• Fuel from water advances

    Fuel from water? A form of Alchemy? Researchers have been trying for years to find a limitless, environmentally benign source of fuel. Now a University of Colorado Boulder team has developed a radically new technique that uses the power of sunlight to efficiently split water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen, paving the way for the broad use of hydrogen as a clean, green fuel. The CU-Boulder team has devised a solar-thermal system in which sunlight could be concentrated by a vast array of mirrors onto a single point atop a central tower up to several hundred feet tall. The tower would gather heat generated by the mirror system to roughly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,350 Celsius), then deliver it into a reactor containing chemical compounds known as metal oxides, said CU-Boulder Professor Alan Weimer, research group leader. >> Read the Full Article
  • 6 Oceans crowdfunding opportunity

    ENN is not in the business of assisting crowdfunding efforts. Now and then, however, an idea is so compelling and potentially beneficial to our environment that we feel moved to make our readers aware of it. 6 Oceans is one such effort. It started out as a pilot project. The main focus of 6 Oceans is to ensure sustainable management of marine and freshwater species and to encourage breeding programs for vulnerable and endangered species. 6 Oceans will also maintain a database of thousands of marine and freshwater species, as well as provide information on aquarium care for those who keep these amazing creatures as pets. The main challenges in securing the existence of these unique creatures is attributed to the following; over fishing for food products, aquarium trade, sport fishing; pollution of our seas, lakes and rivers; good intentioned tourist who accidently damages parts of the reef while sea diving during their holiday. >> Read the Full Article
  • Growth of Global Solar and Wind Energy Continues to Outpace Other Technologies

    Solar and wind continue to dominate investment in new renewable capacity. Global use of solar and wind energy grew significantly in 2012. Solar power consumption increased by 58 percent, to 93 terrawatt-hours (TWh), while wind power increased by 18.1 percent, to 521.3 TWh. Global investment in solar energy in 2012 was $140.4 billion, an 11 percent decline from 2011, and wind investment was down 10.1 percent, to $80.3 billion. Due to lower costs for both technologies, however, total installed capacities still grew sharply. >> Read the Full Article
  • Is Carbon-Free Shipping possible?

    This week a new sailing barge was launched on Lake Champlain that its backers hope will soon be in the vanguard of a new carbon-neutral shipping alternative. The 39-foot Ceres — built by volunteers from the Vermont Sail Freight Project and farmer Erik Andrus — is an update on the type of cargo vessels that once plied the inland waterways throughout the northeastern U.S. Like them, the Ceres will sail without any sort of motorized assistance. With the Ceres, the Vermont Sail Freight Project, which is supported by the nonprofit Willowell Foundation, hopes to prove that carbon-neutral boats can be a viable shipping method for the 21st century, connecting small-scale farmers in Vermont and upstate New York with customers along the Hudson River south to New York City — all while reducing the substantial greenhouse gas emissions that come from conventional shipping of produce, which is dominated in the region by trucks. >> Read the Full Article
  • Arctic methane catastrophe scenario is based on new empirical observations

    Last week, the journal Nature published a new paper warning of a $60 trillion price tag for a potential 50 Gigatonne methane pulse from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) over 10-50 years this century. The paper, however, prompted many to suggest that its core scenario - as Arctic permafrost thaws it could increasingly unleash dangerous quantities of methane from sub-ice methane hydrates in as quick as a decade - is implausible. The Washington Post's Jason Samenow argued that "almost everything known and published about methane indicates this scenario is very unlikely." Andrew Revkin of the New York Times (NYT) liberally quoted Samenow among others on "the lack of evidence that such an outburst is plausible." Similarly, Carbon Brief concluded: "The scientists we spoke to suggested the authors have chosen a scenario that's either implausible, or very much at the upper limit of what we can reasonably expect." >> Read the Full Article
  • What chemistry started life on Earth?

    How did life on Earth get started? Three new papers co-authored by Mike Russell, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., strengthen the case that Earth's first life began at alkaline hydrothermal vents at the bottom of oceans. Scientists are interested in understanding early life on Earth because if we ever hope to find life on other worlds -- especially icy worlds with subsurface oceans such as Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's Enceladus -- we need to know what chemical signatures to look for. Two papers published recently in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B provide more detail on the chemical and precursor metabolic reactions that have to take place to pave the pathway for life. Russell and his co-authors describe how the interactions between the earliest oceans and alkaline hydrothermal fluids likely produced acetate (comparable to vinegar). >> Read the Full Article
  • China's aggressive Electric Vehicle program not meeting goals

    Over the past 30 years, China's rapid economic growth and industry development have been driven in large part by specific national plans that set very ambitious targets for certain industries. The electric vehicle (EV) industry is no exception. Yet even with prioritization by the central government, the EV industry does not seem to be on track to meet its targets." According to the Ministry of Science and Technology’s (MOST) 12th Five-Year Plan for Electric Vehicles and the State Council's Energy-saving and New Energy Automotive Industry Development Plan released in 2012, 500,000 EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) are to be deployed by 2015, along with 400,000 charging piles and 2,000 charging or battery-switching stations. The nation is targeting 5 million EVs and PHEVs on the road by 2020. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate change has the potential for significant impacts on coffee

    An inconvenient truth is not what most people want to hear before they’ve had their first cup of coffee in the morning. Our coffee break is “me time,” and we want to enjoy it. If the temperature is too high, put some ice in your cup. But for some 26 million people around the world who make it their business to produce our coffee, change is impossible to ignore. >> Read the Full Article
  • New Study on Permafrost - Climate link

    New research findings from the Centre for Permafrost (CENPERM) at the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, document that permafrost during thawing may result in a substantial release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and that the future water content in the soil is crucial to predict the effect of permafrost thawing. The findings may lead to more accurate climate models in the future. The permafrost is thawing and thus contributes to the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But the rate at which carbon dioxide is released from permafrost is poorly documented and is one of the most important uncertainties of the current climate models. >> Read the Full Article
  • Pope Francis and the Amazon Rainforest

    In response to Pope Francis’ Amazon-themed speech to Brazilian bishops, World Wildlife Fund’s Dekila Chungyalpa, Director of WWF’s Sacred Earth program, issued the following statement: "We're grateful that Pope Francis is adding his influential voice to the growing number of faith leaders around the world who are recognizing the importance of protecting our planet from environmental harm. And we're especially thankful he's urging young people to be problem solvers on behalf of the entire planet and all of God's creations." "Pope Francis' compassionate speech today asking bishops to respect the environment in which we live and to continue to protect the Amazon will reach millions and carry historic importance." "WWF applauds Pope Francis' uplifting World Youth Day message calling for 'respect and protection of the entire creation which God has entrusted to man, not so that it indiscriminately exploited, but rather made into a garden." >> Read the Full Article