Environment

Serengeti  means means “endless plains” in the Maasai language, but Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, which extends into Kenya towards the Mau Forest, the largest virgin montane forests of Africa, faces huge pressures from population growth.

It's easy for western elites who already have homes and educations to lament encroachment of nature by humans living in remote areas without either, but the real world needs more practical solutions. A new EU program is attempting to help.
A new simulation modeled the effects of land use changes on the species diversity in rivers and streams and estimates that the loss of biodiversity will caused by changes in land use practices far more than by climate change.

Despite that, climate change gets all of the attention and changing land use practices, such as clear-cutting of forests for agricultural use, are frequently neglected in the development of conservation concepts.

Grape vineyards experimenting with sustainable pest management systems are seeing an unexpected benefit: an increase in butterflies. This method of conservation is easier in Washington, since vineyards in this state already face fewer pests and use fewer chemicals than vineyards in states like California.

"We're fortunate here to have the perfect place to be able to have this sustainable option," said  David James, an associate professor in Washington State University's Department of Entomology.


A numerical model estimates the  potential impact of environmental processes on contaminant fate of growth-promoting hormones used in beef production and leads the authors to believe they may persist in the environment at higher concentrations and for longer durations than previously thought - and they also believe their model illustrates potential weaknesses in the U.S. system of regulating hazardous substances, which focuses on individual compounds and but cannot always account for complex and sometimes surprising chemical reactions that occur in the environment


Before 2009, nearly 4 in 10 cattle ranchers and slaughterhouse in Brazil reported recent deforestation but by 2013, this number dropped to 4 in 100, a 10-fold decrease.

What changed? Policies that were not simply advocated by first world elites that told people in Brazil they couldn't have an economy. Brazil is home to the world’s largest commercial herd of cattle, and its cattle ranchers were once linked to the destruction of huge swaths of rainforest. “Zero-deforestation agreements” put into place in 2009 use market-based strategies to reduce the impact of the beef industry on the environment, a much different methodology than in the past where some would follow guidelines and be penalized economically.

Edamame - vegetable soybean - is not widely grown in the United States, but it is growing in popularity. Part of the reason only about 85 million acres of grain-type soybean were grown in the U.S. in 2014 is because Asia can do it cheaply and there has been little research on the cultivars that could be used here and how to grow the crop sustainably.

Edamame seeds contain all the essential amino acids, which is unique to a vegetable crop, it is high in dietary fiber and most of the fats in edamame are unsaturated. Often marketed as a healthy snack food, edamame requires minimal processing and preparation. 


A research team has provided ground-truth for a method of measuring plant photosynthesis on a global scale: from low-Earth orbit.


Metformin, a medication commonly taken for Type II diabetes, is being found in freshwater systems worldwide, and a new study says that it causes physical changes in male fish exposed to doses similar to the amount in wastewater effluent. It causes intersex in fish - male fish that produce eggs - according to the study in Chemosphere.

Because intersex fish occur more often downstream from wastewater treatment plants, studies have investigated the effect of hormones from birth control pills, but metformin is not a hormone and it targets blood sugar regulation so the correlation is surprising.


Spring is here and that means fewer airplanes need to be de-iced. That may be good, according to a new study which finds that de-icing agents accumulated during the winter, which end up on unpaved areas and infiltrate into the soils during snowmelt, could end up in groundwater.


Agriculture is a breathtaking achievement of modern science. We are on the path to being able to feed the world for the first time in history and the upward trend in obesity is due to the fact that more food has been produced at lower cost with less environmental strain than ever believed realistic.

But it still has a price. There are claims that approximately 35% of global greenhouse gases come from agriculture.

A new paper argues that regenerative, organic farming, ranching and land use could lead to sequestering several hundred billion tons of excess CO2. Increasing the soil's organic content will not only fix carbon and reduce emissions, it will also improve the soil's ability to retain water and nutrients and resist pests and droughts.