The end of 2013 marked the first occasional observations of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere of 400 parts per million. There is nothing magical about that value, but we do tend to focus on round numbers.
The population of black bears in southern New York has grown and expanded its range over the past 20 years, which has led to increased encounters with people. Until recently, a detailed knowledge of bear populations in the state has been lacking.
Invasive species have been a problem for quite some time. Over the years, we have grappled with – among other things – invasive plants from Japan, zebra mussels from eastern Europe, and Asian fungus that kills off ash trees in our forests.
Invasive species are a great concern for the health and stability of ecosystems. They are defined as plants, animals or pathogens that are non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause harm. It is that latter consideration that isn’t always obvious.
For many decades, hydroelectric dams were the top source of renewable energy in the United States. But for the first time ever, by the end of last year, installed wind power capacity in the U.S. outpaced hydroelectric capacity.
Batteries have never been more important. Not only do we all depend on cell phones, tablets and laptop computers that run on batteries, but two enormous industries are in major transitions that rely upon battery technology: personal transportation and the utility industry. The electricity grid is increasingly turning to solar and wind power for generation and both will require effective energy storage if they are to truly become the predominant sources of electricity.
China has worked to reduce its coal consumption in recent years but the air quality in cities like Beijing is still notoriously poor and a major health hazard.
Poor air quality is a serious problem. Exposure to air pollution is linked to the premature deaths of an estimated 6.5 million people every year. This makes air pollution the fourth largest threat to human health. Only high blood pressure, dietary risks, and smoking are a bigger danger.
What large mammal routinely kills 200 humans in the Eastern United States every year? Here’s a hint: It’s not cougars. It’s actually overabundant white-tailed deer.
A constitutional amendment being discussed in the Brazilian Senate threatens to set back decades of conservation efforts in the Amazon.
One of the crowning achievements for wildlife protection in the US was the establishment of the National Wildlife Refuge system in the 1930s, when the populations of waterfowl were perilously low. Refuges provided breeding and migratory habitat that has allowed a remarkable recovery of many species of ducks and geese.
Ocean energy is about to take an important step towards making a real impact in Scotland. The MeyGen Tidal Array Project is reaching the final construction of its demonstration phase, which will be the first test of multiple underwater turbines sited together in a full-scale array.
At night our planet is now bathed in artificial light, ranging from streetlights and floodlights to burning gas flares in oil fields. There are few places that are truly dark at night.
Natural world heritage sites exemplify the world’s greatest areas of natural beauty, ecology, geology, and biodiversity. They are recognized internationally for their value as places with significance that is “so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.” Many of these areas also are a vital source of food, fuel, and water for rural communities, and provide a revenue stream for national economies through tourism and recreation. The livelihoods of some 11 million people are directly dependent on these areas.
Ecotourism is increasing on a global scale. Ecotourism is generally defined as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education. Visitor numbers to many protected areas around the world are expanding every year. Ecotourism provides rich experiences for the traveler and often has great benefits to local communities fighting poverty and seeking sustainable development.
Rivers concentrate the water and resources of an entire region. They are literally the lifeblood of much of the world’s fish population. They are also the fuel for hydropower, a critical energy source for human civilization.
Bolivia’s second largest lake has nearly disappeared. Lake Poopó, a saltwater lake located in a shallow depression in the Altiplano Mountains, used to cover an area about the size of Los Angeles. While it’s not the first time the lake has dried out, scientists believe its recovery hangs in the balance due to the combined stress of drought, climate change, and water diversion.
Since the late 1990s, there has been an unprecedented global wave of virulent fungal infections that has been decimating whole groups of animals from salamanders and frogs, to snakes and bats.
Nestled in the mountainous border between southwestern Macedonia and eastern Albania, Lake Ohrid is a deep, ancient lake. Its waters provide refuge to hundreds of plants and animals that live nowhere else, including seventeen species of fish.