Testing for environmental contaminants in wastewater biosolids
February 14, 2014 10:08 AM - Ken Kingery, Duke University
Every year waste treatment facilities in the United States process more than eight million tons of semi-solid sewage called biosolids -- about half of which is recycled into fertilizer and spread on crop land. The practice helps solve storage issues and produces revenue to support the treatment plants, but what else is being spread in that sludge?
February 14, 2014 09:23 AM - Amy Carniol, Triple Pundit
It's Valentine's Day, and in supermarkets, drug stores and specialty shops across the country, shelves are lined with chocolates of every shape, size and variety. As you browse through endless heart-shaped boxes, consider this: The chocolate industry is in jeopardy, and if things don't change, there could be a worldwide cocoa deficit by the year 2020.
Six Caribbean Islands Sign On to Replace Diesel with Renewables
February 14, 2014 08:05 AM - Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit
Brought together on Sir Richard Branson’s Caribbean island retreat by the Carbon War Room and Rocky Mountain Institute, to work out a framework to effect a transition away from fossil fuels, six Caribbean island nations have agreed to replace diesel-fueled power with a mix of clean, sustainable renewable power generation, energy storage systems, and greater energy efficiency.
More contaminant troubles for West Virginia
February 13, 2014 09:18 AM - Judy Molland, Care2
On February 11, just one month after a chemical spill tainted drinking water for 300,000 people in and around the state's capital of Charleston, West Virginia experienced another environmental disaster: 100,000 gallons of coal slurry pour into stream.
Biodiversity conservationists get a little help with new online freshwater atlas
February 12, 2014 01:00 PM - Richa Malhotra, SciDevNet
An online repository of maps has been launched to make information on freshwater biodiversity available on a common platform for use by scientists, policymakers, conservationists and NGOs. The Global Freshwater Biodiversity Atlas will help developing countries identify biodiversity-rich areas for conservation. It was launched last month (29 January), as part of an EU-funded project called BioFresh, with the aim of putting together published maps and sharing them under a creative commons license.
Marine Protected Areas deemed largely ineffective
February 12, 2014 09:25 AM - Loren Bell, MONGABAY.COM
Protecting large, isolated areas of no-take zones for over 10 years with strong enforcement is the key to effective Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), according to a letter published this week in Nature. However, 59% of all MPAs meet less than three of the five criteria, making them protected in name only.
Climate migration in the face of climate change
February 11, 2014 09:41 AM - Julie Cohen, University of California, Santa Barbara
As climate change unfolds over the next century, plants and animals will need to adapt or shift locations to follow their ideal climate. A new study provides an innovative global map of where species are likely to succeed or fail in keeping up with a changing climate. The findings appear in the science journal Nature.
Calculating your water footprint
February 10, 2014 11:01 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Water scarcity affects 2.7 billion people worldwide for at least a month each year and in the same way that each of us has a carbon footprint, Professor Arjen Hoekstra of the University of Twente in the Netherlands posits that every person also has a "water footprint". Our water footprint is calculated by counting the amount of fresh water that we each use daily and the amount of water required to produce the goods and services that we consume. Due in large part to our monthly water bill, we recognize our daily fresh water use more than we do the amount of water that it takes to produce other foods and products that we consume. We more commonly think about water consumption in terms daily showers dishwasher and sprinkler usage or dripping spigots.
Should the Wolf continue to be protected?
February 9, 2014 08:03 AM - VIRGINIA MORELL, SCIENCE
The ongoing battle over a proposal to lift U.S. government protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) across the lower 48 states isn't likely to end quickly. An independent, peer-review panel yesterday gave a thumbs-down to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS's) plan to de-list the wolf. Although not required to reach a consensus, the four researchers on the panel were unanimous in their opinion that the proposal "does not currently represent the 'best available science'" "It's stunning to see a pronouncement like this--that the proposal is not scientifically sound," says Michael Nelson, an ecologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, who was not one of the reviewers. Many commentators regard it as a major set-back for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which stumbled last year in a previous attempt to get the science behind its proposal reviewed.
February 8, 2014 07:33 AM - ANGUS CHEN, ScienceNOW
Still searing from the formation of the solar system, the core of Earth is a nuclear reactor generating heat from the breakdown of radioactive elements like uranium, thorium, and potassium. Scientists have been harnessing that heat for decades by drilling deep wells to power turbines. But now researchers have been able to tap into even greater energy by drilling into volcanoes and exploiting the heat of molten rock. If current geothermal wells are replaced with the new technology, it could provide 30% more power than current renewable energy sources. The idea of tapping the energy of magma came from a pair of accidents. In 1985, workers drilling for a geothermal well in Iceland ran into a sudden and uncontrollable blast of high-pressure steam. Scientists think the steam originated from a reservoir of water that’s under such pressure that as it begins to boil, the water cannot expand enough to become vapor and remains in a liquidlike state. Water in such a "supercritical state" contains enormous amounts of energy. Water reaches this state once it reaches 222 bars of pressure and 374°C or above, and flashes into steam when the pressure drops as the water rises to the surface.