Top Stories

Black Bears return to Reno

A new study from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Nevada Department of Wildlife ( NDOW) has pieced together the last 150 years of history for one of the state's most interesting denizens: the black bear. The study, which looked at everything from historic newspaper articles to more recent scientific studies, indicates that black bears in Nevada were once distributed throughout the state but subsequently vanished in the early 1900s. Today, the bear population is increasing and rapidly reoccupying its former range due in part to the conservation and management efforts of NDOW and WCS. Compelled in part by dramatic increases in human/bear conflicts and a 17-fold increase in bear mortalities due to collisions with vehicles reported between the early 1990s and mid- 2000s, WCS and NDOW began a 15-year study of black bears in Nevada that included a review of the animal’s little-known history in the state. >> Read the Full Article

What You Need To Know About Green Mortgage

Making environmentally friendly choices is more than recycling or turning the lights off. Every decision can actually have a positive impact on the world. What many people don't know is that applying for home loans can lower greenhouse emissions. Thus, improving the energy efficiency of a home and looking for loans to fund such projects can save people on energy costs and lower their carbon footprint. Environmental Impact of Energy Efficiency at Home: Steve Baden, Executive Director for the Residential Energy Services Network, which regulates home energy ratings' standards, says that homes contribute up to 21% of the greenhouse emissions. Thus, the smallest home improvement projects can have a huge impact on a home's energy use. Cut Utility Costs: Green home improvement projects help homeowners cut utility bills in half. This saves hundreds of dollars every year, if not more. An investment today will have a large payoff later on down the line. This is why green home loans are a valuable investment. These funds give people the chance to lower their expenses and do something positive for the environment. >> Read the Full Article

How Bird Flocks Work

Flocks of birds and how they seem to move together have always fascinated any observer of them. New research from the Universities of Exeter and Cambridge reveals for the first time that, contrary to current models used to explain the movement of flocks, the differences between bird species and social relationships between individuals play a critical role in determining the dynamics of mixed-species flocks. The unified behavior of bird flocks has puzzled scientists for hundreds of years. One naturalist from the turn of the century even suggested telepathy may be involved. There have since been less esoteric explanations, including mathematical models that show that repeated interactions among individuals following simple rules can generate coordinated group movements. However, these models usually rely on the assumption that individuals within groups are identical and interact independently, which may not reflect reality. >> Read the Full Article

Lead-Based Paint Still Being Sold in Developing Nations

Lead is added to paint mainly to speed up drying and increase durability, but due to its toxic effects has been banned in many countries. Nonetheless, lead-based paint still poses a problem as older housing stock may contain lead-based painted walls. When this paint chips, inhalation and ingestion (particularly by children) can damage the nervous system and cause a slew of health problems. Despite the uproar of concern for this type of paint in western countries, new reports show that lead paint is still being sold in poor nations. Perry Gottesfeld, lead author for an investigative study, has discovered high levels of the heavy metal in numerous house paints for sale throughout the African nation of Cameroon. Further investigation has led the research team to conclude that there’s still plenty of lead paint for sale in other developing nations. Two years ago Gottesfeld was in Cameroon, where he and collaborators at a local NGO now report they had found nearly a dozen enamel household paints with so much lead in them they exceeded the U.S. standard by 300 times or more. >> Read the Full Article

Scientists link frozen spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss

Climate scientists have linked the massive snowstorms and bitter spring weather now being experienced across Britain and large parts of Europe and North America to the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice. Both the extent and the volume of the sea ice that forms and melts each year in the Arctic Ocean fell to an historic low last autumn, and satellite records published on Monday by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, show the ice extent is close to the minimum recorded for this time of year. >> Read the Full Article

Martian Hit! or ?

When Jupiter’s tides ripped Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 to shreds, what remained hit the thick atmosphere and disintegrated. They really did not hit the ground, Occasionally astronomers have caught a glimpse of a rock hitting the moon. How about Mars? Astronomers think there’s a chance of a cosmic ruck hitting Mars in the near term future. This is a comet that is predicted as having a chance of hitting Mars. And Mars is under observation by us humans on the ground and by telescope and camera. >> Read the Full Article

The Future of Chocolate

Back in the Mayan age, around 1100 BCE, cacao was recognized as a "super" food, traded as a precious currency with a value on par with gold and jewels Bythe 17th century the Spanish added sugar (cane) to sweeten it and the rest is history. As other European countries clamored to get in on the action—and started exporting cacao trees to their colonies—Africa soon became the world's most prominent grower of cacao, even though it's not native to that continent. Today, cacao has devolved into a byproduct of itself. Instead of being viewed as the sacred fruit that it is, with all its nutritional benefits, cacao is largely seen as a candy bar, a mid-day fix, loaded with sugar, milk, and other substandard ingredients. >> Read the Full Article

US Forest Service Reopens Caves Despite Risk to Bats

Despite the unabated threat of a devastating fungal disease that has already killed nearly 7 million hibernating bats, U.S. Forest Service officials released a plan today to rescind their three-year-old precautionary cave closure policy in the Rocky Mountain Region, including in Colorado and much of Wyoming and South Dakota. The new policy, described in an environmental assessment posted to the Forest Service website, reopens all caves in the region to recreational activities, nullifying an aggressive approach to containing white-nose syndrome unique among western federal land agencies. "This decision is a terrible blow to efforts to forestall the spread of this wildlife epidemic to the West," said Mollie Matteson, a bat specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "It’s extremely short-sighted, giving priority to the recreational interests of a small group of people over the survival of western bats, and it ignores all the benefits insect-eating bats provide to the rest of us, including farmers who depend on bats to save them millions of dollars in additional costs by containing crop pests." >> Read the Full Article

Egyptian Solar Power

Egypt is a land of ancient mysteries. It is a desert country with one long river flowing through it. Desert means lots of sun. Egypt is preparing to build a billion dollar solar power plant with help from a suite of international donors. Construction of Kuryamatt, a 150-megawatt hybrid power plant that will use both solar energy and natural gas to generate electricity, is underway 90 kilometers south of Cairo. Plans for a second large solar plant, in Upper Egypt's Kom Ombo, are also underway. These moves come after severe power cuts crippled the country last year during the hot summer months when Egyptians blast their air-conditioning units, and power up their stoves to prepare Ramadan feasts. >> Read the Full Article

The Hidden Conservation Costs of Renewable Energy

Ecologist writer Luke Dale-Harris questions the ability of Natura 2000 to work as an effective environmental regulator. The birds that migrate freely across Europe are unaware of the invisible borders that lie below them. They follow the same routes that have carried them to warmth every year for an eternity, marked out by the indomitable features of the landscape - the coast of the Atlantic on one side and the curve of the Carpathian Mountains on the other. But it is what they miss that matters most; their future, along with that of the rest of us, is dictated by the political and economic tides that shift shape across the continent. >> Read the Full Article