• Large parts of the world are drying up

    The soils in large areas of the Southern Hemisphere, including major portions of Australia, Africa, and South America, have been drying up in the past decade as a result of intensified “evapotranspiration” — the movement of water from the land to the atmosphere

  • Scientists: More than 4 million barrels of oil entered Gulf

    Scientists conclude that following the 20 April explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon well, 4.4 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico; knowing the total volume of oil is critical to understanding how much oil could be lurking in the Gulf and nearby marshes — a highly contentious issue

  • Worldwide groundwater depletion rate accelerating

    In recent decades, the rate at which humans worldwide are pumping dry the vast underground stores of water that billions depend on has more than doubled; if water was siphoned from the Great Lakes as rapidly as water is pumped out of underground reservoirs, the Great Lakes would go bone-dry in around 80 years

  • Insect-size air vehicles to explore, monitor hazardous environments

    High-performance micro air vehicles (MAVs) are on track to evolve into robotic, insect-scale devices for monitoring and exploration of hazardous environments, such as collapsed structures, caves and chemical spills

  • Geoengineering may affect different regions differently

    Geoengineering approaches would succeed in restoring the average global temperature to “normal” levels, but some regions would remain too warm, whereas others would “overshoot” and cool too much; in addition, average rainfall would be reduced

  • The U.S. military prepares for the coming conflicts triggered by climate change

    The popular debate surrounding “global warming” is rife with emotion and has paralyzed U.S. policymakers; military planners, however, remain divorced from the emotional content of the topic, looking at possible future scenarios and conducting planning to address the associated challenges and threats arising from sharp changes in climate

  • New cement absorbs CO2

    Concrete — the essential material used by the world’s $3.8 trillion construction industry — accounts for 5 percent of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions; each ton of cement emits about 800 kg (1,763 lb.) of CO2 during manufacture — and every year, some 3 billion tons of cement turn into nearly 30 billion tons of concrete, a British start-up has devised a new cement — based on magnesium silicates rather than limestone — that absorbs and stores CO2 when it is produced

  • Oregano reduces atmosphere-damaging emissions of methane by gassy cows

    Cows account for 37 percent of methane gas emissions caused by human activities, such as agriculture; the EPA says that compared to carbon dioxide, methane has 23 times the potential to create global warming because of the gas’s absorption of infrared radiation, the spectral location of its absorbing wavelengths, and the length of time methane remains in the atmosphere; researchers find that the addition of oregano to cow feed cuts the amount of methane emitted by belching cows by 40 percent; the oregano also improves milk production

  • Scientist offers better ways to engineer Earth's climate to blunt global warming

    A Canadian scientist suggests two novel geoengineering approaches to limit the effects of climate change on Earth: “levitating:” engineered nano-particles, and the airborne release of sulphuric acid; both ideas are more refined than, and have advantages over, another geoengineering concept developed by geoengineers: mimicking volcanic eruptions by injecting massive amounts of sulphur dioxide gas into the upper atmosphere

  • Obama to pare down list of export-controlled technologies

    For many years, academic institutions and businesses in the United States have complained about the long list of technologies that the U.S. government considers too sensitive to export without a license; last week, President Obama announced that administration would pare down the list of export-controlled item; businesses and universities are happy, but some in the arms-control community are not happy

  • Germany to extend life of nuclear reactors

    Germany said on Monday that it would extend the life of the country’s 17 nuclear reactors by twelve years on average — the lives of older plants will be extended by eight years and those of newer ones by fourteen years; Chancellor Angela Merkel’s predecessor Gerhard Schroeder had decided to mothball the reactors by around 2020, but Merkel said the extension was necessary to allow more time for renewable energy to become cost effective

  • Small thorium reactors could lead to fossil-fuel-free world within five years

    An argument is made that nuclear reactors which use thorium as an accelerator (hence the technical name: Accelerator Driven Thorium Reactors, or ADTR) could lead to fossil-fuel-free world within five years; thorium is an abundant mineral deposit, with 3 to 5 times more thorium in the world than uranium; more importantly, virtually all of the thorium mined can be used as fuel compared to only 0.7 percent of the uranium recovered in its natural state, this means, in energy terms, that one ton of thorium mined is equivalent to 200 tons of uranium mined, which is equivalent to 3.5 million tons of mined coal; ADTRs also enjoy proliferation resistance advantages compared to other reactor systems

  • Seafood stewardship questionable: experts

    The world’s most established fisheries certifier — the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) — is failing on its promises as rapidly as it gains prominence, according the world’s leading fisheries experts; “The MSC is supposed to be a solution, but a lot of what they do has turned against biology in favor of bureaucracy,” says one expert

  • Dramatic climate change is unpredictable

    Scientists examine two models to explain climate change; one scenario is like a seesaw that has tipped to one side; if sufficient weight is placed on the other side the seesaw will tip — the climate will change from one state to another (an ice age, or warmer climate as is the case today); in the other model, the climate is like a ball in a trench, which represents one climate state; the ball is continuously pushed by chaos-dynamical fluctuations, and the turmoil in the climate system may finally push the ball over into the other trench, which represents a different climate state

  • New smell sensor uses genetically engineered frog eggs

    Researchers use genetically engineered frog cells to develop a sensor that detects gasses; the researchers embedded the sensor into a mannequin, so that it could shake its head when a gas was detected, making it easier to observe