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Understanding AC Refrigerant Standards

Back in 1987, alarm about emissions of ozone layer-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and bromine gases led national governments worldwide to sign the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, a United Nations (UN) environmental agreement in which 197 countries and the European Union (EU) pledged to phase out production and use of CFCs, HCFCs and bromine gases. Though revised, more aggressive reduction targets for new refrigerant standards are being met, subsequent developments – rapid industrialization in large emerging market countries and the growing threats and costs of global warming – have complicated matters further. >> Read the Full Article

UN Urges Member Nations Renew Pledges to Respect Earth

Top United Nations officials today urged the 193 Member States to renew their pledges to honour and respect Mother Earth marking the day selected by the world body to promote harmony with nature and sustainable development. Today is a "chance to reaffirm our collective responsibility to promote harmony with nature," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature held to mark International Mother Earth Day. Noting this year's theme, Faces of Climate Change, Mr. Ban urged the UN General Assembly "to confront the hard truth that our planet is under threat." >> Read the Full Article

Geochemical Climate Testing

New test results are providing further evidence that the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide and Earth's surface temperature are inextricably linked. Nearly thirty-four million years ago, the Earth underwent a transformation from a warm and high-carbon dioxide greenhouse state to a lower-CO2, variable climate of the modern icehouse world. Massive ice sheets grew across the Antarctic continent, major animal groups shifted, and ocean temperatures decreased by up to 5 degrees. Various studies of how this drastic change affected temperatures on land have had mixed results. Some show no appreciable terrestrial climate change; others find cooling of up to 8 degrees and large changes in seasonality. Now, a group of American and British scientists have used a new chemical technique to measure the change in terrestrial temperature associated with this shift in global atmospheric CO2 concentrations. >> Read the Full Article

Earth Day - Hollywood Style

For years, Hollywood has celebrated Earth Day in order to raise awareness about environmental issues and to strike up a memorable dialogue about sustainable practices. And the film studios’ embrace of Earth Day has only strengthened over time. From PSAs to Paramount’s new micro-turbines, we take a look at the industry’s dedication to spotlighting one of the most important advocacy dates on the calendar. In 1990, the holiday got a pretty big boost from Hollywood when Time Warner called on some of their favorite talent to hammer home proactive things Americans could do to reduce their footprint on the planet. (Our favorites? A pony-tailed Kevin Costner teaching Meryl Streep how to recycle and Neil Patrick Harris as Doogie Howser giving a press conference about the health of his patient, "Mother Earth.") But in 2013, the film business's efforts have far exceeded PSA productions, and the good news is that a lot of progressive practices like electric car fueling stations, composting, a ban on plastic bags in commissaries, and required carbon emission reporting have become all but de rigueur on most major lots. As each of the main studios shoot to achieve "100% sustainable" status in the coming years, the pressure is on to determine creative ways to be the first to get there, and then some. In honor of Earth Day, we take a look at some of the ways Hollywood is committed to 'greening' up their practices: >> Read the Full Article

Earth Day Spotlight: Working Dogs for Conservation

Wicket, an eight year-old black lab-cross wearing a red vest emblazoned with the words "Search Dog", came to a sudden stop at the base of a thick willow tree, turning and sitting in one swift motion, and awaited her reward of a tennis ball for a successful detection. "Instead of using dogs to find narcotics, lets use them to find poop," Alice Whitelaw of Working Dogs for Conservation, said. Only one in 1,000 dogs have what it takes to become a detection dog. The Three Forks Mont.-based research group uses dogs to search for everything from invasive species to noxious weeds to rare animal scat to illegal snares used by poachers in Africa. Five Montana wildlife biologists came together in 2000 with a new idea to respond to a growing demand for non-invasive ways to do research. Whitelaw, co-founder and director of programs for WDC, and her colleagues were not disappointed with the results, as testing showed the dogs were successful at finding scat 90 percent of the time. >> Read the Full Article

Forest conservation could reduce malaria transmission

Preserving the biodiversity of tropical forests could have the added benefit of cutting the spread of malaria, according to a new study. The finding contradicts the traditional view that clearing native forest for agriculture curbs malaria transmission in the Amazon rainforest. >> Read the Full Article

A new tool against illegal logging: tree DNA technology goes mainstream

The role of tree DNA tracking is increasing in the fight against illegal logging as evidenced by prosecution cases in USA and Germany. Modern DNA technology offers a unique opportunity: you could pinpoint the origin of your table at home and track down if the trees it was made from were illegally obtained. Each wooden piece of furniture comes with a hidden natural barcode that can tell its story from a sapling in a forest all the way to your living room. >> Read the Full Article

Gastric Cancer Bacteria Cause

Numerous epidemiologic studies have shown that a diet high in salt is associated with an increased risk of gastric cancer. Now Timothy L. Cover and colleagues of Vanderbilt University show that high dietary salt combined with infection by the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori greatly increases the risk of cancer. The study was published ahead of print in the journal Infection and Immunity. Stomach cancer, or gastric cancer, refers to cancer arising from any part of the stomach. Stomach cancer causes about 800,000 deaths worldwide per year. In the study, the researchers infected Mongolian gerbils with H. pylori. One set of gerbils received a regular diet; the other, a high salt diet. At the end of the experiment the researchers analyzed the animals' stomach tissues. Every animal on the high salt diet developed cancer, compared with just 58 percent of those on the regular diet. It appears development of gastric cancer required the presence of a particular bacterial oncoprotein, known as CagA, which is produced by H. pylori. Gastric cancer did not develop in animals on the high salt diet that were infected with a mutant H. pylori which did not produce CagA >> Read the Full Article

Be Sure to Eat Some Berries Today!

Adding more color to your diet in the form of berries is encouraged by many nutrition experts. The protective effect of berries against inflammation has been documented in many studies. Diets supplemented with blueberries and strawberries have also been shown to improve behavior and cognitive functions in stressed young rats. To evaluate the protective effects of berries on brain function, specifically the ability of the brain to clear toxic accumulation, researchers from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and University of Maryland Baltimore County recently fed rats a berry diet for 2 months and then looked at their brains after irradiation, a model for accelerated aging. All of the rats were fed berries 2 months prior to radiation and then divided into two groups- one was evaluated after 36 hours of radiation and the other after 30 days. >> Read the Full Article

US Greenhouse Gas Emissions are Down

Anthropogenic US greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) amounted to a CO2-equivalent 6,702.3 million metric tons in 2011, down 1.6 percent from 2010 and 6.9 percent below 2005 levels. Longer term, US GHG emissions have increased at an annual average rate of 0.4 percent since 1990, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 18th annual US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks (Inventory) report, which was released April 15. A decrease in the carbon intensity of fuels used in electricity generation due to increased use of natural gas as opposed to coal, a "significant increase in hydropower" generation, and "relatively mild winter conditions, especially in the South Atlantic Region of the US" were the main factors underlying the drop in national GHG emissions in 2011, according to the EPA’s "The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2011." >> Read the Full Article