Enn Original News
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.
Genetically Modified Plants To Resist Intense Drought
January 17, 2012 04:23 PM - David Allouche, NoCamels
Israeli agro-biotechnology company, Rosetta Green, has developed a new technology to develop plants that are better able to withstand prolonged periods of severe drought. The company aims to develop new plant varieties resistant to harsh climatic condition, maintaining an increased yield. The company, based in Rehovot, Israel, experimented on tobacco plants that were irrigated with seawater instead of freshwater. The genetically modified plants created by the company were able to grow under seawater irrigation, as opposed to the control group of plants. According to the company's CEO, Amir Avniel, "the frequent droughts afflicting the world in recent years and the motivation to expand to arid lands containing brackish water require the development of plant varieties resistant to drought and irrigation with salt water." Rosetta Green is using a technology that can identify MicroRNAs, which are short RNA molecules that play an important role in the regulation of key genetic traits in major crops. The MicroRNAs identified by the company were used to develop prototype plants with significantly improved drought tolerance.
January 17, 2012 01:13 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Grasses are usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the true grasses, as well as the sedges (Cyperaceae) and the rushes. The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns (turf) and grassland. Researchers from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Sustainable Bioenergy Center (BSBEC) have discovered a family of genes that could help breed grasses with improved properties for dietary use and bioenergy uses. The genes are important in the development of the fibrous, woody parts of grasses, like rice and wheat. The team hopes that by understanding how these genes work, they might for example be able to breed varieties of cereals where the fibrous parts of the plants confer additional dietary benefits or crops whose straw requires less energy-intensive processing in order to produce biofuels.
Singapore Panel Makes Recommendations for Mitigating Flash-Flooding
January 17, 2012 11:58 AM - Sara Stefanski, ENN
Storm water run-off, a major problem which has affected Singapore for two consecutive years, is thought to be partially due to urbanization of the country, and recommendations have been made for mitigation of this serious issue. An expert panel consisting of 12 members was created after last year's flash flooding across eastern and central Singapore to research potential solutions, and the panel explains that urbanization — that is, more concrete, buildings and roads due to a growing population — is one of the reasons behind the recent increase in storm water run-off which causes the flooding. Today Online mentions that the panel performed additional analysis as a joint effort with the Meteorological Services, and observed that there are clear trends in recent decades towards higher rainfall in terms of intensity and frequency. These findings are consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) findings.
South Florida Alliance Gears Up for Climate Change
January 17, 2012 09:57 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Global action against climate change is often difficult and excruciatingly slow. For the United States, policies to combat a warming Earth are at a virtual standstill. That is why it comes down to local and regional alliances to work together to make a difference. In the US, there are few areas more vulnerable to climate change than southern Florida. It is an area that will be easily inundated with flooding should seas continue to rise and hurricanes continue to batter them. Now, four south Florida counties have teamed together to prepare their communities for the menace that is to come.
Fish Brains and Carbon Dioxide
January 16, 2012 02:16 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Carbon dioxide has many different effects depending on how one is exposed to it. Still no one had suspected a link to brains and neural connections until now. The Australian Research Council's Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies said it had been testing the performance of baby coral fish in sea water containing higher levels of dissolved CO2 for several years. "And it is now pretty clear that they sustain significant disruption to their central nervous system, which is likely to impair their chances of survival," said Phillip Munday, a professor who reported the findings. Specific effects seem to be disturbances to hearing, smelling and predator evasion.
What Really Are the Best Ways to Cut Gasoline Use?
January 16, 2012 10:07 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The United States has implemented a variety of policies in the effort to cut back gasoline use. For example, the Obama Administration has invested federal dollars into GM's electric vehicles. The EPA has introduced new fuel economy standards which are to be implemented over time, gradually becoming stricter. The government has also promoted the expansion of biofuels in automobile fuel. However, a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has shown that these policies are not only cost-effective, but do not sufficiently curb fuel usage. What is to be done to reduce fuel use and greenhouse gases from vehicle emissions?
Increase Gas Mileage by Preventing Friction Loss
January 13, 2012 09:54 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
A joint study from the VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland and America's Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) has concluded that at least one third of a car's fuel consumption is used in overcoming friction. Friction loss has a direct impact on both fuel consumption and as a result, air emissions. However, there is available technology and technology under development that will make it possible to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by 18 percent within a decade. Within 25 years, the researchers estimate fuel consumption can be reduced by over 60 percent.
January 13, 2012 08:04 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Maize is known in many English-speaking countries as corn but is technically a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable or starch. The Olmec and Mayans cultivated it in numerous varieties throughout central and southern Mexico. Between 1700 and 1250 BC, the crop spread through much of the Americas. The region developed a trade network based on surplus and varieties of maize crops. After European contact with the Americas in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, explorers and traders carried maize back to Europe and introduced it to other countries. Now the discovery of a new provisioning gene in maize plants that regulates the transfer of nutrients from the plant to the seed could lead to increased crop yields and improve food security. Scientists from Oxford University and the University of Warwick, in collaboration with agricultural biotech research company Biogemma-Limagrain, have identified the gene, called Meg 1.