Bring on Enviropig?: Can Genetic Engineering Make Meat a More Sustainable Food?

Food safety advocates may shudder at the thought, but a team of scientists in Canada have come up with a new breed of pig that is intended to make meat a greener, more sustainable food. The Enviropig is engineered to have the same meat quality as your typically breeded Yorkshire pig, with all the ideal protein and fat content developed for the market. But in addition, it is also engineered to produce less toxic manure that releases fewer pollutants into the atmosphere, thereby making it a more environmentally sustainable option for large scale pig farmers.

Huge Parts of World Are Drying Up: Land ‘Evapotranspiration’ Taking Unexpected Turn

ScienceDaily (Oct. 11, 2010) — The soils in large areas of the Southern Hemisphere, including major portions of Australia, Africa and South America, have been drying up in the past decade, a group of researchers conclude in the first major study to ever examine "evapotranspiration" on a global basis.

Night-time lights bring insects, disease

Use of artificial lighting at night can change human and insect behaviors, increasing the risk of insect-borne disease. Consider that before gas street lamps and electric light bulbs were invented in the 1800s, the world settled into darkness after sunset, relying only on the moon and stars for light. That is still the case in more remote regions of the world. But, as artificial lighting spreads through these mostly tropical areas, research is showing how night-time light can alter human and insect behavior and bring about some unexpected results – an increase in the transmission of insect-borne diseases. Altering human and insect interactions is one example of how light pollution may be changing disease risk patterns. The evidence suggests researchers should consider this when conducting future studies of how diseases spread. Synopsis by Thea Edwards

China overtakes U.S. as biggest energy consumer

IEA calculations based on preliminary data show that China has now overtaken the United States to become the world's largest energy user. China's rise to the top ranking was faster than expected as it was much less affected by the global financial crisis than the United States. For those who have been following energy consumption trends closely, this does not come as a surprise. What is more important is the phenomenal growth in demand that has taken place in China over the last decade; also prospects for future growth still remain incredibly strong. Since 2000, China’s energy demand has doubled, yet on a per capita basis it is still only around one-third of the OECD average. Prospects for further growth are very strong considering the country’s low per-capita consumption level and the fact that China is the most populous nation on the planet, with more than 1.3 billion people.

VW Diesel Passat BlueMotion Hits Almost 75 MPG

Gavin Conway, a writer for the UK’s Sunday times, recently set out for a country drive. Quite the drive, in fact: his drive ended up lasting three days, on a three-day trip that took him from Maidstone, Kent, to the south of France, and almost all of the way back, on one tank of diesel. The car: the BlueMotion edition of the Volkswagen Passat. The car Conway powered was the standard model, a 1.6-liter common rail TDI four-cylinder engine, which holds a 20.4 gallon tank for diesel. Now Conway can brag that he’s in the Guinness World Book of Records for his 1,526.63 mile drive, apparently now the longest distance ever driven by a production passenger car on one tank of fuel.

A High-Risk Energy Boom Sweeps Across North America

Energy companies are rushing to develop unconventional sources of oil and gas trapped in carbon-rich shales and sands throughout the western United States and Canada. So far, government officials have shown little concern for the environmental consequences of this new fossil-fuel development boom. The most direct path to America's newest big oil and gas fields is U.S. Highway 12, two lanes of blacktop that unfold from Grays Harbor in Washington State and head east across the top of the country to Detroit. The 2,500-mile route has quickly become an essential supply line for the energy industry. With astonishing speed, U.S. oil companies, Canadian pipeline builders, and investors from all over the globe are spending huge sums in an economically promising and ecologically risky race to open the next era of hydrocarbon development. As domestic U.S. pools of conventional oil and gas dwindle, energy companies are increasingly turning to “unconventional” fossil fuel reserves contained in the carbon rich-sands and deep shales of Canada, the Great Plains, and the Rocky Mountain West.

Hungary races to raise dam to avert new toxic spill

Hungarian authorities raced to finish building an emergency dam by Tuesday to hold back a threatened second spill of toxic sludge, and hunted for clues to the causes of last week's deadly industrial spill. A million cubic meters of red mud, a by-product of alumina production, burst out of a plant reservoir into villages and waterways in Hungary last Monday, killing seven people, injuring 123 and fouling rivers including a tributary of the Danube. "We hope to have the dam finished by Tuesday," Prime Minister Viktor Orban's spokesman told TV2 on Monday.

Sewage from passenger ships and ferries banned from the Baltic Sea

Ship sewage will no longer be allowed to foul the Baltic Sea. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) on Friday agreed to ban the discharge of sewage from passenger ships and ferries in the Baltic Sea. The decision comes after a three year WWF campaign to stop the dumping of waste water in the Baltic Sea. WWF has since 2007 worked hard to convince governments and the shipping industry to ban the discharge of waste water straight into the Baltic Sea. The organization had already succeeded in receiving voluntary commitments from many passenger ferry lines and cruise companies that traffic the Baltic Sea.

Hungary sludge reservoir may collapse, town evacuated

Hungary's premier warned on Saturday that the wall of a damaged industrial reservoir was likely to collapse, threatening a second spill of toxic red sludge, and a nearby village was evacuated as a precaution. About one million cubic meters of the waste material leaked out of the alumina plant reservoir into several villages and waterways earlier this week, killing seven people, injuring 123 and fouling some rivers including a local branch of the Danube.

Ring of Fire Cause

The Pacific Ring of Fire is an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. In a 25,000 mile horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements. The Ring of Fire has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world's active and dormant volcanoes. Oxford University scientists have potentially discovered the explanation for why the world’s explosive volcanoes are confined to bands only a few tens of miles wide. Most of the molten rock that comes out of these volcanoes is rich in water, but the Oxford team has shown that the volcanoes are aligned above narrow regions in the mantle where water-free melting can take place.