Feeding Birds in Winter May Do More Harm Than Good

Believe it or not, but over 55 million Americans feed wild birds and spend over $3 billion a year on bird food, and millions more on bird feeders, baths, and other accessories. Many of us have at least one bird feeder in our yards, not only to decorate our outdoor space, but also to attract wildlife. Besides those clever, pesky squirrels that compete for the seed, birds use bird feeders as a fast-food outlet in times of food shortages. While birds do not actually need the food we offer in these feeders, it seems that these backyard feeders are always the popular spot to be, especially during the winter. However, according to researchers at the University of Exeter and the British Trust for Ornithology, feeding wild bird populations during the winter can actually result in less successful breeding during the following spring.

Chipotle Makes History by Becoming First Fast Food Chain to Tag GMOs

Let's face it, it's good to be first, at least if you happen to be the first to do something worthwhile. In the ongoing debate about the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food, Denver, CO-based Chipotle Mexican Grill made what may turn out to be an important food history "first" in the United States.

Plant Math

Humans do math or at least some humans can do so. New research shows that to prevent starvation at night, plants perform accurate arithmetic division. The calculation allows them to use up their starch reserves at a constant rate so that they run out almost precisely at dawn. Plants feed themselves during the day by using energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide into sugars and starch. Once the sun has set, they must depend on a store of starch to prevent starvation.

Tel Aviv Testing Electric Scooters

As part of a broader citywide program to reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and noise, the municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa is launching a pilot program to potentially replace its fleet of scooters with electric versions. To this purpose, the city has decided to purchase about 25 electric scooters to examine their effectiveness in comparison to the gasoline ones that municipal workers employ today. If the pilot yields positive results, the municipality will explore the possibility of gradually replacing its entire 300-scooter fleet with their electrical counterparts, the city said. City officials will be examining a number of parameters during the pilot program, including the scooter performance capabilities, riding experience, environmental footprint, cost effectiveness and safety, they explained.

New study tests Red Queen Hypothesis

In Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass," the Red Queen described her country as a place where "it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." From this, the Red Queen hypothesis has been formed. Also referred to as the Red Queen Effect, this evolutionary hypothesis proposes that organisms must constantly adapt, and evolve not only to reproduce, but also to survive against all opposing organisms that are evolving in an ever-changing environment.

A Catalyst to Convert CO2 to Fuel

Carbon dioxide is the result of burning fuel to make things like cars work. Plants slowly convert that CO2 back to something organic to begin the process again. Working in his lab in the University of Delaware's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Joel Rosenthal and doctoral student John DiMeglio have developed an inexpensive catalyst that uses the electricity generated from solar energy to convert carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into synthetic fuels in a far faster manner for powering cars, homes and businesses.

Wildlife in the firing line in global war against bovine TB

Where there are cattle, there is the threat of bovine Tuberculosis (TB). The farming methods may differ greatly, but from the dairy farms of Ethiopia to the beef herds of Canada the race is on to find the best way to tackle the disease. In the 1920s control measures began in developed parts of the world. According to the World Organization for Animal Health, many countries have reduced or eliminated bovine TB from their cattle population; but infections remain in the UK, Western Europe, North America and New Zealand.

Plastic Bag Ban Passes in LA

The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday, June 18 to approve a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. The Coucil voted 11 to 1 in favor of the ordinance, and a final vote is scheduled for next week. Last year, the Council voted 13 to 1 to move forward on banning single use plastic shopping bags. The ban will go into effect for large stores on January 1, 2014, and for smaller stores on July 1, 2014. Paper bags will not be included in the ban, but stores now have to charge 10 cents per paper bag. When the ban goes into affect, one in four Californians will live in a city that bans single-use plastic shoppings bags, according to the environmental group, Heal the Bay. There is good financial reasoning behind the ban. Only five percent of single use plastic bags are recycled every year across the state and California municipalities spend almost $25 million a year to collect and throw away plastic bags that litter the streets and clog storm drains. Currently there are almost two billion plastic shopping bags and 400 million paper bags are distributed every year in Los Angeles.

Cleaner Power from Innovation: Creative Approaches to Renewable Energy

Innovation is the key to the future and central to the expansion of renewable sources of energy. There are a number of innovations that could radically transform the clean energy equation. Although renewable energy is growing exponentially around the world these sources of power have a number of shortcoming that make it difficult to scale-up so that they can replace dirty energy sources like fossil fuels. However, those who doubt that renewable energy will be able to replace fossil fuels lack imagination. We need to get outside the box to envision a future powered entirely by clean energy.

Increased Monsoon Rainfall Expected with Global Warming

When we hear about monsoons, we often think about the rainy phase of a season usually occurring in tropical climates. Even though monsoons are associated with much more than just rainfall, as global warming occurs, these complex systems will have several repercussions for precipitation. For example, with warming air, there is potential for a higher holding capacity for rain. In addition, any cooling in the higher atmosphere can change current air pressures thus affecting rainfall patterns. This has consequences of increased flooding, implications to national water supply, and a potential loss of agricultural productivity due to crop failure for countries across the globe.