• Iskander Malaysia: World's First "Smart Metropolis"

    Malaysia is currently building the world's most advanced low-carbon mega-city comparable in size to the area of Luxembourg, with an expected population of 3 million by 2025. Iskandar Malaysia, the first "smart metropolis" of Southeast Asia founded on principles of social integration as well as low carbon emissions thanks to a green economy and green technologies, is a potential template for urban development in emerging countries with burgeoning populations, international experts say. >> Read the Full Article
  • Hurricane Sandy and Potentially Hazardous Waters

    When flood waters hit lubricating oils, heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel and other potentially hazardous or toxic liquids, there is the potential for contamination of surface waters in ponds and rivers. The US Geological Survey is undertaking sampling of waters to see if contamination exceeds acceptable levels. As recovery efforts for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy continue, U.S. Geological Survey crews are sampling water for nutrients, sediment, and pesticides to document water quality in areas affected by the hurricane. This sampling effort is part of the federal government’s broad efforts to ensure public health and to support the state, tribal, and local response to the storm. "We tend to think of events like Sandy in terms of the ephemeral effect of the wind, rain, waves, and even snow as it swept through our communities, but in fact this superstorm can have a longer-term effect in the large pulse of sediment and associated pollutants swept into our waterways," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "It is particularly important to quantify the input of this one unusual event before concluding that certain efforts to reduce pollutant run-off from year to year have or have not been effective." >> Read the Full Article
  • Researchers study effects of open-fire cooking on air quality and human health

    The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has just launched a study examining the impact of open-fire cooking on regional air quality and human health. The study will look at atmospheric air pollutants and human diseases in terms of the effects of smoke from traditional cooking methods in households, villages, and entire regions particularly in northern Ghana. There are many factors that force developing countries to rely on cooking food with open flame fires. For example, electricity and energy sources are extremely scarce and lead natives to use dried plant stalks and other mediums for fuel. Research suggests that the continued use of these open fire pits and stoves has the potential to create problems for local populations. >> Read the Full Article
  • Smartphone apps allow users to see critical environmental issues

    With smartphones and tablets becoming increasingly popular, so are their applications or 'apps'. And trust me, they have an app for just about anything. From games to news outlets, weather trackers, and finding the best shopping deals, apps are there to provide us with entertainment and to make our online experience easier. Apps can also be used for educational purposes and recently, two developers have come up with new and exciting technology on how we can see environmental issues in app format. >> Read the Full Article
  • Toxic chemicals used for leather production poisoning India’s tannery workers

    India’s tanning industry has started tackling environmental issues but its progress on worker safety is woeful. As Peter Bengtsen found out, illness and deaths linked to toxic tanning chemicals appear worryingly common. The day began as every other day for 32-year-old tannery worker, Ramu. He woke at five in the morning next to his wife, Tamil Arasi, and four children in the family’s one-room hut in a tiny rural village in southern India. After his usual breakfast of rice and lentils, he left to clean waste tanks at some of the hundreds of tanneries in Vaniyambadi. He never returned home. >> Read the Full Article
  • Researchers Emphasize the Need to Monitor Rivers for Triclosan

    Ever heard of triclosan? As an antibacterial and antifungal agent, it is used in everything from toothpaste, to soaps, socks and trash bags. While the US Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the European Union all regulate triclosan, the chemical is not monitored and often gets absorbed into sewage sludge after wastewater treatment. Researchers from Germany and Slovakia are claiming that triclosan is harmful to the ecology of rivers and are calling for further monitoring of the chemical. After monitoring the Elbe river basin, concentrations of the chemical at various test sites were found to exceed the predicted no-effect concentration for algal communities. From the 500 river basin-specific pollutants investigated, triclosan ranked sixth as one of the most particularly harmful substances in Europe. >> Read the Full Article
  • 'Aquaponics' Help Islanders Cultivate Crops and Raise Fish

    A pilot aquaponics experiment is now underway in the Cook Islands that has the potential to become the South Pacific region's best chance for preventing food shortages. First announced during the Pacific Islands Forum earlier this year (27–31 August), the pilot project combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals like fish in tanks) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in symbiosis, a strategy that can be replicated in other island nations. The project's long-term objective is to give Pacific islanders — who are facing climate-related issues such as drought and fish poisoning — a way to sustainably grow crops using minimal water and no pesticides. >> Read the Full Article
  • Bringing Rain Gardens to Urban Areas

    Water management is a major issue in large urban areas, where after heavy rainfall, rooftops, streets and pavements act as funnels. This sends huge volumes of water very quickly into drainage systems, putting pressure on rivers and increasing the risk of flooding. In contrast, undeveloped land absorbs and utilises water, thus slowing its progress to rivers. It is this natural bioretention that our towns and cities must learn to mimic. Rain gardens do just that. In its most basic form a rain garden is a planted depression in the ground, providing porous and absorbent materials into which water can soak, with plants that can withstand occasional temporary flooding. >> Read the Full Article
  • Rice and Global Warming

    Rice is the most important grain with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake in the world, providing more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by the human species. Without rice and the world will be a much different place. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, coupled with rising temperatures, is making rice agriculture a larger source of the potent greenhouse gas methane, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change by a research team that includes a University of California, Davis, plant scientist. The authors note that relatively simple changes in rice cultivation could help reduce methane emissions. >> Read the Full Article