Sci/tech

Freezers produce 25% of supermarkets' carbon footprint
February 2, 2009 08:55 AM - The Herald

Supermarket fridges and freezers are environmentally unfriendly, spewing out bad gases that make up more than a quarter of the companies' total carbon footprint. The HFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) can have as much as 4000 times more impact on global warming than carbon dioxide, say green campaigners. None of the 10 high-street stores fared well in a survey that had Iceland scoring an alarming -1 out of a hundred, closely followed by rivals Lidl (0 points) and Aldi (+1).

Tigers 'Took The Silk Road' To Russia
February 2, 2009 08:32 AM - University of Oxford

In a study recently published in PLoS One the team show that the Caspian tiger from Central Asia, which became extinct in 1970, was almost identical to the living Siberian, or Amur, tigers found in the Russian Far East today. The discovery not only sheds new light on how the animals reached Central Asia and Russia but also opens up the intriguing possibility that conservationists might repopulate tiger-less Central Asia with Siberian tigers from Russia or China.

The Greenhouse Effect and the Bathtub Effect
January 30, 2009 09:55 AM - NY Times

A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluding that the buildup of human-generated greenhouse gases could leave a profound millenniums-long imprint on climate and sea levels, focuses on a characteristic of global warming that the public, and many policymakers, have not absorbed - at least according to John Sterman at M.I.T. That characteristic is the "bathtub effect" behind the human-amplified greenhouse effect. Dr. Sterman, a prominent analyst of risk perception and management at the Sloan School, has devised various tools akin to flight simulators to help corporate leaders understand the nature of a variety of problems and choose among various remedies. He recently turned this approach to climate, which he says bears much more resemblance to deficit spending and the national debt than it does to 20th-century-style pollution problems like acid rain.

Lenovo’s New Monitors Are Greenest Available
January 30, 2009 09:41 AM - Meta Efficient

Lenovo has released a range of new LCD monitors that are probably the greenest monitors available. The new Thinkvision L2440x monitor received Greenpeace’s highest rating in their Green Electronics Survey 2008 (PDF File). Recently, I had a chance to review the Thinkvision L2440p 24″ widescreen LCD monitor. The L2440p uses only 30 watts to power its display. As I write this post, my Kill-a-Watt meter says the L2440p is using only 29.5 watts.

Most effective climate engineering solutions revealed
January 28, 2009 10:02 AM - New Scientist

Many scenarios have been proposed to help us engineer our way out of potential climate disaster, and now a new study could point us towards the ones that are most effective. Tim Lenton of the University of East Anglia, UK, has put together the first comparative assessment of climate-altering proposals such pumping sulphur into the atmosphere to mimic the cooling effect of volcanic emissions, or fertilising the oceans with iron.

Is technology producing a decline in critical thinking and analysis?
January 28, 2009 09:13 AM - University of California - Los Angeles

As technology has played a bigger role in our lives, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined, while our visual skills have improved, according to research by Patricia Greenfield, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children's Digital Media Center, Los Angeles. Learners have changed as a result of their exposure to technology, says Greenfield, who analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and technology, including research on multi-tasking and the use of computers, the Internet and video games. Her research was published this month in the journal Science.

Hoarding rainwater could 'dramatically' expand range of dengue-fever mosquito
January 27, 2009 09:31 AM - Wiley-Blackwell

Ecologists have developed a new model to predict the impact of climate change on the dengue fever-carrying mosquito Aedes aegypti in Australia – information that could help limit its spread. According to the study, published in the new issue of the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology, climate change and evolutionary change could act together to accelerate and expand the mosquito's range. But human behaviour – in the form of storing water to cope with climate change – is likely to have an even greater impact.

Billion-year revision of plant evolution timeline may stem from discovery of lignin in seaweed
January 27, 2009 09:24 AM - University of British Columbia

Land plants' ability to sprout upward through the air, unsupported except by their own woody tissues, has long been considered one of the characteristics separating them from aquatic plants, which rely on water to support them. Now lignin, one of the chemical underpinnings vital to the self-supporting nature of land plants – and thought unique to them – has been found in marine algae by a team of researchers including scientists at UBC and Stanford University.

What's a little mold? Why consumers have different freshness standards at home
January 26, 2009 11:57 AM - University of Chicago Press Journals

Why is it acceptable for someone who would never purchase "expired" milk at the store to pour "expired" milk into a cup of coffee at breakfast? A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research explores the reasons consumers are more likely to consume products that are past their expiration dates if they are in their refrigerators than if they are in a store. Authors Sankar Sen and Lauren G. Block (both Baruch College/CUNY) explored a phenomenon termed the "endowment effect," meaning that owning a product increases a consumer's valuation of it. The endowment effect has been studied before, but not in regard to perishable products.

Switching Light Bulbs? Consider Going Mercury Free!
January 23, 2009 08:36 AM - Global Warming is Real

Seattle startup Vu1 Corporation plans to launch a new type of light bulb that functions like a TV tube. Contrary to what you'd think, the technology is amazingly environmentally friendly. Vu1(View One) has raised $13 million to develop a brand new technology by fusing three existing technologies. "It is not induction lighting. It is not plasma. It is not fluorescent. It is not halogen. It is not LED," said Ron Davis, the chief marketing officer in an interview with Greentech Media.

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