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Diversity in UK gardens aiding fight to save threatened bumblebees, study suggests

Diversity in UK gardens aiding fight to save threatened bumblebees, study suggests

Ecologists at Plymouth University, in a study published this week, have shown the most common species of bumblebee are not fussy about a plant’s origin when searching for nectar and pollen among the nation’s urban gardens. But other species — and, in particular, long-tongued bees — do concentrate their feeding upon plants from the UK and Europe, for which they have developed a preference evolved over many millennia. Dr Mick Hanley, Lecturer in Ecology at Plymouth University, said the study showed the continued importance of promoting diversity and encouraging gardeners to cast their net wide when choosing what to cultivate. […]

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Don’t give up on Australia’s endangered species

Don’t give up on Australia’s endangered species

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion in the scientific communityabout whether we should allow some species to go extinct. The argument put forward is that the number of endangered species is so great, it isn’t worth the resources to attempt to save them all. But in a wealthy country like Australia – which has some of the best ecologists, conservation biologists and conservation scientists in the world – it is critical that we do far better in managing the nation’s natural resources. A loss of biodiversity is an indicator of poor environmental management. Suggesting that we should let […]

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Incentives needed to improve grain markets in India

Incentives needed to improve grain markets in India

Even after the agricultural reforms of 2002-03, for wheat, rice, and pearl millet farmers in India, grain markets are still pretty sticky. Two University of Illinois economists analyzed infrastructure of interstate trade for food-grain crops in three Indian states and found that grain farmers are unable to cash in on India’s market reforms and take advantage of a price difference between two or more markets. “We wanted to see if there was more integration in the markets since the 2002 reforms,” said Kathy Baylis. “We were surprised at how little integration we saw. Apparently there are still a lot of […]

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Global warming may increase methane emissions from freshwater ecosystems

Global warming may increase methane emissions from freshwater ecosystems

New research led by the University of Exeter suggests that rising global temperatures will increase the quantity of the key greenhouse gas methane emitted from freshwater ecosystems to Earth’s atmosphere — which could in turn lead to further warming. The collaborative study, led by Dr Gabriel Yvon-Durocher from the University of Exeter, collated data from hundreds of laboratory experiments and field surveys to demonstrate that the speed at which methane fluxes increase with temperature was the same whether single species populations of methanogens, microbial communities or whole ecosystems were analyzed. Dr Yvon-Durocher said: “This is important because biological methane fluxes […]

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Lurking in the darkness of Chinese caves, five new species of armored spiders come to light

Lurking in the darkness of Chinese caves, five new species of armored spiders come to light

Armored spiders are medium to small species that derive their name from the complex pattern of the plates covering their abdomen strongly resembling body armor. Lurking in the darkness of caves In Southeast China, scientists discover and describe five new species of these exciting group of spiders. The study was published in the open access journalZooKeys. The common name armored spiders is given to the engaging family Tetrablemmidae. Distinguished by their peculiar armor-like abdominal pattern, these tropical and subtropical spiders are mainly collected from litter and soil, but like the newly described species some live in caves. Some cave species, […]

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Southern Ocean iron cycle gives new insight into climate change

An international team of researchers analyzed the available data taken from all previous studies of the Southern Ocean, together with satellite images taken of the area, to quantify the amount of iron supplied to the surface waters of the Southern Ocean. They found that deep winter mixing, a seasonal process which carries colder and deeper, nutrient-rich water to the surface, plays the most important role in transporting iron to the surface. The iron is then able to stimulate phytoplankton growth which supports the ocean’s carbon cycle and the aquatic food chain They were also able to determine that following the […]

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Tropical grassy ecosystems under threat, scientists warn

Tropical grassy ecosystems under threat, scientists warn

scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that tropical grassy areas, which play a critical role in the world’s ecology, are under threat as a result of ineffective management. According to research, published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, they are often misclassified and this leads to degradation of the land which has a detrimental effect on the plants and animals that are indigenous to these areas. Greater area than tropical rain forests Tropical grassy areas cover a greater area than tropical rain forests, support about one fifth of the world’s population and are critically important to global carbon and […]

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Long-term warming likely to be significant despite recent slowdown

Long-term warming likely to be significant despite recent slowdown

A new NASA study shows Earth’s climate likely will continue to warm during this century on track with previous estimates, despite the recent slowdown in the rate of global warming. This research hinges on a new and more detailed calculation of the sensitivity of Earth’s climate to the factors that cause it to change, such as greenhouse gas emissions. Drew Shindell, a climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, found Earth is likely to experience roughly 20 percent more warming than estimates that were largely based on surface temperature observations during the past 150 years. Shindell’s […]

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Africa’s air pollution underestimated in climate change models

Africa’s air pollution underestimated in climate change models

Human activity in Africa significantly contributes to air pollution. However, no detailed data regarding country-by-country pollutant emissions in the continent was available until now. To remedy this, a joint French-Ivory Coast team headed by the Laboratoire d’Aérologie (CNRS / Université Toulouse III — Paul Sabatier) mapped these emissions in Africa for 2005, before estimating them for 2030, using three scenarios. The researchers showed that the climate change models used by the IPCC underestimate Africa’s emissions, which could account for 20-55% of global anthropogenic emissions of gaseous and particulate pollutants by 2030. This work, published on 11 March 2014 in the […]

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Climate change will reduce crop yields sooner than thought

Climate change will reduce crop yields sooner than thought

A study led by the University of Leeds has shown that global warming of only 2°C will be detrimental to crops in temperate and tropical regions, with reduced yields from the 2030s onwards. Professor Andy Challinor, from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds and lead author of the study, said: “Our research shows that crop yields will be negatively affected by climate change much earlier than expected.” “Furthermore, the impact of climate change on crops will vary both from year-to-year and from place-to-place — with the variability becoming greater as the weather becomes increasingly erratic.” […]

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