Two Arctic Ice Seals Gain Endangered Species Act Protection - Warming Climate a Key Factor
December 29, 2012 09:41 AM - Center for Biological Diversity
Responding to a 2008 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the federal government today finalized Endangered Species Act protection for two ice-dependent Arctic seals threatened by melting sea ice and snowpack due to climate change. Ringed seals and bearded seals, found in the waters off Alaska, are the first species since polar bears to be protected primarily because of climate change threats. "Arctic animals face a clear danger of extinction from climate change," said Shaye Wolf, the Center's climate science director. "The Endangered Species Act offers strong protections for these seals, but we can't save the Arctic ecosystem without confronting the broader climate crisis. The Obama administration has to take decisive action, right now, against greenhouse gas pollution to preserve a world filled with ice seals, walruses and polar bears."
Marshes on U.S. Coast Need More Protection NOW
December 27, 2012 09:52 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
A hundred years ago we thought that we had to fill in the marshes near populated areas along the eastern US coastline since they represented prime locations for commercial and residential development. Even after some protections were put in place to reduce the impacts of runaway development, marshes continued to serve are the places we dumped our garbage, and sent the effluents from our wastewater treatment plants. They also receive the nutrient-rich run off from agricultural land use and urban street runoff to our rivers. A major nine-year study led by researcher Linda Deegan points to the damage that human-caused nutrients inflict on salt marshes along the U.S. East Coast. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, she describes what these findings mean for an ecosystem that provides critical services, from nourishing marine life to buffering the coast from storms like Sandy.
Come With Me on a Plastic Carpet Ride!
December 26, 2012 11:45 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Cities are often littered with trash and plastics on every street corner. The haphazard candy wrapper, bottle or plastic bag blowing in the wind creates eyesores for locals and tourists alike. But what is the litter situation in the desert? You won't find too much garbage where there aren't any people, that is unless it's a piece of plastic artwork. Dutch collective, WE MAKE CARPETS, was recently commissioned by the Taragalte Festival in southern Morocco to turn ordinary plastics into a magic carpet piece of artwork.
Sweet Potatoes Unexpected Reaction to Rising CO2 Levels
December 26, 2012 08:56 AM - Zoraida Portillo, SciDevNet
Rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere caused by human-driven emissions might lead to larger sweet potatoes, a staple food for many African and Asian countries, research reveals. Sweet potatoes could double in size with the increase in CO2 levels currently forecasted for the end of this century, according to research by a team from the University of Hawaii, United States. The team presented their finding at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, in San Francisco this month (3-7 December).
Christmas Trees Absorb Greenhouse Gasses
December 25, 2012 08:04 AM - Larry O'Hanlon, Discovery News
Your Christmas tree and its brethren are absorbing methane, a super greenhouse gas that they were previously suspected of emitting. In fact, previous studies put the global methane output by plants at between 62 and 236 teragrams each year. That's not small potatoes (if you will pardon the vegetable pun), but 10 to 30 percent of all methane entering the atmosphere. I refer to methane as a "super" greenhouse gas because it does what carbon dioxide does, but packs about 25 times the punch, which is bad. However, methane does not last very as long in Earth's atmosphere, which is good. Then again, one of the things methane degrades into is carbon dioxide. Bad again. Ugh.
Decal-like Sticker Will Make Solar Panels More Applicable
December 24, 2012 10:07 AM - Editor, ENN
Solar panels have been popping up on everything from rooftops to parking garages and even Christmas lights. However, these stiff and rigid heavy panels often limit their applications. Fortunately, researchers at Stanford University have developed flexible, decal-like solar panels that can be peeled off like stickers and stuck to virtually any surface, from papers to window panes.
Which State Leads the the Solar Power Race?
December 20, 2012 11:09 AM - Guest author, Jeana Brookes, Clean Techies
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, in the second quarter of 2012, California again led the nation in installed solar capacity, with a total of 217 MW. The state is expected to lead the nation in the solar race again in 2013. According to new research from the California-based NPD Solarbuzz, California is projected to keep its position at number one in 2013, much thanks to its combination of policy initiatives and citizen motivation.
Prairie Resurgence in the Midwest
December 20, 2012 09:32 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Suburban sprawl meant the introduction of lawn monoculture: perfectly cut, well-manicured lawns that became a part of pride for many American homeowners. However, in the Midwest, a new lawn resurgence is occurring: restoring yards to the native prairies that existed in pre-settlement days. In an effort to manage yards and fallow farmland succumbing to invasive shrubs, more and more people are spending the time and resources to turn their property into the native ecosystem that once ruled the land. This practice is not only attracting more wildlife to areas, but it is changing the way people maintain their yards, as prairies require less watering and fertilizer, and no mowing!
How Can the Performance of Batteries in Electric Cars be Improved?
December 18, 2012 06:10 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
I have been driving a Chevy VOLT for a year and a half. I have more than 26,000 miles on it, and have used 100 gallons of gasoline. That works out to more than 250 mpg. Of course, I have been charging the VOLT at home every night, and at the office during the day but my electric bills at both places are not noticeably higher. It would be nice if the electric range were a bit longer, but the gasoline engine on board that charges the batteries guarantees that I can keep driving as long as I need to. What are the limiting factors to increasing the range of the lithium ion batteries? Researchers led by Ohio State University engineers examined used car batteries and discovered that over time lithium accumulates beyond the battery electrodes — in the "current collector," a sheet of copper which facilitates electron transfer between the electrodes and the car's electrical system. This knowledge could aid in improving design and performance of batteries, explained Bharat Bhushan, Ohio Eminent Scholar and the Howard D. Winbigler Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "Our study shows that the copper current collector plays a role in the performance of the battery," he said.
Vancouver Uses "Warm Mix" Paving Process, Uses Recycled Plastic in Asphalt
December 17, 2012 09:32 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit
The Canadian city of Vancouver is using innovative materials to pave its new roads: asphalt made up of wax from recycled plastic. The city is calling the asphalt mix a "warm mix" paving process, according to Fast Coexist. Using a warm mix, as Fast Coexist explains, allows asphalt to be "produced and transported at lower temperatures." Using lower temperatures means that 20 percent less gas is used to heat the warm mix asphalt. Produced by GreenMantra Technologies, a Toronto-based company, the warm mix asphalt is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic waste.