Planting trees in deserts to fight climate change
August 26, 2013 06:16 AM - Earth System Dynamics, SciDevNet
Planting trees in coastal deserts could capture carbon dioxide, reduce harsh desert temperatures, boost rainfall, revitalise soils and produce cheap biofuels, say scientists. Large-scale plantations of the hardy jatropha tree, Jatropha curcas, could help sequester carbon dioxide through a process known as 'carbon farming', according to a study based on data gathered in Mexico and Oman that was published in Earth System Dynamics. Each hectare of the tree could soak up 17-25 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, they say, at a cost of 42-63 euros (about US$56-84) per tonne of gas, the paper says. This makes the technique competitive with high-tech carbon capture and storage.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
August 25, 2013 08:56 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN, Electric Forum
Electric vehicles will catch on when there are enough charging stations to make their widespread use really practical, and manufacturers will offer more EV's for sale when there is a market for them! I love driving my Tesla Model S, but have to admit that for some overnight trips I take an older internal combustion engine powered car since it is still hard to find a hotel with a charging station that I can plug in to for a battery top-off. So which comes first, more electric cars, or more charging stations? There has been a massive increase in the number of electric vehicles and complimentary products released into the marketplace over the last few weeks. There is now growing suspicion that a number of EV manufacturers, and electric car charging companies, have been holding back products and services until they deemed the market was open to new ideas and new products. This may seem a little bizarre when you consider that the EV businesses will want to see as quick a return as possible or on their investments but every day now we see new products and new services being released. While the Tesla Model S certainly caught the headlines when released earlier this year we have also seen BMW introduce its first mainstream electric vehicle, Chevrolet look to reduce the headline cost of its vehicles and earlier this week we saw the introduction of a foldaway electric car. At this moment in time there is a constant flurry of new innovations and new products to the marketplace and while they are catching the headlines today we can only hope the industry does not run out of steam.
Refrigerated Trucks To Use Fuel Cell Technology
August 23, 2013 12:09 PM - Allison Winter, ENN
In order to transport our favorite ice creams, frozen foods, and fresh produce, certain trucks are equipped with powerful refrigeration systems often powered by small diesel engines. These engines are constantly running all the way from the manufacturers of these frozen goods to the market in order to keep these groceries frozen or cool. As a result, refrigeration trucks tend to use more energy and resources to run. In an effort to reduce some reduce emissions and use a quieter, more efficient alternative to these refrigeration units, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are overseeing a project that will use an alternative energy source: fuel cells.
California's Redwoods face new threat
August 23, 2013 06:27 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
California is a magnificent state, with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. It is also home to some of the most magnificent trees in the world, the giant Redwoods. These trees have survived for millennia, fending off attacks from diseases and fire. Now they face a new threat, the combined effects of sudden oak death and fire. Usually resistant to the effects of wildfires, California's coast redwoods are now burning as fast as other trees. Why? To find answers, plant pathologist David Rizzo of the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) and colleagues monitored more than 80,000 hectares of forests near Big Sur, Calif. In their plots, tanoaks, California bay laurels and coast redwoods grow. The study began in 2006. "In 2008, almost half our plots were burned by wildfires that lasted the better part of a month," says Rizzo. That was the beginning of the end for many coast redwoods, surprising researchers who expected the trees to be fire-proof.
85% of Brazilian leather goes to markets sensitive to environmental concerns
August 22, 2013 04:48 PM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM
Around 40% of beef and 85% of leather production serve markets that are potentially sensitive to environmental concerns, providing a partial explanation as to why Brazilian producers have made recent commitments to reducing deforestation for cattle production, finds a new study published in Tropical Conservation Science. The research, conducted by Nathalie Walker and Sabrina Patel of the National Wildlife Federation and Kemel Kalif of Amigos da Terra - Amazônia Brasileira, used government data to estimate the proportion of beef and leather production that ends up in environmentally-sensitive markets. They find that the vast majority of leather exports "could be considered to be susceptible to demand for deforestation-free products."
Sea Levels dropped in 2010 -2011, why?
August 22, 2013 06:21 AM - ScienceDaily
In 2011, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the University of Colorado at Boulder reported that between early 2010 and summer 2011, global sea level fell sharply, by about a quarter of an inch, or half a centimeter. Using data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) spacecraft, they showed that the drop was caused by the very strong La Nina that began in late 2010. That La Nina changed rainfall patterns all over our planet, moving huge amounts of Earth's water from the ocean to the continents. The phenomenon was short-lived, however. A unique and complex set of circumstances came together over Australia from 2010 to 2011 to cause Earth's smallest continent to be the biggest contributor to the observed drop in global sea level rise during that time, finds a new study co-authored and co-funded by NASA.
Pesticide Problems in the Amazon
August 21, 2013 12:48 PM - Adam Andrus, MONGABAY.COM
As the world’s population increases and agricultural frontiers expand into native tropical habitats, researchers are working furiously to understand the impacts on tropical forests and global biodiversity. But one obvious impact has been little studied in these agricultural frontiers: pesticides. However a new study in the journal Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B seeks to shine a light on the problem.
Climate change killing harp seal pups
August 20, 2013 04:55 PM - Alexander Holmgren, MONGABAY.COM
As sea ice levels continue to decline in the northern hemisphere, scientists are observing an unsettling trend in harp seal young mortalities regardless of juvenile fitness. While a recent study found that in harp seal breeding regions ice cover decreased by up to 6% a decade from 1979 on, a follow-up study in PLoS ONE compared the rate of harp seal strandings to total ice cover from 1992 to 2010. The data showed a direct relationship between the two, with seal pup strandings rising sharply as ice cover was reduced.
Warning Labels for Gasoline Pumps?
August 20, 2013 01:28 PM - Allison Winter, ENN
Tobacco packaging warning messages have recently been required on cigarettes and other tobacco products in many countries worldwide in an effort to enhance the public's awareness of the harmful effects of smoking. In a similar fashion, a Canadian campaign is calling for all gasoline pumps to have warming labels on nozzles to inform consumers on the effects fuels have on climate change. Michelle Reeves at Our Horizon, the non-profit executing the campaign, states, "It's a cheap, simple idea that has the potential to change the way we think about, and address, climate change. They are modeled after cigarette package warning labels, which have been proven to work. Some people's behavior might change, but our ultimate goal is to create a shift in the political will to demand for alternatives, and create a space in the market for affordable alternative mobility solutions."
Reducing Food Waste While Feeding the Hungry
August 20, 2013 12:40 PM - Carol Dreibelbis, Worldwatch Institute
According to a report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) last year, 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten. Americans throw away about US$165 billion worth of food each year—or about 9 kilograms of food per person each month—which then ends up in landfills, where it accounts for about a quarter of U.S. methane emissions.