Enn Original News

MIT Study calculates cost of lax air pollution regulations in China
June 6, 2011 03:58 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN, based on materials provided by MIT

A new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change looks at the cost to the Chinese economy of lax air quality regulations between 1975 and 2005. The MIT researchers found that air pollutants produced a substantial socio-economic cost to China over the past three decades. China has experienced unprecedented development over the past three decades, but this growth has come at a substantial cost to the country's environment and public health. China is notorious for extremely high levels of air pollution. As the country faces continuous environmental challenges that mirror its continuing development, there is a need to measure the health impacts of air pollution. What makes this study unique is that researchers looked at long-term economic impacts that arise from health damages, and how pollution-induced morbidity and mortality cases may have had ripple effects on the Chinese economy beyond the time period when those cases actually occurred. This method creates a comprehensive picture of the cumulative impacts of air pollution on a dynamic, fast-developing country.

Arctic Wars and Change
June 6, 2011 10:47 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Arctic Ocean is a vast frozen sea bordered by Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway. It has been explored but is potential for mineral deposits and oil and gas deposits is not known clearly. Some of it is near these nations and the gradually melting northern areas are revealing more and more and allowing readier access. Then there are other regions that may be fought over. Those reserves have been known about for centuries, yet a combination of new extraction technology and rising demand means that the human race is ready to fight for them while raising the threat of devastating pollution to a uniquely clean environment. The melting arctic is a sign of global warming but the net result may be more exploitation and environmental change.

Bar Headed Goose Climb
June 6, 2011 10:05 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Bar-headed Goose is a goose which breeds in Central Asia in colonies of thousands near mountain lakes. Drs. Charles Bishop and Lucy Hawkes, from Bangor University, and a large international team of researchers, report that bar-headed geese can fly climb up to 6,000 meters in only 8 hours while passing over the massive Himalayan mountain range — a similar intense climb could kill a human without lengthy acclimatisation. The geese make the journey on their annual spring migration from India to Central Asia. The team followed the migrations of these geese every hour using GPS satellite tags, following capture of the birds in India and Mongolia, where they winter and breed, respectively. In the study published May 31, they show that the geese can make the long climb in a single flight and that, surprisingly, rather than waiting for potentially favorable and predictable wind conditions to help carry them up and over the Himalaya (as had been thought previously), they wait for the winds to die down, and then make the climb over the mountains in the relative calm and peace of the night and early morning.

Europe's New E. Coli Scare
June 3, 2011 11:13 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

A new E. Coli outbreak has struck Europe. It started with a few deaths in Germany from what were thought to be Spanish cucumbers. Then more people in Germany and around the continent got infected. Trade tensions mounted and vegetable producers from various other countries became affected by the new outbreak. Now there have been cases reported in the United States, and Russia has banned the importing of fresh vegetables from the European Union. Vegetable producers around the continent are suffering from a worried public not buying their goods.

Iceberg Fertilizer
June 3, 2011 08:15 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Iceberg are just frozen water. Water picks up other stuff when it freezes whether as dissolved or scraped up. Icebergs calving off of Antarctica are shedding substantial iron — the equivalent of a growth-boosting vitamin — into waters starved of the mineral, a new set of studies demonstrates. This iron is fertilizing the growth of microscopic plants and algae, transforming the waters adjacent to ice floes into teeming communities of everything from tiny shrimplike krill to fish, birds and sometimes mammals. Iron is a trace element necessary for photosynthesis in all plants. It is highly insoluble in sea water and is often the limiting nutrient for phytoplankton growth. Large phytoplankton blooms can be created by supplying iron to iron-deficient ocean waters.

World Environment Day
June 2, 2011 01:31 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

World Environment Day is a day that is supposed to stimulate awareness of the environment and enhance political attention and public action. The official day is June 5. This was the day that the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment began. The first World Environment Day was on 1973. The theme this year is Forests-Nature At Your Service. Forests cover one third of the earth’s land mass, performing vital functions and services around the world which make our planet alive with possibilities. In fact, 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. They play a key role in the world ecology, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere while storing carbon dioxide. Thousands of activities are typically organized worldwide, with beach clean-ups, concerts, exhibits, film festivals, community events and much more. Each year there is a different host city. For 2011 it is New Delhi, India.

Tornadoes Strike Massachusetts
June 2, 2011 09:54 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

In one of the state's most bizarre weather events, Massachusetts was hit by several tornadoes yesterday, causing destruction, injuries, and the deaths of at least four people. The tornadoes occurred in several towns in the Springfield area including Westfield, West Springfield, Wilbraham, Sturbridge, Monson, Oxford, Charlton, Agawam, Brimfield, and Douglas. Massachusetts residents have been shocked by the extensive damage left in their wake.

Algae Treatment
June 1, 2011 09:44 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

It is like the Goldilocks fable. Too much algae chokes up an ecosystem. Too much nutrients can cause excessive biological growth. The just right amount of algae can balance the system just right. An article published in the June issue of BioScience describes the early scale-up stage of a new biotechnology with environmental benefits and possible commercial potential. Algal turf scrubbers are field-sized, water-treatment systems that can extract excess nutrients from streams, canals, and lakes polluted by agricultural, domestic, and some industrial runoff. They use sunlight as their principal source of energy and simultaneously restore oxygen levels. The devices work by pulsing contaminated water across algae that are allowed to grow on screens. algal turf scrubbers produce waste suitable for use as a nitrogen- and phosphorus-rich fertilizer and for conversion to biofuel or high-value nutraceuticals. Some algal turf scrubbers can even operate in open water, thus minimizing loss of agricultural land to the systems.

How to Bring Electric Vehicles to the Mass Market
June 1, 2011 09:41 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Electric cars are not a new concept in the automotive industry. They were around before the pre-eminence of the internal combustion engine in the 1890s. They were introduced again in the United States in the 1990s with GM's EV1, but were dropped when GM decided they are unprofitable. Now the Chevy Volt is out and several more models will be hitting the market soon. Automakers must figure out how to avoid having their electric vehicles suffer an agonizing death in the niche market, and instead, figure out how to get 100 million EVs on the road.

Mammoth Mating Habits
May 31, 2011 08:23 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Like their modern relative the elephant, mammoths were quite large. The largest known species, Songhua River mammoth, reached heights of at least 16 feet at the shoulder. Mammoths would probably normally weigh in the region of 6 to 8 tons, but exceptionally large males may have exceeded 12 tons. However, most species of mammoth were only about as large as a modern Asian elephant. A DNA-based study sheds new light on the complex evolutionary history of the woolly mammoth, suggesting it mated with a completely different and much larger species. The research, which appears in the biomed Central's open access journal Genome Biology, found the woolly mammoth, which lived in the cold climate of the Arctic tundra, interbred with the Columbian mammoth, which preferred the more temperate regions of North America and was some 25 per cent larger.

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