• Burmese Pythons are killing the rabbits in the Florida Everglades

    How exactly DID Burmese Pythons get so numerous in the Everglades?  Were they released by owners who didn't want them and they found they liked the ecosystem?

    Nearly 80 percent of radio-tracked marsh rabbits that died in Everglades National Park in a recent study were eaten by Burmese pythons, according to a new publication by University of Florida and U.S. Geological Survey researchers.  

    A year later, there was no sign of a rabbit population in the study area.  The study demonstrates that Burmese pythons are now the dominant predator of marsh rabbits, and likely other mid-sized animals in the park, potentially upsetting the balance of a valuable ecosystem.

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  • Massive Landfill Site Turns Into Thriving Eco-Park

    Israel’s largest landfill dump has undergone a massive makeover that has seen the mountain of garbage turn into a 2,000-acre ecological park three times the size of New York City’s Central Park. This new “green lung,” which includes a 150-acre recycling station, walking and cycling trails, ponds and extreme sports activities, will soon be home to a 50,000-seat amphitheater, one of the largest concert venues in Israel. And if that’s not enough, the biogas from this landfill, once a toxic pollutant, is now being reused as green energy.

    The multi-million-dollar makeover of Hiriya, which started in 2001, has proven to benefit both the surrounding environment and visitors from all over the world. Now, what once was a huge dump between Road 4 and Road 461 in central Israel known for its unpleasant past, is no longer Israel’s ugliest site. 

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  • Why Dedicating Land to Bioenergy Won't Curb Climate Change

    This post originally was published on WRI.org.

    How does bioenergy contribute to a sustainable food and climate future?

    new WRI paper finds bioenergy can play a modest role using wastes and other niche fuelstocks, but recommends against dedicating land to produce bioenergy. The lesson: do not grow food or grass crops for ethanol or diesel or cut down trees for electricity.

    Even modest quantities of bioenergy would greatly increase the global competition for land. People already use roughly three-quarters of the world’s vegetated land for crops, livestock grazing and wood harvests. The remaining land protects clean water, supports biodiversity and stores carbon in trees, shrubs and soils -- a benefit increasingly important for tackling climate change. The competition for land is growing, even without more bioenergy, to meet likely demands for at least 70 percent more food, forage and wood.

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  • Planting Milkweed for the Monarch's? Be sure to use the native species!

    Sometimes we do the wrong thing for the right reasons. That appears to be the case for countless Americans hoping to aid the monarch butterfly. Hearing that pesticides have destroyed the milkweed that monarchs rely on for survival, sympathetic animal lovers have attempted to do their part to support the butterflies by growing milkweed in their own gardens. Alas, emerging research suggests that this well-intentioned plan appears to actually be harming the species even further.

    Unfortunately, most of the milkweed purchased for this purpose is the “wrong kind.” This kind, known as tropical milkweed, is popular with gardening companies since it continues to bloom longer than the type to which monarch butterflies are accustomed. While monarchs are still more than content to eat this milkweed, that doesn’t make it good for them.

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  • We Reside Here - Earth is Easter Island

    The ocean surrounding Easter Island is vast and great, so large it seems impossible that one could ever sail away and find a home away from home.  Trees and animals fill the land to the very coast, a paradise, a home.  This is where the Rapanui reside, a great Polynesian people, a great nation.  They built great Moai to their gods. They ripped the trees from their roots, used them for rope, homes, fire and boat.  Their people reached in the tens of thousands, vast and great.  This is where the Rapanui reside, in their island, in an ocean so far from anything, so alone.  They did not take notice to the consequences of destroying their land, they did not notice that the destruction of nature was the destruction their home, their paradise.  For many generations they lived taking what they wanted from the island, and despite the changes their home had gone through they still did not change their ways.  The droughts, the famine, the changes, in their home happening too slowly for them to notice in time.  The lack of food, the starvation of the poor, the absence of other life.  Even if some of them had known what was to come if they stayed their course it did not matter, and once the very last tree on Easter island was slain their fate was sealed.  The death of an entire people, an extinction.  This is where the Rapanui reside, in the dirt, in their tombs, lost, forgotten, the only thing left are their great Moai, and one day they will be gone too.

    It continues...  Click on the link below.

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  • Salting Roads takes a Toll on the Environment

    The United States has a salt problem, and it extends well beyond the excessive sodium we consume in our diets. In the winter months, municipalities rely on dumping salt on the roads to minimize the effects of ice. Altogether, the U.S. uses ten times the amount of salt on roadways than it does in the processed foods we consume. While the salt may help to keep drivers safe, it does come at a cost:

    1. It Increases Our Own Salt Consumption

    You can throw salt down on roads, but you can’t force it to stay there. In due time, salt makes its ways into nearby waterways where it lingers. As a result, a lot of the water we wind up drinking has higher levels of salt than it would otherwise. Vox cites a study that finds 84% of city-adjacent streams have higher levels of chloride thanks specifically to these road-salting techniques. Apparently, during the months following salted roads, 29% of these streams have more salt than the federal “safety limits” for drinking water allow.

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  • Are the US drinking water standards outdated?

    Changes in drinking water quality in the 21st Century are coming from a myriad of circumstances, and not all are for the best. Top contenders for why water-drinking quality might become suspect to the average consumer include California's drought conditions, the technology of fracking, and the nationwide aging infrastructure of rusty, degrading pipes.

    Citing these and other relatively recent scenarios, Andrea Dietrich, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, and her colleague Gary A. Burlingame of the Philadelphia Water Department, are calling for a critical review and rethinking of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) secondary standards for maintaining consumers' confidence in tap water as well as in its sensory quality.

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  • How the Credit Card Industry is Contributing to Pollution

    We all get far too much mail, especially from financial services companies.  Credit card companies alone send billions of pieces of paper mail each year, and most of that gets thrown right into the trash can.  Not only does this dynamic pose a threat from a fraud perspective – trash cans and mailboxes can be treasure troves for opportunistic fraudsters – but you have to figure the effect on the environment isn’t great either. Paper products aren’t as bad as most materials, according to North Carolina State University Professor Richard Venditti, because they’re renewable, recyclable and biodegradable and they motivate land owners to plant trees.  However, Venditti says, “inefficient use of paper does consume resources and have an impact on the environment.” While credit card direct mail is on the rise after hitting a two-year low in April 2012, long-term trends suggest a declining role for traditional paper mail in the years to come.  Not only are financial services companies increasingly offering paperless options to their account holders – even charging extra for paper statements, but they’re also learning how to better leverage digital means for marketing purposes.  These changes are largely based on the shifting preferences of the modern consumer as well as the overall technicalization of modern commerce – not some newfound corporate altruism – but does it really matter? 

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  • What to do with all that zoo poop

    Ron Patalano, director of operations at Roger Williams Park Zoo, has high praise for his staff. After all, it takes a mighty amount of shoveling to fill the two 30-yard Dumpsters of animal excrement that are hauled away weekly as part of the zoo’s recycling program.

     

    Added to the grass clippings, vegetable scraps, animal bedding, hay and other natural materials trucked to Earth Care Farm in Charleston for composting, are 624 tons of manure produced annually by the zoo’s 280 inhabitants.

     

    Keeping yards and buildings waste free “is not an easy job,” Patalano noted.

     

    The zoo’s relationship with Earth Care Farm — Rhode Island’s longtime composting mecca — goes back at least 15 years, according to John Barth, the farm’s manager.

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  • EPA Releases New Energy Star Tool for Homeowners

    Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching its Energy Star Home Advisor, an online tool designed to help Americans save money and energy by improving the energy efficiency of their homes through recommended, customized and prioritized home-improvement projects.

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