Enn Original News

Plants and CO2
September 29, 2011 01:22 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Plants absorb carbon dioxide and exhale Oxygen. They are a major part of the global cycle. The global uptake of carbon by land plants may be up to 45 per cent more than previously thought. This is the conclusion of an international team of scientists, based on the variability of heavy oxygen atoms in the carbon dioxide of the atmosphere driven by the El Niño effect. As the oxygen atoms in carbon dioxide were converted faster than expected during the El Niño years, current estimates for the uptake of carbon by plants are probably too low. These should be corrected upwards, say the researchers in the current issue of the scientific journal NATURE. Instead of 120 petagrams of carbon, the annual global vegetation uptake probably lies between 150 and 175 petagrams of carbon. This value is a kind of gross national product for land plants and indicates how productive the biosphere of the Earth is. The reworking of this so-called global primary productivity would have significant consequences for the coupled carbon cycle-climate model used in climate research to predict future climate change.

Finding Planets
September 29, 2011 12:49 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

There are many worlds out there and NASA has a lot of data that it has not reviewed in the depth that is needed to search every star for its worlds and the evidence there of. A project in which volunteers hunt online for new planets NASA may have missed is publishing its first results which show some remarkable finds. Planethunters.org, which was set up by Oxford University physicists, working with colleagues at Yale University and the Adler Planetarium, has enabled over 45,000 armchair astronomers to find candidates for new alien worlds by searching data from the Kepler mission.

Most Polluted Cities in the World
September 28, 2011 02:47 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

In many cities air pollution is reaching levels that threaten people's health according to an unprecedented compilation of air quality data released today by WHO (World Health Organization). The information includes data from nearly 1100 cities across 91 countries, including capital cities and cities with more than 100,000 residents. WHO estimates more than 2 million people die every year from breathing in tiny particles present in indoor and outdoor air pollution. PM10 particles, which are particles of 10 micrometers or less, which can penetrate into the lungs and may enter the bloodstream, can cause heart disease, lung cancer, asthma, and acute lower respiratory infections. The WHO air quality guidelines for PM10 is 20 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) as an annual average, but the data released today shows that average PM10 in some cities has reached up to 300 µg/m3.

Potatoes and Potassium
September 27, 2011 04:37 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Many people enjoy potatoes which also have historical significance such as the great Irish great potato famine that forced many to emigrate. Fruit are also perceived as healthy. Research presented in September 2011 at the American Dietetic Association's (ADA) Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) demonstrates that potatoes are one of the best nutritional values in the produce department, providing significantly better nutritional value per dollar than most other raw vegetables. Per serving, white potatoes were the largest and most affordable source of potassium of any vegetable or fruit. Potatoes were the lowest cost source of dietary potassium, a nutrient identified by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines as lacking in the American diet. The high cost of meeting federal dietary guidelines for potassium, 4,700 mg per person per day, presents a challenge for consumers and health professionals, alike. However, the cost of potassium-rich white potatoes was half that of most other vegetables.

The Witwatersrand Legacy
September 26, 2011 01:50 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Witwatersrand is a low, sedimentary range of hills, at an elevation of 1700–1800 meters above sea-level, which runs in an east-west direction through Gauteng in South Africa. The discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand led to the Second Boer War and ultimately the founding of South Africa. The Witwatersrand goldfields have more than a century of mining and has left the region littered with mounds of waste, known as tailings dumps, and underlain by a deep underground network of abandoned mine shafts, which are gradually filling with water. These mines as a result of highly efficient production methods may operate at depths in excess of 3000 meters where the specific geological conditions are suitable.

Alcohol and Asthma
September 26, 2011 11:46 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Alcohol has it negative and its positive attributes. Now drinking alcohol in moderate quantities can possibly reduce the risk of asthma, according to Danish researchers. The study, which will be presented September 25, 2011) at the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress in Amsterdam, found that drinking 1–6 units of alcohol a week could reduce the risk of developing the condition. The research examined 19,349 twins between the ages of 12 and 41 yrs of age. All participants completed a questionnaire at the start and end of the study to compare alcohol intake with the risk of developing asthma over 8 years.

Book Review: The Slums of Aspen
September 26, 2011 09:58 AM - Maddie Perlman-Gabel, ENN contributing author

Aspen, Colorado; the city name evokes visions of pristine mountains, world class ski slopes, luxurious shopping, and some of the most expensive homes in the Unites States. Those who visit Aspen marvel at the natural beauty surrounding the city, which prides itself in what it considers environmentally progressive thinking. In December of 1999 Aspen's environmentally progressive thinking led to the creation of a resolution which limits immigration into the city of Aspen as a means to protect the environment from the damages of overpopulation. According to authors Lisa Sun-Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow, this environmental protection logic is not based in the pure love of protecting the environment, but instead in racism and nativist values. Park and Pellow, sociology professors from the University of Minnesota, wrote "The Slums of Aspen: Immigrants Vs. The Environment in America's Eden" after almost a decade of research in Colorado's Roaring Fork Valley (which includes Aspen). Park and Pellow explore the sentiments behind Aspen's anti-immigrant resolution and the resolution's impact on the immigrants who's labor make Aspen possible yet do not get to experience it.

Respiratory Hazards for City Bicyclists
September 26, 2011 09:42 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

A new report presented at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress in Amsterdam over the weekend claims that individuals who regularly bicycle in major cities like London and Amsterdam have increased levels of black carbon in their respiratory systems. A condition commonly associated with turn-of-the-century industrial revolution processes, black lung is still persistent in the right environments. City cyclists are at a higher risk simply because they are breathing heavier in a relatively polluted environment.

Tropics of Southeast Asia Experiencing Greatest Biodiversity Loss
September 23, 2011 05:36 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

One of the most exotic and wild places on Earth has been undergoing an unprecedented loss in biodiversity during the past 50 years. As these nations in the region became industrialized and their populations boomed, their once pristine forests have fallen rapidly. The deforestation is occurring for agricultural use, palm oil plantations, timber harvesting, and various other human uses. As the forests go, so do the species which dwell in them. In a new study published by researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia, it was found that this region has experienced the greatest loss of biodiversity in the whole world.

The Acid Earth
September 23, 2011 01:11 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Human use of Earth’s natural resources is making the air, oceans, freshwaters, and soils more acidic, according to a U.S. Geological Survey – University of Virginia study available online in the journal, Applied Geochemistry. This comprehensive review, the first on this topic to date, found the mining and burning of coal, the mining and smelting of metal ores, and the use of nitrogen fertilizer are the major causes of chemical oxidation processes that end generate acid in the Earth-surface environment. These widespread activities have increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, increasing the relative acidity of oceans; produced acid rain that has increased the acidity of freshwater bodies and soils; produced drainage from mines that has increased the acidity of freshwater streams and groundwater; and added nitrogen to crop lands that has increased the acidity of soils.

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