-established nine species previously described species, long-thought invalid. The single paper has increased the number of skinks in the Caribbean by 650 percent, from six recognized species to 39. Unfortunately, half of these new species may already be extinct and all of them are likely imperiled. "Now, one of the smallest groups of lizards in this region of the world has become one of the largest groups," co-author Blair Hedges with Penn State University said in a press release. Hedges and his team determined the new species through morphological research as well as DNA studies.
Wind Turbines found to create local warming
April 30, 2012 06:37 AM - Sid Perkins, Science
Large wind farms can substantially influence local climate, most notably by boosting nighttime temperatures, a new study suggests. Utilizing the same analytical techniques used to discern temperature trends in urban heat islands, researchers scrutinized satellite images of a 10,000-square-kilometer area of west-central Texas, home to four of the world's largest wind farms (turbines near Fluvanna, Texas, shown). The team's analyses revealed that in the 9-year period from 2003 through 2011, when more than 95% of the turbines in the area were erected, the average nighttime land-surface temperature during summer months in areas where wind farms were located increased by 0.65°C more than did temperatures in nearby areas without wind turbines.