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Australia and Canada Conservation

At first glance, Australia and Canada could not be more different. They are separated by more than 7,500 miles (12,000 km). One country is known for its hot, dry lands and kangaroos, and the other is known for its cold, wet forests and caribou. But at a symposium at the International Congress for Conservation Biology last July, which I co-chaired with my colleague Barry Traill, who directs The Pew Charitable Trusts' conservation work in Australia, presenters explored some interesting similarities and new ideas in conservation approaches between Australia's Outback region and Canada's Boreal Forest region. One of the reasons Traill and I were interested in comparing these two areas is because both are among the global areas identified as having the smallest "human footprint"—areas with the fewest roads, least number of people and other human-related disturbances. Another is that science and scientists have played a major role in both countries in ensuring that policymakers and the public have a clear understanding of the likely consequences that different policies could have on the biodiversity and ecological values of a region. >> Read the Full Article

Government Shutdown Leaves Farm Bill on Table

By now, you've probably heard that the US government has shutdown, as members of Congress have not been able to agree on a spending plan for the fiscal year. While big media topics include healthcare and fiscal issues, another item on the table is the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill officially expired as of October 1 and there is no agenda to extend or reauthorize the bill because of the standoff. Ironically, a handful of low-cost Farm Bill programs that could improve the health of Americans and save taxpayers billions in health care costs are among the political casualties. Daniel Z. Brito, senior Washington representative for the Union of Concerned Scientists' Food & Environment Program further explains the situation for farmers and consumers. >> Read the Full Article

Phasing Down HFCs with the Montreal Protocol

On September 27, U.S. President Barack Obama met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss how to improve ties on a number of issues between the countries, including how to support efforts to phase-down the super greenhouse gases HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons). HFCs, primarily used in refrigeration, air conditioning, and foam blowing, are extremely harmful to the climate as they are hundreds and thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2). >> Read the Full Article

Pet Fish Invade Ecosystem, Upending Nutrients and Impoversishing Fishers

In 2000, more than one billion wild-caught and captive-bred fish were bought and sold in over 100 countries. The industry supports economies throughout the world, but with inadvertent ramifications. What pet owners do not realize when they buy plecos is how large they can become; sometimes reaching 20 inches (50 centimeters) in length. When the plecos grows too big for their little glass home, owners sometimes reintroduce them into nearby freshwater sources where they can become abundant and change the way ecosystems look and how they work. >> Read the Full Article

Running Hot and Cold in Iceland

Iceland's economy runs hot and then cold—and then hot and cold again! And Icelanders like it that way. Created from a volcano more than 50million years ago, Iceland's environment is one of the harshest yet one of the kindest when it comes to energy. The island nation sits atop this natural heat pack and is, as a result, poised to become the first country in the world to run 100% on renewable energy. This is because the volcano is still active bubbling and ulcerating perpetually altering the landscape. The Icelandic people extract warm water and store it in tanks to provide an unlimited supply of free central heating. The heated water is extracted and placed into tanks where it is converted to steam. The pressurized steam then turns the turbines, which operate the country’s geothermal power stations providing electricity to the people and businesses of Iceland. This is very important for high tech companies that require an enormous amount of power to operate their equipment. In fact, more than half of the energy required to operate their computer servers and other high tech equipment is in the form of cooling equipment to temper the heat generated by the computers for their operation. Technology giants are beginning to get it. Facebook has relocated its server farm to Sweden and Google is operating out of Finland. This leaves other companies like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and IBM to speculate. >> Read the Full Article

Honey Bees Avoid Predators, Opt for Safer, Lower Quality Food

Most of us fear bees, always juking and jiving away from them in fear of getting stung by their painful stings. But what about the bees themselves? Knowing that they have the power to sting as a last resort, are these bees fearless creatures? Turns out, honey bees have many predators waiting to ambush them as they fly from flower to flower collecting nectar. From frogs to spiders, birds, and other larger insects, honey bees also feel threatened and are forced to change their daily actions. As a result, the honey bees' fear of predators drives them away from food sources closely associated with these hunters, and according to a new study, this causes colonies of bees to be less risk-tolerant than individual bees. >> Read the Full Article

An "Uncanny" Hobby

We all know the benefits of aluminum cans; they are light, easily moldable and can be held in a soft grip. But are they always responsibly disposed of? Can we do more to safely protect our green spaces from these metal objects? This article explores how a small scale project can help protect the local environment through recycling in the most responsible way. >> Read the Full Article

Carbon credits from Mangrove preservation in Kenya

A new initiative launched today will raise money for community projects in Kenya by protecting and restoring the country's dwindling mangrove forests. The plan is to sell carbon credits earned by preserving the mangrove swamps to companies and individuals aiming to offset their carbon emissions and improve their green credentials. The scientists behind the scheme hope it will bring in some $12,000 a year, around a third of which will fund projects in areas like education and clean water. The rest will cover the cost of protecting the mangroves, as well as planting new seedlings to replace lost trees. >> Read the Full Article

Land Use Study Commences at Patuxent River

An 18-month study funded through a grant from the Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) and the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland is now underway in the area in and around the Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland. The Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) is being conducted in hopes of reducing conflict between the military installation and surrounding community while also supporting the missions and objectives of each. The Office of Economic Adjustment acknowledges that military bases and residents adjacent to military installations are often in conflict. Residents can be exposed to unacceptable noise levels and hazards and the warfighter’s training and readiness can be impaired by the normal activities of civilian life. Therefore joint planning efforts can help to resolve some of these inevitable conflicts. >> Read the Full Article

Bugging Iran

Up until now, on a scale of 1 to 10, practical pest control management ranks about a "1" with regard to the availability of information on scale insects in Iran! Yet even the most basic tool for pest control management in Iran has been unavailable jeopardizing crop yields. Dr. Masumeh Moghaddam of the Iranian Research Institute of Plant Protection, Tehran has changed that by publishing the first ever detailed annotated checklist of the scale insects of Iran. >> Read the Full Article