Good News 2012

German village generates 321 percent more renewable energy than it needs

Developing a renewable energy system that creates energy independence and even a considerable new source of revenue is not some sort of sci-fi pipe dream. BioCycle reports that the German village of Wildpoldsried, population 2,600, has had such incredible success in building its renewable energy system. Wildpoldsried generates 321 percent more renewable energy than it uses, and it now sells the excess back to the national power grid for roughly $5.7 million in additional revenue every single year.

By utilizing a unique combination of solar panels, "biogas" generators, natural wastewater treatment plants, and wind turbines, Wildpoldsried has effectively eliminated its need to be attached to a centralized power grid, and created a thriving renewable energy sector in the town that is self-sustaining and abundantly beneficial for the local economy, the environment, and the public.

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December, 2012

Mountain gorilla

Mountain gorilla numbers rise by 10%

The world's population of mountain gorillas has increased by more than 10% in two years, new census figures show.

A survey carried out in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable national park and released by the Ugandan Wildlife Authority has found that numbers of the critically endangered species, Gorilla beringei beringei, have risen from an estimated 786 in 2010 to 880 today.

Threats to the mountain gorilla - including war, habitat destruction and disease - were once thought to be so severe that the species could become extinct by the end of the 20th century, but the population has increased significantly in the last 30 years.

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November, 2012


Ikea to produce as much renewable energy as it consumes by 2020

Ikea is setting itself up as a role model for sustainable business by announcing it will invest €1.5 billion in solar and wind power to ensure it is totally self-sufficient by 2020.

When the furniture company was founded its motto was to do things as cheaply and efficiently as possible (and of course, to create designs with simplistic Swedish style intact). Twenty-five years on and it now has outlets in 41 countries. Engineering a sustainable model, whereby the company can continue to keep costs low for both the consumer and the firm rather than competing with rising energy prices, is the logical next step.

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October, 2012

Farthest-Ever View of the Universe

Hubble Goes to the eXtreme to Assemble Farthest-Ever View of the Universe

Called the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, the photo was assembled by combining 10 years of NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken of a patch of sky at the center of the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The XDF is a small fraction of the angular diameter of the full moon.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is an image of a small area of space in the constellation Fornax, created using Hubble Space Telescope data from 2003 and 2004. By collecting faint light over many hours of observation, it revealed thousands of galaxies, both nearby and very distant, making it the deepest image of the universe ever taken at that time.

The new full-color XDF image is even more sensitive, and contains about 5,500 galaxies even within its smaller field of view. The faintest galaxies are one ten-billionth the brightness of what the human eye can see.

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September, 2012

Sira Barbet, Capito fitzpatricki

New bird species discovered in 'cloud forest' of Peru

A colorful, fruit-eating bird with a black mask, pale belly and scarlet breast -- never before described by science -- has been discovered and named by Cornell University graduates following an expedition to the remote Peruvian Andes.

The Sira Barbet, Capito fitzpatricki, is described in a paper published in the July 2012 issue of The Auk, the official publication of the American Ornithologists' Union.

The new species was discovered during a 2008 expedition led by Michael G. Harvey, Glenn Seeholzer and Ben Winger, young ornithologists who had recently graduated from Cornell at the time.

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August, 2012

Irv Gordon and his Volvo P1800

Irv Gordon aims for 3 million miles in his Volvo P1800

While all the talk currently about older cars in Ireland is about the government backed scrappage scheme, here is one story from the other end of the scale - a 45 year old Volvo with nearly 3 million miles on the clock, incredibly all by the same driver.

American Irv Gordon - driver of the highest mileage vehicle on the road, a 1966 Volvo P1800 - has just turned 70. Now he aims to reach an unmatchable record sometime in the next three years.

Irv Gordon and his Volvo P1800 The two-seater sports coupé P1800 was presented at the auto show in Brussels 1960. Production started one year later, so in 2011 the P1800 celebrates its 50 year anniversary. Almost 46,000 units of the model were produced in various versions until production finished in 1973.

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July, 2012

Amazon deforestation at record low

Amazon deforestation at record low, data shows

Deforestation of the Amazon has fallen to its lowest levels since records began, according to data recently released by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research.

The boost for the environment comes a week after president Dilma Rousseff was criticised for weakening the forest protection measures widely credited for the improvement, and two weeks before Brazil hosts the Rio+20 Earth summit.

Using satellite imagery, the institute said 6,418 sq km of Amazon forest was stripped in the 12 months before 31 July 2011 - the smallest area since annual measurements started in 1988.

The data continues an encouraging trend. Since the peak deforestation year of 2004, the rates of clearance have fallen by almost 75%.

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June, 2012

Stray Dog Follows Bikers

Stray Dog Follows Bikers for 1,000 Miles & Gets Heartwarming Surprise at the Finish Line

They say dogs are man's best friend, and that certainly is the case with little stray pooch Xiao Sa, who liked man so much that she ran after a bunch of them cycling their way across China.

The pup first took an interest in the pack of bikers after one fed her. As anyone who has fed a stray knows, that's it. You've basically adopted it. But not one of the cyclists expected the small white and beige pup to keep up with them for over 1,000 miles of tough China terrain.

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May, 2012

Amur leopard

Amur leopard: Russia steps up protection for world's rarest big cat

The Amur leopard - the world's most endangered cat - received a big survival boost last week when Russia announced the creation of a new national park that will cover 60% of their remaining habitat. Amur leopards are critically endangered, with as few as 35 left in the wild, following the loss of much of their forest habitat.

The new 262,000-hectare 'Land of the Leopard National Park' will protect all of the Amur leopard's known breeding grounds, which the leopards use from generation to generation. It's the result of years of hard work by WWF in the region, supported by the thousands of you who've chosen to adopt an Amur leopard.

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April, 2012

Floating Windmills in Japan

Floating Windmills in Japan Help Wind Down Nuclear Power: Energy

Japan is preparing to bolt turbines onto barges and build the world's largest commercial power plant using floating windmills, tackling the engineering challenges of an unproven technology to cut its reliance on atomic energy.

Marubeni Corp., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Nippon Steel Corp. are among developers erecting a 16-megawatt pilot plant off the coast of Fukushima, site of the nuclear accident that pushed the government to pursue cleaner energy. The project may be expanded to 1,000 megawatts, the trade ministry said, bigger than any wind farm fixed to the seabed or on land.

"Japan is surrounded by deep oceans, and this poses challenges to offshore wind turbines that are attached to the bottom of the sea," Senior Vice Environment Minister Katsuhiko Yokomitsu said at a meeting in Tokyo this month. "We are eager for floating offshore wind to become a viable technology."

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March, 2012

Vazquez Mota

Mexico's ruling party picks woman as presidential candidate

Mexico's conservative ruling party has picked a former congresswoman as its nominee for the nation's top job. If she wins, she would become the country's first female president -- Vazquez Mota

Sunday's decision by the National Action Party marks the first time one of Mexico's three major political parties has tapped a woman for the presidential race.

"It opens up the possibility of a very high-profile, close contest," said Mireille Roccatti, a professor at Mexico's Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education.

Vazquez Mota, 51, told CNN en Espanol last year that her gender gives her an edge.

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February, 2012

Stem Cells

First Hints That Stem Cells Can Help Patients Get Better

Two women losing their sight to progressive forms of blindness may have regained some vision while participating in an experiment testing a treatment made from human embryonic stem cells, researchers reported today.

The report marks the first time that scientists have produced direct evidence that human embryonic stem cells may have helped a patient. The cells had only previously been tested in the laboratory or in animals.

"I can't tell you how excited I am about this," said Steven D. Schwartz, a professor of ophthalmalogy at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute leading the research. "For these patients, the impact is enormous."

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January, 2012

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A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. ALBERT EINSTEIN