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  • Study: Dryer weather connected to an increase in COVID-19 cases

    Amanda Ghosh Natural Resources

    There is yet another reason to wear your mask. A recent study published in Transboundary and Emerging Diseases confirms that drier air is associated with an increase in COVID-19 cases. The study, entitled "Humidity is a Consistent Climatic Factor Contributing to SARS‐CoV‐2 Transmission," is the second to confirm the impact of humidity on the spread of COVID-19. Specifically, a 1% drop in relative humidity was associated with a 7-8% increase in COVID-19 cases.

  • White oak genetics and tree improvement program: A range-wide collaboration

    Laura DeWald Natural Resources

    An eastern U.S. project focused on developing improved white oak (Quercus alba) and understanding its genetic potential has been established at the University of Kentucky. The project is working with forest, wood, and distilling industries and forestry, conservation, and wildlife agencies and organizations to answer a wide variety of questions associated with genetic variation in white oak. Any interested individual or organization is welcome to join the white oak genetics and tree improvement collaboration.

  • Rare-earth elements spark resource war

    Dave G. Houser Natural Resources

    Rare-earth elements (REE) — also known as rare-earth minerals or rare-earth metals — are a group of 17 chemical elements of the periodic table. Although most of them are not terribly rare, they are highly strategic substances and vital components in most of the technology we employ every day. What is rare are deposits of these minerals in high enough concentrations to be feasibly and economically extracted. Presently, about 90% of the global supply of rare-earth elements comes from just one country: China.

  • How local, urban farming could help alleviate international food supply…

    Scott E. Rupp Natural Resources

    Globalization has meant a lot of things: More opportunities for economic advancement, an easier way for pandemics to spread (as we've seen with COVID-19), and the rise in internationally supported food production and consumption in recent decades. Regarding food stocks, cultivation has become more efficient, and diets have diversified. People are eating food that their parents never experienced nor knew previously existed. But this edible bounty is leading to a situation where the majority of the world's population lives in countries now dependent on — partially — imported food.

  • Deforestation, human activity may be more responsible for viruses’…

    Scott E. Rupp Natural Resources

    Deforestation across the globe is negatively impacting the world's population and leading to the spread of disease, including coronaviruses. According to a new Stanford study, as large swaths of dense forestland are cleared for farming or other human use, viruses that jump from animals to people, like COVID-19, will likely become more common. Published in Landscape Ecology, the study suggests that deforestation puts people at higher risk of interactions with wild primates — and the viruses they carry — meaning the emergence and spread of infectious animal-to-human diseases.

  • COVID-19 continues to be good for the planet — for now

    Scott E. Rupp Natural Resources

    With the coronavirus raging, there's little that's not connected to the topic. The environment continues to be a bright spot among the bad news. It's a topic we've covered here before, but social distancing and the near-shutdown of the world's economy are having overwhelmingly positive impacts on the health of the planet. Manufacturing and most pollution-producing industries have ground to a halt due to the spread of the virus. Paul Monks, professor of air pollution at the University of Leicester, called it the "largest-scale experiment ever" regarding the reduction of industrial emissions.

  • COVID-19 and the wild sheep decline: An interesting parallel

    Chester Moore Jr. Natural Resources

    The impact of COVID-19 on humanity is nothing short of historic. While the death toll has not and hopefully will not reach the levels of the Spanish flu of 1918, the potential is there, and the grip it has on government, commerce, and private citizens is unprecedented. That’s why I can’t help but make parallels between COVID-19 and the near-catastrophic decline of wild sheep of the 1800s.

  • Threats on tap: Why America’s water woes are even worse than you…

    Dave G. Houser Natural Resources

    Unregulated perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — chemicals stubbornly resistant to environmental breakdown and linked to serious health problems — are contaminating drinking water in communities across the country. Tests carried out by the watchdog organization Environmental Working Group have uncovered these chemicals in tap water samples from 44 sites in 31 states. The nation's drinking water problem, however, goes way beyond just PFAS contamination. There are three additional concerns affecting our most precious of resources.

  • Interior Department’s proposed rule modernization values oil and…

    Michelle R. Matisons Natural Resources

    The highly politicized release of recent polar bear studies reveal at least part of Ursus maritimus' survival depends on Trump-era Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rule modernization, which now considers "economic impacts" while denying climate change impacts. A seismic study of potential drilling land in Area 1002 was called off last winter because the required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was deemed incomplete. Less than one year later, the Bureau of Land Management has released a more thorough, pro-drilling EIS.

  • Study: Most Americans don’t realize how much diet impacts the planet

    Scott E. Rupp Natural Resources

    Most Americans — who, by and large, claim to be environmentally conscious — are overlooking some of the most important decisions regarding the health of the environment: What they eat. These conversations are not happening, according to a new study. The environmental impacts of individual diets seem a little too close to home for most, as Inverse reported. While some people say that "Big Oil" is responsible for most of the planet's environmental issues, the fight for protecting the earth may need to focus on factory farming practices and the foods that come from these places.

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