Enn Original News

Finding Nature's Speed Limit
January 24, 2012 09:23 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The speed of light is considered to be the limit at which no object can go faster. But here on Earth, nature has its own speed limit which affects its fastest creatures every day. The speed at which an animal can go, and human aircraft for that matter, is directly dependent upon how far that animal can see. Using complex mathematical equations, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have effectively quantified nature's speed limit. They found that given a certain density of obstacles, there exists a speed at which a bird can reasonably fly without collision.

Permafrost
January 24, 2012 07:18 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

In geology, permafrost, cryotic soil or permafrost soil is soil at or below the freezing point of water (0 °C or 32 °F) for two or more years. Ice is not always present, as may be in the case of nonporous bedrock, but it frequently occurs and it may be in amounts exceeding the potential hydraulic saturation of the ground material. A pioneering airborne electromagnetic survey in the Yukon Flats near Fort Yukon, Alaska, by the U.S. Geological Survey has yielded unprecedented images of the presence and absence of permafrost to depths of roughly 328 feet. The airborne survey captured images of permafrost over a substantially larger area, and with greater data density, than has been previously achieved using sparse boreholes and ground-based geophysics.

New Study Predicts Declining Rangeland in California
January 23, 2012 09:45 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Duke University researchers have predicted that climate change in California will result in a declining percentage of rangeland. Such a change will have widespread impact on the state's large cattle industry of California's Central Valley. No matter if climate change will cause wetter or drier weather, available pasture will decline. Forage areas, known as one of nature's free services, may no longer be so free. The grasses will either wither as arid conditions creep north, or be pushed out as inedible shrubs and brush take over.

Shrewbot
January 23, 2012 08:23 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

One can see, one can smell to "see" the world. Once can also touch but with whiskers? The Etruscan shrew, one of the world’s tiniest mammals, measuring around 4 centimeters long, is the inspiration for a ground-breaking new robot developed to use sophisticated whiskers to find its way around. The Shrewbot is the latest in a series of robots which use active touch rather than vision to navigate their environment.

Acid Rain Change
January 20, 2012 02:40 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Acid rain is a rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic, meaning that it possesses elevated levels of hydrogen ions (low pH). It can have harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals, and infrastructure. Acid rain is caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides which react with the water molecules in the atmosphere to produce acids. Measurable improvements in air quality and visibility, human health, and water quality in many acid-sensitive lakes and streams, have been achieved through emissions reductions from electric generating power plants and resulting decreases in acid rain. These are some of the key findings in a report to Congress by the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, a cooperative federal program

Obama's Calculus for Terminating the Keystone Pipeline
January 20, 2012 10:53 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Election years are always a terrible time to make big decisions. Everything leaders do is influenced by calculations regarding their re-election. Whether something is right or wrong often matters less than what will bring about more votes. The decision by the Obama Administration to put to rest the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project is no exception. However, this in itself does not mean the decision is without its merits.

Trucks and Diesel Air Pollution
January 19, 2012 10:21 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

It is annoying to be driving behind a truck especially one that smells of diesel combustion products. Doing something about that is desirable but it will come at a tremendous cost. trucks are bought and used for years. It is not something that you replace quickly because it is costly. A common trend in environmental reporting is to put things in terms of jobs vs. the environment. For the port cities such as LA environmental protection has become more important than jobs. Once upon a time a new truck might cost $20,000. Now they are six figures which hurts the small independent truckers in particular.

European Commission Aims to Cut Food Waste 50 Percent by 2020
January 19, 2012 09:25 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Europe may be facing much larger problem than what to do with its food waste. But being pushed through the European parliament is a bill that will have widespread significance. That is because food waste accounts for one of the largest sources of overall waste going to landfills. Per year, the average person throws away 300 kg (660 lbs) per year, and of this, two thirds is still edible. MEPs are railing against what they see as unsustainable levels of waste. The resolution being passed through parliament is set to be approved today.

Cruise Ship Environmental Issues
January 18, 2012 01:10 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

When one thinks of cruise ships, one thinks of grand luxury, solitude, safety, and big. The January 13 capsizing of the Concordia off the coast of Italy, in which at least 11 people died, caught the world — including the cruise ship industry and its passengers — off guard and is shining a spotlight on cruise ship safety and environmental issues. The cruise ship hit a reef and nearly hit their fuel tanks. There was also concern over how the passengers were evacuated in this disaster. Beyond that there are other environmental concerns such as cruise ships air emissions and sanitary waste discharges.

China Sets Historic Limits on GHG Emissions from Select Regions
January 18, 2012 10:04 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

China is starting to get on board with the international push to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Last week, China's authoritarian government ordered five cities and two provinces to institute limits on GHG emissions. These areas will now have to submit proposals to the national government's National Development and Reform Commission on how they plan to achieve it.

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