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Clouds observed on an Exo - Planet!

Do other planets have atmospheres? Clouds? What about planets so close to their suns that they are thousands of degrees hot? NASA is helping answer these questions! Astronomers using data from NASA's Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes have created the first cloud map of a planet beyond our solar system, a sizzling, Jupiter-like world known as Kepler-7b. The planet is marked by high clouds in the west and clear skies in the east. Previous studies from Spitzer have resulted in temperature maps of planets orbiting other stars, but this is the first look at cloud structures on a distant world. >> Read the Full Article

Camera Traps Reveal Wealth of Small Carnivores in Gabon

Gabon has lost most of its big meat-eaters including lions, spotted hyenas, and African wild dogs (although it's still home to a lot of leopards), but a new study focuses on the country's lesser-known species with an appetite for flesh. For the first time, researchers surveyed Gabon's small carnivores, including 12 species from the honey badger (Mellivora capensis) to the marsh mongoose (Atilax paludinosus). The team—made up of scientists from Panthera, the Wildlife Conservation Society, University of Stirling, and other institutions—utilized camera trap photos from 16 different studies, comprehensive field data, and visits to booming bushmeat markets to find out what small carnivores are still found in Gabon. >> Read the Full Article

No More Trick to the Wrapped Treat

Halloween wouldn't be the same without a candy treat. Indeed we buy more candy at Halloween than we do for any other holiday. The National Confectioners Association estimates that consumers will spend $2.4 billion in candy this year for Halloween. The trick is that most of these candy wrappers will end up in a landfill. >> Read the Full Article

Four in five children are not 'connected to nature'

The ground-breaking study, led by the RSPB, marks the first time that connectivity between children and nature has been studied in the UK. Following 3 years of research, the project concluded that only 21% of children between the ages of 8 and 12 were 'connected to nature' at a level which is considered to be both realistic and achievable for all young people. The report stems from growing concerns over the distinct lack of contact with and experience of nature among modern children, which some have argued is having a negative impact on their education, health and behaviour. In addition, this disconnection is viewed as being a very real threat to the future of UK wildlife. >> Read the Full Article

Plants Absorb Carbon, Reduce Historical Warming

From providing habitat to food sources, to regulating water cycles, plants are the backbone of all life on Earth. What often goes unrecognized, but is equally as important are plants' roles as climate controllers. According to a new study conducted by researchers at Princeton University, Earth's leafy greens have significantly slowed the planet's warming by absorbing carbon in the form of CO2, a popular greenhouse gas, especially during the past 60 years. How much carbon are we talking about? Approximately 186 billion to 192 billion tons of carbon have been taken out of the atmosphere since the mid-20th century! >> Read the Full Article

Suggestions for restaurants to reduce food waste

People care about food waste for all kinds of reasons, starting with moral issues such as global hunger, environmental reasons including carbon footprint (food waste decomposes in landfills into methane, a potent greenhouse gas), and even health concerns like obesity. Despite all the attention traditionally given to leftovers, food scraps, uneaten crusts of bread, our consumers seem to be especially concerned about food waste away from home, and they are willing to take steps to deal with it that have implications for restaurant branding and practices, particularly regarding portion control and choice of doggie bags. >> Read the Full Article

30 Year-Old Dream Comes True With The Construction Of Israel’s Biggest Solar Power Plant

The earth revolves around the sun, and so does the green-tech industry. Some of the earliest pioneers of solar energy started in Israel 30 years ago with the company Luz. Luz went on to become Luz II, then BrightSource, which is now a US-based solar power company about to flip the switch on a massive 377-megawatt solar thermal farm in the California desert. >> Read the Full Article

Lucky to Find a New Dragon Tree Species

The Dracaena kaweesakii, thought to bring luck to the Thai people who have them in their households, has recently been identified as a new species within the group Dracaena. These beautiful trees are often associated with Buddhist temples. Researchers led by Paul Wilken, of Kew Royal Botanical Gardens and Piyakaset Suksathan have identified the morphologically distinct element of the plant group from Thailand and Burma. An undifferentiated leaf sheath, the lack of a leaf blade central costa, free tepals and thickened filaments, characterizes the newly identified species. >> Read the Full Article

Greece Considers Sacrificing Environment to Save Economy

In crisis-hit Greece, government decisions taken in haste and despair to save the country from default, risk having a serious impact on the environment. A new bill seeks to relax restrictions on construction of public and private forestland even for those areas, which are considered protected. >> Read the Full Article

Freshwater biodiversity

The biodiversity of our rivers, lakes, and ponds has gone largely un-addressed in our efforts to predict the impacts of land development. Planners look at increased runoff and the potential for downstream flooding, and on pollutant discharges and contamination issues. The biodiversity of freshwater bodies is also impacted buy development and agricultural activities, but until now, there was no good way to predict what the impacts might be of land use changes. A team of UW-Madison researchers is hoping to help change that narrative and add a little ecology to economic decision making by forecasting how future policies regarding urban development and agricultural cultivation may impact aquatic ecosystems, which harbor astounding amounts of biodiversity and provide humans with vital goods and services. "The idea is to see what future land use changes may look like under different policies, and think about where potential threats to freshwater would be most severe," says Sebastián Martinuzzi, a post-doctoral researcher. "We are not trying to predict the 'true' future, but rather to visualize potential economic trends and their environmental consequences." >> Read the Full Article