Earth news stories

Ganges and Yamuna rivers granted same legal rights as human beings
26th March 2017 | | Earth

The Ganges river, considered sacred by more than 1 billion Indians, has become the first non-human entity in India to be granted the same legal rights as people.

A court in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand ordered on Monday that the Ganges and its main tributary, the Yamuna, be accorded the status of living human entities.

Guyana tribe goes hi-tech to protect its land
26th March 2017 | | Earth, Tech

Eleazer Mawasha speaks haltingly. English is not his first language, and Skype not his preferred method of communication.

An elder of Guyana’s Wai-Wai people, Mr Mawasha is more familiar with the sounds and rhythms of the rainforest with which its indigenous inhabitants have enjoyed a profound spiritual relationship for thousands of years.

New Zealand declares a river a person
24th March 2017 | | Earth

The odd legal status is intended to help prevent pollution and other abuses

IT SOUNDS, admits Chris Finlayson, like a “pretty nutty” idea. Yet the new law that declares the Whanganui river, New Zealand’s third-longest, a legal person, in the sense that it can own property, incur debts and petition the courts, is not unprecedented.

Alt: New Zealand river recognised as ‘legal person’

Is there a link between climate change and diabetes?
23rd March 2017 | Earth, Humans

Scientists have long warned that rising global temperatures may impact public health in a devastating way because climate change is associated with deadly weather events, the spread of infectious diseases and even food shortages.

Related: A Clinical Trial Just ‘Reversed’ Type 2 Diabetes in 40% of Participants

Naval Exercises Add Trillions of Pieces of Plastic Debris to Oceans
23rd March 2017 | | Earth

For the next two decades, the US Navy will inject hundreds of thousands of pounds of flares and billions of metal-coated glass fibers into ocean waters off the coasts of Washington and Oregon.

B vitamins may have ‘protective effect’ against air pollution
23rd March 2017 | | Earth, Humans

B vitamins may offer some protection against the impacts of air pollution, a small scale human trial suggests.

Researchers in the US found that high doses of these supplements may “completely offset” the damage caused by very fine particulate matter.

Related: Link between Vitamin D treatment and autism prevention
Related: Sensory links between autism and synesthesia pinpointed

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Hits Record Levels
23rd March 2017 | | Earth

It marks five consecutive years of CO2 increases of at least 2 parts per million, an unprecedented rate of growth

The number is significant because the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million from about 10,000 years ago until the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Plant thought extinct for 200 years sparks legal action against Sydney development
23rd March 2017 | | Earth

A newly rediscovered rare plant – thought to have become extinct almost 200 years ago – has sparked a legal action in Sydney’s west against a development that threatens the flower’s only known location.

China’s ‘airpocalypse’ linked to Arctic sea ice loss
22nd March 2017 | | Earth

The air pollution that lingered over eastern China for nearly a month in 2013 has been linked to the loss of Arctic sea ice the previous autumn.

A study says the haze lasted much longer because the melting ice and increased snowfall altered wind circulation patterns.

Phosphorus is vital for life on Earth – and we’re running low
22nd March 2017 | Animal Life, Earth

Phosphorus is an essential element which is contained in many cellular compounds, such as DNA and the energy carrier ATP. All life needs phosphorus and agricultural yields are improved when phosphorus is added to growing plants and the diet of livestock. Consequently, it is used globally as a fertiliser – and plays an important role in meeting the world’s food requirements.

In order for us to add it, however, we first need to extract it from a concentrated form – and the supply comes almost exclusively from phosphate mines in Morocco

Strange Green Ice Seen Floating in Antarctica’s Ross Sea
22nd March 2017 | | Earth

No, Antarctica isn’t busting out the green beer for St. Patrick’s Day. But a new satellite image of the continent shows strange green ice floating in the Ross Sea.

Photosynthetic plankton called phytoplankton (and algae) grow all around Antarctica in summer.

Related: Forget snow, rain will become main precipitation in the Arctic
Related: Boaty McBoatface to go on its first Antarctic mission

7,000 Huge Gas Bubbles Have Formed Under Siberia, and Could Explode at Any Moment
22nd March 2017 | | Earth

Last year, researchers in Siberia’s remote Bely Island made the bizarre discovery that the ground had started bubbling in certain places, and was squishy under the locals’ feet like jelly.

At the time, just 15 of these swollen bubbles had been identified, but an investigation in the wider region of the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas has revealed that 7,000 or so of them have cropped up, and the concern now is that they could explode at any moment.

Alt: Siberia permafrost: Over 7,000 methane-filled bubbles ‘ready to explode’ discovered in Arctic

The Nile River Delta, once the bread basket of the world, may soon be uninhabitable
21st March 2017 | Earth

The Nile River Delta, once known as the bread basket of the world, may soon be unable to support even the population of Egypt. According to a multi-year study published in the Geological Society of America this week, the area where the Nile river drains out to the sea is suffering from decreased water flow, rising sea levels, and salt water intrusion—all of which damage food production and fresh water supplies.

Earth’s first example of recycling—its own crust
21st March 2017 | Earth

Rock samples from northeastern Canada retain chemical signals that help explain what Earth’s crust was like more than 4 billion years ago

There is much about Earth’s ancient crust that scientists don’t understand. This is because most of the planet’s original crust simply isn’t around any longer to be studied directly—it has either sunk back into the planet’s interior due to the action of plate tectonics or been transformed by geological activity at Earth’s surface to make new, younger rocks.

Welcome to Dogger Island: How ‘crazy’ artificial power island in the North Sea could supply renewable energy to 80 million people in Europe by 2050
21st March 2017 | | Earth

A huge artificial island with its own airstrip and harbour could be built in the North Sea to power Europe by 2050, if plans are approved later this month.

Related: Environmentally friendly, almost electricity-free solar cooling—also serves as a heat pump

Renewable energy now Australia’s cheapest power option
21st March 2017 | Earth

Renewable energy is now Australia’s cheapest energy option, even when the cost of storage to make the intermittent power sources reliable is added.

US wind capacity surpasses hydro, overall generation to follow
21st March 2017 | Earth

In the US, a number of major milestones occurred on the electric grid in 2016, almost all of them involving wind power. Now the Energy Information Administration is confirming that’s because of a big overall trend: wind power is now the largest source of renewable energy generating capacity, passing hydroelectric power in 2016.

News stories covering the environment, plant life, and the Earth itself.