Growing demand for soybeans threatens Amazon rainforest

"Some 3,000 years ago, farmers in eastern China domesticated the soybean. In 1765, the first soybeans were planted in North America. Today the soybean occupies more US cropland than wheat. And in Brazil, where it spread even more rapidly, the soybean is invading the Amazon rainforest," writes Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, in a December commentary.

US Car Fleet Shrinks for First Time

Americans scrapped more automobiles than they bought last year as the ragged economy reduced demand and some major cities expanded mass transit service, according to a new report. The United States scrapped 14 million autos while buying only 10 million last year, shrinking the country's car and light duty truck fleet to 246 million from a record high of 250 million, according to the report to be released on Wednesday by nonprofit group the Earth Policy Institute (EPI). The United States, the world's biggest petroleum user, "is entering a new era, evolving from a car-dominated transport system to one that is much more diversified," said Lester Brown, the president of the EPI.

The Origin of Green Chemistry

Where does "Green Chemistry" come from? What is it? J.A. Linthorst, who is affiliated with Descartes Center (Utrecht University) and Maastrict University, has studied the matter and the history of the term in an article entitled: "An Overview: Origins and Development of Green Chemistry". He has found where the term begins and how it has evolved.

Underwater rocks could be used for massive carbon storage on America’s East Coast

Considering it is unlikely that global carbon emissions will start dropping anytime soon, researchers are beginning to look at other methods to combat climate change. One of these is to hook polluting power plants up to massive carbon sinks where instead of the carbon going into the atmosphere it would be stored away in rocks. The process is known as carbon capture and storage or CCS. But before one can even debate the pros and cons of setting up CCS, scientists must see if high-quality sites exist.

Arab World in Water Crisis

There are people in over 17 Arab countries living well below the water poverty line of 500 cubic metres annually, said Arab decision makers from around the Arab world, meeting on water insecurity this past Monday, in Jordan, reports the Jordan Times. They recognized climate change in the Middle East as an issue that will further impact their poorly-available water resources, noting that 75% of the surface water in the Arab world, originates from outside its borders.

Red Snapper Fishing Ban Starts

In Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, a new federal rule has fishermen angry. A ban on fishing for red snapper—one of the most popular saltwater fish — starts Jan. 4. Federal agencies and environmental groups say that in the south Atlantic, red snapper numbers are dwindling. So along with the ban, officials also propose temporarily closing a huge area to virtually all fishing.

Hidden Truths About Energy: Why One Source Just Won’t Cut It

Energy involves many complex issues, from how it is sourced to where it is used. Crafting intelligent energy policy also means understanding how cultural, social, and political issues come into play. Dr. Michael Guan is one of the well versed experts in this area. With qualifications from Harvard and Yale, a 20+ year career in as an engineer and consultant, his latest work is with Energy Studies Institute and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. He also does research and development for the U.S. Army around energy technologies.

Lithuania shuts Soviet-era nuclear plant

Lithuania shut down its nuclear power plant in Ignalina last week, raising fears of increased energy dependency on Russia and of a further blow to an already recession-hit economy. The Baltic state shut down the last reactor at the Ignalina plantexternal on Thursday (31 December). It agreed to shut the plant, which has the same kind of reactors as at Chernobyl, the site of the worst nuclear accident in 1986, under its agreement to enter the European Union. Some analysts have forecast rising power prices, dealing a further blow to the economy, and more dependence on power supplies from Russia.

Outdone by Dubai, Taiwan tower seeks green award

Outdone by an tower extending over 800 meters in Dubai, the world's former tallest building, Taipei 101, wants to become the highest green structure by completing a checklist of clean energy standards, a spokesman said on Monday. Taipei 101 will spend T$60 million ($1.9 million) over the next year to meet 100 criteria for an environmental certificate that it would hold over Dubai, spokesman Michael Liu said.

Colombia: Galeras volcano erupts again

The Galeras volcano in southern Colombia erupted on Saturday, shooting rock and ash and prompting authorities to order the evacuation of about 8,000 people. No one was killed or injured in the eruption. But officials warned that the volcano could remain volatile.