Report Estimates 2010 US Water Consumption is Lowest in Decades

While it may seem that the US is one of the worst culprits when it comes to wasting resources, according to the US Geological Survey, our water consumption is improving. Water use in the United States in 2010 was estimated to be about 355 billion gallons per day (Bgal/d), which was 13 percent less than in 2005. Better yet, 2010 marks the lowest level of water use in the US since before 1970!

Mongoose sentinels coordinate their duty

Just as soldiers on sentry duty constantly adjust their behaviour to match the current threat level, dwarf mongoose sentinels exhibit flexible decision-making in relation to predation risk, new research from the University of Bristol has shown. Biologists Julie Kern and Dr Andy Radford found that decisions about when to go on duty, what position to adopt and how long to remain on post were all affected by information about the likelihood of danger. Sentinels altered their behaviour depending on both environmental conditions, such as wind speed and social signals, such as alarm calls.

New study says fracking chemicals are “no more toxic” than common household substances

The “surfactant” chemicals found in samples of fracking fluid collected in five states were no more toxic than substances commonly found in homes, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder. Fracking fluid is largely comprised of water and sand, but oil and gas companies also add a variety of other chemicals, including anti-bacterial agents, corrosion inhibitors and surfactants. Surfactants reduce the surface tension between water and oil, allowing for more oil to be extracted from porous rock underground. In a new study published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, the research team identified the surfactants found in fracking fluid samples from Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Texas. The results showed that the chemicals found in the fluid samples were also commonly found in everyday products, from toothpaste to laxatives to detergent to ice cream.

Groundwater affected by Climate Change

Global warming stops at nothing – not even the groundwater, as a new study by researchers from ETH Zurich and KIT reveals: the groundwater’s temperature profiles echo those of the atmosphere, albeit damped and delayed.

MIT finds the missing piece of the climate modeling puzzle

In classrooms and everyday conversation, explanations of global warming hinge on the greenhouse gas effect. In short, climate depends on the balance between two different kinds of radiation: The Earth absorbs incoming visible light from the sun, called “shortwave radiation,” and emits infrared light, or “longwave radiation,” into space.Upsetting that energy balance are rising levels of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), that increasingly absorb some of the outgoing longwave radiation and trap it in the atmosphere. Energy accumulates in the climate system, and warming occurs. But in a paper out this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, MIT researchers show that this canonical view of global warming is only half the story.

Water-saving Technology for Rice Farms Introduced

Agriculture experts say application of alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology in Vietnam’s rice farms, one of South-East Asia’s largest rice-producing countries, holds great promise in cutting water use and greenhouse gas emissions from rice cultivation without sacrificing yield output. Vietnam along with Bangladesh and Colombia recently partnered with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to introduce the large-scale application of AWD, also known as controlled irrigation in which farmers periodically drain rice paddies rather than keeping them perpetually flooded.

First Solar Panel Bike Path Planned in Amsterdam

As one of the biking capitals of the world, Amsterdam can already make a case for being a leader in the green movement. The city is not resting on its laurels, however. Now, biking around the city is getting even greener than just being car-free: a bike path in the suburbs of Amsterdam is getting a major solar makeover.

How would you feel if electric vehicles were the only ones allowed in center cities?

The subject of making electric vehicles compulsory in city centres in the UK, and indeed many other areas of the world, is one which keeps popping up time and time again. The Liberal Democrat party in the UK has been pushing for greater adoption of electric vehicles within city centres and, don’t shout this, a ban on diesel and petrol vehicles. This is now something of a hot topic and one which will continue to appear in the political domain as we approach general and local elections.How would you feel about making city centres a no-go area for petrol and diesel vehicles? Is electric vehicle technology of sufficient reliability to support such a dramatic and controversial move?

Raven rescue successful!

Thanks to the kindness of a caring citizen and the expertise of wildlife rehabilitators in Virginia, a common raven has been successfully returned to her home in the wild after being rescued and receiving months of care and a feather transplant.The raven was first spotted by Maureen Bergin, an IT specialist at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield earlier this spring in the parking lot where she worked in Henrico County with missing feathers that left her unable to fly.

New antibiotic found in mushroom that grows on horse dung

Researchers from the Institute of Microbiology at ETH Zurich and the University of Bonn have discovered a new protein with antibiotic properties in a mushroom that grows on horse dung. The new agent that was found in fungi is found to kill bacteria. The substance, known as copsin, has the same effect as traditional antibiotics, but belongs to a different class of biochemical substances. Copsin is a protein, whereas traditional antibiotics are often non-protein organic compounds.