ENN Weekly : Jan 28th - Feb 1st

This week on ENN: Chinese Factories find new energy source, New Species discovered in Africa, Designer solar panels, Whole Foods gives free bags to shoppers, Hydrogen hypersonic jets, Hot Liquids in your water bottle could be bad for your health, U.N. worried about food inflation, Anti-whalers leave Antarctica but vow to return and much more.

1. Chinese Factory Turns Environmental Bane into Boon

China is beginning to take advantage of an unusual energy source: cow gas. Cows emit a significant amount of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, when they belch and flatulate. According to People’s Daily, the world’s largest cow-dung methane power plant started operation on January 21 in China’s Inner Mongolia region. With an investment of 45 million RMB (roughly $US5.7 million) from the country’s largest milk producer, Mengniu Dairy, the plant is able to supply 10 million kilowatt-hours of electricity to the national power grid.

2. New Giant Elephant-Shrew Discovered in Africa

Although there is unquestionably much left to be discovered about life on Earth, charismatic animals like mammals are usually well documented, and it is rare to find a new species today—especially from a group as intriguing as the elephant-shrews, monogamous mammals found only in Africa with a colorful history of misunderstood ancestry. Like shrews, these small, furry mammals eat mostly insects. Early scientists named them elephant-shrews not because they thought the animals were related to elephants but because of their long, flexible snouts.

3. New Solar Panel Technology Stylish and Sustainable

The key component of the new modules is an organic dye which in combination with nanoparticles converts sunlight into electricity. Due to the small size of the nanoparticles, the modules are semi-transparent. This aspect makes them well suited for facade integration. The new solar cells are being developed by members of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, who will be presenting their new technology in Tokyo at Nanotech 2008, the world’s largest trade fair for nanotechnology.

4. Free Reusable Bags at Whole Foods

Whole Foods Markets from New Jersey to Virginia began giving away one free reusable bag per customer yesterday to encourage shoppers to “BYOB” — Bring Your Own Bag. The bag had already caught my eye, not only because it’s so cheerful and colorful, but also because it’s made from 80% post-consumer waste. Plus, it’s got a washable surface and actually seems more ample inside than the standard paper grocery bag.

5. Hydrogen-Burning Hypersonic Airplane: Going Green at Mach-5

The proposed future of air travel is quite a marvel. Seems unfathomable compared to the pollutant, oil-guzzling airliners of today. With the endless and testing delays, the awkward security, and greenhouse gas-emitting beasts, it’s a wonder why solutions have not yet come to fruition. It just so turns out, it is all happening rather quickly behind the scenes. One proposed aircraft that seems wildly impossible is actually on the slate for possible funding for testing. The concept hypersonic jet has been developed by Reaction Engine and it is aptly called the A2. It is a Mach-5 (3,400 mph) wicked aircraft capable of holding 300 passengers and produces, get this, ZERO emissions!


6. Polycarbonate Bottles unsafe for hot liquids

CINCINNATI—When it comes to Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure from polycarbonate plastic bottles, it’s not whether the container is new or old but the liquid’s temperature that has the most impact on how much BPA is released, according to University of Cincinnati (UC) scientists. Scott Belcher, PhD, and his team found when the same new and used polycarbonate drinking bottles were exposed to boiling hot water, BPA, an environmental estrogen, was released 55 times more rapidly than before exposure to hot water.

7. U.N. aid chief worried by food inflation, weather

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Rising food prices and extreme weather are sparking more humanitarian disasters around the world, the United Nations' top official for emergency relief warned on Tuesday. Fourteen out of 15 U.N. "flash appeals" for help last year were a response to devastation caused by droughts, floods and hurricanes, U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said.

8.  Giving: It's The New Getting at Sundance
Appropriately dubbed "Hollywood's Winter Spring Break," thousands of Angelenos et. al., head to Park City, Utah year after year to don their designer snow gear, watch a few films, and party righteously. This chilly celebresnownfilmfest is known as Sundance. It's not exactly the place that most people traditionally think of as a haven of environmental awareness...until now.

9. Should you buy soda in plastic bottles or aluminum cans?
Dear Pablo, Assuming that one can't break the habit of drinking pop, what kind of container is more environmentally friendly, aluminum cans or plastic bottles (2 liter)?

10. Anti-whalers leave Antarctica, but vow to return

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Hardline anti-whaling activists on Tuesday said they planned to return to the Antarctic to harass Japan's whaling fleet until the end of the season if they can find funding for extra fuel. Both Greenpeace and the radical Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will leave the Southern Ocean in days, leaving the Japanese to resume the hunt for almost 1,000 whales.