Top Stories

Brain Development in Children Directly Impacted by Parenting Technique

Infancy and early childhood is a critical time for the development of a healthy brain as well as positive emotional development. It is the role of the parents to ensure that their babies grow up to be healthy, functioning members of society. However, a new study from the University of Notre Dame claims that social practices and cultural beliefs of modern life are preventing the healthy development of children. Traditional methods of nurturing, having been passed down from our hunter-gatherer days, are being neglected for more stereotypically modern childbearing norms to the detriment of the youth of America. >> Read the Full Article

Shoe Stable Fly!

Swatting at flies is a major aggravation but luckily for us, we can often shoe away these annoying arthropods before that painful bite. But what about cows and other livestock that only have a tail to defend themselves? Besides a quick pinch, stable flies actually have a huge effect on cattle costing the U.S. cattle industry more than $2.4 billion! How might you ask? Animals will often stop grazing and bunch together to minimize the number of bites they're getting. Consequently, this can reduce milk production in dairy cows, decrease weight gain in beef cattle, and reduce feed efficiency. >> Read the Full Article

The World's Oldest Living Olive Trees Are Lebanese

Tucked away in the sleepy village of Bechealeh, Lebanon, 16 olive trees have witnessed 6000 years of political unrest, plagues, diseases, varying climatic conditions and changing civilizations. In fact these "trees of Noah" are considered by locals to be a living miracle because nature, as we all know, is often silent and passive in the face of hardship, greed and violence so the fact that these arcane olive trees have managed to skirt 6000 years of climatic shifts, hacking axes and diseases makes me believe that, as improbable as this may sound, that there has been some mystical or divine providence watching over and protecting those trees for Bechealeh, for Lebanon and – who knows – maybe even for all the rest of us. >> Read the Full Article

Exocomets

A comet is an icy small body that, when close enough to the Sun, displays a visible coma (a thin, fuzzy, temporary atmosphere) and sometimes also a tail. These phenomena are both due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the nucleus of the comet. Comet nuclei range from a few hundred meters to tens of kilometers across and are composed of loose collections of ice, dust, and small rocky particles. The discovery by astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Clarion University in Pennsylvania of six likely comets around distant stars suggests that comets – dubbed exocomets – are just as common in other stellar systems with planets. >> Read the Full Article

Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill - Good Coastal Policy?

Next week, the U.S. Congress is expected to vote on the bulk of $60 billion in emergency spending to provide for recovery from Hurricane Sandy. Clearly, significant aid is needed to repair the damage left by the storm and to help many people put their lives back together. But the bill before Congress includes provisions authorizing spending that would be fiscally irresponsible and environmentally damaging and would set a very bad precedent as we plan for long-term adaptation to rising sea levels and climate change. The bill goes far beyond the immediate need for emergency assistance by funding a massive coastal engineering effort that is not based on science or wise planning. As currently proposed, the bill would give the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers roughly $4.5 billion to spend on coastal construction projects related to "flood control and risk reduction." Most troubling, the bill requires the Corps to attempt to rebuild the New Jersey and New York beaches to their "design profile." In other words, the Corps will work to put the beaches back exactly as they were before the storm, ignoring the reality of rising sea levels and intensifying storms as the world warms. >> Read the Full Article

New Doubt Cast on Link Between Global Warming and Increased Drought

There have been devastating droughts in the past few years in places like Africa, Australia, and the United States. Last summer, the drought in the central US caused the loss of massive crops and a major economic hit for the country. The seemingly increasing prevalence of droughts has some announcing the effects of climate change coming to fruition. However, a new study from researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey and the Australian National University in Canberra has cast doubt on this premise. Their work indicates that the development of drought is much more complex than formerly believed and that recent droughts were more an aberration than an overall drying trend. >> Read the Full Article

Fiscal Cliff Deal Extends Biofuel Credits

By now the New Year's fiscal cliff deal has received quite a bit of press. We have already discussed the significance of extending the Wind Production Tax Credit here earlier. Less well known is the inclusion of measures included in the deal to revive tax credits for advanced biofuels. It is well worth a moment to examine these to understand what impact these actions might have on both our future energy and food supply. >> Read the Full Article

Giant Squid Filmed in Pacific Depths

Scientists and broadcasters have captured footage of an elusive giant squid, up to eight meters (26 feet) long that roams the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Japan's National Science Museum succeeded in filming the deep-sea creature in its natural habitat for the first time, working with Japanese public broadcaster NHK and the US Discovery Channel. >> Read the Full Article

Sea Level Rise

How fast will the seas rise due to global warming? We may never know until after the fact for sure. Future sea level rise due to the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could be substantially larger than estimated in Climate Change 2007 according to new research from the University of Bristol. The study, published today in Nature Climate Change, is the first of its kind on ice sheet melting to use structured expert elicitation (EE) together with an approach which mathematically pools experts' opinions. EE is already used in a number of other scientific fields such as forecasting volcanic eruptions. >> Read the Full Article

Sea level rise of more than 3 feet plausible by 2100

Melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland may push up global sea levels more than 3 feet by the end of this century, according to a scientific poll of experts that brings a degree of clarity to a murky and controversial slice of climate science. Such a rise in the seas would displace millions of people from low-lying countries such as Bangladesh, swamp atolls in the Pacific Ocean, cause dikes in Holland to fail, and cost coastal mega-cities from New York to Tokyo billions of dollars for construction of sea walls and other infrastructure to combat the tides. >> Read the Full Article