Top Stories

Sea Turtles are making a Comeback!

Conservationists are celebrating news that endangered sea turtles are nesting in record numbers in the southeast from North Carolina to Florida, offering a promising sign that efforts to help protect them are paying off.

Last week, researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) studying green sea turtles at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge declared that for the second time in the past three years they’re setting records after they counted 12,026 nests.

“This is really a comeback story,” said Kate Mansfield, a UCF assistant professor of biology and lead of the Marine Turtle Research Group, which monitors the turtles during their nesting season that lasts from May 1 to October 1.

The refuge, which was established in 1991, has become a vital haven for sea turtles. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it’s the most significant area for green turtle nesting in North America, but they’re not the only ones benefiting.

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Birds that flock to feeders are more likely to get sick, spread disease

Wild songbirds that prefer to eat at bird feeders have an increased risk of acquiring a common eye disease. In turn, these birds also spread the disease more quickly to their flock mates, according to an international research team led by Virginia Tech scientists.

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Are "sustainable" pet foods better?

Many of its brands — and commercials — may be iconic, from Meow Mix to Alpo, but the fact is that the pet food industry is a relatively new business. For millennia, cats and dogs were simply fed unwanted table scraps. Go to a timeless fish market like the Besiktas in Istanbul, and the chances are high that visitors will see a fishmonger feeding a feline the day’s scraps. Wander through the timeless Central Market in Athens and observers will watch the same thing, only with tidbits of beef and lamb.

Fast forward to the post-World War II era, however, and it was then that many food companies saw the benefits of marketing formulated pet foods to dog and cat owners. Growing affluence and the demand for convenience together inspired companies including General Foods, Nabisco and Purina (now owned by Nestlé) to enter the pet food sector. The profit margins were huge, as food waste that previously would have been discarded was recycled into what quickly became a lucrative new business.

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Beet juice boosts muscle performance quickly

Scientists have evidence that Popeye was right: Spinach makes you stronger. But it’s the high nitrate content in the leafy greens — not the iron — that creates the effect. 

Building on a growing body of work that suggests dietary nitrate improves muscle performance in many elite athletes, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that drinking concentrated beet juice — also high in nitrates — increases muscle power in patients with heart failure.

“It’s a small study, but we see robust changes in muscle power about two hours after patients drink the beet juice,” said senior author Linda R. Peterson, MD, associate professor of medicine. “A lot of the activities of daily living are power-based — getting out of a chair, lifting groceries, climbing stairs. And they have a major impact on quality of life. We want to help make people more powerful because power is such an important predictor of how well people do, whether they have heart failure, cancer or other conditions. In general, physically more powerful people live longer.”

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New study finds massive eruptions likely triggered mass extinction

Around 252 million years ago, life on Earth collapsed in spectacular and unprecedented fashion, as more than 96 percent of marine species and 70 percent of land species disappeared in a geological instant. The so-called end-Permian mass extinction ­— or more commonly, the “Great Dying” — remains the most severe extinction event in Earth’s history.

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Eating Healthy not always as healthy as you might think

In their quest for healthy eating, many Americans are turning to restrictive diets – from vegan to Paleo to low-carb – that they believe are the most “pure” or beneficial. But when people decide to go beyond these and severely limit the types of foods they consume, they could be putting themselves at risk for nutritional deficiencies.

People who obsessively refine and restrict their diet to conform to their ideal of what is healthy could be suffering from orthorexia nervosa – which translates from Greek as “correct appetite.”

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Be sure to stand up and move now and then!

Prolonged sitting time as well as reduced physical activity contribute to the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in a study of middle-aged Koreans. These findings support the importance of both reducing time spent sitting and increasing physical activity, say researchers. Their results are published in the Journal of Hepatology.

Physical activity is known to reduce the incidence and mortality of various chronic diseases. However, more than one half of the average person's waking day involves sedentary activities associated with prolonged sitting such as watching TV and using the computer and other devices. 

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World's First Solar-Powered Airport

Aviation history has just been made. Earlier this summer I told you about the record breaking solar plane flight, and now the solar eagle has landed again—this time at an airport in India that just became the first airport in the world to completely operate on solar power.

Go India!

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Diesel cars in the EU having trouble meeting emissions standards on the road

Every major car manufacturer is selling diesel cars that fail to meet EU air pollution limits on the road in Europe, according to data obtained by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E). 

All new diesel cars should have met the Euro 6 autoemissions standard from 1 September – but just one in 10 tested complied with the legal limit. 

On average new EU diesel cars produce emissions about five times higher than the allowed limit. The results are compiled in a new report, Don’t Breathe Here, in which T&E analyses the reasons for and solutions to air pollution caused by diesel machines and cars – the worst of which, an Audi, emitted 22 times the allowed EU limit.

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Climate talks in Paris may not make enough of a difference

It’s Paris or bust. Climate diplomats are preparing for a United Nations climate conference in the French capital in December that scientists say is probably the last realistic chance for the world to prevent global warming going beyond 2 degrees Celsius. Some kind of a deal will probably be done. But will it be one more diplomatic fudge or a real triumph for the climate? 

In the run-up to Paris, governments have been asked to deliver pledges to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases known to cause climate change. The pledges, covering the period between 2020, when the agreement should enter into force, and 2030, are known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs in the U.N. jargon. 

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