Plans for a Green Inauguration

With the US Presidential inauguration ceremonies around the corner (kicking off on Monday, January 21), the nation is getting ready for a week of festivities, balls and galas honoring our newly elected officials. This year's official theme is "Faith in America's Future." Inaugurations aren't particularly known for being green, but in an attempt to jump on the eco-friendly bandwagon, sustainable efforts are being made. TriplePundit reports on the "greening" of this year's ceremonies.

Aerosols vs GreenHouse Gases

There’s a tricky chemical trade-off at work in our skies. As greenhouse gases provide their famous warming effect to Earth’s surface, aerosol pollution in the atmosphere actually partly counteracts it. Aerosols are tiny particles suspended in the air, both natural and industrial, including sea salt, mineral dust, ash, soot, sulphates, nitrates, and black carbon. They hang around in the air for around 10 days, scattering and absorbing radiation from the sun. Aerosols also provide nuclei for water droplets, boosting cloud formation, thus decreasing the amount of energy reaching the ground and providing a net cooling force. In short, greenhouse gases warm the surface; aerosols cool the surface.

The Rise of Mammals in a Warming Land

If it gets warmer what animals may benefit? The climate changes depicted by climatologists up to the year 2080 will benefit most mammals that live in northern Europe’s Arctic and sub-Arctic land areas today if they are able to reach their new climatic ranges. This is the conclusion drawn by ecologists at Umeå University in a recently published article in the journal Plos ONE.

Women, Eat More Strawberries & Blueberries

Eating three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week may help women reduce their risk of a heart attack by as much as one-third, researchers reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. Blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of naturally occurring compounds called dietary flavonoids, also found in grapes and wine, blackberries, eggplant, and other fruits and vegetables. A specific sub-class of flavonoids, called anthocyanins, may help dilate arteries, counter the buildup of plaque and provide other cardiovascular benefits, according to the study.

Terapod Backbone

Research published today in the journal Nature documents, for the first time, the intricate three-dimensional structure of the backbone in the earliest four-legged animals (tetrapods). The international team of scientists, led by Dr Stephanie Pierce from the University’s Zoology Department and the Royal Veterinary College and her Cambridge colleague Professor Jennifer Clack, bombarded 360 million year old early tetrapod fossils with high energy synchrotron radiation. The resulting high resolution X-ray images allowed the researchers to reconstruct the backbones of the extinct animals in exceptional detail.

Tree height and leaf size dependent on internal physics

The tallest trees in the world can grow up around 100 meters (think of a tree climbing the length of an entire football field!) but if a tree has all the necessary sunlight, water, and space what actually stops a tree from growing even taller? According to researchers at Harvard University and the University of California, Davis, the answers lie in the physics of a tree's internal plumbing.

What Humans Can Learn from Tadpoles: Regeneration of Lost Tissue

Tadpoles, the initial form taken by young amphibians such as frogs and salamanders, have an extraordinary quality which sets them apart from mammals. They are able to regenerate their tails should they be eaten by a predator. If a tadpole loses its tail, it will grow a new one within a week! Imagine if a human can do that with an amputated limb. For several years, scientists have been studying the tadpole's regenerative tail, trying to understand the process, eventually leading to treatments and therapies that might help humans to heal their wounds.

Should deep-sea mining go ahead in Papua New Guinea?

Financial disagreement has halted a controversial deep-sea mining project but deeper issues lie with the environment. The fate of a currently halted deep-sea mining project in the Pacific is being watched closely by a number of parties. Operations were scheduled to begin in 2014, with a target of producing about 80,000 tonnes of copper and more than four tonnes of gold a year.

Update: California Carbon Caps and Market Trading

Carbon allowances are now available for sale in California. Companies that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent a year (CO2e) in the power, oil, and industrial sectors will now have to turn in permits for every ton they emit this year and the years to come. Things are moving fast in California right now, so here’s a primer on what’s happening and what to expect for the coming months. Are people really buying carbon permits? Yes. Currently California Carbon Allowances (CCAs) are trading for about $15 a ton on the secondary market. Point Carbon reported a big spike in volume traded since January 1st, as a lot of new companies have entered the markets and are cutting their teeth on West Coast-style carbon trading.

El Salvador Prioritizes Geothermal Energy Development

During the last two decades, the global installed capacity for geothermal electricity has nearly doubled. Despite this recent expansion, geothermal energy is not getting the same level of attention as other renewable energy resources, and it remains heavily underutilized. If the world were able to tap just a small portion of the Earth's heat, we could provide everyone with clean and safe energy for centuries. Current estimates of our global potential for geothermal energy range from 35 gigawatts (GW) to 2,000 GW. However, simple technological improvements could greatly increase these projections.