Eating food contaminated with radioactive particles may be more perilous than thought—at least for insects. Butterfly larvae fed even slightly tainted leaves collected near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station were more likely to suffer physical abnormalities and low survival rates than those fed uncontaminated foliage, a new study finds. The research suggests that the environment in the Fukushima region, particularly in areas off-limits to humans because of safety concerns, will remain dangerous for wildlife for some time.

Designed to fit alongside the appliances in and blend into the décor of your kitchen, Grove Labs’ device lets you grow fruits and vegetables hydroponically, without leaving your house. The whole setup includes the hydroponic chamber, which you can monitor through the transparent encasement, as well as a mobile app to keep track of growing conditions and link up to vendors to replenish your materials. The Grove Labs team calls the contraption a grove, not to be confused with a greenhouse.

“The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future — deforestation, erosion, fresh-water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease,” reported the 2004 July/August issue of World Watch Magazine.

Think for a second how much energy is literally washed down the drain when you take a shower. Not the water itself — just the energy that’s lost when you heat up said water, pump it through a series of pipes to your showerhead, and then let all that warm goodness run straight down your body and into a hole in the floor. By some estimates, 80 to 90 percent of the energy it takes to heat that water ends up going straight to the sewer. Considering the fact that the energy required to heat water is one of the biggest energy expenditures at home (right behind heating/cooling/ventilation), that’s a monumental waste of juice. But not to worry; there’s a new device on the market that could help to recapture some of that wasted energy.

It’s called EcoDrain, and while it’s definitely not a new concept, it’s a fresh new take on an old idea, and finally makes waste heat recovery a viable possibility for regular homeowners.

There are many designs for efficient stoves, and gasification is only one way to boost the efficiency of a cooking fire. The wood gas stove in this article is an elegantly simple gasifier design called a TLUD stove (for top-lit updraft), also known as an inverted downdraft stove. If you don’t care how it looks, you can build it with a can opener, a punch, and a big rock. This design, which I’ve adapted from one I first saw on Instructables, is built around a 1-quart paint can. It easily boils enough water for a small pot of tea or a bowl of noodles, using nothing more than a fist-sized charge of scrap wood.

These water issues are clearly major problems that will take decades, new technologies and billions of yen to resolve, but they are a completely different beast from the problems of the accident’s early days. Fukushima’s problems are fodder for debates on broader issues, making it crucial that these latest concerns about leaks and groundwater contamination be neither overblown nor understated. Our goal here is to try to draw a clear and evenhanded picture of the situation at Fukushima Daiichi today and the risks it poses. § [An MSM article refreshingly free of both alarmism and "everything is fine" rhetoric. Only discusses water, though, and not, for example, structural integrity of buildings.]

Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

If you guessed “China,” you were wrong. The answer is Vietnam. The country’s appetite for rhino horn is so great that it now fetches up to $100,000/kg, making it worth more than its weight in gold. (Horns average around 1-3 kg each, depending on the species.)

The velomobile -- a recumbent tricycle with aerodynamic bodywork -- offers a more interesting alternative to the bicycle for longer trips. The bodywork protects the driver (and luggage) from the weather, while the comfortable recumbent seat eases the strain on the body, making it possible to take longer trips without discomfort. Furthermore, a velomobile (even without electric assistance) is much faster than an electric bicycle.

We live on a finite planet and sometimes our impact on it is greater than we realize. The seemingly isolated actions we take every day—from our choice of morning beverage to our choice of business practices—are often links in a chain of unusual connections we would never have imagined.

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