• Which emits more CO2, corn fields or home lawns?

    More carbon dioxide is released from residential lawns than corn fields according to a new study. And much of the difference can likely be attributed to soil temperature. The data, from researchers at Elizabethtown College, suggest that urban heat islands may be working at smaller scales than previously thought. These findings provide a better understanding of the changes that occur when agricultural lands undergo development and urbanization to support growing urban populations. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ladybugs used as natural pest control inside Mall of America

    Why is it that we swat away every other bug that happens to land or crawl on us, but when a ladybug finds us, most of us observe it, count its spots, and maybe even blow it away and make a wish? Ladybugs have become popularized in children’s stories and in popular media, so we tend to have a positive perception of these coccinellids being a cute and harmless bug. But another thing that these bugs are known for is being a predator of aphids. >> Read the Full Article
  • Kudzu Bugs May Be More Dangerous to Soybean Crops than Previously Thought

    Many of us know kudzu as the invasive species that grows so rapidly it can destroy valuable forests by preventing trees from getting enough sunlight. Well now we have another "kudzu" species to be worried about – the kudzu bug. Also known as Megacopta cribraria, the kudzu bug is native to India and China, where it is an agricultural pest of beans and other legumes. After first being detected in Georgia in 2009, the kudzu bug has since expanded its territory as far north as Virginia. And according to new research from North Carolina State University, the kudzu bug may be able to expand to other parts of the country. >> Read the Full Article
  • Earth Day - Hollywood Style

    For years, Hollywood has celebrated Earth Day in order to raise awareness about environmental issues and to strike up a memorable dialogue about sustainable practices. And the film studios’ embrace of Earth Day has only strengthened over time. From PSAs to Paramount’s new micro-turbines, we take a look at the industry’s dedication to spotlighting one of the most important advocacy dates on the calendar. In 1990, the holiday got a pretty big boost from Hollywood when Time Warner called on some of their favorite talent to hammer home proactive things Americans could do to reduce their footprint on the planet. (Our favorites? A pony-tailed Kevin Costner teaching Meryl Streep how to recycle and Neil Patrick Harris as Doogie Howser giving a press conference about the health of his patient, "Mother Earth.") But in 2013, the film business's efforts have far exceeded PSA productions, and the good news is that a lot of progressive practices like electric car fueling stations, composting, a ban on plastic bags in commissaries, and required carbon emission reporting have become all but de rigueur on most major lots. As each of the main studios shoot to achieve "100% sustainable" status in the coming years, the pressure is on to determine creative ways to be the first to get there, and then some. In honor of Earth Day, we take a look at some of the ways Hollywood is committed to 'greening' up their practices: >> Read the Full Article
  • Be Sure to Eat Some Berries Today!

    Adding more color to your diet in the form of berries is encouraged by many nutrition experts. The protective effect of berries against inflammation has been documented in many studies. Diets supplemented with blueberries and strawberries have also been shown to improve behavior and cognitive functions in stressed young rats. To evaluate the protective effects of berries on brain function, specifically the ability of the brain to clear toxic accumulation, researchers from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and University of Maryland Baltimore County recently fed rats a berry diet for 2 months and then looked at their brains after irradiation, a model for accelerated aging. All of the rats were fed berries 2 months prior to radiation and then divided into two groups- one was evaluated after 36 hours of radiation and the other after 30 days. >> Read the Full Article
  • Nitrogen Fertilizer Dangers

    My first reaction when I heard details of this week's deadly fertilizer explosion in Texas was horror. My second thought was, "Maybe I shouldn't have pushed to change that headline." National Geographic magazine just published in its May issue my article about how nitrogen fertilizer has shaped our planet. The article, with Peter Essick's beautiful pictures, describes fertilizer's critical role in providing our food, but also its toll on water, air and wildlife. When the article went up online, the headline read, at first, "The Curse of Fertilizer." I didn't like it. It seemed only half of the story. I complained, and the headline soon changed to "A Mixed Blessing" — just as news broke that the West Fertilizer Co. plant had caught fire and exploded, destroying much of the small town of West, Texas. The blast killed at least a dozen people — including emergency workers who were trying to fight the fire — and injured more than 100 others. >> Read the Full Article
  • Green 'Khutbah' Muslim Sermon Campaign

    Muslims have been asked to encourage their spiritual leaders, imams, to devote this Friday Khutbah or sermon (19th April 2013) to celebrate the blessings, graces and beauty of all of Allah’s creation. Muaz Nasir from Khaleafa who is leading the effort is also hoping to raise awareness amongst Muslim of the environmental challenges facing humanity. "The 'Green Khutbah Campaign' is aiming to challenge Muslims to become stewards of the environment by making changes to their daily routines," explains Nasir. "Although the evidence of environmental damage is stronger than ever, the public is starting to tune out due to the recent economic crisis and a lack of political leadership. But Muslims cannot tune out from the environmental damage – tuning out would mean that we are disregarding our moral responsibility to Allah's creation." >> Read the Full Article
  • Study Suggests Community Gardening May Produce Health Benefits

    There are many benefits to community gardens. From greening urban ecosystems, to offering education and cultural opportunities, community gardens provide a venue for people to come together and stimulate social interaction. For individuals, these gardens also provide a venue for exercise, food production, and improved diets. These potential benefits have lead to a new study that reveals those who participate in community gardening have a significantly lower body mass index and have lower odds of being overweight or obese compared to their non-gardening neighbors. >> Read the Full Article
  • Lettuce Turnip the Radish Beet and Rocket

    Permaculture is the branch of ecological design, which promotes development of sustainable and self-sufficient natural ecosystems. Focusing on twelve tenets, or design principles, that center on taking care of the earth while setting limits on consumption and redistributing surplus, the movement has yet to gain mainstream scientific acceptance. However, with help from a new album, "Permaculture – A Rhymer's Manual," Formidable Vegetable Sound System hopes to bring attention to permaculture and it's principles through their unique musical stylings. Globetrotting permaculture troubadour, Charlie Mgee has composed an entire album about sustainability, a topic most artists wouldn't think of touching without sounding too corny or too righteous. But who knew this new genre of edutainment (education and entertainment) would catch on? And who knew songs about permaculture could sound so cool and refreshing? >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate Change in the San Joaquin Valley and Our Future Food Supply

    The San Joaquin Valley is North America's most valuable farming region. The area’s crops such as carrots and tomatoes are part of large companies' supply chains. High-value crops such as stone fruit, pistachios, almonds, table grapes and pomegranates are shipped across the United States, Canada and overseas. And while this basin between the Sierra Nevada mountains and Coastal Ranges is a bastion of agribusiness, the area is awash with many family-owned farms–many of which grow the "local produce" Bay Area and southern California residents score at weekend farmers' markets. But climate change is already having its impact on the San Joaquin Valley. >> Read the Full Article