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Comet ISON

Comets come and go over the ages. Some are bright enough to scare while others sort of dribble off into the inky cosmos. They are hard to predict but they can be detected a long way off. The newest discovery was made at the International Scientific Optical Network by two amateur astronomers in Russia who are credited with finding the object, and was subsequently named Comet ISON to give credit to the group who discovered it. It will be visible on Earth in late 2013 and the first few weeks of 2014. it has the potential of being bright and only time will tell. So something to think about as the year progresses. >> Read the Full Article

Climate Change Finally Getting Our Collective Attention

It's that time of year when we look back and reflect on the past year and make silly lists. ENN Affiliate, TriplePundit has assembled a Top Five list of the reasons that Climate Change is finally getting more attention. This list is far from silly – it is quite sobering news for many of us to accept. In 2012, climate change came to the forefront. Here are 5 reasons why: 5) 2012 was the hottest year on record. A December 2012 report by the independent non profit organization Climate Central states: "There is a 99.99999999 percent chance that 2012 will be the hottest year ever recorded in the continental 48 states, based on our analysis of 118 years of temperature records through Dec. 10, 2012." Not that we won't see more days with below freezing temperatures and chilling winds, but those days are becoming less frequent. While this is good news for those that hate the cold, it is bad news for the planet, as sea levels rise and arctic habitats disappear. >> Read the Full Article

Happy New Years! How about a new you?

As we welcome in the New Year around the world I’m sure many of us will be making resolutions for the months ahead. The 1st of January marks a fresh start and a great opportunity to set personal challenges to improve ourselves, our lifestyles, and perhaps make a difference to the world around us too. However, we all know that sticking to resolutions can be tricky, so if you need a little inspiration just take a look at our favourite role models from the animal kingdom. Get active Many of us will promise to get a little more exercise, but despite our best intentions it is easy for motivation to fade as the months tick by. However, in the natural world being active is the key to many species' survival. The bee hummingbird is not only the world’s smallest species of bird, it is also one of the most energetic. In order to hover and feed on the nectar of flowers it must beat its wings around 80 times per second, and to perform its intricate courtship display this rate increases to an incredible 200 beats a second. Just think about that next time you are struggling to do a few more reps in the gym. >> Read the Full Article

Touchdown for Sustainability: College Football Bowls Increase Efforts

As is the case with most sports, college football–not to mention bowl games–and sustainability do not intuitively go in the same sentence. The long-term sustainability of many of these games themselves come into question considering how many of them there are; 6-6 teams have an opportunity to play in showcases such as the Beef-o-Brady's Bowl. Then, you have the dubious "charity" distinction and questions about whether these "nonprofits" contribute to local communities as much as they say; the nonprofit organizations that organized 24 bowl games two years ago donated less than two percent of total proceeds to charity. >> Read the Full Article

Peace on Earth? Not yet, but actually getting better!

Despite extensive coverage in the media of violent occurrences worldwide, a recent study conducted at Tel Aviv University has actually demonstrated with mathematical proof that as humanity progresses – the world is becoming less violent. Dr. Jacob Bock Axelsen of the biomathematics unit at Tel Aviv University's Department of Zoology has discovered that as the human population grows – violence declines. Axelsen uses a mathematical model to describe the correlation between population growth and a decline in violence levels. "This result came from my project on global language diversity," Axelsen tells NoCamels. "[The largest] civilizations [in the world] have passed, or will pass, the demographic transition and reach a constant population size sooner or later," he says. >> Read the Full Article

Antibiotics or Oregano to Keep Chickens Healthy?

It’s za'atar season in the Middle East and though we don't really need it, there's another reason to love this versatile spice: it could be useful as an alternative to antibiotics. Both a perennial herb and a spice mixed with other ingredients, za’atar livens up a host of dishes throughout the Gulf, Levant and Mediterranean. Now a small handful of farmers in the United States are feeding their poultry and livestock an oregano oil mixture in lieu of increasingly ineffective antibiotics, The New York Times reports. And they insist it keeps the animals disease free. Though the numbers are compelling, scientists caution there is insufficient data to substantiate their claims. >> Read the Full Article

Two Arctic Ice Seals Gain Endangered Species Act Protection - Warming Climate a Key Factor

Responding to a 2008 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the federal government today finalized Endangered Species Act protection for two ice-dependent Arctic seals threatened by melting sea ice and snowpack due to climate change. Ringed seals and bearded seals, found in the waters off Alaska, are the first species since polar bears to be protected primarily because of climate change threats. "Arctic animals face a clear danger of extinction from climate change," said Shaye Wolf, the Center's climate science director. "The Endangered Species Act offers strong protections for these seals, but we can't save the Arctic ecosystem without confronting the broader climate crisis. The Obama administration has to take decisive action, right now, against greenhouse gas pollution to preserve a world filled with ice seals, walruses and polar bears." >> Read the Full Article

A Ticking 'Food Clock': How excessive holiday eating can disturb our metabolisms

If you're like me this holiday season, you've overindulged in everything from cookies to roasts, extravagant desserts and tons of hors d'oeuvres. Stuffing our faces and trying everything on the table rewards our taste buds with satisfaction-but in the spirit of excessive holiday eating, our bodies often suffer afterwards with a bellyache of feeling full. And unfortunately, all of this excessive holiday eating will disturb our "food clock". The body's "food clock," is a collection of interacting genes and molecules known technically as the food-entrainable oscillator, which keeps the human body on a metabolic even keel. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, are studying how this clock works by examining the role of key molecules in our body's metabolism in an effort to help explain what happens when we overindulge at such odd times. The UCSF team has shown that a protein called PKCγ is critical in resetting the food clock if our eating habits change. The PKCγ protein binds to another molecule called BMAL and stabilizes it, which shifts the clock in time. An experiment showed that normal mice who were given food only during their regular sleeping hours will adjust their food clock over time and begin to wake up from their slumber. But mice lacking the PKCγ gene are not able to respond to changes in their mealtime and will sleep right through their meal. The results have potential for understanding the molecular basis of metabolic syndromes like diabetes and obesity because a desynchronized food clock may serve as part of the pathology underlying these disorders, said Louis Ptacek, MD, the John C. Coleman Distinguished Professor of Neurology at UCSF. Ptacek also says the study may also help explain why those that eat at night are more likely to be obese. >> Read the Full Article

EPA Proposes Ambitious Plan to Clean the Gowanus Canal

The Gowanus is one of the United States' most polluted waterways, bisecting Brooklyn and emptying into Upper New York Harbor. Many years ago, it was a major industrial transportation route, servicing manufactured gas plants, paper mills, tanneries, and chemical plants. At the time stormwater runoff and discharges from these facilities were constantly being absorbed into the canal. The Gowanus was added to the EPA superfund list of sites, and numerous potentially responsible parties have been identified including National Grid and the City of New York. After thorough environmental investigation, EPA has finally proposed a plan to conduct the cleanup, which will include the removal of contaminated sediment, capping dredged areas, and preventing further land-based contaminated outflows. The expected cost of the project is between $467 and $504 million. The EPA will be taking public comments on the plan from now until March 28, 2013. >> Read the Full Article

Sustainable Aviation On The Horizon

In 2010 NASA launched its N+3 initiative which awarded four major airlines extensive funds to research, design and develop more environmentally friendly aircraft. Lockheed Martin, MIT, GE Aviation and Boeing have been charged with the challenge to create a commercial plane that would expend 75% less emissions and consume 70% less fuel. Not a small undertaking but significant progress has already been made, especially by Boeing who have a promising hybrid aircraft in development stage. >> Read the Full Article