The Glory of the Garden
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NASA photos show Dead Sea dying

NASA photos show Dead Sea dying | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Thanks to massive water-diversion and salt-evaporation projects, satellite images show how the ancient lake is gradually living up to its name.

 

So why is the Dead Sea becoming smaller and shallower? Largely because of water diversions from the Jordan River, which flows into the Dead Sea from the north. But as NASA explains, intensive salt-gathering projects are also encroaching from the south — and they're especially obvious in these photos. According to NASA:

"The ancient Egyptians used salts from the Dead Sea for mummification, fertilizers, and potash (a potassium-based salt). In the modern age, sodium chloride and potassium salts culled from the sea are used for water conditioning, road de-icing, and the manufacturing of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics. The expansion of massive salt evaporation projects are clearly visible over the span of 39 years."

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Climate change doubles cost of conserving nature

Climate change doubles cost of conserving nature | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"Climate change will make conservation of biodiversity, and all the associated human benefits such as clean water and clean air, more challenging and expensive, with costs increasing by more than 100 percent in some cases, according to three new studies by a group of international researchers convened by Conservation International. Researchers called the studies a "wake-up call" for cost-efficient biodiversity conservation and climate stabilization."


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FAO Media Centre: A new deal to rid Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia of obsolete pesticides

FAO Media Centre: A new deal to rid Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia of obsolete pesticides | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"It is estimated that around 200 000 tons of obsolete pesticides, nearly half the world's stockpiles, can be found in twelve former Soviet Union republics. Kept in tens of thousands of unprotected sites, they pose a serious threat to the health of the people around them and to the environment."

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Scientists have come up with a blue strawberry by splicing them with Fish genes!

Scientists have come up with a blue strawberry by splicing them with Fish genes! | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"Scientists are genetically modifying strawberries in order to allow them to resist freezing temperatures better. They're doing it by artificial transfer of genes from a species of fish called the Arctic Flounder Fish. The Arctic Flounder Fish produces an anti-freeze that allows it to protect himself in freezing waters.

 

They isolated the gene that produces this anti-freeze and introduced it to the strawberry. The result is a strawberry that looks blue and doesn't turn to mush or degrade after being placed in the freezer. While they're not in production, research is ongoing. ... would you eat blue strawberries?"

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Not your average dairy | TheFencePost.com

Not your average dairy | TheFencePost.com | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

When many people think of a dairy, they think of black and white cows. Some may even think of a goat dairy. However, a dairy located in Bushnell, Neb., is neither of those species. This dairy is a sheep dairy, and one of only about 100 in the U.S.

 

Sheep have been milked for centuries in Europe, but the industry is very much in its infancy in the United States. The Irish Cream Sheep Dairy was started in 1995 by the Halligan Family, who had been in the business of raising sheep for nearly 30 years.

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Britain faces worst drought since 1976 - Telegraph

Britain faces worst drought since 1976 - Telegraph | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
More than half of Britain is now in drought, the Environment Agency has warned, as the UK faces its most severe water shortage since 1976.

 

More than 35 million people are now living in drought-affected areas, with water shortages today declared across the Midlands and South West.
Parts of the country are already drier than they were in the summer of 1976, when Britain experienced its worst drought for more than 100 years.
The drought of 1976 led to standpipes being installed in residential streets, water supplies to businesses being rationed and schools having to close early.
The Environment Agency says similar measures are unlikely to be enforced this summer, but warns the dry conditions will damage the environment and lead to widespread water restrictions.

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Science and Environment: Iceberg Dead Ahead!

Science and Environment: Iceberg Dead Ahead! | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

The 100th anniversary of the 1912 Titanic disaster coincides with the 40th anniversary of the publication of a book commissioned by a global think tank known as the Club of Rome. The 1972 book, The Limits to Growth, detailed a computer simulation of the impact of human systems on the earth. Among various scenarios that could have led to global equilibrium, the book also demonstrated how prevailing growth policies would lead to “overshoot” of earth’s resources by the middle of the 21st century.

 

There are probably many lessons in the confluence of these two anniversaries. But one seems most important: ignoring economic icebergs in pursuit of limitless growth is foolish. Like the Titanic, this ship is not unsinkable.

 

To consider these economic seas, more than 200 representatives of business and government came together at the Wall Street Journal’s fifth annual ECO:nomics conference held recently in Santa Barbara, California. Over three days the group listened to interview-style presentations from notable business leaders and political figures including Bill Gates, T. Boone Pickens, California governor Jerry Brown and former Pennsylvania governor Edward Rendell. WSJ editors served as moderators for 24 sessions that ran the “green” spectrum from waste management and marketing to jobs and energy.

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Asian glaciers 'putting on mass'

Asian glaciers 'putting on mass' | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Some glaciers in the mighty Karakoram range are defying the global trend and getting slightly thicker, researchers find.

 

A French team used satellite data to show that glaciers in part of the Karakoram range, to the west of the Himalayan region, are putting on mass. The reason is unclear, as glaciers in other parts of the Himalayas are losing mass - which also is the global trend.

The region's glaciers are poorly studied, yet provide a vital water source for more than a billion people.

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Warming Atlantic Primes The Amazon For Fire

Warming Atlantic Primes The Amazon For Fire | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"Scientists used to think the rainforest, especially in the western Amazon, was too wet to burn. But major fire seasons in 2005 and 2010 made them reconsider.

Fires are a major source of carbon emissions in the Amazon, and scientists are beginning to worry that the region could become a net emitter, instead of a carbon sink. New findings link rising ocean temperatures off the northern coast of Brazil to changing weather patterns: As the Atlantic warms, it draws moisture away from the forest, priming the region for bigger fires.

“We are reaching a tipping point in terms of drought, beyond which these forests can catch fire,” says Daniel Nepstad, international program director at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute in Brasília, Brazil.

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What’s Your Virtual Water Footprint?

What’s Your Virtual Water Footprint? | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
We've talked about how our food choices affect our water footprint around here before, but how much water does it take to produce what we eat and drink?

 

"You’re probably pretty familiar with ways to cut back your direct water use, so what about the “virtual water” that we consume? Of course, you know to drink your eight glasses (or more!) a day, but virtual water refers to the indirect uses of water in our day to day, including the water involved in something like raising a cow for your dinner plate or producing the apple you pack with your lunch. When you take all of that water–including the water to produce our food–into account, those eight glasses balloons up to almost 33,000 glasses! If you want to find your virtual water footprint, check out the extended water footprint calculator here.

 

This infographic from visual.ly takes a look at our direct and virtual water footprints in our day-to-day and in some common food products."

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Climate Change Throws Nature's Timing Out of Whack

Climate Change Throws Nature's Timing Out of Whack | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"Timing matters: Flowers bloom, insects emerge, birds migrate, and planting and hunting seasons are carefully coordinated times in order to take advantage of what other organisms, or the weather, is up to. But increasing research is showing some of these relationships are falling out of sync as climate change alters important cues, such as the arrival of spring warmth."

 

"Evidence going back decades and sometimes even longer shows the timing of some biological events is shifting around the world. Studies document the progressively earlier arrival of spring, by about 2.3 to 5.2 days per decade in the last 30 years, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 report. That report lists studies showing changes in seasonal timing, or phenology, of the first and last leaves on gingko trees in Japan, butterfly emergence in the United Kingdom, bird migrations in Australia, the first leaves and flowers of lilacs in North America, among many others.

 

But not everything is changing together, leading to complex results."

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Making Energy From Cheese Waste And Cow Poop

Making Energy From Cheese Waste And Cow Poop | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
It sounds like an incredibly smelly--and disgusting--proposition, but some researchers think that a mix of cheese whey (a cheese-making byproduct) and liquid cow manure may come together to make a high-quality biogas.

 

"Cheese whey isn’t a problem for most dairy farms, but for the 100 or so in the U.S. that produce massive amounts of cheese and millions of pounds of whey each year, it starts to add up. The stuff isn’t usable in anaerobic digesters (which are commonly used to turn farm waste into biogas) because it acidifies quickly, and while many farmers put it on their fields for fertilizer, there is still often leftover whey. By mixing the whey with cow manure, researchers at the Politecnico di Torino in Italy found that they could achieve the perfect pH--not too acidic, not too basic. Put that in your anaerobic digester and smoke it."

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Wellbeing, happiness and sustainability: hallmarks of a new economic paradigm

Wellbeing, happiness and sustainability: hallmarks of a new economic paradigm | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

What do the following people have in common? Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, former Australian deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, HRH Prince Charles, OECD chief statistician Martine Durand, Indian ecological activist Vandanna Shiva, the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla Miranda, and former head of the British Civil Service, Lord Gus O’Donnell?

Answer: They were just some of over 600 delegates including heads of state, Nobel laureates, spiritual, business and community leaders who contributed to the opening of the recent United Nations High Level Meeting on Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining A New Economic Paradigm.

This landmark meeting, convened by the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigmi Y Thinley, followed on from the 2011 UN General Assembly motion calling for governments to promote polices focusing on sustainability, happiness and wellbeing as opposed to narrower definitions of economic growth measured solely by the expansion of GDP.

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Autism Linked To Industrial Food Or Environment

Autism Linked To Industrial Food Or Environment | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"A new study in Clinical Epigenetics, suggests that the epidemic of autism amongst children in the U.S. may be associated with the typical American diet. The study by Renee Dufault and his team explores how mineral deficiencies, affected by dietary factors, such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), could have a potential impact on how the human body frees itself of common toxic chemicals, for instance, pesticides and mercury.

 

The release comes shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report that estimates a 78% increase in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) between 2002 and 2008 amongst eight year olds. At present, 1 in 88 children has ASD, with the rate being almost five times higher in boys than girls."

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Insecticides killing the Earth, and You and Me

Insecticides killing the Earth, and You and Me | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Each year, our global biosphere endures an onslaught of some 5 billion pounds of insecticides. Many of these insecticides are neonicotinoids, which synthetically mimic a plant compound found in tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and tobacco. A neuroactive insecticide fashioned after nicotine, neonicotinoids poison nerves and prevent acetylcholine from enabling neurons to communicate with each other and with muscle tissue. In humans, for instance, these substances would trigger Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.


Bees exposed to neonicotinoids also exhibit symptoms mimicking Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. In fact, the French referred to the effect as "mad bee disease" and in 1999 were the first to ban the use of these chemicals. Germany, Italy and Slovenia have recently followed suit. The German agriculture institute concluded that the poisoning of the bees was a result of a "rub-off" of the neonicotinoid clothianidin from corn seeds.


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Study: Noisy Environment Affects Plants

Study: Noisy Environment Affects Plants | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

In northwestern New Mexico’s Rattlesnake Canyon, gnarled juniper trees and piñon pines dominate a landscape of high mesas and rough sandstone cliffs. Tucked in among the trees are thousands of natural gas wells. About one-third of them are pressurized by ear-splitting compressors. “They run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with the exception of periodic maintenance, so they are going all the time,” says Clinton Francis, of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in North Carolina.

 

Since 2005, he’s been studying how Rattlesnake Canyon’s birds respond to the compressors’ non-stop racket.

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Flyover Farm - Kickstarter

An initiative to transform an unused rooftop into a thriving urban farm and community space.

 

Fresh & Local is a movement to facilitate urban farming in Mumbai. We started in the spring of 2010, in reaction to the lack of fresh and organic produce, and the lack of resources and support for urban farming in the city. We research and develop best practices, design gardens and garden products, host gardening workshops and work in partnership with NGOs and individuals to set up kitchen gardens across the city.
Fresh and Local’s Flyover Farm project is a natural progression and culmination of the work currently being carried out.


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Europe's water 'under pressure'

Europe's water 'under pressure' | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Continued inefficient use of water could threaten Europe's economy, productivity and ecosystems, a report warns.

 

The European Environment Agency (EEA) said that the continent's water resources were under pressure and things were getting worse. ...

 

Mr Gorbachev, the founding president of Green Cross International, said: "The deficit of freshwater is becoming increasingly severe and large-scale - whereas, unlike other resources, there is no substitute for water." ...

 

"The economy needs to be reoriented to goals that include public goods such as a sustainable environment, people's health, education, culture and social cohesion, including an absence of glaring gaps between the rich and the poor."

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Loss of predators in Northern Hemisphere affecting ecosystem health

Loss of predators in Northern Hemisphere affecting ecosystem health | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
A survey done on the loss in the Northern Hemisphere of large predators, particularly wolves, concludes that current populations of moose, deer, and other large herbivores far exceed their historic levels and are contributing to disrupted ecosystems.

 

The research, published recently by scientists from Oregon State University, examined 42 studies done over the past 50 years.


It found that the loss of major predators in forest ecosystems has allowed game animal populations to greatly increase, crippling the growth of young trees and reducing biodiversity. This also contributes to deforestation and results in less carbon sequestration, a potential concern with climate change.


"These issues do not just affect the United States and a few national parks," said William Ripple, an OSU professor of forestry and lead author of the study. "The data from Canada, Alaska, the Yukon, Northern Europe and Asia are all showing similar results. There's consistent evidence that large predators help keep populations of large herbivores in check, with positive effects on ecosystem health."

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How I built my house for £4,000

How I built my house for £4,000 | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
When he's expecting visitors, Steve James watches out the windows so he can catch the look on their faces when they see his house for the first time. "It's always the same," he say.

 

James is passionate about eco homes and deeply proud of the cottage, which huddles by a loch near Dumfries. His kitchen is made from a cedar that blew over in a Glasgow park. His sink came from a skip. To one side is a Moroccan marbled shower room, to the other are sofas and a log-burning stove. He sleeps in a galleried bedroom. A compost loo and rainwater filtration system complete the picture. ...

 

His home is strong, warm and utterly watertight. The only maintenance is a lime wash on the walls every year or two. The turf roof repairs itself. "I'm building a water wheel next," James says. "In the meantime, I'm getting power from a car battery that my partner, Eli, charges for me at her house. You'd be amazed what you can run from that battery – a digital recording studio, a stereo, tools, lights and a laptop."

 

James, 52, a software engineer, took 10 months to build his house, finishing it in November last year. Now, he's set up a website about straw-bale homes, runs eco-engineering courses and takes commissions making straw-bale buildings; the latest is a changing room for a Hull primary school.

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O.E.C.D. Warns of Ever-Higher Greenhouse Gas Emissions

O.E.C.D. Warns of Ever-Higher Greenhouse Gas Emissions | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
In its environmental outlook to 2050, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said urgent action was needed to replace fossil fuels, which continue to dominate global energy.

 

Global greenhouse gas emissions could rise 50 percent by 2050 without more ambitious climate policies, as fossil fuels continue to dominate the energy mix, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Thursday.


“Unless the global energy mix changes, fossil fuels will supply about 85 percent of energy demand in 2050, implying a 50 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions and worsening urban air pollution,” the Paris-based O.E.C.D. said in its environment outlook to 2050 .

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Science and Environment: Relating to Water

Science and Environment: Relating to Water | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
In The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, Charles Fishman reintroduces the reader to life’s most precious resource—water.

 

"Our planet derives its unique qualities not from earth, but from liquid water. And the Earth’s allotment of water is closed; all there is simply recycles to be used over and over again. If we have a water crisis, it is not because somehow water is being lost. It is a crisis of misuse, neglect and poor planning. It is a crisis of a conflicted relationship."

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Decaying Food Photographs Highlight Global Food Waste

Decaying Food Photographs Highlight Global Food Waste | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Watermelon For nine months Vienna-based photographer Klaus Pichler has been working on 'One Third', a creative food series showing a variety of foods from vetetables to exotic delicies in various states of decay.
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Wind farms 'not big bird mincers'

Wind farms 'not big bird mincers' | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Wind farms are sometimes reviled as major bird killers; but that picture is distorted, the study suggests

Many bird species are unaffected by wind farms, concludes a study carried out by UK bird charities. Scientists with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and RSPB found that building the turbines was more disruptive than operating them. Impacts varied between species, with red grouse numbers recovering after construction, curlews declining and not recovering, and skylarks increasing. Their findings are published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

 

This is the latest in a long line of studies on wind farms' interactions with birds, but differs from most in its scale. Ten species of birds were included, and 18 wind farms in upland areas of the UK were studied - most were monitored before construction began, during construction, and again afterwards.

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Report underlines importance of Congo Basin for global climate and biodiversity

Report underlines importance of Congo Basin for global climate and biodiversity | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"The ‘State of the Congo Basin Forests 2010’ report launched in Douala, Cameroon, at the Annual meeting of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), provides a comprehensive and detailed assessment of the status of this crucial pool for climate regulation and natural resources. It looks at deforestation patterns, points to trends in sustainable forest management and highlights threats to biodiversity."

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