Top Stories

New research finds mine waste could provide an effective CO2 trap

It's time to economically value the greenhouse gas-trapping potential of mine waste and start making money from it, says mining engineer and geologist Michael Hitch of the University of British Columbia (UBC). Hitch studies the value of mine waste rock for its CO2-sequestration potential, or "SP." He says mining companies across Canada will, in future, be able to offset CO2 emissions with so-named "SP rock," and within 25 years could even be selling emissions credits. >> Read the Full Article

Pacific Walrus Changes

Weighing around 2,700 pounds (with a maximum weight of around 3200 lbs), Pacific walruses are the second largest member of the superfamily Pinnipedia, next to the Southern Elephant Seal. Walruses in general use sea ice to travel to new feeding grounds. Sparse summer sea ice in the Arctic over the past five years has caused behavioral changes in Pacific walruses according to research published by U.S. Geological Survey and Russian scientists. The effects on the walrus population are unknown. >> Read the Full Article

Great Potential for Energy Efficiency Improvements in UK

With the ambitious goal of kickstarting "a revolution in UK energy efficiency," England’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has just launched a new program called the Government's Energy Efficiency Strategy. The goal is to cut the equivalent of 22 power stations worth of energy consumption throughout the United Kingdom by 2020. Though the UK has already made some significant progress in energy efficiency, the new strategy underscores just how much more opportunity there is to save energy in a nation that boasts an impressive stock of centuries-old buildings. The challenges of upgrading castles, cottages and ancient estates is small potatoes, though, compared to some broader structural challenges the UK faces, and the DECC is not shy about laying those out. >> Read the Full Article

Warmer Summers

The world is warming up but not always evenly. So how much warmer are the summers? Analysis of 90 years of observational data has revealed that the world summer climates in regions across the globe are changing — mostly, but not always, warming –according to a new study led by a scientist from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences headquartered at the University of Colorado Boulder. >> Read the Full Article

Got (organic) milk?

In recent years, advertising for milk and milk products has been seen everywhere in mainstream America. Not only do we have our doctors telling us to drink more milk, but we also have celebrities endorsing the product. Of course milk does the body good, but do some types of milk do better than others? What about milk's impact on the environment? To analyze these questions, researchers need to study the types of farms from where the milk originates. As with the case for most farms, large-scale farm businesses have been taking over smaller, local farms causing tons of pasture-based dairies to disappear from the landscape. Even though the demand for organic milk and dairy products is on the rise (raking in at least $750 million annually), most of our country's milk is coming from cows confined in animal feeding operations known as CAFOs. Not only do CAFOs make a less nutritious milk product, but they also pollute our air, water, and soil and reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics in humans. >> Read the Full Article

Pacific Fishing Zones

Marine zoning in the Pacific Ocean, in combination with other measures, could significantly improve numbers of heavily overfished bigeye tuna and improve local economies, a fish modelling study has found. Scientists have found that a network of marine zones in the Pacific Ocean could be a more effective conservation measure than simply closing relatively small areas to some types of fishing. These marine zones, where different fishing activities are allowed in different areas, may have significant and widespread benefits for bigeye tuna numbers. Dr John Sibert of the university of Hawaii Joint Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Research is one of four scientists leading the study. After testing the effectiveness of a range of conservation measures with an ecosystem and fish population model. >> Read the Full Article

Risk of Parkinson’s disease Increases with Head Injury and Herbicide Exposure

The combination of having a head injury and being exposed to the common pesticide/herbicide, paraquat has been found to increase the risk of developing Parkinson's disease by three times. Paraquat is one of the most widely used herbicides, typically used on crops to control weeds and pests. The chemical is also deadly to humans and animals. A person with an already compromised head injury can compound that injury greatly by being around this poison, to the point of getting Parkinson's disease. The study was conducted by researchers at UCLA and published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. >> Read the Full Article

Borneo may lose half its orangutans to deforestation, hunting, and plantations

Borneo will likely lose half of its orangutans if current deforestation and forest conversion trends continue, warns a comprehensive new assessment by an international team of researchers. The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, overlays orangutan distribution with land use regulations in Malaysian and Indonesian Borneo. Borneo has suffered high rates of deforestation, logging, and forest conversion for industrial plantations in recent decades, endangering the world's largest surviving populations of orangutans. >> Read the Full Article

Report: Climate-Related Migration

Recent reports, as well as extreme weather events such as Superstorm Sandy, suggest that climatechange, and particularly sea-level rise, may be occurring faster than earlier anticipated. This has increased public and policy discussions about climate change’s likely impacts on the movement of populations, both internally and worldwide. Research suggests that when climate-related migration does occur, much of it is short distance and within national borders, as opposed to international, according to new analysis conducted by Lori Hunter, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, for the Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). Recent research has added nuance to the scientific understanding of the potential connections between climate change and human migration. Previous studies over the past two decades relied largely on descriptive data and simplistic assumptions to put forward at-times alarmist estimates of future numbers of "environmental refugees," ranging from 150 million to 1 billion people. But such broad-sweeping generalizations mask several central issues that are important in the development of appropriate policy responses. These include: >> Read the Full Article

Researchers study the transformation of materials facing water erosion

One of the main reasons why the Grand Canyon looks the way it does is due to water erosion. With its deep valleys and smoothed ridges, the Grand Canyon is a prime example of how erosion can wear away at land formations and change landscapes. But according to a team of researchers at New York University, erosion caused by flowing water does not only smooth out objects, but can also form distinct shapes with sharp points and edges. Researchers at the university studied the effects of water erosion to better understand how water and air work to shape land, rocks, and artificial structures. >> Read the Full Article