Noise pollution harms wildlife, degrades habitats

Traffic noise is just another inconvenience for many of us. But for wildlife, noise from honking, and zooming vehicles can often be an insidious threat: it can degrade habitats without leaving any physical evidence of change, warns a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Road noise — even in moderate levels — pushes migrating birds away from their stopover habitats, researchers from Boise State University in Idaho found. Those that stay back become weak.“I was initially surprised that even moderate road noise — comparable to a suburban setting — would have such a wide-ranging impact on migrating birds,” William Laurance, a professor at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, who was not involved in the study, told Mongabay. “On reflection, however, I guess such migrators have to be hyper-vigilent about noise, as they’re constantly moving to new areas where unseen predators could be lurking.”

Evidence confirms volcanic island collapses may trigger mega-tsunamis

A pre-historical sudden collapse of one of the tallest and most active oceanic volcanoes on Earth — Fogo, in the Cape Verde Islands – triggered a mega-tsunami with waves impacting 220 metres (721 feet) above present sea level resulting in catastrophic consequences, according to a new University of Bristol study published in Science Advances.

EU Health Forum considers crisis the new normal

After nearly a decade of economic crisis, an Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and a refugee crisis, experts say that EU health systems must get used to the fact that "shockwaves" are here to stay.They hope that the Ebola outbreak will be a wake up call, that, without stronger European leadership, healthcare in the EU will come under many threats. At the European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG) on Thursday (1 October), DEVCO, the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, hosted a forum dealing with how to secure health in the EU through development work and international cooperation.

The Gypsies problem in Europe

Under new planning rules, Travellers and Gypsies must be able to prove they are actually traveling to qualify for limited planning benefits to create new sites. But for many, it's impossible to do that. Not only to remain in employment, or education - but precisely because there are so few sites, that they are unable to travel.Living on an unauthorised campsite carries a heavy weight of suffering and disadvantage. Travellers contend daily with the risk of criminalisation and eviction, as well as limited access to basic services such as running water and sanitation.Any attempt to subsume diverse groups under one label is going to be fraught with tension - and this is certainly true in terms of the word 'Traveller'.

Sierra Nevada snowpack at historic low

On April 1, California Governor Jerry Brown stood in a Sierra Nevada meadow atop parched, brown grass — at an elevation of 6,800 feet, where there would normally be five feet of snow at that time of year — and announced the state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions.The Golden State is still in the grip of a severe drought that began in 2012, and new research suggests it is one of the worst in centuries.The day Gov. Brown announced the statewide water restrictions, snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas was reported to be at just 5 percent of its historical average, as calculated from records dating back to the 1930s.

Could Mealworms Help Solve our Styrofoam Waste Problem?

Plastic waste is out of control in this country, and Styrofoam is one of the worst offenders. Americans toss out 25 billion Styrofoam cups each year. Over two million tons of the stuff ends up in landfills, where it does not biodegrade. Scientists think they may have found a solution for our Styrofoam problem, though: feed it to the worms!

Antibacterial vs. Plain Soap

A survey by the American Cleaning Institute and the industry-run Personal Care Products Council revealed that 74 percent of Americans use antibacterial soap.Fifty-six percent of them use it regularly, and, reportedly, 75 percent of moms with children in the household said they would be “angry” if antibacterial soap was no longer on the market.

Do you favor hotels that ask you to reuse your towels?

Hotels across the globe are increasingly encouraging guests to embrace green practices. Yet while guests think they are supporting the environment by shutting off lights and reusing towels, they may in fact be victims of "greenwashing," a corporation's deceitful practice of promoting environmentally friendly programmes while banking the extra profits.Greenwashing practices, such as a sign that reads "save the planet: re-use towels," coupled with claims of corporate social responsibility, have soiled the trust of American consumers who are increasingly recognizing hotels' green claims may be self-serving. This could cause hotels to lose valuable repeat customers.

Cancer drug found to sharpen memory, potential for Alzheimer's treatment

Can you imagine a drug that would make it easier to learn a language, sharpen your memory and help those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by rewiring the brain and keeping neurons alive?People with a dementia such as Alzheimer's disease lose their memory when brain cells shrink and die because connections can no longer transfer information.New Rutgers research published in the Journal Neuroscience found that a drug – RGFP966 – administered to rats made them more attuned to what they were hearing, able to retain and remember more information, and develop new connections that allowed these memories to be transmitted between brain cells.

New Sensor Tag Technology Could Link Animal Behavior and Conservation Science

For wild sockeye salmon, the trip upriver from the ocean to their spawning grounds is fraught with peril and hardship. But quantifying exactly how obstacles along the way, fluctuations in water temperature and other factors impact fish survival has long eluded researchers. New advances in biological sensor tags are now allowing scientists to precisely measure animals’ energetics, their interactions with humans, and their responses to rapidly changing environments.In 2014, for example, Nicholas Burnett and colleagues used accelerometer tags to measure how salmon needed to swim in order to traverse a dam in the Seton-Anderson watershed of British Columbia, Canada and how likely they were to survive the remainder of their journey. They found that when salmon resort to strenuous anaerobic swimming, they were significantly more likely to die days or even hours later.