Chemicals of Emerging Concern (CECs) identified in sewage sludge

Thousands of chemicals serving a variety of human needs flood into sewage treatment plants once their use life has ended. Many belong to a class of chemicals known as CECs (for chemicals of emerging concern), which may pose risks to both human and environmental health. Arjun Venkatesan and Rolf Halden of Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute have been tracking many of these chemicals outlining a new approach to the identification of potentially harmful, mass-produced chemicals, describing the accumulation in sludge of 123 distinct CECs.

Sydney Coastal Waters See Successful Seaweed Transplant

In its natural environment, seaweed plays a major role in marine ecosystems. Not only does the plant provide nutrients and energy for organisms up the food chain, but these plants also provide shelter and habitat for many different species. So when 70 kilometers of seaweed vanished from the Australian Coast in the 1970s and 1980s due to high levels of sewage, we would expect to see some dramatic environmental problems. But thanks to recent recovery efforts, a habitat-forming species known as crayweed is making a successful comeback in Sydney's coastal waters.

Carbon Emissions in U.S. Rise 2 Percent Due to Increase in Coal

Carbon dioxide emissions rose two percent in the U.S. last year, according to preliminary data from the Energy Information Administration. Emissions rose largely due to increased coal consumption, the first such rise in U.S. emissions since 2010. Still, the annual emissions remain well below the peak hit in 2007 when emissions hit 6 billion tons.

Pollination by Insects Produces Bigger Apples

Pollination can occur in several different ways, but usually plants rely on animals or wind to help pollinate them and help distribute their pollen and seeds. However, a new study shows that apple trees produce bigger, rounder, and more desirable fruit when pollinated by insects in particular. Researchers studied Cox and Gala apples, two popular varieties in Britain, and valued the annual contribution of insects to these fruits at just under £37 million (60 million USD).

Plants and wildlife adapting to climate change in Switzerland

Wildlife in Switzerland is seeking relief from warming temperatures by moving higher up the mountains, reports Tim Radford. Animals and plants are already today adapting to the rising temperatures at a surprising pace. Alpine ecosystems are on the rise. Between 2003 and 2010, plants have managed to scramble up another eight metres of mountain slope. On the way up, they were overtaken by butterflies, which collectively gained another 38 metres of higher ground. Alpine birds in turn fluttered an average of 42 metres higher.

Newly Discovered Modifier Protein Could Stimulate Plant Growth Under Environmental Stress

Whether or not you have a green thumb, if a plant is not completely happy with the right about of water, sunlight, or even the right make-up of soil, plants will slow their growth or even stop growing altogether in order to save energy. But according to new research led by scientists at Durham University, plants contain a natural mechanism that could stimulate their growth even under stress, which could potentially lead to better crop yields.

Economic benefits of reducing nitrogen pollution

Falling levels of nitrogen in the atmosphere across Europe may be much more economically beneficial than previously believed, according to a recent study. Indeed, scientists think the UK alone benefits by around £65 million a year. Levels of atmospheric nitrogen have fallen by around a quarter in Europe since 1990, mostly because of tighter rules on emissions from engines and industry. Scientists are still working to understand the consequences. This is difficult, because excess nitrogen affects the benefits that nature gives us (known as 'ecosystem services') in many different ways – some positive and some harmful. For example, nitrogen is an important plant nutrient, which means services that depend on plant growth, such as crops and timber from woodlands, will benefit from more of it in the atmosphere. Conversely, falling nitrogen levels will harm these services - so cutting pollution costs the economy money.

New Research Uses Popular Literature to Study Climate Change

Walden Pond isn't just the site of Henry David Thoreau's two-year stint in which he documented a more simple, natural life, it is now the subject of a climate change study that shows how leaf-out times of trees and shrubs have changed since the 1850s. As a result of Thoreau's observations, researchers at Boston University have revealed that the leaf-out times of trees and shrubs at Walden Pond are an average of 18 days earlier than observed by Thoreau in the mid 1800s.

Popularity of plug-in vehicles on the rise

Good news for those living at the intersection of manufacturing and environmentalism. Here in the U.S., sales of plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles almost doubled between 2012 and 2013 with an 84 percent jump to 96,600 of the vehicles sold. That’s 49,000 plug-in hybrids (like the Volt) and 47,600 pure battery powered plug-in vehicles sold.

West Virginia Chemical Spill Still Disrupting Local Infrastructure

Think of it as another practice run for local and federal crisis management. The chemical spill into the Elk River that breached the containment walls of one of Charleston, W.Va's largest industries last week has closed schools, stopped commercial flights and converted the state capitol's downtown core to a "ghost town." It's also painted an unnervingly clear picture of what can happen to a city's infrastructure when a chemical spill shuts down its main commercial facilities. After evidence of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol (MCHM), a foaming agent that is used to clean coal of impurities, was picked up by local water distribution plant West Virginia American Water last Thursday, state and county officials went into high drive to alert some 300,0000 residents of the pollution and to close access to drinking water.