Top Stories

Why are British Fish Eating Plastics?

Scientists have found tiny fragments of plastic in the digestive systems of fish pulled from the English Channel. The discovery, by a team from Plymouth University and the UK Marine Biological Association, highlights the growing problem of plastic contamination of marine environments. Of 504 fish examined, more than a third was found to contain small pieces of plastic less than one millimetre in size, referred to by scientists as microplastics. >> Read the Full Article

Overpopulation Is Huge Concern - Alexandra Paul's TEDX Talk

Every major global issue requires spearheading by influential individuals. Global warming had Al Gore and the famine in Ethiopia in the 80s had the fundraising supergroup Band Aid. At long last, the issue of overpopulation is being raised by someone with good exposure in the media. Alexandra Paul, host of the PBS documentary JAMPACKED and star of over 75 films and televisions shows, including the series Baywatch, gave a speech on overpopulation to the TEDX event in Topanga, California. Link to the story for a link to the video. Alexandra explains correctly that modern man first showed up on earth 200,000 years ago. By 1830 there were 1 billion people on the planet. Therefore, it took 200,000 years for humans to put the first billion humans on earth. The second billion we added in just 100 years. Now, we add 1 billion people every 12 years. >> Read the Full Article

Volcanic Eruption List

Ever been curious about a volcanic eruption? When did it happen and what did it do? Details of around 2,000 major volcanic eruptions which occurred over the last 1.8 million years have been made available in a new open access database, complied by scientists at the University of Bristol with colleagues from the UK, US, Colombia and Japan. Volcanic eruptions have the potential to cause loss of life, disrupt air traffic, impact climate, and significantly alter the surrounding landscape. Knowledge of the past behaviours of volcanoes is key to producing risk assessments of the hazards of modern explosive events. >> Read the Full Article

Air Pollution in China not just impacting cities

As people in Beijing and northern China struggle with severe air pollution this winter, the toxic air is also making life hard for plants and even food crops of China, say researchers who have been looking at how China's plants are affected by air pollution. Beijing's extreme smog event this week has made headlines, with the American Embassy calling the pollution levels "hazardous" and Beijing writer Zheng Yuanjie blogging that "the air smells like sulfur perfume, as the capital city currently looks like a poisonous huge gas can," according to a report on Al Jazeera. >> Read the Full Article

Renewable Energy Zones on Public Lands in Arizona

Preserved natural lands are a national treasure that protect wildlife and allow us to see and enjoy the natural landscape of our beautiful country as it has existed for millenniums, without human "improvements". But there are lots of areas in national parks, monuments, and wildlife areas that are not pristine. These areas are targeted for low-impact energy development by the Obama administration. This week, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that Interior has designated 192,100 acres of public land across Arizona as potentially suitable for utility-scale solar and wind energy development. This initiative, known as the Restoration Design Energy Project, caps a three-year, statewide environmental analysis of disturbed land and other areas with few known resource conflicts that could accommodate commercial renewable energy projects. The action establishes the Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone, the third solar zone on public lands in Arizona and the 18th nationwide. The Solar Energy Zones are part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to facilitate solar energy development by identifying areas in six states in the West with high solar potential, few resource conflicts and access to existing or planned transmission. With the Agua Caliente zone, Interior is delivering on the promise made as part of the Western Solar Plan to identify and establish additional solar energy zones. >> Read the Full Article

Biodiversity Loss, Disease Cuts Incomes in Tropical Countries

Tropical countries' per capita incomes could more than double if they managed to reduce their health burden from vector-borne and parasitic diseases (VBPDs) to that seen in temperate countries, a study has found. The study says that poor economic performance is caused partly by high disease burden, which is in turn affected by biodiversity. The findings that health conditions affect economies, and that loss of biodiversity could exacerbate the situation, have direct policy implications, says the study published in PLoS Biology last month. >> Read the Full Article

Extreme Weather Events Sync Rise and Fall of Arctic Populations

Climate change and changes in weather can affect species in many ways. From altering migration patterns, to varying plant growth leading to deviating diets, to extending or decreasing hibernation periods, climate can ultimately influence the success of a species. In an attempt to study some of these effects, a group of Norwegian scientists have found that extreme climate events can cause population fluctuations not only among single species, but also in a relatively simple high arctic community. >> Read the Full Article

Reports Reiterate Link Between Environment and Economy

Two new reports reiterate the scientific veracity of anthropogenic climate change while reinforcing the interconnectedness of the economy and the environment. The World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risks Report 2013 clearly points to the interrelationship between the environment and the economy. A draft of the third National Climate Assessment Report indicates that climate change is both an environmental and economic issue. >> Read the Full Article

New Research on Black Carbon and Global Warming

A new study indicates soot, known as black carbon, plays a far greater role in global warming than previously believed and is second only to CO2 in the amount of heat it traps in the atmosphere. Reducing some forms of soot emissions — such as from diesel fuel and coal burning — could prove effective in slowing down the planet’s warming. It rises from the chimneys of mansions and from simple hut stoves. It rises from forest fires and the tail pipes of diesel-fueled trucks rolling down the highway, and from brick kilns and ocean liners and gas flares. Every day, from every occupied continent, a curtain of soot rises into the sky. >> Read the Full Article

Sugar and Obesity

Excessive sugar in the diet has been linked to obesity, and a higher risk of chronic diseases. The most consistent association has been between a high intake of sugar sweetened beverages and the development of obesity, but not all studies have reported a statistically significant link. The University of Otago-led study is published today in the British Medical Journal, to ringing endorsement from US nutrition experts in an editorial concurrently published in the influential UK journal. The study’s lead authors, research fellow Dr Lisa Te Morenga from Otago’s Department of Human Nutrition and the Riddet Institute of New Zealand, and Professor Jim Mann from Otago’s Department of Human Nutrition and Medicine and Edgar National Center for Diabetes and Obesity research, found that there is now enough evidence from the research to show that cutting down on sugar has a “small but significant” effect on body weight. >> Read the Full Article