The awakening of the 17 year cicadas, known as Brood II, has begun along the US East coast. For the time being, the majority of sightings seem to be in central and northern Virginia, with a few scattered sightings farther north. Cicadas have also been sighted in southern Maryland, near Silver Spring; in several counties in New Jersey; even as far north as Staten Island, New York. The cicadas only come above ground when the soil temperature hits 64°F (17.7°C).
Buzzard Nests Destroyed
A UK government agency, Natural England, has issued licenses to destroy the nests and eggs of buzzards, a protected species, in order to protect a pheasant shoot. This information was released to the public after the nests were destroyed, and only because it was requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Buzzards are recovering from near extinction, with a current population of 40,000, while 35m pheasants are bred annually for shoots.
Keystone XL Pipeline
The US House of Representatives has voted to shut President Obama out of the decision making process for approving the Keystone XL pipeline. The vote, which passed 241-175, would dispense with any more environmental reviews and allow only 60 days for legal challenges. It is unlikely; however, that the Senate will also approve of this measure, and the White House has announced it will veto any measure to bypass the current permit process.
GHG Emissions from Shoes
An international team of researchers has found that making a new pair of synthetic running shoes, specifically the Asics gel Kayanos, generates an average of 30 lbs (13.6 kg) of carbon dioxide emissions, roughly equivalent to leaving a 100 watt light bulb on for a week. Approximately 68% of the total greenhouse gas emissions for the shoes were generated during the manufacturing process, not in the sourcing of materials.
3-D Food Printer
NASA has given a six month grant to Systems & Materials Research Corp. to help develop a 3-D food printer that will turn proteins, carbs, and sugars into edible food products, an innovation the company believes could end world hunger. Most of the nutrients will be stored in powder form and mixed with oil and water as it is needed and cooked as it prints. Some alternative food sources that can be used with the printer include algae, grass, duckweed, and insects.
As Scotland discusses voting for independence from the UK, Ed Davey, the UK energy secretary, warns that Scotland could lose billions of pounds in subsidies for renewable energy products, threatening their green revolution. Davey said there had been pledges of £13 billion (USD$19.6 billion) worth of investments that could generate over 9,000 new jobs in Scottish renewables that would be lost if the nation were to secede.
A team of UK researchers has conducted a study which found that the unkempt area of farms are actually important for supporting wildlife. The areas around the edges of farms and the areas where machinery has broken down and left to rust away that people tend to consider eye sores actually contain an abundance of food sources for many insects and animals.
A new study from Dartmouth College, US, finds that anthropogenic climate change may have little impact on tropical lizard species, contradicting several previous studies that predict their widespread extinction. This new study found that past studies based their predictions on global scale measurements of environmental temperatures, but failed to take into account the more fine scale temperature variations animals' face on the ground.
Forest Coverage Data Set
Researchers from the University of Maryland, US, have developed a new and more accurate forest cover data set that can better help track deforestation. The data set is based on combining data from two satellite sensor systems, the 250-meter resolution Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectrometer and 30-meter Landsat imagery. The result is a 30-meter resolution data set that is more accurate than the industry standard for global forest measurement.
Aquaculture Stewardess Council
Marine Harvest, one of the world's largest fish farming companies, has voluntarily agreed to join the Aquaculture Stewardess council, a new accreditation scheme by the WWF. The company plans to have all of their UK farms ASC accredited by the end of the decade, which involves much tougher limits on the farms pesticide use and seal killing, a precautionary measure taken to protect the salmon, as well as only using fishfeed from Marine Council accredited fish stock.
World's Largest Hydropower
The Democratic Republic of Congo's government has consulted with several other nations and has announced plans to continue building dams at Inga Falls on the Congo River to join the two that are already there. The first of which, is set to begin construction in October 2015 to generate an additional 4,800 megawatts. Several consecutive stages are being talked over which could eventually generate up to 40,000 MW, the equivalent of 20 nuclear power stations.
Great Crane Reintroduced in Britain
The first common crane egg laid in western Britain in more than 400 years has been given a full time guard. The cranes, once widespread throughout Britain, were driven to extinction by hunting and habitat loss in the 1600s. The nesting pair of cranes was reintroduced through the Great Crane Project, which has been rearing cranes in captivity and releasing them back into the wild since 2010.
Climate Change on Ecosystems
According to a new study by researchers at Durham University, UK, during the last ice age warm spells were so brief that trees were unable to establish themselves before the temperature plummeted again. At the end of the frozen period, about 10,000 years ago, whole ecosystem patterns changed, trees became established and some species went extinct. This research could give us clues to the effects of the current climate change on ecosystems.
Researchers from the University of California, US, have studied the melting of permafrost in the Alaskan tundra for two decades, and have discovered that as the permafrost melts, the soil kept most its stored carbon. The team set up greenhouses on plots of tundra to allow them to control the air temperature. The results suggest that in the warmer air, decomposition slowed in surface soil, but sped up deeper underground, but carbon release was unaffected.
Ancient Isolated Water Pockets
A UK-Canadian team of scientists has discovered pockets of water that have been trapped underground for billions of years and contain abundant chemicals known to support life, such as hydrogen and methane. The team hopes to find microbes in the water that evolved independently of the surface world. This discovery could change where we look for life on other planets, or even on our own planet.
Immaculately Conceived Anteater
Staffers at a zoological conservation center in Connecticut, US, are dumbfounded because their female anteater has recently given birth, without contact from another male anteater. In August of 2012, Armani gave birth, at which time the father was removed from the habitat as male anteaters have been known to commit infanticide. Then, in April, with a gestation period of only six months and no contact from the male, Armani gave birth to another offspring.
World's Tallest Dam
Chinese environmental authorities have approved plans to build what may be the world's tallest dam along the Dadu River in the Sichuan province. The 314 m (1,030 ft) tall dam will have a total installed capacity of 2 gigawatts and produce nearly eight billion kilowatt-hours of energy annually. However, this comes with a price, as the dam will affect the spawning and movement of rare species of fish, as well as the growth of some endangered plants.
Insect Rich Diet
According to a new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, one of the easiest ways to combat rising food needs, environmental degradation, and climate change is to increase the amount of insects we eat. Large scale insect farming would produce less greenhouse gas emissions than typical livestock, as only a few species of insects produce methane gas, and insect farming would not require the clearing of additional lands.
Change in Seabird Diets
A team of US researchers has studied the isotopes of 250 Hawaiian petrels to reconstruct the birds' diets over the last 3,000 years. The team compared the ratio of nitrogen-15 and nitrogen-14, the bigger the ratio the bigger the prey, and found that up until about 100 years ago, the birds preferred larger prey. The dietary change coincides with the beginning of large, modern fisheries, which suggests that industrial fishing has impacted non-target species.
Ruins Found in Honduran Forest
Archeologists from the University of Houston, US, have discovered ruins in Honduras, which some believe to be of Ciudad Blanca, or “The White City,” a never confirmed city sought after by the conquistadors for its supposed gold deposits. Whether or not it is Ciudad Blanca, the images presented by the archeologists seem to feature ancient ruins, including roads, building foundations, and canals.
Ocean Cleanup Results
During the Ocean Conservancy's 2012 International Coastal Cleanup Day, volunteers removed and chronicled millions of pounds of garbage from the world's beaches and oceans. The number one item picked up was cigarette butts, with a count of 2,117,931. Food wrappers and containers (1,140,222), beverage bottles (1,065,171), plastic bags (1,019,902) and bottle caps (958,893) rounded out the top five of items removed.
Everest Glaciers Shrinking
Researchers from the University of Milan, Italy, have reconstructed the glacial history of the Mt. Everest region, and found that glaciers in the region have shrunk by 13% and the snow line has retreated 180 m (590 ft) up the mountain over the last 50 years. The team believe this is due to warming temperatures, a 0.6°C or 1.1°F rise, and declining snowfall, a 100 mm or 3.9 in decrease, since the early 1990s.
Last spring, scientists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began an experiment at the mouth of New York City's Bronx River in which mussel colonies were attached to a raft and left to see if they could survive and help filter the water. When researchers recently began to remove the mussels to study, they found that they had thrived in the water and could be a plausible filter for areas with degraded water.
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