Enn Original News

Merlefest 2011 concludes, a rousing success
May 1, 2011 08:48 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN

MerleFest 2011, presented by Lowe's, has now come to a close for another year. Initial figures show that, from its start on Thursday, April 28 to its close on Sunday, May 1, aggregate participation over the festival's four days' celebration of "traditional plus" music exceeded 80,000, slightly more than last year. MerleFest, held on the campus of Wilkes Community College, is the primary fund-raiser for the college and funds scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs. ENN publisher, Roger Greenway, and editor Chris Allyn represented ENN at Merlefest for the second year. We were impressed with the commitment to recycling and to reducing waste going into landfills. Recycling containers were everywhere. LED lighting was prominent in stage lighting. Performers who turned in riveting performances at MerleFest 2011 include Doc and Richard Watson, Randy Travis, The Doobie Brothers, Lyle Lovett, Zac Brown Band, Robert Plant and Band of Joy, John Hartford String Band, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Tim O'Brien, Sam Bush, Tony Rice, Peter Rowan, Cadillac Sky, Balsam Range, Sarah Jarosz, Crooked Still, Sonny Landreth, Jerry Douglas featuring Omar Hakim and Viktor Krauss, Alison Brown Quartet with Stuart Duncan, Del McCoury Band, Tut Taylor, Scythian, The Emmitt-Nershi Band, The Wailin' Jennys, Roy Book Binder, The Kruger Brothers and many more.

How you can "Green" your kids toys
April 30, 2011 08:40 AM - Alexis Bonari, College Scholarships

Toys seem to multiply mysteriously as kids grow. Gifts from relatives, impulse buys, bribes. There seems to be no end of occasions to buy kids toys. Every parent knows that these toys enjoy their moment in the sun, only to be quickly discarded in favor of new toys. Sometimes, these new "toys" are nothing but empty cardboard boxes or wrapping. There are many ways that parents can make their kids' toys more eco-friendly by cutting down on the waste that buying so many new toys creates, and by choosing more sustainable and less toxic materials. Reuse and Recycle Toys don't have to be new to be new to your kids. Plenty of great toys can be found at yard sales and thrift stores, saving you money and reducing the amount of new materials that are created. Most of the time, these toys just need a simple wash to look like new. Also take a look at your kids' old toys. Sometimes, a new coat of paint or a simple customization (adding a bow to that stuffed bunny, putting new wheels on that old race car, etc.) can make these toys look like new to your children. Finally, when your children are done with their toys, be sure to donate them or to resell them in a yard sale. Don't let them end up in the landfill. Make Your Own Plenty of great toys can be made with simple materials and a little creativity. Stuffed animals are easy to sew together — even if you only use basic shapes and sew together two pieces of felt. Wooden blocks can be easily created by buying pre-cut shapes and painting them. Kids' jewelry, book covers, games, costumes, and much more can all be created. If you get your kids to help you, play time takes on a new level by giving them the opportunity to exercise their creativity.

World Wildlife Federation turns 50!
April 30, 2011 08:14 AM - WWF

A summit of environmental leaders and politicians has called for an urgent move towards a global green economy in order to achieve sustainable development over the next half century. Low-carbon technology, green infrastructures, investment in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture were all listed as being essential in combatting climate change, poverty and water shortages. Speaking at the event today, convened by WWF to mark the global conservation organisation's 50th anniversary, EU Environment Commissioner Janez Poto─Źnik said that unless biodiversity is adequately protected the consequences would be "catastrophic". "Biodiversity and ecosystem services must be protected, valued and adequately restored," said Commissioner Poto─Źnik. "It's essential for human wellbeing and in our own self-interest. If we do not preserve ecosystems we will push biodiversity over the tipping point beyond which changes become irreversible and possibly even catastrophic. It is an irrefutable fact that global consumption and use of resources is the biggest factor in a sustainable future."

Lake Demise, Lake Control
April 29, 2011 07:40 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

A lake ecosystem is made up of living and nonliving parts that all interact with each other to form a stable system. These interactions assure the lake ecosystem's health and sustainability. It is a fine balance of production and decomposition, made possible by the biodiversity that occurs in a healthy lake ecosystem. Researchers eavesdropping on complex signals from a remote Wisconsin lake have detected what they say is an unmistakable warning--a death knell--of the impending collapse of the lake's aquatic ecosystem. The finding, reported in the journal Science by a team of researchers led by Stephen Carpenter, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), is the first experimental evidence that radical change in an ecosystem can be detected in advance, possibly in time to prevent ecological catastrophe.

Krill and Whales in Antarctica
April 28, 2011 03:55 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The humpback whale is a species of baleen whale. Adults range in length from 39—52 feet and weigh approximately 79,000 pounds. Like other large whales, the humpback was and is a target for the whaling industry. Due to over-hunting, its population fell by an estimated 90% before a whaling moratorium was introduced in 1966. Stocks have since partially recovered. There are at least 80,000 humpback whales worldwide. Scientists have recently observed a super-aggregation of more than 300 humpback whales gorging on the largest swarm of Antarctic krill seen in more than 20 years in bays along the Western Antarctic Peninsula. The sightings, made in waters still largely ice-free deep into austral autumn, suggest the previously little-studied bays are important late-season foraging grounds for the endangered whales. But they also highlight how rapid climate change is affecting the region.

Wind Wake
April 27, 2011 05:36 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

What is a wake? It is small island in the Pacific. However, in this case it is the region of recirculating air flow immediately behind a moving solid body, caused by the air flow of surrounding air around the wind turbine. The air turbines not only produce power, they produce wakes -- similar to what forms in bodies of water -- that are invisible ripples and waves and other disturbances in the atmosphere downstream that can damage turbines and decrease efficiency. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers and collaborators will launch a study of those wakes this month, with an eye toward improving the efficiency and potential produced power of the wind farms.

Outsourcing Greenhouse Gas Emissions to the Developing World
April 27, 2011 09:59 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

In many developed nations, increased energy efficiency has effectively lowered emissions of carbon dioxide. However, the cuts in advanced economies are merely an illusion, as manufacturing and dirty industries have moved offshore to the developing world such as China and India. These countries produce goods cheaply which Western consumers like. But that cheap price is a reflection of not only lower wages for workers, but also lax pollution controls and environmental standards.

Virus Power
April 26, 2011 03:59 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A virus is a small agent that can replicate only inside the living cells of organisms. Most viruses are too small to be seen directly with a light microscope. The shapes of viruses range from simple helical and icosahedral forms to more complex structures. The average virus is about one one-hundredth the size of the average bacterium. Researchers at MIT have found a way to make significant improvements to the power-conversion efficiency of solar cells by enlisting the services of tiny viruses to perform detailed assembly work at the microscopic level. In a solar cell, sunlight hits a light-harvesting material, causing it to release electrons that can be harnessed to produce an electric current. The new MIT research, published online in the recent journal Nature Nanotechnology, is based on findings that carbon nanotubes — microscopic, hollow cylinders of pure carbon — can enhance the efficiency of electron collection from a solar cell's surface.

Fishing Season Begins Next Week in New England
April 26, 2011 09:19 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

For the northeastern United States, the new fishing year officially begins on May 1. This year will see the fishing season opened to more small-vessel owners and catch limits will be raised in response to rebounding fish stocks. Fishing has been an integral part of the economy of New England coastal communities, and now more fishermen will have the opportunity to partake.

Sunlight and Clouds
April 25, 2011 04:37 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A cloud is a visible mass of water droplets or frozen ice crystals suspended in the Earth's atmosphere above the surface of the Earth or other planetary body. On a cloudy day the surface under the clouds appears darker and cooler. Atmospheric scientists trying to pin down how clouds curb the amount of sunlight available to warm the earth have found that it depends on the wavelength of sunlight being measured. This unexpected result will help researchers improve how they portray clouds in climate models. Additionally, the researchers found that sunlight scattered by clouds — the reason why beach goers can get sunburned on overcast days — is an important component of cloud contributions to the earth's energy balance. Capturing such contributions will increase the accuracy of climate models, the team from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory reported in Geophysical Research Letters earlier this month.

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