Sci/tech

Novel crop-cooling technique could mitigate climate change
January 19, 2009 09:12 AM - Sci / Dev

Planting crop varieties that better reflect sunlight back out to space could reduce summertime temperatures by more than one degree Celsius in some parts of the world, researchers announced yesterday (15 January). The reduction, they say, would at certain latitudes be equivalent to a seasonal offset of about 20 per cent of the regional warming expected by the end of this century due to the build-up of carbon dioxide.

Weird finds in ultra-deep Australian seas
January 19, 2009 09:01 AM - Sydney Morning Herald

Bizarre carnivorous sea squirts, large spider-like creatures and an ancient fossilised coral reef have all been found in a voyage into ultra-deep Australian waters. The scientific examination Chronology of the Tasman Fracture, a four kilometre-deep crack in the earth's crust off the coast of Tasmania's south-west, has led to the discovery of creatures never seen before.

Fish 'an ally' against climate change
January 16, 2009 09:51 AM - New Scientist

An unlikely ally may have been found in the fight against the effects of climate change. Fish excretions seem to play a key role in maintaining the ocean's delicate pH balance, says a study that also reveals that there are 2 billion tonnes of fish in the world's oceans. Bony fish excrete lumps of calcium carbonate, known as "gut rocks" which are thought to dissolve in the upper layers of the ocean. A team led by Rod Wilsonof the University of Exeter in the UK has now shown that the sheer amount of gut rocks produced plays a key role in buffering the carbon dioxide that acidifies seawater.

Car Makers Electrify North American Auto Show
January 15, 2009 09:17 AM - GreenBiz

A range of hybrid vehicles are on tap to enter the U.S. market, with companies planning new releases throughout the next few years. Within the first days of the 2009 North American International Auto Show's press preview, car makers from around the world have put their green plans front and center, setting bold initiatives and unveiling efficient transports.

How to turn your computer green
January 15, 2009 08:47 AM - telegraph.co.uk

What you can do to make your computer use more environmentally friendly

A Wind Turbine for Every Rooftop?
January 14, 2009 08:35 AM - Low Impact Living

These days, there are more and more options for those of you who want a small wind turbine out in the yard or on your roof. They range from the standard to the somewhat bizarre, and come in sizes that can power several major appliances all the way up to your whole house and beyond. In the right conditions, wind power can be much more economical than other renewable energy options such as solar or geothermal. Traditional propeller-type wind turbines remain the best options for residential settings outside of urban areas. They are efficient and time-tested, and the leading manufacturers of these turbines have been at it for a long time. Two of the leaders are Bergey Windpower and Southwest Windpower. Bergey makes several versions of its Excel turbine suitable for home use. The Excel can be connected to the electrical grid and is big enough to power an entire home.

Bug enzyme generates fuel from water
January 14, 2009 08:09 AM - Colin Barras, New Scientist

Light-powered, bacterial enzyme-containing nanoparticles that release hydrogen from water could lead the way to new strategies for generating the energy-rich gas. The lack of low-cost ways to create hydrogen gas is one of the main barriers to the dream of economies fuelled by hydrogen not oil.

Hair of Tasmanian tiger yields genes of extinct species
January 13, 2009 08:28 AM - Barbara K. Kennedy, Penn State

All the genes that the exotic Tasmanian Tiger inherited only from its mother will be revealed by an international team of scientists in a research paper to be published on 13 January 2009 in the online edition of Genome Research. The research marks the first successful sequencing of genes from this carnivorous marsupial, which looked like a large tiger-striped dog and became extinct in 1936. The research also opens the door to the widespread, nondestructive use of museum specimens to learn why mammals become extinct and how extinctions might be prevented.

New digital map of Africa's depleted soils to offer insights critical for boosting food production
January 13, 2009 08:17 AM - the International Center for Tropical Agriculture

Nairobi, Kenya (13 January 2009)—Responding to sub-Saharan Africa's soil health crisis, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) announced today an ambitious new effort to produce the first-ever, detailed digital soil map for all 42 countries of the region. This project combines the latest soil science and technology with remote satellite imagery and on-the-ground efforts to analyze thousands of soil samples from remote areas across the continent to help provide solutions for poor farmers, who suffer from chronically low-yielding crops largely because of degraded soils.

Revealed: the environmental impact of Google searches
January 12, 2009 08:56 AM - Times Online

Google is secretive about its energy consumption and carbon footprint. It also refuses to divulge the locations of its data centres. However, with more than 200m internet searches estimated globally daily, the electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions caused by computers and the internet is provoking concern. A recent report by Gartner, the industry analysts, said the global IT industry generated as much greenhouse gas as the world’s airlines - about 2% of global CO2 emissions. “Data centres are among the most energy-intensive facilities imaginable,” said Evan Mills, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Banks of servers storing billions of web pages require power.

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