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Victims of Climate Change: Japan’s Cherry Trees and Beech Forests

Photo Credit: Click Green

According to WWF Japan, two of the nation’s natural icons, cherry trees and ancient beech forests are currently threatened by climate change. Local temperatures have already exceeded the global average and are estimated to rise by around 5°C in the future. Climate change is projected to decrease 80% of the Shirakami Mountain beech forests in northern Japan by the end of the century. Cherry blossoms are also predicted to flower 14 days earlier than usual. If the effects of climate change cannot be halted or minimized, the Japanese may lose their beech forests which are seen as a generational treasure. The ‘symbol’ of cherry blossoms may even change to signify ‘the end’ rather than ‘a new beginning’. 

Date & Source: March 26, 2014, Click Green

A Battery Which Biodegrades and Disappears After 3 Weeks?

Photo credit: University of Illinois
Finding it difficult to dispose batteries safely? No worries, you may be able to use water to solve this issue in the near future! Researchers from the University of Illinois have recently revealed a newly developed, non-toxic biodegradable battery which can be dissolved in water after three weeks. This battery releases magnesium after it is dissolved in water and scientists claim that there are no negative end impacts. This new invention would primarily be used in biomedical implants which require temporary power, as it can be reabsorbed by the body after use rather than having to surgically remove it. It could even provide alternative solutions for tracking oil spills and water concentration of chemicals.


Date & source: March 26, 2014; Treehugger

Snail Beauties on Limestone Hills of Southeast Asia Under Threat

Photo Credit: Liew Thor-Seng

A group of biologists have recently discovered 10 new species of snail genus Plectostoma from Malaysia, Sumatra and Thailand. These exquisite invertebrates that inhabit limestone hills in Southeast Asia are now severely threatened by mining activities. The snail colonies discovered are highly isolated from each other making them endemic to a single hill. An entire species of snail can therefore be wiped out completely when mining companies exploit the hills for cement. In fact, the species Plectostoma sciaphilum became extinct when its hill was mined around 2003. At least 6 other snail species face similar threats, including a species called P. tenggekensis which is expected to become extinct by the end of 2014. 


Date & Source: March 26, 2014, NBC News

Using Magnets to Recover Phosphate from Water

Photo Credit: Knut Dobberke/ Fraunhofer ISC

Experts from the German Phosphorus Platform DPP have revealed a new method to recover phosphorus from water. Their research is aimed at protecting the environment and reusing the phosphorus in industries where phosphorus is in scarce supply. To recover the phosphorus, researchers add superparamagnetic particles into the water so that they can bind with phosphate anions and allow for easy recovery. The magnetic properties of the superparamagnetic particles, with their phosphorus load, enable them to be extracted out of the water using a magnet.


Date & Source: March 24, 2014, Science Daily

FRIM and WWF-Malaysia to Collaborate on Forest Conservation Efforts

Photo credit: WWF-Malaysia/ Yeoh Lin Lin

The Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the World Wide Fund for Nature – Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) in an effort to strengthen their cooperation and collaboration in the conservation of forest resources. This MoU enables both parties to help one another enhance knowledge in forest and biodiversity conservation, as well as resources management through knowledge transfer and sharing. Efforts will also be extended to enhance the public’s understanding of forest management and conservation issues.


Date & source: March 24, 2014; WWF-Malaysia

Is it a Water Bottle? Is it a Flashlight? Actually it’s Both!

Photo Credit: OKO

Swiss Company OKO has upgraded their self-filtering water bottle to a multifunctional bottle. The OKO Odyssey has two filters, a light adapter and a storage compartment. The storage compartment at the bottom of the bottle is suitable to be used as a drinking cup or to store small items like keys. The compartment can then be replaced with a double-sized light adapter which turns the bottle into a lantern or flashlight depending on which direction the light adapter is pointed to (inwards and outwards). In addition, the light adapter is also designed with a strobe function for emergency purposes.


Date & Source: March 19, 2014, Treehugger

Second Tallest in the World: 92 Meters of Vertical Garden

Photo Credit: Inhabitat

Measuring at 92 meters tall, the Green Medellin wall in the city of Medellin Colombia is recorded as the second tallest living wall in the world. A combination of hundreds of native and adaptive plants was planted on the living wall that reaches to the top of the building. These plants were also specially selected to withstand weather and strong winds conditions for those heights. Today, living walls has become one of the popular trends in green building designs. So let’s plant vertically today!


Date and Source: March 18, 2014; Inhabitat

RM 480,000 Grant Awarded to Malaysian Marine Biologist for Dugong Research

Photo Credit: The Star Online

Pew Fellowship awarded a RM 480,000 grant to a Malaysian marine biologist to research on endangered dugongs on the islands located on the east coast of Johor. The 3 years research will focus on obtaining scientific data of different critical aspects that might influence the population of dugong through visual, acoustic and underwater surveys. The research results will provide better understanding of dugongs in Peninsular Malaysia and help authorities to make informed decisions to protect these extraordinary creatures.


Date and Source: March 18, 2014; The Star Online+

Aquaphonics: When Vegetable Meets Fish

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

A group of scientist in an EU funded project are focusing on a virtually emission free sustainable food production using aquaponics. The aquaponic system combines hydroponics and aquaculture into one integrated system. The project aims to provide increase water and energy efficiencies with optimum production yield for both the horticulture and aquacultures parts. The project aims to cover the whole value chain from research to market and make aquaponic more commercially viable. This approach could be a solution to meet increasing food demand with reduced carbon footprint compared to existing systems.


Date and Source: March 17, 2014;

Nuclear Waste Found Its Long-Term Home in Shale Underground

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Underground shale deposits and other clay rich rocks may have the potential for long-term storage area for nuclear waste. The impermeable properties of shale are ideal to avoid water contamination even if the nuclear containers leak during storage. The shale also provides protection from escaping radioactive particles because radionuclides require millions of years to diffuse through the shale. However, site selection for shale storage should not include areas with high potential for oil or natural gas extractions that could affect future interest.


Date & Source: March 17, 2014, Nature World News