Environment

Climate variability is one of the major forces in the rise and fall of agrarian states in Mexico and Peru, according to a team of researchers looking at both climate and archaeological records.

"We are arguing that the climate information in both areas is good enough to establish that climate is playing some role in the rise and fall of these city states," said Douglas Kennett, professor of environmental archaeology. "Now we need to further refine the archaeological data."


Researchers don’t always get it right. Scientists used to toiling in obscurity on arcane subjects can be lured into presenting hyperbolic conclusions from a media that demands sensational headlines, and confirmation bias remains a powerful psychological force within the scientific community.

So what does the media do when honest researchers realize their attention-getting findings were simply wrong? 

If this case of “bee addiction” is any indicator, the answer is nothing.

A study published today shows that a newly studied class of water contaminants that is known to be toxic and hormone disrupting to marine animals is present likely due in part to indirect effects of human activity. The contaminants are more prevalent in populated areas in the San Francisco Bay, suggesting that human impacts on nutrient input or other changes in water quality may enhance natural production.

A paper in PLOS ONE says humans may have an indirect effect on water quality.


Bee colonies had a decline in 2006, and a decade earlier, and lots of times going back as far as people kept count of bees, but activists most recently blamed a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids, and ignored climate and parasites, the thing that scientists said made the difference in periodic blips.

Regardless of the consensus, a team of scholars in Environmental Science&Technology blame these "neonics" and claim past studies may have underestimated the bees' exposure to the compounds.


A threatened tree species in Alaska could serve as a model for integrating ecological and social research methods in efforts to safeguard species that are vulnerable to climate change effects and human activity.

In a new study, scientists assessed the health of yellow cedar, a culturally and commercially valuable tree that is experiencing climate change-induced dieback and that is found throughout coastal Alaska.

In an era when climate change threatens to touch every part of the globe, the traditional conservation approach of setting aside lands to protect biodiversity may no longer sufficient to protect species.


It sounded ridiculous when Gina McCarthy claimed nature was fixing itself after they created a toxic waste disaster in Colorado but that future methane needed the EPA to halt it right now, yet science has again shown that nature is more resilient than political bodies think.

Biodiversity can often help protect ecosystems from extreme conditions, according to a study of 46 grasslands in North America and Europe. The results showed that increasing plant diversity decreased the extent to which extremely wet or dry conditions disrupt grassland productivity. 


The very act of tolerating some forms of soil pollution may give trees an advantage in the natural world, says University of Montreal plant biologists. Their findings were published this week in BMC Plant Biology.


Renewable energy is not very sustainable in the European Union (EU) yet but the food industry, which is heavily reliable on subsidies to stay competitive with the rest of the world, needs renewable energy costs to come down to remain viable.

Until then, the food sector is going to resist using renewable energy, which is a scant 7 percent of their usage, compared to 15 percent in the EU overall. Instead of advocating basic research to improve renewable energy, the call is out to lower meat consumption in a new report. And of course to reduce food choices by shopping locally and seasonally.


This warning in the London "Tube" could apply to organic farming

Our cabin is situated in one of the most remote places in Norway. My family got the place in the early 60ties and at the time there were no roads leading to what then was a fox farm kitchen. It is still one of the most remote areas of Norway. I grew up listening to the stories about the hardship of life in what for us was a recreational haven. The most exciting stories were about the predators, brown bear and wolves, that were roaming around our cabin.