Chinese lose 2.5 billion years of life expectancy due to coal burning

Chinese who live north of the Huai River will lose an aggregate 2.5 billion years of life expectancy due to the extensive use of coal burning in the region, concludes a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, which involved researchers from MIT, China, and Israel, estimated the impacts of particulate matter from coal-powered heating on life expectancy. In the process, the authors developed a rule-of-thumb for the effects of air pollution: "every additional 100 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter in the atmosphere lowers life expectancy at birth by three years," according to a statement from MIT.

Energy saving measures boost house prices, new research reveals

Energy saving improvements made to a property could increase its value by 14 per cent on average - and up to 38 per cent in some parts of England - new research has shown. For an average home in the country, improving its EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) from band G to E, or from band D to B, could mean adding more than £16,000 ($25,000 USD) to the sale price of the property.

Data from NASA’s Landsat 8 now available in almost real time

Data from NAA's Landsat 8 is now freely available, enabling researchers and the general public to access images captured by the satellite within twelve hours of reception. The data is available to download at no charge from GloVis, EarthExplorer, or via the LandsatLook Viewer. Landsat 8 launched this February and has been capturing images since April. The satellite orbits Earth every 99 minutes and captures images of every point on the planet every 16 days, beaming 400 high resolution images to ground stations every 24 hours. Landsat features nine spectral bands, which include three visible light bands, two near-infrared bands, and two shortwave infrared (SWIR) bands, among others, as well as two thermal sensors, which are used for a wide range of applications, including monitoring environmental change, detecting fires, and watching crops. Google is one of the biggest commercial users of Landsat images, which feed into Google Earth, but other users include scientists and conservationists involved in tracking deforestation and forest degradation.

Rainforests will survive extreme global warming, argues study

Rainforests in South America have survived three previous extreme global warming events in the past, suggesting that they will survive a projected 2-6 degree rise in temperatures over the coming century, reports a study published in the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Science. The research, published by Carlos Jaramillo and Andrés Cárdenas of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama, reviewed some 3,800 published estimates of temperature over the past 120 million years and compared them to the existence of tropical plants in the fossil record.

US Weather Extremes in 2012

In 2012, there were 905 natural catastrophes worldwide, 93 percent of which were weather-related disasters. In terms of overall and insured losses (US$170 billion and $70 billion, respectively), 2012 did not follow the records set in 2011 and could be defined as a moderate year on a global scale. But the United States was seriously affected by weather extremes, accounting for 69 percent of overall losses and 92 percent of insured losses due to natural catastrophes worldwide, writes Petra Löw, a geographer and consultant at Munich Reinsurance Company,in the Worldwatch Institute's Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). Of the 905 documented loss events, 45 percent were meteorological events (storms), 36 percent were hydrological events (floods), and 12 percent were climatological events such as heat waves, cold waves, droughts, and wildfires. The remaining 7 percent were geophysical events—earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. This distribution deviates somewhat from long-term trends, as between 1980 and 2011 geophysical events accounted for 14 percent of all natural catastrophes.

DiCaprio’s Environmental Charity Art Auction Raise $33 Million

Leonardo DiCaprio's environmental charity auction at Christie's in New York has raised an impressive $33.3 million from wealthy art collectors. Most of the sale proceeds went to environmental protection causes promoted by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. The Hollywood actor, who was himself present at the auction, urged collectors to bid as if the planet's fate "depends on us" - and they responded to his call generously.

Eating More Protein is Associated with Weight Loss

At some point in our lives, we have been on some kind of diet or other. There is the 'cabbage soup diet'; '5:2 diet'; and then high protein diets such as Atkins, Zone and South Beach, etc. Some people turn to higher-protein diets to lose weight, because some studies suggest that higher-protein diets help people better control their appetites and calorie intake. Diets with 30 per cent protein are now considered "reasonable" and the term "high protein diet" is now reserved for diets with over 50 per cent protein.

Is it possible to reduce the impact of oil drilling in the Amazon rainforest?

Oil extraction in the Amazon rainforest has been linked to severe environmental degradation — including deforestation and pollution — which in some areas has spurred violent social conflict. Yet a vast extent of the Colombian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Bolivian, and Brazilian Amazon is currently under concession for oil and gas exploration and production — hundreds of billions of dollars are potentially at stake. It seems clear that much of this hydrocarbon development is going to proceed whether environmentalists and human rights groups like it or not.

Seismic Airgun Testing for Oil and Gas Threatens Marine Life and Coastal Economies

According to government estimates, 138,500 whales and dolphins will soon be injured and possibly killed along the East Coast if exploration companies are allowed to use dangerous blasts of noise to search for offshore oil and gas. The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is considering allowing geophysical companies, working on behalf of oil and gas companies, to use seismic airguns to search for offshore oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean, from Delaware to Florida. These airguns use compressed air to generate intense pulses of sound, which are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine.

Colleges Recover 90 Million Pounds of Materials During RecycleMania

Recycling rivalries added another level of "madness" to March this year, as 523 schools competed in the RecycleMania Tournament, which harnesses the competitive spirit around sports rivalries and uses them to increase campus recycling and waste reduction. Colleges and universities across the United States and Canada participated in the eight-week competition in which schools are ranked according to how much recycling, trash and food waste they collect.