Sci/tech

Black carbon pollution emerges as major player in global warming
March 24, 2008 09:31 AM - University of California - San Diego

Black carbon, a form of particulate air pollution most often produced from biomass burning, cooking with solid fuels and diesel exhaust, has a warming effect in the atmosphere three to four times greater than prevailing estimates, according to scientists in an upcoming review article in the journal Nature Geoscience. Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego atmospheric scientist V. Ramanathan and University of Iowa chemical engineer Greg Carmichael, said that soot and other forms of black carbon could have as much as 60 percent of the current global warming effect of carbon dioxide, more than that of any greenhouse gas besides CO2.

Coral's Addiction to 'Junk Food'
March 24, 2008 09:28 AM - www.coralcoe.org.au

Over two hundred million humans depend for their subsistence on the fact that coral has an addiction to ‘junk food’ - and orders its partners, the symbiotic algae, to make it. This curious arrangement is one of Nature’s most delicate and complex partnerships – a collaboration now facing grave threats from climate change.

Great Innovation: The Brazilian Waterless Car Wash
March 24, 2008 09:24 AM - , Next Billion

If you have ever gotten service at a car wash in Brazil, you know that many of them make up the phenomenon Hernando DeSoto calls dead capital. They operate outside of the formal economy, paying low wages off the books, skipping out on taxes and side-stepping regulations. This is the environment the owners of DryWash stepped into when their business first opened in 1994. I had the chance to talk to a partner of their International division recently and our discussion reminded me that the day in and day out work of the entrepreneurs and small businesspeople in developing countries is sometimes the most overlooked sustainable development initiative.

STMicro launches chip to detect bird flu
March 24, 2008 08:30 AM - Reuters

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Europe's top semiconductor maker, STMicroelectronics, said it has developed a portable chip to detect influenza viruses including bird flu in humans. The device, which functions as a mini laboratory on a chip, can screen and identify multiple classes of pathogens and genes in a single diagnostic test within two hours, unlike other tests available on the market that can detect only one strain at a time and require days or weeks to obtain results.

Chinese biofuel 'could endanger biodiversity'
March 21, 2008 01:10 PM - , SciDevNet

[BEIJING] Using China's forests and 'idle land' to produce biofuels could pose a threat to biodiversity, warned experts at an international meeting. Spike Millington, chief technical advisor to the European Union-China Biodiversity Programme, raised the problem earlier this month (7 March) at the International Workshop on Biodiversity and Climate Change, held in Beijing, China.

Reforming the approach to 'demand-driven' research
March 21, 2008 12:28 PM - , SciDevNet

An evaluation of Dutch-funded research programmes in developing countries raises questions about the concept of local "ownership". Anyone interested in learning more about the possibilities and limitations of demand-driven research — in which research programmes are determined by those who will benefit from their results — should look at the recent experience of Dutch organisations that fund research in developing countries.

'Nanominerals' influence Earth systems from ocean to atmosphere to biosphere
March 21, 2008 09:58 AM - National Science Foundation

The ubiquity of tiny particles of minerals--mineral nanoparticles--in oceans and rivers, atmosphere and soils, and in living cells are providing scientists with new ways of understanding Earth's workings. Our planet's physical, chemical, and biological processes are influenced or driven by the properties of these minerals. So states a team of researchers from seven universities in a paper published in this week's issue of the journal Science: "Nanominerals, Mineral Nanoparticles, and Earth Systems."

Cycling For Food: Engineers Work On Pedal-powered Grain Crusher
March 21, 2008 09:53 AM - Rowan University

Heather Klein crisscrosses the campus of Rowan University, from the College of Engineering to the townhouses, the dining hall to the Rec Center, on a blue Huffy 26-inch beach cruiser bicycle. She’s hoping a clone of the bike, picked up at the K-Mart in Glassboro for about a hundred bucks, may some day make the difference in the lives of people living half a world away.

The Reality of Renewables

In the 1970s they were called “new and renewable energies” a grouping that allowed energy planners to lump nuclear energy (relatively new) in with hydro, solar, wind and biomass. A WBCSD Learning by Sharing session at our October meeting in Brussels focused on new and renewable energies in Europe and some of the barriers to realizing the high official hopes for them there. The very name renewable has great appeal, as it promises unlimited sources of relatively clean energy daily, such as sunlight or a breeze. But today, when we need them to greatly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, they are not ready because they were never able to overcome the marketplace muscle of cheap coal and oil.

Light on Demand - just in case
March 21, 2008 09:08 AM - , The Alternative Consumer

Power outages are always a scary adventure. I was channel surfing (vegging out after a 10-day visit with mom, the original Energizer bunny) and Ellen was featuring this desk lamp on her show — doling out a lamp to all audience members. It got me thinking how useful this LED product could be if I were to find myself without power and in the dark for an extended period of time.

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