700-year-old West African soil technique could help mitigate climate change

A farming technique practised for centuries by villagers in West Africa, which converts nutrient-poor rainforest soil into fertile farmland, could be the answer to mitigating climate change and revolutionising farming across Africa.

What Would a Global Warming Increase of 1.5 Degrees Be Like?

How ambitious is the world? The Paris climate conference last December astounded many by pledging not just to keep warming “well below two degrees Celsius,” but also to "pursue efforts" to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C. That raised a hugely important question: What's the difference between a two-degree world and a 1.5-degree world?

Judge rules: no right to know hazardous pesticide ingredients

A federal judge has ruled that the US Environmental Protection Agency is under no obligation to force pesticide makers to disclose supposedly 'inert' ingredients in their products - even where those ingredients are seriously hazardous to health or environment.

Can air pollution impact childhood mental health?

Air pollution is a known risk factor for certain mental health problems in adults, but a new study also links high rates of air pollution to poorer psychiatric health in children and adolescents.To investigate this link, researchers from Umeå University in Sweden examined what is known as “register-based” data.

Fossil record shows seas around Britain were once tropical

Some 210 million years ago, Britain consisted of many islands, surrounded by warm seas. Europe at the time lay farther south, at latitudes equivalent to North Africa today. Much of Europe was hot desert, and at this point was flooded by a great sea – the Rhaetian Transgression.Published in Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, the Bristol team's work is the most extensive study yet, based on more than 26,000 identified fossils, of the Rhaetian shallow sea sharks, bony fishes, marine reptiles, and other creatures. Unusually, five members of the team were undergraduates when they did the work, and this was part of a series of summer internships.The team was led by Ellen Mears, now a postgraduate at the University of Edinburgh, and Valentina Rossi, now a postgraduate at the University of Cork.Ellen Mears said: "I studied the shark and fish teeth, and found remains of at least seven species of sharks and four of bony fishes. The sharks were all predators, but some were quite small. The bony fishes were unusual because many of them were shell crushers." 

New generation of high-efficiency solar thermal absorbers developed

Researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter are one step closer to developing a new generation of low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells. The structure is one of the world's first examples of a tri-layer metasurface absorber using a carbon interlayer.

A Plan to Mute Ocean Noise for Marine Life

Imagine trying to relax in your home while being bombarded with the explosive sounds of shotgun blasts as well as freight trains rumbling by. For many whales, dolphins and other marine life that depend on their hearing to survive, there is no way to escape the loud, human-made noises in their ocean home. The main culprits are vessels like cargo ships, along with sonar guns used by the U.S. Navy and air guns used in seismic oil and gas exploration. Their blasts are so loud that they are known to change the behavior of blue whales. But now, in what Michael Jasny, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Marine Mammal Protection Project, Land & Wildlife Program, referred to as “a sea change in the way we manage ocean noise off our shores,” NOAA has announced it plans to take action to reduce the noise in entire marine ecosystems.

California 'street tree' benefits valued at $1 billion

Streets lined with gold? Not exactly, but a new report from the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station estimates trees lining Californian streets and boulevards provide benefits to municipalities and residents worth $1 billion.

Philippines may lose 167,000 hectares to global warming

More than 167,000 hectares of coastland -- about 0.6% of the country's total area -- are projected to go underwater in the Philippines, especially in low-lying island communities, according to research by the University of the Philippines.Low-lying countries with an abundance of coastlines are at significant risk from rising sea levels resulting from global warming. According to data by the World Meteorological Organisation, the water levels around the Philippines are rising at a rate almost three times the global average due partly to the influence of the trade winds pushing ocean currents.On average, sea levels around the world rise 3.1 centimetres every ten years. Water levels in the Philippines are projected to rise between 7.6 and 10.2 centimetres each decade. 

Gas Stations Close as Fire Rages Near Alberta Oil Sands

The wildfire that roared through Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, last May has been called the worst fire in Canadian history. Its devastation is staggering: More than 100,000 residents and nearby workers were evacuated at different stages of the fire, and more than 2,200 square miles of land and 2,400 structures burned in two provinces: Alberta and its eastern neighbor, Saskatchewan. With the fire only 70 percent contained to date, its economic impact is yet to be tallied.