Extreme wildfires - the new normal?
September 30, 2013 05:45 AM - NPR Staff - NPR
It has been a deadly year for the people who fight wildfires. In total, 32 people have lost their lives fighting fires in 2013; the highest number in nearly 20 years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Just one incident accounts for most of those deaths, the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona. In June, the blaze blasted through a firefighting crew known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots; 19 of the 20 men died. As people move farther into wildland areas and climate change turns landscapes into tinder, experts say the wildfire danger around the country will likely only grow. But there may be a lesson to learn from how the U.S. stifled an earlier fire crisis in urban settings.
New UN climate change report
September 29, 2013 08:01 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been leading the effort in collecting scientific evidence of climate change and in looking to answer the most important question, is it caused by human activity? Some argue that it is caused mostly by natural variability, and non-human factors. The new IPCC report, released this week, provides more evidence that human activity is a major cause. The UN is calling for a global response to combat climate change, following new findings by the IPCC stating it is "extremely likely" that humans have been the dominant cause of unprecedented global warming since 1950. "The heat is on. Now we must act," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a video message to the launch of the report of the UN-backed IPCC. "This new report will be essential for Governments as they work to finalize an ambitious, legal agreement on climate change in 2015," Mr. Ban said. "The goal is to generate the political commitment to keep global temperature rise below the agreed 2-degree Celsius threshold."
Norway Devotes Big Bucks To Crop Diversity
September 27, 2013 04:25 PM - Sophie Wenzlau, Worldwatch Institute
Earlier this week, the government of Norway pledged US$23.7 million to conserve and sustainably manage some of the world's most important food crops, citing the critical need for crop diversity at a time when populations are soaring and climate change is threatening staples like rice and maize, according to the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT). "In just 10 years we will have a billion more people at the global dinner table, but during that same time we could see climate change diminish rice production by 10 percent with a one-degree increase in temperature," said Marie Haga, executive director of the GCDT. "Our best hedge against disaster is to make sure we have a wide array of food crops at our disposal to keep harvests healthy in the bread baskets of the world."
Could payphones be converted to EV charging stations?
September 27, 2013 09:13 AM - MOVEFORWARD, via, Electric Forum
In an intriguing development across New York City there is speculation that the authorities may soon look at converting existing payphones into electric car charging stations. On the surface this may look like yet another crazy idea connected with the electric vehicle industry but if you take a step back, consider the options, it may just be feasible. In yet another sign that the electric vehicle industry is set to go mass-market, people are now actually looking at converting existing payphone units into electric vehicle charging stations. But what are the potential problems and drawbacks? Perhaps the major problem which the EV industry will encounter when converting existing payphones into electric vehicle charging stations is their location. The vast majority are located in situations which are not amenable to parking cars to recharge their batteries although there are some which could be transformed with very little fuss. It will be interesting to see how the authorities tackle this particular problem.
Key European Wildlife Populations Make a Comeback
September 26, 2013 08:52 AM - Kathryn Pintus, ARKive.org
Populations of some of Europe's key animals have increased over the past 50 years, according to recent research. Through studying a total of 18 mammal and 19 bird species found across Europe, researchers found that key species, including grey wolves, brown bears and eagles, have increased in number in recent decades. This is welcome news for conservationists, as European animals have not always fared so well over the course of the last few centuries, with habitat loss, pollution and hunting all contributing to the decline of some of the continent’s most charismatic species.
Sonar Mapping linked to mass whale stranding
September 26, 2013 06:04 AM - Wildlife Conservation Society
An independent scientific review panel has concluded that the mass stranding of approximately 100 melon-headed whales in the Loza Lagoon system in northwest Madagascar in 2008 was primarily triggered by acoustic stimuli, more specifically, a multi-beam echosounder system operated by a survey vessel contracted by ExxonMobil Exploration and Production (Northern Madagascar) Limited. In response to the event and with assistance from IFAW, WCS led an international stranding team to help return live whales from the lagoon system to the open sea, and to conduct necropsies on dead whales to determine the cause of death.
The Importance of a Sustainable Energy Plan
September 25, 2013 12:48 PM - Erin Craig of TerraPass via, Clean Techies
Creating a Sustainable Energy Plan is a simple, systematic way to examine, refine, and act on one of the most important aspects of a sustainable business. A plan lets you see where you are, decide what immediate positive changes your company can make, and create long-term practical and actionable goals. Why create a plan specifically about energy? Energy use is your most important environmental impact.
An Electric Fish Tale
September 25, 2013 11:20 AM - Robin Valinski, ENN
Emanating from the highest peaks of the Merume Mountains in Guyana the Mazaruni River has been protecting the privacy and discovery of a previously unknown electric fish. The Akawaio penak represents the newly discovered genus and species of fish. Nathan Lovejoy, professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough and his team of international researchers, made the discovery.
Columbia unveils largest EV taxi service in South America
September 25, 2013 08:48 AM - MOVEFORWARD, via, Electric Forum
It may come as a surprise to many people to learn that the largest EV taxi service in South America is situated in Bogota, Colombia. While the likes of Europe, the Far East and to a greater extent the US dominate the EV industry it seems as though the principles behind electric vehicle travel have transferred to South America with little trouble. The vehicles in question are part of an array of EVs manufactured by BYD and the 45 BYD e6 EVs now ferrying people across Bogota certainly seem to have caught the headlines. There are many reasons why this particular project is catching the eye of not only businesses but also politicians and consumers across the region.
Lesser Prairie Chicken numbers decline sharply
September 25, 2013 06:16 AM - Center for Biological Diversity
Lesser prairie chicken population numbers dropped by more than 50 percent over the past year, according to a study released today. The finding raises questions about the adequacy of voluntary conservation measures proposed today for the rare grouse in a final rangewide conservation plan intended to preclude the need for Endangered Species Act protections. "Drought and habitat destruction are devastating the small remaining populations of this magnificent grassland bird," said Jay Lininger with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Voluntary measures are too little, too late, and will not get traction fast enough to prevent extinction. These vanishing birds need the protection that only the Endangered Species Act can provide if they're going to survive."