Happy Water Day, World!

A huge amount of water goes into the food we eat — much more than most people think. Indeed, it takes a thousand times more water to feed the human population than it does to satisfy its thirst. This remarkable relationship between water and food security is exactly what the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) wants us all to contemplate today, World Water Day 2012.

Verizon Announces Aggressive Sustainability Goal

Verizon announced today that it will cut its CO2 intensity in half by 2020, as part of the company's broad sustainability efforts. Sustainability is a key aspect of the company's new strategy for delivering shareholder value. The other aspects are developing marketplace solutions to address social issues like health care and energy, and aligning the company's philanthropic work with these issues to maximize community benefits.

Monarch Butterfly decline linked to genetically modified crops

A new study suggests that the increased use of genetically modified (GM) crops across the Midwestern U.S. may be causing a decline in monarch butterfly populations. From 1999 to 2010, a period when GM crops became more common on U.S. farms, the number of monarch eggs in the Midwest declined by 81 percent, according to researchers from the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University. The reason, according to the study, is the near-disappearance of milkweed, an important host plant for monarch eggs and caterpillars. The researchers attribute sharp declines in milkweed to widespread use of genetically modified corn and soybeans that are resistant to the herbicide, Roundup, which is then sprayed on fields, killing milkweed.

History of climate change re-written with release of Russian data

The history of a changing climate has been officially re-written following the release of new data from Russia and bases within the Arctic Circle. Scientists have now calculated that 2010 has overtaken 1998 to now be the warmest year on record, followed in second place by 2005 as 1998 is pushed into third place. The recalculation of the annual global mean temperature records follows the release of weather data from more than 600 locations around the Arctic Circle.

Pliocene Climate

During the Pliocene epoch (5.3 to 2.6 million years ago) climate became cooler and drier, and seasonal, similar to modern climates. The global average temperature in the mid-Pliocene was 2–3 °C higher than today, global sea level 80 feet higher and the northern hemisphere ice sheet was ephemeral before the onset of extensive glaciation over Greenland that occurred in the late Pliocene around 3 million years ago. Scientists are looking at what climate conditions were like 3.3 to 3 million years ago, during a geologic period known as the Pliocene, and they are confident in the accuracy of their data. The Pliocene is the most recent period of sustained global warmth similar to what is projected for the 21st century. Climate during this time period offers one of the closest analogs to estimate future climate conditions.

Rapid Pine Beetle Breeding Destroying Forests in the American West

The mountain pine beetle epidemic is considered to be the largest forest insect blight in North American history. In the past, the pine beetles played a humble role, attacking old or weakened trees, making room for new healthy trees. The changing climate has turned their seemingly benign role into something much more deadly. An explosion in pine beetle size and numbers has forced them to turn their attention to healthy trees. Furthermore, they are reproducing twice as much as normal. Once thought to only produce one generation of tree-killing offspring per year, new research now shows that some populations are producing two generations per year, potentially increasing overall population by 60 times.

Carbonised red mud can treat water cheaply

[SRINAGAR] Red mud, a by-product of alumina industries, can be 'carbonised'for safe handling and the resulting material can be used to treat water contaminated with heavy metals, say scientists... According to their findings, after carbonisation, the capacity of red mud to remove metal contaminants, particularly lead and copper, from water improves ten-fold as compared to red mud that has been acidified — an existing method to improve the waste material.

Northampton Massachusetts Struggles With Coca-Cola’s Waste

Northampton, a town of 29,000 people in Western Massachusetts, is home to a Coca-Cola plant that churns out several of Coke’s fruit juice lines. And that plant is also churning out wastewater that is becoming to expensive for Northampton’s wastewater treatment facility to process. Rising costs and the possibility of tensions increasing between a city and one of its largest employers is an example of how municipalities end up fronting and subsidizing the costs of a large company’s operations.

Mild winters may shift spread of mosquito-borne illness

Mild winters appear to speed annual menu changes for disease-carrying mosquitoes. And the revised biting patterns might play an overlooked role in worsening the risk of brain infections in people and horses.

Spring Flooding 2012

Spring floods are a common situation. This is due to winter snowfall melting from where it had accumulated and adding to the normally higher spring rain storms. Last winter was fairly warm and snowfall did not accumulate, For the first time in four years, no area of the country faces a high risk of major to record spring flooding, largely due to the limited winter snowfall, according to the NOAA’s annual Spring Outlook, which forecasts the potential for flooding from April to June.