News, World Problems

Americans earn less than they did 40 years ago, despite two fold rise in productivity

A member of the Occupy Wall Street movement stands with a sign protesting the financial industry in the financial district of New York October 6, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Even though wages today are higher than they were in the ’70s, after you account for inflation these are only marginally better. At the same time, productivity has almost doubled according to a reported issued by the U.S. Census Bureau. In other words, despite the economy has significantly grown in the past 40 years, American workers got a pay cut – not a raise.

Animals, News

One of the rarest animals, the Andean Cat, photographed in majestic beauty

Andean Cat

Endemic to Andes Mountains of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru, the Andean Cat is one elusive feline. It’s only been sighted a couple times in the wild, let alone photographed. Some researchers were lucky though after their camera traps photographed a gem: an adult and her kitten.

Animals, Biology, News, Science, Studies, World Problems

Warmer climate is making bumblebees’ tongues shorter

They'll have a hard time raspberrying from now on.
Image via wikipedia

A new paper published Thursday in Science looks at how climate change is (out of all things) making the tongue of some bumble bees shrink. Two species of alpine bumbles in the Rocky Mountains already show a decrease in tongue volume of nearly 25 percent in the last 40 years; and smaller tongues could spell big trouble for the flowers that rely on bumble bees for pollination.

News, World Problems

Syrian researchers withdraw seeds from the Arctic ‘Doomsday’ Vault

svalbard vault

Deep in the Arctic, nestled inside an icy island lies one of humanity’s backup plan: the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Open in 2008, the center houses seeds from virtually all the plants on the planet be them wild, domesticated or genetically modified. In case of a global calamity of any kind (nuclear war *cough), these seeds would be put to good use if a species is faced with extinction or research is required on such seeds. This is precisely why the first withdrawal request from the vault was made by Syrian researchers.

Biology, Environment, News

Massive California drought damaging giant sequoias

Image via Listening Earth.

California is currently experiencing its worst drought in over a millennium. Trillions of gallons of underground waters were lost in 2013 alone, and things are not looking up. Now, a new study has found that not even giant sequoias, majestic trees that have been living for centuries, are safe from the effects of this drought.

Climate, News, Science

Almost $2.6 trillion divested from fossil fuel since the movement began

fossil divesting

A while ago I wrote about how the fossil fuel divestment movement is gathering a huge momentum, as more and more funds, universities and companies are choosing to migrate their financial assets away from fossil. The movement is spearheaded by Bill McKibben, one of the founders of the group, who first organized rallies and lobbied key partners. “Almost from the start, academics have called it the fastest growing such anti-corporate campaign in history, and it’s clearly accelerating by the day,” said McKibben. But I don’t even think McKibben himself predicted how far divestment would go. It was launched more like an awareness campaign on the dangers of global warming. It’s grown fast, for sure, but this fast? Let me run some numbers: according to a report released by Arabella Advisors, $2.6 trillion in assets have moved away from fossil portfolios or 50 times more than last year. That’s not just a dent anymore – that’s serious cash!

Environment, Geology, News, Science, World Problems

Thawing permafrost might cost us trillions in the long run

Photograph captured in Gates of the Arctic National Park,  where a bank of this lake thawed, allowing the Okokmilaga River to cut through and drain it to sea.
Image via flikr

Specialists from the University of Cambridge and the University of Colorado estimate that the effects of climate change are going to take a hefty toll on our economy — $326 trillion in damage by the year 2200, roughly $201 million each hour, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

News, Renewable Energy

A simple coating cools solar panels by reflecting the heat into outer space

passive cooling system

No kidding, Stanford researchers actually showed it’s possible to cool solar panels by applying a special coating that reflects some of the heat back into space. The coating, called a photonic crystal cooling system, is transparent. This allows the light to reach the PV cells so these can generate energy, but – crucially – some of the heat is reflected back in space. It’s so good that the researchers showed their PV panels can even stay below ambient temperature, which is incredible by itself. If you know a thing or two about solar panels, then you’ll remember their efficiency is directly related to temperature. The cooler a panel is, the more of the sun’s energy it can convert into electricity. And we’re talking about a mere coating, which shouldn’t be too difficult to scale. Bit by bit, you if you multiply the extra efficiency by millions of panels you end up with a huge useful energy gain. This may be a game changer.

Animals, Archaeology, News, Science

New species of duck-billed dinosaur discovered in Alaska’s North Slope

Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have found a third distinct dinosaur species documented on Alaska's oil-rich North Slope. The new species is a type of hadrosaur, a duck-billed plant-eater.
Image via

A new species of plant-eating dinosaur was discovered in Alaska, a variety of hadrosaur — duck-billed dinos that roamed in herds, said Pat Druckenmiller, earth sciences curator at the University of Alaska Museum in Fairbanks. Researchers named the creature Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis (oo-GROO’-nah-luk KOOK’-pik-en-sis), meaning “ancient grazer,” chosen by scientists with assistance from speakers of Inupiaq, the language of Alaska Inupiat Eskimos.

Agriculture, Animals, News, Science

Florida quarantines farmlands to contain the Oriental Fruit Fly

Image via wikipedia

Florida’s farmlands are under attack by a highly destructive pest, the Oriental Fruit Fly, and authorities have quarantined some 85 square miles of land and the food grown there in an effort to contain the insect.