Oil spill efforts ramp up as storm eyed anxiously

The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season is posing an uncertain threat to the Gulf of Mexico, even as efforts to contain the worst oil spill in U.S. history are set to ramp up. For now, Tropical Storm Alex, which is hitting the western Caribbean with rain and high winds, is not expected to pass close to BP Plc.'s blown-out well off the Louisiana coast. But even a miss that only generates large waves could greatly complicate clean-up efforts from Louisiana to Florida. Current official estimates suggest between 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day are leaking from the rogue well. BP collected over 24,000 barrels on Friday and about 11,640 barrels in the first half of Saturday, the company estimated. New equipment being moved to the site of the leak in the coming week could raise the daily collection rate to 53,000 barrels a day, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is coordinating the U.S. oil spill response, said on Saturday.

Canada to phase out older coal-fired power plants

Canada will phase out older coal-fired power plants to cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said on Wednesday, as it moves to make natural-gas fired plants the new clean-power standard. The new standards, expected to be firmed up by early 2011, will force electricity producers to phase out older, high-emitting coal-fired plants and require newer facilities to match the lower greenhouse-gas emissions of more efficient natural-gas fired plants. Canada has 51 coal-fired units producing 19 percent of the country's electricity and 13 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions. However, 33 of those plants will reach the end of their economic lives by 2025. Unless the operators make substantial investments to cut emissions from the aging facilities, they'll be required to shut down.

Middle school project discovers cave skylight on Mars

The 16 students in Dennis Mitchell's 7th-grade science class at Evergreen Middle School in Cottonwood, Calif., chose to study lava tubes, a common volcanic feature on Earth and Mars. It was their class project for the Mars Student Imaging Program (MSIP), a component of ASU's Mars Education Program, which is run out of the Mars Space Flight Facility on the Tempe campus. They went looking for lava tubes on Mars — and found what may be a hole in the roof of a Martian cave.

Coffee’s Mysterious Benefits Mount

From lowered cancer risks to a sharper memory, more studies are showing that coffee is good for you - but why? Regular coffee drinkers have a 39 percent decreased risk of head and neck cancer, according to a new study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Those who drank an estimated four or more cups a day had significantly fewer cancers of the mouth and throat than non coffee drinkers, the study found. Scientists are still trying to determine exactly what it is about coffee that gives it its disease-fighting properties, but recent research is getting closer to unlocking the mysterious power behind the energizing brew.

Telepresence Could Save Business $19 Billion by 2020

According to a new study of large companies using telepresence technology, U.S. and U.K. businesses that substitute some business travel with telepresence can cut CO2 emissions by nearly 5.5 million metric tons in total – the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing more than one million passenger vehicles from the road for one year – and achieve total economy-wide financial benefits of almost $19 billion, by 2020.

First BP relief well has blown-out well in sights

Concern over its ability to pay the rapidly escalating cost of the worst spill in U.S. history continued to weigh on its shares, however, sending its London stock to a 14-year low and further hitting its credit profile. BP said in a statement on Friday the first of two relief wells had successfully detected the MC252 well and would continue to a target intercept depth of 18,000 feet, when "kill" operations would begin. As concern grows that bad weather could hamper clean-up operations, BP said 37,000 people, 4,500 vessels and 100 aircraft were helping the response effort, and that almost 850,000 barrels of oil and "oily liquid" had been captured or burned off the sea.

Commemorative Robert Bateman Print Helps Combat Nature Deficit Disorder

ENN is a media sponsor of the Robert Bateman "Get to Know" contest. Now, the National Forest Foundation is offering Robert Bateman's new print Family Hike to benefit More Kids in the Woods which provides grants to nonprofits that take kids beyond four walls and into their backyard – be it a county park, National Forest, or other wild place – an effort to ensure that today’s children know what it is to grow in the open air. It's summertime, which for many of us means that it's time to lace up our boots and head for the hills. Or perhaps it's time to roll out the tent, pack up the marshmallows, and re-acquaint ourselves with a favorite campsite. Unfortunately, too many children today don’t have the opportunity for these outdoor adventures. You’ve heard of Nature Deficit Disorder, Electronic Overload, and any number of other catchy phrases. Call it what you will, the message is the same: kids don’t spend enough time outdoors.

The Deformation of the Earth from Earthquakes

Earthquakes are often imagined as opening up large gaps in the land, sinking islands and the such. It is much harder in real life to see this change. NASA has recently released the first ever airborne radar images of the deformation in Earth's surface caused by a major earthquake -- the magnitude 7.2 temblor that rocked Mexico's state of Baja California and parts of the American Southwest on April 4, 2010. The data reveal that in the area studied, the quake moved the Calexico, Calif., region in a downward and southerly direction up to 31 inches.

Hot Spring on Planet Earth

It is getting more and more difficult to deny that global warming is occurring. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report recently about the state of the global climate, and the results were not pretty. It turns out the combined global land and ocean surface temperatures set a record in May. In fact, from March to May, it was the hottest spring on record. Furthermore, the whole first half of the year, from January to May was also the warmest on record.

NOAA Opens More Than 8,000 Square Miles of Fishing Closed Area in Gulf of Mexico

NOAA has opened more than 8,000 square miles of previously closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico, because the agency has not observed oil in the area. The most significant opening is an area due south of Mississippi which was closed Monday, June 21. Additionally, some smaller areas were opened off the Louisiana and central Florida coasts.