Month: September 2013

  • ‘America’s Power Plan’ Envisions New Business Model For Utilities

    The Obama Administration has been putting the coal industry’s feet to the fire with new carbon-cutting initiatives, and a new report certainly won’t help coal’s case. Under the title, America’s Power Plan, the authors argue that the U.S. already has the technology in hand to make a rapid transition to renewable energy.

  • Space weather

    The weather is important to everyone. Will it rain today, will I need a jacket? But what is space weather? Is there really “weather” in outer space? Isn’t space almost a perfect vacuum? UCLA has been studying this for some time and recently completed a study that sheds important light on space weather. Solar storms — powerful eruptions of solar material and magnetic fields into interplanetary space — can cause what is known as “space weather” near Earth, resulting in hazards that range from interference with communications systems and GPS errors to extensive power blackouts and the complete failure of critical satellites.

  • Golden Eagle vs. Sika Deer

    The golden eagle is a mighty powerful bird of prey. So powerful in fact that it has been linked to attack not only rabbits, squirrels, and other birds, but large mammals like deer and even bear cubs! And lucky for us, new evidence has captured one of these attacks on camera. During a routine survey with remote camera traps that was set up to study Siberian tigers in the Russian Far East, a golden eagle was observed attacking and killing a 7-month old sika deer, weighing approximately 88-100 pounds.

  • Sonar

    An oil company’s use of a high-frequency mapping sonar system was responsible for a mass whale stranding in northwest Madagascar in 2008, finds a new report.

  • Renault offers free charging for EV’s in France

    In what seems to be coming something of a common occurrence in the electric vehicle industry, Renault has now announced plans to offer free charging facilities to any electric vehicle user across its 372 Renault dealerships in France. Initially you might automatically assume that this offer of one hours free charging per day across 875 fast charge stations in France would be limited to Renault users, but this is not the case. This offer is open to all electric vehicle users as long as they have a cable which fits a type III connector. Electric vehicle charging stations are certainly a hot topic at the moment with more and more companies opening up their networks to outside parties. It is interesting to see that Renault, which has recently released a number of EV models, is looking to grab the headlines.

  • Innovation of the Week: A Low-Cost Composting Toilet

    Across the Asia-Pacific region, millions of people have inadequate access to sustainable sanitation infrastructure—in other words, they don’t have a safe and sanitary place to go to the bathroom. In the Philippines alone, 28 million people do not have access to the sanitation services needed to prevent contamination and disease. As a result, millions of people suffer from preventable diseases like dysentery.

  • Earth’s radiation belts more complicated than thought

    The Earth is circled by belts of electrons and ions that have been the subject of study for decades. Now, a new study casts light on details of these radiation belts that eluded scientists. Since the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts in 1958, space scientists have believed these belts encircling the Earth consist of two doughnut-shaped rings of highly charged particles — an inner ring of high-energy electrons and energetic positive ions and an outer ring of high-energy electrons. In February of this year, a team of scientists reported the surprising discovery of a previously unknown third radiation ring — a narrow one that briefly appeared between the inner and outer rings in September 2012 and persisted for a month.

  • Shark overfishing hurts coral reefs

    Overfishing for sharks is having detrimental effects on coral reefs, finds a new study published in the journal PLOS One. The research is based on long-term monitoring reefs off northwestern Australia. The authors, led by Jonathan Ruppert, formerly of the University of Toronto and now with York University, compared community structure between several atoll-like reefs. Some of the reefs were protected, while some were open to exploitation by Indonesian fishermen using traditional fishing techniques. Indonesian fishermen tend to target high value species like sharks.

  • Disney Upgrades its 2013 Carbon Offsetting Goals

    Carbon offsetting has been a major focus for the Walt Disney Company for years. In 2011, the entertainment leader made news by voluntarily setting a price for its own carbon emissions as part of an ambitious effort to reduce its own greenhouse gases.

  • Amoebas in Louisiana’s Water

    Clean water is essential for human survival. More than half of our body is made up of water, and without it, we can only live for a couple of days. How much do we really know about what we’re drinking, though? Local governments are charged with keeping our water supplies safe, but as I recently learned in the movie “Unacceptable Levels,” one city’s wastewater becomes another city’s drinking water. Also, there’s not a lake or stream left in this country that hasn’t been contaminated in some way.