Month: June 2011

  • The Amazing Lifestyle of the Gyrfalcon

    The gyrfalcon is a species of falcon which lives on the arctic coasts and islands of North America, Europe, and Asia. It is the largest of all the falcon species. Being well adapted to cold weather, the gyrfalcon has thick plumage and spotted white feathers for blending into the icy background. A recent study from the University of Oxford has uncovered a very unique trait which this species possesses. It is the only known land-based predatory bird to make its home on icebergs floating over the ocean.

  • In the News: Serengeti highway cancelled

    In what is being hailed as a victory for conservationists and the wildlife of the Serengeti, the Tanzanian government has cancelled plans for a controversial highway that would have dissected the Serengeti National Park.

  • Major quakes strike in Pacific off Alaska

    A major earthquake of 7.4 magnitude struck in the Pacific Ocean more than 1,000 miles west of Anchorage on Thursday, prompting a brief tsunami warning for part of the remote Aleutian Islands chain. No damage or injuries were reported. The warning, which extended for roughly 800 miles — from Unimak Pass, northeast of Dutch Harbor, westward to Amchitka Pass, west of Adak Island — was canceled after a little more than an hour. A tsunami wave measuring just 6 centimeters tall was recorded at Nikolski, a tiny Aleut village on the island of Umnak, and a 10-centimeter wave was observed at Adak, said Becki Legatt, a spokeswoman for the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska. The coast of the entire Alaska peninsula and all of the Alaska mainland were never considered to be threatened.

  • A Big Bird Flapping

    How does a baby bird learn to fly? One anecdote is to push them out of the nest and hope they do not hit the ground. It is also similar o how a human baby learns to walk. The muscles have to grow strong enough to do the job. It can take months for their partially developed wings and flight muscles to become airworthy, and by then the youngsters are almost fully grown. However, long before their maiden flight, chicks probably put their developing wings to use, flapping as they run up steep branches. Brandon Jackson from the University of Montana, USA, explains that Ken Dial and his son first noticed this strange behavior when filming chukar chicks negotiating obstacles: instead of flying over, the birds ran up over the object flapping their wings. When Dial discussed this behavior with local ranchers and hunters, some described adult chukars flapping to run up cliffs. So why do adult birds flap and run up steep objects when they are perfectly capable of flying? Jackson, Dial and their colleague Bret Tobalske wondered whether pigeons might use ‘flap running’ to save energy, so they measured the amount of power generated by the flight muscles of flap running and flying birds and found that flap running birds use less than 10% of the energy of birds flying at the same angle.

  • Jail Time for Clean Air Act Violator

    The Clean Air Act is an environmental law but it is a law nonetheless. Breaking it will subject the violator to punishment by the courts. Yesterday, a West Des Moines, Iowa resident was sentenced by a US District Judge to 41 months of prison, followed by two years of supervised release, 300 hours of community service, a $12,500 fine, and an addition $200 fine for each victim of his crime. The charge against him was conspiracy to violate Clean Air Act asbestos work practice standards during the renovation over 10-story building in Des Moines.

  • New Nissan Ads Shift the Way Car Buyers Evaluate Options

    Many new green brands have been introduced over the years with what I’ve called “green marketing myopic” pitches (think GE’s “dancing elephants” and Conoco’s “cheering dolphins”), only to realize the opportunity to link environmental product attributes with the primary reasons why consumers buy (all) products in the first place. Nissan fell into this camp with the polar bear ads for their new LEAF electric vehicle. However, their new campaign suggests that Nissan’s marketing team is on an vertical learning curve, and in my estimation, represents some of the sharpest green marketing smarts around today.

  • Deer Vs. Bald Eagle: Eagle 1, Deer 0

    A power outage resulted from a deer on the power line. The reason? It got dropped there by a Bald Eagle. While it may be great urban myth, it’s way too good to pass up. Here’s what KAJ18, a news station in Kalispell Montana, reported…

  • American Consumers and Greener Vehicles

    Cutting emissions from US automobiles will be critical to any strategy for slowing global warming. America’s adoption of hybrids, fully electric vehicles and fuel efficient small cars are also crucial to the transition to a low carbon economy. According to an Environmental Defence study, Global Warming on the Road (pdf), US automobiles and light trucks are responsible for nearly half of all greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles globally.

  • In the News: Latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species released

    Released today, the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species shows that a staggering 19,265 species are currently threatened with extinction. Over 900 new species have been classified as threatened – that is, considered to be Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable – since the last update in 2010, showing that there is no let up in the extinction crisis threatening the world’s biodiversity. Although more species are thought to be threatened than ever before, the IUCN are keen to highlight that there have also been major conservation success stories.

  • In China, 555,000 evacuated from flooding

    China has mobilized troops to help with flood relief and raised its disaster alert to the highest level after days of downpours forced the evacuation of more than half a million people in central and southern provinces. The official China Daily said more than 555,000 people had been evacuated in seven provinces and a municipality after rains in recently drought-stricken areas caused floods and mudslides in the Yangtze River basin. Central authorities have raised the disaster alert to the highest level 4, and the government is describing the floods in some areas, such as eastern Zhejiang province’s Qianting River area, as the worst since 1955. Local media said two dykes in the village areas of Zhuji in Zhejiang province were breached on Thursday, flooding two towns and 21 villages.