Top Stories

Using the free market to fight climate change looks like a winner!

The best way to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change is through the use of market forces, according to a new study. Researchers who monitored the effectiveness of the European Climate Exchange (ECX) -- the world's biggest carbon trading platform -- found it to be as efficient as Europe's two biggest exchanges, the London Stock Exchange and the Euronext Paris. Using free market platforms like the ECX to combat climate change could provide the basis for the introduction of a mandatory emissions cap and trade scheme worldwide. >> Read the Full Article

Welcome the birth of two Giant Pandas at the Atlanta Zoo!

Giant Pandas rarely give birth to young in captivity. When they do it is cause for celebration! Lun Lun, a 15-year-old giant panda, gave birth to twins on July 15, 2013 at the Atlanta Fulton County Zoo. The first of the tiny duo arrived at 6:21 p.m., and its twin followed at 6:23 p.m. The cubs are the first giant pandas to be born in the U.S. in 2013 and the first twins to be born in the U.S. since 1987. The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams are currently caring for one of the cubs in the nursery unit in the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Center; Lun Lun is currently caring for the other. Assisting Zoo Atlanta staff is an animal care colleague from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding where Lun Lun and Yang Yang were born. Lun Lun is an experienced and capable mother, but she has never before given birth to twins, which are not unusual in her species. >> Read the Full Article

Oil Sheens in Gulf of Mexico Traced Back to Deepwater Horizon Site

When the US Coast Guard was informed of oil sheens in the Gulf of Mexico in July 2012, there was concern over where this oil was coming from. In order to determine the source of the sheen, a research team assembled to use recently patented technology in order to fingerprint the chemical makeup of the sheens, compare them to potential sources, and estimate the location of the source based on the extend the gasoline-like compounds evaporated from the sheens. "The results demonstrate a recently developed geochemical analytical method and may have real-world implications in environmental management strategies for future contamination incidents," says Deborah Aruguete, program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences, which co-funded the research. Because every oil sample contains chemical clues pointing to the reservoir it came from, scientists can compare it to other samples to determine if they share a common source. After analyzing 14 sheen samples skimmed from the Gulf of Mexico, the researchers confirmed that the sheens contained oil from the Macondo well. However, the samples also contained trace amounts of olefins, industrial chemicals used in drilling operations. >> Read the Full Article

Green Buildings Will Sustain the Future Health of Billions

By 2050, the world's population is expected to hit nine billion. And, by that year, scientists have projected that 80 percent of the world's population will live in urban environments. In the United States alone, research indicates that people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, as noted in a TriplePundit article. Unfortunately, buildings can have concentrations of some pollutants that are two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These pollutants can come in the form of aging infrastructure, portable air conditioners, poor ventilation or other forms. >> Read the Full Article

Making Cities More Resilient in the Face of Climate Change

Cities around the world, aided by long-sighted business leaders, are working to "future proof" themselves against disaster. Recently, the 4th annual Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation took place in Bonn, Germany where leaders from every corner of the earth came to learn how to prepare for the effects of climate change. >> Read the Full Article

Sea level rise may be underestimated by models

Think sea levels will rise only a bit in response to an increase in global temperature of one degree? Think again! A new study estimates that global sea levels will rise about 2.3 meters, or more than seven feet, over the next several thousand years for every degree (Celsius) the planet warms. This international study is one of the first to combine analyses of four major contributors to potential sea level rise into a collective estimate, and compare it with evidence of past sea-level responses to global temperature changes. Results of the study, funded primarily by the National Science Foundation and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, are being published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. >> Read the Full Article

What is causing drop in Monarch Butterfly population?

In the next few months, the beating of fragile fiery orange and black wings will transport the monarch butterfly south. But the number of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) reaching their final destination has steadily declined, dropping to its lowest level in two decades last winter, according to a recent survey. The insect's journey begins in late summer and August, when monarchs fly from Canada and the Northeastern U.S. to highly selective overwintering sites in Mexico. Individually weighing less than a paperclip, monarch butterflies employ an inherited compass to make the longest insect migration in the world, flying up to 4000 kilometers (2,485 miles) to reach their final destination by November. >> Read the Full Article

Study finds Loggerhead turtles depend on broader range of habitat than previously thought

A new US Geological Survey study suggests that the threatened loggerhead sea turtle may require broader habitat protection during the nesting season. "This is the first study to locate and quantify in-water habitat use by female loggerheads in the Northern Gulf of Mexico subpopulation during their reproductive periods," said lead author Kristen Hart, a USGS research ecologist. "Our tracking results show they depend on a much broader range of habitat during this critical part of their lives than was previously thought to be required." >> Read the Full Article

Forgotten Species: The Arapaima or 'Dinosaur Fish'

Everyone knows the tiger, the panda, the blue whale, but what about the other five to thirty million species estimated to inhabit our Earth? Many of these marvelous, stunning, and rare species have received little attention from the media, conservation groups, and the public. This series is an attempt to give these 'forgotten species' some well-deserved attention. >> Read the Full Article

Drought seriously impacting rangeland, cattle

The Bureau of Land Management has been tracking range conditions as the current drought lingers on. Drought conditions across the West have impacted rangelands, leaving little water and forage for animals and livestock, prompting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to undertake targeted actions, such as providing supplemental water and food for wild horses; reducing grazing; and enacting fire restrictions. Hot, dry conditions continue to persist west of the Mississippi River, with at least 15 states experiencing drought. For example, 93 percent of rangeland and pastures are rated poor or very poor in New Mexico; 59 percent in Colorado; 35 percent in Wyoming; and 17 percent in Utah. Similar conditions exist in Nevada, where more than 60 percent of the state has been in severe or extreme drought conditions since the beginning of 2013. >> Read the Full Article