Enn Original News
New from BBC Earth: Life is New
January 10, 2011 11:44 AM - Arj Singh, BBC Earth
It's the New Year and time for a new start and what better than to celebrate all in life that is new? For the next two months BBC Earth will be focusing on just that. To begin the celebration of nature’s wonderful new moments BBC Earth has created a short film called Life Is New. The short film is truly delightful, capturing new life and its marvelous and playful moments. To watch this short clip visit the Life Is website. BBC Earth's Life Is website has also been updated in honor of their "new" theme. So if you're looking to dive into all that is cute and wonderful about nature then that’s the place to go. What’s more the site has plenty of images, videos and stories beyond the world of New, which I'm sure you'll find truly fascinating.
Natural Methane Removal in the Gulf of Mexico
January 7, 2011 02:11 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
There is a relationship between known hydrocarbon (oil and natural gas) discoveries at great depth in the Gulf of Mexico and hydrocarbon seepage such as Methane at the seafloor. Chemosynthetic communities are associated with these seeps. They are remarkable in that they utilize a carbon source independent of photosynthesis and the sun-dependent photosynthetic food chain that supports all other life on Earth. Chemosynthetic communities occur in isolated areas with thin veneers of sediment only a few meters thick. Calling the results "extremely surprising," researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Texas A&M University report that methane gas concentrations in the Gulf of Mexico have returned to near normal levels only months after a massive release occurred following the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.
Malignant Cancer-Causing Molecule Identified
January 7, 2011 09:42 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
A cancerous cell is not a problem if it is benign. However, if it becomes malignant, it can cause major health problems and even be fatal. Scientists have identified a molecule known as PML which directly affects whether or not a cancer cell becomes malignant. This line of study may prove to be a breakthrough in cancer research if scientists can figure out how malignant tumors can be converted to benign tumors.
The Return (?) of Off Shore drilling
January 6, 2011 12:34 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Offshore drilling typically refers to the discovery and development of oil and gas resources which lie underwater. Most commonly, the term is used to describe oil extraction off the coasts of continents, though the term can also apply to drilling in lakes and inland seas. Offshore drilling presents environmental challenges, especially in the Arctic or close to the shore. Controversies include the ongoing US offshore drilling debate. The off shore moratorium in the US (as a result of the BP spill) ended in October 2010. The Obama administration has decided to allow 13 companies to resume deepwater drilling without additional environmental scrutiny. The decision comes after the administration said it would require strict reviews for new drilling in the Gulf. Others, such as the arctic Shell project, are still blocked by related concerns. The Department of the Interior apparently gave those companies the go-ahead because they were in the middle of previously approved projects when the Gulf spill occurred.
Europe and Renewable Energy
January 6, 2011 11:24 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
The European Union (EU)27 will exceed its target of meeting 20 % of its gross final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. Today the European Wind Energy Association published its analysis of the 27 National Renewable Energy Action Plans, submitted by the EU Member States to the European Commission. "Taken together the Action Plans show that the EU-27 will meet 20.7 % of its 2020 energy consumption from renewables", said Justin Wilkes, Policy Director of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). The countries of the European Union are currently the global leaders in the development and application of renewable energy. Promoting the use of renewable energy sources is important both to the reduction of the EU's dependence on foreign energy imports, and in meeting targets to combat global warming.
January 5, 2011 04:56 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Under the High Production Volume (HPV) Challenge Program, companies are "challenged" by EPA to make health and environmental effects data publicly available on chemicals produced or imported in the United States in the greatest quantities. HPV chemicals are classified as those chemicals produced or imported in the United States in quantities of 1 million pounds or more per year. As of June 2007, companies have sponsored more than 2,200 HPV chemicals, with approximately 1,400 chemicals sponsored directly through the HPV Challenge Program and over 860 chemicals sponsored indirectly through international efforts. The U.S. EPA is issuing a final rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) requiring manufacturers of 19 high production volume (HPV) chemicals to test the health and environmental effects of the chemicals and submit the data to the agency. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has made assuring the safety of chemicals one of her top priorities.
Gulf of Mexico Coral
January 5, 2011 04:23 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
A team of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and academic scientists are analyzing samples of coral and surrounding sediments from an area damaged near the Deepwater Horizon site in the Gulf of Mexico. These samples, collected in December, are being used to investigate how and why the corals on these reefs died. There are many potential causes of coral death. This particular case may be related to the oil release from Deepwater. Coral colonies may live for decades or centuries. Some causes are predation by other sea creatures such as Sea Stars. Global warming is a potential cause as well as other human related activities.
Gold and Mercury
January 4, 2011 01:47 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
In order to maximize gold extraction, mercury is often used to amalgamate with the metal. The gold is then produced by boiling away the mercury from the amalgam, a process which is hazardous owing to the toxicity of mercury vapor. Mercury is effective in extracting very small gold particles, but should be reclaimed in an effective and safe process. With the price of gold at record levels. the small-scale mining sector, much of it illegal and unregulated, is expanding worldwide faster than at anytime in history and, with it, the health threats posed by mercury. This global gold rush began in Brazil in the late 1970s, before sweeping South America, Asia, and Africa, with an estimated 15 to 20 million prospectors now active in more than 60 countries. Poverty driven miners rely on inexpensive, outdated, polluting technologies and chemicals because it is what they can afford. Mercury can vaporize and exposure to concentrations above o.1 mg/m3 can be harmful. At this level, humans cannot detect the Mercury and can be exposed until harmed.
No Coal-Fired Power Plants Built in Past Two Years
January 4, 2011 10:32 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The Washington Post has announced that in 2010, not a single new coal-fired power plant was constructed in the United States. This marks the second year in a row in which this has occurred. Coal remains the most abundantly used source of electricity, accounting for half of all power generation. However, a number of factors, such as the economy, lower natural gas prices, and environmentalist opposition, have effectively halted the growth of the coal industry.
January 3, 2011 05:10 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
An electrical ballast is a device intended to limit the amount of current in an electric circuit. Ballasts vary greatly in complexity. They can be as simple as a series resistor as commonly used with small neon lamps or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). A more complex type is one that uses reactance. Losses in the ballast due to its resistance and losses in its magnetic core may be significant, on the order of 5 to 25% of the lamp input wattage. Practical lighting design calculations must allow for ballast loss in estimating the running cost of a lighting installation. Prior to 1980 in the United States, PCB-based oils were used as an insulating oil in many ballasts to provide cooling and electrical isolation. Older buildings (including schools and commercial operations) will often have PCB ballasts in their fluorescent lights even today because the ballast will work a longer than the bulb. he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released guidance recommending that schools take steps to reduce potential exposures to PCBs from older fluorescent lighting fixtures. The guidance, part of EPA’s ongoing efforts to address potential PCB exposures in schools, is based on evidence that the older ballasts contain PCBs that can leak when the ballasts fail, leading to elevated levels of PCBs in the air of schools that should not represent an immediate threat but could pose health concerns if they persist over time.