• Spring Leaves Expected to Sprout Sooner in North American Forests

    This year the spring equinox falls on March 20th, marking the first day of spring. But regardless of the date, it feels like spring when the temperature warms and we start to see new green leaves and flowers bloom after a dormant winter. According to new research, trees in the continental U.S. could send out new spring leaves up to 17 days earlier than expected in the coming century as global temperatures start to rise. Researchers at Princeton University suggest that these climate-driven changes could lead to composition changes of northeastern forests and give a boost to their ability to take up carbon dioxide. >> Read the Full Article
  • Biochar Initiative Restores Hillside at Former Silver Mine in Colorado

    Once an active silver mine in the early 19th century, Hope Mine recently transformed from a barren, abandoned plot into a verdant, restored landscape. Sierra Club Green Home explores the innovative biochar initiative led by the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) that made it possible. Following the devaluation of silver and the Silver Panic of 1893, Hope Mine became a largely forgotten, desolate knoll. In 2003, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) assumed ownership of the mine and began to assess the mine waste that had formed at the site in large piles of toxic rock. Although the Aspen Water Department found no evidence of danger at the time, the site’s proximity to Castle Creek raised concern: If a storm or other event propelled the slope-like layers of mine waste to erode, Aspen’s water supply could be contaminated. >> Read the Full Article
  • Livestock falling ill in fracking regions, raising concerns about food

    While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or "fracking") operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil. Last year, Michelle Bamberger, an Ithaca, New York, veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, published the first and only peer-reviewed report to suggest a link between fracking and illness in food animals. >> Read the Full Article
  • Breakthrough Treaty on Limiting Mercury Emissions

    A legally binding global treaty to curb mercury in the environment, agreed after a week of gruelling negotiations in Geneva, will also include a funding facility to assist developing countries in phasing out the toxic heavy metal in industrial processes and in artisanal gold mining in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Minamata Convention on Mercury, named after the Japanese port where people suffered serious health effects from mercury pollution in the 1950s, was agreed by more than 140 countries after week-long talks in Geneva leading up to all-night negotiations on Saturday (19 January). >> Read the Full Article
  • EPA Finalizes Vapor Intrusion Regulations

    The United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") recently finalized the first of several pending guidance documents and regulations governing the evaluation and mitigation of vapor intrusion at contaminated sites, a growing area of focus that has thus far been regulated primarily on the state level. EPA’s new guidance requires regional EPA offices to address vapor intrusion risks during the five-year reviews for most completed Superfund cleanups. >> Read the Full Article
  • Southern Asia Pollution

    Cold winter weather and burgeoning industrial economies have made for difficult breathing in Asia and the Middle East this January 2013. Pollution is epidemic. News reports from Ankara, Tehran, Beijing, and other cities have described hazy skies with very low visibility; restrictions on driving, factory operations, and outdoor activity; and hospitals full of people with lung ailments. The map with this story shows the concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2 or NOx) in the atmosphere above southwestern Asia from January 1–8, 2013. Shades of orange reflect the relative abundance of NO2, while grays show areas without usable data (cloud cover, for instance). The data were acquired by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite. OMI measures the visible and ultraviolet light scattered and absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere and surface. The presence of NO2 causes certain wavelengths of light to be absorbed. >> Read the Full Article
  • NASA Images Reveal 'Kuwait on the Prairie'

    Last month, we published a story about newly released NASA satellite images and we were amazed at the quality and detail of the pictures. Looking at the United States at night, we expect to see patches of light around major cities and brightness from dense populations along the coasts. But after studying the photos, Rovert Krulwich a correspondent for NPR, reports on a mysterious patch of light that shows up in North Dakota. With a population of under 700,000 for the whole state, and a state who’s largest industry is agriculture, what can these lights possibly be from? >> Read the Full Article
  • Volcanic Eruption List

    Ever been curious about a volcanic eruption? When did it happen and what did it do? Details of around 2,000 major volcanic eruptions which occurred over the last 1.8 million years have been made available in a new open access database, complied by scientists at the University of Bristol with colleagues from the UK, US, Colombia and Japan. Volcanic eruptions have the potential to cause loss of life, disrupt air traffic, impact climate, and significantly alter the surrounding landscape. Knowledge of the past behaviours of volcanoes is key to producing risk assessments of the hazards of modern explosive events. >> Read the Full Article
  • Air Pollution in China not just impacting cities

    As people in Beijing and northern China struggle with severe air pollution this winter, the toxic air is also making life hard for plants and even food crops of China, say researchers who have been looking at how China's plants are affected by air pollution. Beijing's extreme smog event this week has made headlines, with the American Embassy calling the pollution levels "hazardous" and Beijing writer Zheng Yuanjie blogging that "the air smells like sulfur perfume, as the capital city currently looks like a poisonous huge gas can," according to a report on Al Jazeera. >> Read the Full Article
  • Green Success: Old Gas Station Given New Life

    Originally a gas station and then a liquor store, the building at the corner of Third Street and North Limestone in downtown Lexington, Ky., is now the home of Doodle's Breakfast and Lunch, a popular eatery. Back in 1945, the Central Shell station was a state-of-the-art facility with an office, two service bays and an exterior of shiny porcelain panels. By the early 1970s, a liquor store named Doodle's occupied the premises until it was sold a couple of times. When Tim and Lynda Mellin, then owners of the Atomic Café across the street, purchased the property in 1993, they wanted the Doodle's property for its parking lot. They later sold the Atomic Café, but made an agreement to allow the café's patrons to park in the Doodle's lot since the two restaurants are not open at the same time of day. This is a positive arrangement for both restaurants. >> Read the Full Article