Is organic agriculture the solution to our global food system challenges?
On a moonless night, light levels can be more than 100m times dimmer than in bright daylight.
Recently, my wife and I went through one of the more excruciating experiences of our lives – the euthanasia of our beloved dog, Murphy.
The discovery of a core set of genes involved in the responses of honey bees to multiple diseases caused by viruses may help scientists and beekeepers breed honey bees more resilient to stress.
Since 1880, the average global temperature has increased by 0.8°℃, with large changes in rainfall redistribution.
Over the past few years, cats have increasingly attracted media attention due to a number of scientific studies reporting that a Toxoplasma Gondii (T. Gondii) infection is linked with mental health issues, including schizophrenia, suicide and intermittent rage disorder.
Any dog owner will tell you how smart they think their dog is. What we usually think of as smartness in dogs is measured or observed in their external behaviour.
Urban agriculture, the cultivation of crops and animals in an urban environment, is known to increase access to healthy food.
In the heat zone of Louisville, Kentucky, 170 residents have been trained as “citizen foresters.”
Nearing the lake on that warm September morning, I heard a tiny mewing sound. My first inclination was to ignore the cries. I've been through enough lately, I thought; I can hardly take care of myself. Meow! Meow! The insistent pleas continued.
“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart…”
Dogs love walks. And unless it’s pouring with rain and blowing a gale, so do their owners. But there’s much more to this daily routine than you might think.
When it comes to making your house comfortable and sustainable, prevention is better than cure. By prevention we mean simple retrofits that will set you on the path to comfort and sustainability.
The language of phobia is so common today that we scarcely give it a second thought.
I raised my hand in class at the University of Santa Monica and quietly shared that there was something I needed to own. I told the class that I’d had an extraordinary experience of personal healing in my life, and that I was a healer. That I had been working for a number of years on developing and refining my approach...
It brings many people joy to provide food and water for birds, to encourage them to stay a while and be given the chance to observe them more closely. But some people are reluctant to interact with birds in this way because they’re worried it might damage the birds’ health.
Facebook has always been controversial, with many users worrying about how the information they post might be used. Lately, the social media behemoth has also been criticized for facilitating the spread of fake news.
A new drug shows promise for treating heart disease in cats and humans, report researchers.
Food, glorious food. Without it we would perish, or at the very least complain a lot. Yet the way we store it might not be keeping us as safe from illness as we think.
First one, then another. Bite! Slap! Bite! Before you know it, mosquitoes are descending from the skies to disrupt your backyard summer soiree.
The doldrums of the post-Christmas binge is a time for clearing out your drawers, culling that book collection or re-gifting hampers of toiletries to friends who are unlucky enough to have a birthday that gets hoovered up into the holiday season.
On Christmas Day in 1879 the combination of fog and smoke was so dense over London that it was virtually dark at noon. Nowadays... air in the home may be at its worst.
Shortly before Christmas Day 1864, Abraham Lincoln received an extraordinary Christmas present – Savannah, Georgia.
Researchers saw a three-fold increase in BPA levels in dogs who ate canned dog food for two weeks. They also saw changes in the dogs’ gut microbes.
The grand finale of the BBC’s Planet Earth II showcased the ingenious strategies that some animals use to thrive in urban environments. Though impressive, these species are in the minority.
Farmers looking to reduce reliance on pesticides, herbicides, and other pest management tools may want to heed the advice of agricultural scientists: Let nature be nature—to a degree.
People typically switch their central heating on in October and use it daily until March or April. Heating homes accounts for over 70% of household energy consumption.
A new report has found that U.S. land for organic farming reached 4.1 million acres in 2016, a new record and an 11 percent increase compared to 2014.
During the devastating floods that hit Queensland in 2011, Brisbane and regional centres came perilously close to running out of fresh food.
Whether it’s Bonfire Night, Thanksgiving, or just an everyday celebration, every winter, as soon as the clocks go back, the fireworks begin.
Far from the 9-to-5, the work of building community can be a challenge when the cash economy is less relevant and volunteers are just passing through.
Anthropologists for the first time have captured on video wild chimpanzee mothers teaching their offspring to use tools to find food. The videos were made at termite mounds in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo.
Is the throwaway era about to end? The past half century has given us toasters that are irreparable after a minor fault, T-shirts that quickly shrink or fade, and vacuum cleaners that need replacing after a few years.
The bird experts and authors of the book Cat Wars recently called for all free-roaming cats to be euthanised or kept on a lead. They argue that cats’ tendency to kill birds and small mammals has lead to a catastrophic decline in the numbers of these creatures.
It is with great sadness that I acknowledge the passing of Bill Mollison on Saturday, September 24 (1928-2016). He was one of the true pioneers of the modern environmental movement, not just in Australia but globally.
As the weather warms and days lengthen, your attention may be turning to that forgotten patch of your backyard. This week we’ve asked our experts to share the science behind gardening. So grab a trowel and your green thumbs, and dig in.
It’s back-to-school time in the United States, and for countless children across the nation, it’s also time to get back into the school garden.
Dog owners often notice their pets watching televisions, computer screens and tablets. But what is going on in their pooch’s head? Indeed, by tracking their vision using similar methods used on humans, research has found that domestic dogs do prefer certain images and videos.
If woven into clothing, a new low-cost, plastic-based textile could cool your body far more efficiently than is possible with the natural or synthetic fabrics in clothes we wear today.
The Williams’ residence in suburban Melbourne is home to three dogs and five humans. Life is often chaotic as each member of the household negotiates for space and attention.
Tiny, biointensive operations show smallholder farmers from around the world how they can grow far more food than conventional approaches.
Given the choice, many dogs prefer praise from their owners rather than food, according to one of the first studies to combine brain-imaging data with behavioral experiments to explore canine reward preferences.
On a recent Monday evening in Seattle’s Central District, a handful of people gathered to work on a community farm. They pulled weeds, talked about the best ways to string up tomatoes, checked the progress of the greens and beans, harvested radishes and planted wildflowers.
As I became more adept at motivating my horse, focusing her attention, and gaining her respect, relationships at home and work improved. People commented on the change, yet no one could pinpoint what had shifted. The plot thickened as I gained more knowledge about instinctual horse behavior.
Love them or hate them, ring-necked parakeets have invaded Europe and they’re here to stay. Already a staple of many urban parks and gardens around the UK, some of these charismatic bright green birds are now so comfortable in their new surroundings that they will happily sit and feed from your hand.
Bees provide us with an invaluable service by pollinating plants, an indispensable part of natural and agricultural ecosystems. This is why declining bee populations are such a big concern.
Plant biologists have discovered how sunflowers use their internal circadian clock, acting on growth hormones, to follow the sun during the day as they grow.
Cannabis continues to be the world’s favourite illicit drug with around 147m people using it annually. However, there are fears that the drug is becoming increasingly potent and that it could pose a public health risk. But how reliable is the evidence? And is it really getting stronger?
The ideas below are from the Great Neighborhood Book, a collaboration between OTC Senior Fellow Jay Walljasper and Project for Public Spaces. Walljasper is a Minneapolis-based speaker and consultant about how to strengthen communities.
The one fact about plants that most people probably remember from school is that they use sunlight to make their own food. That process, photosynthesis, means that plants are dependent on sunlight.
Since the evolution of dogs from wolves tens of thousands of years ago, they have been selectively bred for various roles as guards, hunters, workers and companions.
Mowgli arrived at Best Friends Animal Society in Utah after being rejected by two shelters. On my day for volunteering, I saw the eight-month-old malamute sitting off by himself, and I walked over to the fence to talk to him. When those mahogany eyes looked deep into my heart and touched my soul, I fell in love.
Life in the city can be stressful – for birds just as much as people. For humans, cities are expressly designed to put roofs over heads and food within easy reach, but the opposite can be true for many urban birds. They can find food and shelter harder to come by in the concrete jungle – with some notable exceptions.
The idea that we can't feed ourselves with sustainable means is scoffed at by many. Without oil, pesticides, and GMOs we will certainly starve we are told by an establishment that sometimes seems without conscience.
Imagine you’re a cat, and, every time you meowed, the loud voice of a snooty-sounding British gentleman kindly informed your human guardian of your every thought and feeling (well, the thoughts and feelings you had before you were terrified by the sound of the voice).
We live in a world where time is all important. Nanoseconds mark the difference between success or failure to make an electronic transaction and where we are continuously reminded of “the time”: of being early or late, of having missed an appointment or arriving “before time”. In today’s world, time now governs our life.
It’s hard to avoid stress, and the expectation that we are camels with unbreakable backs. I know this from personal experience as part of the “squeezed generation” with young children, an old parent and a demanding job.
These herbs aren't just for cooking—here's how you can use them to treat ailments from asthma to anxiety.
Urban flooding represents the most common yet severe environmental threat to cities and towns worldwide. Future changes in rainfall extremes are likely to increase this threat, even in areas that could become drier.
If we as humans can feel more beauty in ourselves, in our homes, in our environment, how much that can change our very experience of life itself. If we see and experience more beauty in the world then we can't help but being touched and moved by it.
A sustainable film made from a byproduct of kombucha tea could be a new material for clothing, shoes, or handbags.
About six months after Morris first appeared at Lauren’s door, he started to appear at my door instead. All my life I’d had a cat phobia. Cats terrified me so much that I had recurrent nightmares about a cat jumping from a tall staircase and landing on the back of my neck.
Ancient Athens shows what to do. Rome shows what not to do. Two questions to ask: What are cities for? Who owns them?
With more people than ever living in cities, how do we reconcile our need for fresh fruit and vegetables with the challenges of life in an urban environment where the time and space for gardening are limited?
Tests show a new air-cleaning system easily removed the rotten egg smells of pig farming and wastewater treatment.
Cockroaches are a very ancient group of insects. They have been around virtually unchanged in general appearance since the Carboniferous period, more than 300 million years ago. Technically speaking they are in the Order Blattodea (the same level of classification as, for instance, all butterflies and moths).
A German shepherd with a sloping back that was awarded best of breed brought the dog show Crufts in for this year’s annual bout of criticism. Viewers took to social media to accuse the owner of animal cruelty by suggesting that its unusual shape meant the dog must suffer health problems brought on by inbreeding – something the owner denied.
Dog owners might disagree, but as far as evolutionary biologists are concerned, all dogs are just dogs. It may seem odd that Canis (lupus) familiaris extends from rabbit-sized Chihuahuas to Great Danes which can be almost the size of a small pony, whereas seemingly much smaller differences place many animals into separate species or sub-species.
Some farmers have turned to less chemically-intensive techniques to reduce the negative impact of agriculture, such as organic farming, which has been shown to outperform conventional farming by many standards of environmental sustainability. The question is whether we can meet the demand for food, which is predicted to rise substantially in the next 50 years.
Home alone? Hardly. Our homes are positively swarming with creatures of all kinds. In our new series, we’ll be profiling the “hidden housemates” that live with us.
Homebuyers respond well to green features such as solar panels, rather than stats and figures. If you’ve ever bought a home you’ll know the feeling of deciphering real estate advertising spin. But those advertisements traditionally don’t tell you about how much
Technology’s promise of wonderful things in the future stretches from science fiction to science fact: self-driving cars, virtual reality, smart devices such as Google Glass, and the internet of things are designed to make our lives easier and more productive.
For most of us, commuting is a task to be endured. Busy, noisy and often cramped, the world’s underground transport systems are places that we humans tolerate as a matter of necessity. But not so for Moscow’s “metro dogs”.
On a hilly slope in São Paulo City, a group of sixth graders is busy at work. They’re armed with seeds, soil and a range of gardening tools. Upside-down soda bottles, filled with water, outline a series of rectangular garden plots.
Sydney’s first Muji store opened in 2015 and with it came attractive minimalism, simplicity, and functionality – a kind of consumption that was somehow about consuming less.
Can dogs tell when we are happy, sad or angry? As a dog owner, I feel confident not only that I can tell what kind of emotional state my pets are in, but also that they respond to my emotions. Yet as a hard-headed scientist, I try to take a more rational and pragmatic view. These personal observations seem more likely to result from my desire for a good relationship with my dogs.
The environmental and nutrient impact of our food choices had been on my mind for several weeks when a year-old article in the Telegraph recently came to my attention, prompting me to assemble the thoughts that had been gradually coalescing.
Christmas is typically a time for celebrating and spending time with loved ones. But while we party, give lavish presents, and visit our families, we can sometimes overlook how some very important family members — our pets — might be affected.
More than half the planet’s population now live in cities, with limited access to the natural world. For Europe and Latin America, the figure is more than 70%. Yet contact with nature has numerous benefits for both our physical and mental health.
Carbon Monoxide is a much-publicised invisible killer. But there’s another little-known gas that kills 27 times more people, causing the deaths of 1,100 people a year in the UK alone. Worse still, it could be seeping into your home.
Anyone who’s watched a cat throwing up after munching on grass knows that our feline friends aren’t natural plant eaters. So you might be surprised to discover that these carnivorous animals share some important genes that are more typically associated with herbivores. And this might help explain why cats aren’t always easy to please when it comes to food.
Concerns about environmental damage caused by costly chemicals and worries about climate change are altering farming methods in the mountains of Nepal.
In a world where clever marketing distracts us from the actual ingredients in our toiletries, it’s hard to know exactly what we’re using to wash our bodies.
Hummingbirds live life at incomprehensible speeds. Their flight acrobatics are amazing, maneuvering more like insects than birds as they flit around, flying upside down and even backwards. They’re a blur as they race between flowers. When they do pause to visit a flower momentarily, they’re licking 15 to 20 times a second to extract their nectar fuel.
In the 1960s, I knew people who, before going on vacation, would take their dogs to a shelter to be euthanized. They reasoned that it was cheaper to have a dog euthanized – and buy a new one upon returning – than pay a kennel fee.
After a day of stress, of decision making, of kid's fights to referee -- when your body is tense and depression is knocking at your mind's front door...what could possibly be the ticket to relief? Could it be as simple as stepping outside to gaze at the night moon?
Life, for foragers, can be more secure for the simple fact that they understand crop failures happen. Thus, we learn not to depend wholly on one type of food. The lovely thing about foraging is that there are always alternatives. In nature, there are usually plenty of options, and all of them are free.
Your morning coffee might be a thing of the past if bees disappear, and if coffee isn’t your thing, you undoubtedly eat many of the fruit and vegetables (and chocolate) that rely on bee pollination for survival.
News of my communications with the horses had spread in the small Costa Rican community. The horsemen, the veterinarian, and the cabin retreat employees were all aware of it. Some had reacted with apprehension, suspicious of my abilities, while others were afraid that I might be reading their minds, too.
Most people have never heard of Norman Borlaug. He is, thus far, the only agricultural scientist ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. His work in the development of high-yielding and disease-resistant cereal crops saved more than one billion (yes, billion) people from starvation.
The key to gardening is dirt. If you can grow good dirt now, you can grow good vegetables this spring. And you don’t have to run to the garden store to load up on boxes and bags of stuff to do it if you start early and think of it as a year-round project.
The key characteristic of the loving landscape is healthy, living soils which foster plant and animal health without artificial inputs. Compost, mulch and worms form the holy trinity of organic soil health.
Midway through spring, the nearly bare planting beds of Carolyn Leadley’s Rising Pheasant Farms, in the Poletown neighborhood of Detroit, barely foreshadow the cornucopian abundance to come. It will be many months before Leadley is selling produce from this one-fifth-acre plot.
Both compost and mulch foster the life of the soil, and both are important components of the loving landscape. Sometimes they are confused for one another, but they are quite different animals. Compost, which we talked about last week, is more nutrient rich than mulch. It’s full of life, and inoculates soil with that life.
A Latino family strolls leisurely through the park, immersed in conversation. Coming up fast behind is a blonde woman in designer exercise gear and earplugs, intent on maintaining her power-walking pace. Bringing up the rear is a young man with his Husky, both of them staring up at a patch of sun that has appeared from behind the clouds.
So, let’s say we want to play nice with the rest of nature. Let’s say we want public parks, yards and gardens which exist for more than show, spaces which support a diversity of life, steward our resources wisely and are a joy to the eye. We’ve got to change the existing lifeless paradigm of lawn and hedge and disposable annual flowers.
Surprisingly, the diversity of birds in suburban areas can be greater than in forested areas, according to the new book Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife (Yale University Press, 2014).
Common products, including the ones labeled “green,” “all-natural,” “non-toxic,” and “organic,” emit a range of compounds that could harm human health and air quality, according to a new study. But most of these ingredients are not disclosed to consumers.