Solar powered water purification

Deep in the jungles of the Yucatan peninsula, residents of the remote Mexican village of La Mancalona are producing clean drinking water using the power of the sun.For nearly two years now, members of the community, most of whom are subsistence farmers, have operated and maintained a solar-powered water purification system engineered by researchers at MIT.The system consists of two solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity; these, in turn, power a set of pumps that push water through semiporous membranes in a filtration process called reverse osmosis. The setup purifies both brackish well water and collected rainwater, producing about 1,000 liters of purified water a day for the 450 residents.

Arsenic found in many US red wines

A new University of Washington study that tested 65 wines from America’s top four wine-producing states — California, Washington, New York and Oregon — found all but one have arsenic levels that exceed what’s allowed in drinking water.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows drinking water to contain no more than 10 parts per billion of arsenic. The wine samples ranged from 10 to 76 parts per billion, with an average of 24 parts per billion.

Arctic butterflies adapt to warming climate by getting smaller

New research shows that butterflies in Greenland have become smaller in response to increasing temperatures due to climate change. It has often been demonstrated that the ongoing rapid climate change in the Arctic region is causing substantial change to Arctic ecosystems. Now Danish researchers demonstrate that a warmer Greenland could be bad for its butterflies, becoming smaller under warmer summers. 

Researchers trace how birds, fish go with the flow

Fish and birds, when moving in groups, could use two “gears”—one slow and another fast—in ways that conserve energy, a team of New York University researchers has concluded. Its findings offer new insights into the contours of air and water flows--knowledge that could be used to develop more energy-efficient modes of transportation.

Outsourcing manufacturing to China and the climate

In a study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, scientists from three universities demonstrate that buying a product made in China causes significantly higher carbon dioxide emissions than purchasing the same product made elsewhere. The study, titled "Targeted opportunities to address the climate–trade dilemma in China," is available here."The amazing increase in Chinese manufacturing over the past 15 years has driven the world economy to new heights and supplied consumers in developed countries with tremendous quantities of lower-cost goods," said co-author Steven J. Davis, UCI assistant professor of Earth system science. "But all of this has come at substantial cost to the environment."

Are fish the greatest athletes?

When you think of the world’s greatest athletes, names like Usain Bolt generally spring to mind, but scientists have discovered the best athletes could well be found in the water, covered in scales.It turns out that fish are far more effective at delivering oxygen throughout their body than almost any other animal, giving them the athletic edge over other species.

Noise pollution harms wildlife, degrades habitats

Traffic noise is just another inconvenience for many of us. But for wildlife, noise from honking, and zooming vehicles can often be an insidious threat: it can degrade habitats without leaving any physical evidence of change, warns a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Road noise — even in moderate levels — pushes migrating birds away from their stopover habitats, researchers from Boise State University in Idaho found. Those that stay back become weak.“I was initially surprised that even moderate road noise — comparable to a suburban setting — would have such a wide-ranging impact on migrating birds,” William Laurance, a professor at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, who was not involved in the study, told Mongabay. “On reflection, however, I guess such migrators have to be hyper-vigilent about noise, as they’re constantly moving to new areas where unseen predators could be lurking.”

Evidence confirms volcanic island collapses may trigger mega-tsunamis

A pre-historical sudden collapse of one of the tallest and most active oceanic volcanoes on Earth — Fogo, in the Cape Verde Islands – triggered a mega-tsunami with waves impacting 220 metres (721 feet) above present sea level resulting in catastrophic consequences, according to a new University of Bristol study published in Science Advances.

EU Health Forum considers crisis the new normal

After nearly a decade of economic crisis, an Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and a refugee crisis, experts say that EU health systems must get used to the fact that "shockwaves" are here to stay.They hope that the Ebola outbreak will be a wake up call, that, without stronger European leadership, healthcare in the EU will come under many threats. At the European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG) on Thursday (1 October), DEVCO, the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, hosted a forum dealing with how to secure health in the EU through development work and international cooperation.

The Gypsies problem in Europe

Under new planning rules, Travellers and Gypsies must be able to prove they are actually traveling to qualify for limited planning benefits to create new sites. But for many, it's impossible to do that. Not only to remain in employment, or education - but precisely because there are so few sites, that they are unable to travel.Living on an unauthorised campsite carries a heavy weight of suffering and disadvantage. Travellers contend daily with the risk of criminalisation and eviction, as well as limited access to basic services such as running water and sanitation.Any attempt to subsume diverse groups under one label is going to be fraught with tension - and this is certainly true in terms of the word 'Traveller'.