• Mexican trial of GM maize stirs debate

    [MEXICO CITY] Mexico has authorised a field trial of genetically modified (GM) maize that could lead to commercialisation of the crop, sparking debate about the effects on the country's unique maize biodiversity. >> Read the Full Article
  • Electric Cars

    Will electric cars ever become the common way to drive? What is needed is an infrastructure that allows easy recharging of the vehicle (such as gasoline stations are for the internal combustion engine). There are two key barriers to plug-ins: first, the current battery technology is very expensive, adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a plug-in. Next, many well-established sectors must change to accommodate plug-ins. Consumers must learn the pros and cons of a plug-in lifestyle, and a new way of valuing upfront costs against operational savings. Utilities must learn to manage a large and mobile load. Cities, retailers, and other businesses must incorporate a new infrastructure of charge spots. All these players must build a new system of connectivity in order to line up charging times, billing, and consumer preferences. >> Read the Full Article
  • Earth Day 2011

    When is Earth Day? In many ways it should be every day but officially it is the anniversary of the first formal celebration on April 22, 1970. An estimated 20 million Americans wearing bell-bottoms and gas masks, gathered to voice their concerns about the deterioration of the environment. Earth Day is celebrated by no one central authority or government. Many different organizations (public, private and individuals) supply personal initiative to the celebration. The closest to a general or national governmental response was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on April 16 and 17 on the National Mall. With more than 40 interactive exhibits, kids and adults can have eco-fun with hands on activities, art, music and storytelling with special guests. Special guests include Marcus McNeill from the San Diego Chargers, Madieu Williams from the Minnesota Vikings, and Olympic track star Michael Walton. Visitors learnt how to protect their own health and the environment in which they live. >> Read the Full Article
  • Incredible rites of passage: Scarred for life, new from BBC Earth

    With a dangerous reputation, crocodiles would not be the first animal you would associate with mental and physical strengthening. Surprisingly, the people of Papau New Guinea have a connection between man and beast that marks a boys journey into adulthood. Many traditional celebrations that accompany events like birth, the start of adolescence, marriage, and death are richly integrated with the use of natural materials; such as feather, skin and bone. But when an occasion as serious and important as the coming of age beckons, the rituals connection between cause and effect must reflect this intensity. Many inhabitants of the South Pacific islands practice some form of physical transformation during male adolescence. The sacred act of scarring which people of the Solomon Islands practice can make rituals such as ceremonial hair cutting, and being cast into the wilderness for a short period seem relatively less challenging. For decades, tribes have used the tradition of scarification to mature their young boys into men. For a number of weeks, the boys psychological as well as physical barriers are pushed with consistent verbal taunts as well as public humiliations. However their discipline is yet to be tested to its breaking point. >> Read the Full Article
  • New from BBC Earth: Human Planet

    Human Planet has arrived: The first natural history series to ever focus solely on human behavior. With a phenomenal collection of over 80 stories from over 70 locations around the world, the lens has been breathtakingly turned on one of the most successful species on the planet...Humankind. Bringing together the same fantastic program making as seen in the award winning Planet Earth, and widely-acclaimed blockbuster LIFE and The Blue Planet. The BBC has again teamed up with Discovery Channel to reveal and examine the amazingly complex relationship of humankind and nature in the modern day: Through the eyes of those who have learned to adapt and survive in some of the most unforgiving environments on earth. Heralded by the national press such as The Telegraph as being "like nothing you've ever seen before", this fascinating series made by documentary makers with over 50 years natural history experience, brings home the message that human's relationship with nature is still very much alive and well. This landmark series that weaves stories never told before on television will premiere on the Discovery Channel on Sunday April 10, 17 and 24 at 8 p.m. (EST) with two episodes each night. Human Planet will then arrive on DVD and Blu-ray on April 26, just two days following the last broadcast. >> Read the Full Article
  • Vietnam creates reserve for newly-discovered, nearly-extinct mammal, the saola

    The Vietnam government and local people have approved a Saola Natural Reserve to protect one of the world's most endangered—and most elusive—mammals. Only discovered by the outside world in 1992, the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) inhabits the lush forests of the Annamite Mountains. No one knows how many saola remain, but it has been classified as Critically Endangered as it is likely very few. >> Read the Full Article
  • Diisocyanates

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released action plans to address the potential health risks of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), toluene diisocyanate (TDI), and related compounds. Americans may be exposed to these chemicals when they are used in certain applications such as spray foam insulation, sealing concrete or finishing floors. The plans identify a range of actions the agency is considering under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act. Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is a highly-effective and widely used insulation and air sealant material. However, exposures to its key ingredient, isocyanates such as MDI, and other SPF chemicals in vapors, aerosols, and dust during and after installation can cause adverse health effects. >> Read the Full Article
  • Solution to nuclear waste storage dilemma?

    Community officials in southeast New Mexico want to expand a nuclear-waste storage facility deep inside an ancient salt bed to play a bigger role in handling spent fuel from U.S. reactors, a problem now under the spotlight due to the Japanese nuclear crisis. After years of delay, the government terminated a plan for a permanent nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Operators at 104 U.S. reactors are storing used fuel rods, which remain radioactive for years, in pools of water and dry cask storage facilities in 30 states. The largest risk in the United States from the Fukushima event is "overpacking of the spent-fuel pools," said John Heaton, a former state representative from Eddy County, New Mexico, who supports expanded use of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near the town of Carlsbad. >> Read the Full Article
  • Wolves Taken Off the US Endangered Species List

    For the first time ever, the US Congress has removed an animal from the Endangered Species List, a process typically done by a federal, non-political, science-based agency. The action by the US Congress sets a new precedent for altering the Endangered Species List based on political influence, enraging environmental groups. The removal would take effect in two western states that have known issues with wolves: Montana and Idaho. Wolves would now be managed by each state’s wildlife agency, inevitably leading to commercial hunting. >> Read the Full Article
  • Tigers could reappear in Kazakhstan under new plan

    WWF-Russia, together with the government and experts of the Republic of Kazakhstan announced today a new programme to return tigers to the region. The plan seeks to relocate Amur tigers from the Russian Far East to suitable habitat in Kazakhstan near the delta of the Ili River, south of Balkhash Lake. >> Read the Full Article