• Dams vs. Rivers

    A new 'State of the World's Rivers' database shows how the world's rivers have been impoverished by dams and their ecosystems devastated - and provides a valuable resource to help save river basins that remain in good health. International Rivers has launched 'The State of the World's Rivers', an interactive online database that illustrates the role that dams have played in impoverishing the health of the world's river basins. >> Read the Full Article
  • Catching Fog

    "This is one of the best beers that I have ever tried," says Andrés Barrera. My friend is enjoying a craft beer called Atrapaniebla — Spanish for fog catcher — an ale made with water condensed from mountain fog on two fog catchers. The microbrewery that produces it, located in Peña Blanca (some 360 kilometres north of Santiago, the Chilean capital), is one of the first Chilean enterprises to make use of fog-catching technology; others use it to water tomato and aloe vera crops. "Water from fog catchers has less nitrite and nitrate than the drinking water in the north of Chile, which is good for beer," says Miguel Ángel Carcuro, 29-year-old co-owner of the microbrewery that makes Atrapaniebla. Of course, while beer is nice, water is essential and fog catchers can be a great way to provide this sometimes scarce commodity. Carcuro's interest in this technology stems from teenage travels with his father, who showed him a hill above the bay of Chungungo, where there were the remains of fog catchers that had until recently provided water for 100 families. >> Read the Full Article
  • Drought Causes Western US to Rise

    Severe drought affecting the western United States in recent years is not only influencing water restrictions for residence and creating problems for crops and wildlife, but it's changing the landscape by causing land to rise up in elevation. >> Read the Full Article
  • Fracking's Chemical Cocktails

    Fracking is once again in trouble. Scientists have found that what gets pumped into hydrocarbon-rich rock as part of the hydraulic fracture technique to release gas and oil trapped in underground reservoirs may not be entirely healthy. Environmental engineer William Stringfellow and colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of the Pacific told the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco that they scoured databases and reports to compile a list of the chemicals commonly used in fracking. >> Read the Full Article
  • Study shows sunlight, not microbes dominate CO2 production in Arctic

    Just how much Arctic permafrost will thaw in the future and how fast heat-trapping carbon dioxide will be released from those warming soils is a topic of lively debate among climate scientists. To answer those questions, scientists need to understand the mechanisms that control the conversion of organic soil carbon into carbon dioxide gas. Until now, researchers believed that bacteria were largely responsible. >> Read the Full Article
  • Turning Jellyfish into Sustainable Medical Products

    In a United Nations report released in May, scientists worldwide were called upon to join the war on jellyfish. According to the report, jellyfish have overwhelmed the marine ecosystem as a result of the overfishing of more competitive species, consuming fish eggs and larvae of weaker specimens and creating what the report called a "vicious cycle." So how can this cycle be stopped? >> Read the Full Article
  • Arctic insects and spiders can survive colder temperatures than thought

    Arctic bugs can survive in frozen ground as cold as -27°C, scientists have revealed. It is the first time higher-order invertebrates such as spiders, flies and beetles have been found coping in direct exposure to such cold temperatures. Previous lows were between just -5°C and a little below -10°C. The research, published in the Journal of Thermal Biology, suggests they may be more resilient to climate change than first feared. >> Read the Full Article
  • When Forests Aren't Really Forests: The High Cost of Chile's Tree Plantaions

    At first glance, the statistics tell a hopeful story: Chile’s forests are expanding. According to Global Forest Watch, overall forest cover changes show approximately 300,000 hectares were gained between 2000 and 2013 in Chile’s central and southern regions. Specifically, 1.4 million hectares of forest cover were gained, while about 1.1 million hectares were lost. On the ground, however, a different scene plays out: monocultures have replaced diverse natural forests while Mapuche native protesters burn pine plantations, blockade roads and destroy logging equipment. At the crux of these two starkly contrasting narratives is the definition of a single word: “forest.” >> Read the Full Article
  • Toxic Algae Scare Prompts Backlash Against Farms

    What do a no-drink order in Toledo and a backlash against factory farming have in common? A lot, as it turns out. Residents of Ohio's fourth-largest city were advised for multiple days earlier this month to refrain from drinking their tap water because it had been contaminated by toxic algae. As residents struggled to deal with their contaminated water supply, the culprit behind the problem became readily apparent: factory farms. The Ohio Agriculture Advisory Council (OAAC) is proposing a regulatory crackdown that could forever change industrial farming practices in this Midwestern state. >> Read the Full Article
  • Plant Language

    A Virginia Tech scientist has discovered a potentially new form of plant communication, one that allows them to share an extraordinary amount of genetic information with one another. The finding by Jim Westwood, a professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, throws open the door to a new arena of science that explores how plants communicate with each other on a molecular level. It also gives scientists new insight into ways to fight parasitic weeds that wreak havoc on food crops in some of the poorest parts of the world. >> Read the Full Article