• Increased Monsoon Rainfall Expected with Global Warming

    When we hear about monsoons, we often think about the rainy phase of a season usually occurring in tropical climates. Even though monsoons are associated with much more than just rainfall, as global warming occurs, these complex systems will have several repercussions for precipitation. For example, with warming air, there is potential for a higher holding capacity for rain. In addition, any cooling in the higher atmosphere can change current air pressures thus affecting rainfall patterns. This has consequences of increased flooding, implications to national water supply, and a potential loss of agricultural productivity due to crop failure for countries across the globe. >> Read the Full Article
  • Crop Yields

    According to the Malthusian theory of population, population increases in a geometrical ratio, whereas food supply increases in an arithmetic ratio. He was wrong because technology pushed improvements in yield at a far faster pace than population could grow. Still the idea is simple: There is only so much food that can be produced and if population grows then some one will starve Crop yields worldwide are not increasing quickly enough to support estimated global needs in 2050, according to a study published June 19 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Deepak Ray and colleagues from the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota. >> Read the Full Article
  • Wildlife Migration Detours

    Migration is a strategy used by many mammals in order to take advantage of food, shelter, and water that vary with seasons. Interestingly, there is strong evidence that genetics plays a role in migratory behavior that animals inherit. Many species rely not only on their senses to help them navigate, but they can also use mental maps to guide them to where they are supposed to go. But with considerable human development, how are animals supposed to find their way? According to research conducted by the University of Washington, half a dozen areas could experience heavier migration traffic compared with the average species-movement across the Western Hemisphere in response to a warming climate. >> Read the Full Article
  • Hawaii's Fishermen: Scapegoats for Forces Outside their Control

    Climate change is affecting fisheries in the Western Pacific and around the world, but a host of other factors, including land use, are threatening fisheries and the health and integrity of marine ecosystems. Aiming for sustainable fisheries, marine policymakers, resource managers, fishermen and other stakeholders are increasingly looking to take a more holistic, integrated approach to fisheries management, as evidenced during the latest meeting of the Western Regional Fishery Management Council (WRFMC) meeting, which was held in Oahu. Often blamed for overexploiting fish stocks, local fishermen in Hawaii are keenly aware of external impacts on the health and integrity of marine ecosystems and fish populations. At the latest WRFMC meeting in Honolulu, they argued in support of taking a more comprehensive ecosystems management approach, specifically zooming in on how land use and associated runoff from cities, agriculture and industry are harming marine ecosystems and fisheries. >> Read the Full Article
  • Aquatic Environment Biodiversity Threatened by Pesticides

    The use of pesticides have been debated for some time now, as research indicates their use can have a negative effect on the environment. As an agent meant to prevent, destroy or mitigate any pest, pesticides target unwanted plants and animals that can alter ecosystems, cause nuisance, or spread disease. Besides potentially being toxic to humans and other animals, new research conducted by an international team of scientists has revealed that pesticides are responsible for reducing regional biodiversity of invertebrates by up to 42 percent. >> Read the Full Article
  • East vs West - Surface Water Rights

    There are two doctrines that govern surface water rights in the U.S. — one for the West and one for the East. The riparian doctrine covers the East. "[Under] the riparian doctrine, if you live close to the river or to that water body [or] lake, you have reasonable rights to use that water," says Venki Uddameri, a professor and the director of water resources at Texas Tech University. The Western U.S. uses the prior appropriation doctrine. "As people started exploring the West and started looking for water for agriculture and mining, there was a need to move water away from the rivers," Uddameri tells Jacki Lyden, host of weekends on All Things Considered. People wanted a claim to water but often lived too far away from a river for the riparian doctrine to make any sense. So the prior appropriation doctrine was devised. >> Read the Full Article
  • How can agriculture best adapt to changing climate?

    Whether it’s swapping coffee for cocoa in Central America or bracing for drought in Sri Lanka with a return to ancient water storage systems, findings from a new report from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) chart a path for farmers to adapt to climate shifts despite uncertainties about what growing conditions will look like decades from now. As this week's UN climate talks in Bonn continue to sideline a formal deal on agriculture, the study, Addressing uncertainty in adaptation planning for agriculture, which was published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS), finds that the cloudy aspects of climate forecasts are no excuse for a paralysis in agriculture adaptation policies. "Climate projections will always have a degree of uncertainty, but we need to stop using uncertainty as a rationale for inaction," said Sonja Vermeulen, head of research at CCAFS and the lead author of the study. "Even when our knowledge is incomplete, we often have robust grounds for choosing best-bet adaptation actions and pathways, by building pragmatically on current capacities in agriculture and environmental management, and using projections to add detail and to test promising options against a range of scenarios." >> Read the Full Article
  • Panama expects benefits from world's first GM salmon

    Panama's researchers have played a key role in creating a rapidly growing salmon that may soon become the world's first commercially sold genetically modified (GM) animal. The US's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled the consumption of GM salmon to be as safe as conventional Atlantic salmon, and is now analyzing public comments on its environmental impact as the final part of the approval process. If the FDA permits the transgenic salmon to be imported for human consumption — which the firm that developed the fish hopes will be granted this year — the research station in Panama that is studying the GM salmon would switch to growing it for the US market. >> Read the Full Article
  • One Man's Trash is Another Man's Pay Dirt

    It is, unfortunately, society's nature to discard the unwanted or forgotten. This tendency is on display across the globe, from slums of mega-cities to undernourished children in rural villages to the ugly endangered creatures that never receive attention. Nowhere, however, is this tendency more apparent than in our trash. We accumulate so much unwanted stuff that each city-dweller throws away an average of 1.2 kilograms of municipal solid waste per day. An individual's trash puts all those unwanted items on display, whether it is an old love letter, a broken glass, or a half-eaten ham and cheese sandwich. >> Read the Full Article
  • Vegetable Oil is OK

    With all the talk about the virtues of Olive Oil, you might get the idea that common, inexpensive vegetable oil is not good for you. A new study has shown that consuming vegetable oil has some health benefits! A typical American consumes approximately 3 or more tablespoons of vegetable oil each day. Vegetable oils, like those from soy, corn and canola, are a significant source of calories and are rich in linoleic acid (LA), which is an essential nutrient. Since the 1970s, researchers have known that LA helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, and for decades, scientists have known that consuming LA can help lower the risk of heart disease. However, some experts have been claiming recently that Americans might be getting too much of a good thing. A new study from the University of Missouri contradicts that claim. >> Read the Full Article