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Research shows loss of pollinators increases risk of malnutrition and disease

A new study shows that more than half the people in some developing countries could become newly at risk for malnutrition if crop-pollinating animals — like bees — continue to decline. Despite popular reports that pollinators are crucial for human nutritional health, no scientific studies have actually tested this claim — until now. The new research by scientists at the University of Vermont and Harvard University has, for the first time, connected what people actually eat in four developing countries to the pollination requirements of the crops that provide their food and nutrients.

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Natural Breakdown of Petroleum May Lace Arsenic into Groundwater

In a long-term field study, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Virginia Tech scientists have found that changes in geochemistry from the natural breakdown of petroleum hydrocarbons underground can promote the chemical release (mobilization) of naturally occurring arsenic into groundwater. This geochemical change can result in potentially significant arsenic groundwater contamination. 

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Effects of wood fuel burning have less of an impact on CO2 emissions than previously thought

The harvesting of wood to meet the heating and cooking demands for billions of people worldwide has less of an impact on global forest loss and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than previously believed, according to a new Yale-led study. Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, a team of researchers, including Prof. Robert Bailis of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), concludes that only about 27 to 34 percent of wood fuel harvested worldwide would be considered “unsustainable.” According to the assessment, “sustainability” is based on whether or not annual harvesting exceeds incremental re-growth.

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Electric range-extended trucks can double fuel economy

When it comes to electric vehicles, we hear plenty about electric cars being launched into the consumer market but not too much about commercial vehicles. Maybe that’s because not too many people have to concern themselves with what type of delivery or garbage truck they are going to buy next. Nevertheless, such considerations matter, since the electrification of commercial fleets promises considerably larger efficiency gains than cars.

Four-year-old California company Wrightspeed, started by Tesla co-founder Ian Wright, has developed a technology that zeros in on a specific niche of the commercial fleet market, bringing both fuel savings and emissions mitigation for commercial fleet operators.

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Ebola impacting Chimps and Gorillas even more than humans

While the whole world is aware of the many human fatalities from the Ebola epidemic in Western Africa, you may not realize that the disease has claimed hundreds of thousands of other victims in the area. Unfortunately, Ebola is simultaneously working its way through gorilla and chimpanzee populations with no sign of stopping. In the past 25 years, Ebola has wiped out 33% of all apes, reports the Daily Beast.

Apes are already up against a number of obstacles that threaten their lives like poaching and habitat destruction. The last thing they need is to have a highly fatal disease reduce their numbers further. It’s even more devastating when you reflect on the fact that many of these primate species that are ravaged by Ebola were already officially listed as endangered.

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Missouri River Sturgeon need more oxygen to reproduce. Dead zones, dams implicated.

Pallid sturgeon come from a genetic line that has lived on this planet for tens of millions of years; yet it has been decades since anyone has documented any of the enormous fish successfully producing young that survive to adulthood in the upper Missouri River basin.

Now, fisheries scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, Montana State University and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have shown why, detailing for the first time the biological mechanism that has caused the long decline of pallid sturgeon in the Missouri River and led to its being placed on the endangered species list 25 years ago.

In a paper published this week in the journal Fisheries, the scientists show that oxygen-depleted dead zones between dams in the upper Missouri River are directly linked with the failure of endangered pallid sturgeon hatched embryos to survive to adulthood.

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Arctic Ice Slides into the Ocean

Satellite images have revealed that a remote Arctic ice cap has thinned by more than 50 metres since 2012 – about one sixth of its original thickness – and that it is now flowing 25 times faster. A team led by scientists from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at the University of Leeds combined observations from eight satellite missions, including Sentinel-1A and CryoSat, with results from regional climate models, to unravel the story of ice decline.

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Success! Private sector Soy Moratorium effective in reducing deforestation in the Amazon

Today, fewer chicken nuggets can trace their roots to cleared Amazon rain forest.

In 2006, following a report from Greenpeace and under pressure from consumers, large companies like McDonald's and Wal-Mart decided to stop using soy grown on cleared forestland in the Brazilian Amazon. This put pressure on commodity traders, such as Cargill, who in turn agreed to no longer purchase soy from farmers who cleared rain forest to expand soy fields.

The private sector agreement, a type of supply chain governance, is called the Soy Moratorium and it was intended to address the deforestation caused by soy production in the Amazon.

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Going with the Flow

Millions of Americans live in flood-prone areas. In 2012 alone, the cost of direct flood damage hit nearly half a billion dollars. However, because the factors contributing to flood risk are not fully understood, river basin management — and even the calculation of flood insurance premiums — may be misguided. A new study by UC Santa Barbara’s Michael Singer and colleagues presents a paradigm shift in flood hazard analysis that could change the way such risk is assessed in the future. The results are published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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Mystery Goo is Killing Seabirds in the San Francisco Bay

Rescuers are working diligently to save birds who are being killed by a “mysterious goo” that has appeared in the San Francisco Bay, while officials remain perplexed about what the substance is and where it came from.

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