Top Stories

Texas Legislature Passes Commercial and Industrial PACE Bill

The Texas House and Senate passed Senate Bill 385 in May. If Governor Rick Perry approves the bill, the state will break new ground by developing plans for commercial and industrial property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs. This bill will redesign Texas's approach to PACE, focusing on the commercial and industrial sectors rather than on residential programs. The legislation covers both energy efficiency and water efficiency. To facilitate local decision making, cities and local areas will partner with businesses and nonprofits to set up their own PACE programs. These programs will allow businesses to borrow money from private lenders and repay it yearly via an assessment on their property taxes. >> Read the Full Article

Aquifers in US Depleting, Contributing to Sea-Level Rise

The High Plains (also known as Ogallala) aquifer underlies more than 170,000 square miles of the United States. Aquifers are water storage areas that are made up of bodies of permeable rock that contain and transmit groundwater. The High Plains aquifer serves as the principal source of water for irrigation and drinking in the Great Plains, serving over two million people. However, substantial pumping of the aquifer for irrigation since the 1940s has resulted in large water-table declines. Depleting aquifers of groundwater can lead to serious consequences as pumping water out of the ground faster than it can be replenished can permanently dry up wells, reduce water in lakes and streams, and deteriorate water quality. >> Read the Full Article

In the News: First crane egg in the western UK in four centuries

The first common crane egg in the western United Kingdom in over 400 years has been laid at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire, England. A round-the-clock guard has been set up to protect the egg from collectors, as despite egg collecting being illegal in the UK it is still practiced by an unscrupulous minority. Video cameras are in place to allow the public to view the nest, as well as to provide important footage for conservation scientists. Lucky visitors can also view the nest from the centre’s bird hides. >> Read the Full Article

Climate Extreme Prediction

It seems that there is always another opinion on how the climate is or will be changing. A new study led by Oxford University concludes that the latest observations of the climate system's response to rising greenhouse gas levels are consistent with conventional estimates of the long-term climate sensitivity, despite a warming pause over the past decade. However, the most extreme rates of warming simulated by the current generation of climate models over 50- to 100-year timescales are looking less likely, according to the paper published online by Nature Geoscience. >> Read the Full Article

Eat those white vegetables?

We've always been told that eating colorful foods has many health benefits. And no, I'm not talking about artificially colored candies or chips, but instead fresh fruits and vegetables. Many produce rich in color contains nutrient packed pigments and antioxidants that provide energy and other benefits to our bodies. Consequently, it is recommended that we have three to five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. But what about white foods? Some nutritionists urge us to stay away from white bread breads, rice and pastas, but what about white produce? There are potatoes, garlic, onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, onions, turnips and kohlrabi just to name a few. Are these white fruits and vegetables just as nutritious? >> Read the Full Article

Melting Glaciers

Most of the world's frozen water is locked up at the poles. 99 percent of Earth’s land ice is located in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Yet the remaining ice in the world’s glaciers contributed just as much to sea rise as the two major ice sheets combined from 2003 to 2009, says a new study led by Clark University and involving the University Colorado Boulder. The new research found that all glacial regions lost significant mass from 2003 to 2009, with the biggest ice losses occurring in Arctic Canada, Alaska, coastal Greenland, the southern Andes and the Himalayas. The glaciers outside of the Greenland and Antarctic sheets lost an average of roughly 260 billion metric tons of ice annually during the study period, causing the oceans to rise 0.03 inches, or about 0.7 millimeters per year. >> Read the Full Article

Fishing the Gulf of Maine: Tradition at a Crossroads

Lobster fishing remains big business off the coast of Maine but even with new regulations and new gadgets can it ever be sustainable? Michael Sanders investigates the real costs of the crustacean on your plate... When most of us go down to the coast, whether to walk or swim or fish or sail, we take for granted what we see before us. We see the lobster boats and the colorful buoys marking the strings of traps, the bobbing green and red cans marking safe passage, the gulls and other seabirds. In the larger working harbors like Portland and Stonington and Port Clyde, there might be draggers tied up, unloading fish they've caught far out in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank. What we don't realize is that this seemingly unchanging marine world is in fact always changing in ways both large and small. What we think of as "the coast of Maine" - those 3,000 vaunted miles of rocky shoreline punctuated by seaside villages and docks and lobster pounds and fishing fleets - was largely built on the backs of the fishermen and lobstermen who are there, however picturesque or authentic to the eye, for a single purpose: to harvest the sea in order to feed us. >> Read the Full Article

Vitamin C and Gout

Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid, or simply ascorbate (the anion of ascorbic acid), is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. Vitamin C has been advocated for many other therapeutic uses. Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant and is necessary for the treatment and prevention of scurvy, though in nearly all cases dietary intake is adequate to prevent deficiency and supplementation is not necessary. Though vitamin C has been promoted as useful in the treatment of a variety of conditions, most of these uses are poorly supported by the evidence and sometimes contraindicated. Despite previous studies touting its benefit in moderating gout risk, new research reveals that vitamin C does not reduce uric acid (urate) levels to a clinically significant degree in patients with established gout. Vitamin C supplementation, alone or in combination with allopurinol, appears to have a weak effect on lowering uric acid levels in gout patients according to the results published in the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) journal, Arthritis & Rheumatism. >> Read the Full Article

Non-native goats and iguanas threaten Pacific islands

Feral goats and green iguanas wreaking havoc with the ecosystems in the small islands in the Pacific, biologists warn, in two separate studies published in Pacific Science last month, calling for control or elimination of these animals. The animals have been introduced there by humans, but are now threatening the survival of native wildlife. >> Read the Full Article

Want to benefit wildlife? Let land go untended.

Which environment would wildlife prefer, actively farmed and managed land, or untended natural land that to us might appear unkempt? Turns out that parts of the farm landscape that look overgrown and 'scruffy' are more important in supporting wildlife than they first appear, according to new research published today in Ecology Letters. The findings stem from an intensive study of an organic farm in Somerset by a team of scientists focussing on the complex ways in which animals and plants interact. First, the team of researchers from the University of Hull, the University of Bristol and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, created one of the world's largest terrestrial food-webs – a what-eats-what guide to the food-chain, and then developed a method of predicting what would happen to the whole food-web when habitats were lost. >> Read the Full Article