October 2, 2013 11:11 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Using two drilled core samples from northern Switzerland, researchers from the University of Zurich have unearthed flowering plant fossils dating back 240 million years. These are now the oldest known fossils of their kind. The pollen grains provide evidence that flowering plants evolved 100 million years earlier than previously thought. Researchers have described these as Angiosperm-like pollen and Afropollis from the Middle Triassic of the Termanic Basin.
Indonesia and EU sign deal to end illegal timber trade
October 2, 2013 09:14 AM - Diana Parker, MONGABAY.COM
Indonesian and the European Union signed a deal on Monday that aims to curb illegal logging by ending all trade in illegal wood products between Asia's largest exporter of timber to Europe and each of the EU's 28 member states. The deal marks Asia's first Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT-VPA) and is the product of six years of negotiations between EU and Indonesian officials as well as civil society groups and the private sector.
Solar power straight off the shelf
October 2, 2013 08:03 AM - David Thomas, Ecologist
Furniture giant IKEA are soon to stock solar panels in all their UK stores, evidence that renewable technology can really compete in the global marketplace says David Thomas. The mood among UK trade organizations is that despite working hard to promote solar PV as an investment, governmental mismanagement has done the industry harm.
Are Sierra Nevada forest fires getting more severe?
October 2, 2013 06:12 AM - Center for Biological Diversity
A new scientific study finds that fire severity is not increasing in the forests of California's Sierra Nevada. The findings are contrary to claims by those who have tried to use recent fires in the region to justify more logging in the state's forests. The study, by Dr. Chad Hanson of the John Muir Project, and Dr. Dennis Odion of the Earth Research Institute at University of California, Santa Barbara, was published in the International Journal of Wildland Fire. It found no trend of increasing fire severity in the Sierra Nevada management region in California over the past three decades. In fact, the study found that between 1984 and 2010, the amount of high-severity fire in the Sierra was lower than its natural level, before modern fire suppression.
Investment Biking in Portland
October 1, 2013 09:25 AM - Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit
Bicycling's numerous and varied benefits — economic, social and environmental — have long been recognized, though given short shrift in the way of institutional value or support. That's changing. Public and private sector decision makers in cities and communities across the U.S. and around the world — spurred by persistent advocacy at the grassroots level and biking's near universal popularity — are factoring bicycling into integrated urban, suburban, and even rural transportation, development and sustainability plans.
Switch to organic farming may boost yields and incomes
October 1, 2013 08:58 AM - Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
Switching to organic and resource-conserving methods of farming can improve smallholder crop yields, food security and income, a review study has found. But a more-extensive evidence base founded on rigorous and consistent research methods is needed before the findings can be generalised to other situations, according to the study published in the current issue of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. "The findings show at the farm level it [organic farming] appears to be very positive — more than many people think," says Steve Franzel, an agricultural economist at the World Agroforestry Centre, Kenya, co-author of the study.
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.