Enn Original News

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.

Maize Strength
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.

The Myriad Planets of the Galaxy
January 12, 2012 01:57 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

At one time there was serious debates that planets were a rare phenomena, few and far between. Our Milky Way galaxy contains a minimum of 100 billion planets, according to a detailed statistical study based on the detection of three planets located outside our solar system, called exoplanets. The discovery, to be reported in the January 12 issue of Nature, was made by an international team of astronomers, including co-author Stephen Kane of NASA's Exoplanet Science Institute at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. The survey results show that our galaxy contains, on average, a minimum of one planet for every star. This means that it's likely there are a minimum of 1,500 planets within just 50 light-years of Earth.

Cheers! Uncovering Alcohol's Addictive Quality
January 12, 2012 09:39 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Alcohol is one of the most addicting substances on Earth. Alcoholism is so prevalent and can be so disruptive to society that the United States once succeeded in banning it. Remnants of the Prohibition and America's puritanical founding can still be seen in the "blue laws" of many areas. It is often an underlying factor in traffic accidents and violent crime. But if alcohol can cause such egregious behavior and cause debilitating health problems, why do alcoholics keep drinking? A new study from the University of California, San Francisco has scientifically uncovered the truth behind alcohol addiction. The answer lies in endorphins, naturally produced chemicals in the brain that create opiate-like effects.

GHGs and Where They Are
January 11, 2012 12:33 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

In January 2012, for the first time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released greenhouse gas (GHG) data collected under the GHG Reporting Program. GHG is primarily Carbon Dioxide but includes many other other chemicals such as methane. The data shows 2010 U.S. GHG emissions from large industrial facilities, and from suppliers of certain fossil fuels and industrial gases. Reporting entities used uniform methods for estimating emissions, which enables data to be compared and analyzed. The data shows the larger GHG emitters are power plants followed by petroleum refineries. GHG data are now easily accessible to the public through the EPA’s GHG Reporting Program. The 2010 GHG data to be released includes public information from facilities in nine industry groups that directly emit large quantities of GHGs, as well as suppliers of certain fossil fuels and high global warming gases.

Baby Cries Evoke an Instinctually Rapid Response
January 11, 2012 10:24 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

It pierces the night-time silence like a dagger, immediately awaking the sleeping adults in the next room. After a few groans, the adults are on their feet, groggily making their way in the direction of the high-pitched distress call. Yes, baby cries can be quite a handful to deal with for new parents. They are extremely difficult to ignore. In fact, humans have evolved in such a way that a baby cry will cause an instinctual reaction, and will cause a statistically faster response than other similar-pitched sounds.

Radar Study of Kilauea
January 10, 2012 12:00 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Kīlauea is a volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and one of five shield volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaiʻi. The Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone has been continuously erupting in the eastern rift-zone since 1983, making it the longest rift-zone eruption of the last 200 years. Thirty-five eruptions have taken place since 1952, not including the current episode. An airborne radar developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has just returned to Hawaii to continue its study of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii's current most active volcano. UAVSAR uses a technique called interferometry that sends pulses of microwave energy from the sensor on the aircraft to the ground to detect and measure very subtle deformations in Earth's surface.

How Elks are Destroying Song Birds
January 10, 2012 09:32 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The link between the two very different species may seem strange, but taken in the context of climate change, it makes perfect sense. Elks are highly prevalent in the American West and are known to be prolific eaters of local flora. One of climate change's most noticeable effects in this region is the decrease in amount of winter snowfall. This allows the elks to continue consuming plants and at higher elevations. As a result, deciduous trees and their associated song birds have been in continuous decline.

Top 10 ethical destinations in the developing world
January 9, 2012 05:06 PM - Editor, Green Traveler Guides

Every year, Ethical Traveler reviews the policies and practices of the world's developing nations, then selects the ten that are doing the best job of preserving their environment, promoting human rights and creating a sustainable, community-based tourism industry. By visiting these destinations, we use our economic power—our travel dollars—to support these countries. In alphabetical order, the 2012 list: Argentina, The Bahamas, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Latvia, Mauritius, Palau, Serbia, Uruguay. How were these countries chosen? A research team first identifies the "best" tourism destinations, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Next, using publicly available data, these countries are rated. (For more on the methodology, download the full report.) As Ethical Traveler researcher Natalie Lefevre points out, "None of these countries are perfect, but they deserve their spots—thanks to their effort to ensure that tourism has a positive impact on their country and their people."

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