Climate, News, World Problems

‘Monster’ Cyclone Damages 90% of buildings in Vanuatu’s Capital, Leaders Address Climate Change

Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam near Vanuatu on March 13. Image via Wiki Commons.

The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu has lost years of development progress following the devastating effects of Cyclone Pam. Widely regarded as the worst natural disaster in the history of Vanuatu, the cyclone’s damage has not yet been thoroughly estimated.

Environment, News

For the first time in history, CO2 emissions decouple from economic growth

alternative energies

Historically, CO2 emissions linearly follow the world’s economy, either dropping during recession or raising with growth. Today, we’re expelling more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than ever; not coincidentally, we’re also experiencing the greatest wealth ever. Not anymore, however. According to the International Energy Agency, for the first time in 40 years of monitoring, CO2 emissions flat lined relative to the previous year, while the economy grew. In effect, we’re experiencing the first carbon decoupling from the economy, a sign that the world is shifting away from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources.

Environment, Green Living

Growing flowers locally is important too, not just food

Ecuador’s flower business employs about 50,000 people on about 550 farms across the country and is indirectly responsible for 110,000 jobs. The country ships $120 million in flowers in advance of Valentine’s Day alone, experts say. Image: Getty

Between 1992 and 2007, the number of products sold by farmers directly to consumers increased three fold and twice as fast as total agricultural sales. This gives to show that recent policies and campaigns aimed at improving the sale of local food have been largely successful. Local food is fresher, has more flavor and a longer shelf life, supports small business from the local community, preserves the use of farmlands and open spaces by making them economically viable. But not all agricultural sectors have received equal attention – take flowers, for instance. Some 80% of the flowers sold in the $7 billion-$8 billion American market come from South America, according to the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC).

Environment, Renewable Energy

Nicaragua covers 50% of its energy demand with renewables, and expects 90% by 2020

Photovoltaic power plant in Diriamba, about 25 miles from Managua. Image: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

The central American republic of Nicaragua is nothing short of a renewable energy paradise: great winds, a scorching tropical sun and 19 volcanoes that can be tapped for geothermal. Not too long ago, the country had been enslaved by its over-dependence on foreign oil imports, since it practically has no performing oil rigs. Since 2005, the country has embarked on

News, Pollution

At least 81% of China’s coastline is heavily polluted

China polluted waters

It’s not just Chinese air that’s dirty and polluted, it’s the coastline too. According to the Chinese State Oceanic Administration (SOA) some 41,000 sq km of coastline is polluted with inorganic nitrogen, reactive phosphate or oil, to name a few. This amounts to roughly 81% of its entire coastline, which actually marks a mild improvement over 2013 despite an increase in ecological incidents such as red tides and algal blooms.

News, Pollution, Technology

Electric cars could cut oil imports 40% by 2030, says study

emmisions

Switching massively to electric cars could save UK drivers up to £1,000 a year on fuel costs, reducing oil imports by almost half by 2030; a similar trend could be replicated in other countries in Western Europe or in the US.

Animals, Biology, News

How Antarctic octopuses survive in freezing waters

Antarctic octopuses survive in cold waters by holding higher concentrations of blue blood proteins. Image: National Geographic

Octopus species that live in ice-cold Antarctic waters employ an unique strategy to transport oxygen to its tissue and survive, according to German researchers. The study suggests the octopuses’ specialized pigments, analogous to hemoglobin in vertebrates, are in higher concentration in the Antarctic region than in warmer waters. This would help to explain why octopuses are more adapted to climate change and warming waters

Animals, Biology, News

How chameleons change color: by changing nanocrystal patterns inside the skin

chameleon

The chameleon is one of the most remarkable, but also iconic creatures in the animal kingdom. It’s color shifting traits has made it the subject of metaphors. A person who is a master of disguise is rightfully labeled a chameleon. But how does the elusive lizard work its magic? After years of observation and rigorous study, scientists have finally uncovered how they do it. Beneath the outer layer of skin, chameleons have special nanocrystals that are evenly spaced. These reflect light and changing the spacing between the crystals also changes what kind of light gets reflected and eventually hits our eyes. Ultimately, this is how the chameleon turns green from red only a few minutes ago, or vice versa.

Animals, News

Doctors perform eye surgery on a goldfish

goldfish eye surgery

People generally love their pets, but we’d be lying to say there isn’t an inter-species discrimination. How many fish owners do you know who’ve been with their goldfish to a veterinarian? Not that many, I presume. Certainly, number-wise it pales in comparison to dogs or cats. The story of a Scottish goldfish named Star which had its cancerous eye removed by doctors thus serves as a noble example of respect and responsibility that all pet owners should bear.

Environment, News

The plane that will circle the globe on solar power alone

solar impulse

Tomorrow, Swiss aviators Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will embark on an epic journey aboard Solar Impulse 2 – an airplane entirely powered by solar power – that will take them around the world. The five-months, 35,000 kilometers long trip will start and end in Dubai.