Enn Original News

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.

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.

Better Grasses
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.

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