Most of us had never heard the term "derecho" until Friday, when we learned that's what meteorologists call the kind of massive storm that swept through the Midwest and blitzed the Eastern Seaboard, killing at least 20 people and leaving a 700-mile swath of destruction and downed power lines in its wake.
World leaders attending the recent Rio+20 conference agreed to promote sustainable consumption and production, but analysts say getting businesses and buyers to do just that will require far more than words on paper.
To the immense disappointment of environmental groups and even some multinational corporations, Rio+20 failed to produce binding commitments or a plan on how to strike a balance between consumer demand and the availability of natural resource.
"The current deal on the Rio table is really scraping the barrel – with woolly definitions, old ideas and missing deadlines," said Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth's director of policy and campaigns. "It doesn’t come close to solving the planetary emergency we're facing."
A noted climate scientist says there is "no doubt" that climate change is "playing a role" in this year's series of record fires in the western U.S. A massive wildfire in Colorado has forced the evacuation of 36,000 people, destroyed over 300 homes, and killed two people. The devastation wrought by the Waldo Canyon Fire even prompted a visit form U.S. President Barack Obama. But this is not the only epic fire in the U.S. this year: less than a month before the Colorado disaster, New Mexico experienced its largest fire on record in Gila Nation Forest; the conflagration burned up 247,000 acres (100,000 hectares). Other major wildfires have occurred in Utah and Wyoming, as well as other parts of New Mexico and Colorado.
One of the possible pillars of renewable energy sources is to increase the use of biofuels; fuels that are grown and processed. A biofuel is a type of fuel whose energy is derived from biological carbon fixation as opposed to a fossil fuel. The green industry is interested in establishing a biorefinery sector in Denmark that can replace oil-based products with biofriendly materials, chemicals, energy and fuel. But this requires a larger biomass production than is currently being achieved. Scientists from University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University have published a new extensive report that shows how an increase of production of biomass by more than 200% can be achieved in an environmentally friendly way.
People drink coffee because they like the taste, but mostly it is for the jolt of caffeine that comes with each cup. It helps to keep the mind sharp during the haze of the early morning. A new study found another unique attribute of caffeine that could help lead to great future developments in medicine. They found that caffeine boosts power in aging muscles. As our bodies age, the muscles actually grow weaker, leading to increased incidences of falls and injuries. The stimulant commonly found in coffee is believed to send new power to those older muscles, leading to added strength for elderly people.
John Lennon wrote that life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. Apparently, the same is true of energy efficiency. Energy savings happen when we're busy doing other things – Internet-based things specifically.
The story of acid rain from the 1970s is preserved in newspaper headlines, textbooks, and, it turns out, the soils of the northeastern United States. Forty years after humans first began tackling the problem, the impact of acid rain still lingers in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, according to a new study. But the research also shows the first signs of recovery.
A new study published today in Nature by authors from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the Goethe University Frankfurt suggests that large parts of Africa's savannas may well be forests by 2100. The study suggests that fertilization by atmospheric carbon dioxide is forcing increases in tree cover throughout Africa. A switch from savanna to forest occurs once a critical threshold of CO2 concentration is exceeded, yet each site has its own critical threshold. The implication is that each savanna will switch at different points in time, thereby reducing the risk that a synchronous shock to the earth system will emanate from savannas.
What does the future entail when it comes to the environment and the energy crisis? Will we come up with a sustainable method of procuring energy that has no negative repercussions to the Earth or will we continue to use up our resources and be forced to rely on resources outside of our planet? In Glenn K. Graham's first novel "Sowers of God: The Holes of Mare Frigoris", Graham imagines the latter.
"Sowers of God" takes place in the near future when global warming has wreaked havoc on the Earth. Many of Earth’s resources have been used up. For energy, Earth now relies on moon mines for Helium-3, which is then taken down by space elevator to Earth’s fusion reactors to be processed and used. Not everyone is happy about the mining of the moon. The religious eco-terrorist group Sowers of God, whom the book is named after, believes no world should have dominion over any other planet and are willing to do anything to stop it. While this was the most compelling plot in the book, there are several other story lines going on.
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