Agricultural insecticides pose a global risk to surface water bodies Streams within approximately 40% of the global land surface are at risk from the application of insecticides. These were the results from the first global map to be modeled on insecticide runoff to surface waters, which has just been published in the journal Environmental Pollution by researchers from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Koblenz-Landau together with the University of Milan, Aarhus University and Aachen University. According to the publication, particularly streams in the Mediterranean, the USA, Central America and Southeast Asia are at risk.
Lash Length Keeps Eyes Healthy It started with a trip to the basement of the American Museum of Natural History in New York to inspect preserved animal hides. Later, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers built a wind tunnel about 2 feet tall, complete with a makeshift eye. By putting both steps together, the team discovered that 22 species of mammals – from humans, to hedgehogs, to giraffes – are the same: their eyelash length is one-third the width of their eye. Anything shorter or longer, including the fake eyelashes that are popular in Hollywood and make-up aisles, increases airflow around the eye and leads to more dust hitting the surface.
BLM vs the Sage Grouse The Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to offer new oil and gas leases on 89,000 acres in northwestern Wyoming would have devastating effects on greater sage grouse, including allowing industrial operations in some of the birds’ most important nesting and rearing habitat, according to comments submitted to the agency this week by the Center for Biological Diversity. Even though sage grouse have declined 60 percent over six years in Wyoming, the plan repeatedly ignores federal scientists’ recommendations for protecting these prairie birds from fossil fuel development.“Rather than protecting these vanishing birds, the BLM is proposing to hand over some of their last remaining habitat to the oil and gas industry,” said Michael Saul, an attorney with the Center. “A few companies may squeeze some short-term profits out of it, but the long-term effect will be pushing these great prairie birds toward extinction.”
Plastic-Eating Corals Discovered on Great Barrier Reef Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution. “Corals are non-selective feeders and our results show that they can consume microplastics when the plastics are present in seawater,” says Dr Mia Hoogenboom, a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.
Which type of energy will be the cheapest source of power? Solar energy plants will soon deliver the most inexpensive power available in many parts of the world within a decade, according to a new analysis of the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). By 2025, the cost of producing solar power in the UK will have declined to between 4.2 and 10.3 pence per kilowatt hour (p/kWh), and by 2050 to as low as 2.0 to 7.4 p/kWh, according to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems commissioned by Agora Energiewende.
Risk of death from smoking higher than thought A large Australian study of more than 200,000 people has provided independent confirmation that up to two in every three smokers will die from their habit if they continue to smoke.The research, published today in the international journal BMC Medicine, is the first evidence from a broad cross-section of the population to show the smoking-related death toll is as high as two thirds.
Friendly Fungi Could Help Barley Growers Botanists from Trinity College Dublin have made a breakthrough discovery that could save barley farmers sleepless nights and millions of Euro each year: naturally occurring plant-friendly fungi prevent crop-ravishing diseases from spreading, and also aid plant survival in testing environmental conditions. Importantly, these amazing little organisms cause no harm to the plant roots in which they take up their abode. However, their gift of immunity against common seed diseases greatly reduces the need for farmers to spray environmentally damaging chemicals, which can affect ecosystems in a plethora of negative ways.
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