• Ocean bacteria found greatly impacted by CO2 in the atmosphere

    Climate change may be weeding out the bacteria that form the base of the ocean's food chain, selecting certain strains for survival, according to a new study. In climate change, as in everything, there are winners and losers. As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and temperature rise globally, scientists increasingly want to know which organisms will thrive and which will perish in the environment of tomorrow. The answer to this question for nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria (bacteria that obtain energy through photosynthesis, or "blue-green algae") turns out to have implications for every living thing in the ocean. Nitrogen-fixing is when certain special organisms like cyanobacteria convert inert -- and therefore unusable -- nitrogen gas from the air into a reactive form that the majority of other living beings need to survive. Without nitrogen fixers, life in the ocean could not survive for long. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate Change May Hinder Regeneration of Conifers after Forest Fires

    From clearing out dead leaves and trees, to jump-starting new growth, to returning minerals to the soil, forest fires have many benefits. However, with increasing temperatures and droughts predicted with upcoming climate changes, it may be difficult for some plants to regenerate after forest fires. According to researchers from Oregon State University, moisture stress is a key limitation for conifer regeneration following major forest fires that occur on dry, low-elevation sites. As a result, reforestation post-fire recovery on dry sites may be slow and uncertain. >> Read the Full Article
  • Cloudy Worlds Climate

    Clouds are pretty to see. They are also much more potent than previously perceived in modifying climate. This is particularly important when considering habitable planets near red dwarf stars. A new study that calculates the influence of cloud behavior on climate doubles the number of potentially habitable planets orbiting red dwarfs, the most common type of stars in the universe. This finding means that in the Milky Way galaxy alone, 60 billion planets may be orbiting red dwarf stars in the habitable zone. Researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University based their study, which appears in Astrophysical Journal Letters, on rigorous computer simulations of cloud behavior on alien planets. This cloud behavior dramatically expanded the estimated habitable zone of red dwarfs, which are much smaller and fainter than stars like the sun. >> Read the Full Article
  • Texas A&M University plans huge solar project

    The proposed "Center for Solar Energy" at Texas A&M University's Central Texas branch will make the school the world's first all-solar university. The university has come up with this innovative project to save power costs and reduce its carbon footprint. It will utilize nearby unused land for the world's biggest solar test farm. The solar farm will be developed exclusively for solar prototyping and R&D, and not as a commercial farm. As a test farm, it will host hundreds of solar cell designs from various manufacturers. The university hopes to have more than a hundred solar technology manufacturers and other players on board for the project. The project is expected to draw in very large investments in solar technology research and development over the next five to six years. >> Read the Full Article
  • The new green in Las Vegas is not the felt on the gaming tables!

    The Las Vegas Strip is known for its opulence, glamour and glitz, for being an adult playground, home to the world's best known casinos, but now it becoming known for being green and where not being wasteful is a key part of the City's business model. Sin City has been reinventing itself and is has become a model town of sustainability. Las Vegas is struggling to meet the water and energy demands of its 500,000 plus residents, which excludes the 40 million tourists who visit every year. Nevada is one of seven states that is dependent on the over-stretched Colorado River for its water supply, which is one of the most heavily plumbed and litigated river systems in the world. It is a critical reservoir for tens of millions of agricultural and municipal users from Wyoming to the Mexican border. The river is now in a very serious condition and the death of the river system will have huge implications for every resident, visitor and business in Las Vegas. >> Read the Full Article
  • President Obama Announces Second Term Climate Change Agenda

    In a speech at Georgetown University on June 25, 2013, President Barack Obama unveiled his administration's climate change agenda for its second term, featuring a series of rules and initiatives that can implemented by the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") and other federal agencies without congressional action. While the details of these proposals will be determined through subsequent rulemaking, the plans and timeframes set forth in the speech signal a major expansion of federal climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, with potentially significant impacts upon electric utilities and other regulated entities as well as units of state and local government most affected by the impacts of global warming. The centerpiece of President Obama's speech is a new Presidential Memorandum directing EPA to finalize proposed greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions standards for new and significantly modified power plants by September 2013, to propose the nation's first GHG emissions guidelines for existing power plants by June 2014, and to finalize those guidelines by June 2015. >> Read the Full Article
  • Senators’ Positions on Climate Change Reflect Their Donors’ Wishes

    Earlier this week, President Obama followed up on the promise he made in his State of the Union Address, to take action on climate change even if Congress wouldn’t. Specifically, he said, “if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. Why would Congress be so recalcitrant on an issue of such vital importance as taking action to minimize (it’s too late to avoid) the impact of a crisis that could threaten the existence of civilization as we know it?A recent analysis performed by MapLight suggests the root of much of the underlying motivation for our elected officials is money. >> Read the Full Article
  • Chemists Introduce New Energy Efficient Seawater Desalination Method

    Having access to fresh water is a human necessity. We rely on fresh water not only for drinking, but also for crop irrigation and food production. And in an ever-changing world, with ever-changing landscapes, many communities are often faced with access limitations to fresh water due to both natural and man-made causes. This is what turns communities to the sea- an abundant, yet salty water source. Seawater desalination is one way to address water needs, but many methods rely on large, expensive equipment which is not always efficient. So with this problem comes a solution from chemists at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Marburg in Germany, as this team has introduced a new method that creates a small electrical field that removes salts from the water. >> Read the Full Article
  • Indonesia to spend $10M on cloud-seeding scheme to slow haze

    The Indonesian government will spend 100 billion rupiah — $10 million — on a cloud-seeding scheme to reduce the haze plaguing Sumatra, Singapore, and Malaysia. According to a statement released after a meeting between top officials, Indonesia will use airplanes to seed clouds with salt in an effort to increase condensation and rainfall over parched parts of Sumatra where peat fires are spewing particulate matter into the atmosphere. The operation is expected to last until the end of the dry season, which typically runs through late September or early October. >> Read the Full Article
  • Backing Up Wind Power: The Policy Issues Associated with Hydroelectricity

    What happens when there's no wind and wind turbines stop turning? What provides the back up power for this clean energy source on calm, windless days? While wind may be the fastest growing renewable energy source in the US, in order for us to rely on wind power, there needs to be some backup technology to fill in when wind does not blow. >> Read the Full Article