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Cutting Christmas Trees in a National Forest - be sure you get a permit first!

What could be better than cutting your own fresh Christmas tree in a National Forest? Why does the government allow this? There are actually good forest management reasons to thin trees in some circumstances, so cutting a tree actually helps the Forest Service manage the forests. Be aware that to cut a tree in a National Forest requires a permit, and the NFS encourages safe practices. "Trees from your national forests brighten homes across the country every year," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "We encourage people to be aware of changing weather conditions, dress accordingly and always follow safe cutting practices when looking for that perfect tree this holiday season." Each year, local Forest Service offices sell permits that allow individuals to cut one fresh tree on national forest lands. Fees for the permits vary dependent on location. The permit program helps the agency thin stands that have a concentration of small diameter trees. >> Read the Full Article

Antarctic Melting and Sea Level

Due to its location at the South Pole, Antarctica receives relatively little solar radiation. This means that it is a very cold continent where water is mostly in the form of ice or snow. This accumulates and forms a giant ice sheet which covers the land. New data which more accurately measures the rate of ice-melt could help us better understand how Antarctica is changing in the light of global warming. The rate of global sea level change is reasonably well-established but understanding the different sources of this rise is more challenging. Using re-calibrated scales that are able to weigh ice sheets from space to a greater degree of accuracy than ever before, the international team led by Newcastle University has discovered that Antarctica overall is contributing much less to the substantial sea-level rise than originally thought. >> Read the Full Article

Study Investigates Public Trust in Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa

Building trust in agricultural biotechnology as one of the potential solutions to food security in Africa is essential, according to a study. Published in Agriculture & Food Security this month (1 November), the study is the result of four years spent investigating how public trust in agricultural biotechnology in Africa can be developed. >> Read the Full Article

How to Protect Your Family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

As the temperature drops, we are more likely to fire up our gas furnaces and wood-burning stoves to get extra cozy this winter. However, when we use our furnaces and stoves, and spend more time indoors, we are at increased risk of exposure to carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas produced when gasoline, natural gas, propane, kerosene, and other fuels are not completely burned during use. According to the EPA, this gas is one of the leading causes of poisoning death, with more than 400 victims in the United States each year. >> Read the Full Article

Fructose and Type 2 Diabetes

High-fructose corn syrup comprises any of a group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert some of its glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness. Pure, dry fructose is a very sweet, white, odorless, crystalline solid and is the most water-soluble of all the sugars. The primary reason that fructose is used commercially in foods and beverages, besides its low cost, is its high relative sweetness (almost twice the sweetness of sucrose). A new study indicates that large amounts of high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener found in national food supplies across the world, may be a contributory factor to the rising global epidemic of type 2 diabetes. >> Read the Full Article

How Birds Change their Tune to Deal with Urban Noise

Birds use songs to impress mates, secure territories, and defend against predators, so any factor that can disrupt this communication, may interfere with daily life and the success of the species. One major disturbance that birds have increasingly been facing is urban noise. Previous studies have show that in order to improve communication, urban songbirds are singing differently and at higher frequencies compared to their woodland cousins in order to deal with noise pollution. However, until now, little research has been done on the more tropical relative of the songbirds, the sub-oscines. >> Read the Full Article

Permafrost Carbon

Permafrost is defined as subsurface material that remains below 0o C (32o F) for at least two consecutive years. Because permafrost soils remain frozen for long periods of time, they store large amounts of carbon and other nutrients within their frozen framework during that time. Permafrost represents a large carbon reservoir that is seldom considered when determining global terrestrial carbon reservoirs. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane emissions from thawing permafrost could amplify warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. This amplification is called the permafrost carbon feedback. Permafrost contains about 1700 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon in the form of frozen organic matter, almost twice as much carbon as currently in the atmosphere. If the permafrost thaws, the organic matter will thaw and decay, potentially releasing large amounts of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. This organic material was buried and frozen thousands of years ago and its release into the atmosphere is irreversible on human time scales. Thawing permafrost could emit 43 to 135 Gt of CO2 equivalent by 2100 and 246 to 415 Gt of CO2 equivalent by 2200. Uncertainties are large, but emissions from thawing permafrost could start within the next few decades and continue for several centuries, influencing both short-term climate (before 2100) and long-term climate (after 2100). >> Read the Full Article

Sea-level Rise Outpaces Expert Predictions

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected an annual sea level rise last year in 2011 of 2 millimeters per year. According to new satellite data, there appears to be a stark difference between their projections and reality. Sea-levels are rising 60 percent faster than predicted, at a rate of 3.2 millimeters per year. Global temperatures, on the other hand, are continuing to rise at the consistent pace which IPCC predicted. The study shows that the increased rate in sea-level rise is not significantly affected by internal variability in Earth's climate system, but is rather reflective of a general trend. >> Read the Full Article

Green Building Designs Can Help Protect Homes During Natural Disasters

One of the best antidotes to climate change is rarely discussed. Buildings in the U.S. generate 40 percent of the global warming gases and use 70 percent of the electricity. If we do things right, we can cut energy use 90 percent in new buildings and 70 percent in retrofits while improving comfort and health. In new buildings, this may be done at no cost if integrated resilient design strategies are adopted. We can improve comfort, productivity, how students learn, health and security, often at no added cost. >> Read the Full Article

Administration says no to EU Carbon Tax on Airline Flights to Europe

President Barack Obama signed a bill on Tuesday shielding US airlines from paying for the carbon their planes flying into and out of Europe emit, despite a recent move by Europe to suspend its proposed measure for one year. The carbon fee bill was the first piece of legislation debated on the House floor after Congress returned from recess on November 13, and had been cleared by the Senate in September in a rare unanimous vote. It directs the US transportation secretary to shield US airlines from Europe's carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS) if he or she deems it necessary. >> Read the Full Article