December 30, 2010

How does your green roof garden grow?

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA -- Growing plants on rooftops is an old concept that has evolved from simple sod roofing to roof gardens and new, lightweight "extensive green roofs". Modern green roofs have environmental and social benefits; they can reduce stormwater runoff, improve air quality, mitigate urban heat, reduce the demand for air conditioning and greenhouse gas emissions, and provide habitat for birds and wildlife. Long-used in urban planning in Europe, green roofs are becoming more popular in North America, and new research designed to promote the integration of green roofs into current and future buildings is burgeoning. Researchers from the Department of Horticulture at The Pennsylvania State University published a study in HortTechnology that evaluated the influence of substrate type and depth on establishment of five common green roof plants.

Plants suitable for extensive green roofs must tolerate extreme rooftop conditions, and the substrates in which they grow must meet both horticultural and structural requirements. Deeper substrates may retain more water for plants during dry periods, but they also weigh more, especially when near saturation. The study by Christine E. Thuring, Robert D. Berghage, and David J. Beattie was designed to evaluate the effects of substrate type and depth on the establishment and early growth of five plants popular in North American green roof designs.

New technology to speed cleanup of nuclear-contaminated sites

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Members of the engineering faculty at Oregon State University have invented a new type of radiation detection and measurement device that will be particularly useful for cleanup of sites with radioactive contamination, making the process faster, more accurate and less expensive.
A patent has been granted on this new type of radiation spectrometer, and the first production of devices will begin soon. The advance has also led to creation of a Corvallis-based spinoff company, Avicenna Instruments, based on the OSU research. The market for these instruments may ultimately be global, and thousands of them could be built, researchers say.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on cleanup of some major sites contaminated by radioactivity, primarily from the historic production of nuclear weapons during and after World War II. These include the Hanford site in Washington, Savannah River site in South Carolina, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

December 28, 2010

Broken glass yields clues to climate change

A study appearing this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that microscopic particles of dust, emitted into the atmosphere when dirt breaks apart, follow similar fragment patterns to broken glass and other brittle objects. The research, by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Jasper Kok, suggests there are several times more dust particles in the atmosphere than previously thought, since shattered dirt appears to produce an unexpectedly high number of large dust fragments.
The finding has implications for understanding future climate change because dust plays a significant role in controlling the amount of solar energy in the atmosphere. Depending on their size and other characteristics, some dust particles reflect solar energy and cool the planet, while others trap energy as heat.

December 24, 2010

Growing hypoxic zones reduce habitat for billfish and tuna

Billfish and tuna, important commercial and recreational fish species, may be more vulnerable to fishing pressure because of shrinking habitat, according to a new study published by scientists from NOAA, The Billfish Foundation, and University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
An expanding zone of low oxygen, known as a hypoxic zone, in the Atlantic Ocean is encroaching upon these species' preferred oxygen-abundant habitat, forcing them into shallower waters where they are more likely to be caught.
During the study, published recently in the journal Fisheries Oceanography, scientists tagged 79 sailfish and blue marlin with satellite tracking devices in the western North Atlantic, off south Florida and the Caribbean; and eastern tropical Atlantic, off the coast of West Africa. The pop off archival satellite tags monitored horizontal and vertical movement patterns. Researchers confirmed that billfish prefer oxygen rich waters closer to the surface and will actively avoid waters low in oxygen.

December 15, 2010

The ethics of biofuels

In the world-wide race to develop energy sources that are seen as "green" because they are renewable and less greenhouse gas-intensive, sometimes the most basic questions remain unanswered.
In a paper released today by the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, authors Michal Moore, Senior Fellow, and Sarah M. Jordaan at Harvard University in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, look at the basic question of whether these energy sources are ethical.
In addition to arguing that the greenhouse gas benefits of biofuel are overstated by many policymakers, the authors argue that there are four questions that need to be considered before encouraging and supporting the production of more biofuel.

December 8, 2010

Conditioning reefs for the future

In a world first, a new 'state of the art' climate change experimental facility has been completed at the University of Queensland's Heron Island Research Station.
The Climate Change Mesocosm (CCM) project led by Associate Professor Sophie Dove and Dr. David Kline from the Global Change Institute's Coral Reef Ecosystems Laboratory is one of the largest and most accurately controlled ocean acidification and warming experimental systems in the world and simulates ocean temperatures and acidification levels predicted to occur on coral reefs in the next 50 to 100 years.
Able to regulate both temperature and CO2 levels prescribed by the 2100 IPCC scenarios in a highly controlled environment, the CCM system allows studies of climate change from the molecular to the ecosystem level.

Scientists: The fire in Israel is a typical example of climate change effects in the Mediterranean

According to "Israel’s National Report on Climate Change", prepared by Pe’er and other members of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on behalf of the Israeli Ministry of the Environmental Protection, the frequency, intensity and extent of the fires would increase due to the prolongation of droughts, increase in water evaporation and an increased frequency of intense heat waves. At a warming of 1.5 degrees by the year 2100, which is by now considered a conservative scenario, models predict the desert to expand northward by 300 to 500 kilometers to the north. Mediterranean ecosystems, such as the one occurring in the Carmel Mountains, would thus disappear from Israel. Forest fires in the Carmel mountain range in northern Israel was preceded by eight months of drought and occurred during a heat wave with temperatures around 30ºC. Normally, first rainfall should have come in September or October, and the maximal daily temperature at this time of year should be around 15-20ºC.

December 4, 2010

Electrified nano filter promises to cut costs for clean drinking water

With almost one billion people lacking access to clean, safe drinking water, scientists are reporting development and successful initial tests of an inexpensive new filtering technology that kills up to 98 percent of disease-causing bacteria in water in seconds without clogging. A report on the technology appears in Nano Letters, a monthly American Chemical Society journal.
Yi Cui and colleagues explain that most water purifiers work by trapping bacteria in tiny pores of filter material. Pushing water through those filters requires electric pumps and consumes a lot of energy. In addition, the filters can get clogged and must be changed periodically. The new material, in contrast, has relatively huge pores, which allow water to flow through easily. And it kills bacteria outright, rather than just trapping them.

Neglected greenhouse gas discovered by atmosphere chemists

One kilo of anaesthetic gas affects the climate as much as 1620 kilos of CO2. That has been shown by a recent study carried out by chemists from University of Copenhagen and NASA in collaboration with anaesthesiologists from the University of Michigan Medical School. The amount of gas needed for a single surgical procedure is not high, but in the US alone surgery related anaesthetics affected the climate as much as would one million cars.Tænk før bedøvelse 
Analyses of the anaesthetics were carried out by Ole John Nielsen. He is a Professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, and he's got an important message for doctors.
"We studied three different gasses in regular use for anaesthesia, and they're not equally harmful," explains Professor Nielsen

November 11, 2010

Leaking underground CO2 storage could contaminate drinking water

Leaks from carbon dioxide injected deep underground to help fight climate change could bubble up into drinking water aquifers near the surface, driving up levels of contaminants in the water tenfold or more in some places, according to a study by Duke University scientists.
Based on a year-long analysis of core samples from four drinking water aquifers, "We found the potential for contamination is real, but there are ways to avoid or reduce the risk," says Robert B. Jackson, Nicholas Professor of Global Environmental Change and professor of biology at Duke.
"Geologic criteria that we identified in the study can help identify locations around the country that should be monitored or avoided," he says. "By no means would all sites be susceptible to problems of water quality."

November 10, 2010

Extreme global warming in the ancient past

Variations in atmosphere carbon dioxide around 40 million years ago were tightly coupled to changes in global temperature, according to new findings published in the journal Science. The study was led by scientists at Utrecht University, working with colleagues at the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and the University of Southampton.
"Understanding the relationship between the Earth's climate and atmospheric carbon dioxide in the geological past can provide insight into the extent of future global warming expected to result from carbon dioxide emission caused by the activities of humans," said Dr Steven Bohaty of the University of Southampton's School of Ocean and Earth Science (SOES) based at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton.
It has been known for some time that the long-term warmth of the Eocene (~56 to 34 million years ago) was associated with relatively high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. However, scientists were previously unable to demonstrate tight-coupling between variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide and shorter-term changes in global climate.

November 7, 2010

Volcanic eruptions affect rainfall over Asian monsoon region

Scientists have long known that large volcanic explosions can affect the weather by spewing particles that block solar energy and cool the air.
Some suspect that extended "volcanic winters" from gigantic eruptions helped kill off dinosaurs and Neanderthals.
In the summer following Indonesia's 1815 Tambora eruption, frost wrecked crops as far away as New England, and the 1991 blowout of the Philippines' Mount Pinatubo lowered average global temperatures by 0.7 degrees F--enough to mask the effects of greenhouse gases for a year or so.
Now, in research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, scientists have discovered that eruptions also affect rainfall over the Asian monsoon region, where seasonal storms water crops for nearly half of Earth's population.

October 30, 2010

Is the ice at the South Pole melting?

The change in the ice mass covering Antarctica is a critical factor in global climate events. Scientists at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences have now found that the year by year mass variations in the western Antarctic are mainly attributable to fluctuations in precipitation, which are controlled significantly by the climate phenomenon El Nino. They examined the GFZ data of the German-American satellite mission GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment). The investigation showed significant regional differences in the western coastal area of the South Pole area.

October 28, 2010

Scientists issue call to action for archaeological sites threatened by rising seas

Should global warming cause sea levels to rise as predicted in coming decades, thousands of archaeological sites in coastal areas around the world will be lost to erosion. With no hope of saving all of these sites, archaeologists Torben Rick from the Smithsonian Institution, Leslie Reeder of Southern Methodist University, and Jon Erlandson of the University of Oregon have issued a call to action for scientists to assess the sites most at risk.
Writing in the Journal of Coastal Conservation and using California's Santa Barbara Channel as a case study, the researchers illustrate how quantifiable factors such as historical rates of shoreline change, wave action, coastal slope and shoreline geomorphology can be used to develop a scientifically sound way of measuring the vulnerability of individual archaeological sites. They then propose developing an index of the sites most at risk so informed decisions can be made about how to preserve or salvage them.

October 19, 2010

Drought may threaten much of globe within decades

The United States and many other heavily populated countries face a growing threat of severe and prolonged drought in coming decades, according to results of a new study by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Aiguo Dai.
The detailed analysis concludes that warming temperatures associated with climate change will likely create increasingly dry conditions across much of the globe in the next 30 years.
The drought may reach a scale in some regions by the end of the century that has rarely, if ever, been observed in modern times.
Using an ensemble of 22 computer climate models and a comprehensive index of drought conditions, as well as analyses of previously published studies, the paper reports that by the 2030s, dryness is likely to increase substantially across most of the Western Hemisphere, along with large parts of Eurasia, Africa, and Australia.
By later this century, many of the world's most densely populated regions will be threatened with severe drought conditions.

Air pollution exposure increases risk of severe COPD

Long term exposure to low-level air pollution may increase the risk of severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to researcher s in Denmark. While acute exposure of several days to high level air pollution was known to be a risk factor for exacerbation in pre-existing COPD, until now there had been no studies linking long-term air pollution exposure to the development or progression of the disease.
The research was published online ahead of the print edition of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
"Our findings have significance on a number of levels," said lead researcher on the study, Zorana Andersen, Ph.D., post doctoral fellow at the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology of the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen. "Patients, primary care physicians, pulmonologists and public health officials should all take not of our findings."

Climate Change May Alter Natural Climate Cycles of Pacific

While it’s still hotly debated among scientists whether climate change causes a shift from the traditional form of El Nino to one known as El Nino Modoki, online in the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists now say that El Nino Modoki affects long-term changes in currents in the North Pacific Ocean.
El Nino is a periodic warming in the eastern tropical Pacific that occurs along the coast of South America. Recently, scientists have noticed that El Nino warming is stronger in the Central Pacific rather than the Eastern Pacific, a phenomenon known as El Nino Modoki (Modoki is a Japanese term for "similar, but different").
Last year, the journal Nature published a paper that found climate change is behind this shift from El Nino to El Nino Modoki. While the findings of that paper are still being debated, this latest paper in Nature Geoscience presents evidence that El Nino Modoki drives a climate pattern known as the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO).

October 16, 2010

Carbon dioxide controls Earth's temperature

Water vapor and clouds are the major contributors to Earth's greenhouse effect, but a new atmosphere-ocean climate modeling study shows that the planet's temperature ultimately depends on the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide.
The study, conducted by Andrew Lacis and colleagues at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, examined the nature of Earth's greenhouse effect and clarified the role that greenhouse gases and clouds play in absorbing outgoing infrared radiation. Notably, the team identified non-condensing greenhouse gases -- such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and chlorofluorocarbons -- as providing the core support for the terrestrial greenhouse effect.
Without non-condensing greenhouse gases, water vapor and clouds would be unable to provide the feedback mechanisms that amplify the greenhouse effect. The study's results will be published Friday, Oct. 15 in Science.

Charcoal biofilter cleans up fertilizer waste gases

Removing the toxic and odorous emissions of ammonia from the industrial production of fertilizer is a costly and energy-intensive process. Now, researchers in Bangladesh have turned to microbes and inexpensive wood charcoal to create a biofilter that can extract the noxious gas from vented gases and so reduce pollution levels from factories in the developing world.
Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution, Jahir Bin Alam, A. Hasan and A.H. Pathan of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, in Sylhet, explain that biofiltration using soil or compost has been used to treate waste gases for the last two decades. There are simple filters for reducing odors and more sophisticated units for removing specific chemicals, such as hydrogen sulfide, from industrial sources.

Carbon dioxide controls Earth's temperature

Water vapor and clouds are the major contributors to Earth's greenhouse effect, but a new atmosphere-ocean climate modeling study shows that the planet's temperature ultimately depends on the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide.
The study, conducted by Andrew Lacis and colleagues at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, examined the nature of Earth's greenhouse effect and clarified the role that greenhouse gases and clouds play in absorbing outgoing infrared radiation. Notably, the team identified non-condensing greenhouse gases -- such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and chlorofluorocarbons -- as providing the core support for the terrestrial greenhouse effect.
Without non-condensing greenhouse gases, water vapor and clouds would be unable to provide the feedback mechanisms that amplify the greenhouse effect. The study's results will be published Friday, Oct. 15 in Science.

October 14, 2010

New research results change the understanding of atmospheric aerosol properties and climate effects

Atmospheric fine particles affect the Earth's radiation balance by interacting with solar radiation and by participating in cloud formation. Biogenic volatile organic compounds are key players in new particle formation processes. Hence, terrestrial vegetation has an important role as the newly formed particles cool our climate. The chemical composition of such secondary organic aerosol (SOA) particles formed from volatile compounds emitted by vegetation is very complicated and only limited information on the phase state of SOA particles has been available. Thus the scientific community has tried to understand the chemical composition and physical characteristics of SOA particles in order to better understand their climatic implications and also to enable more accurate predictions using global climate models.

Can Hungary's red sludge be made less toxic with carbon?

The red, metal-laden sludge that escaped a containment pond in Hungary last week could be made less toxic with the help of carbon sequestration, says an Indiana University Bloomington geologist who has a patent pending on the technique.
The bauxite residue now covers 40 square kilometers south of the Danube River, and has caused the deaths of eight Hungarians and injured at least 150. The residue also has caused the extinction of life in a local river and as yet unknown environmental damage elsewhere. While human deaths in the wake of the disaster may have been strictly a result of the containment failure, injuries have mostly been attributed to the chemical properties of the sludge, whose high pH (between 11 and 13) can quickly damage and kill living cells. Bauxite residue is between 10,000 and 1,000,000 times more basic than pure water, which has a pH around 7.
"We propose one way to reduce the pH of bauxite residue is to mix it with another kind of industrial waste -- oil-field brine, which is a by-product of oil and gas production -- and then carbon dioxide," said IU Bloomington geologist Chen Zhu, who submitted a U.S. Department of Energy patent application in 2007 describing the technique.

October 9, 2010

Measurements of CO2 and CO in China's air indicate sharply improved combustion efficiency

A collaborative, six-year study of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in Beijing and surrounding provinces suggests that combustion efficiency, a component of overall energy efficiency, is improving in the region.
The findings, published in the September 21 issue of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, are generally consistent with official Chinese government statistics and could bolster their credibility as international negotiations proceed on commitments of China and other nations to combat climate change.
A team of atmospheric scientists and environmental engineers from Harvard University and Tsinghua University in Beijing have continuously measured atmospheric CO2 and carbon monoxide (CO) levels in rural Miyun, about 100 km northeast of Beijing, since November 2004.
Weather observations such as wind speed and direction (with other evidence) allowed researchers to identify plumes of polluted air from the Beijing urban area and population centers to the south, as opposed to relatively clean air arriving from the north.

October 6, 2010

Switching off your lights has a bigger impact than you might think, says new study

The power stations that supply electricity vary in their carbon dioxide emission rates, depending on the fuel they use: those that burn fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) have higher emissions than those driven by nuclear power and wind. In general only the fossil fuel power stations are able to respond instantly to changes in electricity demand.
Dr Adam Hawkes, the author of the new study from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, says the government should keep track of changing carbon emission rates from power stations to ensure that policy decisions for reducing emissions are based on robust scientific evidence. The new study suggests that excluding power stations with low carbon emission rates, such as wind and nuclear power stations, and focussing on those that deal with fluctuating demand would give a more accurate emission figure.

Study sheds new light on how the sun affects the Earth's climate

The Sun's activity has recently affected the Earth's atmosphere and climate in unexpected ways, according to a new study published today in the journal Nature. The study, by researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Colorado, shows that a decline in the Sun's activity does not always mean that the Earth becomes cooler.
It is well established that the Sun's activity waxes and wanes over an 11-year cycle and that as its activity wanes, the overall amount of radiation reaching the Earth decreases. Today's study looked at the Sun's activity over the period 2004-2007, when it was in a declining part of its 11-year activity cycle.
Although the Sun's activity declined over this period, the new research shows that it may have actually caused the Earth to become warmer. Contrary to expectations, the amount of energy reaching the Earth at visible wavelengths increased rather than decreased as the Sun's activity declined, causing this warming effect.

October 5, 2010

Climate change affects horseshoe crab numbers

Having survived for more than 400 million years, the horseshoe crab is now under threat – primarily due to overharvest and habitat destruction. However, climatic changes may also play a role. Researchers from the University of Gothenburg reveal how sensitive horseshoe crab populations are to natural climate change in a study recently published in the scientific journal Molecular Ecology.
The horseshoe crab is often regarded as a living fossil, in that it has survived almost unchanged in terms of body design and lifestyle for more than 400 million years. Crabs similar to today's horseshoe crabs were walking the Earth long before the dinosaurs.

October 3, 2010

A painless way to achieve huge energy savings: Stop wasting food

Scientists have identified a way that the United States could immediately save the energy equivalent of about 350 million barrels of oil a year — without spending a penny or putting a ding in the quality of life: Just stop wasting food. Their study, reported in ACS' semi-monthly journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that it takes the equivalent of about 1.4 billion barrels of oil to produce, package, prepare, preserve and distribute a year's worth of food in the United States.
Michael Webber and Amanda Cuéllar note that food contains energy and requires energy to produce, process, and transport. Estimates indicate that between 8 and 16 percent of energy consumption in the United States went toward food production in 2007. Despite this large energy investment, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that people in the U.S. waste about 27 percent of their food. The scientists realized that the waste might represent a largely unrecognized opportunity to conserve energy and help control global warming.

October 1, 2010

Genetically Altered Trees and Plants Could Help Counter Global Warming

Forests of genetically altered trees and other plants could sequester several billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year and so help ameliorate global warming, according to estimates published in the October issue of BioScience.
The study, by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, outlines a variety of strategies for augmenting the processes that plants use to sequester carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into long-lived forms of carbon, first in vegetation and ultimately in soil. Besides increasing the efficiency of plants' absorption of light, researchers might be able to genetically alter plants so they send more carbon into their roots—where some may be converted into soil carbon and remain out of circulation for centuries.

September 30, 2010

Tiny generators turn waste heat into power

The second law of thermodynamics is a big hit with the beret-wearing college crowd because of its implicit existential crunch. The tendency of a closed systems to become increasingly disordered if no energy is added or removed is a popular, if not depressing, "things fall apart" sort-of-law that would seem to confirm the adolescent experience.
Now a joint team of Ukrainian and American scientists has demanded more work and less poetry from the second law of thermodynamics, proposing a novel "pyroelectric" method to power tiny devices using waste heat.

National study finds strong link between diabetes and air pollution

A national epidemiologic study finds a strong, consistent correlation between adult diabetes and particulate air pollution that persists after adjustment for other risk factors like obesity and ethnicity, report researchers from Children's Hospital Boston. The relationship was seen even at exposure levels below the current EPA safety limit.
The report, published in the October issue of Diabetes Care, is among the first large-scale population-based studies to link diabetes prevalence with air pollution. It is consistent with prior laboratory studies finding an increase in insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, in obese mice exposed to particulates, and an increase in markers of inflammation (which may contribute to insulin resistance) in both the mice and obese diabetic patients after particulate exposure.

September 24, 2010

How heating our homes could help reduce climate change

Scientists at The University of Manchester claim using sustainable wood and other biofuels could hold the key to lowering harmful greenhouse gases.

Building district heating schemes which would provide heat and hot water for a neighbourhood or community would not only drastically reduce greenhouse gases but would also be highly cost effective, the authors claim.

Focus groups to test the UK public’s eagerness for such schemes have already been held and have resulted in the majority of people being in favour of the localised centres.

A biological solution to animal pandemics

EUREKA project E! 4104 ECOPROMAT has developed a novel and environmentally-friendly type of matting for use in protection against the spread of contagious animal diseases such as avian influenza, and for routine hygiene in animal and food production. Soaked with disinfectant solution, the matting can be used for disinfecting vehicle tyres, and the shoes and boots of personnel. As it is made of 100% natural fibres, it is highly absorbent to disinfectant solution; it is also fully biodegradable and therefore avoids the high disposal costs of synthetic alternatives. The under-surface is made of densely woven fabric for strength, and impregnated with natural resin to prevent seepage of disinfectant into the ground, or dilution of disinfectant by ground water.
Outbreaks of contagious animal diseases like avian flu, foot-and-mouth disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), cause national and regional public health authorities take extensive steps to prevent these diseases from spreading. The economic costs of such outbreaks are hard to estimate, but they can cause major disruption to agricultural production and food distribution, also environmental challenges in disposal of infected animals and contaminated materials; plus widespread public anxiety.

September 22, 2010

Electricity collected from the air could become the newest alternative energy source

Imagine devices that capture electricity from the air — much like solar cells capture sunlight — and using them to light a house or recharge an electric car. Imagine using similar panels on the rooftops of buildings to prevent lightning before it forms. Strange as it may sound, scientists already are in the early stages of developing such devices, according to a report at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.
"Our research could pave the way for turning electricity from the atmosphere into an alternative energy source for the future," said study leader Fernando Galembeck, Ph.D. His research may help explain a 200-year-old scientific riddle about how electricity is produced and discharged in the atmosphere. "Just as solar energy could free some households from paying electric bills, this promising new energy source could have a similar effect," he maintained.

Ecologists find new clues on climate change in 150-year-old pressed plants

Plants picked up to 150 years ago by Victorian collectors and held by the million in herbarium collections across the world could become a powerful – and much needed – new source of data for studying climate change, according to research published this week in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Ecology.
The scarcity of reliable long-term data on phenology – the study of natural climate-driven events such as the timing of trees coming into leaf or plants flowering each spring – has hindered scientists' understanding of how species respond to climate change.
But new research by a team of ecologists from the University of East Anglia (UEA), the University of Kent, the University of Sussex and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew shows that plants pressed up to 150 years ago tell the same story about warmer springs resulting in earlier flowering as field-based observations of flowering made much more recently.

September 18, 2010

Avoiding the danger of climate change

The world will need to make substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions below current levels over the next few decades if the worst impacts of dangerous climate change are to be avoided. This was a key conclusion from UK and US climate scientists at an international workshop on the UK AVOID program in Washington, DC exploring the most policy-relevant aspects of understanding dangerous climate change.
Latest results from AVOID have shown that strong mitigation action to limit temperature rise to below 2 °C avoids many of the climate impacts, but not all of them. Examples show that 50% of the impact of water scarcity, and almost 40% of the impact of decreasing crop suitability can be avoided through early action on greenhouse gas emissions. Time is short and delaying action reduces the chance of limiting temperature rise to 2 °C and increases the chance of significant impacts.

September 16, 2010

Optimizing climate change reduction

Scientists at the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology have taken a new approach on examining a proposal to fix the warming planet.Large-scale projects to change the Earth's climate—have included erecting giant mirrors in space to reflect solar radiation, injecting aerosols of sulfate into the stratosphere making a global sunshade, and much more. Past modeling of the sulfate idea looked at how the stratospheric aerosols might affect Earth's climate and chemistry. The Carnegie researchers started out differently by asking how, if people decided what kind of climate they want, they would go about determining the aerosol distribution pattern that would come closest to achieving their climate goals. This new approach is the first attempt to determine the optimal way of achieving defined climate goals.

Coal Ash Linked To Cancer and Other Maladies

According to Earthjustice and Physicians for Social Responsibility, Water and air in 34 states are being poisoned by the waste of coal-fired power plants—creating major health risks for children and adults. The contamination occurring at hundreds of coal ash dumps and waste ponds across the country to health threats such as cancer, nerve damage and impairment of a child's ability to write, read and learn.
Coal ash has different physical and chemical properties depending on the geochemical properties of the coal being used and how that coal is burned.

September 15, 2010

Climate change is unpredictable

The fear that global temperature can change very quickly and cause dramatic climate changes that may have a disastrous impact on many countries and populations is great around the world. But what causes climate change and is it possible to predict future climate change? New research from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen shows that it may be due to an accumulation of different chaotic influences and as a result would be difficult to predict. The results have just been published in Geophysical Research Letters.
For millions of years the Earth’s climate has alternated between about 100,000 years of ice age and approximately 10-15,000 years of a warm climate like we have today. The climate change is controlled by the Earth’s orbit in space, that is to say the Earth’s tilt and distance from the sun. But there are also other climatic shifts in the Earth’s history and what caused those?
Dramatic climate change of the past By analysing the ice cores tha

Superbugs that clean up environment

A contaminated site, of either terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems, that is polluted with toxic chemicals is deadly for the environment. The textile, leather, fertilizer and other industries are continuously releasing toxic pollut into our land and rivers, disturbing the normal balance of both the ecosystems which is alarming for a clean and healthy environment.
Although there are various ways to clean up the environment such as recycling the wastes, incineration or disposing the wastes and pollutants into landfill sites, the best and most eco-friendly way to clean up the pollutants is using the microorganisms, the process known as bioremediation. Genetically engineered microbes (GEMs) or the so called superbugs could be a very promising option to perform this job.
Don’t confuse this superbug with those resistant bacteria which are also called superbugs and are capable of resisting almost any antibiotics present to date and thus a major concern now in health sector. I will limit today’s discussion to the genetically engineered microbes with their promise for a better, cleaner and a greener environment.

September 13, 2010

Is only greenhouse gas emission responsible?

The mean temperature of the world has been rising, snow in the hemisphere and even on mount Everest is melting, sea level is rising, salt water intrusion is reducing the availability of fresh water, coastal region is facing more and frequent cyclones and storm surges. The main cause of these changes is the increase in global temperature due to increased use of fossil fuel throughout the world especially in the developed countries.
It is a very simple equation that we, the human beings are using more and more fossil fuel, emitting huge amount of greenhouse gases that trap the sun's temperature in the earth atmosphere and consequently global temperature is rising and causing climate change which will cause a devastating situation for mankind in the early future.
The earth's position with respect to the sun over time affects its climate. During its annual circuit around the sun, the earth's present elliptical orbit brings it closest to the sun in January (perihelion), and carries it farthest away in July (aphelion). The planet receives about 6% more solar energy in January than in July. The Earth's axis, a line through the poles, is tilted 23.5° with respect to the sun. Consequently, the sun's rays strike the northern hemisphere most directly on June 21st (the summer solstice) and the southern hemisphere most directly on December 21st (the winter solstice).

September 10, 2010

Main climate threat from CO2 sources yet to be built

Scientists have warned that avoiding dangerous climate change this century will require steep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. New energy-efficient or carbon-free technologies can help, but what about the power plants, cars, trucks, and other fossil-fuel-burning devices already in operation? Unless forced into early retirement, they will emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for decades to come. Will their emissions push carbon dioxide levels beyond prescribed limits, regardless of what we build next? Is there already too much inertia in the system to curb climate change?
Not just yet, say scientists Steven Davis and Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology. But to avoid the worst impacts we need to get busy building the next generation of clean energy technologies.

September 9, 2010

Saving a million acre-feet of water through conservation and efficiency in California

A new analysis released today by the Pacific Institute recommends specific actions that can annually save a million acre-feet of water quickly and at a lower economic and ecological cost than developing new supplies. The assessment notes that new actions are immediately needed to reduce the growing tensions over the state's water resources and to address California's persistent water supply challenges.
This is a key time for California water: the California Water Bond has been tabled for at least two years and may be scrapped altogether. New reviews from around the state are calling for prompt efforts to use technology, economics, and institutional reform to address the state's water crisis. All parties seem to agree that the state will need a diverse portfolio of solutions – but it makes the most sense to do the most effective things first. The Pacific Institute's new report, California's Next Million Acre-Feet: Saving Water, Energy, and Money, quantifies more than one million acre-feet of water that can be conserved through improved efficiency, with savings coming from the urban and industrial sectors and improvements in agriculture.

September 8, 2010

Risk of beetle outbreaks rise, along with temperature

The potential for outbreaks of spruce and mountain pine beetles in western North America's forests is likely to increase significantly in the coming decades, according to a study conducted by USDA Forest Service researchers and their colleagues.
"Native bark beetles are responsible for the death of billions of coniferous trees across millions of acres of forests ranging from Mexico to Alaska," said Barbara Bentz, research entomologist with the Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station and lead author of the study. "Our study begins to explain how their populations respond to the climatic changes being projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."

Stanford land-use expert brings satellite data down to Earth

Stanford University geographer Eric Lambin and his colleagues are exploring the complex conditions that give rise to a broad range of land-use challenges – from the reforestation of Vietnam to the spread of Lyme disease in Belgium.
For decades, orbiting satellites have peered downward to gather information about the surface of the Earth, giving scientists an unprecedented view of the planet. Using this data, researchers have created maps of deforestation and other land-use changes over time.
Satellites are precise tools, able to measure the rate of photosynthesis in a tiny clump of trees in the heart of the Amazon Basin. But satellite technology reveals little about the people living beneath the canopy who decide the fate of the trees around them. For a deeper understanding of how and why humans alter their environment, researchers need to talk face-to-face with the people who live there.

September 4, 2010

Tiger conservation in Bangladesh

Tiger, symbol of the beast and beauty, is a threatened species worldwide. Recent estimate shows that tigers only occupy 7% of their historic Asian range and about 4000 are left in the wild (Dinerstein et al. 2007). Aside from this alarming tiger status worldwide, Bangladesh possesses a relatively good number of them, mostly concentrated in the Sundarbans. Joint India and Bangladesh tiger census-2004 (using pugmark counting) estimated that there are 419 (121 male and 298 female) tigers in Bangladesh Sundarbans. The number may vary, as many scientists are sceptical about the accuracy of pugmark counting. However, it is beyond doubt that the size of the tiger population in the Bangladesh Sundarbans would be between 300-500. Being the biggest member of the cat family the Bengal tiger is popularly known as Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) for its unique hunting behaviour and spectacular physical appearance.

August 31, 2010

Pollution warnings fall on deaf ears

Despite making repeated pledges, many of the industries, especially those of fabrics, dyeing and tannery, continue polluting rivers, canals and other wetlands in the city just to boost their profit, say Department of Environment officials.
There are still 311 "red category" [severe polluter] industries in and around the capital that need to build effluent treatment plant (ETP), while 371 heavy polluter industries have so far completed the installation.
"However, many of them don't use their ETPs. They have spent money to install it but don't want to spend more to run it," said Mohammed Munir Chowdhury, director, Monitoring and Enforcement, DoE.
Recently, some of the polluters were caught red-handed while discharging untreated liquid waste despite having their own ETPs.

July 25, 2010

Climate change complicates plant diseases of the future

Human-driven changes in the earth’s atmospheric composition are likely to alter plant diseases of the future. Researchers predict carbon dioxide will reach levels double those of the preindustrial era by the year 2050, complicating agriculture’s need to produce enough food for a rapidly growing population.
University of Illinois researchers are studying the impact of elevated carbon dioxide, elevated ozone and higher atmospheric temperatures on plant diseases that could challenge crops in these changing conditions.
Darin Eastburn, U of I associate professor of crop sciences, evaluated the effects of elevated carbon dioxide and ozone on three economically important soybean diseases under natural field conditions at the soybean-free air-concentrating enrichment (SoyFACE) facility in Urbana.

Assessing arsenic and cadmium susceptibility

BANGLADESH is a developing country where fisheries and aquaculture remain very important as a source to supplement animal origin nutrition, employment generation, improving environmental condition and earning revenue in foreign exchange. Environmental pollution now-a-days poses a great threat to human beings as well as to animal kingdom over the world. Water resource, being the prominent component of the environment, is getting polluted over the decades. Contamination of water environment with various pollutants has increased considerably in resent years in many parts of the world. Various heavy metal ions such as As, Cd, Zn, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb, Hg etc. are entering into environment through various processes.

July 22, 2010

Nanotech coatings produce 20 times more electricity from sewage

Engineers at Oregon State University have made a significant advance toward producing electricity from sewage, by the use of new coatings on the anodes of microbial electrochemical cells that increased the electricity production about 20 times.
The findings, just published online in Biosensors and Bioelectronics, a professional journal, bring the researchers one step closer to technology that could clean biowaste at the same time it produces useful levels of electricity – a promising new innovation in wastewater treatment and renewable energy.

July 17, 2010

Sea Levels Rising in Parts of Indian Ocean

Newly detected rising sea levels in parts of the Indian Ocean, including the coastlines of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka, Sumatra and Java, appear to be at least partly a result of human-induced increases of atmospheric greenhouse gases, says a study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The study, which combined sea surface measurements going back to the 1960s and satellite observations, indicates anthropogenic climate warming likely is amplifying regional sea rise changes in parts of the Indian Ocean, threatening inhabitants of some coastal areas and islands, said CU-Boulder Associate Professor Weiqing Han, lead study author. The sea level rise — which may aggravate monsoon flooding in Bangladesh and India — could have far-reaching impacts on both future regional and global climate.
The key player in the process is the Indo-Pacific warm pool, an enormous, bathtub-shaped area of the tropical oceans stretching from the east coast of Africa west to the International Date Line in the Pacific. The warm pool has heated by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, or 0.5 degrees Celsius, in the past 50 years, primarily caused by human-generated increases of greenhouse gases.

July 15, 2010

Best hope for saving Arctic sea ice is cutting soot emissions

The quickest, best way to slow the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice is to reduce soot emissions from the burning of fossil fuel, wood and dung, according to a new study by Stanford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson.
He examined the effects of soot – black and brown particles that absorb solar radiation – from two types of sources. He analyzed the impacts of soot from fossil fuels – diesel, coal, gasoline, jet fuel – and from solid biofuels, such as wood, manure, dung, and other solid biomass used for home heating and cooking in many locations. He also focused in detail on the effects of soot on heating clouds, snow and ice.
What he found was that the combination of both types of soot is the second-leading cause of global warming after carbon dioxide. That ranks the effects of soot ahead of methane, an important greenhouse gas. He also found that soot emissions kill more than 1.5 million people prematurely worldwide each year, and afflicts millions more with respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease and asthma, mostly in the developing world where biofuels are used for home heating and cooking.

July 11, 2010

Heat waves could be commonplace in the US by 2039

Exceptionally long heat waves and other hot events could become commonplace in the United States in the next 30 years, according to a new study by Stanford University climate scientists.
“Using a large suite of climate model experiments, we see a clear emergence of much more intense, hot conditions in the U.S. within the next three decades,” said Noah Diffenbaugh, an assistant professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford and the lead author of the study.
Writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), Diffenbaugh concluded that hot temperature extremes could become frequent events in the U.S. by 2039, posing serious risks to agriculture and human health.

June 30, 2010

Graft spoils river saving project

The project to save a dying river in Natore is likely to fail as a section of local politicians and Water Development Board officials are busy pocketing the funds, an investigation reveals.
The Tk 13 crore project was taken in 2008 to revive the river Narod by widening and dredging. Contractors were entrusted to dig five feet deep into the river and leave the earth far from the banks.
But they are digging the river haphazardly and putting the extracted earth right on the banks, further narrowing down the stream.

June 28, 2010

Breakthrough in jute research in BANGLADESH

Bangladeshi researchers have successfully decoded the jute plant genome opening up a new vista in the development of variety of the world’s most adorned biodegradable natural fibre.
Experts said this gene sequencing would help improve the fibre length and quality, including colours and strength; and develop high yielding, saline soil- and pest-tolerant jute varieties through genetic engineering.
With the successful sequencing of jute genome, Bangladesh becomes only the second country after Malaysia, among the developing nations, to achieve such a feat.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made the announcement of Bangladesh’s scientific achievement in the parliament yesterday amid cheers and desk thumping by lawmakers.

June 26, 2010

Let Bangladesh have a People's Biodiversity Register

KEITH A Wheeler, Chair of the Commission on Education and Communication of IUCN highlights: “Today's challenges are moving towards more sustainable financial and energy systems, food security and international security -- all these challenges ultimately depend on the services nature offers”. These services are mainly offered by biodiversity, although this is a critical period for it in this year (2010) of biodiversity.
Biodiversity is considered as the most important wealth for mankind. Countries like Bangladesh should derive economic benefits from their rich biodiversity resource base. Unfortunately there is no proper inventory and monitoring of the country's biodiversity. Documentation, monitoring and conservation of local biodiversity and indigenous knowledge should be considered as the thrust area of activities since the said tasks remain significantly incomplete in the country. This needs extensive countrywide activities. Bangladesh is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is in force since 1993 and is the most significant of the pertinent international agreements. However, there is hardly any action-oriented follow up since Bangladesh has become a party to CBD. We are yet to register country's biological diversity which India has already started in the name of People's Biodiversity Register.

June 24, 2010

Health Risks in a Bangladeshi Population due to Arsenic Exposure

Researchers of Columbia University conducted a population-based prevalence survey in Araihazar, Bangladesh, to describe the distribution of arsenic exposure in a rural Bangladeshi population and to assess the population’s awareness to this problem as well as to possible remediation options. Water samples from 5,967 contiguous tube wells in a defined geographic area were tested using laboratory-based methods.
Additionally, for each well, the owner/caretaker (or a close relative) was interviewed regarding his or her awareness of the health consequences of as exposure. Arsenic exposure data and demographic characteristics for the 65,876 users of these wells were also collected from the 5,967 respondents.

June 17, 2010

ten biggest health denger behind oil spill

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which began after an explosion crippled the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, is now the biggest oil disaster in U.S. history. Cleaning the mess will take months, and the longer-term effects on health and wildlife will take years to heal.
Right Now
  1. Sickness among clean-up workers: The combination of oil fumes and heat from the Gulf has led to several workers being hospitalized from fumes, and the curious chemical makeup of some of the substances used to clean up the oil can often lead to skin irritation or, at high levels, cancer.
  2. Danger to marine life: The underwater nature of the spill means it's that much closer to undersea life, and therefore able to do more damage in a shorter amount of time.
  3. Aggravation of existing illnesses: People already suffering from asthma or similar lung diseases could see their conditions worsened because of exposure to oil and chemicals.
  4. Pregnancy risks: The oil contains many volatile and toxic chemicals, some of which have been linked to premature birth, low birth weight, and miscarriages, making the Gulf Coast region a dangerous one for pregnant women.
  5. Smoke fallout: Planned burns of spilled oil on the ocean's surface have a way of backfiring. Often, particles held in the smoke drift down to earth and wind up in people's eyes and lungs, which can aggravate existing medical conditions for some.

June 11, 2010

Biodiversity for life and livelihood

Human being is probably the most intelligent among the million species. He has tamed the nature by his knowledge and comparative physical advantages. However, in his reckless consumption spree for the sake of development and prosperity, humans have used different species in such a way that many of those have already become extinct and some others are under threat of extinction.
At present, humans have intensified use and production of some so-called economically valuable species ignoring others' contribution. Lately, humans have started to understand significance of ecosystem services generated by different species and estimated that 60% of the ecosystem services, accessed, are in decline due to unsustainable human actions (MA, 2005).

May 29, 2010

Reforestation may lower the climate change

Norman, Okla.—Scientists at the University of Oklahoma and the Fudan University in Shanghai, China, have found that reforestation and afforestation — the creation of new forests — may lower the potential of forests for climate change lessening.
Yiqi Luo, professor of ecology in the OU College of Arts and Sciences Department of Botany and Microbiology, and Changzhang Liao, Bo Li and Changming Fang, professors of ecology in the Fudon University Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, examined whether plantations have the same ecosystem carbon stock as natural forests.
By synthesizing 86 experimental studies between plantations and their natural forest counterparts, Luo and colleagues found plantations substantially reduce carbon stock in ecosystems in comparison with natural forests.

Contribution to environment, economy and food security

GENETICALLY Modified (GM) foods are derived from genetically modified organisms. Genetic modification involves the insertion or deletion of genes. GM crops are also known as biotech crops. The first commercially grown genetically modified crop is tomato (1994). Currently, there is a number of genetically modified food species. Some biotech crops alongwith their traits are: soyabean (herbicides tolerance, oil content), cotton (insect resistance), maize (herbicides, insects), canola (herbicides, fertility restored, oil content), rice (herbicides, insects, vitamin A, B1), wheat (herbicides), potato (insects and virus resistance), tomato and melon (delayed ripening), papaya, squash, sweet pepper and plum (virus resistance), linseed, sugar beets and alfalafa (herbicides tolerance), sugarcane (insecticides, high-sucrose), rose, petunia and carnation (modified flower colour), tobacco (herbicides tolerance, nicotine reduction).

May 28, 2010

Solutions of Arsenic groundwater poisoning in southern Asia

An estimated 60 million people in Bangladesh are exposed to unsafe levels of naturally occurring arsenic in their drinking water, dramatically raising their risk for cancer and other serious diseases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Because most of the contaminated water is near the surface, many people in Bangladesh have installed deep wells to tap into groundwater that’s relatively free of arsenic.
In recent years, however, farmers have begun using the deep, uncontaminated aquifers for irrigation – a practice that could compromise access to clean drinking water across the country, according to a report in the May 27 issue of the journal Science. The report is co-authored by groundwater experts Scott Fendorf (Stanford University), Holly A. Michael (University of Delaware) and Alexander van Geen (Columbia University).
“Every effort should be made to prevent irrigation by pumping from deeper aquifers that are low in arsenic,” the authors wrote. “This precious resource must be preserved for drinking.”

Saving electricity in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is now facing a serious crisis of "electricity shortage". Various measures are being taken to save electricity. However, if we take the following measures we can save a considerable amount of power:
1. BILLBOARDS - It has been observed that a large number of billboards in Dhaka city are using electric lights at night. This should be stopped immediately to conserve power.
2. SHOP SIGNBOARDS - A large number of shops keep their signboard lights on throughout the night, although the shops are now closed at 7:00 pm. All shopkeepers should be advised to put off the lights at 7:00pm.

May 23, 2010

How will it respond to predicted climate change?

KUAKATA, locally known as Sagar Kannya (daughter of the sea) is located in the southwest of Bangladesh. Next to Cox's Bazar it is the second most famous sea beach of this country. And Kuakata is one of the rarest sea beaches of the world, which has a rare scenic beauty offering the full view of the rising and setting of crimson sun in the water of the Bay of Bengal. This 30 km long and 03 km wide beach has a typical natural setting and sandy as gently sloping into the Bay of Bengal.
It is 70 km away from Patuakhali district headquarters and 320 km from the capital Dhaka. The sight is characterised by an excellent combination of eye-catching natural beauty, sandy beach, blue sky, huge expanse of water of the Bay and evergreen forest. The unique customs of the 'Rakhyne' tribal families and Buddhist temple of about hundred years old indicate the ancient tradition and cultural heritage in the area.
Kuakata is a unique example of co-occurrence of different ecosystems. There are remnants of mangroves in this beach. The line of coconut trees has increased the scenic beauty of this seashore. The nearby Fatra and Gangamati mangrove forests (part of Sundarbans) have enriched the biodiversity of this territory. The tamarisk (Jhou) forests have added more attraction to this beach.

April 25, 2010

A silent icy river in Dhaka!

You will certainly not believe any snowfall in Dhaka! But what about an icy river? And that even not in the winter, just in the month of April, 2010? In fact it is a common scene since long. And what about thinking of a north-bound river? You must be thinking something has gone wrong with me.
Not exactly. I invite you to accompany me in my morning walk upto the middle of the Mirpur-Manikdi (Uttara) link road under construction. A branch of the river Turag flows here, surprisingly, in the northern direction, under a temporary culvert built to facilitate the bridge construction. Would you believe from the culvert up to about 200 metres downstream, it is all icy! Torn, scattered, 1-2 feet icy layer and some snow-balls rolling in the gentle breeze will widen your eyes. But, your nasal will obviously response avoringly to the severe sulphuric smell! Then you may easily assume that some chemical waste discharged from the nearby garment industries and the sewerage run-off caused these icy foams. And the huge amount of disposed liquid and probably some blockage in the south made the little river flow north. A dreamy outlook in reality is a foamy dirty brook!

Urban poverty and environmental degradation: Vicious cycle

GREEN' issues are spearheading discussions on resource management, biodiversity and global warming, while the environmental problems known as 'Brown Agenda' have been neglected for a long time. Challenges in addressing and meeting the brown agenda in the cities have acquired prominence among the planning and development professionals around the world. It is well accepted that rapid urbanisation has aggravated problems like sanitation and drainage, solid waste management, degradation of soil and land, uncontrolled emissions from the domestic and industrial activities, street and abode congestions and improper disposal of hazardous waste resulting in poor health of people. Cities and towns have been hubs of economic development but how this economic development must be achieved in the first place? Do the rapid industrialisation, urbanisation and development of communication network add impetus to economic development at the cost of environment?
The root causes of environmental degradation in urban areas are the unplanned and hardly coordinated inter-play of socio-economic, institutional and technical activities. There are many factors, which may have greater impacts on the urban environment but poverty still remains at the root of several environmental problems. Let us try to understand the urban poverty and environmental degradation before blaming each other.

February 12, 2010

The development and environment conflict

The conflict between development and environment still remains unresolved. Industrial revolution in the 1780s, Green revolution in the 1960s gave great prosperity to humankind but snatched away many things of importance and in some cases caused irreversible damages. England first had the industrial revolution and Edwin Chadwick in 1842, 70 years after the industrial revolution submitted the world's first famous report on water pollution to the British Parliament. Following the start of Green revolution, Silent Spring published by Ms. Rachel Carson indicated the toxicity of insecticides such as DDT in 1962.
The industrial revolution and its deep connection with strongly infectious diseases such as Cholera and Dysentery gave birth to “Public Health Act (1848)” in England. In 1911, H A Volux submitted the first report in the world on the disaster of air pollution titled “The Disaster Caused by Dust and Fog in Glasgow, Scotland (estimated death toll: 1063)”. Los Angeles Smog (1951), London Smog (1952) caused death of 400 and 4000 persons respectively. Minamata disease due to water pollution by organic mercury (Hg) in Kumamoto around 1959, Yokkaichi asthma (due to air pollution) around 1972, water pollution in Dokai Bay (Sea of Death) in the 1960s and loss of fisheries are some noted events in Japan. Still there are victims of Hg pollution.

February 6, 2010

Environmental balance can achive by Sustainable use

WATER and life are synonymous. Life is bountiful in terms of diversity and ecosystem-health in those regions on the earth where there are good sources of water supply either from stream, rain or groundwater aquifer. Not only life in the natural ecosystems is inevitably dependent on water but abundant supply of safe water is essential for healthy human life. Already we are facing water crisis at different places in the world. Conflicts are rising at local, regional and interntional level concerning rights to have access to water.
Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)
Conflict over trans-boundary rivers is a major concern in the arena of international relation now-a-days. For instance, Farakka barrage remained the most burning issue between Bangladesh and India, Bangladesh being deprived of its righteous share of the Gangetic water. The demand for water from domestic to industrial sector is just soaring over the current years while pollution of water sources such as lakes, rivers and also ground water is rising in scale due to inconsiderate disposal of solid and liquid waste in the water bodies. The rivers around the city are so polluted that water harnessing from these rivers by water supplying authority is no more economically feasible. The recent clean Buriganga drive is praiseworthy but it will take time for the river water to be harnessed for domestic use.
Meanwhile too much extraction of ground water is creating a great threat for the city dwellers with apprehension of earthquake cooming bigger and here comes the relevance of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). According to Global Water Partnership (GWP), IWRM is a process which promotes the loordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital eco-systems thus maintaining an environmental balance.
Principles of IWRM:
* Fresh water is a finite and vulnerable resource, but essential to sustain life, development and the environment.
* Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners and policymakers at all levels.
* Women play a central part in the provision, management and safeguarding of water.
* Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognised as an economic goods.
IWRM aims at:
* Efficiency to make water resources go as far as possible.
* Equity in the allocation of water across different social and economic groups.
* Environmental sustainability, to protect the water resources base and associated eco-systems.
Impacts of Flood Control Drainage Irrigation (FCDI):
* Land degradation: micronutrient deficiencies
* Open water fisheries: loss of connectivity
* Water quality issues
* Drinking water and sanitation problems
* Social issue: control over common property resources
* Impact on wild life and biodiversity
* Increase in hazards from failure of infrastructure
Challenges and issues in water management:
* Ever expanding water needs of a growing economy and population.
* Maintaining food security for this huge population puts tremendous challenge (Additional food grain demand of 9.5 million tons in 2025)
* More and more agricultural land is being taken up for urban and other uses
* Preserving natural ecosystems
* Maintaining environmental equilibrium

January 29, 2010

Butterflies is the best Biotic-Indicators of climatic change

When biotic factors, abiotic-biotic and biotic-biotic interactions, biotic-biotic association stand responsive to forecast future happening by the cause of climatic changes or of any changes in any ecological area or in an ecosystem then the factors/interactions/association may be called the “biotic-indicators”. Use of biotic-indicators is applicable in taking mitigation approaches to combat calamities caused because of unusual climatic changes. This is applicable especially in the case of forest conservation and for the conservation of forest biodiversity.

In this write up butterflies have been identified as the 'biotic-indicators' for the species richness monitoring system in an ecosystem and similarly for forecasting the climatic change impacts on biodiversity. It has already been found from the scientific experiments that, by using butterflies as indicators, increase of species richness and species assemblage have been augmented to 47% in a wild state. This wild state has been used as the healthy habitat for all kinds of animals

Climate change and Sunrderban

Due to increased rate of emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon  dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons) from  different sources such as burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and  other human activities, the rate of global temperature increase  accelerated from +0.6°C over the past century to an equivalent rate of  +1.0°C per century in the past two decades (Natural Resource Defence  Council, USA 2006). Sea-level rise as a consequence of global warming  is caused by increase in seawater temperatures resulting in thermal  expansion of water and melting of glacier and polar iceberg (Kennedy  et. al. 2002). The climate change has already affected the ecosystems  of northern hemisphere including the coastal forests.

The out  flow of water from Bangladesh is the third highest in the world, next  to the Amazonia and Congo basin. Major rivers of Bangladesh flow from  north to south, silting up the mangroves delta and draining into the  Bay of Bengal. The mangroves delta is also a region of transition  between the freshwater of the rivers originating from the Ganges and  the saline water of the Bay of Bengal.

January 19, 2010

Electric cars use extensively

A number of factors are behind the billions of dollars in research and development businesses are allocating to electric cars. Reducing carbon emissions is one. The cachet among some consumers for green products is another. In the U.S. energy independence adds a political dimension to the demand for electric. Yet a fundamental factor in the success or failure of electric remains oil prices.
The high costs of owning and operating electric cars aren't the only factor keeping them on the margins. Low top speeds and slow acceleration are part of the electric car's image, even if the cars themselves have become fast and responsive. Limited range and lengthy recharging times are also liabilities in the eyes of most drivers.
Under optimal conditions, electric-only cars have a range of 150 kilometres or less, and can take up to 12 hours to recharge if plugged in to a standard house outlet. Both extreme temperatures and high speed drain batteries faster. In Canada, this is a much bigger problem than in Europe or the dense urban areas surrounding Los Angeles and New York.

January 15, 2010

Nitrogen threat in earth growing

Last year, reactive nitrogen was identified as one of nine key global pollution threats and second worst in terms of having already exceeded a maximum “planetary boundary,” according to a study reported in the journal Nature.

“Nitrogen plays a tremendously important role in feeding the world’s peoples, so that’s a very positive benefit for humanity,” says James Galloway, a professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and a leading nitrogen researcher. “The problem is how to maximize nitrogen’s benefits while diminishing its negatives – especially waste.”