Enn Original News
Why Population Matters to the environment
October 31, 2011 07:14 AM - Simon Ross, Chief executive, Population Matters
Environmentalists agree on the issues facing us, including collapsing diversity, climate change and resource insecurity. We also agree on the causal factors, including pollution, invasive species, resource over-exploitation, waste, population growth, global industrialisation, unsustainable consumption and poor business practices. Solutions are harder. None will solve all our problems and all face obstacles and opposition. Technological solutions, such as biofuels, fracking, shale oil, GM foods and nuclear have side effects, while renewables have limited scope. Environmentally conscious lifestyles, including less waste, travel and consumption, are increasingly adopted, but the impact may by limited given the billions seeking to improve their low living standards. Changes to corporate and governmental practices have occurred, but are far from universal, particularly in the developing world. In my lifetime, human numbers have grown from 3 billion in 1960 to 7 billion today. By 2085, they are projected to grow to 10 billion. One can argue about the impact this makes, but it clearly does not help. We believe that a smaller population would help us to preserve the environment and live within the limit of renewable resources, as part of a comprehensive approach to the environment and sustainability. Most would agree that improving living standards for the poor, women's rights and access to health, including family planning, are desirable and they all tend to lead to women choosing to have smaller families. We would argue that aid for family planning to developing countries should be prioritised, both for environmental reasons and because it contributes to poverty alleviation, women’s empowerment and better health. While individual consumption in those countries is low, growing populations do affect the environment and they will not always be poor as the world industrialises.
El Hierro Volcano: New Land
October 28, 2011 03:21 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
On Oct. 9 an underwater volcano started to emerge in waters off El Hierro Island in the Canaries, Spain. The volcanic cone has reached a height of 100 m and the lava tongue flows down its side, even though its activity has slowed down in the past few days. The base of the volcano lies at a depth of 300 m. It is conical and 100 m high with a base diameter of 700 m and a crater width of 120 m. The volume of the volcano is around 0.012 km3, 0.07 km3 of which is made up of its lava tongue that is slowly filling the adjacent valley. Whether the eruption near the archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa will ever actually result in new land remains uncertain. But it's clear that the magma reservoir under El Hierro is simmering unchecked, constantly pouring out magma and causing the ground to shake several times a day. Since July, there have been more than 10,000 earthquakes (mostly imperceptible) on El Hierro.
October 28, 2011 12:37 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Normally Oxygen is fairly tight bound to the hydrogen in water. If it can be easily removed, it has potential benefits for certain energy and fuel systems. A team of researchers at MIT has found one of the most effective catalysts ever discovered for splitting oxygen atoms from water molecules — a key reaction for advanced energy-storage systems, including electrolyzers, to produce hydrogen fuel and rechargeable batteries. This new catalyst liberates oxygen at more than 10 times the rate of the best previously known catalyst of its type.
New Benefit of Aspirin: Preventing Cancer
October 28, 2011 08:54 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid, is one of the most widely used drugs in the world. It is proven to lower fevers, relieve minor aches and pains, and to reduce inflammation. It also has the long-term use of preventing heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots due to its antiplatelet characteristic, which prevents blood from clotting too large within the blood vessel. A new study from Queen's University in Belfast has found that the regular intake of aspirin can lower the risk of developing hereditary cancer by 50 percent.
The Impact of a Meteorite Storm
October 27, 2011 03:23 PM - Andy Soos ENN
Meteorites have been hitting the Earth since the beginning of time. Yet much is not known of what happens when they hit. Seeking to better understand the level of death and destruction that would result from a large meteorite striking the Earth, Princeton University researchers have developed a new model that can not only more accurately simulate the seismic fallout of such an impact, but also help reveal new information about the surface and interior of planets based on past collisions.
The Strong Woodpecker Head
October 27, 2011 02:05 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Banging you head against the wall is not to be recommended because it sort of hurts. Yet the woodpecker does it every day and seems content and happy. Woodpeckers are able to peck at a tree trunk at a high speed (6-7 meters per second), resulting in intense deceleration forces upon impact, without sustaining any brain injury. Why precisely this can be done without injury was investigated by Yubo Fan of Beihang University in Beijing and Ming Zhang of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The results may lead to better ways to prevent head injuries in humans.
Study: Marijuana Use Causes Chaos in the Brain
October 27, 2011 09:13 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Previous scientific studies have associated the consumption of cannabis with impairment of concentration and memory. Now a new study from the University of Bristol has delved deeper into the mind of the marijuana smoker. They found that brain activity becomes highly uncoordinated, erratic, and inaccurate while the user is under the influence. The researchers believe this brain-chaos can lead to neuropsychological and behavioral impairments similar to those observed in schizophrenia.
A world of sonic wonder
October 27, 2011 08:03 AM - BBC Earth Team
The First wonder, Speaking Sands For nearly a century, man has been baffled by the sound of singing sand dunes. The songs they emit are almost as diverse as the countless theories about how they occur. The sound is produced when the sand on the surface of dunes avalanches. It was once thought that these sounds were produced by the friction between the grains. More recent studies have revealed that the sound continues after the sand has stopped moving and the song that the dunes sing varies depending on the time of year. Some researchers now theorise that the sound is caused by the reverberation between dry sand at the surface and a band of wet sand within the dune, hence it changes seasonally. There are approximately thirty locations around the world where these booming dunes can be heard; the earliest records seem to date to Marco Polo’s time in the Gobi Desert. However you don’t need to adventure among the dunes to hear them sing; the strange sound, said to be like the drone of a low flying propeller plane, has reportedly been heard up to ten kilometres away from its source.
Cedar Trees Beneficial Uses
October 26, 2011 04:18 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Deserts are an unlikely place to find a form of plant life that is so promising as to grown quickly on very little. Still arid climate plants are very hardy. Tel Aviv University researchers are doing their part to reduce humanity's carbon footprint by successfully growing forests in the most unlikely place — deep in Israel's Aravah Desert. With environmental "extras" such as a local plant species, recycled sewage water unsuitable for agriculture, and arid lands unusable for crops, a group of researchers including Profs. Amram Eshel and Aviah Zilberstein of TAU's Department of Molecular Biology and Ecology of Plants at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and the university's new Renewable Energy Center have discovered a winning combination.
Prostate Cancer and Diet
October 26, 2011 01:52 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, there are cases of aggressive prostate cancers. Men who ate a low-fat diet with fish oil supplements for four to six weeks before having their prostate removed had slower cancer-cell growth in their prostate tissue than men who ate a traditional, high-fat Western diet, according to a study by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. The researchers also found a change in the composition of cell membranes in both healthy cells and cancer cells in the prostates of men on the low-fat, fish oil-supplement diet. The membranes had heightened levels of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and decreased levels of omega-6 fatty acids from corn oil, which may directly affect the biology of the cells, though further studies are needed, said Dr. William Aronson, the study's first author and a researcher with the Jonsson Cancer Center.