Study reveals coral reef decline rates are directly related to pollution

Human activities like agriculture and urbanisation can lead to the destruction of coral reefs and make their recovery and management difficult, according to research undertaken along the Kenyan coast. These activities increase the rate at which microbes — microscopic plants and animals such as bacteria, fungi, and algae, as well as some animals like sponges and worms — erode the reefs. Overfishing and drainage from land — such as the one that occurs in Kenya's marine parks — were significant contributors to coral reef degradation, according to a study by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Azores in Portugal, published in Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Air Pollution Exceeds International Health Standards for European Urbanites

There are many ways to harm your respiratory system such as smoking or breathing in asbestos. For urbanites living in cities across Europe, merely living and breathing in the city can be bad. A new study released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) found that most residents of European cities breathe toxic pollutants exceeding international health standards. The most deadly air within the EU is found in the eastern countries of Bulgaria and Romania, but there are few urban areas that escape unhealthy pollutants like ozone, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. The published study is already being seized upon by environmental groups who demand much tougher EU standards.

23 Nuclear Plants in Tsunami Risk Zones, Study Finds

In March 2011, a devastating earthquake and tsunami set off a partial meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant on Japan's coast. A recent study led by European researchers found Fukushima is not alone, as 22 other plants around the world may be similarly susceptible to destructive tsunami waves, with most of them in east and southeast regions of Asia.

Stratospheric Winds

High in the sky may affect something low in the deep ocean. This is far from an intuitive deduction. A University of Utah study suggests something amazing: Periodic changes in winds 15 to 30 miles high in the stratosphere influence the seas by striking a vulnerable Achilles heel in the North Atlantic and changing mile-deep ocean circulation patterns, which in turn affect Earth’s climate.

Floating plastic, papyrus islands may help restore Lake Naivasha

Besides being known as the material for the first paper of ancient Egypt, papyrus is also very valuable in filtering water as it has the ability to recycle nutrients. In fact, plans are being implemented to plant papyrus on floating plastic islands which will help protect the ecosystem of a prominent water source known as Lake Naivasha in Kenya. Lake Naivasha is a large freshwater lake that has been ecologically suffering for the past 30 years. Dr Harper, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Leicester, who is in part responsible for the restoration attributes this decline to the population growth in the surrounding town due to the floriculture industry as cut flowers have become one of Kenya’s top grossers of foreign exchange.

Ancient Forests of Nunavut May Return within a Century

The far northern province of Canada known as Nunavut (pronounced none-of-it) is currently a largely barren land. The tundra extends as far as the eye can see, and is covered with ice and snow the further north one goes. The immense territory stretches from Hudson Bay in the south, comprising most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It has a relatively small population of about 32,000, mostly Inuit, spread thinly across an area the size of Western Europe. The province of Nunavut is undergoing significant climate changes, faster than most parts of the world. As temperatures rise, the ancient ecosystem of 2.5 million years ago will return, ushering back hardy trees and new life to this desolate land.

Signs of Water on Vesta

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has revealed that the giant asteroid Vesta has its own version of a ring around the collar. Two new papers based on observations from the low-altitude mapping orbit of the Dawn mission show that volatile, or easily evaporated materials, have colored Vesta's surface in a broad swath around its equator. Pothole-like features mark some of the asteroid's surface where the volatiles, likely water, were released from hydrated minerals being boiled off from ancient meteor impacts. While Dawn did not find actual water ice at Vesta, there are signs of hydrated minerals delivered by meteorites and dust evident in the giant asteroid's chemistry and geology. The findings appear today in the journal Science.

The Natural Gas Revolution – Good or Bad for Energy Efficiency?

If there were an equivalent in the energy industry to Time Magazine's Person of the Year, natural gas would be this year's winner. The dramatic rise in natural gas supply, and fall in price, has reconfigured the energy scene in the United States, suddenly creating a bounty of domestic energy, driving down wholesale power prices and speeding retirement of polluting coal-fired plants.

Dangers of Hookah Water Pipes

A 45 minute shisha session is the equivalent of puffing 100 cigarettes. In a new study, Iranian researchers proved tobacco water pipes are as harmful as cigarettes, saying, "Our findings reveal profound effects of water pipe smoking on lung function, similar to the effects observed in deep inhalation cigarette smokers." A student at Amman's American Community School beat them to that conclusion by a solid six months. The website he created as part of an 8th grade project presaged findings just published by Mashhad University scientists in the journal Respiralogy. The Iranian study, the first of its kind in the Middle East, also suggests that most females don't cop to smoking shisha (or any other form of tobacco). Come on now, ladies, in the name of science, let's be truthful.

Diabetes and Iron Transport

Type 1 diabetes is partly inherited, and then triggered by certain infections. Type 2 diabetes is due primarily to lifestyle factors and genetics. Scientists have been trying to explain the multiple causes of diabetes for many years. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen and Novo Nordisk A/S have now shown that the increased activity of one particular iron-transport protein destroys insulin-producing beta cells. In addition, the new research shows that mice without this iron transporter are protected against developing diabetes. These results have just been published in the prestigious journal Cell Metabolism.