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Ancient Arctic Forests
December 16, 2010 06:08 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
In the Arctic, trees and forests just do not happen. However, long ago they did when the area was warmer and then turned cooler. As it turns out there are many such northern forests that have been preserved by mineralization and similar processes. The northernmost mummified forest ever found in Canada is revealing how plants struggled to endure a long-ago global cooling. Researchers believe the trees -- buried by a landslide and exquisitely preserved 2 to 8 million years ago -- will help them predict how today’s Arctic will respond to global warming.
Polar Bears Have a Fighting Chance of Survival
December 16, 2010 09:27 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The plight of polar bears continues as the climate gradually becomes warmer in the Arctic. Warmer temperatures cause the melting of sea ice, which is essential for polar bears to reach their prey, primarily seals. However, according to a recent study published in the journal, Nature, polar bears have a good chance at survival if humans significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Which Should Live?
December 15, 2010 02:17 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Ecology is the branch of science that studies the distribution and abundance of living organisms, and the interactions between organisms and their environment. Any ecological group is always in a dynamic equilibrium. If you change one part, some other part will change in response to that change. Changes may come from man, climate, pollution or any other change. In this case conservationists have been so successful at protecting endangered birds in a Spanish nature reserve that the birds are now killing the reserve's ancient cork oak forest. This may mean some bird colonies will have to be moved to protect the trees, some of which date back to the seventeenth century. Move is one method. In other cases (for example New Jersey) bears and deers are periodically hunted and killed because the alternative is that they will starve because of a lack of natural predation and food supply as a result of burgeoning populations. In order for ecology to work, it must be balanced.
White House to Host First-Ever Forum on Environmental Justice
December 15, 2010 09:42 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Today, December 15, the Obama administration will be hosting the first White House Forum on Environmental Justice. Major members of the cabinet will be featured during the summit as well as environmental leaders from throughout the country. The forum can be watched live online and will be accepting questions from the public (see links below).
December 14, 2010 02:16 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Tidal power, also called tidal energy, is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of tides into electricity or other useful forms of power. The first large-scale tidal power plant (the Rance Tidal Power Station) started operation in 1966. Harnessing the power of ocean tides has long been imagined, but countries are only now putting it into practice. A demonstration project planned for Puget Sound will be the first tidal energy project on the west coast of the United States, and the first array of large-scale turbines to feed power from ocean tides into an electrical grid. University of Washington researchers are devising ways to site the tidal turbines and measure their environmental effects. Brian Polagye, UW research assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will present recent findings this week in an invited talk at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting in San Francisco.
Humans Evolved to Hear Themselves Speak
December 14, 2010 09:52 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
When you tell a loud-mouth friend that they "really like the sound of their own voice," there may be more truth in that than you realize. According to a neuroscience study from the University of California (UC) Berkeley, the brain selectively hears one's own voice while dimming all surrounding sounds. In their own heads, people will silence other noises while amplifying themselves speak.
Wind Farm Update
December 13, 2010 04:26 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used for production of electric power. Individual turbines are interconnected with a medium voltage power collection system and communications network. At a substation, this medium-voltage electrical current is increased in voltage with a transformer for connection to the high voltage transmission system. Two new large farms were announced recently. Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo, one of the world’s largest bread makers, has broken ground on its $200 million Piedra Larga wind farm in Oaxaca, Mexico, which will generate almost 100% of the electrical power consumed by all of Bimbo’s operations in Mexico once completed in late 2011. Deepwater Wind announced that it has applied to federal authorities to build what it what is supposed to be the largest offshore wind farm in the U.S. The application was made in late October to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement to lease a 270-square-mile area between Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
The Fall of the European Butterfly
December 13, 2010 10:05 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Butterflies are one of the few insects on Earth that people actually like and admire. Unfortunately, mankind's beloved butterfly has fallen on hard times on the continent of Europe. According to a new study from Butterfly Conservation Europe, grassland butterfly populations have declined by 70 percent in the last 20 years.
EPA and Bed Bugs
December 10, 2010 04:16 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Bedbugs or bed bugs are small parasitic insects of the family Cimicidae. The term usually refers to species that prefer to feed on human blood. All insects in this family live by feeding exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals. The name bedbug is derived from the insect's preferred habitat of houses and especially beds or other areas where people sleep. Bedbugs, though not strictly nocturnal, are mainly active at night and are capable of feeding unnoticed on their hosts. Bedbugs have been around as long as humankind had beds. Recently there has been an upsurge in their nocturnal attacks in the US. To help find solutions to the nation’s bed bug problem, the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup is convening a second national summit set for February 1-2, 2011, in Washington, D.C. The summit is open to the public and will focus on ways the federal government and others can continue to work together on management and control of these pests. The first federal bed bug summit was held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in April 2009. Since then, EPA has helped organize the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup, which consists of EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and National Institutes of Health.
The Caveman Multi-Tasker
December 10, 2010 01:19 PM - David A Gabel, ENN
Contrary to public opinion, multi-tasking is not a modern phenomenon. This uniquely human skill was around long before the era of electronic distractions. According to a study from Monica L. Smith, anthropologist at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), it is multi-tasking itself that makes us human.