Enn Original News
Climate and Global Radiation Balance
December 7, 2011 10:33 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Scientists at the Universities of Bristol and Southampton have developed an important new insight into climate sensitivity — the sensitivity of global temperature to changes in the Earth’s radiation balance — over the last half million years. Climate sensitivity is a key parameter for understanding past natural climate changes as well as potential future climate change. In a study in Journal of Climate, the researchers reconstructed, for the first time, climate sensitivity over five ice-age cycles based on a global records of sea surface and polar temperature change. These were compared with a new reconstruction of changes in the Earth’s radiation balance caused by changes in greenhouse gas concentrations, in surface reflectivity, and those due to slow changes in the Earth-Sun orbital configuration.
Combining Medical Marijuana with Opiates to Fight Chronic Pain
December 7, 2011 09:43 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Scientists have found that patients who suffer from chronic pain can receive greater relief if medical marijuana is combined with their opiate-based pain medicine. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco have conducted a small scale study to see if this combination produces any real benefits. They intended to show that the cannabis, rather than relieving pain itself, actually caused the opiate medicine such as morphine or oxycodone to be more effective. While the cannabis did not bolster the opiates in the blood, the patients all declared that their pain had been significantly decreased.
Electric Car Rental In Paris
December 6, 2011 01:48 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Electric cars do not pollute as do internal combustion vehicles. The relative problem is one of frequent charging and limited distances. Pay-as-you-drive electric car rentals are expected to help cut pollution and reduce traffic in Paris, as the new fleet of fully electric Autiolib vehicles hits the French capital. As of December 5, Parisians could take the bubble cars for a ride from more than 1,200 parking spots where they rest for recharge. They would cost 10 euros a day or 15 euros a week, while an annual fee of 144 euro allows users to take the car for only half an hour each time for 5 euro, just over the price of two underground tickets. The Autolib system builds on the success of the Velib bicycle-sharing service.
CO2 from the Air
December 6, 2011 01:09 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
What seems to be directly correlated to global warming is CO2 in the air. So why not take it directly out of the air? Since most of the world’s governments have not yet enacted regulations to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, some experts have advocated the development of technologies to remove carbon dioxide directly from the air. But a new MIT study shows that, at least for the foreseeable future, such proposals are not realistic because their costs would vastly exceed those of blocking emissions right at the source, such as at the power plants that burn fossil fuels.
The Southern Continent's Hidden Landmass Revealed
December 6, 2011 09:46 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The southernmost continent of Antarctica is almost entirely covered with a thick sheet of ice. The average thickness of the ice is an amazing one mile (1.6 km), and up to 3 miles thick in some places. Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey have published a new detailed map which pierces the ice to see the land mass below. They found mountain chains which rival the European Alps, and that large portions of the frozen continent actually rest on the sea bed, not on land.
Low Cost Solar Cells
December 5, 2011 11:07 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
The cost of a solar cell is given per unit of peak electrical power. Manufacturing costs necessarily include the cost of energy required for manufacture. Solar power must become more efficient and less expensive to compete with energy produced by fossil fuels. Silicon-based solar cells are the dominant technology in the field, but the widespread adoption of these cells has been slowed by their high costs. Solar cells that use inorganic nanocrystals or quantum dots could be a cheaper alternative, but they are generally less efficient at turning solar energy into electricity. Technion-Israel Institute of Technology researchers have now found a new way to generate an electrical field inside the quantum dots, making them more suitable for building an energy-efficient nanocrystal solar cell.
European Automakers Meet in Brussels
December 5, 2011 09:41 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Last Friday, there was a gathering of the European Union's car manufacturers to discuss future cuts in CO2 emissions. In 2009, the EU set legally binding fuel efficiency standards for automobile CO2 emissions at 120 grams per kilometer (g/km). A binding emissions cap will be imposed in 2012 at 130 g/km. By 2020, the European Commission has the objective of reaching 95 g/km. This ambitious objective was supposed to be supported and confirmed at last Friday's meeting. But automakers could not reach a common position, and the issue has been left on the table.
The Beginning of the Last Ice Age Melt
December 5, 2011 09:26 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
The end of the last ice age and the processes that led to the melting of the northern and southern ice sheets supply information on changes in our climate. Although the maximum size of the ice sheet in the northern hemisphere during the last ice age is relatively well known, there is little reliable data on the dimensions of the Antarctic ice sheet. A publication appearing in the journal Science on 1 December now furnishes indications that the two hemispheres attained their maximum ice sheet size at nearly the same time and started melting 19,000 years ago.
The Banning of BPA
December 2, 2011 05:40 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic compound with two phenol functional groups. It is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, along with other applications. As it has been known to be estrogenic since the mid 1930s, concerns about the use of bisphenol A in consumer products have been regularly reported in the news media since 2008, after several governments issued reports questioning its safety, prompting some retailers to remove products containing it from their shelves. Reaction on a regulatory level has been mixed from around the world with differing rules on state. local and federal levels. This October, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act (Assembly Bill 1319) into state law, and it will go into effect on July 13, 2013. The purpose of the law is to protect children from potential health hazards that may result from BPA exposure and consumption. It bans the use of BPA in all products related to babies and children. California Assembly Member Betsy Butler introduced the bill into legislation, which gained the support of the governor and many legislators. California has some of strictest health and environmental laws and regulations in the United States. The banning of BPA in California further widens the gap between state and federal health laws and regulations.
New Large Boiler Rules
December 2, 2011 04:15 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing changes to Clean Air Act standards for boilers and certain incinerators based on extensive analysis, review and consideration of data and input from states, environmental groups, industry, lawmakers and the public. The proposed reconsideration would achieve extensive public health protections through significant reductions in toxic air pollutants, including mercury and soot, while increasing the rule’s flexibility and addressing compliance concerns raised by industry and labor groups. The changes also cut the cost of implementation by nearly 50 percent from the original 2010 proposed rule while maintaining health benefits. Soot and other harmful pollutants released by boilers and incinerators can lead to adverse health effects including cancer, heart disease, aggravated asthma and premature death. In addition, toxic pollutants such as mercury and lead that will be reduced by this proposal.