• Update: Electric Car Sales

    In a few weeks, we’ll come upon the four-year anniversary of when candidate Barack Obama proposed that America put 1 million plug-in electric vehicles on our roads by 2015. Even before the sale of the first Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, most observers knew that hitting the seven-figure mark by 2015 was more aspirational than an actual goal. Recent sales numbers for EVs in the U.S. have revealed market challenges facing battery-powered cars. Last week, Nissan reported that June 2012 sales of its electric Leaf reached 535 units—less than one-third of the 1,708 LEAFs sold in June 2011. Throughout 2012, monthly sales numbers have hovered around the 500-unit mark. That’s a troubling sign for EVs because Nissan had announced that its sales would double from 9,674 in 2011 to nearly 20,000 units this year. If trends continue, Nissan’s Leaf-manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tennessee—expected to come online in December—could operate well below its capacity of 150,000 units annually. >> Read the Full Article
  • Humpback Whales alter migration pattern, stay in Antarctic waters longer

    Large numbers of humpback whales are remaining in bays along the Western Antarctic Peninsula to feast on krill late into the austral autumn, long after their annual migrations to distant breeding grounds were believed to begin, according to a new Duke University study. The study, published July 30 in the journal Endangered Species Research, provides the first density estimates for these whales in both open and enclosed habitats along the peninsula in late autumn. >> Read the Full Article
  • Pacific Coral Triangle 'at risk of collapse'

    The Coral Triangle, a roughly triangular marine zone in the Indo-Pacific region that is considered to have the world's richest concentration of marine biodiversity, is facing potential ecological collapse due to heavy pressure inflicted by human activities, according to a new report. The warning appears in a collaborative study, 'Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle', produced by a consortium led by the World Resources Institute, a global environmental think-tank based in Washington DC, United States. It serves as a status report on the wellbeing of coral reefs in or near the six countries comprising the triangle. >> Read the Full Article
  • Electric Car Sales Still Slower Than Expected

    In a few weeks, we'll come upon the four-year anniversary of when candidate Barack Obama proposed that America put 1 million plug-in electric vehicles on our roads by 2015. Even before the sale of the first Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, most observers knew that hitting the seven-figure mark by 2015 was more aspirational than an actual goal. Recent sales numbers for EVs in the U.S. have reveal market challenges facing battery-powered cars. Last week, Nissan reported that June 2012 sales of its electric Leaf reached 535 units—less than one-third of the 1,708 LEAFs sold in June 2011. Throughout 2012, monthly sales numbers have hovered around the 500-unit mark. That’s a troubling sign for EVs because Nissan had announced that its sales would double from 9,674 in 2011 to nearly 20,000 units this year. If trends continue, Nissan’s Leaf-manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tennessee—expected to come online in December—could operate well below its capacity of 150,000 units annually. >> Read the Full Article
  • Is it Safe to Eat that Fish you caught?

    On a recent afternoon, a few hours before dusk, Brian Watson, of South Providence, sat in a red fabric lawn chair on the wooden dock at India Point Park. Watson was fishing for bluefish and striped bass — "blues and stripers" — as he has for the past seven years, and he always eats his catch. Does he worry about the safety of taking fish from heavily urban waters? "If the water wasn’t good, they wouldn't let us fish," he said. >> Read the Full Article
  • Hybrid Polar/Grizzly Bears showing up in the Arctic

    Two Canadian biologists have reported sighting a handful of grizzly bears and hybrid grizzly/polar bears at unusually high latitudes in the Arctic, indicating that the interbreeding of the two bear species is becoming more common as the climate warms and grizzlies venture farther north. The sightings of three grizzly bears and two hybrid bears, made in late April and May, represent an unprecedented cluster of these animals at such high latitudes. The biologists even took DNA samples from a grizzly bear at 74 degrees North latitude. The report of the sightings comes on the heels of a recently published analysis of newly sequenced polar bear genomes, suggesting that climate change and genetic exchange with brown bears helped create the polar bear as we know it today. The genetic mixing that the Pennsylvania State and University of Buffalo analysis identified happening in the past — in which polar bears would interbreed with grizzly bears as the polar bears' sea ice habitat shrunk — is now happening again, according to bear biologists. >> Read the Full Article
  • Exercise Really Does Help you live longer!

    Regular physical activity adds about four years to life expectancy, and endurance exercise during leisure time seems to be better at extending life than physical activity done as work, according to a new research review published in the Journal of Aging Research. German researchers gathered well-designed studies on one of the most basic, but important, questions in health: Does physical activity increase life expectancy? In reviewing the results of the studies, they found the answer was an unequivocal yes. Among the studies, there was a wide range of extra years found for active versus nonactive people, from less than half a year in one study to close to seven years in another. When the results of the studies were combined, the researchers wrote, "The median increase of life expectancy of men and women in the eight studies presenting data on both sexes amounted to 3.7 years each." >> Read the Full Article
  • United Nations hails green credentials of London's Olympic Games

    A senior United Nations chief has praised the measures taken by the UK to ensure that the London Summer Olympic Games are environmentally sustainable. Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), says the eco achievements of the London 2012 Games should act as an inspiration for following organizers. "London’s clean-up of an old industrial site; the restoration of flows and habitat on the River Lea; the greening of supply chains; the low energy linked with the design and construction of the stadium, including utilizing old gas pipes for the facility’s Olympic ring; and the use of temporary structures to reduce emissions are among the actions that can assist in inspiring the organizers of the Rio 2016 games and beyond," he said. >> Read the Full Article
  • New EU Carbon Rules for Cars will save money

    Connie Hedegaard, the EU Climate Action commissioner, argues that tougher standards for automotive carbon emissions are good Europe’s long-term economic and environmental health. "Do we really need more rules from the EU?" some might have thought when I presented the Commission's proposals for further reducing CO2 emissions from cars and vans earlier this month. The answer is: yes, we do need them. There is nothing wrong with new rules when they are well thought through and subjected to rigorous analysis, as ours have been. Environmental protection in Europe is one long story about the progress we can achieve when we make sensible regulation. Years ago we took the first steps to tackle emissions from cars. And it has worked. Just look how much the fuel economy of new cars has improved compared to just a few years ago. It is EU rules that have pushed this progress. And this is a great example of an area where it makes sense to do things together in Europe rather than developing 27 different national systems. >> Read the Full Article
  • Tracking Greenland's Ice Melt shows record melt area

    NASA researchers studying data from the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Oceansat-2 satellite this month noticed that the ice melt area on Greenland covered almost the entire ice sheath. This is very unusual and means that melting was occurring over almost the entire surface of the ice sheath. In most summers, the melting occurs in portions of the ice sheath while other areas are not melting. Typically, less than half the ice sheath is melting at one time. At high elevations, most of that melt water quickly refreezes in place. Near the coast, some of the melt water is retained by the ice sheet, and the rest is lost to the ocean. But this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July. This is unprecedented in 30 years of monitoring ice melt by satellite. Researchers have not yet determined whether this extensive melt event will affect the overall volume of ice loss this summer and contribute to sea level rise. >> Read the Full Article