Study finds reefs reduce wave energy by 97%
December 18, 2014 08:50 AM - Brendan Bane, MONGABAY.COM
We have a lot of stake in the coast. Coastal waters are where we host fisheries, build homes and turn to for tourism and recreation. So how should coastal communities, which comprise nearly 40 percent of the world's population, safeguard against flooding, erosion and violent weather? Marine scientist Michael Beck suggests the solution is growing right beneath some waves and, in many cases, it has been waiting there for thousands of years.
New York fracking ban has broader implications for America
December 18, 2014 06:48 AM - Center for Biological Diversity
After years of public pressure, New York today became the second state to ban hydraulic fracturing because of risks to people and the environment. The announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo adds to the pressure on the Obama administration to end fracking across the country, including on America’s public lands.
“New York just took a huge leap forward in protecting its people and wildlife from the dangers of fracking,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Now it’s time for other leaders to follow, including President Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown in California.”
New process turns biomass 'waste' into chemical products
December 17, 2014 03:13 PM - Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue University
A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel for racecars and jets. A team of researchers from Purdue University's Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels, or C3Bio, has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities. Lignin is a tough and highly complex molecule that gives the plant cell wall its rigid structure.
Update on Climate Change talks in Lima, Peru
December 15, 2014 10:44 AM - JOHN UPTON, CLIMATE CENTRAL, via Discovery News
In the early hours of Sunday morning, bleary-eyed dealmakers from nearly 200 countries and the European Union set a framework for an agreement that would take an unprecedented approach to slowing climate change. Critically, however, they also delayed a host of decisions until next year, which could make reaching a landmark pact even more difficult.
With a large rally in New York to complement it, the United Nations held a Climate Summit in September. Tara explains what the gathering was really all about.
Solar power shines brightly in the UK
December 13, 2014 10:52 AM - , The Ecologist
Solar power has a sunny future - even without any major breakthroughs, writes Ralph Gottschalg. There are huge gains to be made simply by getting smarter and using existing technologies more effectively. A new report shows that - given political support - solar PV could be competitive in the UK by 2020.
PV can achieve the costs required to survive - without subsidies, and without any step change in technology. All it needs is the political will.
Sandia Labs study points to advantages of storing hydrogen in salt mines
December 9, 2014 07:59 AM - Sandia National Laboratories.
Large-scale storage of low-pressure, gaseous hydrogen in salt caverns and other underground sites for transportation fuel and grid-scale energy applications offers several advantages over above-ground storage, says a recent Sandia National Laboratories study sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office.
Geologic storage of hydrogen gas could make it possible to produce and distribute large quantities of hydrogen fuel for the growing fuel cell electric vehicle market, the researchers concluded.
Geologic storage solutions can service a number of key hydrogen markets since “costs are more influenced by the geology available rather than the size of the hydrogen market demand,” said Sandia’s Anna Snider Lord, the study’s principal investigator.
Will more use of natural gas minimize or exacerbate climate change?
December 8, 2014 03:46 PM - Carnegie Science
Natural gas power plants produce substantial amounts of gases that lead to global warming. Replacing old coal-fired power plants with new natural gas plants could cause climate damage to increase over the next decades, unless their methane leakage rates are very low and the new power plants are very efficient.
These are the principal findings of new research from Carnegie’s Ken Caldeira and Xiaochun Zhang, and Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures that compares the temperature increases caused by different kinds of coal and natural gas power plants. Their work is published in Environmental Research Letters.
EPA Releases New Energy Star Tool for Homeowners
December 8, 2014 01:49 PM - US EPA Newsroom
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching its Energy Star Home Advisor, an online tool designed to help Americans save money and energy by improving the energy efficiency of their homes through recommended, customized and prioritized home-improvement projects.
New Technology Brings Temperatures Down
December 8, 2014 09:02 AM - S.E. Smith, Care2
Greek villages are famous for their glittering white walls and beautiful blue painted accents, which make them a dazzling sight whether you’re approaching the sea or looking out across them from the windows of your blessedly cool room — which stays cool even in the height of summer heat. If you look around, you might notice that there’s no air conditioning. The Greeks don’t need it, because their homes are specifically designed to control temperatures and keep people comfortable. Thick walls insulate rooms to keep temperatures stable, while those handsome white roofs and walls reflect heat.
Study says today's carbon emissions take 10 years to reach maximum effect
December 4, 2014 08:54 AM - Carnegie Institute for Science
The climate warming caused by a single carbon emission takes only about 10 years to reach its maximum effect. This is important because it refutes the common misconception that today’s emissions won’t be felt for decades and that they are a problem for future generations. For the first time, a study conducted by Carnegie's Katharine Ricke and Ken Caldeira has evaluated how long it takes to feel the maximum warming effect caused by a single carbon emission. Their work is published in Environmental Research Letters.