A group of more than 200 scientists and medical professionals has issued a consensus statement in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives urging that antimicrobial chemicals like triclosan and triclocarban should not be used in consumer products. The experts say that these substances offer no health benefits and are actually causing health and environmental harm.
Trees are nature’s way of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Growing plants take up CO2 and store it in the form of their roots, stems and leaves. And in fact, a significant factor in the growing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been the extensive deforestation that has gone on over the past couple of centuries.
Borneo is the third-largest island in the world, home to part of Indonesia, part of Malaysia, and the small sultanate of Brunei. It is also home to the oldest forest on earth – 130 million years old – which is more than twice as old as the Amazon rain forest.
Biofuels are considered to be a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. However, they are generally more expensive than competing fossil fuels. Government subsidies, such as we have for ethanol in this country, have been necessary to make biofuels competitive in the marketplace.
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.
There are many environmental problems associated with ruminant livestock and these problems continue to grow as the demand for meat-rich diets increases around the world. One of the biggest problems is that cows emit methane through eructation (or belching) as they chew their cud. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, some 25 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. More than a quarter of all human-originated methane going into the atmosphere comes from raising livestock.
Most of the planet’s freshwater stores are found in the northern hemisphere, a region that is changing rapidly in response to human activity and shifting climate trends. A recent study analyzed 147 northern lakes and found that many rely on nutrients from tree leaves, pine needles, and other land-grown plants to feed aquatic life.
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.
At the end of last year, Southern California Edison turned on the largest lithium-ion battery storage facility in the world in Ontario, California. It is a substation with 80 megawatt-hours of capacity, enough energy to power 2,500 households or charge 1,000 Tesla cars a day.
Plants and animals have evolved over time to live in specific environmental niches. As the climate warms, parts of the ranges in which they live may no longer offer the conditions under which they can thrive. Species can respond to these changes in three ways: they can adapt to new conditions by undergoing niche shifts; they can relocate to better conditions, such as by moving to higher elevations or latitudes; or they can locally go extinct.
Lake Baikal is an ancient and massive body of freshwater found in the mountainous Russian region of Siberia. Deep and voluminous, Lake Baikal holds 20% of the planet’s unfrozen freshwater. And it’s often been described as the world’s cleanest and most pristine lake.
Genetically modified crops have been at the center of a great deal of controversy for a number of years. There have been widespread fears that they are unsafe to eat. Continuing studies have indicated that those fears appear to be unsubstantiated.
The conventional aquaculture industry has often been associated with many of the same problems that beset land-based agriculture: creating sterile monocultures, fouling the environment with pesticides, antibiotics and organic pollutants, and spreading diseases.
Industries around the world are working to reduce their carbon emissions. One very carbon-intensive industry is the airline industry and it is struggling to find ways to reduce its emissions even while air travel continues to be on the rise worldwide.
Many of us like to have houseplants. They add a bit of nature to our homes and they look nice. It turns out that they have health advantages as well.
Those of us who grew up in Los Angeles are quite familiar with the L.A. River. It’s not much of a river at all. Just a 51-mile-long concrete drainage ditch that shows up from time to time in movies like The Italian Job and Terminator 2.
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.
Each year, more than 25 million shipping containers enter the U.S. All too often, highly destructive forest pests are lurking among their imported goods. Wood boring insects arrive as stowaways in wood packaging, such as pallets and crates. Other forest pests and pathogens hitchhike in on foreign-reared plants bound for American nurseries.
As the climate warms, all sorts of things are happening in the environment. We know about shrinking ice caps, retreating glaciers, strange winter weather, and so forth. But there are other things that may happen that are unexpected and puzzling.