Sustainability

Did Earthquake damage Iranian Nuclear Power Plant?
July 22, 2013 04:52 PM - Editor ENN, SciDevNet

Arab Gulf states have raised concerns about the safety of an Iranian nuclear power station built in an earthquake-prone coastal area. The concerns about the Bushehr plant, which officially opened in 2011, were raised during a meeting of the 35-nation board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, last month (3-7 June). The reactor lies on the north-east coast of the Arabian Gulf. Any leak of radioactive material could therefore affect coastal regions of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman's Musandam Peninsula.

Should GM Lose Sleep Over Tesla?
July 22, 2013 12:43 PM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Should GM fret at the thought of Tesla? The Big 3 automakers had sneered at electric vehicles (EVs) for years, but a slow shift is underway. Ford has its plug-ins with the Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi; Chrysler, thanks to Fiat, has a little toe in the EV waters with the 500e on California roads; and GM touts the Volt and Spark EV.

Antarctica Ice Sheet less stable than previously thought
July 22, 2013 06:36 AM - Carolyn Gramling, Science

Earth continues to hit temperature and greenhouse gas milestones—just a couple of months ago, multiple stations measured carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere of 400 parts per million, the highest in several million years. Many studies have tried to estimate how much and how rapidly the two great ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica might melt—and the one reassuring point has been the apparent relative stability of the eastern (and, by far, larger) half of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Now, a new study of past melting in East Antarctica suggests that over the long haul, the "stable" ice sheet may be more vulnerable to warming than thought. To study possible future melting of the ice sheets, many scientists look to the past. Current warm temperatures and high greenhouse gas conditions are reminiscent of the warm Pliocene Epoch that lasted from 5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago. "Early and middle Pliocene global temperatures and greenhouse gas concentrations are probably the closest analog in Earth's history to the present climate on this planet and the climate conditions we will encounter before the end of this century," says Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, a sedimentologist at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, U.K., who was not involved in the study.

World Population Growing Fast & Unevenly
July 20, 2013 07:40 AM - Population Matters from International Business Times

It's no secret that the world's population growth is heavily skewed by region — so much so that the changes expected for the next century will radically change the world as we know it. But according to projections recently revised by the United Nations Population Program, those changes will come even faster than we thought. The UN has dispensed with the old estimate that Africa's population will triple within 90 years — instead, it could very well quadruple.

US electric cars out sell hybrids in first half of 2013
July 19, 2013 01:37 PM - Editor, Electric Forum

In a surprising move for the US electric car industry, the Electric Drive Transportation Association has released figures which show that US electric cars outsold their hybrid counterparts in the first half of 2013 by 22,712 to 18,335. This is a resounding result for the electric car industry although the momentum which led to this switchover will need to be maintained in the longer term as the industry sets its sights on the mass market. There may be a number of one-offs which have assisted this switch in momentum but the fact remains that electric vehicles are now more popular in the US than they ever have been.

Volta River and Climate Change
July 19, 2013 11:44 AM - Editor ENN

A new study released today finds that so much water may be lost in the Volta River Basin due to climate change that planned hydroelectric projects to boost energy and food production may only tread water in keeping up with actual demand. Some 24 million people in Ghana, Burkina Faso and four other neighboring countries depend on the Volta River and its tributaries as their principal source of water. Specifically, the researchers with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and their partners concluded that the combined effects of higher temperatures and diminished rain could mean that by the year 2100, all of the current and planned hydroelectric projects in the basin would not even generate as much power as existing facilities do now. Meanwhile, there would only be enough water to meet about a third of irrigation demand.

Renewable Energy Sources On the Rise
July 18, 2013 08:45 AM - Editor, ENN

Each year the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) releases energy flow charts in an effort to track the United States' consumption of energy resources. So what seems to be the trend from the past couple of years? Well, renewable energy is on the upswing. Compared to 2011, Americans used more natural gas, solar panels and wind turbines and less coal to generate electricity in 2012, according to the LLNL charts.

Using the free market to fight climate change looks like a winner!
July 17, 2013 07:11 AM - ScienceDaily

The best way to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change is through the use of market forces, according to a new study. Researchers who monitored the effectiveness of the European Climate Exchange (ECX) -- the world's biggest carbon trading platform -- found it to be as efficient as Europe's two biggest exchanges, the London Stock Exchange and the Euronext Paris. Using free market platforms like the ECX to combat climate change could provide the basis for the introduction of a mandatory emissions cap and trade scheme worldwide.

Welcome the birth of two Giant Pandas at the Atlanta Zoo!
July 17, 2013 06:01 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Giant Pandas rarely give birth to young in captivity. When they do it is cause for celebration! Lun Lun, a 15-year-old giant panda, gave birth to twins on July 15, 2013 at the Atlanta Fulton County Zoo. The first of the tiny duo arrived at 6:21 p.m., and its twin followed at 6:23 p.m. The cubs are the first giant pandas to be born in the U.S. in 2013 and the first twins to be born in the U.S. since 1987. The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams are currently caring for one of the cubs in the nursery unit in the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Center; Lun Lun is currently caring for the other. Assisting Zoo Atlanta staff is an animal care colleague from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding where Lun Lun and Yang Yang were born. Lun Lun is an experienced and capable mother, but she has never before given birth to twins, which are not unusual in her species.

Oil Sheens in Gulf of Mexico Traced Back to Deepwater Horizon Site
July 16, 2013 03:03 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

When the US Coast Guard was informed of oil sheens in the Gulf of Mexico in July 2012, there was concern over where this oil was coming from. In order to determine the source of the sheen, a research team assembled to use recently patented technology in order to fingerprint the chemical makeup of the sheens, compare them to potential sources, and estimate the location of the source based on the extend the gasoline-like compounds evaporated from the sheens. "The results demonstrate a recently developed geochemical analytical method and may have real-world implications in environmental management strategies for future contamination incidents," says Deborah Aruguete, program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences, which co-funded the research. Because every oil sample contains chemical clues pointing to the reservoir it came from, scientists can compare it to other samples to determine if they share a common source. After analyzing 14 sheen samples skimmed from the Gulf of Mexico, the researchers confirmed that the sheens contained oil from the Macondo well. However, the samples also contained trace amounts of olefins, industrial chemicals used in drilling operations.

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