Since the Chilean government snubbed a billion-dollar mining project to save endangered penguins, other executives have been following suit. To prevent accidental deaths, district officials in Colorado have placed a ban on cyanide traps.
“Today’s agreement is the latest step in ensuring the federal government and the state of Colorado follow the law and the best science in managing wildlife,”
The M-44 device is spring activated, shooting poison at potential farming predators. Though meant primarily for coyotes, the M-44 has injured an Idaho teen, also subsequently killing his dog. Known for its leniency with hunting measures, Colorado isn’t making an impression on activists. The ban marks its first steps towards respecting endangered wildlife populations.
“This agreement represents a sign of good faith moving forward to do the right thing when it comes to Colorado’s wildlife and ecosystems,” [said] Matthew Bishop with the Western Environmental Law Center.
In just 15 states, over 16,500 traps have been deployed. Since raccoon corpses aren’t really my thing (nor do I think they’re anyone else’s) the ban is doing us and nature a favor.
For urban communities, the relationship between humans and animals has been, for the most part, give and take. Where turkeys (or rather, their droppings) contribute to bio-fuel, concerned citizens have set up bee farms in vacant lots. Now seeing a rise in hedgehog road deaths in London, engineer Michel Birkenwald is creating special highways for the critters.
“It’s implying that hedgehogs are basically moving into our towns and cities,” [Emily] Wilson [of Hedgehog Streets] says. “They’re quite sturdy, and able to live alongside us quite well, as long as we make space for them and link green spaces together.”
Birkenwald and his animal-loving posse drill wall holes for free, allowing the prickly pedestrians to make safe crossing. Over the years, the real-life Sonic population has dwindled by 50% due to unwelcoming agricultural procedures. As compost-dwellers, “cleaner” farms don’t bode well for the spiky natives. Despite his life-saving deeds, Birkenwald is as humble as anyone.
“I am just an average guy who decided to help one of our most adorable mammals,” he says.
We’ll do anything for the cute and powerless.
With an increasing number of industries stepping away from fossil fuels, eco-friendly substitutes are all the hype. Over time, both human and cow excrement have proved useful in the kitchen and as gas replacements. Unsurprisingly, an Israeli study has found turkey poop to be a valuable resource in producing combustible biomass fuel.
“Environmentally safe disposal of poultry excrement has become a significant problem,” said the researchers in a statement. “Converting poultry waste to solid fuel, a less resource-intensive, renewable energy source, is an environmentally superior alternative that also reduces reliance on fossil fuels.”
The process converts turkey stool into hydrochar and biochar. Both materials produce much less methane and ammonia as compared to traditional coal.
“This investigation helped in bridging the gap between hydrochar being considered as a potential energy source toward the development of an alternative renewable fuel,” [environmental hydrology and microbiology professor Amit] Gross said. “Our findings could help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation and agricultural wastes.”
At this stage in the game, researchers at the Zuckerberg Institute seem to have killed two birds with one stone. It looks like these turkeys are off the dinner menu.
When it comes to vehicles of the future, it seems the possibilities are limitless. Planes, in particular, have broken boundaries — running on electric or on no motor at all. Many advancements are still under wraps, or completely theoretical, save for Qantas’ latest shocking achievement. The airliner successfully piloted a trans-Pacific flight on 10% eco-fuel derived from mustard seeds.
The biofuel is reportedly capable of reducing carbon emissions by over 80 percent as compared to regular jet fuel. This means that the blended fuel used in… [the] flight should have resulted in a 7 percent reduction, which works out to 18,000 kg (39,683 lb) in reduced carbon emissions.
The Carinata mustard plant makes a perfect contender as the world’s leading aviation biofuel. Able to thrive under unsuitable conditions, the little-seed-that-could also improves soil quality and prevents erosion.
“Our work with Agrisoma will enable Australian farmers to start growing today for the country’s biofuel needs of the future,” says Qantas International CEO, Alison Webster.
Qantas’ ultimate goal is to maintain a near million acres of Carinata and produce 200 million liters of biofuel annually. If you’ve ever doubted the impact of agriculture, you may now consider switching gears.
The detrimental effects of pesticides have many scrambling for alternatives. Be it through pest-sniffing dogs or banning the substance altogether, there has yet to be an affordable and simple solution. With an abundance of arable land in its countrysides, England is taking a different approach. Farms are experimenting with wildflowers, hoping to naturally boost pest predators and alleviate the need for chemical pesticides.
Using wildflower margins to support insects including hoverflies, parasitic wasps and ground beetles has been shown to slash pest numbers in crops and even increase yields.
Harvesters will use GPS technology to monitor their crops throughout full cycles. Where nature may falter, machines step in — primarily to avoid predator outbreaks. We all know plagues are better off immortalized in history books.
“There is undoubtedly scope to reduce pesticide use – that is a given,” said Bill Parker, director of research at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. “There will be probably quite a lot of years when pests are not a problem and pesticide use could be vastly reduced.”
Despite the experiment’s promising nature, the change demands copious amounts of time and effort. Still, many advocating for a much needed cultural shift in agricultural industries are likely to see it through.
As we should know by now, anything is possible on Mars. After all, we just recently discovered it snows there. In an unusual turn of events, researchers saw the birth of two earthworms living in sterile soil, made to simulate conditions on Mars.
“[Worms] grab organic matter from the top of the soil—eat it, chew it—and when they poo it out, bacteria can break it down further. Otherwise [without worms] you deplete the nutrients in the soil,” [Dutch biologist] Wamelink explains.
Trent Smith, who works on replicating Mars conditions, claims that the simulated soil is relatively accurate. However, the substance still lacks perchlorates, which is probably why the wigglers managed to reproduce.
To both Wamelink and Smith, figuring out a natural process to remove perchlorate from Martian soil remains the largest hurdle in the way of growing a sustainable agricultural system on the planet.
With much to remedy, NASA’s Veggie program has its hands full. But the space magicians never fail to surprise and hope, after worms, to bring in bumblebees.
Thanks to over-harvesting, over-fishing, and overdoing pretty much everything, alternative food sources are all the rage. In the near future, the dory in your fish taco could be lab-grown. Your oatmeal may even be 100% renewable. And, if Chinese scientists prove it a success, rice will flourish in saltwater and create enough food for 200 million people.
The rice was grown in a field near the Yellow Sea coastal city of Qingdao in China’s eastern Shandong province. 200 different types of the grain were planted to investigate which would grow best in salty conditions.
Per hectare, scientists predicted an output of 4.5 tons. Much to their surprise, and because nature is cooler than we think, the yield hit 9.3 tons. With 1 million square kilometers of previously unused high-saline land now on the market, rice production could rise by 20%.
“If a farmer tries to grow some types of saline-tolerant rice now, they most likely will get 1,500 kilograms per hectare. That is just not profitable and not even worth the effort.” [says team leader Yuan Longping.]
A kilogram of the stuff goes for around $8, a whopping eight times more costly than regular rice. Still, some six tons have already made their way into kitchens. Beyond everything, the price is rice!
Lab-grown seafood may be actively solving over-harvesting, but it lacks any noteworthy benefactors. On the flip side, billionaires like Bill Gates and Richard Branson are sponsoring lab-grown meat by Memphis Meats. So what’s the beef?
“Instead of using animals as pieces of technology to convert plants into proteins to make things that we like to eat, drink and wear, we can just use biology to make those things directly,” said… an early investor in Memphis Meats.
Developers envision facilities that are more reminiscent to breweries than slaughterhouses. Admittedly, the former is less unsettling. But how will Memphis Meats grow tasty steaks and chops without the direct use of an animal?
The company’s scientists identify cells that they want to scale up production on — selecting them based on the recommendations of experts. Those cells are cultivated with a blend of sugar, amino acids, fats and water, and within three to six weeks the meat is harvested.
Production is quick but still small-scale. However, with further development, the process could cut greenhouse emissions, save water, and create a more sustainable agriculture industry. From its patrons, Memphis Meats has raised a charming $22 million. I sure hope the filet mignon is worth it.
In the grand scheme of trying to make the world a better place, we sometimes forget about protecting our wildlife. Every now and then, a war veteran will fight for elephant rights, or a president will adopt a dog. Now, Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio, along with the Wildlife Conservation Network, is working to save lions from extinction through the Lion Recovery Fund.
“100% of every dollar raised will go directly to the partners in the field with zero administrative fees or overhead.”
“We’re losing our planet’s wildlife – even such iconic species as the African Lion – at a dangerously rapid pace. An astonishingly small amount of philanthropic dollars go towards protecting wildlife‚ but together we can turn that around.”
Lion conservation is not just about hard work — it demands collaboration. This means wildlife organizations, governments, and donor communities all need to play an active role, and fast. Current lion populations are a tenth of what they used to be just a century ago.
“More than 26 countries have already lost their lion populations and without action‚ lions may disappear from many of their remaining strongholds‚”
We are losing the species to habitat loss via agriculture and deforestation, poaching, and invasion of wild lands. While I wish it didn’t take celebrity endorsements to encourage action, it may be the drive we need at the moment.
People are constantly on the hunt for ways to keep our air clean. Urban areas are choosing to build vertical gardens. On the other hand, marginalized communities are seeking more eco-conscious cooking alternatives. While every small step is leading us towards a more positive direction, researchers have yet to break ground. Perhaps they now have with recycled waste biochar, a material that tackles air pollution.
Biochar is ground charcoal produced from waste wood, manure or leaves. Added to soil, the porous carbon has been shown to boost crop yields, lessen the need for fertilizer and reduce pollutants by storing nitrogen that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere.
If properly incorporated into farming, researchers project a 67% drop in nitrous oxide emissions in the United States within the next year. This could mean cutting up to $660 million in annual healthcare costs for pollution-related illnesses.
“Agriculture rarely gets considered for air pollution control strategies. Our work shows that modest changes to farming practices can benefit the air and soil too.”
Based on extensive research, biochar seems like it’s worth a shot. After all, there’s nothing to lose except ozone.