• The Dead Sea is Dying - Really!

    On a quiet stretch of coastline along the western shore of the Dead Sea, a sinkhole had swallowed a piece of a road, pulling in concrete and rusted fence posts. The sea lay a short distance beyond, its turquoise-colored waters dropping at the rate of more than one meter a year. The sinkholes are among the most visible effects of the continuing slow "death" of the Dead Sea, which borders Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank. Thousands of sinkholes have opened up around the Dead Sea's coastal plain, threatening roads and structures alike. Near this particular sinkhole, a grove of date palms sat withered and dead, abandoned because of the dangerous ground on which they stood.On a quiet stretch of coastline along the western shore of the Dead Sea, a sinkhole had swallowed a piece of a road, pulling in concrete and rusted fence posts. The sea lay a short distance beyond, its turquoise-colored waters dropping at the rate of more than one meter a year. >> Read the Full Article
  • EU considering requiring lower CO2 emissions on new cars

    New cars and vans in the European Union will produce one-third less carbon dioxide within eight years, under proposed new rules set out on Wednesday (11 July) in Brussels. By 2020, the average emissions from new cars will have to be no more than 95g of carbon dioxide per kilometre driven, a cut of more than 40g from today's levels and of 35g/km compared with the 2015 target, if the proposed new regulations are accepted. Connie Hedegaard, climate chief of the European commission, said the goals were "ambitious but achievable" and would benefit consumers, through fuel cost savings, and help the EU's car-making industry compete with overseas manufacturers. She said: "What we are proposing is a fair and balanced regulation." >> Read the Full Article
  • Egypt's Plans for Science

    Egypt's newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, has ambitious plans for science and is committed to linking research to local needs and boosting private sector science funding, officials say. "Morsi's main strategy is to 'localise' science," Mohamed Sharet, deputy director of the Education and Scientific Research Committee at the Egyptian parliament's lower house, and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), told SciDev.Net. This will require engaging researchers in solving public problems and linking science closely to the needs of local industry. >> Read the Full Article
  • Alarming Decline in Sockeye Salmon

    Every year, millions of adult salmon return from the ocean to their home streams, where they lay eggs and produce the next generation of fish. But far fewer sockeye salmon are making it back to their freshwater mating grounds compared to a few decades ago, and that’s seriously affecting population sizes of the species throughout the Northwest, from Alaska to Washington State. The discovery suggests that changing ocean conditions may be making life harder for some groups of wild salmon -- possibly by reducing their food supply or increasing populations of predators. >> Read the Full Article
  • Organic Tomatoes ARE More Nutritious!

    The debate about whether organic food has more nutrients might be finally settled, at least in the case of tomatoes. The latest research from the University of Barcelona shows that organic tomatoes have higher levels of antioxidants than chemically-grown ones. The research team studied and analysed the chemical structure of the Daniela variety of tomato. According to The Daily Mail: "They detected 34 different beneficial compounds in both the organic and conventional version... However they found that overall the organic tomatoes contained higher level of the polyphenols. The scientists says this difference between organic and conventional tomatoes can be explained by the manure used to grown them." >> Read the Full Article
  • Flood hits Russian Town in Krasnodar Region

    People in a flood-ravaged southern Russian town on Saturday charged that authorities offered no help as masses of water tore through their homes overnight. "Nobody came to our street to help. We need help," pensioner Lidiya Polinina told AFP by phone from Krymsk, the worst-hit town, recounting how she managed to survive the flood that has claimed over 100 lives. TV footage showed brown water rushing down the town's streets, where bodies lay on the curbs, covered with dirty blankets. Trees were torn out, homes destroyed and giant slabs of asphalt thrown on top of cars. "Our house was flooded to the ceiling," said Polinina. >> Read the Full Article
  • Arctic Sea Ice Continues its Summer Retreat

    A rapid decline for Arctic sea ice extent briefly hit daily record lows in June, led by extensive ice loss in the Bering, Kara, and Beaufort Seas, as well as Hudson and Baffin Bay. Snow extent was unusually low for both May and June, reinforcing the continuing pattern of rapid spring snow melt of the past six years. Average Arctic sea ice extent for June was 4.24 million square miles (10.97 million square kilometers), 456,000 square miles below the 1970-2000 average sea ice extent. Sea ice extent for June 2010, 2011, and 2012 has been the lowest in the satellite record. >> Read the Full Article
  • Fukushima Daiichi Meltdowns Could Have Been Avoided

    A report from a high-powered commission today blasted the government, regulators, and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) for not anticipating and preventing the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Multiple reactor meltdowns and massive radiation releases forced authorities to evacuate 150,000 people from around the plant and shattered confidence in Japan's nuclear industry and in the government's capacity to respond to a disaster. "The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation's right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly 'manmade,' " states the report from the panel, chaired by Kiyoshi Kurokawa, former president of the Science Council of Japan. "We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual." >> Read the Full Article
  • Concentrating Solar Power - No Resource Constraints

    A recently published study confirms that solar thermal power is largely unrestricted by materials availability. There are, however, some issues that the industry needs to look into soon, like replacing silver in mirrors. In the wake of Chinese export restrictions on rare earth metals, the dependence of some renewable technologies on scarce materials has gained attention. Several players in the wind and PV industry are struggling to get away from excessive use of restricted elements, such as indium or rare earth metals. Meanwhile, there has been a shared notion amongst solar scientists and industry that Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) should "probably" be less restricted, being built mainly on commonplace commodities like steel and glass. >> Read the Full Article
  • The real disappointment of the Rio+20 Conference

    World leaders attending the recent Rio+20 conference agreed to promote sustainable consumption and production, but analysts say getting businesses and buyers to do just that will require far more than words on paper. To the immense disappointment of environmental groups and even some multinational corporations, Rio+20 failed to produce binding commitments or a plan on how to strike a balance between consumer demand and the availability of natural resource. "The current deal on the Rio table is really scraping the barrel – with woolly definitions, old ideas and missing deadlines," said Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth's director of policy and campaigns. "It doesn’t come close to solving the planetary emergency we're facing." >> Read the Full Article