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Natural Gas Green Role
June 10, 2011 01:34 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Some people believe that all energy related problems can be resolved with renewable sources such as solar power or wind power. Maybe in the long term future this will be so. However, in the short term what is the best option for those fuels (energy sources) that we have? MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has issued a report that states that natural gas will play a leading role in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions over the next several decades, largely by replacing older, inefficient coal plants with highly efficient combined-cycle gas generation. That’s the conclusion reached by a comprehensive study of the future of natural gas conducted by an MIT study group comprised of 30 MIT faculty members, researchers, and graduate students. The findings, summarized in an 83-page report, were presented to lawmakers and senior administration officials this week in Washington. The two-year study, managed by the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), examined the scale of U.S. natural gas reserves and the potential of this fuel to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Based on the work of the multidisciplinary team, with advice from a board of 16 leaders from industry, government and environmental groups, the report examines the future of natural gas through 2050 from the perspectives of technology, economics, politics, national security and the environment.
Court Rules France Not Doing Enough to Protect Its Hamsters
June 10, 2011 10:20 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
When the subject of hamsters comes up, most people would think about the cute furry pets that run on wheels and roll around in clear plastic balls. But in Europe, there is an endemic species of wild hamsters. Much like mice, they live a very fragile existence, always on the lookout for predators. Now, that predator has come in the form of the French, who are driving them toward extinction.
The Fight Against Mosquitoes
June 9, 2011 01:05 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Mosquitoes are not very popular with human beings. They suck your blood and can cause infections. Many ways have been devised to limit their attacks. Female mosquitoes are efficient carriers of deadly diseases such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever, resulting each year in several million deaths and hundreds of millions of cases. To find human hosts to bite and spread disease, these mosquitoes use exhaled carbon dioxide as a vital cue. A disruption of the carbon dioxide detection machinery of mosquitoes, which would help control the spread of diseases they transmit, has therefore been a long sought-after goal. Anandasankar Ray, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of California, Riverside, and colleagues report that they have identified in the lab and in semi-field trials in Africa three classes of volatile odor molecules that can severely impair, if not completely disrupt, the mosquitoes' carbon dioxide detection machinery.
A Medium Solar Flare
June 8, 2011 04:25 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The Sun unleashed an M-2 (medium-sized) solar flare, an S1-class (minor) radiation storm and a spectacular coronal mass ejection on June 7, 2011. The large cloud of particles mushroomed up and fell back down looking as if it covered an area of almost half the solar surface. A solar flare is a sudden brightening observed over the Sun surface or the solar limb, which is interpreted as a large energy release of up a sixth of the total energy output of the Sun each second. Solar flares strongly influence the local space weather in the vicinity of the Earth. They can produce streams of highly energetic particles in the solar wind, known as a solar proton event, or coronal mass ejection. These particles can impact the Earth's magnetosphere and cause a geomagnetic storm. A geomagnetic storm is a temporary disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a disturbance in the interplanetary medium. A geomagnetic storm is a major component of space weather and provides the input for many other components of space weather, and present radiation hazards to spacecraft, astronauts and cosmonauts. The current flare event is moving at 1400 km/s according to NASA models. The flare event should deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field during the late hours of June 8th or June 9th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras when the it arrives.
Revelry by the River: Solar One Expands Influence in New York City
June 8, 2011 10:52 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Solar One, a non-profit organization in New York City affiliated with the Community Environmental Center, celebrated their successful fundraising and outreach programs last night at Sotheby's on the Upper East Side. The Environmental News Network, a media partner of Solar One, was present for the event known as Revelry by the River. Members of the organization were honored for their tireless efforts, and funds were raised through a silent auction. Overall, the night was a smashing success for all, ensuring Solar One will be influential as New York City strives to become more sustainable.
World Oceans Day is today, June 8th
June 8, 2011 07:05 AM - Editor, ENN, ARKive.org
The 8th of June is World Oceans Day, our annual chance to celebrate all things marine! Coordinated by The Ocean Project and The World Ocean Network, World Oceans Day encourages us to consider everything that the oceans provide us with — from oxygen to climate regulation, food to pharmaceuticals and of course, the breath taking beauty of this underwater wonderland. By raising awareness of the resources that the oceans provide, World Oceans Day hopes to encourage us to do our bit to protect this valuable environment, especially in these challenging times when factors like climate change, plastic waste, over-fishing and environmental disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill all threaten to damage our oceans beyond repair.
Dried Fruit or Fresh Fruit
June 7, 2011 04:04 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Dried fruit is fruit where the majority of the original water content has been removed either naturally, through sun drying, or through the use of specialized dryers or dehydrators. Dried fruit has a long tradition of use dating back to the fourth millennium BC in Mesopotamia. Internationally recognized health researchers presented their views at the 30th World Nut & Dried Fruit Congress on May 21, 2011, recommending that food policy makers consider dried fruits equivalent to fresh fruits in dietary recommendations. The presentations recommended that traditional dried fruits such as dried apricots, dried apples, dates, dried figs, raisins and sultanas, and prunes should be included side by side with fresh fruit recommendations. Dried fruits have the advantage of being easy to store and distribute, available year round, they are readily incorporated into other foods and recipes, relatively low cost and present a healthy alternative to sugary snacks. The scientific basis for recommending higher fruit intake is the epidemiological evidence that individuals who regularly eat generous amounts of these foods have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, obesity, several cancers, diabetes and other chronic disease.
MIT Study calculates cost of lax air pollution regulations in China
June 6, 2011 03:58 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN, based on materials provided by MIT
A new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change looks at the cost to the Chinese economy of lax air quality regulations between 1975 and 2005. The MIT researchers found that air pollutants produced a substantial socio-economic cost to China over the past three decades. China has experienced unprecedented development over the past three decades, but this growth has come at a substantial cost to the country's environment and public health. China is notorious for extremely high levels of air pollution. As the country faces continuous environmental challenges that mirror its continuing development, there is a need to measure the health impacts of air pollution. What makes this study unique is that researchers looked at long-term economic impacts that arise from health damages, and how pollution-induced morbidity and mortality cases may have had ripple effects on the Chinese economy beyond the time period when those cases actually occurred. This method creates a comprehensive picture of the cumulative impacts of air pollution on a dynamic, fast-developing country.
Arctic Wars and Change
June 6, 2011 10:47 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
The Arctic Ocean is a vast frozen sea bordered by Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway. It has been explored but is potential for mineral deposits and oil and gas deposits is not known clearly. Some of it is near these nations and the gradually melting northern areas are revealing more and more and allowing readier access. Then there are other regions that may be fought over. Those reserves have been known about for centuries, yet a combination of new extraction technology and rising demand means that the human race is ready to fight for them while raising the threat of devastating pollution to a uniquely clean environment. The melting arctic is a sign of global warming but the net result may be more exploitation and environmental change.
Bar Headed Goose Climb
June 6, 2011 10:05 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
The Bar-headed Goose is a goose which breeds in Central Asia in colonies of thousands near mountain lakes. Drs. Charles Bishop and Lucy Hawkes, from Bangor University, and a large international team of researchers, report that bar-headed geese can fly climb up to 6,000 meters in only 8 hours while passing over the massive Himalayan mountain range — a similar intense climb could kill a human without lengthy acclimatisation. The geese make the journey on their annual spring migration from India to Central Asia. The team followed the migrations of these geese every hour using GPS satellite tags, following capture of the birds in India and Mongolia, where they winter and breed, respectively. In the study published May 31, they show that the geese can make the long climb in a single flight and that, surprisingly, rather than waiting for potentially favorable and predictable wind conditions to help carry them up and over the Himalaya (as had been thought previously), they wait for the winds to die down, and then make the climb over the mountains in the relative calm and peace of the night and early morning.