Sci/tech

Hydrofluorocarbons, Once a Solution, Now a Problem?
July 20, 2009 07:44 AM - David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post

Scientists say the chemicals that helped solve the last global environmental crisis -- the hole in the ozone layer -- are making the current one worse. They worked: The earth's protective shield seems to be recovering. But researchers say what's good for ozone is bad for climate change.

Fertilizer’s Contamination Legacy
July 19, 2009 07:21 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

Perchlorate-contaminated groundwater could be a widespread legacy of the U.S.'s agricultural past, according to researchers who have pioneered perchlorate forensics. The researchers, led by John Karl Bhlke of the U.S. Geological Survey, used isotopes and other geochemical tracers to identify perchlorate sources. The impact of the historic use of Chilean nitrate fertilizer from the Atacama Desert, which contains naturally occurring perchlorate, is emerging from studies such as one published recently in ES&T.

Mystery of Los Angeles Methane Emissions Probed
July 19, 2009 07:09 AM - New Scientist

The Los Angeles metropolitan area belches far more methane into its air than scientists had previously realized. If other megacities are equally profligate, urban methane emissions may represent a surprisingly important source of this potent greenhouse gas. Atmospheric researchers have long had good estimates of global methane emissions, but less is known about exactly where these emissions come from, particularly in urban areas.

Comment on DVD Review: Earth From The Air
July 18, 2009 11:42 AM - M Molendyke, ENN Community

The newly released "Earth From the Air" DVD is a compilation of the fascinating photographs taken by photographer Yann Arthus- Bertrand on his extensive world travels. Creating an aerial portrait of the globe, Bertrand has flown over hundreds of countries, snapping beautiful and thought- compelling pictures along the way. The subject matter of the photographs ranges from industrial architecture to exotic animals to natural wonders to the human struggle, and each image is as compelling as the next. The photographer's goal is to inspire a deeper understanding and appreciation of Planet Earth in the face of the climate and population boom crisis, and he effectively reaches his audience through this DVD, supplementing his message with frequent written passages that elegantly fade into the screen in between scenes. Most feature statistics meant to, at best, elicit shock in the viewer, at worst, interest her. With blurbs like "20% of the world population consumes 80% of the world energy", "1.6 billion people are overweight (of which 400 million are obese), 820 million are chronically undernourished", and "1 in 4 species of mammal, 2 in 5 species of amphibian, 1 in 8 species of bird are endangered", Bertrand captures his audiences' attention in more ways than one.

Are Aluminum Bottles Greener than Glass?
July 18, 2009 11:33 AM - , Triple Pundit

Aluminum as a substitute for glass bottles has been inching its way into the consumer experience in the last few years, most notably in the US in the form of beer bottles from Anheuser-Busch and Iron City Beer, a popular regional brand founded in Pittsburgh. Coca-cola has also announced plans to roll out aluminum bottles in this country, though only in limited venues.

Sun's Activity Cycle Linked to Earth Climate
July 18, 2009 10:01 AM - LiveScience

When the sun's weather is most active, it can impact Earth’s climate in a way that is similar to El Niño and La Niña events, a new study suggests. The sun experiences a roughly 11-year cycle, during which the activities on its roiling surface intensify and then dissipate. (One noted sign of a highly active period is the number of sunspots dotting the solar surface). The total energy reaching Earth from the sun varies by only 0.1 percent across the solar cycle.

Are the deserts getting green?
July 17, 2009 08:17 AM - Ayisha Yahya, BBC News

It has been assumed that global warming would cause an expansion of the world's deserts, but now some scientists are predicting a contrary scenario in which water and life slowly reclaim these arid places. They think vast, dry regions like the Sahara might soon begin shrinking.

Exxon Plan to develop biofuel from algae

Exxon Mobil Corp will invest $600 million over the next five to six years on trying to developing biofuel from algae, even though the oil major has said renewables will be only a small part of global energy supply. Exxon, placing its largest financial bet on renewable fuels, is forming a research and development alliance with Synthetic Genomics Inc, a privately held company that focuses on gene-based research, the company said on Tuesday.

NOAA developes first underwater detection system of harmful algae toxins
July 15, 2009 10:41 AM - Editor, ENN

Researchers from NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have carried out the first remote detection of a harmful algal species and its toxin.

What caused global warming 55 million years ago?
July 15, 2009 08:05 AM - Canada.com from Agence France-Presse

A runaway spurt of global warming 55 million years ago turned Earth into a hothouse but how this happened remains worryingly unclear, scientists said on Monday. Previous research into this period, called the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, estimates the planet's surface temperature blasted upwards by between five and nine degrees Celsius in just a few thousand years.

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