• Record Burmese Python found in the Florida Everglades

    A double record-setting Burmese python has been found in the Florida Everglades. At 17 feet, 7 inches (5.3 meters) in length, it is the largest snake of its kind found in the state and it was carrying a record 87 eggs. Scientists say the finding highlights how dangerously comfortable the invasive species has become in its new home. "This thing is monstrous, it's about a foot wide," said Kenneth Krysko, of the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. "It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild, there's nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble." >> Read the Full Article
  • Rate of Arctic summer sea ice loss is much greater than predicted

    Sea ice in the Arctic is disappearing at a far greater rate than previously expected, according to data from the first purpose-built satellite launched to study the thickness of the Earth's polar caps. Preliminary results from the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 probe indicate that 900 cubic kilometres of summer sea ice has disappeared from the Arctic ocean over the past year. This rate of loss is 50% higher than most scenarios outlined by polar scientists and suggests that global warming, triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions, is beginning to have a major impact on the region. In a few years the Arctic ocean could be free of ice in summer, triggering a rush to exploit its fish stocks, oil, minerals and sea routes. >> Read the Full Article
  • Black Carbon from Slash and Burn Practices Still a Problem in Brazil

    Although nearly 40 years have passed since Brazil banned slash-and-burn practices in its Atlantic Forest, the destruction lingers. New research reveals that charred plant material is leaching out of the soil and into rivers, eventually making its way to the ocean. So much of this "black carbon" is entering the marine ecosystem that it could be hurting ocean life, although further tests will be needed to confirm this possibility. People have used fire to shape Earth's vegetation for millennia. In Brazil's Atlantic Forest, Europeans began burning trees to make way for settlements and agriculture in the 16th century. What once blanketed 1.3 million square kilometers and ranked as one of the world's largest tropical forests had shrunk to 8% of its former size by 1973, when protective laws were put in place. >> Read the Full Article
  • Extreme Drought Impacting Crop Yields

    Federal forecasters are predicting record prices for corn and soybeans, raising fears of a new world food crisis as the worst U.S. drought in half a century continues to punish key farm states. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday said production of U.S. corn and soybeans is expected to be down 17 percent from its forecast last month of nearly 13 billion bushels, and 13 percent lower than last year. It was the second month in a row when the USDA has cut its production estimate. Corn prices briefly surged to a record on the USDA's forecast, but then retreated because the government said demand for the grain would fall due to its soaring cost. >> Read the Full Article
  • Living Fences in Costa Rica a growing idea

    Drive around Costa Rica’s windy mountainous roads and you will see numerous trees, from those bearing colorful fruits to others sporting thick spines, planted about 1 to 3 meters apart. Connected by long lines of barbed wire, these rudimentary-looking arrangements, known as living fences, have both economic and environmental benefits over their dead wood counterparts. Farmers across Central America plant living fences because these green barriers are a more economically feasible and readily accessible method for containing livestock and protecting crops. For one, the main materials of living fences are the branches of tree species that root from sticks and grow into larger trees. Shared among neighbors or sold at local markets, these sticks are much cheaper and more common than manufactured posts. Without the need for paint or preservatives, which can add toxins into the environment, maintenance costs also remain low. Additionally, animals graze on living fences, saving farmers costs in livestock feed. >> Read the Full Article
  • U.S. Auto Industry Jobs Up Nearly A Quarter Million Since 2009 - Fuel Efficiency a Key Driver

    With the launch of new federal vehicle fuel economy rules only about one week away, the American auto industry has grown by nearly a quarter million jobs (236,600) since June 2009 when the auto industry hit bottom, according to a new report available from DrivingGrowth.org. The report from DrivingGrowth.org finds that fuel efficiency is a major factor behind the gains in U.S. auto jobs. A website that tracks the revitalization of the U.S. auto industry, DrivingGrowth.org is sponsored by three leading U.S. environmental organizations: The Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. Manufacturing of motor vehicle and parts has grown by 165,100, or 26.4 percent since June 2009. Another 71,500 jobs have been added at U.S. auto dealerships. Automakers, their suppliers and their dealers are now looking ahead to a brighter future after the dark days of the recession. >> Read the Full Article
  • Shrimp Farms and Sustainablity

    As shrimp aquaculture has boomed globally to keep pace with surging demand, the environmental toll on mangroves and other coastal ecosystems has been severe. Now, conservation groups and some shrimp farmers are creating a certification scheme designed to clean up the industry and reward sustainable producers. Carlos Perez, a well-to-do businessman, has been farming shrimp in Ecuador since 1979. He has seen the industry boom: Ecuador exported about $1.2 billion worth of shrimp last year, and its shrimp farmers employ about 102,000 people. He has also watched as shrimp farms have played a major role in the destruction of two-thirds of the country’s mangrove swamps — rich ecosystems that serve as buffers against storms, store carbon, and support fish, birds, and small mammals. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate Change predicted to reduce output of California Hydro-electric plants

    California's hydropower is vulnerable to climate change, a University of California, Riverside scientist has advised policymakers in "Our Changing Climate," a report released July 31 by the California Natural Resources Agency and the California Energy Commission (CEC). "Climate change is expected to affect the quantity and timing of water flow in the state," explained Kaveh Madani, a former postdoctoral research scholar in UC Riverside's Water Science and Policy Center (WSPC), who led a research project on climate change effects on hydropower production, demand, and pricing in California. "Under dry climate warming, the state will receive less precipitation, with most of it as rain instead of snow, impacting hydropower supply and operations." >> Read the Full Article
  • Environmental Advertising Increases When the Economy Is Stronger

    Environmental concern is greater when the economy is stronger, a study found which looked at environmental advertising in National Geographic over three decades. Specifically, the study, conducted by three researchers at Penn State University, found that consumers are more receptive to environmental appeals and marketers do more environmental advertising when the economy is improving. There is a strong statistical correlation, the three researchers discovered, between the GDP and the amount of environmental advertising. As Lee Ahern, one of researchers said, "We found that changes in GDP do indeed predict the level of 'green' advertising." "Results support the idea that key economic indicators affect the level of green strategic messaging," said Ahern. "This perspective argues that environmental concern will be greater in stronger economies and better economic times. By extension, consumers will be more attuned and receptive to green appeals when the economy is improving, and marketers will employ more green advertising." >> Read the Full Article
  • New Amish Communities Being Founded at high rate

    A new census of the Amish population in the United States estimates that a new Amish community is founded, on average, about every 3 ½ weeks, and shows that more than 60 percent of all existing Amish settlements have been founded since 1990. This pattern suggests the Amish are growing more rapidly than most other religions in the United States, researchers say. Unlike other religious groups, however, the growth is not driven by converts joining the faith, but instead can be attributed to large families and high rates of baptism. In all, the census counts almost 251,000 Amish in the United States and Ontario, Canada, dispersed among 456 settlements, the communities in which members live and worship. The 1990 census estimated that there were 179 settlements in the United States. >> Read the Full Article