Top Stories

Lead Pollution better, but still an issue

Efforts to reduce lead pollution have paid off in many ways, yet the problem persists and will probably continue to affect the health of people and animals well into the future, according to experts speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston. "Things have substantially improved with the virtual elimination of leaded gasoline, restrictions on lead paint, and other efforts to limit releases of industrial lead into the environment. But the historic legacy of lead pollution persists, and new inputs of industrial lead are adding to it," said A. Russell Flegal, professor of environmental toxicology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. >> Read the Full Article

Climate Change Responses Need Not be All or Nothing

The dialog about climate change, man's role in causing it, and possible responses to limit it or even reverse it, takes on a crisis tone for many. Is this the best way to look at it, and is it the best way to achieve results? For some, this sort of dialog hardens positions and limits our collective ability to do anything. Is there an explanation for why this seems to be happening? An Ohio State University statistician says that the natural human difficulty with grasping probabilities is preventing Americans from dealing with climate change. In a panel discussion at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting on Feb. 15, Mark Berliner said that an aversion to statistical thinking and probability is a significant reason that we haven’t enacted strategies to deal with climate change right now. >> Read the Full Article

Global Hydropower and Geothermal Growth Slow

Although the global consumption and installed capacity of hydropower and geothermal technologies have increased steadily since 2003, both types of energy saw slower growth in 2011, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). Global installed capacity of hydropower reached 970 gigawatts (GW), only a 1.6 percent increase from the previous year, while geothermal cumulative capacity reached 11.2 GW, slowing to below 1 percent for the first time since 2002, writes report author Evan Musolino. "Despite the recent slowdown in growth, the overall market for hydropower and geothermal power is increasing in part because these two sources are not subject to the variability in generation that plagues other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar," said Musolino, a research associate with the Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Program. "The greater reliability of hydro and geothermal can thus be harnessed to provide reliable baseload power." >> Read the Full Article

Marine pollution incidents kill thousands of seabirds - and it could be legal!

Between 29 January and 6 February 2013, more than 500 seabirds, mainly guillemots, were killed or rendered helpless by a mystery substance from a pollution event off the south coast of England. Shockingly, these deaths and injuries may have resulted from legal shipping activity. The substance was subsequently identified as a man-made synthetic polymer known as polyisobutene, or PIB. This same substance has also caused the deaths of thousands of other seabirds in recent years in the Irish and North Seas. >> Read the Full Article

Elephants Poached in Gabon's National Park

Earlier this month the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced that Gabon's Minkebe Park has lost over 11,000 elephants due to poaching. Gabon contains over half of Africa's forest elephants, with a population estimated at over 40,000, however with this recent drop, WCS scientists confirm that Africa's largest elephant population has been cut in half during the past ten years. Elephants are poached mainly for their ivory, which has been an important part of Asian art for over a thousand years. Ivory can also be carved and used in everything from billiard balls to piano keys... >> Read the Full Article

The Destruction of Big Rocks

There are big rocks waiting to fall onto the Earth one day. Not too often but they are there. As an asteroid roughly half as large as a football field — and with energy equal to a large hydrogen bomb — readies for a fly-by of Earth on Friday, two California scientists are unveiling their proposal for a system that could eliminate a threat of this size in an hour. The same system could destroy asteroids 10 times larger than the one known as 2012 DA14 in about a year, with evaporation starting at a distance as far away as the Sun. UC Santa Barbara physicist and professor Philip M. Lubin, and Gary B. Hughes, a researcher and professor from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, conceived DE-STAR, or Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids an exploRation, as a realistic means of mitigating potential threats posed to the Earth by asteroids and comets. >> Read the Full Article

Environmental Excellence in Racing? YES!

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has become the world's first motor sport team to receive the FIA Institute's Environmental Award for the Achievement of Excellence. The award is part of a broader initiative between the FIA and the FIA Institute aimed at evaluating and reducing the environmental impact of motor sport. It is also the highest level attainable within the FIA Institute Sustainability Programme, which helps motor sport stakeholders to measure, improve and be recognised for their environmental performance. >> Read the Full Article

Biodiversity Richness

Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given species, ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions support fewer species. Researchers have now shown that part of Australia’s rich plant diversity was wiped out by the ice ages, proving that extinction, instead of evolution, can influence biodiversity. The research led by the University of Melbourne and University of Tasmania has shown that plant diversity in South East Australia was as rich as some of the most diverse places in the world, and that most of these species went extinct during the ice ages, probably about one million years ago. >> Read the Full Article

Syncing Heartbeats

It is said that when you're in love, your heart starts racing. Why? It's an adrenaline rush where our brains send signals to the adrenal gland, which secretes hormones that flow through the blood and cause our hearts to beat faster and stronger. Not only do our hearts race independently, but according to a University of California, Davis study, lovers' hearts indeed beat for each other, or at least at the same rate. >> Read the Full Article

Find your Eco-Soulmate this Valentine's Day!

Single this Valentine’s Day? Not to worry - a new dating site based on a collaboration between the Ecologist and LoveandFriends.net launches today and calls for green, ethically minded singles. Online dating has increased in popularity the past couple of years as our busy society has progressed to an ever-present online world. And with sites for nearly every kind of person- from religious affiliations to ethnicities, to sites solely for military personnel, we are bound to have success in meeting the types of people we want to meet. And now with the launch of yet another dating site, we have the option to find our eco-soulmate. >> Read the Full Article