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Dead Trees in the Sahel
December 12, 2011 11:46 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition between the Sahara desert in the North and the Sudanian Savannas in the south. It stretches from west to east across the North African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea. It is a sort of coast line for the arid Sahara desert to the north. There is an on-going long term drought in this region. A new study, which is scheduled for publication Friday, Dec. 16, in the Journal of Arid Environments, was based upon climate change records, aerial photos dating back to 1954, recent satellite images and old-fashioned footwork that included counting and measuring over 1,500 trees in the field. The researchers focused on six countries in the Sahel, from Senegal in West Africa to Chad in Central Africa, at sites where the average temperature warmed up by 0.8 degrees Celsius and rainfall fell as much as 48 percent. They found that one in six trees died between 1954 and 2002. In addition, one in five tree species disappeared locally, and indigenous fruit and timber trees that require more moisture took the biggest hit. Hotter, drier conditions dominated population and soil factors in explaining tree mortality, the authors found. Their results indicate that climate change is shifting vegetation zones south toward moister areas.

Smart Tips for Eco-friendly, Cost-effective Shipping
December 11, 2011 06:41 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

Shipping is the lifeblood of the modern economy, vital for businesses to stay active and meet the demands of their clients. Often, in the rush to get products out, shippers will overlook practices which may be considered greener, for shipping practices that are easier because "it’s the way it has always been done." In a world of limited resources, this is an attitude that businesses will have to get away from. It will become ever more important to choose environmentally-friendly shipping practices while also keeping costs down. Here are a few tips in the right direction. Choose the right size shipping container Sometimes, shippers find themselves limited by the size of boxes they can use to ship their products. For example, they can have a product that is about 2 cubic inches, but their smallest box is a cubic foot. This equates to 1,726 cubic inches of wasted space. It also equates to a lot of extra cardboard as well as extra packaging material inside to keep the nut, or bolt, or whatever it is from bouncing around. The importance of having the right size shipping containers in stock is crucial for preserving resources and cutting costs.

ExxonMobil Energy Use Predictions
December 9, 2011 03:15 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

There are many predictions, many demands and many possibilities for future energy use and sources. ExxonMobil has just released their prediction of how energy demands will be served in the next few decades. ExxonMobil’s just-released Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040 takes a look into the future and finds that technology advancements over the next three decades will produce greater supplies of energy, more diverse supplies of energy and new ways to save energy — all of which will be essential to meeting future energy demand. ExxonMobil’s 2012 Outlook for Energy sees efficiency, developing world economic growth and natural gas reshaping global. Demand through 2040 is to be about 30 percent higher in 2040 versus 2010 as population grows and global GDP doubles; demand in developing nations to rise nearly 60 percent; natural gas from shale and other unconventional rock formations will account for 30 percent of global gas production by 2040; demand growth would be more than four times the projected 30 percent without expected gains in efficiency.

Super Hospital Disinfection
December 9, 2011 10:51 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

One of the nastier things to happen to a hospital patient is to go to be cured but end up being infected by something from the hospital. A Queen’s University infectious disease expert has helped in the development of a disinfection system that may change the way hospital rooms all over the world are cleaned as well as stop bed bug outbreaks in hotels and apartments. "This is the future, because many hospital deaths are preventable with better cleaning methods," says Dick Zoutman, who is also Quinte Health Care’s new Chief of Staff. "It has been reported that more than 100,000 people in North America die every year due to hospital acquired infections at a cost of $30 billion. That’s 100,000 people every year who are dying from largely preventable infections." The new technology involves pumping a mix of ozone and hydrogen peroxide vapor gas mixture into a room to completely sterilize everything — including floors, walls, drapes, mattresses, chairs and other surfaces. It is far more effective in killing bacteria than wiping down a room.

One Quarter of World's Agricultural Land "Highly Degraded", UN Report Concludes
December 8, 2011 03:18 PM - Michael Ricciardi, Matter Network

On Monday, the UN released the results of the first ever global study on the state of Earth’s land. The main finding: 25 percent of all land is highly degraded making it unsuitable for agriculture. The implications of this finding are enormous; the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that farm output must increase by 70 percent by 2050 to accommodate the food needs of an estimated 9 billion humans.

Spider Musical Patterns
December 8, 2011 02:44 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

There is something about beautiful music and pretty spider webs. Using a new mathematical methodology, researchers at MIT have created a scientifically rigorous analogy that shows the similarities between the physical structure of spider silk and the sonic structure of a melody, proving that the structure of each relates to its function in an equivalent way. The step-by-step comparison begins with the primary building blocks of each item — an amino acid and a sound wave — and moves up to the level of a beta sheet nanocomposite (the secondary structure of a protein consisting of repeated hierarchical patterns) and a musical riff (a repeated pattern of notes or chords). The study explains that structural patterns are directly related to the functional properties of lightweight strength in the spider silk and, in the riff, sonic tension that creates an emotional response in the listener.

NJ Governor Christie's Energy Master Plan
December 8, 2011 10:12 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The 138 page document has been released by the New Jersey Governor's Office that is a master plan on energy for the state. This final version is largely the same as the draft document released last summer, save for a few changes. It lays out the direction for how the state will meet its energy demands over the next decade. The point that stands out is the goal for renewable energy, which has been lowered to 22.5 percent by 2021 as compared to the goal of 30 percent by the previous administration. The plan sets an overall goal of obtaining 70 percent of electricity from clean energy sources by 2050, which would include nuclear, natural gas, and hydroelectric.

European Pesticides in Waterways
December 8, 2011 09:53 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Insecticides enter rivers through runoff from fields and to a lesser extent when they drift into the water during application. Contamination levels have been rising in many central and southern European countries for 20 years with the biggest growth expected in areas that now have relatively low agriculture pesticide pollution, the Helmholtz study shows, based on projections through 2090. Insecticides enter rivers through runoff from fields and to a lesser extent when they air drift into the water during application. Contamination levels have been rising in many central and southern European countries for 20 years with the biggest growth expected in areas that now have relatively low agriculture pesticide pollution based on projections through 2090.

Double Tsunami
December 7, 2011 03:23 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

When is a tsunami not the worse case: when it becomes a double tsunami. Researchers have discovered that the destructive tsunami generated by the March 2011 Tōhoku-Oki earthquake was a long-hypothesized merging tsunami that doubled in intensity due to passing over rugged ocean ridges, amplifying its destructive power before reaching shore. Satellites captured not just one wave front that day, but at least two, which merged to form a single double-high wave far out at sea — one capable of traveling much longer distances without losing its power. Ocean ridges and undersea mountain chains pushed the waves together, but only along certain directions from the tsunami’s origin.

Chevrolet Carbon Story 4 Rockingham County Landfill
December 7, 2011 02:12 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Americans create over 200 million tons of trash each year. As garbage in landfills decomposes, it creates a gas that is half methane (the primary component of natural gas), which has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Instead of letting the gas escape into the air, landfill gas projects collect the gas and destroy it through either flaring, or using the gas to power electric generators or boilers. Thus garbage is turned into energy. As part of its Carbon Initiative Program, Chevrolet is supporting the Rockingham County (Virginia) Landfill’s methane capture and use program. Rockingham County Landfill collects the methane from the landfill and pipes it to Rockingham (Virginia) Memorial Hospital (RMH) where it will fuel boilers that produce steam, heat and electricity for the Hospital’s use. RMH is a LEED certified facility and one of the first hospitals to utilize landfill gas for the vast majority of their fuel needs. Destroying landfill gasses helps to reduce odors and other hazards associated with Landfill Gas emissions, and it helps prevent methane from migrating into the atmosphere and contributing to local smog and global climate change. Over the next few years, Chevrolet will be investing in projects that will help reduce up to 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Every carbon-reducing project Chevrolet invests in will be based in the United States, and each will be focused in one of three areas: renewable energy, energy efficiency programs, and forestry (including conservation). Chevrolet has chosen projects they believe will make a lasting difference in communities across the country. Progress is already underway, and Chevrolet estimates it will take up to five years to achieve the initial goal. There's still a lot of work to be done, but every project is a step in the right direction.

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