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The Hidden Conservation Costs of Renewable Energy

Ecologist writer Luke Dale-Harris questions the ability of Natura 2000 to work as an effective environmental regulator. The birds that migrate freely across Europe are unaware of the invisible borders that lie below them. They follow the same routes that have carried them to warmth every year for an eternity, marked out by the indomitable features of the landscape - the coast of the Atlantic on one side and the curve of the Carpathian Mountains on the other. But it is what they miss that matters most; their future, along with that of the rest of us, is dictated by the political and economic tides that shift shape across the continent. >> Read the Full Article

Loss of wild pollinators could threaten food security

The loss of wild pollinators from agricultural landscapes could threaten global crop yields, a study has found. Led by Lucas Garibaldi, an assistant professor at the National University of Río Negro in Argentina, a team of researchers compared fields containing many wild pollinators - mostly insects - with those containing few. They studied 41 crop systems across all continents except Antarctica to understand how the loss of wild pollinators impacts crop production. >> Read the Full Article

Ecosytem Complexity

What is the impact of a single factor such as climate change on the ecosystem? Ecology is a complex science with multiple and interrelated factors. According to a new study led by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, the forces behind the sardine mystery are a dynamic and interconnected moving target. Publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Scripps graduate student Ethan Deyle, professor George Sugihara, and their colleagues argue that problems lie in seeking answers one factor at a time, as scientists have done for decades. What is the singular impact of climate or overfishing? Focusing on single variables in isolation can lead to misguided conclusions, the researchers say. Instead, using novel mathematical methods developed last year at Scripps, the researchers argue that climate, human actions and ecosystem fluctuations combine to influence sardine and other species populations, and therefore such factors should not be evaluated independently >> Read the Full Article

New Federal Handbook Guides Coordination of Environmental, Historic Preservation Review

Earlier this month, the Council on Environmental Quality ("CEQ") and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation ("ACHP") published a new handbook governing the coordination of project review under the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA") and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act ("Section 106"). Drawing from existing rules and guidance from both agencies, the Handbook for Integrating NEPA and Section 106 Reviews (the "Handbook") summarizes regulatory requirements; provides checklists and flow-charts to assist project sponsors and reviewing agencies; and emphasizes opportunities to synchronize and streamline review under both statutes. >> Read the Full Article

Teach Your Children Well - About Climate Change

By the time today's K-12 students grow up, the challenges posed by climate change are expected to be severe and sweeping. Now, for the first time, new federal science standards due out this month will recommend that U.S. public school students learn about this climatic shift taking place. Mark McCaffrey of the National Center for Science Education says the lessons will fill a big gap. "Only 1 in 5 [students] feel like they've got a good handle on climate change from what they've learned in school," he says, adding that surveys show two-thirds of students say they're not learning much at all about it. "So the state of climate change education in the U.S. is abysmal." >> Read the Full Article

EPA Fracking Panel

Hydraulic fracturing is the propagation of fractures in a rock layer by a pressurized fluid. Some hydraulic fractures form naturally—certain veins or dikes are examples—and can create conduits along which gas and petroleum from source rocks may migrate to reservoir rocks. Induced hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a technique used to release petroleum, natural gas (including shale gas, tight gas, and coal seam gas), or other substances for extraction. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) independent Science Advisory Board (SAB) today announced the formation of its Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory panel. This panel of independent experts will peer review EPA’s 2014 draft report of results for its national study on any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The SAB panel will provide scientific feedback on EPA’s research in an open and transparent manner on this controversial subject. The development of the draft report, which is directed by Congress, is in line with the Administration’s focus on continuing to expand safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production. >> Read the Full Article

Majority of US Streams and Rivers are in 'Poor Condition,' says EPA Survey

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released the results of a comprehensive survey that looks at the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, and frankly the results are not very encouraging. The survey was conducted as part of an ongoing effort by the EPA to determine which rivers and streams are healthy, which are improving, and which require more protection and restoration efforts. >> Read the Full Article

The Great Lunar Cataclysm

The Late Heavy Bombardment (commonly referred to as the lunar cataclysm) is a hypothetical event around 4.1 to 3.8 billion years ago. During this event a very large number of the impact craters on the Moon would have formed, and by inference on Earth, Mercury, Venus and Mars as well. The evidence for this event comes primarily from the dating of lunar samples brought back by the Apollo astronauts, which indicates that most impact melt rocks formed in this rather narrow interval of time. While many hypotheses have been put forth to explain a spike in the flux of asteroids or comets in the inner Solar System at this time, no consensus yet exists as to its cause. Scientists from NASA's Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) in Moffett Field, Calif., discovered that the same population of high-speed projectiles that impacted our lunar neighbor four billion years ago, also hit the giant asteroid Vesta and perhaps other large asteroids. The research unveils an unexpected link between Vesta and the moon, and provides new means for studying the early bombardment history of terrestrial planets. The findings are published in the March issue of Nature Geoscience. >> Read the Full Article

Urban Greening May Reduce Crime Rates in Cities

Urban planning is not only important to the strategic design behind a city’s infrastructure, but now one study finds that the landscaping itself which emphasizes urban greening and the introduction of well-maintained vegetation, can lower the rates of certain types of crime such as aggravated assault, robbery and burglary, in cities. According to a Temple University study, "Does vegetation encourage or suppress urban crime? Evidence from Philadelphia, PA," researchers found that the presence of grass, trees and shrubs is associated with lower crime rates in Philadelphia. >> Read the Full Article

Coffee, Starchy Snack foods may contain acrylamide

Bread, buns and coffee can be dangerous as they might contain the chemical compound acrylamide, which the Technical University of Denmark's (DTU) National Food Institute now links to cancer. EU food safety authorities have been asked to investigate. Acrylamide is a chemical compound that typically forms in starchy food products such as potato crisps, chips, bread, biscuits and coffee, during high-temperature processing (above 120°), including frying, baking and roasting. "We can with a great probability say that there is a link between food products which contain alcrylamide and cancer," Jørgen Schlundt, director of DTU's National Food Institute, told Danish TV. >> Read the Full Article