Top Stories

Touchdown for Sustainability: College Football Bowls Increase Efforts

As is the case with most sports, college football–not to mention bowl games–and sustainability do not intuitively go in the same sentence. The long-term sustainability of many of these games themselves come into question considering how many of them there are; 6-6 teams have an opportunity to play in showcases such as the Beef-o-Brady's Bowl. Then, you have the dubious "charity" distinction and questions about whether these "nonprofits" contribute to local communities as much as they say; the nonprofit organizations that organized 24 bowl games two years ago donated less than two percent of total proceeds to charity. >> Read the Full Article

Peace on Earth? Not yet, but actually getting better!

Despite extensive coverage in the media of violent occurrences worldwide, a recent study conducted at Tel Aviv University has actually demonstrated with mathematical proof that as humanity progresses – the world is becoming less violent. Dr. Jacob Bock Axelsen of the biomathematics unit at Tel Aviv University's Department of Zoology has discovered that as the human population grows – violence declines. Axelsen uses a mathematical model to describe the correlation between population growth and a decline in violence levels. "This result came from my project on global language diversity," Axelsen tells NoCamels. "[The largest] civilizations [in the world] have passed, or will pass, the demographic transition and reach a constant population size sooner or later," he says. >> Read the Full Article

Antibiotics or Oregano to Keep Chickens Healthy?

It’s za'atar season in the Middle East and though we don't really need it, there's another reason to love this versatile spice: it could be useful as an alternative to antibiotics. Both a perennial herb and a spice mixed with other ingredients, za’atar livens up a host of dishes throughout the Gulf, Levant and Mediterranean. Now a small handful of farmers in the United States are feeding their poultry and livestock an oregano oil mixture in lieu of increasingly ineffective antibiotics, The New York Times reports. And they insist it keeps the animals disease free. Though the numbers are compelling, scientists caution there is insufficient data to substantiate their claims. >> Read the Full Article

Two Arctic Ice Seals Gain Endangered Species Act Protection - Warming Climate a Key Factor

Responding to a 2008 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the federal government today finalized Endangered Species Act protection for two ice-dependent Arctic seals threatened by melting sea ice and snowpack due to climate change. Ringed seals and bearded seals, found in the waters off Alaska, are the first species since polar bears to be protected primarily because of climate change threats. "Arctic animals face a clear danger of extinction from climate change," said Shaye Wolf, the Center's climate science director. "The Endangered Species Act offers strong protections for these seals, but we can't save the Arctic ecosystem without confronting the broader climate crisis. The Obama administration has to take decisive action, right now, against greenhouse gas pollution to preserve a world filled with ice seals, walruses and polar bears." >> Read the Full Article

A Ticking 'Food Clock': How excessive holiday eating can disturb our metabolisms

If you're like me this holiday season, you've overindulged in everything from cookies to roasts, extravagant desserts and tons of hors d'oeuvres. Stuffing our faces and trying everything on the table rewards our taste buds with satisfaction-but in the spirit of excessive holiday eating, our bodies often suffer afterwards with a bellyache of feeling full. And unfortunately, all of this excessive holiday eating will disturb our "food clock". The body's "food clock," is a collection of interacting genes and molecules known technically as the food-entrainable oscillator, which keeps the human body on a metabolic even keel. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, are studying how this clock works by examining the role of key molecules in our body's metabolism in an effort to help explain what happens when we overindulge at such odd times. The UCSF team has shown that a protein called PKCγ is critical in resetting the food clock if our eating habits change. The PKCγ protein binds to another molecule called BMAL and stabilizes it, which shifts the clock in time. An experiment showed that normal mice who were given food only during their regular sleeping hours will adjust their food clock over time and begin to wake up from their slumber. But mice lacking the PKCγ gene are not able to respond to changes in their mealtime and will sleep right through their meal. The results have potential for understanding the molecular basis of metabolic syndromes like diabetes and obesity because a desynchronized food clock may serve as part of the pathology underlying these disorders, said Louis Ptacek, MD, the John C. Coleman Distinguished Professor of Neurology at UCSF. Ptacek also says the study may also help explain why those that eat at night are more likely to be obese. >> Read the Full Article

EPA Proposes Ambitious Plan to Clean the Gowanus Canal

The Gowanus is one of the United States' most polluted waterways, bisecting Brooklyn and emptying into Upper New York Harbor. Many years ago, it was a major industrial transportation route, servicing manufactured gas plants, paper mills, tanneries, and chemical plants. At the time stormwater runoff and discharges from these facilities were constantly being absorbed into the canal. The Gowanus was added to the EPA superfund list of sites, and numerous potentially responsible parties have been identified including National Grid and the City of New York. After thorough environmental investigation, EPA has finally proposed a plan to conduct the cleanup, which will include the removal of contaminated sediment, capping dredged areas, and preventing further land-based contaminated outflows. The expected cost of the project is between $467 and $504 million. The EPA will be taking public comments on the plan from now until March 28, 2013. >> Read the Full Article

Sustainable Aviation On The Horizon

In 2010 NASA launched its N+3 initiative which awarded four major airlines extensive funds to research, design and develop more environmentally friendly aircraft. Lockheed Martin, MIT, GE Aviation and Boeing have been charged with the challenge to create a commercial plane that would expend 75% less emissions and consume 70% less fuel. Not a small undertaking but significant progress has already been made, especially by Boeing who have a promising hybrid aircraft in development stage. >> Read the Full Article

Endangered whale dies after getting stranded on NYC beach

An emaciated 60-foot finback whale that washed up on a coastal community devastated by Superstorm Sandy has died, marine officials said Thursday. The whale was found beached Wednesday in Breezy Point, Queens, where 126 homes burned down and more than 2,000 were damaged during the Oct. 29 storm. It was carried out at high tide but washed ashore another time on Thursday, and marine officials said they found it dead, according to media reports. >> Read the Full Article

Lisa Jackson Departs EPA

EPA chief Lisa Jackson announced yesterday that she will be leaving her position as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. She said she has discussed her departure with the President and will step down after the January inauguration. >> Read the Full Article

Growth in US Energy Production Outstripping Growth in Consumption

In a recently released report, the Annual Energy Outlook 2013 (AEO2013), the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected the US energy markets through 2040. Their projections only take into account the effects of policies that have already been implemented in law or final regulations. The EIA found that the growth in energy production has outweighed the growth in consumption. This is due to many factors including rising crude oil and natural gas production through advanced technologies, new fuel economy requirements, and the increase in renewable fuels such as solar and wind. The result, EIA predicts, will be lower net CO2 emissions, five percent below the 2005 levels through 2040. >> Read the Full Article