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Big Owls need big trees!
August 16, 2013 03:57 PM - Wildlife Conservation Society
The last great primary forests of Russia's Far East are known for their tigers and bears, but they are also the domain of giant owls. A new study finds that the health of the rare Blakiston’s fish owl is intrinsic to that of these northern forests. The birds rely on old-growth forests along streams for both breeding and to support healthy populations of their favorite prey: salmon. Large trees provide breeding cavities for the enormous bird, which has a 6-foot wingspan. When these massive trees die and topple into streams, they disrupt water flow, forcing the gushing river around, over, and under these new obstacles. The result is stream channel complexity: a combination of deep, slow-moving backwaters and shallow, fast-moving channels that provide important microhabitats critical to salmon in different developmental stages.
Pesticide risks need more research and regulation
August 16, 2013 09:47 AM - Editor, SciDevNet
Developing countries need stronger pesticide regulation and a better understanding of how pesticides behave in tropical climates, according to experts behind a series of articles published in Science today. They also need an international body to carry out regular pesticide safety assessments — ensuring they are used properly by farmers who are given thorough training in their use — and to monitor the safety of chemical levels in food, the experts say.
Finally: Obama Green Lights Solar Panels on White House
August 16, 2013 08:54 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit
Details are not yet final, but President Obama has finally allowed retrofitting the White House roof to allow for solar panels. No, this is not a plot from HBO's hit series Veep: it is finally happening. The final total of panels will range between 20 and 50 solar panels according to Think Progress and the Washington Post—perhaps enough to power a few flat screen TVs or power the equivalent of 15 seconds of flight on Air Force One. It is a step that is surely attracting all kinds of buzz in and outside of Washington, DC, one either seen as a token effort, a sign of leadership on sustainability, or as a yawner. The installation falls on the heels of a 2010 promise Obama had made to install a rooftop solar system.
West Antarctica warming during end of last ice age examined
August 16, 2013 06:22 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
The Earth goes through natural cooling and warming trends, not to be confused with man's impact on climate. Ice Ages have occurred and waned. The pace of warming at the end of an ice age has been the subject of debate. It turns out that in Antarctica the pace of warming at the end of the last ice age was far from uniform. West Antarctica began emerging from the last ice age about 22,000 years ago — well before other regions of Antarctica and the rest of the world, according to a team of scientists who analyzed a two-mile-long ice core, one of the deepest ever drilled in Antarctica. Scientists say that changes in the amount of solar energy triggered the warming of West Antarctica and the subsequent release of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the Southern Ocean amplified the effect and resulted in warming on a global scale, eventually ending the ice age.
Reducing soot and methane emissions may not make as big of an impact as previously thought
August 15, 2013 03:02 PM - Editor, ENN
Carbon dioxide is a heavy hitter when it comes to global climate change. But there are some other big players that contribute to rising temperatures as well including soot and methane. While some scientists have argued to cut these emissions, a new study suggests that targeting these emissions may make much less of an impact than previously thought. Methane, when assessed over the course of a century, warms the planet about 25 times as much as the same mass of carbon dioxide does. During the same time frame, soot boosts warming more than 1000 times as much as the same mass of CO2 does. With this evidence, it appears that these two pollutants contribute just as much as CO2. However, methane and soot don’t stick around for as long as CO2 does (methane lingers around for 12 years and soot usually a couple of weeks).
Farmers Increasing Resilience to Climate Change by Diversifying Crops
August 15, 2013 10:54 AM - Molly Redfield, Worldwatch Institute
The loss of arable land due to climate change may amount to as much as 21 percent in South America, 18 percent in Africa, and 11 to 17 percent in Europe, according to scientists at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The potential of climate change to adversely impact food security in these regions is staggering.
China's State Council has announced plans to make green industries central to the economy by 2015
August 15, 2013 08:58 AM - Jennifer Duggan, The Ecologist
China is to fast-track expansion and investment in energy saving technologies in an attempt to tackle its worsening pollution problems. China's cabinet, the State Council, recently announced plans to make the energy saving sector a "pillar" of the economy by 2015. In a statement the council said that under the new plan the environmental protection sector will grow by 15% on average annually, reaching an output of 4.5 trillion yuan (£474 billion/$438 billion USD). China's massive economic growth has come at a major cost to its environment and even its environmental ministry has described the country's environmental situation as "grim".
Don't Dismiss the Hyperloop Opportunity
August 15, 2013 06:05 AM - Patrick Kelly, Triple Pundit
On Monday, Elon Musk, the indomitable Silicon Valley entrepreneur, unveiled his plans for a Hyperloop transportation system. The idea is to build an elevated tube from LA to SF that will transport pods full of people and cars and cargo between the two cities at 800 mph. Simpsons geeks everywhere, from Ogdenville to North Haverbrook, erupted in a derisive chorus of “Monorail." The solar-powered trip will take 30 minutes and cost $20 and that's no joke. It will be cheaper, faster, safer and more environmentally friendly than any existing mode of transportation. What's not to like" To no one's surprise, Musk's plan garnered criticism, cynicism, and outright hatred from those who shroud themselves in pragmatism and an immutable love for incremental change. USA Today says "it won’t work". TIME went way out on a limb and came up with "4 reasons why it could tank".
New technology makes "Smart Windows" even smarter
August 14, 2013 04:11 PM - Editor, ENN
"Smart windows", made out of "smart glass" allow users to control the amount of light let in and ultimately save costs for heating, air-conditioning, and lighting. Improving on this technology, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have designed a new material to make smart windows even smarter by applying a new window coating, which will essentially have a major impact on building energy efficiency.
Non-food crops lock up enough calories to feed 4 billion
August 14, 2013 11:58 AM - Lou Del Bello, SciDevNet
Global calorie availability could be increased by as much as 70 per cent — feeding an additional 4 billion people — by shifting cropland use to produce food for humans rather than livestock feed and biofuels, according to new research.