Fast food restaurants add healthier options, but still do not address high-calorie foods

With pressure from media, legislation, and a health conscious society, fast food companies have been coming up with new recipes and ideas for healthier menu options. From salads to oatmeal, fruit cups and apple slices, you might think fast food has become healthier. However, according to a new study, calorie counts remain the same for existing menu items, and while there are new healthy options, little is being done to address the high-calorie food items. Led by Katherine W. Bauer, assistant professor in Temple University's Department of Public Health and Center for Obesity Research and Education, the study found that the average calorie content of foods offered by major fast food restaurants changed very little.

The Changing Coast Due to Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy was a monster. It changed lives and changed the actual land shapes along the coasts affected. The USGS has released a series of aerial photographs showing before-and-after images of Hurricane Sandy's impacts on the Atlantic Coast. Among the latest photo pairs to be published are images showing the extent of coastal change in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. The photos, part of a USGS assessment of coastal change from as far south as the Outer Banks of North Carolina to as far north as Massachusetts, show that the storm caused dramatic changes to portions of shoreline extending hundreds of miles. Pre- and post-storm images of the New Jersey and New York shoreline in particular tell a story of a coastal landscape that was considerably altered by the historic storm. Meanwhile, images from hundreds of miles south of the storm’s landfall demonstrate that the storm’s breadth caused significant coastal change as far south as the Carolinas.

US Military Takes Part in Reducing Ecological Footprint

In an effort to enhance American security and address climate change, the U.S. military is diminishing its footprint. The military is producing cleaner power, reducing energy consumption, managing water and minimizing waste. Their efforts encompass vast numbers of vehicles, ships, planes, buildings, lands, and other facilities. A major impetus for these efforts is Executive Order 13514, "Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance," which President Obama signed on October 5, 2009. It mandates a 30 percent reduction in energy usage by federal agencies.

Streams Affected by Even the Earliest Stages of Urban Development

In a new study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), it was found that the loss of sensitive species in streams begins to occur at the initial stages of urban development. The culprits are the increased contaminants entering the streams, destruction of riparian habitat, and greater stream flow flashiness. The results of the study show that streams are more sensitive to development than previously believed. The victims are the bruised ecosystems and a reduction in economically viable resources like fishing and tourism.

How the Worm Can Help Landfills and Sustainable Farming

High in the northern mountains of Guatemala, near the ancient city of Quetzaltenango, there's an unusual new venture that is helping transform the way local communities think about the garbage they throw into landfills. It's also reforming the way people think about nature's most industrious ecologist: the worm. María Rodriguez, founder of Byoearth is teaching women the value of the red wiggler worm and the use of vermicomposting to support sustainable farming. It's a concept she believes in passionately and is having increasing success selling to both local farmers and non-profit aid organizations throughout Latin America.

House Windows are a Threat to Birds

The sickening thud of a bird crashing into a window is an all-too-familiar sound for many Canadian homeowners. Birds often mistake windows for openings, flying into the glass at full speed. A startling new analysis suggests about 22 million Canadian birds die each year from such crashes, researchers reported Sept. 4 in Wildlife Research. Undergraduate biology students at the University of Alberta, supervised by biologist Erin Bayne, surveyed 1,750 local residents in person and through social media. The recruited citizens provided the number of fatal bird strikes at their homes during the previous year. By extrapolating from these local reports, the researchers calculated the collision rates for different types of homes and then estimated the national bird mortality rate. The study did not include bird strikes on skyscrapers or commercial buildings.

Survey finds men are more environmentally responsible car drivers than women

Male motorists are more likely to drive in a more environmentally friendly manner than females, according to the surprising results of a new survey. And more men than women say they will only use a car when cycling, public transport or walking are not an option. The new research, published today, also reveals that the rising cost of car ownership is forcing a new approach to mobility, with almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of UK drivers admitting that they have changed their motoring habits in light of the recession and rising fuel costs, and 30 per cent of motorists now only use their car for essential trips.

Will Liberalization of Myanmar Bring Ruin to Its Vast Forests?

For years, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been under the control of a strong military regime. The restriction on freedom and human rights abuses they imposed made the nation an international pariah, and trade sanctions were established by all major world economies. Now, Myanmar is undergoing a stunning democratic transformation, its citizens are granted more freedoms, and the world is opening up to them. With this opening up comes a relaxing of trade restrictions, which may unfortunately bring disaster to Myanmar's native forests. It was over this long period of strong military control and lack of foreign investment which allowed the wild forests to be protected. Now that things are changing, the nation may not be able to control the economic forces from within and without, vying to exploit its natural resources.

Seeing with Sonar

Bat echolocation is a perceptual system where ultrasonic sounds are emitted specifically to produce echoes. By comparing the outgoing pulse with the returning echoes, the brain and auditory nervous system can produce detailed images of the bat's surroundings. This allows bats to detect, localize and even classify their prey in complete darkness. Humans cannot do this and must use their eyes. But humans might use the same principle, a very helpful concept for the blind, The UltraCane uses ultrasonic waves - just as bats do - to reveal the location of obstacles. This data is then relayed to users through vibrations to the handle helping them to feel their way around.

Ground Water Inundation

Scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) published a study today in Nature Climate Change showing that besides marine inundation (flooding), low-lying coastal areas may also be vulnerable to groundwater inundation, a factor largely unrecognized in earlier predictions on the effects of sea level rise. Ground-water flooding or inundation occurs in low-lying areas when the water table rises above the land surface.