Freshwater Mussels given protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service extended Endangered Species Act protection to eight species of freshwater mussels and 1,494 miles of stream in Alabama and Florida today, following an agreement reached with the Center for Biological Diversity in 2011 to speed protection decisions for 757 species around the country. The mussels have been waiting in line for federal protection since 2004. "Freshwater mussels are an integral part of the natural and cultural heritage of the Southeast, and it's very exciting that these eight species are getting the protection they need to survive," said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist with the Center. "The Endangered Species Act has a 99 percent success rate at saving species from extinction, so now these cool animals have a fighting chance."

Ecosystems Can Reduce Risks Caused By Natural Disasters

More research is needed to understand how ecosystems can help reduce disaster risks around the world, according to a report launched in Brussels, Belgium, today. The World Risk Report 2012 says that human development activities have "massively raised the hazard potential". It cites the destruction of coral reefs and mangrove forests in South-East Asia — which has reduced protection against flooding and tidal waves — and increased deforestation, which has led to worsening soil erosion and the exacerbation of floods and landslides in Pakistan.

Brazil forms special environmental security force to combat spike in deforestation

Brazil will set up a special environmental security force in an effort to stem rising deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, reports AFP. In a statement, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said the new body will be backed by the army, the federal police and the Brazilian Environment Institution (IBAMA). The force will be charged with permanent surveillance of the Amazon.

New App Serves as Water Pollution Detector

The popular Waze smartphone navigation app recently introduced a new feature – a water pollution detector. The feature aims to tell users if the lake or river they pass by or intend on swimming in while hiking or camping across Israel, suffers from pollution. The feature is the brainchild of the app's architects and Zalul Environmental Association, which is dedicated to the protection and preservation of Israel's seas, rivers and lakes. WAZE users passing by a polluted waterway see a pop-up window on their smartphones' screens, telling them it is polluted and naming the parties known to be responsible for the pollution.

Here’s another reason to drink coffee!

As dedicated coffee drinker, I don't really need more reasons to drink more of the heavenly drink! There are some negatives for some, like difficulty getting to sleep after drinking regular coffee, but more studies seem to show benefits from coffee, both from regular, and also from decaffe. A recent study by the University of Illinois now shows that caffeine may block inflammation linked to mild cognitive impairment "We have discovered a novel signal that activates the brain-based inflammation associated with neurodegenerative diseases, and caffeine appears to block its activity. This discovery may eventually lead to drugs that could reverse or inhibit mild cognitive impairment," said Gregory Freund, a professor in the U of I's College of Medicine and a member of the U of I's Division of Nutritional Sciences. Freund's team examined the effects of caffeine on memory formation in two groups of mice—one group given caffeine, the other receiving none. The two groups were then exposed to hypoxia, simulating what happens in the brain during an interruption of breathing or blood flow, and then allowed to recover.

Green Success:: Sustainable Business and Healthy Living

Good Foods Market & Cafe in Lexington, Kentucky, is a locally owned cooperative business, with 120 employees and 5,500+ members, that has set an amazing example of a commercial establishment focusing on sustainability, local, natural, organic and whole foods. Store Manager Dan Arnett and his staff have examined the store’s day-to-day operations to determine ways to cut energy and water usage, use biodegradable items in the cafe, recycle and find other methods of greening the cooperative. For one project, Arnett requested that the city place seven 15-yard recycling bins next to the rain garden behind the building for store and neighborhood use.

Oceanic Subduction of CO2

Carbon dioxide is a by product of animal metabolism and the activities of man such as combustion products. Where does or will it go? One of the places where it goes are the cold southern oceans of the world. A few regions around the world are key in overturning deep and shallow layers of the ocean, and allow carbon to be locked away from the atmosphere for centuries. The Southern Ocean in particular is known to be a significant oceanic carbon sink, and accounts for 40% of all carbon entering the deep oceans. But how does it get sucked down into the ocean. A new paper from the National Environment Research Council resolves this matter, and shows the importance of 1000 kilometer-wide plunging funnels.

New Treatment for Wastewater Discharge

The number and extent of so-called marine "dead zones" -areas of coastal ocean waters where nearly all forms of marine life have been snuffed out due to lack of oxygen—has been on the rise for decades now, posing increasing threats to commercial and subsistence fisheries, recreational fishing and human health. Terrestrial runoff containing relatively high levels of phosphorous, primarily from agricultural fertilizers, has been identified as one of the main culprits. Wastewater discharge from cities and urban centers is also to blame.

Why wasn’t climate change a big topic at the Presidential debate?

The hour-and-a-half long debate between President Barack Obama and ex-governor Mitt Romney last night ended without a single reference to climate change. Frustrated with the lack of discussion on the issue from both candidates, environmental activists sent a petition with over 160,000 signatures to debate moderator, Jim Lehr, urging him to ask a question about climate change. The petition fell on deaf ears. "Although Barack Obama and Mitt Romney sprinkle their speeches with mentions of energy and climate, they have remained stubbornly silent on the immediate and profound task of phasing out a carbon-based economy," reads the website at Climate Science, which hosted the petition. "Their failure to connect the dots and do the math imperils our nation and prevents the development of a national and global plan to respond to the most urgent challenge of our era."

Update: Lab-grown Meat

Lab-grown meat could help reduce the environmental footprint of intensive farming. But will it ever appeal to vegetarians or even more eco-conscious consumers? Tom Levitt reports Lab-grown meat will create up to 96 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions. Before the end of the year, Dutch scientists are promising a high-profile debut for a burger made from meat grown not on a farm but in their laboratory. Synthetic or lab-grown meat involves taking a small amount of cells from a living animal and growing it into lumps of muscle tissue in the lab, which can then, in theory, be eaten as meat by people.