Environmental News Network: Top Stories
Environmental News Network
Updated: 14 hours 42 min ago
Bread, buns and coffee can be dangerous as they might contain the chemical compound acrylamide, which the Technical University of Denmark's (DTU) National Food Institute now links to cancer. EU food safety authorities have been asked to investigate. Acrylamide is a chemical compound that typically forms in starchy food products such as potato crisps, chips, bread, biscuits and coffee, during high-temperature processing (above 120°), including frying, baking and roasting. "We can with a great probability say that there is a link between food products which contain alcrylamide and cancer," Jørgen Schlundt, director of DTU's National Food Institute, told Danish TV.
Humans have used oil shale as a fuel since prehistoric times, since it generally burns without any processing. Oil shale, also known as kerogen shale, is an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock containing kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds) from which liquid hydrocarbons called shale oil (not to be confused with tight oil—crude oil occurring naturally in shales) can be produced. As part of President Obama’s strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible development of the nation’s energy resources, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the Department’s final plan for encouraging research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of oil shale and tar sands resources on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The Record of Decision and plan amendments make nearly 700,000 acres in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming available for potential oil shale leasing and about 130,000 acres available for potential tar sands leasing in Utah.
On Friday, March 15th Thai authorities arrested a 38-year-old man attempting to collect a bag containing 54 ploughshare tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora) and 21 radiated tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) in Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Found only in Madagascar both species are listed as Critically Endangered and protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), but have become lucrative targets for the black-market pet trade given their scarcity and beauty.
The End Triassic extinction event was an extinction event that occurred over 200 million years ago. At least half of the species known to have been living on Earth at that time went extinct. This event vacated terrestrial ecological niches, allowing the dinosaurs to assume the dominant roles in the Jurassic period. This event happened in less than 10,000 years and occurred just before Panagea started to break apart. Scientists examining evidence across the world from New Jersey to North Africa say they have linked the abrupt disappearance of half of earth’s species 200 million years ago to a precisely dated set of gigantic volcanic eruptions. The eruptions may have caused climate changes so sudden that many creatures were unable to adapt—possibly on a pace similar to that of human-influenced climate warming today. The extinction opened the way for dinosaurs to evolve and dominate the planet for the next 135 million years, before they, too, were wiped out in a later planetary cataclysm. This study provides the tightest link yet, with a newly precise date - 201,564,000 years ago, exactly the same time as a massive outpouring of lava.
To help reduce traffic congestion and carbon dioxide emissions in New York City, and better serve customers, Verizon has rolled out a fleet of 25 buses that will pick up company technicians at central locations throughout the city and then transport them to local job sites. The fleet - known as MAGIC, which stands for Mobile Area Garage Installation Center - removes approximately 250 Verizon trucks from the city's roads and frees up the same number of parking spots.
Scientists from the Nano-Science Center at the Niels Bohr Institut, Denmark and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, have shown that a single nanowire can concentrate the sunlight up to 15 times of the normal sun light intensity. The results are surprising and the potential for developing a new type of highly efficient solar cells is great. Due to some unique physical light absorption properties of nanowires, the limit of how much energy we can utilize from the sun's rays is higher than previous believed. These results demonstrate the great potential of development of nanowire-based solar cells, says PhD Peter Krogstrup on the surprising discovery that is described in the journal Nature Photonics.
WWF's Earth Hour has just concluded another record sweep around our planet from Samoa on one side of the International Date Line to the Cook Islands on the other, with hundreds of millions again uniting to send a clear message - we are determined to create a sustainable future for our planet. The event was observed in more than 7000 cities, towns and municipalities in more than 150 countries and territories, with many of the world's best known human and natural landmarks going dark as the backdrop to a multitude of "beyond the hour" activities and initiatives generating outcomes for the movement and the planet on which we live. "What is most important is the ever increasing extent to which Earth Hour's supporters are participating in or taking actions themselves," said Earth Hour CEO and Co-Founder, Andy Ridley.
Today is World Meteorological Day. This day is not celebrated as a world holiday, but is designated to focus attention on the importance that meteorology, weather, and climate forecasts play in our lives. The United Nations recognizes the importance of weather, climate and meteorological forecasting to the natural environment and human well-being. World Meteorological Day, observed on 23 March, celebrates the creation of WMO in 1950 to promote international cooperation in the field of weather, climate, water and other related sciences. This year's theme, "Watching the Weather to Protect Life and Property," focuses on the crucial role that meteorological and water services play in alerting people to natural hazards such as floods, topical cyclones and droughts.
Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees (also known as dikes) are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. The average age of the 84,000 dams in the US is 52 years old. The nation’s dams are aging and the number of high-hazard dams is on the rise. Many of these dams were built as low-hazard dams protecting undeveloped agricultural land. The average age of the 84,000 dams in the country is 52 years old. The nation’s dams are aging and the number of high-hazard dams is on the rise. Many of these dams were built as low-hazard dams protecting undeveloped agricultural land. Both are in sad shape and rated a D for dams and a D- for levees by the American Society of Civil Engineers who are the engineers who build them. If they go, homes and vast stretches of land will be flooded and the environment literally drenched.
Sinkholes have been making headlines in the news lately like when earlier this month, a Florida man was unfortunately pulled to his death because of the mysterious land collapse. Florida in particular is prone to sinkholes because of underground limestone caverns in which the rock is extremely porous and dissolves easily in water. This softening causes land to sink and the event has the ability to collapse without warning, swallowing whatever lies above ground causing fatal destruction. While sinkholes are naturally occurring depressions in the Earth’s surface that vary in both diameter and depth, they can also be caused by man-made industries, and consequently, a massive sinkhole in Louisiana is threatening an entire community.
Despite a slight decline between 2009 and 2010, since 1999 the global land area farmed organically has expanded more than threefold to 37 million hectares, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). Regions with the largest certified organic agricultural land in 2010 were Oceania, including Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island nations (12.1 million hectares); Europe (10 million hectares); and Latin America (8.4 million hectares), write report authors Catherine Ward and Laura Reynolds.
In 2010, there was a large volcanic eruption spewing tons of ash into the atmosphere and into the sea. The ash caused major flight delays as well as posing potential health hazards. Nevertheless, the Icelandic volcano's ash plume resulted in the oceans absorbing more carbon dioxide (CO2) than usual, say scientists. In about a third of the global ocean, the abundance of life is limited by a lack of biologically available iron. The supply of iron to a region that is depleted in this important nutrient can stimulate algal productivity, and can result in a temporary boom in biological activity. For much of the surface ocean, the wind-borne transport of iron-rich dust and the upwelling of nutrient-filled water are the normal major sources of iron.
All across the globe, communities are celebrating International World Water Day and according the UN's World Water Day website, over 450 events have been planned this year! This year's theme is in part a reflection of the International Year of Water Cooperation. The day is also dedicated to the theme of cooperation that is emphasized concerning using water as a resource. Not only is the environment heavily dependent on water, but as a basic human need, good management of water sources is crucial to our own livelihood. In correlation with this environmental holiday, we are encouraged to promote water cooperation and do our part in protecting one of Earth's most valuable resources as this year marks the 10th anniversary of the celebration that was recommended during the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development. So in celebration of today, we are urging our readers to limit your water use!
The world’s largest living species, native to California's Sierra Nevada, faces a two-pronged risk from declining snowpack and rising temperatures. The threat to sequoias mirrors a growing danger to trees worldwide, with some scientists saying rapid warming this century could wipe out many of the planet's old trees. Few living things seem as permanent as the giant sequoia trees of California's Sierra Nevada. The largest species of flora or fauna on Earth, these towering redwood trees have held sway for millions of years in a narrow band of their native mountain habitat. With heights reaching 300 feet and girths as large as 150 feet, some sequoias can live in excess of 3,000 years before being naturally toppled by a combination of weather and gravity.
Tectonic plates are composed of oceanic lithosphere and thicker continental lithosphere, each topped by its own kind of crust. Tectonic plates are able to move because the Earth's lithosphere has a higher strength and lower density than the underlying asthenosphere. Plate movement is thought to be driven by a combination of the motion of the seafloor away from the spreading ridge (due to variations in topography and density of the crust, which result in differences in gravitational forces) and drag, downward suction, at the subduction zones. Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have found a layer of liquefied molten rock in Earth's mantle that may be acting as a lubricant for the sliding motions of the planet's massive tectonic plates. The discovery may carry far-reaching implications, from solving basic geological functions of the planet to a better understanding of volcanism and earthquakes. The scientists discovered the magma layer at the Middle America trench offshore Nicaragua
Scientists in Australia have successfully cloned embryos of a unique but extinct species of frog that gives birth through its mouth.
Superfund is the common name for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), a United States federal law designed to clean up sites contaminated with hazardous substances. Where responsible parties cannot be found, the Agency is authorized to clean up sites itself, using a special trust fund. There has been undeniable success in the cleanup of the nation’s hazardous waste and brownfields sites. However, annual funding for Superfund site cleanup is estimated to be as much as $500 million short of what is needed, and 1,280 sites remain on the National Priorities List with an unknown number of potential sites yet to be identified. More than 400,000 brownfields sites await cleanup and redevelopment. The American Society of Civil Engineers has prepared a report card on the state of the nation on this matter and have given us a D+.
Two surveys in the mountainous forests of Sri Lank's Peak Wilderness Sanctuary have uncovered eight new species of frogs, according to a massive new paper in the Journal of Threatened Taxa. While every year over a hundred new amphibians are discovered, eight new discoveries in a single park is especially notable. Sri Lanka is an amphibian-lovers paradise with well over 100 described species, most of which are endemic, i.e. found only on the small island country. Unfortunately the country has also seen more frog extinctions than anywhere else, and seven of the eight new species are already thought to be Critically Endangered.
While air travel today accounts for just three percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, the carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants that come out of jet exhaust contribute disproportionately to increasing surface temperatures below because the warming effect is amplified in the upper atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the United Nations (UN) to provide comprehensive scientific assessments of the risk of human-induced climate change, reports that CO2 emitted by jets can survive in the atmosphere for upwards of 100 years, and that its combination with other gas and particulate emissions could have double or four times the warming effect as CO2 emissions alone.Modern jet engines are not that different from automobile engines—both involve internal combustion and burn fossil fuels. But instead of gasoline or diesel, jet fuel is primarily kerosene, a common home heating fuel used around the world. Just like car engines, jets emit CO2, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and soot.
Plankton are any organisms that live in water and are incapable of swimming against a current. They provide a crucial source of food to many large aquatic organisms, such as fish and whales. The true base of the food chain. Though many plankton species are microscopic in size, plankton includes organisms covering a wide range of sizes, including large organisms such as jellyfish. Models of carbon dioxide in the world's oceans need to be revised, according to new work by UC Irvine and other scientists published online Sunday in Nature Geoscience due to plankton. Trillions of plankton near the surface of warm waters are far more carbon-rich than has long been thought, they found. Global marine temperature fluctuations could mean that tiny Prochlorococcus and other microbes digest double the carbon previously calculated.
Environmental News Network: Top Stories