New School lunch programs not making the grade

New federal regulations requiring school meals to contain more whole grains, less saturated fat and more fruits and vegetables, while perhaps improving some aspects of the food being served at schools across the United States, may also be perpetuating eating habits linked to obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases, an analysis by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers has found.The reasons: Based on analysis of school meals and the new requirements, the whole grains served are mostly processed, which means they are converted into sugar when digested, and many of the required foods, like fruit and milk, contain added sugar because many schools opt to serve canned fruit, fruit juice, and flavored milk. The new requirements do not limit the amount of added sugar in school meals. The researchers are recommending that the requirements be expanded to limit added sugars and processed foods and to ensure carbohydrate quality.

Study Tracks Southern Beaufort Sea Polar Bear Population Decline

In a new polar bear study published today, scientists from the United States and Canada found that during the first decade of the 21st century, the number of polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea experienced a sharp decline of approximately 40 percent. The scientists, led by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey, found that survival of adult bears and cubs was especially low from 2004 to 2006, when most of the decline occurred. 

Obama Announces $3 Billion Pledge to U.N. Climate Fund

Right on the heels of his historic climate agreement with China, President Barack Obama announced a pledge of $3 billion to the United Nations’ thus far underfunded Green Climate Fund. The fund was formally established in 2010 at the U.N. Climate Change conference in Cancun. The purpose of the fund was to redistribute resources between the developed world and the developing world in order to assist developing countries in their effort to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Home cooked meals contribute to a healthy diet

People who frequently cook meals at home eat healthier and consume fewer calories than those who cook less, according to new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research."When people cook most of their meals at home, they consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all - even if they are not trying to lose weight," says Julia A. Wolfson, MPP, a CLF-Lerner Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and lead author of the study.The findings also suggest that those who frequently cooked at home - six-to-seven nights a week - also consumed fewer calories on the occasions when they ate out.

Electric vehicles WILL go mass market. Here's why.

Over the last 100 years there have been a number of attempts from electric vehicle enthusiasts to push them into the mass market. Unfortunately the vast majority of these attempts have failed for a variety of reasons, often out of the control of the market itself, but today we stand in a very different place and electric vehicles will eventually go mass-market. We hereby list five reasons why electric vehicles are here to stay in the longer term: –TechnologyThere have been enormous leaps in electric vehicle technology over the last 10 years which not only offer greater efficiency but also give the driving public greater confidence. This technology continues to advance at breathtaking speed not only in the area of electric vehicles themselves but also battery technology. In many ways the development of new technologies is putting gasoline vehicles in the shadows and grabbing the headlines.

European Space Agency's Rosetta Makes Historic First Landing on a Comet

On Wednesday, Nov. 12, the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission successfully landed on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Descending at a speed of about 2 mph (3.2 kilometers per hour) the lander, called "Philae," first touched down and its signal was received at 8:03 a.m. PST (11:03 a.m. EST). Partially due to anchoring harpoons not firing, and the comet's low gravity (a hundred-thousand times less than that of Earth), Philae bounced off the surface and flew up to about six-tenths of a mile (1 kilometer) both above the comet's surface as well as downrange. At 9:53 a.m. PST (12:53 p.m. EST), almost two hours after first contact, Philae again touched down. A second, more modest bounce resulted, again sending it airborne. Philae's third contact with the comet's nucleus was the charm. At 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST), the Rosetta mission's Philae lander became the first spacecraft to soft-land on a comet.

New protection for migratory birds

Two new international agreements will help to save migratory birds from hunting, trapping and poisoning, and to protect their long-distance flyways. A key objective is to phase out lead shot within three years, and eliminate the toxic drug diclofenac.

How Sustainable is the Modern Diet?

The world is gaining weight and becoming less healthy, and global dietary choices are harming the environment, according to a new research report. Those are among the findings of a paper co-authored by David Tilman, a professor in the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, and Michael Clark, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, where Tilman is a professor. In “Global Diets Link Environmental Sustainability and Human Health,” published today in the journal Nature, the researchers find that rising incomes and urbanization around the world are driving a global dietary transition that is, in turn, diminishing the health of both people and the planet.

Want to Help Fight Wildlife Crimes? There's an App for that!

We know wildlife trafficking has become a huge problem for wild animals and imperiled species, but making it illegal is only part of the solution. Without the ability to identify wildlife products moving through ports, authorities have less power to stop the trade. The good news, according to a recent report published in the journal Conservation Biology, is that conservationists are successfully developing mobile apps to help authorities working around the world with the identification of wildlife that they believe are helping crack down on the problem.

ENERGY STAR's first multifamily properties announced today

Roughly one-third of the U.S. population lives in the country’s 500,000 multifamily buildings, and they spend $22 billion on energy every year. Until this year, apartment and condo managers lacked the tools to measure how much energy they were wasting and compare their performance nationwide. Meanwhile, energy costs for renters have risen by 20 percent over the past decade. Today, a new era of savings will be ushered in when the U.S EPA announces the first set of multifamily properties to earn the ENERGY STAR certification. The ENERGY STAR first became available to the sector this September, after a three-year partnership with Fannie Mae to develop the scoring system for multifamily properties.