Affordable Solar Power On The Horizon
October 5, 2007 08:10 AM - University of Cambridge
Cambridge, UK - Environmentally friendly solar panels may be an affordable alternative to conventional power sources within the next ten years, as a result of a new initiative launched this week.
The project, funded by the Carbon Trust, will be led by the University of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory in collaboration with The Technology Partnership.
Currently solar panels are made from silicon, which makes them expensive to manufacture and therefore cost prohibitive for many. However, new technology being researched at Cambridge uses plastic to create solar cells, a much more cost effective and energy efficient method.
Eye on United Arab Emirates: Fostering Sustainability
October 5, 2007 08:07 AM - Alana Herro, Worldwatch Institute
In early November, a group of Japanese business leaders and government advisers will visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a tiny oil-rich country on the Persian Gulf, to present their vision of a "Sustainable City." The group, known as the Sustainable Urban Development Consortium for Japan and Gulf States Partnership, plans to propose a city that would reduce energy consumption by up to 50 percent using technology that has been tested in Japan. "The initiative is certainly welcome,” says Worldwatch Institute researcher Zoe Chafe. “The question is whether the ideas and technologies presented will be implemented soon with government support."
Diet For Small Planet May be Most Efficient if it Includes Dairy and a Little Meat, Cornell Researchers Report
October 5, 2007 08:04 AM - Cornell Chronicle, Susan Lang
A low-fat vegetarian diet is very efficient in terms of how much land is needed to support it. But adding some dairy products and a limited amount of meat may actually increase this efficiency, Cornell researchers suggest. This deduction stems from the findings of their new study, which concludes that if everyone in New York state followed a low-fat vegetarian diet, the state could directly support almost 50 percent more people, or about 32 percent of its population, agriculturally. With today's high-meat, high-dairy diet, the state is able to support directly only 22 percent of its population, say the researchers.
Climate Campaigners Tipped for Nobel Peace Prize
October 5, 2007 07:23 AM - Reuters
OSLO - Former Vice President Al Gore and other campaigners against climate change lead experts' choices for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, an award once reserved for statesmen, peacemakers and human rights activists. If a campaigner against global warming carries off the high world accolade later this month, it will accentuate a shift to reward work outside traditional peacekeeping and reinforce the link between peace and the environment. The winner, who will take $1.5 million in prize money, will be announced in the Norwegian capital on October 12 from a field of 181 nominees.
Bird Flu Virus Mutating into Human-Unfriendly Form
October 4, 2007 08:37 PM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The H5N1 bird flu virus has mutated to infect people more easily, although it still has not transformed into a pandemic strain, researchers said on Thursday.
The changes are worrying, said Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"We have identified a specific change that could make bird flu grow in the upper respiratory tract of humans," said Kawaoka, who led the study.
"The viruses that are circulating in Africa and Europe are the ones closest to becoming a human virus," Kawaoka said.
CDC suspects 29 E.coli cases linked to Topps beef
October 4, 2007 08:27 PM -
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 29 cases of E.coli illness are suspected to be linked to the 21.7 million lbs of recalled ground beef products from Topps Meat Company LLC.
No deaths have been linked to the meat. The 29 cases were in eight states: Connecticut (two cases), Florida (one), Indiana (one), Maine (one), New Jersey (six), New York (nine) Ohio (one) and Pennsylvania (eight), according to a posting on the CDC's Web site.
India's Tsunami Warning Center Up And Running
October 4, 2007 07:49 PM - T. V. Padma, SciDevNet
HYDERABAD - India's tsunami warning center in Hyderabad became operational this week, less than three years since the country's southern coast was devastated by the Asian tsunami.
The $314 million dollar center, located at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, is now operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It receives data via satellite from six ocean buoys — four in the Bay of Bengal and two in the Arabian Sea — equipped with water pressure sensors to detect any rise in water levels. Six more back-up buoys will be ready in the next two months.
Everyone to pay for climate change
October 4, 2007 03:42 PM - Gerard Wynn, Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) - Climate change will likely cost every global citizen something in the years ahead, although the payback will be much greater, policymakers, scientists and officials told a Reuters summit this week.
"I think it will be every citizen, (but) that bill may not in the end be as high for the individual as it's often made out to be," said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program.
Not overtly spending now on the fight against climate change would still cost something, effectively borrowing from the future at the cost of future damage of widely expected extreme weather including floods, drought and sea level rise.
"The slightly depressing answer is that the highest part of the bill unfortunately will be paid by my children and their children, because they will have to pay the costs of living with climate change," said Steiner.
U.S. Recalls over 1/2 Million Toys for Lead Levels
October 4, 2007 03:35 PM - Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than half a million toys ranging from key chains to Winnie the Pooh bookmarks and Baby Einstein color blocks are being recalled because of excessive lead levels, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Thursday.
Among the recalled toys, all made in China, were key chains with words like "truth" or "believe" engraved on them that have "high levels" of lead, the commission said in a statement.
Dollar General Merchandising Inc sold 192,000 of the key chains for $1, the CPSC said.
Lead is toxic in large amounts. A 4-year-old Minneapolis boy died of lead poisoning in 2006 when he swallowed a small charm. In smaller amounts, lead can cause developmental delays and behavioral problems.
Another warm winter seen for much of U.S.
October 4, 2007 01:31 PM - Reuters
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Long-range weather forecasts are predicting a warmer than average winter with less precipitation for much of the United States except the Pacific Northwest.
"It will be a lot like last year but the climate models are even more in agreement now than they were last fall," said Mike Halpert, head of forecast operations at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center.
"Temperatures will be warmer than average in most places except the northwest of the country, which could see some cold."
Forecasters believe the emergence of a La Nina condition -- unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean -- will be the main factor behind the anticipated warmth for much of North America.