World Elephant Day draws our attention to the plight of these magnificent animals
August 13, 2013 06:20 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Yesterday was the second World Elephant Day. World Elephant Day was started in 2012 to focus attention on declining elephant numbers and ways that we can collectively do something about it. Fact is, humans are largely responsible! This is and elephantine task, and we are happy to, in our own way, draw attention to the effort that the World Elephant day organization is undertaking. Since the first World Elephant Day one year ago, has anything changed? Ivory poaching and trafficking crimes, and human-elephant conflict tragedies have continued to escalate taking the lives of both elephants and humans in Africa and Asia. In countries such as Sumatra and Sri Lanka, much of the endangered Asian elephants’ remaining precious habitat is being bulldozed down to make room for palm oil plantations or superhighways, all in the name of development. Although in countries from continental Africa and Asia to the USA there have been some poachers arrested, and tons of smuggled illegal ivory seized, this has made little impact on the multi-billion dollar black market industry that continues to drive the trade. It’s clear that enforcement policies and penalties are still too weak to make a difference to the kingpins behind the scenes. Meanwhile anti-poaching squads in African countries such as Kenya, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo bravely risk their lives to stop the poachers, but in many cases are no match for these heavily armed gunmen. Much about these issues has been reported by scores of journalists, advocates and conservation NGOs, from the big to the small. There are countless organizations that have been tirelessly working at all levels to bring attention to these issues and to what we can do about it.
Greenland Ice Sheet is melting from the top and bottom
August 12, 2013 06:09 AM - EurekAlert
New study shows that heat flow from the mantle contributes to the Greenland ice melt The Greenland ice sheet is melting from below, caused by a high heat flow from the mantle into the lithosphere. This influence is very variable spatially and has its origin in an exceptionally thin lithosphere. Consequently, there is an increased heat flow from the mantle and a complex interplay between this geothermal heating and the Greenland ice sheet. The international research initiative IceGeoHeat led by the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences establishes in the current online issue of Nature Geoscience (Vol 6, August 11, 2013) that this effect cannot be neglected when modeling the ice sheet as part of a climate study.
2012 was a bad year for the Arctic
August 10, 2013 08:32 AM - Steve Williams, Care2
During 2012, the Arctic broke several climate records, including a level of unprecedented warmth that created rapid ice loss. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is warning in its "The State of the Climate in 2012" report that last year was one of the 10 hottest since the beginning of recording global average temperatures. In addition to this, Arctic sea ice melted to reach record lows during the annual summer thaw. To illustrate this, the report points out that in Greenland, around 97% of the region’s ice sheet melted: this a figure that is four times the expected figure based on the melt in previous years. We're still feeling the effects of this and continued warming today, with the North Pole Environmental Agency issuing a warning that the summer ice has melted so fast and by so much that a shallow lake has formed.
Common Table Salt, Extraordinary Abilities
August 9, 2013 12:45 PM - Debra Goldberg, ENN
When thinking of common table salt, the term "extraordinary" doesn’t often come to mind. But recent discoveries show that the potential for table salt far exceed simply adding flavor to food. Chemists at Oregon State University found that simple sodium chloride, or table salt, has the ability to enable the commercial mass production of silicon nanostructures at significantly reduced costs.
New York City Turns to Composting
August 8, 2013 12:43 PM - Debra Goldberg, ENN
In 2011, the United States produced 250 million tons of municipal solid waste, 56% of which was compostable materials. In New York City alone, more than 10,000 tons of trash is collected every day and shipped to landfills where organic materials decompose. Methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, is produced as a result of the decomposition. Behind industry and agriculture, landfills are the third-largest source of methane in the United States. New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg recognized this major environmental concern in his State of the City address, and called for food waste recycling, the city’s “final recycling frontier". Of course New York City isn’t the first to come up with such an ambitious plan. Cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, San Antonio, and Portland, Oregon have been composting as early as 2009. Today, San Francisco mandates that all residents separate organic material, adding a third bin to trash and recycling. The compost bins can include all food scraps, along with vegetation and solid paper products such as coffee cups and milk cartons. Overall, 78% of San Francisco’s waste is now diverted from landfills.
Saudi Arabia to Launch Online Atlas of Renewable Resources
August 8, 2013 08:45 AM - Rehab Abd Almohsen, SciDevNet
Saudi Arabia is launching an online atlas of renewable resources as part of a wider project to identify the potential renewable energy sources and where best to deploy technology to tap into those resources. The atlas data will be available in late 2013, published online through the Renewable Resource Monitoring and Mapping programme.
Foodies eat lab-grown burger that could change the world
August 7, 2013 08:56 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
This week at a press event in London, two food writers took a bite into the world's most unusual hamburger. Grown meticulously from cow stem cells, the hamburger patty represents the dream (or pipedream) of many animal rights activists and environmentalists. The burger was developed by Physiologist Mark Post of Maastricht University and funded by Google co-founder Sergey Brin in an effort to create real meat without the corresponding environmental toll.
Monarch Butterfly migration study tracks generations
August 7, 2013 06:24 AM - EurekAlert
Everyone knows all about the epic breeding journey taken each year by generations of monarch butterflies between Mexico and Canada, right? Not so fast, say researchers including University of Guelph biologists. Until now, linking adult butterflies and their birthplaces during a complicated annual migration spanning all of eastern North America and involving up to five generations of the iconic insects had eluded scientists. Now for the first time, researchers have mapped that migration pattern across the continent over an entire breeding season. That information might help conserve a creature increasingly threatened by loss of habitat and food sources, says Tyler Flockhart, a PhD student in U of G's Department of Integrative Biology.
Deforestation ban working in Costa Rica
August 6, 2013 08:58 AM - Rhett A. Butler, MONGABAY.COM
Costa Rica's ban on clearing of "mature" forests appears to be effective in encouraging agricultural expansion on non-forest lands, finds a study published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The research, which was led by Matthew Fagan of Columbia University, is based on analysis of satellite data calibrated with visits to field sites in the lowlands of northern Costa Rica.
Marine ecosystems shifting in response to warming climate
August 6, 2013 06:19 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
The climate is getting warmer, and terrestrial ecosystems are responding. Species move up mountain slopes to remain in the temperature regimes they prefer (if there is a mountain slope to move up!). What is happening in the oceans? The warming climate is affecting ocean temperatures too, thought the oceans have vast thermal mass, so changes might be expected to be occurring more slowly than on land. Oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface, yet our knowledge of the impact of climate change on marine habitats is a mere drop in the proverbial ocean compared to terrestrial systems. An international team of scientists set out to change that by conducting a global meta-analysis of climate change impacts on marine systems. Counter to previous thinking, marine species are shifting their geographic distribution toward the poles and doing so much faster than their land-based counterparts. The findings were published in Nature Climate Change.