Enn Original News

Bigger Birds
November 1, 2011 03:27 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Birds tend to be small creatures on average. SF State scientists, working with researchers from PRBO Conservation Science and the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory who collected the data, found that birds' wings have grown longer and birds are increasing in mass over the last 27 to 40 years. What's making the birds bigger? The researchers think that the trend is due to climate change, but their findings put a twist in the usual thinking about climate change and body size. A well-known ecological rule, called Bergmann's Rule, states that animals tend to be larger at higher latitudes. One reason for this rule might be that larger animals conserve body heat better, allowing them to thrive in the generally colder climate of higher latitudes. The logic would then be that as the climate warms, birds should get smaller. Apparently this is not so.

E-Waste Dump in Africa Contaminating Community
November 1, 2011 01:30 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

Electronic waste, or "e-waste", is a major problem of the information age. As consumers continually upgrade their electronic devices, the old devices are discarded and usually end up in a toxic e-waste dump, usually located in a poor developing country. Such a dump is located in the capital city of the African country, Ghana. Toxic chemicals from the dump, known as the Agbogbloshie scrap metal site, have affecting the nearby community market, church headquarters, and school. Contaminants include lead, cadmium, and others, some at levels over 50 times higher than risk-free levels.

Northeast Weather Disaster Closes Schools and Postpones Halloween
October 31, 2011 03:01 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

The disaster that was this weekend's snow storm has wreaked havoc in the northeastern states of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. The damage was so widespread that it is being compared to the summer's big storm, Hurricane Irene. While the October storm doesn't get a name, it has left many people in the dark, just as the cold temperatures are settling in. Power outages and downed trees and wires throughout the area have caused many schools to be shut down. It has even caused the unthinkable in many towns: Halloween has been postponed.

Zombie Attack
October 31, 2011 11:46 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Can or do zombies exist? How can they and what are they? Zombie is a Haitian term used to denote an animated corpse brought back to life by mystical means such as witchcraft. It has evolved since then. The term is often figuratively applied to describe a hypnotized or infected person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli. Since the late 19th century, zombies have acquired notable popularity, especially in North American and European folklore and urban legend. The living dead are a year-round affair these days, and not just in movies. Around the world, a growing number of people are dressing up as zombies for parties, festivals, walks and pub-crawls in every season. To explain the undying boom in all things zombie, experts point to the versatility of zombies as a metaphor.

Everything you might want to know about Carbon Offsets
October 31, 2011 07:17 AM - R Greenway, ENN

Companies, and individuals concerned with their impact on climate try a number of measures to reduce their emissions of air pollutants which impact the greenhouse effect of our atmosphere. The greenhouse effect is the reality that our atmosphere traps a portion of the heat we get from the sun, and from fires (both natural and man made) and other anthropgenic heat sources. Some of the gasses released by our industrialization, home heating and cooling, and transportation activities contribute to the atmosphere trapping more heat than would occur in the absence of these activities. There are emissions which CANNOT be eliminated or reduced as much as we would like. For these, companies turn to Carbon Offsets. What are Carbon Offsets? When companies or individuals purchase Carbon Offsets they are paying someone else to reduce THEIR carbon emissions (a major contributor to global warming). There are companies which assist other companies and individuals in purchasing Carbon Offsets. As in any new market, there is a learning curve for participants. Are the offsets real, are the being sold more than once? These and other questions illustrate how much needs to be learned.

Why Population Matters to the environment

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.

Catalyzing Oxygen
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.

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