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Arctic Genetic Pollution Effects

The cold frozen north and south are pristine and innocent. Even the people who live there. People living in Arctic areas can be more sensitive to pollutants due to their genetics, says researcher Arja Rautio at the Center for Arctic Medicine in the University of Oulu, Finland. This is unfortunate since the northernmost areas of Europe are receiving more harmful chemicals. Scientists believe climate change may be a culprit as air and water mass movements push some of these undesirable chemicals towards the Arctic. "In real life, people are exposed to lots of chemicals," says Rautio, who leads studies into the human health effects from contaminants and the influence of climate change in a EU-funded project called ArcRisk, "and I think the people of the north are exposed to higher levels than for example the general population in Europe." >> Read the Full Article

Global Warming May favor Goats

Higher temperatures caused by global warming could help goat populations to thrive, say scientists. A new study, published in Oikos, shows that two major factors are important for goats survival – daylight hours and temperature – which get worse the further north you are. The research used a catalogue of feral goat populations – made in the 1980s using NERC funding – to map where they lived. The team discovered that no populations could survive above 60 degrees latitude, unless farmers brought them in at night to protect them from the cold. North of this line temperatures in winter are too cold, food too sparse and days too short for goats to stay alive. >> Read the Full Article

US Drinking Water: D+!

How safe is our drinking water? The water system especially in our older cities has been around for a long time being patched and repaired. The How safe is our drinking water? The water system especially in our older cities has been around for a long time being patched and repaired. The American Society of Civil Engineers and its members are committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and as such, are equally committed to improving the nation’s public infrastructure. To achieve that goal, they have recently issued a Report Card on the condition and performance of the nation’s infrastructure. They are experts at how it is done and they give the American system a D+! At the dawn of the 21st century, much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States. The quality of drinking water in the United States remains universally high, however. Even though pipes and mains are frequently more than 100 years old and in need of replacement, outbreaks of disease attributable to drinking water are rare. >> Read the Full Article

German Research Institute Drops Canadian Tar Sands Project

The Helmholtz-Association of German Research Centres has just backed out of a CAN$25 million research project funded by the Canadian government that would study sustainable solutions for tar sands pollution. Canada is home to the world's third largest crude reserves in the form of tar sands. Tar sands are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit and are considered part of the world's oil reserves as new technology can extract oil from these sands. >> Read the Full Article

The Looming Threat of Water Scarcity

Some 1.2 billion people—almost a fifth of the world—live in areas of physical water scarcity, while another 1.6 billion face what can be called economic water shortage. The situation is only expected to worsen as population growth, climate change, investment and management shortfalls, and inefficient use of existing resources restrict the amount of water available to people, according to Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). It is estimated that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, with almost half of the world living in conditions of water stress. Water scarcity has several definitions. Physical scarcity occurs when there is not enough water to meet demand; its symptoms include severe environmental degradation, declining groundwater, and unequal water distribution. Economic water scarcity occurs when there is a lack of investment and proper management to meet the demand of people who do not have the financial means to use existing water sources; the symptoms in this case normally include poor infrastructure.Large parts of Africa suffer from economic water scarcity. >> Read the Full Article

The Red-Dead water conveyer can avoid a dead end

The Red-Dead canal could take a small step forward in light of projected environmental impacts and other constraints, says Batir Wardam. After a delay of more than six months, the World Bank has finally released the final drafts of the feasibility and environmental assessment studies for the controversial Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance project, designed to channel some 1.2 billion cubic metres of water 180 kilometres from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. >> Read the Full Article

America has a Horsemeat Problem too

Few Americans are aware that their country's horses are being exported and slaughtered abroad - often in appalling conditions - to supply European taste for a meat that's shunned at home. Andrew Wasley reports. Herded down a concrete shute, the horses -- black and brown and grey; fat, healthy, thin, lame -- have little idea of the fate that awaits them. But one by one, the horses are separated from those behind, a metal trapdoor swinging down to confine each to a metal box. There's blood and filth on the walls and floor. Flies buzz. >> Read the Full Article

The First Oxygen Poor World Ocean

A research team led by biogeochemists at the University of California, Riverside has filled in a billion-year gap in our understanding of conditions in the early ocean during a critical time in the history of life on Earth. Over time, the planet cooled and formed a solid crust, allowing liquid water to exist on the surface. The first life forms appeared between 3.8 and 3.5 billion years ago. Photosynthetic life appeared around 2 billion years ago, enriching the atmosphere with oxygen. Life remained mostly small and microscopic until about 580 million years ago, when complex multicellular life arose. It is now well accepted that appreciable oxygen first accumulated in the atmosphere about 2.4 to 2.3 billion years ago. It is equally well accepted that the build-up of oxygen in the ocean may have lagged the atmospheric increase by well over a billion years, but the details of those conditions have long been elusive because of the patchiness of the ancient rock record. >> Read the Full Article

Celebrate World Water Day by Reducing Your Water Use

The United States is one of the world's biggest users of water—many Americans use as much water as approximately 900 Kenyans. As a result, water resources in the U.S. are shrinking. In the last five years, there have been water shortages in almost every part of the country, including the worst drought in at least 25 years, which hit 80 percent of the country's farmland in 2012. Even worse, the damaged land won’t fully recover this year, and at least 36 states are expecting local, regional, or statewide water shortages, even without drought. The Natural Resources Defense Council expects water scarcity to affect the American South, West, and Midwest the most. Fourteen states in these regions already have "extreme" or "high" risk of water scarcity. Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, and Texas face the most danger because they are expected to see some of the largest increases in population by 2030. Water scarcity is about more than lack of water, it's about lack of drinkable water. >> Read the Full Article

Vitamin E to the Rescue

Vitamin E refers to a group of eight fat-soluble compounds that include both tocopherols and tocotrienols. Of the many different forms of vitamin E, γ-tocopherol is the most common in the North American diet. γ-Tocopherol can be found in corn oil, soybean oil, margarine and dressings. Researchers have identified an elusive anti-cancer property of vitamin E that has long been presumed to exist, but difficult to find. Many animal studies have suggested that vitamin E could prevent cancer, but human clinical trials following up on those findings have not shown the same benefits. >> Read the Full Article