U.S. nuclear agency plans safety review

The top U.S. nuclear regulator on Wednesday approved the launch of a safety review of U.S. nuclear reactors sought by President Barack Obama in response to the ongoing crisis at Japan's Fukushima plant. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted to create an agency task force made up of current and former commission experts that will review the information from the disaster and advise whether any changes are needed at U.S. nuclear plants. "We will perform a systematic and methodical review to see if there are changes that should be made to our programs and regulations to ensure protection of public health and safety," NRC head Gregory Jaczko said in a statement.

Ready To Eat Meat: Healthy?

What is better to eat, in terms of health, a hot dog (made from what?) or chicken? If given the choice between eating a hot dog or enjoying some rotisserie chicken, consider the hot dog at least according to some research out of Kansas State. That's because hot dogs, as well as pepperoni and deli meats, are relatively free of carcinogenic compounds, according to their research. But it's a not-so-happy ending for bacon and rotisserie chicken -- especially chicken skin -- because both have higher levels of cancerous material.

Small but mighty, new from BBC Earth

Sometimes the smallest of things can have the greatest of impacts. We've all woken up to find we’ve no milk in the fridge and got to wondering how we ever did without it! Well, as strange as it may sound the Pacific Herring is a little like that. Commonly referred to as "the silver of the sea", these oily little fish have proved to be the most commercially important part of the fishing industry. Being a staple part of the human diet since at least 3000 B.C. Although, it's not just humans who have developed a taste for these delicate bait bits. With a list of predators as long as your arm, it's not surprising that they have developed a way of breeding which ensures their survival. Ecological biomass is a term used to describe how living biological organisms group together to defend their species against the many predators they face, there is after all power in numbers! This isn't an uncommon technique, and we see similarities in the breeding habits of many animals, particularly those who live in herds.

Expanding Forests in the Northern Latitudes

According to a recent United Nations report, forested areas in Europe, North America, the Caucasus, and Central Asia have grown steadily over the past two decades. While tropical areas have steadily lost their forests to excessive logging and increased agriculture, northern areas have seen increases caused by conservation efforts. However, the long-term health and stability of northern forest lands may be imperiled by the effects of climate change.

Green Roofs Take Root in North America

Some 21,000 succulents call the roof of New York City's Con Edison's three-story Learning Center in Long Island City, Queens. The facility - some pales in comparison to the 2.5 living roof atop the Postal service facility in mid-town Manhattan. Meanwhile Chicago, the city that plays host to more green roofs than any other US City, added some 600,000 square feet of green roofs last year bringing their total coverage to a whopping 7 million square feet according to a December Yale Environment 360 article. The city of Toronto even went so far as to mandate that new buildings above a certain size will have to cover at least 60% of their roofs with vegetation.

Photos: penguins devastated by oil spill

Disturbing photos show northern rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes moseleyi) hit hard by an oil spill from a wrecked cargo ship on Nightingale Island in the Southern Atlantic. Already listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, the oil spill threatens nearly half of the northern rockhopper population according to BirdLife International. Already conservation workers say 'hundreds' of penguins have been oiled.

Contamination from Japan’s nuclear disaster shows up in food and water

Authorities across Asia stepped up checks this week on Japanese imports after radioactive contaminants showed up in food and water in quake-stricken Japan following blasts at a nuclear plant last week. Experts are most worried about three radioactive substances -- iodine-131, caesium-134 and caesium-137 -- all of which can cause various types of cancer years later. Caesium-137 is of particular concern as it can stay in the environment and potentially cause havoc for hundreds of years. It takes 30 years for this contaminant to lose its power by half -- what experts refer to as a "half life."

EPA and Boilers

On March 16, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed long-anticipated limits on power plant emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants (“HAPs”) under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”). Along with recent emissions standards for industrial and commercial boilers and a new proposal for power plant GHG controls due out in July, EPA is undertaking a series of major CAA rule makings. EPA’s latest rule would establish the first nationwide standards for power plant emissions of mercury, arsenic and other HAPs, with numeric limits based upon maximum available control technology as required under the 1990 CAA Amendments. EPA’s new proposal would reduce mercury from approximately 525 coal and oil-fired power plants by 91 percent once fully implemented, and it covers a range of other pollutants that were not regulated under the Bush-era mercury rule.

Record participation with 5 days until the world unites for Earth Hour

Singapore - Just 5 days out from the global lights-out event, Earth Hour 2011 has reached record participation, with 131 countries and territories registered to take part, on all seven continents, with all G20 countries, thousands of cities, and iconic landmarks and public figures set to join with hundreds of millions across the world to celebrate action for the planet.

Sustainable Development v. Historic Preservation

As the "green movement" in America progresses, many devotees of architecture and preservation are envisioning tall glass buildings made of copper, stone, or other materials that will save the environment or our wallets. However, one inevitably wonders why we are building new "green" structures when we could just use the ones we already have. Reusing an old water bottle instead of buying a new one is a great idea. Why not reuse the old building instead of building a new one?