Enn Original News

Diisocyanates
April 15, 2011 08:13 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released action plans to address the potential health risks of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), toluene diisocyanate (TDI), and related compounds. Americans may be exposed to these chemicals when they are used in certain applications such as spray foam insulation, sealing concrete or finishing floors. The plans identify a range of actions the agency is considering under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act. Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is a highly-effective and widely used insulation and air sealant material. However, exposures to its key ingredient, isocyanates such as MDI, and other SPF chemicals in vapors, aerosols, and dust during and after installation can cause adverse health effects.

Wolves Taken Off the US Endangered Species List
April 14, 2011 09:22 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

For the first time ever, the US Congress has removed an animal from the Endangered Species List, a process typically done by a federal, non-political, science-based agency. The action by the US Congress sets a new precedent for altering the Endangered Species List based on political influence, enraging environmental groups. The removal would take effect in two western states that have known issues with wolves: Montana and Idaho. Wolves would now be managed by each state’s wildlife agency, inevitably leading to commercial hunting.

The Memory of Alcohol
April 14, 2011 07:49 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits Drinking alcohol primes certain areas of our brain to learn and remember better, says a new study from the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research at The University of Texas at Austin. The common view that drinking is bad for learning and memory isn’t wrong, says neurobiologist Hitoshi Morikawa, but it highlights only one side of what ethanol consumption does to the brain.

Decline of the Southern Skua in the Falkland Islands
April 13, 2011 09:49 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean near the coast of South America, is home to several unique indigenous bird species. One of them, Catharacta Antarctica, also known as the Southern Skua or the Falklands Skua, is in serious decline. Over the past five years, their population has gone down almost 50 percent. The exact reasons are unknown, but some experts suspect the decline is due to low breeding success and increased competition for resources. Some fear that the problems with the skua are linked with an unhealthy Patagonian marine ecosystem.

Yellowstone Supervolcano Size
April 13, 2011 08:30 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

University of Utah geophysicists made the first large-scale picture of the electrical conductivity of the gigantic underground plume of hot and partly molten rock that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano. The image suggests the plume is even bigger than it appears in earlier images made with earthquake waves. The Yellowstone Caldera is the volcanic caldera located in Yellowstone National Park in the United States, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano. The caldera is located in the northwest corner of Wyoming, in which the vast majority of the park is contained. The major features of the caldera measure about 34 miles by 45 miles.

Pliocene Hot Age?
April 12, 2011 05:16 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

By studying fossilized mollusks from some 3.5 million years ago, UCLA geoscientists and colleagues have been able to construct an ancient climate record that holds clues about the long-term effects of Earth's current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a key contributor to global climate change. Two novel geochemical techniques used to determine the temperature at which the mollusk shells were formed suggest that summertime Arctic temperatures during the early Pliocene epoch (3.5 million to 4 million years ago) may have been a staggering 18 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than today. These ancient fossils, harvested from deep within the Arctic Circle, may have once lived in an environment in which the polar ice cap melted completely during the summer months. The Pliocene Epoch is the period in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.3 million to 2.6 million years before the present time.

The Mighty Blueberry
April 12, 2011 09:55 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Blueberries are incredible plants. They can grow wild practically anywhere in the northeastern United States and Canada, and are quite tasty. Blueberry bushes can cover vast stretches of meadows and become the dominant plant. Amazingly, they thrive after forest fires, even after they burn themselves. To go along with the plant's hardiness and the berries' deliciousness, blueberries offer great health benefits. According to a new study from Texas Woman’s University (TWU) in Denton, TX, blueberries have a positive effect on aging, metabolism, and inhibiting the development of fat cells.

Plant Biomagnetism
April 11, 2011 08:08 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The origin of the word biomagnetism is unclear, but seems to have appeared several hundred years ago, linked to the expression animal magnetism. The present scientific definition took form in the 1970s, when an increasing number of researchers began to measure the magnetic fields produced by the human body. The first valid measurement was actually made in 1963. Now plant biomagnetism has been little studied. Searching for magnetic fields produced by plants may sound strange, but physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, are seriously looking for biomagnetism in plants using some of the most sensitive magnetic detectors available.

The Former East/West Germany Barrier Now a Nature Reserve
April 8, 2011 09:11 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

After the second world war, Germany was divided into east and west. Between the two, the communist masters of East Germany erected an imposing barrier along the 870 border to keep people both in and out. But rather being a single fence or wall, the barrier was also a wide strip outfitted with minefields, bunkers, watch towers, and sand pits. Now that Germany has been reunited, this strip of land running 870 miles along the old border is a long, continuous, undeveloped property. In the end, the Soviets had not built a barrier, but a nature preserve.

2011 Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar
April 7, 2011 03:48 PM - Kathleen Neil, Contributiing Editor,ENN

What choice will consumers make? After attending the 2011 Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar in La Jolla, California (April 4-7, 2011), this is what I walked away thinking. In all respects, Americans are already asking themselves questions like this about the life they live. With regard to the cars we drive it is time to think hard about the way we drive and what we drive. Presenters at the seminar addressed, and in many cases provided the current findings about fuel cells, hydrogen, electricity, the electric grid and electric cars. Economic forces, geopolitical forces and the DOE directed Future Transportation Fuels Study were explored in detail. The choices for a greener driving future are proliferating and each has its advantage and disadvantage. The economic costs to our society in moving toward a greener driving future were reviewed in exploring the many mobility choices we must make as a society and as consumers. Again this year I loved being behind the wheel of the almost to market (Spring 2012?) Plug-in Hybrid Prius and with the announcement during the Seminar of the sale of the one-millionth Prius in the U.S., it’s easy to see that Toyota understands what the hybrid consumer is looking for. Now a more focused approach to the spending of scarcer infrastructure/development dollars is warranted and the key to that approach will be all of us discussing what type of car we as consumers will pay a bit more for and how much it matters to us to be free to ”˜put the pedal to the metal’. It’s like turning out the lights when you leave the room, we all know we should do it but don’t always stop to think.

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