Living with cats is good for your health (Dogs too!)
August 22, 2012 06:48 AM - Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
News headlines over the past few years have linked cat ownership to everything from cancer to craziness, but new studies suggest that cats are actually beneficial to human health, and may even reduce our risk for cancer and other diseases. Reports in this week's issue of Biology Letters, for example, counter the tabloid-suggested link between cats and human brain cancer. Marion Vittecoq of the Tour du Valat research center and her colleagues conclude that cats should not be blamed for human cancer. In fact, studies show just the opposite.
Cape Wind Gets Final Approval
August 21, 2012 07:36 AM - Sean Teehan, Cape Cod Times
Cape Wind cleared its last bureaucratic hurdle Wednesday when the Federal Aviation Administration released its finding that the project poses no hazard to planes. The finding came after a court-mandated re-evaluation of possible safety hazards the 130-turbine project poses to planes and a GOP inquiry into whether the FAA's initial approval in 2010 was the result of political pressure from the left. "(The FAA's) aeronautical study revealed that the structure does not exceed obstruction standards and would not be a hazard to air navigation," the latest FAA determination reads. The project presents no hazard as long as Cape Wind marks and lights obstructions to planes, files required construction forms with the FAA and builds no turbines exceeding 440 feet above ground level, the decision reads.
Weyerheuser’s NORPAC plant Pioneering new Energy Saving Technology
August 20, 2012 06:41 AM - Tina Casey, Triple Pundit
One of the most significant energy efficiency projects in recent years is underway in the State of Washington, and it could set the stage for new growth in the U.S. paper industry. The largest paper mill in the U.S., Weyerheuser's NORPAC plant in Longview, is getting a new system for pretreating wood chips that is expected to save the company 100 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The project is noteworthy not only for its sheer size, but also for demonstrating the potential that new conservation technologies have for generating new products and services. The full system is not entirely on line yet, but NORPAC (North Pacific Paper Corporation) is already using it to produce a new grade of paper.
Wind Power in the US Expected to Peak in 2012
August 19, 2012 07:42 AM - The Green Economy
The U.S. Department of Energy's "2011 Wind Technologies Market Report" finds that in 2011, the United States was still one of the fastest-growing markets for wind power. Around 6.8 gigwatts (GW) of new wind power capabilities were established in 2011, up from 5.2 GW in 2010. 2011 levels, however, were still beneath the 10 GW built in 2009. With the concerns of uncertain federal policies on the way, 2012 is expected to have the wind power market reach its peak, according to the research. Put together by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the "2011 Wind Technologies Market Report" listed some other important points: Today, wind power accounts for over 10% of the total electricity production in six states, two of which have over 20%. Combined, these statistics comprise over 3% of the nation's entire supply of electricity. In 2011, wind power made up 32% of all the new additions to U.S. electricity capacity.
Tighter Rules on Coal Dust Exposure Backed by the GAO
August 18, 2012 08:29 AM - SCIENCE
After an extensive review—including a visit to a working coal mine in Pennsylvania—a U.S. government watchdog agency has concluded that mine safety regulators relied on sound science in proposing a new rule designed to reduce miners' exposure to coal dust. Industry groups had challenged the research underlying the 2010 proposal, and late last year Congress asked its investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), to look into the matter. Since 1968, more than 75,000 U.S. coal miners have died from lung diseases caused by coal mine dust, today's GAO report notes. And recent studies have suggested that so-called black lung disease is on the rise, threatening more than 85,000 miners working in 26 states. In a bid to reduce the threat, in October 2010 the Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) proposed reducing allowable concentrations of coal mine dust, lowering the standard from 2.0 milligrams of dust per cubic meter of air (mg/m3) to 1.0 milligram per cubic meter.
Cold-Blooded species may adapt to climate change faster than thought
August 17, 2012 07:22 AM - ScienceDaily
In the face of a changing climate many species must adapt or perish. Ecologists studying evolutionary responses to climate change forecast that cold-blooded tropical species are not as vulnerable to extinction as previously thought. The study, published in the British Ecological Society's Functional Ecology, considers how fast species can evolve and adapt to compensate for a rise in temperature. The research, carried out at the University of Zurich, was led by Dr Richard Walters, now at Reading University, alongside David Berger now at Uppsala University and Wolf Blanckenhorn, Professor of Evolutionary Ecology at Zurich.
Algae Fuel Advancing in Practicality
August 16, 2012 06:21 AM - The NOCAMELS TEAM, NoCamels
Its deserts are hot and dry, and underground aquifers in the south are brackish or saline. By most standards the deserts in Israel don’t make prime real estate for farmers, but as far as algae are concerned —— minute plants that grow in water and on ponds as scum —— Israel's conditions are perfect. And a new company from Tel Aviv called Univerve is working to turn this natural substance into third-generation renewable fuel for today and the future. High oil prices, and the fact that traditional fossil fuels such as gasoline create dangerous greenhouse gases, have sparked an international movement to create new biofuels from renewable resources.
Carbon Capture? Is it a Foreseeable Reality?
August 15, 2012 11:56 AM - Danielle Thé
Interesting new research by MIT takes a look at the viability of capturing carbon from the air. The study suggests that at least in the near future, this would not be a cost effective measure. Since most of the world’s governments have not yet enacted regulations to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, some experts have advocated the development of technologies to remove carbon dioxide directly from the air. But a new MIT study shows that, at least for the foreseeable future, such proposals are not realistic because their costs would vastly exceed those of blocking emissions right at the source, such as at the powerplants that burn fossil fuels. Some purveyors of various new technologies for scrubbing carbon dioxide out of the air are reminiscent of "snake-oil salesmen," says Howard Herzog, a senior research engineer at the MIT Energy Initiative and co-author of the new analysis published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study was co-authored by MIT civil and environmental engineering postdoc Kurt Zenz House, along with researchers at C12 Energy in Berkeley, Calif., and at Stanford University.
Northwest Passage is open again - NASA
August 15, 2012 06:39 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM
A satellite image released by NASA last week shows a key channel that forms part of the Northwest Passage is partially free of ice. The image, acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, shows that more than two-thirds of the Parry Channel was ice-free on July 30. The median coverage for that date was 79 percent from 1980-2010. The Parry Channel separates Victoria Island from Melville Island in Canada's far north.
Record Burmese Python found in the Florida Everglades
August 14, 2012 07:15 AM - Megan Gannon, MSNBC
A double record-setting Burmese python has been found in the Florida Everglades. At 17 feet, 7 inches (5.3 meters) in length, it is the largest snake of its kind found in the state and it was carrying a record 87 eggs. Scientists say the finding highlights how dangerously comfortable the invasive species has become in its new home. "This thing is monstrous, it's about a foot wide," said Kenneth Krysko, of the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. "It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild, there's nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble."