24
Sat, Feb

  • Want To Slow Global Warming? Researchers Look To Family Planning

    We've all heard of ways to reduce our carbon footprint: biking to work, eating less meat, recycling.

    But there's another way to help the climate. A recent study from Lund University in Sweden shows that the biggest way to reduce climate change is to have fewer children.

    "I knew this was a sensitive topic to bring up," says study co-author Kimberly Nicholas on NPR's Morning Edition. "Certainly it's not my place as a scientist to dictate choices for other people. But I do think it is my place to do the analysis and report it fairly."

    The study concludes that four high-impact ways to reduce CO2 gas emissions include having fewer children, living without a car, avoiding airplane travel and eating a vegetarian diet.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Fresh Water Below the Seafloor?

    In some places, water is dangerously scarce. In the African Sahel, generations of severe droughts have claimed millions of lives and have turned fertile pastures into swaths of desert. In Brazil, residents of the water-starved city of São Paulo have been frenetically digging homemade wells to mine fresh water, while schoolkids skip brushing their teeth as a conservation measure. And in California, devastating drought conditions in recent years idled nearly a half-million acres of crops and triggered the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Developing new technology for cheaper biofuel

    PhD chemistry student Leila Dehabadi has developed a new way to separate water from ethanol, the key component in alcoholic beverages and biofuel, using starch-based materials such as corn. The method could reduce costs because it doesn’t involve using additional energy to isolate the ethanol.

    “Compared to distillation, this new approach based on green chemistry and engineering will be a significant saving to biofuel and alcohol production in Saskatchewan and globally by changing the way water is separated from ethanol mixtures,” said Lee Wilson, U of S chemistry professor and Dehabadi’s supervisor. 

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Removing CO2 from the air required to safeguard children's future

    Reducing greenhouse-gas emissions is not enough to limit global warming to a level that wouldn’t risk young people’s future, according to a new study by a team of scientists who say we need negative emissions. Measures such as reforestation could accomplish much of the needed CO2 removal from the atmosphere, but continued high fossil fuel emissions would demand expensive technological solutions to extract CO2 and prevent dangerous warming. The study is published today in Earth System Dynamics, a journal of the European Geosciences Union.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Finding leaks while they're easy to fix

    Access to clean, safe water is one of the world’s pressing needs, yet today’s water distribution systems lose an average of 20 percent of their supply because of leaks. These leaks not only make shortages worse but also can cause serious structural damage to buildings and roads by undermining foundations.

    Unfortunately, leak detection systems are expensive and slow to operate — and they don’t work well in systems that use wood, clay, or plastic pipes, which account for the majority of systems in the developing world.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Key to Speeding Up Carbon Sequestration Discovered

    Scientists at Caltech and USC have discovered a way to speed up the slow part of the chemical reaction that ultimately helps the earth to safely lock away, or sequester, carbon dioxide into the ocean. Simply adding a common enzyme to the mix, the researchers have found, can make that rate-limiting part of the process go 500 times faster. 

    A paper about the work appears online the week of July 17 ahead of publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • New assessment identifies global hotspots for water conflict

    More than 1,400 new dams or water diversion projects are planned or already under construction and many of them are on rivers flowing through multiple nations, fueling the potential for increased water conflict between some countries.

    A new analysis commissioned by the United Nations uses a comprehensive combination of social, economic, political and environmental factors to identify areas around the world most at-risk for “hydro-political” strife. This river basins study was part of the U.N.’s Transboundary Waters Assessment Program.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Hawaiian Birds Rapidly Colonize Young Restoration Forest

    Forest birds on the island of Hawaii are responding positively to being restored in one of the largest, ongoing reforestation projects at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, according to a new study released July 10 in the journal Restoration Ecology.

    Serving as pollinators and seed dispersers, birds have an important role in ecosystem function and their presence in restoration areas can be a measure of success for conservation efforts.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Towards Sustainable Struvite Production

    Struvite may not be a household word, but it is all too familiar to the operators of wastewater treatment plants.

    A crystalline mineral known chemically as magnesium ammonium phosphate hexahydrate, struvite occurs naturally in decomposing organic materials such as sludge from animal wastes and from treated wastewater.

    >> Read the Full Article
  • Engineers find way to evaluate green roofs

    Green infrastructure is an attractive concept, but there is concern surrounding its effectiveness. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are using a mathematical technique traditionally used in earthquake engineering to determine how well green infrastructure works and to communicate with urban planners, policymakers and developers.

    Green roofs are flat, vegetated surfaces on the tops of buildings that are designed to capture and retain rainwater and filter any that is released back into the environment.

    >> Read the Full Article