• A "Win-Win" Situation for Acid Mine Drainage

    Acid Mine Drainage is one of the greatest environmental hazards that is associated with mining processes and degrades more than 4,500 stream miles in the mid-Atlantic region of the US alone. When water flows through abandoned and active coal mines, a reaction occurs between the water and the rocks containing sulfur bearing minerals. This reaction has the ability to contaminate drinking water, disrupt aquatic plants and animal reproduction, and corrode parts of infrastructure due to the net acidity of the drainage. However, according to a new study by the US Geological Survey at Leetown Science Center, a byproduct resulting from the treatment of acid mine drainage may actually have a second life in helping clean waters coming from agricultural and wastewater discharges. >> Read the Full Article
  • Study Proclaims the Arrival of Peak Farmland

    Peak Farmland is a term used to indicate that the amount of land needed to grow crops worldwide is at a peak, meaning, no new farmland will have to be created. A group of experts has even said that an existing area of farmland more than twice the size of France will be able to return to its natural state by the year 2060. The area is also equivalent to all the arable land now in use in China. This is due to rising yields and slower population growth. Their report conflicts with a United Nations study which states that more cropland will be needed to stem hunger and avert price spikes as the global population pushes past 7 billion. >> Read the Full Article
  • Some Amazon Tree Species Found to Have Existed for Millions of Years

    Some Amazon rainforest tree species are more than eight million years old found a genetic study published in the December 2012 edition of Ecology and Evolution. Christopher Dick of the University of Michigan and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Simon Lewis of the University of Leeds, Mark Maslin of University College London, and Eldredge Bermingham of STRI analyzed the age of 12 widely distributed Amazon tree species. They found that nine of the species emerged prior to the Pliocene Epoch some 2.6 million years ago, seven dated to the Miocene Epoch (5.6 million years ago), and three were more than eight million years old. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Incredible Elephants of the Sahara

    African elephants are known for hanging around rivers and mashes in the savanna and the edge of jungles. However, their range actually extends well into the north, all the way up to the Sahara desert. In Mali’s Gourma region, around the city of Timbuktu, there exists a species of desert-adapted African elephant (Loxodonta Africana). Every year, they undertake an amazing migration across an area of 32,000 square kilometers (over 12,000 square miles) in search of food and water. This annual journey was recently recorded by researchers from the group Save the Elephants, University of British Columbia, and Oxford University, who attached GPS collars to nine of the elephants and tracking them by satellite. Their report documents the elephants’ record-breaking trek to survive in the largest and harshest elephant range in the world. >> Read the Full Article
  • Lawsuit Targets $3 Billion in U.S. Funding for Fossil Fuel Project in Australia's Great Barrier Reef

    Conservation groups filed a lawsuit today challenging the U.S. Export-Import Bank's nearly $3 billion in financing for a massive Australian fossil fuel facility in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Construction and operation of the liquefied natural gas facility will threaten sea turtles, dugongs and many other protected marine species, as well as the Great Barrier Reef itself. >> Read the Full Article
  • Breweries Jump on the Sustainability Bandwagon

    If there is one thing that can unite people across the political spectrum, beer is probably second only to puppies. That's why a new report from the New York-based think tank, A Clean Future, caught our eye. The report is called Leading Sustainability Practices in the Brewing Industry, and on one level, it simply provides a thorough rundown of sustainable practices that have been mainstreamed into the brewing industry, from small craft breweries to global giants like AB-InBev (formerly Anheuser-Busch). >> Read the Full Article
  • Increasing Urban Populations May Lead to More Slums and Health Issues

    The world's urban population is expected to grow by 2.6 billion people between 2011 and 2050, bringing the total number of urbanites to 6.3 billion, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service. This urban expansion will be especially burdensome for developing countries, where 82 percent of the world's population currently lives, writes report author Grant Potter. Although the developing world is less urbanized than the industrial world in relative terms, developing countries are home to an estimated 1.54 billion more people. >> Read the Full Article
  • 2012 Marks Extraordinary Year for US Wildfires

    The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) is the nation's support center for wild land firefighting and provides up-to-date reports on current forest fires. While the NIFC has been collecting data for the past 50 years, records maintained by the center and by NASA both indicate that 2012 was an extraordinary year for wildfires in the United States. NIFC statistics show that more than 9.1 million acres had burned as of December 7, 2012—the third highest total in the record that dates back to 1960. >> Read the Full Article
  • Recovery of Atlantic Forest depends on land-use histories

    The intensity of land-use influences the speed of regeneration in tropical rainforests, says new research. Tropical rainforests are a priority for biodiversity conservation; they are hotspots of endemism but also some of the most threatened global habitats. The Atlantic Forest stands out among tropical rainforests, hosting an estimated 8,000 species of endemic plants and more than 650 endemic vertebrates. However, only around 11 percent of these forests now remain. The quality of what remains is also a concern: 32 to 40 percent of remnants are small areas of secondary forest. >> Read the Full Article
  • Fisheries Commission Ignores Advice for Ending Overfishing

    A five-day meeting on fisheries ended last week (6 December) amid complaints that big fishing nations have blocked efforts to curb tuna overfishing and ignored scientific advice. The accusations were made following the ninth regular session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which is the governing body for an international fisheries agreement that seeks to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish, such as tuna, in parts of the Pacific Ocean. >> Read the Full Article