Climate, Environment, Environmental Issues, News

Drought and low aquifer levels made the Guadalupe river vanish

The Guadalupe watercourse.
Image via wikipedia

Vidal Mendoza, a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologic technician, has been spending his past Tuesday scanning the upper Guadalupe River, looking for the right spot to measure the flow of the water.

Perhaps more accurately, Mendoza has been spending his past Tuesday on a hot, mostly dry riverbed searching where the river should have been.

Environment, Science

Texas family sues fracking company after water well exploded from leached methane

A video made by a man from North Dakota shows him cautiously holding a lighter up against the stream of water coming out of his tap, prompting large flames to rise up into the faucet. Various homes around the United States have raised flags along the years to authorities showing how their groundwater got contaminated by nearby fracking sites.

In the latest in a long string of lawsuits filled against fracking operations, a Texas family is claiming damages after the water well on their property exploded. The family’s ranch is located just 1000 yards away from two fracking drills, which likely leaked methane to the groundwater according to the lawyer representing the family. The explosion left Cody Murray, the 38-year-old husband of the family of four, with severe burns on his arms, upper back, neck, forehead and nose along with “significant neurological damage.” He is now permanently disfigured, disabled and cannot work. He is now asking the court for retribution.

Chemistry, Environmental Issues, News

Copper clusters could revolutionize CO2 capture and turn it into fuel to boot

The copper tetramer catalyst created by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory may help capture and convert carbon dioxide in a way that ultimately saves energy.
Credit: Image courtesy Larry Curtiss, Argonne National Laboratory

The chemical reactions used to make methanol from carbon dioxide rely on a catalyst to speed up the conversion, and scientists identified a new material that could fill this role. With its unique structure, this catalyst can capture and convert carbon dioxide in a way that ultimately saves energy.

News, Physics, Renewable Energy, Science

Advances in magnet technology could bring cheaper, modular fusion reactors from sci-fi to sci-reality in less than a decade

A cutaway view of the proposed ARC reactor. Thanks to powerful new magnet technology, the much smaller, less-expensive ARC reactor would deliver the same power output as a much larger reactor.
Illustration credits to the MIT ARC team

Advances in magnet technology have allowed MIT scientists to design a cheaper, more compact, modular and highly efficient fusion reactor that is efficient enough to use commercially. The era of clean, practically inexhaustible energy may be upon us in as little as a decade, scientists report.

Animals, Diseases, News

New diseases threatens world’s tadpole population

tadpole disease

A new highly infectious diseases has been observed in tadpoles from three continents, threatening global populations. The disease, which was identified and described by British scientists, is a distant relative of an oyster disease. “Phylogenetic analyses revealed that this infectious agent was affiliated with the Perkinsea: a parasitic group within the alveolates exemplified by Perkinsus sp., a “marine” protist responsible

Environment, Pollution

Cigarettes are the most littered item in the world – and that’s a problem

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Smoking is bad. We’re way past the point of discussing that one; it’s bad for your health, it’s bad for the ones around you, and it’s bad for the environment. Cigarette filters are made from thousands of polymer chains of cellulose acetate; once discarded into the environment, these filters create a huge waste problem. Cigarette filters are actually the most

Animals, News

Biologists fear salmon kill in Klamath river

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It’s a tough year for salmon all around the world – now, a new health advisory issued by the U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Reclamation and PacifiCorp raises concerns about the future of salmon in the Klamath river in Oregon and California.

Environment, Studies

Understanding the Role of Local Communities in Forest Conservation

The Trio community survey team (left to right): Kristin Drexler, Leanne Torres, Urani Garcia, Gonzalo Castillo, Pedro Cho, and Chris Pech

This is a guest post by Kristin Drexler, faculty member, Human Ecology and Forestry, School of Science, technology, Engineering, and Math at American Public University. The active participation of local communities is a critical component to the conservation of protected areas like national parks and preserves. Ironically, while these areas are most often thought of in a national and international

Animals, News

Huge warm water blob off the Pacific coast causes mass death of sea species

Image via Inquisitr.

Sea animals are dying off in huge numbers off the Pacific coast from Baja, Mexico – all the way to Alaska; there’s a good chance we can’t really do anything about it.

News, World Problems

Drug trafficking is wiping out an unlikely bystander: wildlife

A soldier stands guard as 420 kilos of cocaine seized in La Mosquitia in Honduras are incinerated by the organized crime public prosecutor’s office, in Tegucigalpa, in October 2013.Orlando Sierra / AFP / Getty Images

Central America is home to one of the greatest biodiversity on the planet. It’s here among its rainforests that you can still find large swaths of land where there aren’t any humans living nearby. But being sparsely populated also makes the region an attractive route to smuggle drugs and other logistical operations. In Honduras and Guatemala, particularly, all law and order seems to cede in the face of the narco-cartels who are razing forests to build airfields, roads and even ranches right in the middle of protected national parks. It’s all a nasty business, and the greatest victims are those who play the least part in it all: the wildlife.