China reducing rare earth export quota as environmental protection measure

China's decision to slash export quotas of rare earth elements was a necessary step to protect the country's environment, commerce minister Chen Deming said following criticism from Japanese officials. "Mass extraction of rare earth will cause great damage to the environment and that's why China has tightened controls over rare earth production, exploration and trade," Chen was quoted by state news agency Xinhua as saying on Saturday.

Hurricane Danielle weakens to Category 2 storm

Hurricane Danielle weakened to a Category 2 storm on Saturday and was set to pass east of Bermuda by the end of the day, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Danielle, located some 340 miles southeast of Bermuda, had top sustained winds of 110 miles per hour, the Miami-based hurricane center said. The hurricane poses no direct threat to land or the U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil patch. A tropical storm watch was in effect for Bermuda but computer models showed Danielle passing well east of the island later on Saturday. The Hurricane Center said dangerous surf conditions would affect Bermuda over the next few days.

Solar Storm

A geomagnetic storm (or solar storm) is a temporary disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a massive solar flares or related sun output. A geomagnetic storm is caused by a solar wind shock wave which typically strikes the Earth's magnetic field 3 days after the event on the sun. The effect on the earth can be small or it can be large. Astronomers are predicting that a massive solar storm, much bigger in potential than the one that caused spectacular light shows on Earth earlier this month, will strike our planet in 2012 with a force of 100 million hydrogen bombs. This is far larger than average.

The Amazing Christmas Island Red Crab

Every year an amazing event happens on this small island, owned by Australia, which is 220 miles away from the nearest land mass. Christmas Island's geographic isolation and history of limited human disturbance has brought about a high level of species not found elsewhere in the world. Among these species is the Christmas Island Red Crab. Millions of these crabs simultaneously embark on a five kilometer journey to their ocean breeding grounds. Scientists from the University of Bristol and Bangor University believe they have unlocked the mystery to this incredible feat.

Design Competition to Determine Four New LEED Platinum Homes in New Orleans

At the onset of the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, students and emerging professionals are putting their time towards helping to rebuild New Orleans in a sustainable fashion. The 2010 US Green Building Council Natural Talent Design Competition, in partnership with the Salvation Army's EnviRenew program, is preparing to have the final student and emerging professional designs for a small, green and affordable home judged by an internationally recognized panel in conjunction with the citizens of New Orleans' Broadmoor neighborhood (where the homes will be built).

Hurricane Danielle strengthens into a Category 4 storm

Hurricane Danielle strengthened into a Category 4 storm on Friday as it churned over the Atlantic, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Danielle, the first major hurricane of the season, was located some 545 miles southeast of Bermuda and was moving northwest at 12 miles per hour (19 km per hour). It had top sustained winds of 135 mph. Any storm packing winds of at least 111 mph is ranked as "major" by the Miami-based hurricane center. Computer models show Danielle tracking northwest and then in a more northerly direction before passing well east of Bermuda on Saturday night.

The Layers of the Earth

The asthenosphere is the highly viscous mechanically weak region of the upper mantle of the Earth on which "float" the continental plates. It lies below the lithosphere, at depths between 60 and 120 miles below the surface, but perhaps extending as deep as 400+ miles. The lithosphere is a complex mixture of layers. For example the North American continent is not one thick, rigid slab, but a layer cake of ancient, 3 billion-year-old rock on top of much newer material probably less than 1 billion years old, according to a new study by seismologists at the University of California, Berkeley.

EPA Encourages All to Vote in the Rachel Carson Contest

Rachel Carson is widely considered the founder of the modern environmental movement. Through her book, "Silent Spring," she opened the public's eyes to the damages caused by the pesticide DDT. From that point on, society realized they have a much greater influence on the environment than previously thought. Borrowing the title from another one of her books, "The Sense of Wonder," the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is holding its fourth annual Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest.

New Jersey to Take Lead in Offshore Wind Energy?

As the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind farm in Massachusetts fends off some last ditch legal challenges to become the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., New Jersey passed a law this week that would ultimately make it the leading provider of offshore wind energy in the country.

Drought tolerant maize to hugely benefit Africa

Distributing new varieties of drought tolerant maize to African farmers could save more than $1.5 billion dollars, boost yields by up to a quarter and lift some of the world's poorest out of poverty, a study found. The study published on Thursday by the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), with input from other food research institutes, focused on 13 African countries in which it has been handing out drought tolerant maize to farmers over the past four years. It described maize as "the most important cereal crop in Africa," a lifeline to 300 million vulnerable people. The Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa plan aims to hasten the adoption of maize varieties that withstand dry weather.