Top Stories

"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

Hope for Shark Finning Bans Continues

Last month in Cambridge, volunteers from the community group Fin Free Cambridge delivered a petition with over three and a half thousand signatures to the Guildhall. The group, and all the signatories, are hoping to make Cambridge the first UK city to ban the use of shark fins. Currently four businesses in Cambridge use shark fins and the UK is ranked 19th in the world for shark fin exports. Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful activity, with around 73 million sharks being killed each year for their fins alone. The number of threatened shark species in the world has grown to more than 180 from a total of just 15 in 1996. >> Read the Full Article

Economics of Coal Power and Wind are shifting in favor of Wind

While the cost of wind power has been dropping, a fascinating article in The Washington Post describes how coal mining is becoming more difficult and expensive. The coal industry cites environmental regulations as the main source of upward pressure on costs but WaPo writer Steven Mufson makes a convincing case that factors within the coal fields themselves are the main culprit. Mufson is careful to note that the trend varies from one coal field to another, but it is occurring in the key coal-producing region of Appalachia among others. Against the backdrop of falling wind prices, the rising cost of coal provides businesses with yet another incentive to explore ways of tapping the wind to power their operations. >> Read the Full Article

Climate change mitigation 'far cheaper than inaction'

Tackling the global climate crisis could reap significant economic benefits for both developed and developing countries, according to a new report. The impacts of climate change and a carbon-intensive economy cost the world around US$1.2 trillion a year — 1.6 per cent of the total global GDP (gross domestic product), states 'Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of A Hot Planet'. >> Read the Full Article

Hurricane Sandy Update: Eight to Ten Million Cumulative Power Outages Predicted

Hurricane Sandy is weakening and moving faster than anticipated. Therefore a computer model developed by an engineer at The Johns Hopkins University is now predicting fewer power outages than initially expected. Seth Guikema is predicting that an overall cumulative total of 8 to 10 million people will lose power in the wake of the hurricane, based on the last storm track and intensity forecast at 2 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, Oct. 30. It is important to note that the computer model predicts cumulative outages, not peak outages. Cumulative means the total count of anyone who has lost power, versus peak, which is the number of people without power at any one point in time. For instance, in Maryland, the local utility company reported approximately 290,000 cumulative power outages as of 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 29, but their peak was approximately 210,000 because they were actively restoring outages while new outages were occurring. >> Read the Full Article

Slowing Down Parkinson's

A team of scientists at Northwestern University have discovered what might slow the progression of Parkinson's disease. This compound was developed by Richard B. Silverman at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and creator of the molecule that became the drug Lyrica. This compound or rather the family of compounds work by blocking calcium flow in the brains neurons. The main mechanism is the suppression of a membrane protein, which allows calcium to flow into the dopamine neurons. With this membrane protein blocking calcium flow into the dopaime neuron it avoids further cell damage. >> Read the Full Article

Hurricane Sandy in 3-D from NASA Images

NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, or TRMM satellite can measure rainfall rates and cloud heights in tropical cyclones, and was used to create an image to look into Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 28, 2012. Owen Kelly of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. created this image of Hurricane Sandy using TRMM data. At 2:20 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Oct. 28, Hurricane Sandy was a marginal category 1 hurricane and its eyewall is modest, as TRMM reveals, which gives forecasters and scientists hints about its possible future strength. The eyewall appeared somewhat compact with its 40 km (24.8 miles) diameter The eyewall contained only relatively light precipitation, and none of Sandy's eyewall storm cells managed to burst through, or even reach, the tropopause which has about a 10 km (6.2 miles) height at mid-latitudes. Evidence of the weak updrafts in the eyewall comes from the fact that the TRMM radar's reflectivity stayed under 40 dBZ, a commonly cited signal strength at which updrafts can be vigorous enough to form hail and to lift smaller ice particles up through the tropopause and into the stratosphere. >> Read the Full Article

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

Hurricane Sandy is no longer a hurricane, as it continues to bring high winds and rain to large portions of the north east and northern mid-west US. There are many trees down, and massive power outages. It will be days before the clean up is complete. The ENN offices have no power so editors are working remotely to maintain a reasonable update schedule. There is also a reduced amount of news being published by our news sources which include university research departments and government agencies as they are dealing with storm related issues themselves. As news on storm related damage and recovery becomes available, we will publish updates. >> Read the Full Article

The Connection between Climate Change and Hurricane Sandy

While scientists are still debating some fundamental questions regarding hurricanes and climate change (such as: will climate change cause more or less hurricanes?), there's no debating that a monster hurricane is now imperiling the U.S. East Coast. A few connections between a warmer world and Hurricane Sandy can certainly be made, however: rising sea levels are likely to worsen storm surges; warmer waters bring more rain to increase flooding; and hotter temperatures may allow the hurricane to push both seasonal and geographic boundaries. >> Read the Full Article

Iceberg Breakup

Icebergs start as ice sheets attached to the land or a glacier. They are large monsters of solid ice but they do break off the ice sheet before they float out to sea. How do they break up afterwards at sea? An international team of scientists has discovered a previously unknown mechanism by which large tabular icebergs break up out at sea as part of a study carried out on the Peterman Iceberg in Baffin Bay over the summer. Scientists observed that the gradual creation of a huge underwater ice foot produced so much buoyancy that it broke large chunks off the main iceberg thus causing the iceberg to slowly disintegrate. This discovery was captured on camera as a film crew followed the expedition for Operation Iceberg. >> Read the Full Article