• States challenge federal policy on nuclear waste storage

    The search for a permanent solution to the storage of nuclear waste continues as three states sued the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) last week over its new policy on spent fuel; in December NRC issued a new policy stating that nuclear waste could be safely stored at a power plant for sixty years after a reactor went out of service; the issue of nuclear storage has become increasingly contentious after the Obama administration ruled out the use of a Department of Energy storage site in Nevada in 2009; nuclear plants have been forced to turn temporary on-site storage into long-term facilities as no permanent site has been built; the Obama administration launched a commission to find alternatives for the permanent nuclear storage site in Nevada that it cancelled

  • Drought in China threatens wheat crop and send global prices soaring

    UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that a severe drought was threatening China’s wheat crop and could result in shortages of drinking water; analysts fear that wheat prices could soar even higher if China were to begin importing large quantities of food to feed more than a billion hungry mouths; wheat prices are already at record highs and have sparked food related protests around the world; surging prices are partially responsible for Egypt and Tunisia’s recent mass uprisings; China’s Shandong province, a major agricultural region, has only received fifteen percent of its normal rain levels; in dire terms Chinese state media reported that “land is drying out, and the crops are dying”

  • U.S. unprepared for climate-induced disease outbreaks

    Officials warn that the United States is not equipped to handle the spread of infectious diseases caused by climate change; little investment or progress has been made in bolstering disease detection and response capabilities in the United States, despite warnings from intelligence agencies; increased heat, humidity, and rainfall have caused the spread of mosquitoes and other bugs which carry deadly tropical diseases to new areas where people have yet build up a resistance; the United States is now experiencing outbreaks of dengue fever and West Nile virus; in 2010 the CDC reported 110 deaths and 1,356 cases of West Nile virus in the United States; intelligence agencies also worry about the potential for the spread of these diseases to destabilize fragile nations across Asia and Africa

  • Melting glaciers threaten Peru

    Rising temperatures have caused glaciers in Peru to melt at alarming rates; Peru depends heavily on rivers fed by glaciers to provide drinking water, irrigation, and electricity; some scientists estimate that in ten years, whole glaciers will disappear entirely from the Andes; millions of Peruvians depend entirely on the glacier fed rivers as their primary source for water; the United States fears that water, food, and power shortages in Peru could cause stability and spark conflict across the region

  • Protecting vital infrastructure as sea levels rise

    As the world gets warmer, sea levels are rising; it has been happening at a snail’s pace so far, but as it speeds up more and more low-lying coastal land will be lost; at risk are many of the world’s cities and huge areas of fertile farmland; the sea is set to rise a meter or more by the end of this century, swamping much vital infrastructure and displacing hundreds of millions of people; scientists are looking at various ways to slow down or reverse the rise in sea levels — and of ways of coping with its consequences

  • Asia faces climate-induced migration crisis

    Asians accounted for 89 percent of the 207 million people affected by natural disasters globally last year; Asian governments are currently focused on mitigating weather changes induced by climate change, but a new report from the Asian Development Bank says they should start laying down policies and mechanisms to deal with the projected population shifts; weather changes such as significant temperature increases, changing rainfall patterns, greater monsoon variability, sea-level rise, floods, and more intense tropical cyclones would force millions of people to flee their homes to safer havens within countries and across borders

  • Curbing price speculation to prevent food riots

    Global food prices are hitting record highs in part due to environmental disasters and increased financial speculation; to secure food supplies and prevent riots, agriculture ministers are proposing regulations on agricultural speculation; world food prices rose 25 percent last year while the price of grain has soared 79 percent; in 2008 sharp increases in food prices sparked riots and political instability in thirty countries including Egypt and Haiti

  • Air laser will sniff bombs, pollutants from great distance

    Princeton University engineers have developed a new laser-sensing technology that may allow soldiers to detect hidden bombs from a distance and scientists better to measure airborne environmental pollutants and greenhouse gases; the new technique differs from previous remote laser-sensing methods in that the returning beam of light is not just a reflection or scattering of the outgoing beam; it is an entirely new laser beam generated by oxygen atoms whose electrons have been “excited” to high energy levels

  • U.K. report warns of coming global food shortages

    By 2050 global food supplies will not be sufficient to feed an expanding population; the UN estimates that food production must rise by 70 percent to feed a world population of more than nine billion in 2050; rising demand and surging global population coupled with increasing resource conflicts over land, water, and energy will hamper food production; currently nearly a billion suffer from hunger and more than sixty food riots have occurred in more than thirty countries in the last several years; the report urges an immediate action and whole range of government solutions to adjust current policies on economics, climate change, resource use, and agricultural practices

  • Dinosaurs survived mass extinction by 700,000 years

    The long established impact theory of dinosaur extinction holds that the age of dinosaurs ended between 65.5 and 66 million years ago, after Earth was hit by an asteroid; the impact caused massive fires, throwing smoke and soot into the atmosphere, blocking sun light for months, and causing the death of plants on which the vegetarian dinosaurs depended; a femur bone of a hadrosaur found in New Mexico is only 64.8 million years old, meaning this particular plant eater was alive about 700,000 years after the mass extinction event

  • Expert: Czech Republic beginning to run out of water

    The Czech Republic is running low on its underground water supplies, with villages in the north and the south experiencing shortages; nearly 50 percent of Czech residents depend on underground water sources; experts believe that increasingly extreme weather patterns caused by climate change are to blame; long dry months followed by severe storms are causing massive floods and leave the ground less able to absorb water; extreme estimates predict that by 2050, the Czech Republic would not have enough water for its population’s basic needs

  • Scientist tackles China's "sinking cities" problem

    A University of Nottingham researcher has been awarded funding to help China prevent human disaster as some of its fastest-growing cities sink under the weight of towering skyscrapers; one example: Shanghai, one of the most densely-populated cities in the world, is sinking at an average rate of between two centimeters to four centimeters a year, putting pressure on underground pedestrian and railway tunnels and building foundations

  • New York State prepares for sea level rise

    More than 62 percent of New York State’s population lives in marine coastal counties; sea level in the Lower Hudson Valley and Long Island is projected to rise two to five inches by the 2020s, increasing 12 to 23 inches by the end of the century (up to 55 inches by the end of the century if accelerated polar ice melt occurs); New York Harbor has already experienced an increase in sea level of more than 15 inches in the past 150 years, with harbor tide gauges showing a rise of between four and six inches since 1960

  • Rising sea waters threaten North Carolina's delicate coastline

    A North Carolina science panel is predicting the sea level will rise by one meter by 2100; this means about 2,000 square miles of coastline that is a meter or less above water is at risk; on that land is some of the state’s most expensive real estate that economists say is worth a total of almost $7 billion

  • Fox shoots man

    A hunter in Belarus shot a fox then tried to kill it with the butt of the rifle; the injured fox resisted, and in the process pulled the trigger on the hunter’s gun, allowing the animal to run off and sending the unnamed man to the hospital with a leg wound