National-scale effort addresses pollinator declines

A new White House plan to promote the health of bees and other pollinators calls for boosting research into ongoing population declines—and potential solutions. The plan, released yesterday, also recommends numerous measures to address growing concerns about the threat that bees, birds, butterflies, and other pollinators face from multiple factors, including pathogens, pesticides, climate change, and habitat loss. By addressing scientific knowledge gaps, the research should make the plan’s suggested measures much more effective, the report says.

What to do with old medications

Between 10 and 30 percent of all prescription and over-the-counter drugs sold are left unconsumed, according to a State of Washington report, and all those leftover medications pose significant risks to public health and the environment. Drugs that are flushed down the toilet or tossed in the trash can – rather than properly disposed of – can end up in oceans and waterways, threatening both marine life and human health. Meanwhile, many individuals don’t get rid of their unused medications at all; they simply store the drugs in their medicine cabinets – a practice that can lead to drug misuse and abuse.

Coal power in Turkey to double if Turkey's plans go forward

Turkey is planning to double its coal power capacity in four years, the third largest investment in the polluting fossil fuel in the world, health campaigners have warned.The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) today called on the European Union to promote sustainable development in Turkey and end lending for new coal projects.

Renewable Energy Market Employs 7.7 Million People Worldwide

Renewable energy investment and deployment is paying off, and in spades, when it comes to addressing a basic issue plaguing developed and developing countries alike: an inability to generate jobs that pay a good living wage. Around the world, renewable energy job creation continues to far outpace that for economies overall. Some 7.7 million people are now employed across the global renewable energy value chain, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). That’s up 18 percent from 6.5 million in 2014, the agency noted in its 2015 Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review.

US Exposure to Extreme Heat is on the Rise

U.S. residents' exposure to extreme heat could increase four- to six-fold by mid-century, due to both a warming climate and a population that's growing especially fast in the hottest regions of the country, according to new research. The study, by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the City University of New York (CUNY), highlights the importance of considering societal changes when trying to determine future climate impacts.

How Genetics Can Save Endangered Mussels

A piece of the restoration puzzle to save populations of endangered freshwater mussels may have been found, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey led study. Local population losses in a river may not result in irreversible loss of mussel species; other mussels from within the same river could be used as sources to restore declining populations. 

The Ozone hole is shrinking

New NASA satellite data confirms what other research has shown, namely that the hole in the ozone layer appears to be getting smaller.The ozone is crucial for us here on Earth because it shields us from some of the Sun’s most damaging radiation. In the 1980s it was confirmed that a host of chemicals like CFCs that we had been using in manufacturing and, in particular in aerosols, had been breaking down that ozone layer, creating several holes including a worryingly large hole over the Arctic. In the long term our CFC use threatened to destroy this vital shield completely if we did not act.

Lower Ozone levels in Houston linked to climate change

Researchers at the University of Houston have determined that climate change -- in the form of a stronger sea breeze, the result of warmer soil temperatures -- contributed to the drop in high-ozone days in the Houston area.Robert Talbot, professor of atmospheric chemistry, said that also should be true for coastal regions globally.The researchers describe their findings in a paper published this week in the journal Atmosphere. In addition to Talbot, they include first author Lei Liu, a doctoral student, and post-doctoral fellow Xin Lan.

Bird populations responding to climate change

With puzzling variability, vast numbers of birds from Canada’s boreal forests migrate hundreds or thousands of miles south from their usual winter range. These so-called irruptions were first noticed by birdwatchers decades ago, but the driving factors have never been fully explained. Now scientists have pinpointed the climate pattern that likely sets the stage for irruptions – a discovery that could make it possible to predict the events more than a year in advance.The researchers found that persistent shifts in rainfall and temperature drive boom-and-bust cycles in forest seed production, which in turn drive the mass migrations of pine siskins, the most widespread and visible of the irruptive migrants. “It’s a chain reaction from climate to seeds to birds,” says atmospheric scientist Court Strong, an assistant professor at the University of Utah and lead author of the study.

Happy Endangered Species Day!

Started in 2006, Endangered Species Day is “a celebration of wildlife and wild places” intended to promote the “importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions people can take to help protect them”. Every year on the third Friday in May — and throughout the month — zoos, aquariums, parks, botanical gardens, wildlife refuges, museums, schools, community centers, conservation groups and other organizations hold tours, speaker presentations, exhibits, children’s activities and more to commemorate the Day.