Filtration Systems on School Buses Are Needed to Protect Children from Pollutants

An on-board air filtration system developed specifically for school buses reduces exposure to vehicular pollutants by up to 88 percent, according to a study by researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. The high-efficiency cabin air, or HECA, system could help protect the 25 million American children who commute on school buses nearly every day. Children are more susceptible to air pollution than adults because they breathe more quickly and their immune and cardiovascular systems are still developing, said Yifang Zhu, the study’s senior author and an associate professor in the department of environmental health sciences.

An Organic Future

The words ‘organic’ and ‘sustainability’ are bandied around quite a bit. While some won’t eat anything but organic, others deny that there’s any future in organic farming. After all, with a population that’s seven billion-strong and growing, how can we possibly expect organics to feed the world? Or so the critics ask. In their view, feeding the masses simply can’t be done without strong chemicals and genetic modification.

How did Emperor Penguins survive the last ice age?

The study of how climate change has affected emperor penguins over the last 30,000 years found that only three populations may have survived during the last ice age, and that the Ross Sea in Antarctica was likely the refuge for one of these populations.The findings, published in the journal Global Change Biology, suggest that while current climate conditions may be optimal for emperor penguins, conditions in the past were too extreme for large populations to survive.

In California, Beavers are essential to recovering wild salmon

With California's wild Coho salmon populations down to 1% of their former numbers, there's growing evidence that beavers - long reviled as a pest of the waterways - are essential to restore the species, writes Maria Finn. In the process, they raise water tables, recharge aquifers and improve water quality. What's not to love?Beavers are the single most important factor in determining whether Coho salmon persist in California. They work night and day, don't need to be paid, and are incredible engineers.

Using satellites to monitor forest health

Scientists for the first time have simultaneously compared widespread impacts from two of the most common forest insects in the West – mountain pine beetle and western spruce budworm – an advance that could lead to more effective management policies.By combining data from satellites, airplanes and ground-based crews, the researchers have shown in unprecedented detail how insects affect Western forests over decades.In the past, forest managers relied on airplane surveys to evaluate insect damage over broad areas.

Why the sun impacts climate more during cooler periods

The activity of the Sun is an important factor in the complex interaction that controls our climate. New research now shows that the impact of the Sun is not constant over time, but has greater significance when the Earth is cooler. There has been much discussion as to whether variations in the strength of the Sun have played a role in triggering climate change in the past, but more and more research results clearly indicate that solar activity - i.e. the amount of radiation coming from the Sun - has an impact on how the climate varies over time.

China bans carved ivory imports

China has established a one-year ban on imports of carved African elephant ivory. Conservationists say the move, effective immediately, sends an important signal, but alone won't be enough to slow elephant poaching. "This announcement is an encouraging signal that the Chinese government is ratcheting down the import of African elephant ivory into the country," said Iris Ho, director of wildlife for Humane Society International, in a statement. "We are hopeful that more meaningful actions are being considered by the leadership and relevant government agencies of China that will further strengthen the country’s efforts on combating the elephant poaching and ivory trafficking crisis."

The miracle drink: Coffee!

Drinking coffee may be associated with a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, April 18 to 25, 2015. "Caffeine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, and our study shows that coffee intake may also protect against MS, supporting the idea that the drug may have protective effects for the brain," said study author Ellen Mowry, MD, MCR, with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. 

Is Greenland Melting?

A team of scientists lead by Danish geologist Nicolaj Krog Larsen have managed to quantify how the Greenland Ice Sheet reacted to a warm period 8,000-5,000 years ago. Back then temperatures were 2-4 degrees C warmer than present. Their results have just been published in the scientific journal Geology, and are important as we are rapidly closing in on similar temperatures.

Antifreeze protein from ticks fights frostbite in mice

A protein that protects ticks from freezing temperatures also prevents frostbite when introduced in mice, a Yale-led study has found. The research is the first to demonstrate the protein’s ability to boost frostbite resistance in an adult mammal.