Alternative energy it’s an option that picked up our interest for decades, being ecofriendly and also endless, or so we thought. Wind energy, for example does seem to have a great potential. Governments and important names in the energy industry want to build more wind turbines and expand this business. At present 2% of the whole energy in America is represented by wind energy. The potential is huge, especially in the Great Plains and the Great Lakes (Lakes Michigan, Superior and Erie), but with the last century climate changes, people are concerned about the viability of their projects. Now it’s the scientists turn to make solid predictions and determine what would be the evolution of the wind intensity and direction in the coming decades. Will the global warming change everything we know?
The scientists have used three different models: the Canadian Regional Climate Model, the Regional Climate Model 3and the Hadley Centre Model, so that their results would be more credible. All three climate models have shown no major change in the wind intensity even with an increase of global temperature of about two degrees. The study has been made on the lower 48 American states and a part of northern Mexico. The only differences that could be observed between the models were similar with the variations of wind intensity usually seen in wind patterns.
The importance of this study is even greater because it is the first done for this particular purpose, and it opens the way for other, more advanced ones. The energy industry is continuously expanding and the investment done to develop better and more efficient wind turbines needs to be backed up by some reliable assurances, especially since the goal in wind energy is that it will represent about 20% of America’s total energy production by 2030.
Although twenty years ago the world has made a pact in Montreal to ban the use of chloroflurocarbons, as they turned out to be the main reason for ozone depleting, until recently no real improvements have been scientifically proved. That was mainly because the ozone hole kept changing its size due to the season’s cycle. They couldn’t tell if the variations of the ozone hole are the result of normal spring fluctuations or evidence that the lack of chlorofluorocarbons was beneficial to the environment. The main consequence of not being able to prove the efficiency of this protocol was that no one could tell if the measure of banning chloroflurocarbons was a success or not, so that was putting a stop to any other important decisions. It was even considered that ozone depleting could be part of a natural cycle and humans had nothing to do with it.
This was an issue, until the Australian scientist, Murry Salby, showed that there is a pattern anyone could follow regarding the natural fluctuations in ozone hole’s diameter. These variations are triggered by the so called “dynamic forcing”. This phenomena is explained by the increase of the contact surface between the ozone and the chlorine particles due to the bigger number of ice crystals present in the atmosphere over the winter.
Now that they can exclude from their measurements these natural fluctuations, scientists are able to watch the modifications that take place due to the absence of chloroflurocarbons. The result they are now able to sustain with evidence is that the Montreal Protocol has been successful and the ozone is really healing. This conclusion is even more important than just for its ecological impact, as it offers a political back up to the implementation of other environmental friendly measures. Because of this important discovery, the skeptics will have no more ammunition to delay any ecofriendly projects in the future.
Shark fins soup is a delicacy that led the sharks all around the globe to drastically decrease in numbers. Until recently, it was a real challenge to determine the origin of the fins and whether they came from an endangered species. This was making it difficult to prove whether the fishing was legal or not. Now we can not only tell the difference between species, but we can also determine the area from where the fins were collected. Recent studies have shown that female sharks that are born in a specific area will return to give birth there, so the population’s DNA differs by its mother’s specifics. This also means that if the population of sharks declines too much or it’s wiped out in a specific region, then it won’t be replenish by the immigration of sharks from another area.
The sharks being a very important link of the aquatic food chain, the health of the oceans depends in keeping their numbers constant. When a shark population declines under 20% of what it was in the past, then it is considered to be on the endangered list. This happened to the dusky shark and the copper shark. The ability of determining a species and its origin only from the DNA samples will represent a great help for the regulation of the global trade. This way the fishing in the regions where the sharks are scarce can be controlled so the population would have time to regenerate. The process of recovering can be a long one, since these shark species mature in about 20 years and give birth once every three years. This means that, even if humans only need a few decades to drastically reduce the shark population, the time it will take for it to replenish is that of a few centuries.
Birds can collide with manmade objects and this can happen very often. The question that always intrigued the scientists is why? Since it was accepted by everyone that birds use their sight as the first of their senses when they fly, it was a mystery why they could not see the obstacles in their way. The most unpleasant thing is that collisions with pylons, turbines and power lines lead to 25% of the juvenile and 6% of the adults’ deaths of endangered species like Ciconia ciconia (or the White Stork).
People have tried to understand the reason behind these accidents and also sought to find a way to warn the birds of the danger. They failed on the most part because, until now, they also tried to make the obstacles more noticeable for human eyes and not for the birds.
Studying their way of flying, scientists have come to two relevant conclusions: one, that birds don’t always look forward when they fly, most of the times they look for prey or interesting places on the soil, so their binocular vision makes them practically blind for the obstacles ahead; and two, that birds usually can’t adjust too much the speed at which they’re flying, so at high speed and in poor weather conditions, they are not able to adjust to the changes they encounter in their path. It also seems that birds are more attuned to the direction they are flying and don’t use their sight to look into open space. It mostly seems that they are guided by their instinct to maintain the right course, and not by their eyes.
The best method to help the birds and prevent accidents, is to make them aware of the danger through alerting sounds and signals that should be placed at some distance from the obstacle to give them time to adjust their direction.
Recent studies have shown that it’s not necessary to keep the cattle on a pasture until almost complete depletion before moving them. In fact, those studies determined that it’s even healthier for the animals if they move more often from a pasture to another. This is called rotational grazing.
Let’s see why this type of grazing better is and what its benefits are. From the cattle’s perspective, grazing just a little while on a pasture before moving on, it’s better because the animals will only get the best grass, the richest in nutrients. Also, they’ll always have plenty to graze, because the place will be new all the time. This will increase their weight and productions.
From the wildlife’s point of view, having the herd of cattle there for a smaller period of time will imply they’ll be less disturbed and more time to manifest their normal behavior. Also, if the cattle won’t deplete their food source, the natural balance won’t be disturbed too much.
There is one more perspective we should look at when we consider rotational grazing: the flora’s perspective. Not being totally depleted of leaves, the plants have a better chance of recovering and replenish the grazing area. By giving it enough time, the farmers won’t feel the need to replace the indigenous flora with the exotic plants that are known to have a better productivity. The reason why maintaining the local flora is better than planting a new one, is that on the long run, the land will suffer because the soil is not use to these plants and will lose its fertility, becoming useless for agriculture and farming.
As the health of the soil is the key to success in raising cattle, rotational grazing could prove a revolutionary change in this agricultural segment and can also be one of the first ecological measures that can be applied on a large scale to protect nature and provide for the needs of humanity.
If you have a business that produces waste liquids, then it is best that you treat this issue with great care. In order to have everything safe, you should make sure you have a drum, tank, or IBC to store your liquid wastes, and that they are regularly inspected so no leaks take place and immediately repair any fissures you may find. Also, it is important that you check the storing, loading and unloading area, so they are clean and tidy.
The reason it is so important to be careful with your liquid wastes is that the Environmental Protection Agency has very strict regulations and ignoring them can be really costly. The penalties and fees you could receive for not taking proper care of the residues you produce are pretty high. The material risks, although great, should not be your only concern. Along with the destruction that a fire starting from unkempt liquid wastes can produce, you also need to consider the pollution of air, soil and water that incident will imply. You may have material loses of your own and you’ll also need to repair the ecological damage you’ve done with your careless behavior.
Beside all this you may find yourself in the unfortunate situation where one of your workers or clients has an accident because you managed your waste liquids poorly. It could only be a slippery surface and someone falling because of it, or a much worse scenario. Either way, paying for the hospital bills, the compensation settlement or moral prejudice, won’t be a very light burden for your financial balance.
Avoiding these situations can be very easy, as long as you create a special place to deposit your waste and employ someone to come and collect it regularly. There are several companies on the market that can give you professional help for getting the residues out of your hair and also clean any related mess that could possible appear.
This is another example of the way Mother Nature always provides a cure for any disease it creates. Scientists and ecologists have been fighting for about half a century with some kind of disorder they discovered in moose, wild elk, white-tailed deer and mule deer, on the American continent. This disease is called “chronic wasting disease” or CWD and it consists of important weight loss and abnormal behavior. After a certain period of time the infected animal will die. This disease is produced by a “prion”, which is a fraction of a protein that has infectious properties and can destroy some parts of the brain. Being so small and resistant, it is very difficult to destroy and it seems that more and more cases of CWD spread through the simple contact of the infected animal with a healthy one, or through infected soil. Also, there are no medicines for this disease, as it does not respond to antibiotics or any anti infection drugs.
This is the main reason of joy for the scientists who discovered that, in the lab, some enzymes found in lichens can break down the prions. Another very important fact is that lichens are naturally found in the wild, so the balance of nature won’t be disturbed by them. The lichens are neither a plant, nor an animal, but a symbiotic organism, made from algae, fungi and bacteria. This complex structure is probably the secret of their healing effect. It still remains to be seen if what has been discovered in lab conditions is going to prove right in nature. The ecologists and scientists hope that if the affected wildlife will consume the healing lichens, then the symptoms of chronic wasting disease will disappear and the animals will thus be saved from a tragic death. Although CWD has not spread to humans, the quicker it is eradicated, the better.
When learning about the threats and dangers that natural habitats undergo due to the lack of conscious of human beings, we have seen how the larger animals are constantly suffering and even need to be protected. However when it comes to the marine life, all types of fish be it large or small, seem to be equally affected when their habitat is endangered.
New studies that have analyzed data from the last sixty years have found that members of the food chain have been affected almost equally. Prior to these studies the common assumption was that the larger fish were more at risk and therefore regulations were imposed that limited their fishing; it was thought that the smaller fish were tougher and would survive longer.
The investigation has found that even the smaller fish are susceptible to the changes and dangers of overfishing. The numbers indicated that the small fish stocks were doubly affected by overfishing as opposed to the larger fish.
The investigators made emphasis that the results of habitat risk and changes on the ocean were different than those on land. The reason being is that on land the animals have to fight for territory which a lot of times is very limited whereas in the ocean the territory is large enough for all the different species.
Other ecologists have proposed that the changes in the fish population can also be due to the changes in the climate and that perhaps the overfishing issues helped make the problems even worse. Also the study was performed on data obtained from a few developed countries and that the pattern could be different in other areas from developing countries.
It was stated that this should be taken into consideration because overfishing can impact negatively the natural habitats of different fish species.
The protection of the marine world has increased in the last few years. There has been an increase of areas that are considered protected reserves. Many of the conservationists have stated that they are happy with the fact that more reserves are being created because this is an expensive way of keeping up with them. However there has been some discontent with the fact that the areas that ought to be protected have not been chosen.
The creation of reserves started in 2006 in Hawaii and it was encouraged by then president of the United States George W. Bush. More reserves started to be created in the following years and some of them are completely protected whereas not even fishing is allowed. At least one percent of the total reserved area is considered to be large reserves which can measure up to 100,000 km2.
One of the goals that the Biological Diversity Convention has established is that by the year 2020 they want to have 10 percent of the total ocean area marked as protected. This of course is an extremely aggressive goal that will require a lot of work in order to complete it in the next nine years.
Earlier this month Australia announced that they want to protect a total area of 320,000 km2 in the coming months however it was been discussed that this plan doesn’t cover every type of habitat as it has been established.
One thing to consider is the high costs of maintaining these reserves. It is estimated that all the protected areas are costing around 2 billion dollars every year. On the other hand, environmentalists and conservationists keep on insisting and emphasizing that the reserves are truly efficient and that larger areas tend to be more successful than the small areas.
The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement is like the name describes it an agreement made between groups that are looking to protect the environment and the forestry industry. They are looking to keep 30 million hectares untouched and submit 42 million more to allow harvesting of trees only. The deal was made public just this month of May and it is, to this date, the largest attempt to protect the forest.
Representatives of many different associations have stated that they are looking forward to working as a team in order to be able to still meet human needs but also keeping mind not to pollute or destroy the environment.
Other groups are wary about the agreement because they believe not much will be actually done due to the different timber companies that are indisposed to following any forced rules. Therefore given the discrepancies between the visions of the different groups, there might not be much done in the future.
Some of the companies that are involved in the deal currently hold the rights to a great portion of the forest but they are willing to give up certain areas if the environmentalists stop boycotting their products.
The deadline for the agreement to come to a conclusion is one year from today; both parts need to discuss the different issues. They are trying to determine what regions of the forest should be turned in to parks that would be either national or provincial. However one of the main problems affecting the agreement itself is the fact that aboriginal groups were not taken into consideration for this matter and they are truly discontented by it. They have stated that the agreement should be terminated due to the fact that many of the areas in question are where the aboriginal communities are located and have authority over them.