Top Stories

Air Pollution and Heart Attacks

There are many forms of air pollution. There is no doubt that air pollution is not healthy. The uncertainty is at what level is it an acceptable risk. The one of concern in this study is the finest of particulate matter. The largest study yet to investigate the links between fine air-borne particulate matter (PM) and patient survival after hospital admission for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) found death rates increased with increased exposure to PM2.5 – tiny particles that measure 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less, approximately 30 times smaller than a human hair. The amount of PM in the air is measured as micrograms per cubic meter of air. The main sources of PM2.5 are emissions from road traffic and industry, including power generation. >> Read the Full Article

Food: Sustainability, Security, Self-reliance

Poor harvests and rising food costs have become a depressingly familiar news item, with unusual weather patterns affecting food production across the US, Russia and in the UK. At the same time, more and more people are struggling to feed themselves and their families. >> Read the Full Article

Climate Change Adaptation for Agriculture, Forests

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on February 5 released "two comprehensive reports that synthesize the scientific literature on climate change effects and adaptation strategies for U.S. agriculture and forests." The effects of climate change will be profound and far-reaching, according to the two reports, which drew on more than 1,000 peer-reviewed studies carried out by scientists in federal service, universities, non-governmental organizations, industry, tribal lands and the private sector. >> Read the Full Article

Is a Baby Giant Armadillo Cute? Yes!

Despite weighing as much as full-grown human, almost nothing is known about the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) including its breeding and reproductive behaviors. How does mating occur? How long does pregnancy last? How many babes are typically born? Scientists are simply in the dark, but a ground-breaking study employing camera traps is beginning to change this. For the first time, scientists in the Brazilian Pantanal have documented giant armadillo breeding and the happy outcome: a baby giant armadillo (see video and more photos below). "Being part of this exclusive moment in the history of this species conservation and seeing the first picture of a baby giant armadillo was one of the most exciting moments of my career as a wildlife professional," said Danilo Kluyber, a wildlife veterinarian with The Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project. >> Read the Full Article

The Seas Rise but the Lands Rise Too

As the Arctic ice melts it will raise the sea level. But as it does it removes the enormous weight of the ice and the land will rise too in places, Sophisticated computer modelling has shown how sea-level rise over the coming century could affect some regions far more than others. The model shows that parts of the Pacific will see the highest rates of rise while some polar regions will actually experience falls in relative sea levels due to the ways sea, land and ice interact globally. Reporting in the journal Geophysical Research Letters researchers have looked ahead to the year 2100 to show how ice loss will continue to add to rising sea levels. Scientists have known for some time that sea level rise around the globe will not be uniform, but in this study the team of Ice2sea researchers show in great detail the global pattern of sea-level rise that would result from two scenarios of ice-loss from glaciers and ice sheets. >> Read the Full Article

Clean Coal Finally a Reality?

A team of researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) spent the past 2 years developing a clean way of harnessing the power of coal and have recently found great success in their research scale combustion system. The team is now able to harness clean coal energy chemically without combustion with air, while capturing 99% of the carbon dioxide produced from the reaction. With the next stage in testing on the horizon, could this possibly be the future of coal? >> Read the Full Article

Whale Chewing

Whale is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. Whales are mammals, but they don’t look like the mammals living around us, as they have a triangular fluke for tail, no hind legs and no body hair. And inside their mouths, their teeth are unfamiliar too – being much simpler and peg like. A multidisciplinary team of researchers have now married together the fossil record and the embryonic development process to investigate how the whale got its teeth. In most mammals there are wedge-shaped incisors, a pointy canine, and premolars and molars with bumps and valleys that fit together like a mortar and pestle when you chew. Not all whales have teeth, but those that do, such as killer whales, have rows of simple peg like teeth, each one looking the same as the next. Whales use this spiked row of teeth to grab prey, but unlike other mammals, whales do not chew. >> Read the Full Article

In the News: Whales to benefit from a reduction in shipping noise

The North Atlantic right whale, along with many other whale species, is set to benefit from work by scientists to reduce the noise levels caused along shipping routes. One of the rarest of the large whales, the North Atlantic right whale is thought to have a population of just 500 individuals, and it is believed that excessive noise along shipping routes is likely to negatively affect this threatened species. The din from commercial ships makes it extremely difficult for the marine mammals to communicate with one another, which in turn means that their ability to locate food and mates, and therefore their ability to sustain a viable population, is greatly diminished. >> Read the Full Article

Over 35,000 march on Washington demanding climate action and rejection of Canada's 'carbon bomb'

Yesterday over 35,000 people rallied in Washington D.C. for urgent action on climate change, which, according to organizers, was the largest climate march in U.S. history. Activists called on the Obama Administration to do much more to tackle climate change, including rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would bring carbon-heavy tar sands oil from Canada through the U.S. to a world market. >> Read the Full Article

BPA Blood Levels

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic compound. It is a colorless solid that is soluble in organic solvents, but poorly soluble in water. Having two phenol functional groups, it is used to make polycarbonate polymers and epoxy resins, along with other materials used to make plastics. It is a controversial component of plastic bottles and canned food linings that have helped make the world's food supply safer. It has the potential to mimic the sex hormone estrogen if blood and tissue levels are high enough. Now, an analysis of almost 150 BPA exposure studies shows that in the general population, people's exposure may be many times too low for BPA to effectively mimic estrogen in the human body. The analysis, presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting by toxicologist Justin Teeguarden of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash., shows that BPA in the blood of the general population is many times lower than blood levels that consistently cause toxicity in animals. The result suggests that animal studies might not reflect the human BPA experience appropriately. >> Read the Full Article