Environment

If you live in an arid region, you know keeping it green is an environmentally stressful activity. But some arid regions have been getting greener on their own and scientists have long suspected that a flourishing of green foliage around the globe, observed since the early 1980s in satellite data, springs at least in part from the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere.

A study of arid regions around the globe looked into the potential of a "fertilization effect" of   carbon dioxide and found that it has, indeed, caused a gradual greening from 1982 to 2010.


New Arctic - New Discoveries

The world is warming, but the Arctic is warming fastest.  The Arctic of today is not the Arctic which 18th or 19th century explorers knew.  Where ships were once likely to be crushed in heavy ice there is now often no ice in summer.  Where ice shove once built natural sea walls we find coastal erosion as waves are now free to erode melting permafrost.  New islands are being discovered, even as older islands erode away into sandbanks.

 Much like in Frank Herbert’s "Dune", a science-fiction epic about characters attempting to rule a planet torn apart by conflict, the issue of balancing desires for resources, and their impact on people, faces much of Africa today. The planet that serves as the stage for that story, a barren desert where control over said resources dictates human events, in many ways mimics the present situation on the African continent.

Researchers have detected microplastic pollution - a concern in oceans because small bits of plastic can be harmful to fish and birds that feed on plankton or other small waterborne organisms
 - in one of Western Europe's largest lakes, Lake Geneva, in large enough quantities to raise concern.  


The Arctic's Warming Islands

The movement of nitrate through groundwater to streams can take decades to occur and that long lag time means that changes in the use of nitrogen-based fertilizer (the typical source of nitrate) may take decades to be fully observed in streams, according to a recent study.

Water quality experts have been noting in recent years that nitrate trends in streams and rivers do not match their expectations based on reduced regional use of nitrogen-based fertilizer.  The long travel times of groundwater discharge, like those documented in this study, have previously been suggested as the likely factor responsible for these observations.

During the late Pleistocene, which ended about 12,000 years ago, a remarkably diverse assemblage of large-bodied mammals inhabited the "mammoth steppe," a cold and dry environment that extended from western Europe through northern Asia and across the Bering land bridge to the Yukon.

Of the large predators - wolves, bears, and big cats - only the wolves and bears were able to maintain their ranges well after the end of the last ice age and a new study suggests that dietary flexibility may have been an important factor giving wolves and bears an edge over saber-toothed cats and cave lions. 


Contrary to widespread consumer belief, organic farming is not the best way to farm from an environmental point if view.

The guiding principal of organic is to rely exclusively on natural inputs.  That was decided early in the 20th century, decades before before the scientific disciplines of toxicology, environmental studies and climate science emerged to inform our understanding of how farming practices impact the environment.  

Wildfires turn millions of hectares of vegetation into charcoal each year but it wouldn't seem like it ends up in the oceans.

Yet researchers have found that this charcoal does not remain in the soil, as previously thought. Instead, it is transported to the sea by rivers and thus enters the carbon cycle. The researchers analyzed water samples from all over the world. They demonstrated that soluble charcoal accounts for ten percent of the total amount of dissolved organic carbon.