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The Plastic We 'Recycle' Is Actually Horrible for the Environment

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 07:27

When you drop your plastic waste into the recycling bin, it most likely makes its way around the world, where it can pose a health and security risk to developing countries, according to a new Guardian report.The planet is getting buried under plastic: beaches are littered with it, sea life is choking on it, and a new report finds that we're even drinking a credit-card-size amount of plastic every week from our drinking water. Needless to say, recycling is a good idea.Until it's done wrong. That plastic bottle that you drop into a recycling bin on the streets of New York isn't always broken down and crafted into a brand-new product. Sometimes, it ends up across the world in someone's backyard, taking its place among scores of supermarket bags and snack pouches. [In Photos: The World's 10 Most Polluted Places]The U.S. ships about 1 million tons of plastic waste overseas every year. Much of that plastic used to end up in China, where it was recycled -- that is, until the country abruptly stopped most of the plastic waste imports in 2017. Now, a good part of U.S. plastic waste is shipped to the world's poorest countries for recycling, including Bangladesh, Laos, Ethiopia and Senegal, the Guardian reported.Last year, about 68,000 shipping containers' worth of plastic recycling waste from the U.S. were shipped to developing countries, which mismanage over 70% of their own plastic waste, they wrote. For example, Malaysia dumps or improperly disposes 55% of its own plastic waste, yet it receives more U.S. recyclables than any other country, they wrote. What's more, an estimated 20% to 70% of plastic waste that goes to recycling facilities worldwide is unusable and discarded as trash, according to the report.Beyond just having to live among the trash that litters their beaches and streets, the increasing number of plastic processing facilities that are popping up in these countries is posing health risks to citizens who live among contaminated water supplies and the smell of plastic fumes, they wrote.This report is part of the Guardian's six-month-long Toxic America series. * 7 Everyday Toxic Things You Shouldn't Toss in the Trash * In Photos: Litter Transforms Into Sea Creatures in Stunning Shots * In Images: The Great Pacific Garbage PatchOriginally published on Live Science.


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Hungry polar bear found wandering in Russia industrial city

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 07:26

A hungry polar bear has been spotted on the outskirts of the Russian industrial city of Norilsk, hundreds of miles from its natural habitat, authorities said Tuesday. Images of the visibly exhausted animal roaming the roads of the Arctic city in search of food have been widely shared on social media in Russia. "He is still moving around a factory, under observation by police and the emergency services, who are ensuring his safety and those of residents," environmental services official Alexander Korobkin told AFP.


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Neolithic People Made Fake Islands More Than 5,600 Years Ago

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 07:26

Hundreds of tiny islands around Scotland didn't arise naturally. They're fakes that were constructed out of boulders, clay and timbers by Neolithic people about 5,600 years ago, a new study finds.Researchers have known about these artificial islands, known as crannogs, for decades. But many archaeologists thought that the crannogs were made more recently, in the Iron Age about 2,800 years ago.The new finding not only shows that these crannogs are much older than previously thought but also that they were likely "special locations" for Neolithic people, according to nearby pottery fragments found by modern divers, the researchers wrote in the study. [In Photos: Anglo-Saxon Island Settlement Discovered]Initially, many researchers thought that Scotland's crannogs were built around 800 B.C. and reused until post-medieval times in A.D. 1700. But in the 1980s, hints began to emerge that some of these islands were made much earlier. In addition, in 2012, Chris Murray, a former Royal Navy diver, found well-preserved Neolithic pots on the lake floor near some of these islands, and he alerted a local museum about the discovery.To investigate, two U.K archaeologists, Duncan Garrow from the University of Reading and Fraser Sturt from the University of Southampton, teamed up in 2016 and 2017 to take a comprehensive look at several crannogs in the Outer Hebrides, an artificial island hotspot off the coast of northern Scotland. In particular, they looked at islets in three lakes: Loch Arnish, Loch Bhorgastail and Loch Langabhat.Aerial images of six of the Neolithic islet sites, all shown at the same scale. These include 1) Arnish; 2) Bhorgastail; 3) Eilean Domhnuill; 4) Lochan Duna (Ranish); 5) Loch an Dunain; and 6) Langabhat. Copyright Antiquity Publications Ltd; Copyright Getmapping PLC; Duncan Garrow and Fraser Sturt, Antiquity 2019.According to radiocarbon dating, four of the crannogs were created between 3640 B.C. and 3360 B.C., the researchers found. Other evidence, including ground and underwater surveys, palaeoenvironmental coring and excavation, supported the idea that these particular islets dated to the Neolithic.Archaeologists have yet to find any Neolithic structures on the islands, and they said more excavations were needed. But divers found dozens of Neolithic pottery fragments, some of them burnt, around the islets at Bhorgastail and Langabhat, the researchers said.These pots were likely dropped into the water intentionally, possibly for a ritual, the researchers said.Divers find a piece of a 'Hebridean Neolithic' vessel from Loch Langabhat, one of the artificial islands made during the Neolithic. Copyright Antiquity Publications Ltd; Photograph by D. Garrow; Duncan Garrow and Fraser Sturt, Antiquity 2019.Each of the islets is fairly small, measuring approximately 33 feet (10 meters) across. One islet in Loch Bhorgastail even had a stone causeway connecting it to the mainland. And though it undoubtedly took a lot of work to make these crannogs, these structures were clearly important to ancient people, as there are 570 known in Scotland alone. (There are more in Ireland, the researchers noted.)So far, just 10% of the crannogs in Scotland have been radiocarbon dated, meaning that there may be more ancient crannogs than these newfound Neolithic ones, the researchers said.The study was published online June 12 in the journal Antiquity. * In Photos: The Vanishing Ice of Baffin Island * In Photos: Impossible Rocks on a Remote Island * Photos: Beautiful & Ever-Changing Barrier IslandsOriginally published on Live Science.


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Novo Nordisk's Victoza Gets FDA Nod for Pediatric Patients

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 07:18

Novo Nordisk's (NVO) Victoza gets FDA approval for the treatment of pediatric patients aged 10 years or older with type II diabetes.


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Astronomers searching for alien life release biggest set of data in history

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 07:18

Astronomers say they are releasing the biggest set of data ever made public in the search for alien life.Researchers from Breakthrough Listen – a $100 million alien-hunting project launched by luminaries including Stephen Hawking – says it has completed the "most comprehensive and sensitive" search for signatures of alien technology ever performed.And it will release the data from its search for alien life in the hope that others might be able to find information inside of it, its researchers say. The dump comprises one petabyte of radio and optical telescope data.The Breakthrough Listen team working at the University of California, Berkeley’s SETI Research Center say they have been working on a number of techniques that are designed to spot "technosignatures" elsewhere in the universe. Those signals might indicate the use of technology such as transmitters or propulsion devices on other worlds beyond Earth, perhaps built by alien civilisations.Such technosignatures might be powerful signals that are sent over only a limited range of radio frequencies, or bright lasers shooting through the universe. Researchers have also developed new algorithms that will allow them to better understanding unexplained astrophysical phenomena, they said.The astronomers are yet to find anything in that data, despite the intense work. But its release could lead to further breakthroughs, they hope, and will help inform future work as they continue to refine their work.“This data release is a tremendous milestone for the Breakthrough Listen team,” said Danny Price, the Breakthrough Listen Project Scientist for the Parkes observatory in Australia, in a statement.“We scoured thousands of hours of observations of nearby stars, across billions of frequency channels. We found no evidence of artificial signals from beyond Earth, but this doesn't mean there isn't intelligent life out there: we may just not have looked in the right place yet, or peered deep enough to detect faint signals.”The data is being released through a devoted page on the University of California, Berkeley’s website. Papers describing the methods for harvesting it have also been uploaded to that page as well as being submitted to astrophysics journals.


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This One Thing Could Make China An Aircraft Carrier Superpower

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 07:00

China currently has two aircraft carriers and is widely believed to be building at least one more.Beijing appears to be eyeing a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), a state-owned firm and the largest naval manufacturer in the country, recently expressed interest in accelerating its research into nuclear-powered carriers, among other military technologies. In a statement issued at the end of last month, CSIC said that it plans to “speed up the process of making technological breakthroughs in nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, new-type nuclear submarines, quiet submarines, maritime unmanned intelligent confrontation systems, maritime three-dimensional offensive and defensive systems, and naval warfare comprehensive electronic information systems.”Defense News, which translated a copy of the statement, also quoted CSIC as saying “that these breakthroughs are required for China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, to enhance its capability to globally operate in line with the service’s aim to become a networked, blue-water navy by 2025.”Recommended: Why North Korea's Air Force is Total Junk


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Who is this see-through alien?

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 07:00

"Who is this alien?" is Mashable's enduring series about the exceptionally peculiar critters that inhabit a relatively small, ocean-dominated world in the outer realms of the Milky Way galaxy, called Earth. Many of these lifeforms, you'll find, are quite alien. * * *California's Monterey Bay teems with whales and vivacious seals. But, over 1,000 feet beneath the surface, swim the little-seen "glass squids." They are transparent, except for their guts, arms, and bulbous eyes. "They're very alien looking," said Stephanie Bush, a marine ecologist who closely studied these creatures while working at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). "They have different body structures than what we're used to." Two particularly curious types of see-through squids residing in the crescent-shaped bay are the genuses Taonius and Galiteuthis -- both from the same squid family.A  squid videotaped at 600 meters beneath the surface.Image: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)In the dingy, almost lightless (or even completely dark) ocean depths, the squids' translucence is crucial. "It's one of the common ways to hide yourself from predators in the deep, open ocean," noted Bush, who is now an invertebrate researcher at the Smithsonian Institution.Deep sea predators are extremely sensitive to any light that penetrates through 1,000 or 2,000 feet of water. So, if something (like a squid) swims above a predator and alters the lighting or creates a silhouette -- however faint -- that something will likely soon be gulped up. "The idea is you have a very limited silhouette," said Bush. That's also why the glass squids often hold their pair of tentacles and eight arms up in the water, as if they're reaching for the sky -- to limit their silhouette or shadow."They hold their arms and tentacles together in a bunch -- like a cockatoo," said Bush.  It's not easy to catch a glimpse of these see-through creatures. MBARI spots them using underwater robots, known as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), that dive down to the inhospitable ocean depths to observe the alien life therein. SEE ALSO: Who is this alien? Why, it's the psychedelic frogfish.While there's still much to grasp about these elusive deep sea lifeforms, Bush and other marine ecologists have observed a decent amount from these transparent squids. The Taonius, for example, is often found between some 1,300 and 2,620 feet beneath the surface (400 to 800 meters) in Monterey Bay, though they've been spotted in other oceans around the globe, too. They're about as long as the width of a sheet of paper (8.5 or so inches). It's unknown, however, what exactly they eat. But it's probably "whatever they can get their tentacles and arms on," said Bush.An orange Galiteuthis spotted in 2001.Image: MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM RESEARCH INSTITUTE (MBARI) The Taonius' relative, the Galiteuthis, is especially unique in that the organism can inject ink into its transparent body, making it appear even darker -- likely to better disguise itself from nearby predators. "They puff their body up and turn themselves into an opaque animal for a short amount of time," explained Bush.   In the deep, dark, eerie sea, both Taonius and Galiteuthis rely on big eyes to see through their blackened world. It's absolutely vital for finding a meal. And a mate."Their eyes are huge," said Bush. "They have to find a mate, too, or bye-bye to the species." WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?


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AstraZeneca/Merck's Lynparza Wins EU Nod for First-Line Use

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 06:59

AstraZeneca (AZN) and Merck's PARP inhibitor, Lynparza, gets approval in EU as a front-line therapy for BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer.


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More than 100 children die in India in encephalitis outbreak

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 06:56

More than 100 children have died in an encephalitis outbreak in India's eastern state of Bihar, authorities said Tuesday. Bihar health secretary Sanjay Kumar said 106 children had died and more than 430 others between the ages of 4 and 10 were being treated at hospitals in Muzaffarpur district, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Patna, the state capital. Despite the deaths, Kumar said the mortality rate among children from encephalitis, which can cause swelling of the brain, a burning fever and vomiting, had dropped to 26.5% from 34% a year ago.


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Facebook Warns It Can’t Fully Solve Toxic Content Problem

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 06:45

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. is under pressure to rid its site of hate speech and fake news but warned it can’t build a platform impervious to human nature.“This is not a fully solvable problem,” Carolyn Everson, a vice president responsible for marketing at the social media giant, said on a panel Tuesday at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in the south of France. “There are some bad parts of humanity, and the platforms are a reflection of that.”Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter Inc. and Google’s YouTube have come under fire for not doing enough to curb the spread of hate speech, terrorist propaganda and disinformation on their platforms.Facebook hasn’t been sitting idle on the issue, though: It said it removed 2.2 billion fake accounts in the first quarter alone. Everson said Facebook has 30,000 people working on the issue of the safety of the platform, up from less than 3,000 people two years ago. Facebook now takes down 99.8% of terrorist content before it’s seen by a human, and 65% of hate speech content, she said.“It’s a cat and mouse game,” Everson said. “This work is never going to be done. It’s ongoing.”To contact the reporters on this story: Joe Mayes in London at jmayes9@bloomberg.net;Stefan Nicola in Berlin at snicola2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at rpenty@bloomberg.net, Nate LanxonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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EU issues 'green' investment guide to help combat climate change

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:51

Europe sought to increase the flow of money into businesses that tackle climate change with the publication of European Commission guidelines on what qualifies an investment as environmentally friendly. The European Union has agreed to substantial reductions of carbon emissions by 2030 and its executive wants the bloc to reduce them to zero by 2050 to help stop global warming, the rise of average worldwide temperatures. In order to cut emissions by 2030, many sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing or energy, need an additional annual investment of 180 billion euros ($201 billion) and even more is needed to achieve zero emissions by 2050.


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Banks With $100 Billion in Shipping Loans Get Strict on Climate

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:48

(Bloomberg) -- A group of financiers with $100 billion of loans to shipowners are about to get stricter on the kinds of vessels they’ll finance as part of a drive to improve the maritime industry’s environmental performance.Eleven major financiers including Citigroup Inc. and Societe Generale SA are for the first time adopting a set of principles requiring them to maintain their lending books in a way that matches goals in the Paris climate agreement, as well as related targets adopted by global regulator the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization.It means banks will favor financing of cleaner vessels while shying away from those carriers that are more polluting. The shift will potentially help to tighten a well-supplied freight market that’s depressed rates, said Michael Parker, global head of shipping & logistics at Citigroup.“Shipowners will think more carefully about the economic life of the asset,” he said. “Climate is a new consideration they haven’t really had in the past.”A lack of bank finance today is already keeping new ordering low and the impact of the principles will become evident in the next two-to-three years as shipowners consider new IMO targets and limit orders to cleaner vessels, which might reduce supply of new ships, Parker said. There’s already a pick up in scrapping of older ships after the IMO imposed clean-fuel rules for ships starting in 2020, he said.The financial institutions’ so-called Poseidon Principles will establish a baseline to assess and disclose whether the lenders’ portfolios are in line with the climate goals. They’ll also serve as a tool to manage investment risks such as those posed by new fuels standards or carbon pricing. Under the plan, a loan book that’s ready for new climate policies would be more valuable than one that isn’t.Banks and pension funds are increasingly pushing for companies in many industries to cut emissions in an effort to reduce the risk of wild stock-market fluctuations caused by climate change and new policies. The Climate Action 100+ group says its goal is to drive change at companies contributing the most greenhouse gas emissions.“The Poseidon Principles rewrite the role that the financial sector can play in helping achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement,” said James Mitchell, a manager in the climate finance and industry programs at environmental group the Rocky Mountain Institute, which helped develop the measures.The principles for shipping, being adopted by banks that also include DNB ASA, are intended to evolve over time as the IMO tightens its policies. Shipping companies including A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S are also behind the initiative.The rules initially mean lending would dovetail with a goal that greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping will peak as soon as possible and fall by at least 50% of their 2008 levels by 2050.“We know that the portfolio that’s aligned with the target today may not be aligned in 2023, when the targets will probably be tightened,” said Parker, who is the chair of the principles’ drafting committee.The shift should encourage shipbuilders to innovate with designs so vessels can, in future, switch to cleaner fuels such as biofuels, hydrogen or ammonia from the heavy fuel they use today, said Tristan Smith, a reader in energy and shipping at University College London who helped develop the principles. Vessels that don’t have the flexibility to switch fuels may limit their useful life.It’s possible some shipowners will continue ordering dirty ships, betting rules that damage their profitability won’t come anytime soon, Smith said.If a carrier isn’t able to attract good rates, its owner will “either have to accept a much lower second-hand value or have to scrap it prematurely,” he said. “It’s a chain of events that isn’t yet in the regulation, but it’s highly foreseeable.”Bloomberg Philanthropies, which along with Bloomberg LP is owned by Michael Bloomberg, helps fund the Rocky Mountain Institute. The nonprofit helped develop the principles.(Updates with analyst comment in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Mathew Carr in London at m.carr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net, Alaric Nightingale, Rachel GrahamFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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Banks With $100 Billion in Shipping Loans Get Strict on Climate

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:48

(Bloomberg) -- A group of financiers with $100 billion of loans to shipowners are about to get stricter on the kinds of vessels they’ll finance as part of a drive to improve the maritime industry’s environmental performance.Eleven major financiers including Citigroup Inc. and Societe Generale SA are for the first time adopting a set of principles requiring them to maintain their lending books in a way that matches goals in the Paris climate agreement, as well as related targets adopted by global regulator the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization.It means banks will favor financing of cleaner vessels while shying away from those carriers that are more polluting. The shift will potentially help to tighten a well-supplied freight market that’s depressed rates, said Michael Parker, global head of shipping & logistics at Citigroup.“Shipowners will think more carefully about the economic life of the asset,” he said. “Climate is a new consideration they haven’t really had in the past.”A lack of bank finance today is already keeping new ordering low and the impact of the principles will become evident in the next two-to-three years as shipowners consider new IMO targets and limit orders to cleaner vessels, which might reduce supply of new ships, Parker said. There’s already a pick up in scrapping of older ships after the IMO imposed clean-fuel rules for ships starting in 2020, he said.The financial institutions’ so-called Poseidon Principles will establish a baseline to assess and disclose whether the lenders’ portfolios are in line with the climate goals. They’ll also serve as a tool to manage investment risks such as those posed by new fuels standards or carbon pricing. Under the plan, a loan book that’s ready for new climate policies would be more valuable than one that isn’t.Banks and pension funds are increasingly pushing for companies in many industries to cut emissions in an effort to reduce the risk of wild stock-market fluctuations caused by climate change and new policies. The Climate Action 100+ group says its goal is to drive change at companies contributing the most greenhouse gas emissions.“The Poseidon Principles rewrite the role that the financial sector can play in helping achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement,” said James Mitchell, a manager in the climate finance and industry programs at environmental group the Rocky Mountain Institute, which helped develop the measures.The principles for shipping, being adopted by banks that also include DNB ASA, are intended to evolve over time as the IMO tightens its policies. Shipping companies including A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S are also behind the initiative.The rules initially mean lending would dovetail with a goal that greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping will peak as soon as possible and fall by at least 50% of their 2008 levels by 2050.“We know that the portfolio that’s aligned with the target today may not be aligned in 2023, when the targets will probably be tightened,” said Parker, who is the chair of the principles’ drafting committee.The shift should encourage shipbuilders to innovate with designs so vessels can, in future, switch to cleaner fuels such as biofuels, hydrogen or ammonia from the heavy fuel they use today, said Tristan Smith, a reader in energy and shipping at University College London who helped develop the principles. Vessels that don’t have the flexibility to switch fuels may limit their useful life.It’s possible some shipowners will continue ordering dirty ships, betting rules that damage their profitability won’t come anytime soon, Smith said.If a carrier isn’t able to attract good rates, its owner will “either have to accept a much lower second-hand value or have to scrap it prematurely,” he said. “It’s a chain of events that isn’t yet in the regulation, but it’s highly foreseeable.”Bloomberg Philanthropies, which along with Bloomberg LP is owned by Michael Bloomberg, helps fund the Rocky Mountain Institute. The nonprofit helped develop the principles.(Updates with analyst comment in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Mathew Carr in London at m.carr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net, Alaric Nightingale, Rachel GrahamFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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EU nations receive mixed scorecard on climate goals

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:45

The European Union urged its member states on Tuesday to accelerate efforts to meet their 2030 climate goals after a review showed them falling short in some areas as the bloc's leaders prepare to debate going carbon-neutral by 2050. With the mid-century target on the agenda at an EU summit this week, the European Commission's audit showed the 28-nation bloc on track to meet its headline pledge of cutting emissions by 40% by 2030.


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Slashing plane emissions a lofty goal, but progress elusive

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:40

The aircraft industry is facing growing criticism over greenhouse gas emissions that are set to soar as more people take to the skies, but experts say game-changing technology for cleaner planes is still decades away. Dozens of firms at the Paris Air Show this week are touting their green credentials, with the industry pledging to halve its carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 2050. From electric quadcopters to new engines powered by natural gas or hydrogen, the projects on display in Paris promise to revolutionise how people will eventually get across town or across the world.


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Indonesian teen wakeboards waterlogged streets to protest floods

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:40

A group of teenagers in Indonesia are wakeboarding the submerged streets of their hometown to protest against the urban flooding that regularly plagues much of the tropical archipelago. After several days of heavy rains in Samarinda city, on Borneo island, the fed-up group launched their waterlogged demonstration in a now-viral Instagram video. Curious onlookers gaped as Muhammad Fahri Ramadhan, 19, showed off a few tricks as he carved-up the dirty, waist-high water -- pulled by a car instead of a boat.


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Ireland to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:30

Ireland has announced it will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 as part of its new climate change plan. The government hopes to have 950,000 electric vehicles on Irish roads by then, supported by a network of charging stations. The measure is one of 180 proposals covering business, construction, transport, agriculture and waste management intended to put Ireland on a path to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.


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Environment Is Everything at This Williamsburg Café by Day, Restaurant by Night

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:01

Apollonia owners Danny Minch and Dylan Dodd wanted to break the mold of how traditional restaurants in New York City work, with an all-day food experience and an adjacent artists' room.


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Ireland to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:01

Ireland has announced it will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 as part of its new climate change plan. The government hopes to have 950,000 electric vehicles on Irish roads by then, supported by a network of charging stations. The measure is one of 180 proposals covering business, construction, transport, agriculture and waste management intended to put Ireland on a path to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.


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Bone-Crushing Hyenas Lived in Canada's Arctic During the Last Ice Age

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 04:49

During the last ice age, bone-crushing hyenas stalked the snowy Canadian Arctic, likely satisfying their meat cravings by hunting herds of caribou and horses, while also scavenging mammoth carcasses on the tundra, a new study finds.The big finding -- that ancient hyenas lived in the North American Arctic -- is based on two tiny teeth, which archaeologists found in Canada's northern Yukon Territory.The two teeth fill a gaping hole in the fossil record. Researchers already had evidence that the wolf-size hyena known as Chasmaporthetes lived in Mongolia and -- after crossing the Bering Strait land bridge -- Kansas and central Mexico. The newfound teeth show where the Chasmaporthetes lived between these two places: about 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers) away from the Old World in Mongolia and 2,500 miles (4,000 km) northward of Kansas, the researchers said. [Image Gallery: Hyenas at the Kill]In other words, Chasmaporthetes was able to adapt to all kinds of environments, study lead researcher Jack Tseng, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University at Buffalo in New York, told Live Science.Archaeologists originally found the two fossil teeth in the 1970s, in a fossil hotspot known as Old Crow Basin. But nobody ever published studies on the teeth, which languished for decades in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottowa, Ontario.In the 1970s, researchers found the two ancient hyenas teeth in the Old Crow River region (known as Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation) in Canada's Yukon Territory. Duane Froese/University of AlbertaTseng learned about the teeth only through word of mouth. Intrigued, he hopped in his car and drove the 6 hours from Buffalo to Ottawa in February, the dead of winter. The teeth, a molar and premolar, were so distinct, that "within the first 5 minutes, I was pretty sure this was Chasmaporthetes," he told Live Science.When most people think of hyenas, they picture the carnivores roaming Africa today. But hyenas actually arose in Europe or Asia about 20 million years ago. Only later did hyenas make their way into Africa, and an even smaller number trekked across the Bering Strait land bridge to North America, at least according to the preexisting fossil record.The teeth are challenging to date because they were found in the inner bend of a river -- meaning that the current washed them away from their original resting place. But based on the geology of the basin, the teeth are likely between 1.4 million and 850,000 years old, Tseng said.These teeth aren't from the oldest hyenas in North America, however. That prize goes to the 4.7-million-year-old hyena fossils found in Kansas, Tseng said.This fossil tooth belonged to an ancient hyena during the last ice age. This tooth has sat in a collection at the Canadian Museum of Nature since it was found in 1977. Grant Zazula/Government of Yukon He added that these ancient hyenas never ran into a human. The beasts went extinct in North America between 1 million and 500,000 years ago, long before humans arrived in the Americas. (One of the oldest human traces in the Americas is a 15,600-year-old footprint in Chile.) It's unclear why these hyenas disappeared, but it's possible that other voracious ice age carnivores, such as the bone-cracking dog (Borophagus), giant short-faced bear (Arctodus) or hunting-dog-like canid (Xenocyon) took over their habitats and outcompeted them for prey, Tseng said.Today, there are only four living species of hyena -- three bone-crushing species and the ant-eating aardwolf. Given that Chasmaporthetes was a bone crusher too, it likely played a large role in disposing of carcasses in ancient North America, much like vultures do today, Tseng said.The new study takes a much-needed dive into carnivore evolution and diversity in North America, said Blaine Schubert, executive director of the Center of Excellence in Paleontology and professor of geosciences at East Tennessee State University, who was not involved with the study."It has long been hypothesized that hyenas crossed the Beringian land bridge to enter North America, but evidence was lacking," Schubert told Live Science in an email. "These new fossils support the Beringian dispersal hypothesis and dramatically increase the range of Chasmaporthetes."The study was published online today (June 18) in the journal Open Quaternary. * My, What Sharp Teeth! 12 Living and Extinct Saber-Toothed Animals * 10 Extinct Giants That Once Roamed North America * Ice Age Animal Bones Uncovered During LA Subway ExcavationOriginally published on Live Science.


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