• Achieving a Sustainable Food System with Organic Farming

    Despite a slight decline between 2009 and 2010, since 1999 the global land area farmed organically has expanded more than threefold to 37 million hectares, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). Regions with the largest certified organic agricultural land in 2010 were Oceania, including Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island nations (12.1 million hectares); Europe (10 million hectares); and Latin America (8.4 million hectares), write report authors Catherine Ward and Laura Reynolds. >> Read the Full Article
  • Iron and Life and Volcanic Ash

    In 2010, there was a large volcanic eruption spewing tons of ash into the atmosphere and into the sea. The ash caused major flight delays as well as posing potential health hazards. Nevertheless, the Icelandic volcano's ash plume resulted in the oceans absorbing more carbon dioxide (CO2) than usual, say scientists. In about a third of the global ocean, the abundance of life is limited by a lack of biologically available iron. The supply of iron to a region that is depleted in this important nutrient can stimulate algal productivity, and can result in a temporary boom in biological activity. For much of the surface ocean, the wind-borne transport of iron-rich dust and the upwelling of nutrient-filled water are the normal major sources of iron. >> Read the Full Article
  • Happy World Water Day!

    All across the globe, communities are celebrating International World Water Day and according the UN's World Water Day website, over 450 events have been planned this year! This year's theme is in part a reflection of the International Year of Water Cooperation. The day is also dedicated to the theme of cooperation that is emphasized concerning using water as a resource. Not only is the environment heavily dependent on water, but as a basic human need, good management of water sources is crucial to our own livelihood. In correlation with this environmental holiday, we are encouraged to promote water cooperation and do our part in protecting one of Earth's most valuable resources as this year marks the 10th anniversary of the celebration that was recommended during the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development. So in celebration of today, we are urging our readers to limit your water use! >> Read the Full Article
  • 8 Frogs Discovered in 1 Sanctuary

    Two surveys in the mountainous forests of Sri Lank's Peak Wilderness Sanctuary have uncovered eight new species of frogs, according to a massive new paper in the Journal of Threatened Taxa. While every year over a hundred new amphibians are discovered, eight new discoveries in a single park is especially notable. Sri Lanka is an amphibian-lovers paradise with well over 100 described species, most of which are endemic, i.e. found only on the small island country. Unfortunately the country has also seen more frog extinctions than anywhere else, and seven of the eight new species are already thought to be Critically Endangered. >> Read the Full Article
  • Redfield's Ratio Refuted

    The Redfield ratio has been a fundamental feature in understanding the biogeochemical cycles of the oceans and has been used since 1934 when oceanographer Alfred Redfield found that the elemental composition of marine organic matter is constant across all regions. By analyzing samples of marine biomass, Redfield found that the stoichiometric ratios of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus remain consistent with a ratio of 106:16:1 in ocean regions. However, according to new work by UC Irvine and other researchers, models of carbon dioxide in the world's oceans need to be revised. >> Read the Full Article
  • German Research Institute Drops Canadian Tar Sands Project

    The Helmholtz-Association of German Research Centres has just backed out of a CAN$25 million research project funded by the Canadian government that would study sustainable solutions for tar sands pollution. Canada is home to the world's third largest crude reserves in the form of tar sands. Tar sands are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit and are considered part of the world's oil reserves as new technology can extract oil from these sands. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Looming Threat of Water Scarcity

    Some 1.2 billion people—almost a fifth of the world—live in areas of physical water scarcity, while another 1.6 billion face what can be called economic water shortage. The situation is only expected to worsen as population growth, climate change, investment and management shortfalls, and inefficient use of existing resources restrict the amount of water available to people, according to Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). It is estimated that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, with almost half of the world living in conditions of water stress. Water scarcity has several definitions. Physical scarcity occurs when there is not enough water to meet demand; its symptoms include severe environmental degradation, declining groundwater, and unequal water distribution. Economic water scarcity occurs when there is a lack of investment and proper management to meet the demand of people who do not have the financial means to use existing water sources; the symptoms in this case normally include poor infrastructure.Large parts of Africa suffer from economic water scarcity. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Red-Dead water conveyer can avoid a dead end

    The Red-Dead canal could take a small step forward in light of projected environmental impacts and other constraints, says Batir Wardam. After a delay of more than six months, the World Bank has finally released the final drafts of the feasibility and environmental assessment studies for the controversial Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance project, designed to channel some 1.2 billion cubic metres of water 180 kilometres from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. >> Read the Full Article
  • The First Oxygen Poor World Ocean

    A research team led by biogeochemists at the University of California, Riverside has filled in a billion-year gap in our understanding of conditions in the early ocean during a critical time in the history of life on Earth. Over time, the planet cooled and formed a solid crust, allowing liquid water to exist on the surface. The first life forms appeared between 3.8 and 3.5 billion years ago. Photosynthetic life appeared around 2 billion years ago, enriching the atmosphere with oxygen. Life remained mostly small and microscopic until about 580 million years ago, when complex multicellular life arose. It is now well accepted that appreciable oxygen first accumulated in the atmosphere about 2.4 to 2.3 billion years ago. It is equally well accepted that the build-up of oxygen in the ocean may have lagged the atmospheric increase by well over a billion years, but the details of those conditions have long been elusive because of the patchiness of the ancient rock record. >> Read the Full Article
  • Genetic Study of Brown Bear Population Reveals Remarkable Similarities to Polar Bears

    A new genetic study of polar bears and brown bears led by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz has overturned prevailing ideas about the evolutionary history of the two species. Brown bears and polar bears are closely related and known to produce fertile ursid hybrids. Previous studies suggested that past hybridization had resulted in all polar bears having genes that came from brown bears. But new research indicates that episodes of gene flow between the two species occurred only in isolated populations and did not affect the larger polar bear population, which remains free of brown bear genes. >> Read the Full Article