Environment

More than 15 million miles of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, pushing back the frontiers of progress. Of course, progress may mean a loss of wilderness if it is not managed carefully, and authors have created a ‘global roadmap’ for prioritizing road building across the planet, to try to balance the competing demands of development and environmental protection.

A new analysis suggests the planet can produce much more land-plant biomass – the total material in leaves, stems, roots, fruits, grains and other terrestrial plant parts – than previous estimates showed.


In modeling, earth scientists tend to make a lot of simplifying assumptions, and one of those assumptions has been that biomass of now will be biomass of the future, which is in defiance of both science and history.

A new paper in Environmental Science and Technology recalculates the limit of terrestrial plant productivity and finds that it is much higher than many current estimates allow.


Boron deficiency is a common cause of reduced crop yields in places like Missouri and the eastern half of the United States. It is common for corn and soybean farmers to supplement their soil with boron and now researchers at the University of Missouri have found that boron plays an integral role in development and reproduction in corn plants.

The researchers anticipate that understanding how corn uses the nutrient can help farmers make informed decisions in boron deficient areas and improve crop yields.


Algae is a bad thing in your poor, but in the ocean they are the ultimate source of all organic matter that marine animals depend upon.

Using a combination of satellite imagery and laboratory experiments, researchers have evidence showing that algae is
sucking up climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sinking it to the bottom of the ocean. 

And for that, we can thank one other thing people dislike: viruses.



Endocrine disruptor.

No one knows why Hypospadias, a birth defect where the urethral opening is abnormally placed, became more common among Swedish boys in recent decades. Before 1990, it happened in 4.5 per 1,000 boys, and after that increased to 8 per 1,000 boys.

Researchers looked at past attributed causes (in epidemiology, they find two curves that go the same direction and attribute causation), such as low-birth weight, being born a twin, or being born from in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive, but the curves did not match.

Maybe it was less reported in 1973. No one can say. So they created a new cause out of thin air: endocrine disruptors.

Climate change has happened throughout history, there are abandoned cities in places we would consider inhospitable, but they weren't at the times. As the climate changed, it has altered habitats not just for birds and bees and everything in between, but humans as well.

1990 is not some special time in world history, despite some claims that fixing one greenhouse gas would prevent climate change. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Aarhus University in Denmark say that by looking at estimates of climate and land-use change speeds they can determine the potential combined impacts of both climate and land-use change on plants, animals and ecosystems across the country. 


Researchers are searching for a sustainable, environmentally-friendlier source of soil conditioner and crop fertilizer that could reduce costs to farmers -  all from renewable energy waste.

A collaborative project between Stopford Energy and Environment Limited, the James Hutton Institute, Aqua Enviro Limited and the University of Lancaster builds upon Stopford research looking at using a mixture of digestates, derived from anaerobic digestion, and ash, from burnt biomass, as an alternative to existing crop fertilizers.

In quantitative genetics,  genomic prediction is a statistical approach to predicting the value of an economically important trait in a plant, such as yield or disease resistance. The method works if the trait is heritable, as many traits tend to be, and can be performed early in the life cycle of the plant, helping reduce costs.

A research team led by plant geneticists at the University of California, Riverside and Huazhong Agricultural University, China, has used the method to predict the performance of hybrid rice (for example, the yield, growth-rate and disease resistance). The new technology could potentially revolutionize hybrid breeding in agriculture.


Drier conditions at the edges of forest patches slow down the decay of dead wood and significantly alter the cycling of carbon and nutrients in woodland ecosystems, according to a new study.

Forests around the world have become increasingly fragmented, and in the UK three quarters of woodland area lie within 100 meters of the forest edge. It has long been known that so-called 'edge effects' influence temperature and moisture (the 'microclimate') in woodlands, but the influence on the carbon cycle is largely unknown. 


In some women abnormally high levels of the common and pervasive chemical perchlorate may lead to adverse effects in their offspring. The study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology  &  Metabolism says is the first of its kind to shed light on the possible harmful side effects of perchlorate in mothers and their children.