Money Down the Pump: Where Does Our Gas Money Go?

Rising gas prices have been in the news the past couple of years, as it seems the price of gas will never fall back down to what it used to be. The last time I filled up my tank, it cost me around $50 (on empty) and regardless of the fuel efficiency of my car, I know I am not the only person who is frustrated by how much money we are spending on personal transportation. According to a new report, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), explain exactly what our gas dollars actually goes to.

Myopia and Genes

Myopia is commonly known as being nearsighted or shortsighted)and is a condition of the eye where the light that comes in does not directly focus on the retina but in front of it. This causes the image that one sees when looking at a distant object to be out of focus, but in focus when looking at a close object. In other words, close is good and far is blurry. Scientists have now discovered 24 new genes that cause refractive errors and myopia — an important cause of blindness and visual impairment worldwide, which has no cure to date. The findings, published in Nature Genetics, reveal genetic causes of the trait, and this may help in finding a solution.

Wildflowers at risk from ’safe’ levels of pollution

New scientific research suggests that the impacts of nitrogen pollution may extend even further than previously thought. Dr Richard Payne and Professor Nancy Dise, of Manchester Metropolitan University, together with colleagues at Lancaster University and the Open University, studied more than 100 individual plant species' reactions to nitrogen deposition at 153 grassland sites across Europe.

Grey Water

There is only so much fresh water in the world of the kind people need to drink to live. Recycled water, or gray water, is water that has been used for household activities such as taking showers or washing dishes. Then there is water that is a bit more dirty such as from the toilet. There are or will be a time and a place where such water will have to be used as is or will be treated so as to reuse once again. Even now in places like Singapore and Namibia, limited supplies of freshwater are being augmented by adding highly treated waste water to their drinking water.

British horse meat scandal expands

Swedish frozen-food company Findus withdrew all its beef lasagna ready meals from supermarkets after tests revealed they contained up to 100% horsemeat. But the investigation took an EU-wide dimension as British investigators found evidence of "gross negligence or possibly criminality" involving several countries. The Food Standards Agency (FSA), a British government body, held a meeting on Saturday (9 February) with UK regulators and food industry representatives in the ongoing contaminated meat incident. "This is a conspiracy against the public," said British farm minister Owen Paterson before convening the weekend meeting. "I've got an increasing feeling that it is actually a case of an international criminal conspiracy."

How Can We Reduce Food Waste?

It’s no secret that Americans throw away an enormous amount of food, sending day-old leftovers and slightly wilted spinach straight to the garbage. But what about the food that never even makes it to the kitchen table? A new report released by a British engineering society reveals that worldwide, billions of tons of food are squandered each year because of poor agriculture practices, which include inefficient harvesting and inadequate infrastructure and storage—and it’s depleting Earth's water supply.

Climate change could impact wave height, says study

Average wave size will increase in many parts of the southern hemisphere over the twenty-first century, but decrease in the north, according to an international study on the impact of climate change on oceanic activity. The study, published in Nature Climate Change last month (13 January), predicts a wave height increase of between 20 and 30 centimeters in an area covering at least seven per cent of the surface of the world's oceans. This is due to the poleward intensification of the westerly winds in the southern hemisphere, resulting from climate change.

The California Coyote Hunt Will Go On Despite Petition Drive

State wildlife officials in California declined to call off a coyote-hunting contest in Modoc County this weekend but, in response to public outcry, agreed to take steps to clarify the scope of the hunt and protect OR-7, the first wild wolf in California in nearly nine decades. The precautionary steps were recommended by a coalition of conservation groups representing more than a million Californians, including Project Coyote, the Center for Biological Diversity and Animal Welfare Institute. The California Fish and Wildlife Department received more than 20,000 comments and petition signatures from members of the public who oppose the coyote hunt. On Wednesday, following a hearing that included testimony from more than a dozen hunt-contest opponents, wildlife officials agreed to educate the hunt’s sponsors and participants on the physical differences between coyotes and wolves and to make clear that shooting wolves violates both state and federal law. The agency will also provide wardens to monitor the hunt and ensure it complies with the law.

Invasive Striga Weed Serious Problem in Sub-Saharan Africa

Rising soil temperatures are increasing the spread of a deadly, parasitic weed that significantly reduces crop yields in Sub-Saharan Africa, Striga, according to scientists. The noxious weed, also known as witch-weed, usually thrives in the warm and humid tropics but is now spreading to cooler and wetter highlands as a result of warmer soils driven by global warming and low soil fertility, which provides the right conditions for Striga to thrive. Increasing soil temperatures are fuelling the spread of Striga from the tropics to highland areas The deadly weed can reduce crops by up to 80 per cent, threatening livelihoods Research organisations are trialling various strategies, such as intercropping, to combat its spread This spread has threatened the livelihoods of around 100 million people, with more than four million hectares of maize crops infected. In general, Striga reduces maize and cowpea yields by up to 80 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Worlds of Red Dwarfs

A red dwarf is a small and relatively cool star on the main sequence. Red dwarfs range in mass from a low of 0.075 solar masses (the upper limit for a brown dwarf) to about 50% of the Sun and have a surface temperature of less than 4,000 K. So they are not very impressive but there are a lot of them. Using publicly available data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics estimate that six percent of red dwarf stars in the galaxy have Earth-size planets in the habitable zone, the range of distances from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable for liquid water.