• Okinawa mozuku: The treasure under the sea

    Mozuku is a unique Okinawan seaweed. Scientifically known as Cladosiphon okamuranus, this alga is popular in Japanese cuisine, and it has been farmed for more than 35 years. The cultivation of this seaweed is a key element in the economy of Okinawa: in 2006, the Japanese Cabinet Office estimated a 20,000 ton production, with an economic value of billions of Yen. 99% of this seaweed is produced in Okinawa, almost entirely farmed by humans. When in 2015 the production dropped for causes related with the higher temperature of the ocean, political institutions and research centres started to coordinate in order to develop a strategy to preserve this Okinawan treasure.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • The double-edged sword of wildlife-friendly yards

    Hundreds of millions of birds are killed in collisions with windows each year in the U.S. alone, and although high-rise buildings tend to be the biggest individual culprits, the vast number of suburban homes across the continent means that even a few deaths per house add up fast. A new study in The Condor: Ornithological Applications examines the factors that affect window collision rates at homes and shows that yards that are more attractive to birds are also the sites of more collisions.

    Working with Alberta homeowners who collectively contributed more than 34,000 days' worth of collision data, Justine Kummer of the University of Alberta and her colleagues found that the presence of a bird feeder, whether a house was in an urban or rural area, and the height of the vegetation in the yard were the most important predictors of collisions. Of Alberta's 421 bird species, 53 were represented in the data, mostly common urban species.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Is your makeup killing sharks?

    Most animal lovers wouldn’t dream of harming an animal for fashion. Fur? No, thank you. Leather? I don’t think so. Yet they might be unknowingly killing sharks — and highly endangered kinds on top of that — for their beauty routine.

    Unbeknownst to most, one little ingredient in products like sunscreens, moisturizing lotions, lip balms, lipsticks and face creams is responsible for the death of over three million sharks annually.

    Killer ingredient

    “Squalene is a naturally occurring compound found in large quantities in the liver of sharks,” explains the shark protection group Shark Trust. “A sharks’ large oily liver helps to control its position in the water column, however many cosmetics companies use the oil (and an associated compound called squalane) as a base for their moisturizing and skin care creams, lipstick and gloss, as it is non-greasy and softens skin.”

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Why the Increase in Solar-Powered Schools?

    Out of the 125,000 K-12 schools in the United States, over 3,700 are running on solar power. Three-thousands of these schools installed their solar power systems within the past six years, as solar technology continues to become less expensive and more sophisticated.

    This trend in powering our schools reflects the growing recognition by district and state officials that photovoltaic electrical systems offer significant financial and environmental benefits. Here are four key reasons why more schools are making this transition.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Bright Lighting Encourages Healthy Food Choices

    Dining in dimly lit restaurants has been linked to eating slowly and ultimately eating less than in brighter restaurants, but does lighting also impact how healthfully we order?

    New research findings forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research illustrate that those dining in well-lit rooms are about 16-24% more likely to order healthy foods than those in dimly lit rooms. Furthermore, the researchers found evidence that this effect is due mainly to the level of diners’ alertness. “We feel more alert in brighter rooms and therefore tend to make more healthful, forward-thinking decisions,” explains lead author Dipayan Biswas, PhD, University of South Florida.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • The Great Green Wall of Africa

    Though a border wall with Mexico is currently a matter of serious discussion in the United States, the aim of which is to prevent the physical movement of people (with few other apparent “benefits”), some walls can actually bring together and preserve communities, rather than divide them.

    In only five years, the UN says, around 60 million Africans may be displaced as their land ceases to be arable, a potential humanitarian disaster the scale of which would be unprecedented. This would be devastating to a huge portion of the African continent not only ecologically and economically but socially as well.

    That’s where Africa’s ingenious Great Green Wall comes in.

    Experts at the United Nations say without action, desertification may claim two-thirds of Africa’s farmlands in under a decade. The Great Green Wall, however, was conceived as a wide-reaching strategy to halt Northern Africa’s rapidly advancing Sahara Desert.

    The Great Green Wall, once complete, will stretch an incredible 4,400 miles from Senegal in West Africa to the East African nation of Djibouti. Instead of bricks and mortar, the wall will be made of trees and other vegetation, including plants that can be eaten or used to create medicine.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Educating Consumers About Buying Sustainably

    Sustainability is a word tossed around much these days. But do consumers really care about buying sustainably? The answer is yes. More and more consumers are interested in sustainability, as surveys show.  A 2011 consumer survey by Nielsen found that 66 percent of socially-conscious consumers cited environmental sustainability as the most important issue from a list of 18 issues.

    So, how do you increase awareness of buying sustainably among consumers? The key is getting information to them. A study by Michigan State University researchers, published in 2014 in the Business and Economics Journal, looked at consumer awareness of fair trade information. The researchers found that informed consumers “are better positioned to make sound decisions and take the appropriate actions to address sustainability issues.” Providing access to “complete and accurate sources of information allows consumers to draw the connection between their consumption behaviors and social, and environmental sustainability,” the researchers concluded.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Human impact on Earth's global energy

    The impact humans have made on Earth in terms of how we produce and consume resources has formed a 'striking new pattern' in the planet's global energy flow, according to researchers from the University of Leicester.

    The research suggests that Earth is now characterised by a geologically unprecedented pattern of global energy flow that is pervasively influenced by humans -- and which is necessary for maintaining the complexity of modern human societies.

    The new study, published in the journal Earth's Future, is led by Professors Mark Williams and Jan Zalasiewicz of the University of Leicester's Department of Geology working with an international team of scholars.

     

    >> Read the Full Article
  • New research on the Rio Grande and impacts of long drought

    New research can help water managers along the Rio Grande make wise decisions about how to best use the flow of a river vital for drinking water, agriculture and aquatic habitat. These studies also show how conditions from the prolonged drought in the West have affected the Rio Grande watershed.

    The Rio Grande forms the world’s longest river border between two countries as it flows between Texas and Mexico, where it is known as the Rio Bravo. The river runs through three states in the U.S., beginning in southern Colorado and flowing through New Mexico and Texas before it forms the border with Mexico.

    Parts of the Rio Grande are designated as wild and scenic, but most of the river is controlled and passes through several dam and reservoir systems during its 1,896 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. The river is managed through a complex system of compacts, treaties, and agreements that determine when and how much water is released along the river’s length.

     

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Using Tomatoes for Power

    A team of scientists is exploring an unusual source of electricity -- damaged tomatoes that are unsuitable for sale at the grocery store. Their pilot project involves a biological-based fuel cell that uses tomato waste left over from harvests in Florida.

    >> Read the Full Article