Sustainability

How can agriculture best adapt to changing climate?
June 14, 2013 06:37 AM - Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security via eurekAlert

Whether it’s swapping coffee for cocoa in Central America or bracing for drought in Sri Lanka with a return to ancient water storage systems, findings from a new report from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) chart a path for farmers to adapt to climate shifts despite uncertainties about what growing conditions will look like decades from now. As this week's UN climate talks in Bonn continue to sideline a formal deal on agriculture, the study, Addressing uncertainty in adaptation planning for agriculture, which was published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS), finds that the cloudy aspects of climate forecasts are no excuse for a paralysis in agriculture adaptation policies. "Climate projections will always have a degree of uncertainty, but we need to stop using uncertainty as a rationale for inaction," said Sonja Vermeulen, head of research at CCAFS and the lead author of the study. "Even when our knowledge is incomplete, we often have robust grounds for choosing best-bet adaptation actions and pathways, by building pragmatically on current capacities in agriculture and environmental management, and using projections to add detail and to test promising options against a range of scenarios."

Better Land Use May Help Protect Coral Reefs
June 13, 2013 02:21 PM - Editor, ENN

According to new research, for nations that have outlying coral reefs, better land use of the mainland is crucial in order to prevent further damage to these ocean habitats. A recent study reveals important implications for Madagascan and Australian reefs based on deforestation scenarios.

Of Wolves and Elk in Yellowstone National Park
June 13, 2013 06:03 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

What does the rising wolf population mean for the elk in Yellowstone? A new study casts light on this question. It turns out that the mere presence of wolves, previously shown to affect the behavior of elk in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, is not potent enough to reduce the body condition and reproductive rates of female elk, according to new research. The research, led by recent University of Wyoming Ph.D. graduate Arthur Middleton, provides the most comprehensive evidence to date refuting the idea that wolves are capable of reducing elk calf recruitment indirectly through predation risk.

Offshore Floating Wind Turbines
June 12, 2013 06:20 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

RenewableUK has heralded new announcements today which will bring floating turbines a step closer to UK waters and open up the possibility of further developments. At RenewableUK's Offshore Wind conference in Manchester, the Crown Estate, the managers of the seabed, announced a new offshore wind leasing round for innovative structures.

Panama expects benefits from world's first GM salmon
June 11, 2013 03:45 PM - Eva Aguilar, SciDevNet

Panama's researchers have played a key role in creating a rapidly growing salmon that may soon become the world's first commercially sold genetically modified (GM) animal. The US's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled the consumption of GM salmon to be as safe as conventional Atlantic salmon, and is now analyzing public comments on its environmental impact as the final part of the approval process. If the FDA permits the transgenic salmon to be imported for human consumption — which the firm that developed the fish hopes will be granted this year — the research station in Panama that is studying the GM salmon would switch to growing it for the US market.

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Pay Dirt
June 11, 2013 08:58 AM - Alison Singer, Worldwatch Institute

It is, unfortunately, society's nature to discard the unwanted or forgotten. This tendency is on display across the globe, from slums of mega-cities to undernourished children in rural villages to the ugly endangered creatures that never receive attention. Nowhere, however, is this tendency more apparent than in our trash. We accumulate so much unwanted stuff that each city-dweller throws away an average of 1.2 kilograms of municipal solid waste per day. An individual's trash puts all those unwanted items on display, whether it is an old love letter, a broken glass, or a half-eaten ham and cheese sandwich.

Are Airlines doing enough to cut emissions?
June 11, 2013 06:05 AM - Harry Stevens, Triple Pundit

The aviation industry has announced what it claims is "a historic agreement" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but industry experts and environmentalists say the agreement is vague and lacks the enforcement mechanisms necessary to give it teeth. At a meeting last week of the International Air Transport Association (I.A.T.A.), an industry group of more than 200 airlines representing 84 percent of the world's air travel, the assembled airlines agreed on a plan to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent annually until 2020, cap their net carbon dioxide emissions after 2020, and cut emissions in half by 2050 compared with a 2005 baseline.

The Giant hot pink slug
June 10, 2013 06:19 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

The Hot Pink slugs that emerge after rainy nights have become a conservation symbol for alpine forests on Australia's Mount Kaputar, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. The slugs, which measure up to 20 centimeters (8 inches), are only found on Mount Kaputar, a volcano that last erupted 17 million years ago. They spend most of their time buried under leaf litter, but emerge by the hundreds when conditions are right to feed on moss, algae, and fungi. While their fluorescent coloration may seem jarring, it actually helps them blend in with brightly-colored eucalyptus leaves that cover the forest floor.

Nanotechnology could lead to better batteries for EV's
June 9, 2013 08:11 AM - MOVEFORWARD, Electric Forum

If you search the Internet for information on nanotechnology the likelihood is that you will see a number of scare stories suggesting that nanotechnology robots will take over the world but if you dig a little deeper you will see that nanotechnology will play a major part in every area of our life going forward. Indeed researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico seem to have stumbled upon a new type of technology which could lead to batteries able to hold 10 times the storage capacity at the moment. While the fact that these batteries could be commercially viable in the future is amazing in itself, it is also worth mentioning that unlike traditional batteries they do not require expensive precious metals such as platinum. This nanotechnology carbon-based catalyst is said to be able to squeeze maximum efficiency out of new lithium air technology which is currently being investigated by IBM for one.

Small island states told to build wider ocean expertise
June 6, 2013 08:45 AM - Yojana Sharma, SciDevNet

With rising concern about ocean degradation and the sustainable use of ocean resources, small island states must build scientific expertise that goes beyond their national needs and that benefits the oceans generally, a meeting of UN scientific experts has heard. Small island developing states (SIDS) are the "custodians" of vast ocean spaces that are important for global food security, biodiversity, natural resources and carbon sequestration, and broader sustainable ocean policies will in turn enhance their own economic development, say experts.

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