• 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.

     

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  • 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.

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  • Bicycle ownership going downhill

    Bicycle ownership around the world is declining amid rising wealth levels and increased use of motorised vehicles in developing countries, a study has found.

    Four out of ten households on the planet own a bike, according to a paper based on surveys from 150 countries between 1989 and 2012. But the growing popularity and affordability of motorised transport, such as cars and scooters, “have disfavoured bicycle use”, the researchers say.

    China in particular experienced a collapse in bike ownership rates since 1992, when 97 per cent of households had bikes. However, this dropped to 63 per cent by 2009, the study shows, with ownership rates in most other countries either flat or decreasing.

    In Togo, bike ownership has remained stable at around 34 per cent of households between 1998 and 2010, but in Paraguay ownership rates dropped from 57 per cent of households in 1996 to 39 per cent in 2002, the paper states.

    These trends could be expected as the number of motor vehicles per person has increased over the past decade at a rate “never seen before in human history”, in particular in China, India and parts of Africa, says Marc Shotten, a transport specialist at the World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility in the United States.

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  • The differences between organic and non-organic milk and meat

    A new study has shown that both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products. Analysing data from around the world, the team led by Newcastle University, reviewed 196 papers on milk and 67 papers on meat and found clear differences between organic and conventional milk and meat, especially in terms of fatty acid composition, and the concentrations of certain essential minerals and antioxidants.

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  • Paris climate agreement seen as turning point by UN

    Less than two months after 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. 

    A month and a half since 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. 

    “Much has been happening since Paris – the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that 2015 was the hottest year on record, not just by a little but by a lot,” Janos Pasztor, who was today appointed as Senior Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Change, told reporters at a briefing in New York. 

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  • Does eating less meat lead to decreased Greenhouse Gas emissions?

    Reduced meat consumption might not lower greenhouse gas emissions from a major beef producing region, research shows.

    The finding may seem incongruous, as intensive agriculture is responsible for such a large proportion of global emissions.

    According to research by University researchers, Scotland’s Rural College and Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, reducing beef production in the Brazilian Cerrado could increase global greenhouse gas emissions.

     

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  • To clean up ocean plastics focus on coasts, not the Great Pacific garbage patch

    The most efficient way to clean up ocean plastics and avoid harming ecosystems is to place plastic collectors near coasts, according to a new study.

    Plastic floating in the oceans is a widespread and increasing problem. Plastics including bags, bottle caps and plastic fibres from synthetic clothes wash out into the oceans from urban rivers, sewers and waste deposits.

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  • Denmark breaks its own world record in wind energy

    Danish wind turbines set a new world record in 2015. Wind power is now counted for 42.1% of the total electricity consumption in Denmark, according to data published on Friday (15 January).

    The percentage of wind power in Denmark's overall electricity mix is the highest in the world. Last year, the share was 39.1%, which was a record, according to Energinet, which runs the power grids. 

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  • Recycling on the ropes, France has a plan to fix the industry

    Low raw material costs have dealt a heavy blow to the recycling industry. The French recycling federation (FEDEREC) believes the sector needs a complete overhaul to stay afloat in the coming years.

    FEDEREC published its view of the future of recycling in a white paper entitled "The recycling industry by 2030." In the preface to this 70-page document, a frank discussion of the problems facing the industry and how they might be solved, Corinne Lepage, a Republican politician, evoked a sector "devastated by an oil price that is so low that it is driving us back towards a linear economy, as it is cheaper today to buy primary raw materials than recycled raw materials".

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  • Changing climate and reforestation

    For the past six years, researchers at the Universitat Politènica de València (Polytechnic Univeristy of Valencia, UPV) have been studying the performance of twelve Aleppo pine varieties native to different regions of Spain in reforestation campaigns across three national forest areas. Different varieties or genotypes have different levels of resistance to cold and drought, which influence how well they perform in a given geographical region, and researchers wanted to find out which varieties worked best and where.

    To do so, the different national varieties or genotypes were used to repopulate forest areas in La Hunde, Valencia (as the control region), in the drier Granja d'Escarp, Lleida, to the north and further inland in Tramacastiel, Teruel, where the climate is much cooler.

    "The varieties from Inland Levante and La Mancha performed the best overall, while those from further south seem to be perfect for reforestation efforts in regions already affected by climate change," observes Antonio del Campo, researcher at the UPV's Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (IIAMA).

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