• Report: Climate-Related Migration

    Recent reports, as well as extreme weather events such as Superstorm Sandy, suggest that climatechange, and particularly sea-level rise, may be occurring faster than earlier anticipated. This has increased public and policy discussions about climate change’s likely impacts on the movement of populations, both internally and worldwide. Research suggests that when climate-related migration does occur, much of it is short distance and within national borders, as opposed to international, according to new analysis conducted by Lori Hunter, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, for the Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). Recent research has added nuance to the scientific understanding of the potential connections between climate change and human migration. Previous studies over the past two decades relied largely on descriptive data and simplistic assumptions to put forward at-times alarmist estimates of future numbers of "environmental refugees," ranging from 150 million to 1 billion people. But such broad-sweeping generalizations mask several central issues that are important in the development of appropriate policy responses. These include: >> Read the Full Article
  • Are Greenhouse Gas Emissions Delaying the Start of an Ice Age?

    Mankind's emissions of fossil carbon and the resulting increase in temperature could prove to be our salvation from the next ice age. According to new research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, the current increase in the extent of peatland is having the opposite effect. "We are probably entering a new ice age right now. However, we're not noticing it due to the effects of carbon dioxide", says researcher Professor Lars Franzén. Looking back over the past three million years, the earth has experienced at least 30 periods of ice age, known as ice age pulses. The periods in between are called interglacials. >> Read the Full Article
  • Growth of Renewables will continue with continued subsidies

    The International Energy Agency predicts renewables will become the world's second-largest source of power generation by 2015 and close in on coal as the primary source by 2035. But according to the 2012 edition of its flagship publication, the World Energy Outlook, the agency warns this rapid increase is critically dependent on continued subsidies. It says in 2011, these subsidies (including for biofuels) amounted to $88 billion, but over the period to 2035 need to amount to $4.8 trillion; over half of this has already been committed to existing projects or is needed to meet 2020 targets. >> Read the Full Article
  • Arsenic Contamination from Gold Mining found in India Villages

    Scientists have found high levels of arsenic in the soil and groundwater near a gold mine in the south Indian state of Karnataka, highlighting health hazards associated with mining the precious metal. A team of scientists that conducted studies in the Kiradalli Tanda village of Yadgir district discovered arsenic contamination in groundwater 30 times higher than the limit of 10 parts per billion, prescribed by the WHO. The village, which is four kilometres from a gold mine, had reported several cases of suspected arsenic-induced skin diseases and cancers. >> Read the Full Article
  • Scientists Fear the Extinction of Arabica Coffee

    Scientists in the United Kingdom recently completed a study suggesting that Arabica coffee, the species that makes up 75 percent of coffee beans sold, could become extinct in 70 years. Due to climate change and its symptoms including deforestation, a team at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens ran a series of computer simulations that indicate that wild Arabica coffee could become extinct by 2080. Such a development should worry everyone from growers to consumers. Coffee is the second most traded global commodity after petroleum and is an economic lifeline for many countries in Africa and Latin America. >> Read the Full Article
  • Book Review: America's National Parks: An Insider's Guide to Unforgettable Places and Experiences

    I love our National Parks! I live near two in New Jersey. Yes, in New Jersey. Jockey Hollow National Historical Park in Morristown preserves the locations where during our revolutionary war with England George Washington and the colonial army units camped out. When I travel to the American west, I often visit three national parks a reasonable drive from Las Vegas. Now armchair travelers can go on a photographic journey from the comfort of their own home, as Time Home Entertainment Inc. is releasing America's National Parks: An Insider’s Guide to Unforgettable Places and Experiences. From cover to cover, this book is the perfect collection for travel enthusiasts, photography aficionados, and American history buffs alike. America's National Parks captures the experience of touring some of the country's most notable places; whether it's hiking through the giants of the Redwoods, biking along the carriage roads of Acadia, standing before the Lincoln Memorial, or wandering the ruins of Mesa Verde. >> Read the Full Article
  • Exploring the Ocean for Minerals

    Global demand for metals continues to grow, fuelled largely by increasing populations and the industrialisation and urbanisation of China and India. To meet this demand, the international minerals industry has had to search new areas of the globe for additional resources. As Africa — the last underexplored continent — becomes more developed, it is inevitable that the oceans, which cover three-quarters of our planet, will be explored and exploited for their mineral wealth. It is a question of when and how, not if. >> Read the Full Article
  • If we're going to pave paradise, let's put up a green parking lot

    Can you imagine if our roads and parking lots were painted yellow or maybe a light blue? It would challenge our concept of a typical blacktop, but according to research, "cool pavement" seems like the way of the future. Pavements from streets and exposed parking lots make up a large percentage of surface area in our growing communities. And it is easy to feel the heat that is absorbed in those dark pavements. As pavement surface heats up, local air is also heated and aggravates urban heat islands—urban areas that become warmer than their surrounding areas. To address this issue, the Heat Island Group of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been experimenting with "cool pavement" technologies. Similar to the way lighter-colored roofs have a cooling effect by reflecting the sun's energy, cool pavements also have the same ability. Cool pavements can be made from traditional pavement materials that are lighter in color and therefore have a higher solar reflectance, or can consist of cool-colored coatings for asphalt surfaces. Because sealcoats are commonly used as asphalt pavement structures degrade over time, when roads do need to be repaved or patched up, cities may want to opt for these new technologies. The benefits of cool pavements will not only help local ambient air, but can also impact global warming and energy loads. Dark roofs and dark pavements both contribute to warming temperatures as they absorb large amounts of solar energy and then radiate that energy back into the atmosphere in the form of heat. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Reasons that the Great Barrier Reef Lost Massive Amounts of Coral

    The expansion of European settlement in Australia triggered a massive coral collapse at the Great Barrier Reef more than 50 years ago, according to a new study. The study, published Nov. 6 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that runoff from farms clouded the pristine waters off the Queensland coast and killed the natural branching coral species, leaving a stunted, weedy type of coral in its place. The findings suggest that decades before climate change and reef tourism, humans were disrupting the ecology of the Great Barrier Reef. >> Read the Full Article
  • New Design Creates More Efficient Wind Turbines

    A Tunisian invention that harvests wind energy through a design inspired by sailboats promises cheaper, more efficient wind energy. The bladeless wind turbine, the Saphonian, named after the wind divinity that was worshipped by the ancient Carthaginians, also promises to be more environmentally friendly than existing wind turbines that produce noise and kill birds through their blade rotation. Instead of rotating blades, the Saphonian's sail-shaped body collects the kinetic energy of the wind, Anis Aouini, the Saphonian's inventor, told SciDev.Net. >> Read the Full Article