Discovered in Green: Not all glaciers are melting into oblivion, death by pollution, eating meat is good for humanity, and we need new, different pine trees.
- Fresh news and ideas about our planet's future See full coverageNot all glaciers are melting into oblivion. We've heard a lot of alarming news about the state of glaciers in the Antarctic and Greeland, but there's one area where glaciers aren't doing so bad: The Himalayas. Or at least not as bad as science previously predicted. It's not really good news, it's just not-as-bad-as-could-be news. "The detected length changes and area and volume losses correspond to the global average," explains researcher Tobian Bolch, summarizing the new results. "The majority of the Himalayan glaciers are shrinking, but much less rapidly than predicted earlier," he continues. Even with that "good" news, however, things still look bleak for the future of humanity. "Due to the expected shrinkage of the glaciers, in the medium term we can expect a greater variability in the seasonal water drainage. Individual valleys could dry up seasonally," added Bolch. Oh, goodie. [University of Zurich]
- Death by pollution. It's happening in the U.K. and it could happen to you. Nasty emissions from cars, trucks and other human-made things are causing 13,000 premature deaths a year in the United Kingdom. Just for comparison, the researchers also throw in this stat: "Fewer than 3,000 Britons died in road accidents in 2005," the year the study looked at. Lots of things we do are unhealthy, of course, notes researcher Steven Barrett. "People have a number of risk factors in their life," he says. "Air pollution is another risk factor. And it can be significant, especially for people who live in cities," he continues. [Environmental Science and Technology]
- Eating meat is good for humanity. So vegetarianism has its benefits, but evolution is not one of them. Feasting on animal flesh -- as cruel or bad for the environment as it might be -- got human kind to the our current highly evolved state. "This has been known for a long time, " explains researcher Elia Psouni. "However, no one has previously shown the strong connection between meat eating and the duration of breast-feeding, which is a crucial piece of the puzzle in this context. Eating meat enabled the breast-feeding periods and thereby the time between births, to be shortened. This must have had a crucial impact on human evolution," she continues. Can't argue with that. [Lund University]
- We need more, different pine trees. With things getting warmer in the Basque Forests, the radiata pine, an important tree in that area, might not do so well. Science has a simple solution: introduce a different variety of pine. Researchers specifically think one from the New Zealand region would do well as temps warm up. So, let's get planting? [Tree Physiology]