Small Town Gets Court To Ban Fracking

This week, a New York state judge ruled that the town of Dryden, N.Y., could prohibit fracking as part of its zoning ordinance. It's one of 30 towns throughout central and southern New York that have taken the step. State environmental officials in New York placed a moratorium on fracking while they come up with new regulations to cover oil and gas drilling in the underground geological deposits.

Titan Seasons

Ground-based observations have revealed previously seasonal variations in cloud cover. Over the course of Saturn's 30-year orbit, Titan's cloud systems appear to manifest for 25 years, and then fade for four to five years before reappearing again. A set of recent papers, many of which draw on data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, reveal new details in the emerging picture of how Saturn's moon Titan shifts with the seasons and even throughout the day. The papers, published in the journal Planetary and Space Science in a special issue titled "Titan through Time", show how this largest moon of Saturn is similar but not so similar to Earth.

Is Shale Gas Good or Bad? Panelists and the Audience at KPMG Summit are Split

"Is the emergence of shale gas a positive or negative development with respect to sustainability?" This was one of the most interesting questions discussed on one of the panels at KPMG's Global Summit last week in New York. Given the growth of both interest and dispute around shale gas, is shale gas is a bridge to a sustainable future or a bridge to nowhere? It'’s not that we lack controversial sources of energy, from nuclear energy to ethanol, but none of these resources has the potential to become a substantial resource like shale gas has for better and worse. With so much at stake when it comes to how sustainable the future of energy is going to be, it's no wonder that even at the KPMG summit, shale gas became such a hot topic that the panelists and the crowd seemed to be very passionate about and at the same time split about the answer to the question. First let's look at why this question matters at all. According to KPMG's Energy Survey 2011 there's a growing interest in shale gas and oil: 44 percent of respondents believe these to be the energy sources that will see the most future investment (the corresponding figure was less than 1 percent in 2010). Shale gas will represent 65 percent of US gas production by the 2030s, up from an estimated 43 percent by 2015 according to the survey.

New Apple HQ to be really green!

Last year, the late Steve Jobs revealed plans for Apple's new 'Spaceship' building to be located in Cupertino City, California. The futuristic structure should be completed in 2015 and will house approximately 13,000 employees. It may look like it's been plucked from the imagination of Philip K Dick, but what was previously the realm of science fiction has now become science fact. It promises to be one of the most technologically advanced offices in the world, being totally self-sufficient for power with the national grid acting only as backup.

Carbon Sequestration in Illinois

Carbon capture and sequestration, refers to technology attempting to prevent release of large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. The process is based on capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from large point sources and storing it where it will not enter the atmosphere. One of these methods is to inject it into the ground. Geologists are hoping to learn a great deal about geologic carbon sequestration from injecting 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into sandstone 7,000 feet beneath Decatur, Ill. The Illinois Basin – Decatur Project began its injection, the first million-ton demonstration from an industrial source in the U.S., in November 2011. Over the next three years, the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium, led by the Illinois State Geological Survey, hopes to use innovative science and engaging outreach to evaluate the potential of carbon capture and storage techniques.

Illinois Researchers Identify Promising New Biofuel

Biofuel production has ratcheted up to become a major part of America's energy and agricultural industries. Corn, or maize, is by far the most widely grown crop to be converted into ethanol. However, the dominance of maize in the biofuel industry is not without its pitfalls. Now, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have identified a temperate-tropical maize hybrid that can potentially revolutionize biofuels in this country. The maize hybrid has the potential to increase ethanol production for each unit of plant material, and minimize the environmental cost of biofuel production.

Low Levels of Fallout from Fukushima Release

There is always concern when something radioactive is released as to what its downwind effects might be. Certainly there are effects at the actual site but thousands of miles away? Fallout from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power facility in Japan was measured in minimal amounts in precipitation in the United States in about 20 percent of 167 sites sampled in a nationwide study released today. The U.S. Geological Survey led the study as part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP). Levels measured were similar to measurements made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the immediate days and weeks following the March 2011 incident, which were determined to be well below any level of public health concern at the time by EPA.

Mortality Rates Are Underestimated

Despite great medical advances that have lengthened human life spans, your chances of living a very long life may be lower than you'd hoped. That's the conclusion of a study by two longevity experts who reviewed the standard models that predict mortality rates and turned up a major error. Instead of confirming that death rates drop once people reach their 80s or 90s – as experts have assumed for many decades -- results showed that the risk of dying continues to increase each year, no matter how old people are.

Startup Develops Floating Solar Farm

While solar energy companies throughout the world are competing for the relatively few vast land areas required to house solar farms, Israeli startup Solaris Synergy has found a new terrain to use. Instead of a land-based solar system, the company decided to develop a water-based technology. In other words: a floating solar power plant.

Science Spending

Science has changed the world. It has created new products and ease of service. What the future will bring is, of course, always uncertain. "It’s not every day you have robots running through your house," Barack Obama quipped last week at the White House science fair, a showcase for student exhibitors that also gave the US president a chance to reiterate a favourite theme. Science and technology, he said, "is what’s going to make a difference in this country, over the long haul".