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Assessing the US Supply of Rare Earth Elements
November 18, 2010 09:45 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
In the headlines lately has been news of China's monopoly of rare earth elements (REE), adding to China's growing clout. It would increase their leverage should they choose to reduce exports, causing REE prices to soar. The United States imports almost all of its REE from China, putting it in a position of geopolitical weakness. In light of this circumstance, the US Geological Survey (USGS) has conducted a study to map out the presence of REE found domestically. It turns out that rare earth elements in the United States are not so rare.
Watershed Week for Wild Tigers Around the World
November 17, 2010 03:16 PM - David A Gabel, ENN
Next week may be make-or-break for the future of wild tigers around the world. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will be hosting delegations from tiger-range countries for the first ever International Tiger Summit in Saint Petersburg. Heads of state from 13 tiger-range countries plus a high-level delegation from the United States will gather to discuss responses to the alarming decline of tiger populations in the wild. What all parties can agree with going in, is that inaction will inevitably lead to the extinction of this beautiful creature, one of the world's most beloved.
November 17, 2010 01:38 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Windows let in light and with the light solar heat. There are many forms of passive design control of windows to maximize the light, collect the heat, and maximize or minimize the heat that enters through the window. Heat is energy and can be theoretically transformed into power and electricity. A new type of transparent solar film developed by the U.S. Department of Energy could turn windows into clean electricity generators. Harnessing the power of the sun means placing solar collection devices where they are most likely to be in direct contact with its rays. For many years, that ideal place has been the roofs of homes and businesses, but newer technologies are aimed at expanding this range to windows as well.
Smoke of All Sorts
November 16, 2010 03:03 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Smoke is a strange mixture of exotic pollutants and incomplete combustion products. Of course, some people smoke cigarettes for the pleasure of it. For most people smoke is unpleasant and should be avoided. Many people watch firework displays and go "wow" and the smoke from them adds a bit of the zest to the event. The metallic particles in the smoke emitted by fireworks pose a health risk, particularly to people who suffer from asthma. This is the conclusion of a study led by researchers from the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, published this week in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.
Modern Insecticides' Devastating Effects
November 16, 2010 09:30 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Like DDT before it, a new class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids is believed to be causing drastic population declines in bird species. It is so effective at killing insects, that it has deprived birds of their basic food. Some scientists also believe they are behind the decline in bee populations in Europe and the United States known as honey-bee Colony Collapse Disorder.
Contest Challenges Youth to "Get to Know" Their Wild Neighbors
November 16, 2010 06:37 AM - Editor, ENN
Renowned wildlife artists Robert Bateman and Wyland are challenging American youth to get outdoors and "get to know" their wild neighbors of other species by entering the Get to Know Contest. Youth age 5-18 are invited to create art, writing photography and video entries based on first-hand experiences with nature, which they can submit at www.gettoknow.ca until November 30, 2010. Bateman and Wyland hope the Get to Know Contest will inspire youth to build meaningful connections with nature. "The investment we are making by connecting youth with nature is the most important one we can make for this generation," says Wyland. Youth disconnection from nature stems from the trend of young Americans spending progressively more time indoors, to the detriment of healthy outdoor activity. As of 2010, American school-aged youth are packing a staggering 53 hours a week in front of entertainment media screens — up from 44 hours per week in 2004. And while they are aware of global environmental issues like climate change and deforestation in the Amazon, they often cannot name ten different plants and animals in their own backyard. "Caring for this planet begins with getting to know our neighbours of other species", reiterates Robert Bateman, who started the Get to Know Contest in Canada in 2000.
The New Floods and Droughts
November 15, 2010 12:45 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Dust storms scour Iraq. Freak floods wreak havoc in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Rising sea levels erode Egypt's coast. Tuvulu and the Seychelles may disappear altogether as hey submerge into the ocean. A comprehensive vulnerability index suggests you move to Scandinavia, Ireland or Iceland as slightly safer places. The teeming plains of Asia are at greater risk in the next 30 years. Ten of the 16 most vulnerable countries are in Asia where high populations, low lying land and potential water shortages will plague more than other places and people. High Asia is dominated by many steep, dramatic mountain ranges that run through parts of Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, India, China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and other countries. The region is home to more than 50,000 glaciers that are vital water lifelines to Asia's largest rivers, including the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Indus and Ganges. Roughly two billion people depend on these rivers for their water and food supply. What happens when all this changes with the climate?
EPA is Seeking New Standards for Home Efficiency Retrofits
November 15, 2010 09:50 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
In seeking to establish new standards for home improvements that would increase energy efficiency, the EPA is asking for comments from the public. They have released a draft protocol which contains a series of best practice tools that would protect indoor air quality during a home energy retrofit. The goal is to devise a set of standards that would ultimately ensure health standards of building occupants during and after such a renovation.
Bluefin Tuna, Sharks may finally get some help
November 14, 2010 12:36 PM - Editor, ENN
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), a fisheries body that manages approximately 30 species of fish caught in the Atlantic Ocean will meet in Paris, November 17 - 27, to consider measures to protect severely depleted Atlantic bluefin and threatened sharks and to potentially take measures to stop illegal fishing. The Pew Environment Group, an independent non-profit group based in Washington, DC, is calling on ICCAT to take strong measures to end illegal fishing, to handle fisheries management based on sound science and end the chronic overfishing in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean that continue to threaten the sustainability of Atlantic bluefin and several species of sharks.
Blood and Skin
November 12, 2010 03:30 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The supply of blood for patients and emergencies has always fluctuated. Generally it is dependent on adequate donations from the public. A more dependable source would be useful. While local and temporary blood shortages have occurred periodically, the nation’s blood supply generally is considered adequate. There is also a problem of genetic compatibility. In a neat bit of cellular wizardry, human skin cells have been turned into blood cells. A donor could then supply blood cells d=from his own skin cells and this about compatibility issues. The research could have huge implications for blood-related diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma, and could also eventually lead to new treatments for other types of tissues inside the human body. If skin can be made into blood why now not other cells?