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City Ants love Junk Food - but then again, who doesn't?
April 8, 2015 02:03 PM - Steve Williams, Care2

We know that many animals have adapted to deal with our sprawling urbanization, but a new study reveals that ants might also be getting in on the act by developing a taste for our waste food scraps and our junk food. The research, conducted by scientists at North Carolina State University and published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, aimed to investigate the eating habits of the most common ant species in our big cities. 

US-protected lands mismatch biodiversity priorities
April 8, 2015 08:56 AM - Glenn Scherer, MONGABAY.COM

The United States has one of the oldest, best-established park systems in the world. But what if those public lands -- mostly created to preserve scenic natural wonders -- are in the wrong place to conserve the lion’s share of the nation’s unique biodiversity? A new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found exactly that. Existing “protected lands -- both federal and private -- poorly match the biodiversity priorities in the country,” say the researchers. 

What is the source of mysterious methane emissions at Four Corners?
April 8, 2015 08:20 AM - University of Colorado Boulder

A team of scientific investigators is now in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest, aiming to uncover reasons for a mysterious methane hotspot detected from space by a European satellite. The joint project is working to solve the mystery from the air, on the ground, and with mobile laboratories. 

“If we can verify the methane emissions found by the satellite, and identify the various sources, then decision makers will have critical information for any actions they are considering,” says Gabrielle Pétron, a scientist from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, working in NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) and one of the mission’s investigators. Part of President Obama’s recent Climate Action Plan calls for reductions in U.S. methane emissions. NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Early warning system to detect algal blooms being launched by EPA
April 7, 2015 03:24 PM - US EPA Newsroom

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it is developing an early warning indicator system using historical and current satellite data to detect algal blooms. EPA researchers will develop a mobile app to inform water quality managers of changes in water quality using satellite data on cyanobacteria algal blooms from three partnering agencies-- NASA, NOAA, and the U.S. Geological Survey. 

The multi-agency project will create a reliable, standard method for identifying cyanobacteria blooms in U.S. freshwater lakes and reservoirs using ocean color satellite data. Several satellite data sets will be evaluated against environmental data collected from these water bodies, which allows for more frequent observations over broader areas than can be achieved by taking traditional water samples.
 

EPA Moves to Restrict Bee-killing Pesticides
April 7, 2015 01:45 PM - Alicia Graef, Care2

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally taken some action to restrict the use of pesticides that are believed to be causing serious declines in pollinators, but environmentalists are arguing the agency still needs to do more.

Sun experiences seasonal changes
April 7, 2015 09:35 AM - UCAR AtmosNews

The Sun undergoes a type of seasonal variability, with its activity waxing and waning over the course of nearly two years, according to a new study by a team of researchers led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). This behavior affects the peaks and valleys in the approximately 11-year solar cycle, sometimes amplifying and sometimes weakening the solar storms that can buffet Earth’s atmosphere.

Lifecycle of Today's Cell Phone
April 7, 2015 08:57 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

It is estimated that in 2014 over two billion mobile phones were sold worldwide. Of these, over one billion were estimated to be smartphones. It is also estimated that a massive 87% of the world’s population now use mobile phones. These are staggering figures, but how many of us have ever stopped to think of where our precious mobile phones came from and what happens to them once we discard them for a newer model?

Each year millions of mobile phones are produced in the world and an equal number are disposed of. In the vast majority of cases these discarded phones work perfectly well. However, like all technological products these days, phones have a built-in technological obsolescence (we demand the latest model or the latest upgrade) as well as a built in aesthetic obsolescence (we demand the latest style or design).

In spite of their extremely small size and simplicity of look, mobile phones are immensely complex pieces of technology with many, many components. If we stop to think about it for a moment all of these products need sourcing: the raw materials needed to produce them need extracting from the ground, these need to manufactured into working parts which are then assembled into the final phone.

Europe focuses on food safety on World Health Day
April 7, 2015 07:07 AM - EurActiv

On World Health Day (7 April), European Commissioners Vytenis Andriukaitis and Neven Mimica highlight the importance of food safety, malnutrition, and fighting health threats both in the Union and in developing countries.

2015 is the European year for development (EYD). It is an opportunity to show how EU assistance is improving the lives of millions in developing countries; but also in Europe. Food safety, which is the theme of this year’s World Health Day, is a clear example of this.

Too often in Europe we take for granted that the food on our plates is safe. Europe should be proud that its 500 million consumers benefit from the highest food safety and health protection standards in the world, and that many other countries take them as the norm to be followed. However, we must not become complacent.

Endangered tortoises thrive on invasive plants
April 6, 2015 01:30 PM - Washington University in St. Louis

Most research on the role of introduced species of plants and animals stresses their negative ecological impacts. But are all introduced species bad actors? In one fascinating case the answer might be no. The iconic giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands are thriving on a diet heavy on non-native plants. In fact, the tortoises seem to prefer these plants to native ones.

Yum! Brands announces zero deforestation policy for palm oil
April 6, 2015 09:02 AM - Rhett A. Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Yum! Brands, the company that owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, on Thursday announced a zero deforestation policy for its palm oil sourcing. The move came after aggressive campaigns by environmental groups that argued the chains weren't doing enough to ensure the palm oil they used to fry foods wasn't linked to human rights abuses, destruction of peatlands, and logging of rainforests. 

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