Sustainability

Climate Change and Giant Sequoias
March 22, 2013 06:06 AM - Bruce Dorminey, Yale Environment360

The world’s largest living species, native to California's Sierra Nevada, faces a two-pronged risk from declining snowpack and rising temperatures. The threat to sequoias mirrors a growing danger to trees worldwide, with some scientists saying rapid warming this century could wipe out many of the planet's old trees. Few living things seem as permanent as the giant sequoia trees of California's Sierra Nevada. The largest species of flora or fauna on Earth, these towering redwood trees have held sway for millions of years in a narrow band of their native mountain habitat. With heights reaching 300 feet and girths as large as 150 feet, some sequoias can live in excess of 3,000 years before being naturally toppled by a combination of weather and gravity.

8 Frogs Discovered in 1 Sanctuary
March 21, 2013 09:06 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

Two surveys in the mountainous forests of Sri Lank's Peak Wilderness Sanctuary have uncovered eight new species of frogs, according to a massive new paper in the Journal of Threatened Taxa. While every year over a hundred new amphibians are discovered, eight new discoveries in a single park is especially notable. Sri Lanka is an amphibian-lovers paradise with well over 100 described species, most of which are endemic, i.e. found only on the small island country. Unfortunately the country has also seen more frog extinctions than anywhere else, and seven of the eight new species are already thought to be Critically Endangered.

The Importance of Aircraft Emission in Climate Change
March 21, 2013 06:50 AM - EarthTalk, Global Warming is Real

While air travel today accounts for just three percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, the carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants that come out of jet exhaust contribute disproportionately to increasing surface temperatures below because the warming effect is amplified in the upper atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the United Nations (UN) to provide comprehensive scientific assessments of the risk of human-induced climate change, reports that CO2 emitted by jets can survive in the atmosphere for upwards of 100 years, and that its combination with other gas and particulate emissions could have double or four times the warming effect as CO2 emissions alone.Modern jet engines are not that different from automobile engines—both involve internal combustion and burn fossil fuels. But instead of gasoline or diesel, jet fuel is primarily kerosene, a common home heating fuel used around the world. Just like car engines, jets emit CO2, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and soot.

Shams 1: World's Largest Concentrated Solar Plant Goes Live
March 20, 2013 08:49 AM - Tafline Laylin, Green Prophet

The Shams 1 Concentrated Solar Plant (CSP) in Abu Dhabi is the largest of its kind in the world and it has finally gone live. Green Prophet visited the 100MW plant in the western region of the United Arab Emirates earlier this year as part of a Masdar-sponsored media tour during the World Future Energy Summit (WFES), and we were deeply impressed with the project's progressive scope and size.

Global Warming May favor Goats
March 20, 2013 06:15 AM - Harriet Jarlett, Planet Earth Online

Higher temperatures caused by global warming could help goat populations to thrive, say scientists. A new study, published in Oikos, shows that two major factors are important for goats survival — daylight hours and temperature — which get worse the further north you are. The research used a catalogue of feral goat populations — made in the 1980s using NERC funding — to map where they lived. The team discovered that no populations could survive above 60 degrees latitude, unless farmers brought them in at night to protect them from the cold. North of this line temperatures in winter are too cold, food too sparse and days too short for goats to stay alive.

German Research Institute Drops Canadian Tar Sands Project
March 19, 2013 12:57 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

The Helmholtz-Association of German Research Centres has just backed out of a CAN$25 million research project funded by the Canadian government that would study sustainable solutions for tar sands pollution. Canada is home to the world's third largest crude reserves in the form of tar sands. Tar sands are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit and are considered part of the world's oil reserves as new technology can extract oil from these sands.

The Red-Dead water conveyer can avoid a dead end
March 19, 2013 08:51 AM - Batir Wardam, SciDevNet

The Red-Dead canal could take a small step forward in light of projected environmental impacts and other constraints, says Batir Wardam. After a delay of more than six months, the World Bank has finally released the final drafts of the feasibility and environmental assessment studies for the controversial Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance project, designed to channel some 1.2 billion cubic metres of water 180 kilometres from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

America has a Horsemeat Problem too
March 19, 2013 06:22 AM - Andrew Wasley, The Ecologist

Few Americans are aware that their country's horses are being exported and slaughtered abroad - often in appalling conditions - to supply European taste for a meat that's shunned at home. Andrew Wasley reports. Herded down a concrete shute, the horses -- black and brown and grey; fat, healthy, thin, lame -- have little idea of the fate that awaits them. But one by one, the horses are separated from those behind, a metal trapdoor swinging down to confine each to a metal box. There's blood and filth on the walls and floor. Flies buzz.

Celebrate World Water Day by Reducing Your Water Use
March 18, 2013 01:36 PM - Guest Contributor, Danielle Nierenberg, Co-founder of Food Tank

The United States is one of the world's biggest users of water—many Americans use as much water as approximately 900 Kenyans. As a result, water resources in the U.S. are shrinking. In the last five years, there have been water shortages in almost every part of the country, including the worst drought in at least 25 years, which hit 80 percent of the country's farmland in 2012. Even worse, the damaged land won’t fully recover this year, and at least 36 states are expecting local, regional, or statewide water shortages, even without drought. The Natural Resources Defense Council expects water scarcity to affect the American South, West, and Midwest the most. Fourteen states in these regions already have "extreme" or "high" risk of water scarcity. Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, and Texas face the most danger because they are expected to see some of the largest increases in population by 2030. Water scarcity is about more than lack of water, it's about lack of drinkable water.

Solar Power close to Cost Parity with other Energy Sources
March 18, 2013 06:00 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

They said it couldn’t be done. They tried to tell us that renewable energy could only survive if it were propped up with government subsidies. Never mind that our whole system of economic development, beginning with the patent office, is predicated on the idea that fledgling, underfunded industries need special protection for a limited time until they are strong enough to go it alone. Never mind that the fossil fuel industry, which can hardly be considered fledgling or underfunded, is still receiving billions in taxpayer subsidies. But like the little engine that could, or the middle aged rock star that, after twenty years of struggling in sleazy dives has suddenly become an overnight sensation, solar power, having now surpassed the 100 GW threshold, has finally arrived and is good to go, in many places, without subsidies.

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