Top Stories

Why is SO Much Food Wasted?

A new report titled "Global food, waste not, want not" published by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers has found that 30 to 50 percent of all food produced in the world never reaches a stomach. The authors of the study warn that these figures are quite conservative. The large amounts of land, energy, fertilizers and water that are wasted in the food production have not been accounted for. >> Read the Full Article

2012 Weather in Review

From tropical storms and hurricanes like Sandy, to extended heat waves and detrimental summer droughts, to unprecedented wildfire outbreaks in the American West, 2012 marked a historic year for extreme weather events in the United States. In fact, 2012 takes the prize for the warmest and second most extreme year on record for the contiguous US thus allowing the year to break some other climate and weather related records. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center reports the State of the Climate and offers some of last year’s highlights. - 2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year. Every state in the contiguous U.S. had an above-average annual temperature for 2012. - The average precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. for 2012 was 26.57 inches, 2.57 inches below average, making it the 15th driest year on record for the nation. This was also the driest year for the nation since 1988. - Each season of 2012 had precipitation totals below the 20th century average. >> Read the Full Article

Invasive Aquarium Fish

Home tropical fish aquariums are home to a number of pretty fish and seaweeds. Perfectly harmless right? Not in the wrong environment. It is surprising how hardy some of them can be if let loose in the wild. In a report released today to the California Ocean Protection Council, lead author Susan Williams, an evolution and ecology professor with the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, found that more than 11 million non-native ornamental marine individuals — such as tropical fish, seaweed and snails bound for aquariums — representing at least 102 species are being imported annually through California’s ports of San Francisco and Los Angeles, primarily from Indonesia and the Philippines. And 13 of those species have been introduced to California marine waters — presumably after being released from aquariums. >> Read the Full Article

Study suggests magma forms deeper than previously thought

A group led by Rajdeep Dasgupta, geologist and assistant professor of Earth science at Rice University, put samples of peridotite, a dense igneous rock, under pressure in a Rice University laboratory and found that rock can and will liquefy, as deep as 250 kilometers in the mantle beneath the ocean floor. These recent findings provide new evidence that magma can form at a depth much deeper than scientists once thought. >> Read the Full Article

BPA in Plastics and Aluminum Cans Linked to Heart and Kidney Disease

New scientific data has been released linking a chemical commonly found in plastic bottles and inside aluminum cans to a biomarker for higher risk of heart and kidney disease in children and adolescents. The chemical, known as bisphenol A (BPA) is used to provide an anti-septic function to the liquids and food products it contains. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently banned the chemical, but it is still widely used in aluminum cans. Previous studies have found that BPA can disrupt various mechanisms in human metabolism. The new study from the NYU School of Medicine shows that it can also increase the chance of developing coronary heart disease and kidney dysfunction. >> Read the Full Article

In the News: West African lions nearing extinction

The report, by conservation group LionAid, says that as few as 645 lions may now remain in the wild in western and central Africa, following a worrying decline in recent years. This decline has been mirrored across Africa, with estimates suggesting that only around 15,000 wild lions remain across the whole continent, compared to about 200,000 a few decades ago. This iconic species is now extinct in 25 African countries, and virtually extinct in another 10. >> Read the Full Article

Mercury Strategies

Natural sources, such as volcanoes, are responsible for approximately half of atmospheric mercury emissions. Humans contributed most of the rest through fuel combustion. International negotiators will come together next week in Geneva, Switzerland for the fifth and final meeting to address global environmental controls on mercury. Ahead of the negotiations, researchers from MIT and Harvard University are calling for aggressive emissions reductions and clear public health advice to reduce the risks of mercury. >> Read the Full Article

Severe Weather in the Middle East - Another Result of a Changing Climate?

Severe weather is pummeling the Middle East. Latest reports puts the death toll at dozens. I'm fresh back from a trip to my family's two homesteads: the USA, where we toured New Jersey's hurricane-battered shoreline, and the UK, where new lakes of rainwater cover Cotswolds' fields and the British Meteorological Office declared the highest annual precipitation since they began keeping records. An exceptional spate of extreme weather events? Or is this climate change? (I'll duck under my keyboard so comment-hurling can commence). Bad weather's no stranger to those places, but the Mid East dressed up in alpine weather? Surreal. Early this week, the Greater Amman Municipality announced a moderate state of emergency in the capital to deal with predicted severe weather conditions. Yesterday, the Prime Minister issued a directive closing all government and public offices; most schools had already issued pre-emptive shut-downs. >> Read the Full Article

Australia reels from record heatwave, fires

Yesterday Australia recorded its highest average temperature yet: 40.33 degrees Celsius (104.59 Fahrenheit). The nation has been sweltering under an unprecedented summer heatwave that has spawned wildfires across the nation, including on the island of Tasmania where over 100 houses were engulfed over the weekend. Temperatures are finally falling slightly today, providing a short reprieve before they are expected to rise again this weekend. >> Read the Full Article

Python Trade Influenced by Fashion Industry

A report released last month by the International Trade Centre has raised concerns over many aspects of the snake skin trade, most notably high levels of illegal trading, plus concerns about the welfare and conservation of the species involved. The report, entitled "The Trade in South-East Asian Python Skins", was backed by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, (IUCN). The authors used information gathered from interviews with exporters and importers, hunters, government officials, conservationists and vets to highlight the now urgent need for more control over a trade which is threatening the survival of pythons. >> Read the Full Article