Greece Considers Sacrificing Environment to Save Economy

In crisis-hit Greece, government decisions taken in haste and despair to save the country from default, risk having a serious impact on the environment. A new bill seeks to relax restrictions on construction of public and private forestland even for those areas, which are considered protected.

Freshwater biodiversity

The biodiversity of our rivers, lakes, and ponds has gone largely un-addressed in our efforts to predict the impacts of land development. Planners look at increased runoff and the potential for downstream flooding, and on pollutant discharges and contamination issues. The biodiversity of freshwater bodies is also impacted buy development and agricultural activities, but until now, there was no good way to predict what the impacts might be of land use changes. A team of UW-Madison researchers is hoping to help change that narrative and add a little ecology to economic decision making by forecasting how future policies regarding urban development and agricultural cultivation may impact aquatic ecosystems, which harbor astounding amounts of biodiversity and provide humans with vital goods and services. "The idea is to see what future land use changes may look like under different policies, and think about where potential threats to freshwater would be most severe," says Sebastián Martinuzzi, a post-doctoral researcher. "We are not trying to predict the 'true' future, but rather to visualize potential economic trends and their environmental consequences."

Rivers May Control Dust and Sand Deposits in Northern China

New research has found the first evidence that large rivers control desert sands and dust. But how exactly? First we need to know a little bit about loess. Loess is a silt-sized sediment which is formed by the accumulation of wind-blown dust. Loess deposits may be very thick and often blankets areas. One of the largest deposits of loess is in an area right-fully named the Loess Plateau, a 640,00 square kilometer area in the upper and middle China's Yellow River and China proper. However, there are also large loess deposits in the central United States and central Europe.

Meeting the mammal that survived the dinosaurs

So, here I am, running in a forest at night over 2,000 miles from home. This forest—dry, stout, and thorny enough to draw blood—lies just a few miles north of a rural town in the western edge of the Dominican Republic on the border with Haiti. I'm following—or trying to keep pace with—a local hunter and guide as we search for one of the world's most bizarre mammals.

A challenge in assessing the impacts of climate change on the oceans

Assessing the effect of climate change on upwelling ecosystems is essential to be able to predict the future of marine resources. The zones concerned by this upwelling of cold deep water, which is very rich in nutrients, provide up to 20 % of global production of fish. Since the 1990s, the theory adopted by the majority of the scientific community affirmed that these phenomena were intensifying. The rising temperatures of the air masses above the continents were expected to quicken the trade winds, which would in turn increase the upwellings, thereby cooling the surface water. But this theory has been contradicted by the recent work of researchers from the IRD and its partners.

Re-Inventing Small Manufacturing Towns in the 21st Century

Our company has seen firsthand the disastrous consequences that occur when financial gain is divorced from environmental and social considerations. Nowhere are these consequences more tragic than in former company towns that have gone bust – places created to concentrate workers on a singular economic enterprise, but are now landscapes of abandoned assets, economic atrophy and poisoned land and water. They include mining towns in the West and Appalachia, lumber towns in the Northwest, textile villages in New England and the Southeast, steel towns in the Rust Belt, and motor cities in the Midwest. These places struggle with the aftermath of environmental contamination, economic disinvestment and frayed social fabrics. More than anything, these communities are looking for new ways to build a secure and sustainable future.

Freeing the Elwha!

Exciting and dramatic changes have taken place in the Elwha River in the last two years with the removal of two dams. The Glines Canyon Dam (1927) and the Elwha Dam (1910) were removed to restore the watershed’s ecology unblocking passage for migratory salmon. Salmon have already begun to find their way up the newly freed river. Since the time of their building many things have changed about our understanding of river system ecology causing an ever-increasing movement to remove them. The Elwha River dam removal project is currently the largest one in history.

Sea and storm: coastal habitats offer strongest defense

Surging storms and rising seas threaten millions of U.S. residents and billions of dollars in property along coastlines. The nation's strongest defense, according to a new study by scientists with the Natural Capital Project at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, comes from natural coastal habitats. Of the 25 most densely populated counties in the United States, 23 of them are along the coastline. The study, "Coastal habitats shield people and property from sea-level rise and storms" published in Nature Climate Change, mapped the entire U.S. coastline and reports that habitats such as sea grasses, mangroves, sand dunes, and coral reefs currently protect two-thirds of the U.S. coastline, including at-risk areas such as New York and Florida.

Solar-powered car competition winner

Stella, a solar-powered family car designed by students from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in has won the World Solar Challenge 2013, ushering in a new era of efficient, practical cruisers that get all of their juice from the sun. Solar Team Eindhoven from the Netherlands spent over a year developing their family car, which features photovoltaic solar panels on both the roof and rear, according to Dezeen. The latter are flipped up to optimize solar absorption and generate energy while the car is not in use.

The Rise of Indoor Cropping

It's commonly accepted that record food prices were one of the key triggers for the Arab Spring. This year in Zimbabwe, critical levels of crop failure put over two million people at risk of chronic malnutrition. Even a prosperous state like Singapore, which imports over 90 percent of its produce, is starkly aware of its food security risks. Water scarcity, erratic weather conditions and a burgeoning global population, with rising expectations of living standards and an increasingly carnivorous diet, is driving pressure across the food chain. As food producers look for ways to boost productivity and safeguard their crops from an unpredictable climate, has the time come to take agriculture indoors?