Top Stories

Hydrofracking resulting in radioactive contaminants in wastewater

The Marcellus Shale, encompassing 104,000 square miles across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and upstate New York, is the largest source of natural gas in the US. Since 2008, hydraulic fracturing has been used to release and capture the shale gas for energy consumption. The use of hydrofracking has been highly disputed, and recent findings by Duke University further display the harmful impacts of fracking. >> Read the Full Article

Triassic Pollen

Using two drilled core samples from northern Switzerland, researchers from the University of Zurich have unearthed flowering plant fossils dating back 240 million years. These are now the oldest known fossils of their kind. The pollen grains provide evidence that flowering plants evolved 100 million years earlier than previously thought. Researchers have described these as Angiosperm-like pollen and Afropollis from the Middle Triassic of the Termanic Basin. >> Read the Full Article

Indonesia and EU sign deal to end illegal timber trade

Indonesian and the European Union signed a deal on Monday that aims to curb illegal logging by ending all trade in illegal wood products between Asia's largest exporter of timber to Europe and each of the EU's 28 member states. The deal marks Asia's first Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT-VPA) and is the product of six years of negotiations between EU and Indonesian officials as well as civil society groups and the private sector. >> Read the Full Article

Solar power straight off the shelf

Furniture giant IKEA are soon to stock solar panels in all their UK stores, evidence that renewable technology can really compete in the global marketplace says David Thomas. The mood among UK trade organizations is that despite working hard to promote solar PV as an investment, governmental mismanagement has done the industry harm. >> Read the Full Article

Are Sierra Nevada forest fires getting more severe?

A new scientific study finds that fire severity is not increasing in the forests of California's Sierra Nevada. The findings are contrary to claims by those who have tried to use recent fires in the region to justify more logging in the state's forests. The study, by Dr. Chad Hanson of the John Muir Project, and Dr. Dennis Odion of the Earth Research Institute at University of California, Santa Barbara, was published in the International Journal of Wildland Fire. It found no trend of increasing fire severity in the Sierra Nevada management region in California over the past three decades. In fact, the study found that between 1984 and 2010, the amount of high-severity fire in the Sierra was lower than its natural level, before modern fire suppression. >> Read the Full Article

Investment Biking in Portland

Bicycling's numerous and varied benefits – economic, social and environmental – have long been recognized, though given short shrift in the way of institutional value or support. That's changing. Public and private sector decision makers in cities and communities across the U.S. and around the world – spurred by persistent advocacy at the grassroots level and biking's near universal popularity – are factoring bicycling into integrated urban, suburban, and even rural transportation, development and sustainability plans. >> Read the Full Article

Switch to organic farming may boost yields and incomes

Switching to organic and resource-conserving methods of farming can improve smallholder crop yields, food security and income, a review study has found. But a more-extensive evidence base founded on rigorous and consistent research methods is needed before the findings can be generalised to other situations, according to the study published in the current issue of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. "The findings show at the farm level it [organic farming] appears to be very positive — more than many people think," says Steve Franzel, an agricultural economist at the World Agroforestry Centre, Kenya, co-author of the study. >> Read the Full Article

Plastic constituent discovered on Saturn's moon Titan

Seems like we are addicted to plastic on earth. We use it everywhere, and it has wonderful properties that make it ideal for may products. It is also a concern when used in food packaging and preparation and an issue in landfilles since some forms don't bio-degrade easily. I thought plastic was an invention of chemists and petrochemical companies. So it is a surprise that propylene, a key component of plastics, has been discovered on a moon of Saturn! This is the first definitive detection of the plastic ingredient on any moon or planet, other than Earth. A small amount of propylene was identified in Titan's lower atmosphere by Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS). This instrument measures the infrared light, or heat radiation, emitted from Saturn and its moons in much the same way our hands feel the warmth of a fire. >> Read the Full Article

The Naked Mole Rat's Secret to a Long and Healthy Life

Naked mole rats live approximately 30 years, which doesn't seem too big of a feat to humans, but compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, this is an exceptionally long time. What's also impressive is that these mole rats pretty much stay healthy until the end of their lives. Reports even say that this species is cancer-proof. So what's their secret? According to new research conducted by biologists at the University of Rochester, better-constructed proteins provide the key to this species' longevity. >> Read the Full Article

Crossing the Northwest Passage: Cargo Ship Navigates Arctic Route

The Northwest Passage is a 900-mile long sea route through the Arctic Ocean that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. Access through this passage would allow many short cuts and benefits for the shipping industry. However, it's frozen waters and dangerous ice caps have proven to be obstacles for transport. That is, until now. This passage has become more accessible because of melting sea ice that has opened up the waterways, which many say is due to global warming. While other reports have discussed viable trans-Arctic shipping lanes between North America and Russia or Asia, only small vessels have been able to cross the region in summer months when the ice is less. However, earlier this month, a 75,000 ton Danish-owned cargo ship known as the Nordic Orion traversed the passage, entering history books as one of the first bulk carriers to navigate these icy Arctic waters. >> Read the Full Article