Top Stories

New Design Creates More Efficient Wind Turbines

A Tunisian invention that harvests wind energy through a design inspired by sailboats promises cheaper, more efficient wind energy. The bladeless wind turbine, the Saphonian, named after the wind divinity that was worshipped by the ancient Carthaginians, also promises to be more environmentally friendly than existing wind turbines that produce noise and kill birds through their blade rotation. Instead of rotating blades, the Saphonian's sail-shaped body collects the kinetic energy of the wind, Anis Aouini, the Saphonian's inventor, told SciDev.Net. >> Read the Full Article

Research reveals why sea levels are rising faster than previously feared

Sea levels are rising faster than expected from global warming and new research is said to reveal the reasons why. The last official IPCC report in 2007 projected a global sea level rise between 0.2 and 0.5 meters by the year 2100. But current sea-level rise measurements meet or exceed the high end of that range and suggest a rise of one meter or more by the end of the century. >> Read the Full Article

Have Carbon Emissions Passed an Important Threshold?

The annual rate of reduction of carbon emissions per unit of GDP needed to limit global warming to 2ºC, has passed a critical threshold according to new analysis from PwC. And the report's author warn the rate of reduction now required has never been achieved before and add: "This isn't about shock tactics, it's simple maths." The analysis in the PwC Low Carbon Economy Index, measuring developed and emerging economies progress towards reducing emissions linked to economic output. It demonstrates that at current rates of emissions growth at least 6C degrees of warming could be possible by the end of the century. >> Read the Full Article

What Does Hurricane Sandy Show us about Shoreline Change?

Contrarians argue that Hurricane Sandy isn't proof of climate change. But local scientists say the recent storm offers more damning evidence that Rhode Island's weather and landscape are undergoing a long-term transformation — one with a steep cost in dollars and human health. Perhaps the most significant and indisputable fact is that the Atlantic Ocean is warmer, so much so that a late-October storm didn't lose steam over what should have been a colder sea. Instead, Sandy gained speed and strength as it headed north and became an enormous force of destruction. >> Read the Full Article

Asteroids and Life

Asteroid belts such as between Mars and Jupiter do not seem to have any obvious planetary system purpose. Solar systems with life-bearing planets may be affected by asteroids according to a study by Rebecca Martin, a NASA Sagan Fellow from the University of Colorado in Boulder, and astronomer Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md. They suggest that the size and location of an asteroid belt, shaped by the evolution of the sun's planet-forming disk and by the gravitational influence of a nearby giant Jupiter-like planet, may determine whether complex life will evolve on an Earth-like plane. >> Read the Full Article

How Will the World Feed Itself in the Future?

The world's food security depends on the quality of the forward-looking agricultural studies we are carrying out today, says Mark Holderness. Climate change, population growth and competing demands for land and resources are putting great pressure on the world's food systems. Smallholder farmers in the developing world, who produce much of the food for the poorest people, are threatened by devastating droughts and floods, food price spikes, and persistent poverty. Scientific advances have greatly alleviated hunger and poverty. The introduction of higher yield crop varieties and better agricultural management practices have saved and improved millions of lives. >> Read the Full Article

Iskander Malaysia: World's First "Smart Metropolis"

Malaysia is currently building the world's most advanced low-carbon mega-city comparable in size to the area of Luxembourg, with an expected population of 3 million by 2025. Iskandar Malaysia, the first "smart metropolis" of Southeast Asia founded on principles of social integration as well as low carbon emissions thanks to a green economy and green technologies, is a potential template for urban development in emerging countries with burgeoning populations, international experts say. >> Read the Full Article

Hurricane Sandy and Potentially Hazardous Waters

When flood waters hit lubricating oils, heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel and other potentially hazardous or toxic liquids, there is the potential for contamination of surface waters in ponds and rivers. The US Geological Survey is undertaking sampling of waters to see if contamination exceeds acceptable levels. As recovery efforts for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy continue, U.S. Geological Survey crews are sampling water for nutrients, sediment, and pesticides to document water quality in areas affected by the hurricane. This sampling effort is part of the federal government’s broad efforts to ensure public health and to support the state, tribal, and local response to the storm. "We tend to think of events like Sandy in terms of the ephemeral effect of the wind, rain, waves, and even snow as it swept through our communities, but in fact this superstorm can have a longer-term effect in the large pulse of sediment and associated pollutants swept into our waterways," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "It is particularly important to quantify the input of this one unusual event before concluding that certain efforts to reduce pollutant run-off from year to year have or have not been effective." >> Read the Full Article

Researchers study effects of open-fire cooking on air quality and human health

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has just launched a study examining the impact of open-fire cooking on regional air quality and human health. The study will look at atmospheric air pollutants and human diseases in terms of the effects of smoke from traditional cooking methods in households, villages, and entire regions particularly in northern Ghana. There are many factors that force developing countries to rely on cooking food with open flame fires. For example, electricity and energy sources are extremely scarce and lead natives to use dried plant stalks and other mediums for fuel. Research suggests that the continued use of these open fire pits and stoves has the potential to create problems for local populations. >> Read the Full Article

"Fertilizer to Fork" Approach Contributes to Climate Change

Growing, transporting, refrigerating, and wasting food accounts for somewhere between 19-29 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions in 2008, according to a new analysis by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). In hard numbers that's between 9.8 and 16.9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, more than double the fossil fuel emissions of China in the same year. Over 80 percent of food emissions came from production (i.e. agriculture) which includes deforestation and land use change. >> Read the Full Article