• Aussie flood zone covers area bigger than France and Germany combined

    More than 200,000 people have been affected by relentless flooding in northeast Australia, with the flood zone now stretching over an area bigger than France and Germany combined; Heavy rains and flooding in northeast Australia is common during the southern hemisphere summer, but the scope of the damage from the recent downpours is extremely unusual

  • Border security advocates criticize wilderness area restrictions

    A proposal to consolidate a swath of 250,000 acres of wilderness study areas in New Mexico has sparked an outcry from groups fearing an influx of illegal immigrants and drugs from Mexico; the Border Patrol says the designation has little effect on its work

  • U.S. water contains large amounts of the carcinogen hexavalent chromium

    Drinking water in thirty-five American cities contains the carcinogen hexavalent chromium; in twenty-five of those cities, the levels exceeded the goal proposed in California, which has been trying aggressively to reduce the chemical in its water supply, a probable carcinogen; the chemical compound was first made famous in the hit 2000 Hollywood movie “Erin Brockovich”

  • Biting winters driven by global warming: scientists

    A string of freezing European winters scattered over the last decade has been driven in large part by global warming; the culprit, according to a new study, is the Arctic’s receding surface ice, which at current rates of decline could to disappear entirely during summer months by century’s end; the mechanism uncovered triples the chances that future winters in Europe and north Asia will be similarly inclement, the study reports

  • DHS to address climate change as homeland security issue

    DHS has a new task force to battle the effects of climate change on domestic security operations; DHS secretary Janet Napolitano explained that the task force was charged with “identifying and assessing the impact that climate change could have on the missions and operations of the Department of Homeland Security”; a June 2010 DHS Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan states: “climate change has the potential to accelerate and intensify extreme weather events which threaten the nation’s sustainability and security”

  • China to step up efforts to control Mother Nature

    China is facing increasingly sever water shortages; the Chinese government is expanding it activities to combat extreme weather such as droughts, exploring airborne water resources, bringing water from he sea inland, and other measures to secure stable water supplies for cities, industry and agriculture

  • Freshwater sustainability challenges shared by Southwest and Southeast

    Twenty-five years ago, environmentalist Marc Reisner published Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, which predicted that water resources in the West would be unable to support the growing demand of cities, agriculture, new research offers new support for most of Reisner’s conclusions, using data and methods unavailable to him in 1986

  • Scientist: change behavior to give mitigation technologies time to emerge

    One of the world’s foremost authorities on environmental says that there are only three options when it comes to climate change; mitigation, adaptation, and suffering; currently there are no technological quick fixes for global warming, so “Our best hope is to change our behavior in ways that significantly slow the rate of global warming, thereby giving engineers and scientists time to devise, develop, and deploy technological solutions where possible”

  • Egypt: Sinai shark attacks orchestrated by Israel

    The sandy resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, is popular with European tourists and attracts more than three million visitors a year; two shark attacks in as many weeks — a fatal shark attack on a German tourist Sunday, which followed a similar attack which mauled four Russian tourists earlier last week — now threaten the region’s tourism industry; Egyptian officials now say the attacks may have been orchestrated by Israel to damage Egypt’s economy; Israel says the accusations are too ludicrous for comment

  • Underground "physical Internet" to distribute food, goods

    A start-up proposes automatically routed canisters to replace lorries for the purpose of delivering food and other goods in all weather with massive energy savings; the proposal envisions putting goods in metal capsules 2-meter long, which are shifted through underground polyethylene tubes at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, directed by linear induction motors and routed by intelligent software to their destinations

  • U.S.: China rise a "Sputnik moment" for clean energy

    Energy Secretary Steven Chu likened a series of Chinese milestones — including the development of the world’s fastest supercomputer — to the Soviet Union’s landmark 1957 satellite that led the United States into the Space Race; the United States still concentrated on research in areas such as computers, defense, and pharmaceuticals but that its funding for energy innovation was paltry

  • Nature's desalination: bacteria turn salty water fresh

    The growing global shortage of water has led to a growing interest in desalination to produce fresh water from seas and estuaries; conventional desalination plants, however, consume large amounts of energy; the solution: a bug-powered desalination cell that takes salt out of seawater

  • Royal Society paints unsettling picture of a world 4 °C warmer

    If present warming trends continue, the world could warm by 4 °C by 2060; a new, detailed study by the U.K. Royal Society would make global water shortages acute; most of sub-Saharan Africa will see shorter growing seasons, with average maize production will drop 19 percent and bean production by 47 percent compared with current levels; the extreme weather, sea-level rise, and water shortages will drive many people to migrate

  • Time to find a second Earth: WWF

    In 2007 Earth’s 6.8 billion humans were living 50 percent beyond the planet’s threshold of sustainability, according to a WWF report; the report says that even with modest UN projections for population growth, consumption, and climate change, by 2030 humanity will need the capacity of two Earths to absorb CO2 waste and keep up with natural resource consumption; if everyone used resources at the same rate per capita as the United States or the United Arab Emirates, four and a half planets would be needed

  • Sucking up oil spills is a cinch

    Cleaning up oil spills is a time consuming, difficult process, but a novel approach uses a new kind of vacuum cleaner that blows bark or other absorbent material onto oil spills, and then sucks the material up again. The vacuum cleaner is four times more efficient in cleaning up after oil accidents than conventional techniques