Month: October 2012

  • Indigenous agroforestry ‘may improve livelihoods’

    Smallholder farmers should use their indigenous knowledge of trees to boost incomes and drive social development, according to a new book by Roger Leakey, vice chairman of the International Tree Foundation and renowned tree biologist.

  • Inuit Face Tensions with Outside World as their environment melts away

    With Arctic summer sea ice rapidly disappearing, the native Inuit of Canada are encountering not only unsettling changes in their subsistence way of life, but also a growing number of outsiders who will further transform their once-isolated homeland. Sakiasiq Qanaq has seen a lot of changes on the north coast of Baffin Island in recent years as the retreat of summer sea ice has continued unabated. But the Inuit hunter has never seen anything quite like this year, when sea ice loss in the Arctic hit a record low. First, the community’s spring narwhal hunt, which usually yields roughly 60 of the tusked whales, produced only three. The sea ice was so thin that the Inuit couldn’t safely stand on it and shoot the narwhal as they migrated into Arctic Bay from Greenland through channels in the ice. Then an unprecedented number of killer whales, or orcas — rarely seen in heavy ice — showed up in the largely ice-free water, with Inuit hunters in nearby Pond Inlet observing three pods of orcas that reportedly killed some of the narwhals and scared off the others.

  • Tobacco Variable Toxicity

    Researchers from the University of Alicante in Spain have analyzed ten brands of cigarettes and found that the concentrations of certain harmful and carcinogenic substances vary significantly from one brand to another. Until now legislation has not covered these other toxic compounds and have only established limits for nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. Scientists have also developed better catalysts/filters to reduce the harmful products in tobacco.

  • Turning Seawater into Jet Biofuel

    From using vegetable oil and animal fats to trees and grasses as new sources of energy, biofuels are continuing to gain attention due to current oil prices and concern for energy security. As energy is produced from carbon fixation in these biofuels, scientists are experimenting with other types of renewable sources as mediums. The latest research endeavor? Creating jet fuel from seawater. Last year, the U.S. Navy Military Sea Lift Command, who is in charge of supplying fuel and oil to the U.S. Navy fleet, delivered nearly 600 million gallons of fuel to vessels underway, operating 15 fleet replenishment oilers around the globe. Refueling U.S. Navy vessels at sea is not only costly, but the process requires a lot of time and coordination, which can ultimately affect national security.

  • The Scientific Connection of Mental Health and Physical Activity

    Exercise is known for not only improving physical health, but also for improving mental health, such as alleviating depression or anxiety. A new scientific study from the Netherlands delves deep into the connection of exercise and mental health. The researchers explored if certain psychosocial factors may help explain the connection. The concept, psychosocial, refers to an individual’s psychological development within, and interaction with, a social environment. The focus of the research study was on adolescents, an age group known for abundant psychosocial dysfunctions, such as negative perceptions of self-image and body weight.