House votes to delay air pollution rules on boilers

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday to delay Environmental Protection Agency limits on pollutants from industrial boilers, its latest move to hinder air rules designed to protect public health. The vote was 275 to 142 for the legislation. All Republicans present voted for the bill as did 41 Democrats. Republicans have a majority in the House. "We're not saying, 'Let's walk away and not protect the American people,'" said Representative Ed Whitfield, a Republican from Kentucky. "We're simply saying, 'Let's hold back for just a moment, let's go back and revisit this rule.'" House Republicans and the business community have launched a campaign to delay the EPA's raft of air pollution rules on everything from mercury to greenhouse gases, saying they destroy jobs and add costs to companies struggling to recover. The extent to which Republican voters support the delay of EPA air pollution rules, however, may be faltering. A survey released on Wednesday by Democratic and Republican pollsters suggested the majority of Republican voters do not want the EPA rules stopped or delayed.

Hesperia Planum Mystery

One of the supposedly best understood and least interesting landscapes on Mars is hiding something that could rewrite the planet’s history. Or not. In fact, about all that is certain is that decades of assumptions regarding the wide, flat Hesperia Planum are not holding up very well under renewed scrutiny with higher-resolution, more recent spacecraft data. Hesperia Planum is a broad lava plain in the southern highlands of the planet Mars. The plain is notable for its moderate number of impact craters and abundant wrinkle ridges. It is also the location of the ancient volcano Tyrrhena Mons (Tyrrhena Patera). The Hesperian time period on Mars is named after Hesperia Planum. The cause of of the mystery is whatcaused the numerous rilles: water or lava.

Virgin Atlantic Airways to Use Industrial Waste as Jet Fuel

Always on the cutting edge, Sir Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic, has set his company on a course towards further sustainability. Virgin Atlantic Airways has announced plans to fly commercial routes on a waste-based, synthetic gas fuel rather than typical jet fuel. The reconstituted fuel will produce half the carbon emissions. The technology making this possible was developed by LanzaTech and Swedish Biofuels. Test flights with the new fuel will commence in New Zealand within the next 18 months. The first commercial flights are expected to begin in China by 2014.

Snowball Earth Cause Debated

The hypothesis that Earth was completely covered in ice (Snowball Earth) 635 million years may not be so. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide during that period was much lower than previously thought, according to a team of French researchers from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (CNRS/IPGP/Université Paris Diderot), working in collaboration with scientists from Brazil and the U.S. The Snowball Earth hypothesis posits that the Earth's surface became entirely or nearly entirely frozen at least once. Proponents of the hypothesis argue that it best explains sedimentary deposits generally regarded as of glacial origin at tropical paleolatitudes, and other otherwise enigmatic features in the geological record.

Feeding 9 billion people is possible with sustainable farming

An international team of scientists has proposed a five-point plan for feeding the world while protecting the planet. The research concludes that "feeding the nine billion people anticipated to live on Earth in 2050 without exhausting the Earth's natural resources is possible, provided that we adopt a more sustainable food production approach."

Crab Blast

Imagine a sun shining more bright than our sun does. 10 times brighter and warmer? A thousand times? How about 50 billion times? An international team of scientists has detected the highest energy gamma rays ever observed from a pulsar, a highly magnetized and rapidly spinning neutron star. The VERITAS experiment measured gamma rays coming from the Crab Pulsar at such large energies that they cannot be explained by current scientific models of how pulsars behave, the researchers said. The results, published on Oct. 6 in the journal Science, outline the first observation of photons from a pulsar system with energies greater than 100 billion electron volts — more than 50 billion times higher than visible light from the sun.

Study: Human Brain Evolved to Predict Smells

Of all our sensory organs, the sense of smell is often overlooked. While visual, auditory, and tactile perception are important, the olfactory sense also plays a subtle yet meaningful role in our daily lives. The animal brain has an amazing ability to recognize and associate smells entering the nostrils. However, according to a research study at Northwestern University Medicine, the brain is able to predict the smell even before it enters the nostrils. The brain can generate a "predictive template" that leads to expectation of a scent. This amazing ability has played an important role in animal evolution, allowing humans to react faster and more accurately to stimuli in the environment.

Why Climate Models Underestimated Arctic Sea Ice Retreat: No Arctic Sea Ice in Summer by End of Century?

ScienceDaily (Oct. 6, 2011) — In recent decades, Arctic sea ice has suffered a dramatic decline that exceeds climate model predictions. The unexpected rate of ice shrinkage has now been explained by researchers at CNRS, Université Joseph Fourier and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They argue that climate models underestimate the rate of ice thinning, which is actually about four times faster than calculations. This model bias is due to the poor representation of the sea ice southward drift out of the Arctic basin through the Fram Strait. When this mechanism was taken into account to correct the discrepancy between simulations and observations, results from the new model suggested that there will be no Arctic sea ice in summer by the end of the century.

Eight Amazing Things About Solar Panels That Could Change the World

Green energy is one of the most rapidly expanding industries in the world right now due to so many people looking to do their part to help save the planet. With so much focus on solving global warming and reducing air pollution, smarter and cleaner forms of energy are being looked at very closely by scientists and consumers. There are several cool facts about solar power that can change the world.

Air Tax

Those who fly or are planning to fly to Europe nowadays will find that there is a heavy tax to pay loosely called environmental fees. European rules forcing all airlines to pay for carbon emissions are within the law, an adviser to Europe's highest court said on Thursday (October 6), in the latest stage of a bitter battle between the European Union and the aviation industry. From January next year, all airlines will have to buy permits under the EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS) to help cover the carbon cost of all flights that land or take off in Europe.