• Who is exposed to more pesticides, rural or urban dwellers?

    Who has higher levels of pesticide exposure, New Yorkers or rural dwellers near commercial farms? The answer might surprise you: for at least two classes of pesticide, New Yorkers are actually more exposed, despite the fact that we associate pesticide use with the application of such chemicals to crops to protect them from destruction during growing and harvest season. Research on the subject has significant implications for pest management and environmental health. Where are all these pesticides in New York coming from, and what can we do about it? >> Read the Full Article
  • Respect the Wolves

    Wolves play an integral role in maintaining the health of wildlife and ecosystems, and indirectly, livestock and public health. Recognition of this role and its ecological ramifications calls for greater respect, protection and increased numbers of wolves in appropriate habitats across North America. Current federal and state government initiatives, backed by diverse vested interests, are poised to reduce the nation's existing wolf population, which is contrary to the directives of sound science, reason and the public interest. >> Read the Full Article
  • Microbes vs. Genetic Modification

    Adapting microbes that dramatically increase crop yields while reducing demand for fertilizers and pesticides through selective breeding or genetic engineering could be cheaper and more flexible than genetically modifying plants themselves, says an author of a report. Microbes, such as beneficial bacteria, fungi and viruses, could be produced locally for smallholder farmers to significantly improve food security and incomes in developing regions, believes Ann Reid, director of the American Academy of Microbiology and co-author of a report published by the organization. >> Read the Full Article
  • Atmospheric aerosols and how they influence climate

    Climate models are evolving, and are getting more accurate, but they are still incomplete. Our atmosphere is very complex, and there are factors that even current models don't address, or address with an in-complete knowledge of the physical processes involved. This leads to inaccuracies that create uncertainty in the results of climatic projections. Aerosols are an important part of atmospheric dynamics, and their mechanisms of formation are not fully understood. University of Leeds experts have helped scientists get a step closer to understanding how aerosol particles are formed in the atmosphere and the effect these particles have on our climate. Working with scientists from the CLOUD experiment at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), in Geneva, climate change experts from the University have shown that amines – atmospheric vapours closely related to ammonia, largely derived from activities such as animal husbandry – combine with sulphuric acid to form highly stable aerosol particles at rates similar to those observed in the lower atmosphere. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate models need to get small

    Better observational data and geographically precise climate models are needed to allow scientists to predict the effects of rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at a local level, says a major climate change report. Deficiencies in these areas prevent reliable temperature and rainfall predictions being made on a regional scale, according to the report published this week (30 September) by Working Group I of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). >> Read the Full Article
  • Australia and Canada Conservation

    At first glance, Australia and Canada could not be more different. They are separated by more than 7,500 miles (12,000 km). One country is known for its hot, dry lands and kangaroos, and the other is known for its cold, wet forests and caribou. But at a symposium at the International Congress for Conservation Biology last July, which I co-chaired with my colleague Barry Traill, who directs The Pew Charitable Trusts' conservation work in Australia, presenters explored some interesting similarities and new ideas in conservation approaches between Australia's Outback region and Canada's Boreal Forest region. One of the reasons Traill and I were interested in comparing these two areas is because both are among the global areas identified as having the smallest "human footprint"—areas with the fewest roads, least number of people and other human-related disturbances. Another is that science and scientists have played a major role in both countries in ensuring that policymakers and the public have a clear understanding of the likely consequences that different policies could have on the biodiversity and ecological values of a region. >> Read the Full Article
  • Government Shutdown Leaves Farm Bill on Table

    By now, you've probably heard that the US government has shutdown, as members of Congress have not been able to agree on a spending plan for the fiscal year. While big media topics include healthcare and fiscal issues, another item on the table is the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill officially expired as of October 1 and there is no agenda to extend or reauthorize the bill because of the standoff. Ironically, a handful of low-cost Farm Bill programs that could improve the health of Americans and save taxpayers billions in health care costs are among the political casualties. Daniel Z. Brito, senior Washington representative for the Union of Concerned Scientists' Food & Environment Program further explains the situation for farmers and consumers. >> Read the Full Article
  • Carbon credits from Mangrove preservation in Kenya

    A new initiative launched today will raise money for community projects in Kenya by protecting and restoring the country's dwindling mangrove forests. The plan is to sell carbon credits earned by preserving the mangrove swamps to companies and individuals aiming to offset their carbon emissions and improve their green credentials. The scientists behind the scheme hope it will bring in some $12,000 a year, around a third of which will fund projects in areas like education and clean water. The rest will cover the cost of protecting the mangroves, as well as planting new seedlings to replace lost trees. >> Read the Full Article
  • Bugging Iran

    Up until now, on a scale of 1 to 10, practical pest control management ranks about a "1" with regard to the availability of information on scale insects in Iran! Yet even the most basic tool for pest control management in Iran has been unavailable jeopardizing crop yields. Dr. Masumeh Moghaddam of the Iranian Research Institute of Plant Protection, Tehran has changed that by publishing the first ever detailed annotated checklist of the scale insects of Iran. >> Read the Full Article
  • Triassic Pollen

    Using two drilled core samples from northern Switzerland, researchers from the University of Zurich have unearthed flowering plant fossils dating back 240 million years. These are now the oldest known fossils of their kind. The pollen grains provide evidence that flowering plants evolved 100 million years earlier than previously thought. Researchers have described these as Angiosperm-like pollen and Afropollis from the Middle Triassic of the Termanic Basin. >> Read the Full Article