Sustainability

Origami in Space
August 16, 2014 09:30 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN

An ancient art form is beginning to take off in a way no one thought possible: on a spaceship. Origami, or Japanese folding paper, is currently being developed into solar panels at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at The California Institute of Technology. Solar panels that have endless applications. Space travel has already turned over the possibility of solar-powered flight via folding panels, but this particular reincarnation is different. Developers cite a more intricate fold that allows for efficient deployment of the solar arrays. And it doesn’t stop there. Origami may one day be used in self-assembling solar arrays that are launched into space to power the earth below.

Herbicide Use To Increase Dramatically
August 15, 2014 10:50 AM - Editor, The Ecologist

The US is poised to 'deregulate' GMO corn, soybean and cotton varieties resistant to the herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba. The result will be a big increase in the use of those herbicides, as high as 600%. Only a huge public outcry can now stop the GMO-herbicide juggernaut. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and proposed approval for new GMO corn and soybean varieties genetically engineered to be resistant to the toxic herbicide 2,4-D.

The power of distributed power!
August 14, 2014 03:03 PM - ELISA WOOD , Clean Techies

Once upon a time when a big power plant retired, it was replaced by one as big or bigger. But not anymore. Energy efficiency is increasingly reducing the need for more power. And when it is needed, distributed generation may be enough. That's how utilities increasingly view the market, according to this year's Strategic Directions: U.S. Electric Industry report issued August 12 by Black & Veatch. The report is based on a survey of 576 utility leaders from May 7 to May 27.

What can we learn from the California Rim Fire?
August 14, 2014 06:42 AM - Crystal Shepeard, Care2

August 17, 2014 will mark the one year anniversary of the Rim Fire in the California Sierra Nevadas. It was dubbed the Rim Fire due to its proximity to the Rim of the World scenic lookout. The third largest wildfire in California’s history, it burned 257,000 acres of land in Stanislaus National Forest and the western edge of Yosemite National Park, in addition to private land in neighboring counties. It cost more than $127 million to contain, and included more than $50 million in property damage. In the early hours of the fire, a deer hunter was rescued. After the hunter was taken to safety by helicopter, investigators interviewed him to see if he witnessed anything. He told them that he had slipped and caused a rock slide that may have ignited the dry vegetation. As time went on, his story changed several times, even blaming it on marijuana growers. Finally, as the fire had been raging for several weeks, he finally told the real story.

duh DUN... It's Shark Week!
August 13, 2014 12:11 PM - S.E. Smith, Care2

It's time for the 27th annual Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, featuring a solid week of shark-centric programming for viewers who just can't get enough of ... factually incorrect fear-mongering stories about sharks. Sharks are the villain everyone loves to hate, from Jaws to endless B-movies on the SyFy Channel, but in fact, the real enemy is humans. Worldwide, sharks are in critical danger, and we're the only ones who can save them. It's time to put down the remote and take up the cause of shark conservation, because it won't be too long before Shark Week is little more than a series of antique horror films about a superorder of fish that used to be abundant in the world's oceans.

Bottling Water from Drought Stricken Areas
August 12, 2014 07:55 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

The bottled water industry has grown exponentially the past few decades despite the fact tap water in the United States is generally safe. Never mind the fact bottled water producers have had more than their fair share of safety issues: bottled water has become accepted by consumers. While companies such as Nestlé insist they are taking responsibility for water stewardship and recycling, they also bottle their water at dubious sources, including those in drought stricken regions.

The importance of maintaining seagrass
August 12, 2014 07:05 AM - Harriet Jarlett, Planet Earth Online

Seagrass meadows provide the ideal place for young fish to thrive, say NERC-funded scientists researching the importance of these habitats for commercial fishing. Globally seagrasses are being lost at the same rate as Amazonian rainforests, and little is being done to conserve these habitats as their importance isn't fully understood. But scientists at Swansea University have just published two studies in the journals Marine Pollution Bulletin and Marine Biodiversity showing these areas are vital to the wellbeing of juvenile fish, and consequently the fishing industry.

New study casts light on climate change and oceanic oxygen levels
August 10, 2014 09:55 AM - University of South Carolina via ScienceDaily

A commonly held belief that global warming will diminish oxygen concentrations in the ocean looks like it may not be entirely true. According to new research published in Science magazine, just the opposite is likely the case in the northern Pacific Ocean, with its anoxic zone expected to shrink in coming decades because of climate change. An international team of scientists came to that surprising conclusion after completing a detailed assessment of changes since 1850 in the eastern tropical northern Pacific's oxygen minimum zone (OMZ). An ocean layer beginning typically a few hundred to a thousand meters below the surface, an OMZ is by definition the zone with the lowest oxygen saturation in the water column. OMZs are a consequence of microbial respiration and can be hostile environments for marine life.

Paint dust pollutes the oceans
August 8, 2014 09:51 AM - Erik Stokstad, Science

Even when the sea looks clean, its surface can be flecked with tiny fragments of paint and fiberglass. That's the finding from a study that looked for plastic pollution in the uppermost millimeter of ocean. The microscopic fragments come from the decks and hulls of boats, and they could pose a threat to tiny creatures called zooplankton, which are an important part of the marine food web. The discovery is "continuing to open our eyes to how many small synthetic particles are in the environment," says Kara Law, an oceanographer who studies plastic pollution at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and wasn’t involved in the study.

Are humans impacting the deep Earth?
August 7, 2014 09:31 AM - Alex Peel, Planet Earth Online

Human forays deep underground, such as boreholes, mines and nuclear bomb tests, are leaving a mark on the planet's geology that will last for hundreds of millions of years, say scientists. In a new report, published in the journal Anthropocene, they say we are altering Earth's rocks in a way that's unique in the planet's 4.6 billion-year history.

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