• You Could Be Eating Endangered Fish Without Even Realizing It

    When you go out for sushi or visit a seafood restaurant, how sure can you be that you’re really getting what you’ve ordered? Last week, Oceana released some shocking findings: Around the world, an average of one in five samples of seafood is mislabeled.

    The report examined 25,000 samples worldwide and reviewed more than 200 published studies from 55 different countries. Every continent was represented apart from Antarctica. The mislabeling was present in every part of the seafood supply chain, including retail, wholesale, distribution, import/export, packaging, processing, and landing.

    That’s bad news for many reasons – mislabeling makes dining dangerous for consumers (not all of these species are considered suitable for human consumption), and difficult for people who are trying to avoid mercury exposure or who simply want to dine more sustainably. In most cases, cheap fish were being passed off as more expensive varieties.

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  • Motivating Eco-Friendly Behaviors Depends on Cultural Values

    The specific cultural values of a country may determine whether concern about environmental issues actually leads individuals to engage in environmentally friendly behaviors, according to the new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

    The findings suggest that individual concern is more strongly associated with motivation to act in countries that espouse individualistic values, while social norms may be a stronger motivator in collectivistic societies.

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  • Thousands of Homes Keep Flooding, Yet They Keep Being Rebuilt Again

    The U.S. National Flood Insurance Program, which holds policies for more than 5 million homes, is $23 billion in debt after a string of natural disasters this century. As climate change further strains the program, analysts say it is time to shift its focus from rebuilding to mitigating risk.

    More than 2,100 properties across the U.S. enrolled in the National Flood Insurance Program have flooded and been rebuilt more than 10 times since 1978, according to a new analysis of insurance data by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). One home in Batchelor, Louisiana has flooded 40 times over the past four decades, receiving $428,379 in insurance payments. More than 30,000 properties in the program, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have flooded multiple times over the years. Those homes, known as “severe repetitive loss properties,” make up just 0.6 percent of federal flood insurance policies. But they account for 10.6 percent of the program’s claims — totaling $5.5 billion in payments.

    The new data illustrates the serious problems facing the nation’s flood insurance program. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which currently provides policies for more than 5 million American homes, is $23 billion in debt following a string of major natural disasters over the last decades, including as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

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  • NASA Monitors the 'New Normal' of Sea Ice

    This year’s melt season in the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas started with a bang, with a record low maximum extent in March and relatively rapid ice loss through May. The melt slowed down in June, however, making it highly unlikely that this year’s summertime sea ice minimum extent will set a new record.

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  • Nature and the Nurture of Aerosols

    You've seen it when flying into major cities the world over: a haze over the city. It is caused by aerosol particles, but scientists don't know all the details of the complex chemistry involved. At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Dr. Alla Zelenyuk and her team took on a specific part of that haze: originated from isoprene. After being released by the trees and shrubs, isoprene reacts in the atmosphere and becomes assorted chemicals, including IEPOX (isoprene epoxydiols). The team found that IEPOX is a major player in producing aerosols from isoprene and that particle size, certain coatings, and acidity influence how IEPOX behaves. 

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  • Melting ice sheet could expose frozen Cold War-era hazardous waste

    Climate change is threatening to expose hazardous waste at an abandoned camp thought to be buried forever in the Greenland Ice Sheet, new research out of York University has found.

    Camp Century, a United States military base built within the Greenland ice sheet in 1959, doubled as a top-secret site for testing the feasibility of deploying nuclear missiles from the Arctic during the Cold War. When the camp was decommissioned in 1967, its infrastructure and waste were abandoned under the assumption they would be entombed forever by perpetual snowfall.

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  • First evidence of sleep in flight

    For the first time, researchers have discovered that birds can sleep in flight. Together with an international team of colleagues, Niels Rattenborg from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen measured the brain activity of frigatebirds and found that they sleep in flight with either one cerebral hemisphere at a time or both hemispheres simultaneously. Despite being able to engage in all types of sleep in flight, the birds slept less than an hour a day, a mere fraction of the time spent sleeping on land. How frigatebirds are able to perform adaptively on such little sleep remains a mystery.

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  • Do eco-friendly wines taste better?

    t’s time to toast environmentally friendly grapes. A new UCLA study shows that eco-certified wine tastes better — and making the choice even easier, earlier research shows it’s often cheaper, too.

    Though consumers remain reluctant to spend more on wine from organic grapes, the new study from UCLA researchers shows that in blind taste-tests professional wine reviewers give eco-certified wines higher ratings than regular wines.

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  • Antarctic sea ice may be a source of mercury in Southern Ocean fish and birds

    New research has found methylmercury – a potent neurotoxin – in sea ice in the Southern Ocean.

    Published today in the journal Nature Microbiology, the results are the first to show that sea-ice bacteria can change mercury into methylmercury, a more toxic form that can contaminate the marine environment, including fish and birds.

    If ingested, methylmercury can travel to the brain, causing developmental and physical problems in foetuses, infants and children.

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  • Low Zika risk for travelers to Olympics in Brazil, study finds

    The Zika virus poses a negligible health threat to the international community during the summer Olympic Games that begin next month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, according to researchers at Yale School of Public Health (YSPH).

    In a worst-case scenario, an estimated 3 to 37 of the thousands of athletes, spectators, media, and vendors traveling to Rio for the Olympics will bring the Zika virus back to their home countries, the researchers concluded.

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