Free Range Milk?
May 24, 2013 06:17 AM - Lorna Howarth, The Ecologist
Free-Range Dairy is a new initiative that could reverse the trend towards industrialised mega-farms. The Ecologist office is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within a United Nations Biosphere Reserve. Hartland peninsular is dotted with steep, wooded valleys where bluebells, early purple orchids and woodpeckers abound.The hills afford breathtaking views across the Bristol channel to Lundy Island, itself a nature reserve with a no-fish zone that is having a beneficial effect on marine ecology, and looking south-west down to Cornwall, on a clear day, one can see to Boscastle and Bodmin moor beyond. But something is missing from this bucolic scene - one notices it first whilst walking the country lanes on a warm spring evening. There is no rhythmic munching of grass on the other side of the hedge; no bovine belching or contented sighing as the cows enjoy the sun on their backs after a long winter in the cattle yard. For here in Hartland, as elsewhere in the country, the trend is towards carbon-intensive, 'industrialised' farming where huge herds of 1,000 cows or more are kept indoors all year long, with only a concrete yard for exercise.
India's hornbill conservator is awarded the "Green Oscar"
May 23, 2013 08:54 AM - Akhila Vijayaraghavan, MONGABAY.COM
The Whitley Awards is a prestigious international prize awarded annually to individuals working in nature conservation at a grassroots level. They were first awarded in 1994 and over the past two decades, the Whitley fund for nature has given almost £10 million ($15 million USD) to conservation and recognized 160 conservation leaders in more than 70 countries. These awards are known as the 'Green Oscars' and are often awarded to conservationists working in conflict-torn and developing countries. This year, the prestigious prize was awarded to Aparajita Datta's project, "threatened hornbills as icons for the conservation of the Himalayan forests of Arunachal Pradesh, India".
What is Causing the Big Shrimp Die-Off in Asian Shrimp Farms?
May 23, 2013 05:50 AM - Mike Ives, SciDevNet
A cause of a mysterious disease devastating shrimp farms across Asia since 2009 has been tracked back to a strain of a bacteria native to coastlines around the world. The shrimp early mortality syndrome has perplexed experts for years, in a region where roughly one million people depend on shrimp farming for survival. So far countries officially reporting the disease — also referred to as acute hepatopancreatic necrosis syndrome — include China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, but potentially it could affect shrimp farming further afield in Asia, as well as parts of Latin America and Africa.
Great Lakes Losing Water, Climate Change a Significant Factor
May 22, 2013 05:59 AM - Eric Justian, Triple Pundit
Great Lakes water levels are at historic lows, 26 inches below their long term averages, raising prices right at the beginning of the supply chain for iron ore, grain, and coal. For every inch the water levels fall, a freighter needs to leave another 100 tons of goods behind on the dock. That means one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to move freight in the world becomes less efficient and more expensive as the water levels drop. It's important to note that over 160 million tons of goods are carried on the Great Lakes each year, keeping our nation's industrial belt supplied with raw materials. When ships carry less cargo, the cost per delivered unit increases even before the ore gets turned into steel, translating directly to higher cost for manufacturers and consumers.
Texas Legislature Passes Commercial and Industrial PACE Bill
May 21, 2013 01:29 PM - Editor, Clean Techies
The Texas House and Senate passed Senate Bill 385 in May. If Governor Rick Perry approves the bill, the state will break new ground by developing plans for commercial and industrial property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs. This bill will redesign Texas's approach to PACE, focusing on the commercial and industrial sectors rather than on residential programs. The legislation covers both energy efficiency and water efficiency. To facilitate local decision making, cities and local areas will partner with businesses and nonprofits to set up their own PACE programs. These programs will allow businesses to borrow money from private lenders and repay it yearly via an assessment on their property taxes.
Aquifers in US Depleting, Contributing to Sea-Level Rise
May 21, 2013 10:24 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
The High Plains (also known as Ogallala) aquifer underlies more than 170,000 square miles of the United States. Aquifers are water storage areas that are made up of bodies of permeable rock that contain and transmit groundwater. The High Plains aquifer serves as the principal source of water for irrigation and drinking in the Great Plains, serving over two million people. However, substantial pumping of the aquifer for irrigation since the 1940s has resulted in large water-table declines. Depleting aquifers of groundwater can lead to serious consequences as pumping water out of the ground faster than it can be replenished can permanently dry up wells, reduce water in lakes and streams, and deteriorate water quality.
Fishing the Gulf of Maine: Tradition at a Crossroads
May 20, 2013 11:41 AM - Michael Sanders, The Ecologist
Lobster fishing remains big business off the coast of Maine but even with new regulations and new gadgets can it ever be sustainable? Michael Sanders investigates the real costs of the crustacean on your plate... When most of us go down to the coast, whether to walk or swim or fish or sail, we take for granted what we see before us. We see the lobster boats and the colorful buoys marking the strings of traps, the bobbing green and red cans marking safe passage, the gulls and other seabirds. In the larger working harbors like Portland and Stonington and Port Clyde, there might be draggers tied up, unloading fish they've caught far out in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank. What we don't realize is that this seemingly unchanging marine world is in fact always changing in ways both large and small. What we think of as "the coast of Maine" - those 3,000 vaunted miles of rocky shoreline punctuated by seaside villages and docks and lobster pounds and fishing fleets - was largely built on the backs of the fishermen and lobstermen who are there, however picturesque or authentic to the eye, for a single purpose: to harvest the sea in order to feed us.
Want to benefit wildlife? Let land go untended.
May 20, 2013 06:02 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Which environment would wildlife prefer, actively farmed and managed land, or untended natural land that to us might appear unkempt? Turns out that parts of the farm landscape that look overgrown and 'scruffy' are more important in supporting wildlife than they first appear, according to new research published today in Ecology Letters. The findings stem from an intensive study of an organic farm in Somerset by a team of scientists focussing on the complex ways in which animals and plants interact. First, the team of researchers from the University of Hull, the University of Bristol and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, created one of the world's largest terrestrial food-webs — a what-eats-what guide to the food-chain, and then developed a method of predicting what would happen to the whole food-web when habitats were lost.
Drought and Desertification - Global Response
May 19, 2013 09:11 AM - ANDREW BURGER, Global Warming is Real
Land degradation — more specifically drought and desertification — have become increasingly pressing problems for a growing number of countries around the world, threatening efforts to alleviate poverty, improve basic health and sanitation and address socioeconomic inequality, as well as spur agricultural and sustainable economic development. The only multilateral, international agreement linking development and environment to sustainable land management (SLM), high-level representatives from 195 nations will be gathering in Windhoek, Namibia from September 16-27 for the 11th bi-annual Conference of Parties (COP) to review implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Meeting for the first time in southern Africa, UNCCD delegates will review implementation of the convention to date and plan for the ensuing two years of programs and actions.
Effects of a Warming Planet on Tropical Lizards May Not be Significant
May 18, 2013 07:50 AM - Dartmouth University via ScienceDaily
A new Dartmouth College study finds human-caused climate change may have little impact on many species of tropical lizards, contradicting a host of recent studies that predict their widespread extinction in a rapidly warming planet. Most predictions that tropical cold-blooded animals, especially forest lizards, will be hard hit by climate change are based on global-scale measurements of environmental temperatures, which miss much of the fine-scale variation in temperature that individual animals experience on the ground, said the article's lead author, Michael Logan, a Ph.D. student in ecology and evolutionary biology.