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What could be better than LED lighting?

Even as the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has enshrined light emitting diodes (LEDs) as the single most significant and disruptive energy-efficient lighting solution of today, scientists around the world continue unabated to search for the even-better-bulbs of tomorrow.

Electronics based on carbon, especially carbon nanotubes (CNTs), are emerging as successors to silicon for making semiconductor materials. And they may enable a new generation of brighter, low-power, low-cost lighting devices that could challenge the dominance of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the future and help meet society's ever-escalating demand for greener bulbs.

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The Aral Desert: Once a Sea - Now, All Dried Up

The Aral Sea is a well known environmental disaster zone. But this year, it got a whole (lot) worse, writes Anson Mackay, as its biggest basin dried up completely to expose a toxic, salty wasteland. With continuing irrigation and declining river flows due to climate change, the desert is only set to expand. The Aral Sea has reached a new low, literally and figuratively. New satellite images from NASA show that, for the first time in its recorded history, its largest basin has completely dried up. However, the Aral Sea has an interesting history - and as recently as 600-700 years ago it was as small, if not smaller, than today.

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Ocean Plays Important Role in Past Climate Change

Most of the concerns about climate change have focused on the amount of greenhouse gases that have been released into the atmosphere. But in a new study published in Science, a group of Rutgers researchers have found that circulation of the ocean plays an equally important role in regulating the earth’s climate.

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Ebola - vaccines under development show promise

Not everyone who contracts the Ebola virus dies, the survival rate is around 30% suggesting that some kind of immunity to the disease is possible. Experimental treatments and vaccines against Ebola exist but have not yet been tested in large groups for safety and efficacy (phase 2 trials). 

The International Union of Immunology Societies (IUIS) published a statement today in its official journal, Frontiers in Immunology calling for urgent and adequate funding of vaccine candidates in clinical trials and speedy implementation of immunisation in African countries.

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Can the corridors under high-tension lines be important opportunities for conservation?

Often mowed and doused with herbicides, power transmission lines have long been a bane for environmentalists. But that’s changing, as some utilities are starting to manage these areas as potentially valuable corridors for threatened wildlife. Nobody loves electrical power transmission lines. They typically bulldoze across the countryside like a clearcut, 150 feet wide and scores or hundreds integrated vegetation management in right-of-way scores or hundreds of miles long, in a straight line that defies everything we know about nature. They’re commonly criticized for fragmenting forests and other natural habitats and for causing collisions and electrocutions for some birds. Power lines also have raised the specter, in the minds of anxious neighbors, of illnesses induced by electromagnetic fields. So it's a little startling to hear wildlife biologists proposing that properly managed transmission lines, and even natural gas and oil pipeline rights-of-way, could be the last best hope for many birds, pollinators, and other species that are otherwise dramatically declining. >> Read the Full Article

How Offshore Wind Farms Affect Marine Species

Offshore wind power is a valuable source of renewable energy that can help reduce carbon emissions. Technological advances are allowing higher capacity turbines to be installed in deeper water, but there is still much unknown about the effects on the environment. In a recent paper, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science researcher Helen Bailey and colleagues review the potential impacts of offshore wind developments on marine species and make recommendations for future monitoring and assessment as interest in offshore wind energy grows around the world. >> Read the Full Article

Abundant natural gas will not slow climate change according to new study

A new analysis of global energy use, economics and the climate shows that without new climate policies, expanding the current bounty of inexpensive natural gas alone would not slow the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide over the long term, according to a study appearing today in Nature Advanced Online Publication. Because natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal, many people hoped the recent natural gas boom could help slow climate change — and according to government analyses, natural gas did contribute partially to a decline in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions between 2007 and 2012. >> Read the Full Article

Can renewables supply 100% of world's power by 2050?

A global low-carbon energy economy is not only feasible - it could actually double electricity supply by 2050, while also reducing air and water pollution, according to new research. Even though photovoltaic power requires up to 40 times more copper than conventional power plants, and wind power uses up to 14 times more iron, the world wins on a switch to low-carbon energy. These positive findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Edgar Hertwich and Thomas Gibon, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology Department of Energy and Process Engineering. >> Read the Full Article

Mom was right, eating breakfast is important!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many teens skip breakfast, which increases their likelihood of overeating and eventual weight gain. Statistics show that the number of adolescents struggling with obesity, which elevates the risk for chronic health problems, has quadrupled in the past three decades. Now, MU researchers have found that eating breakfast, particularly meals rich in protein, increases young adults' levels of a brain chemical associated with feelings of reward, which may reduce food cravings and overeating later in the day. Understanding the brain chemical and its role in food cravings could lead to improvements in obesity prevention and treatment. >> Read the Full Article

Could California Be Facing A Mega-Drought?

Agriculture, one of California’s strongest pillars, has taken the biggest hit: the drought will cost at least $2.2 billion in agricultural losses this year alone. Fields of dead almond trees and dried-out crops are a common sight in central California these days. Central Valley towns are also growing desperate. Many have been forced to install porta-potties in their backyards or even steal water from fire hydrants. >> Read the Full Article