• Obama panel recommends active U.S. backing for clean coal

    A panel appointed by President Obama calls for an active U.S. government role in promoting carbon capture and storage, or CCS, a largely undeveloped technology that aims to prevent carbon emissions blamed for global warming from entering the atmosphere; panel recommends government’s consideration of accepting liability over carbon storage sites for thousands of years to come

  • Gulf's future depends on oil-eating bacteria, lingering toxicity

    Many marine bacteria have evolved to consume oil and other hydrocarbons, and now the spill has allowed these bacteria to follow their food beyond their natural habitat near oil seeps at the bottom of the Gulf; microbes may degrade the oil quickly, but their activity could eventually pose risks to the Gulf’s ecosystem, particularly in the deep ocean; scientists also worry about lingering toxicity — this is because oil’s toxic constituents, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, can disrupt reproduction of marine organisms and can lower their offsprings’ vitality; this chronic toxicity will be magnified along the Gulf Coast’s beaches, salt marshes, and wetlands, because oil degradation in these sites will proceed at a much slower pace than in oxygen-rich environments

  • Russian researcher: Moscow's heat wave the result of secret U.S. "climate weapon"

    It has been unusually hot in Russia this summer, and a Russian researcher asks whether this heat wave is the result of a secret U.S.“climate weapon”; the author writes that “climate weapons may be reaching their target capacity and may be used to provoke droughts, erase crops, and induce various anomalous phenomena in certain countries”

  • Oil-eating bacteria responsible for oil plumes, dispersants vanishing

    The plumes of dispersant and oil in the Gulf’s deep waters that were causing anxiety among biologists have gone away; scientists say the reason is oil-eating bacteria; the bacteria in the Gulf’s deeper waters may have reacted so fast thanks in part to being primed by natural oil seeps along the sea floor; given that oil stopped flowing two weeks ago, scientists say it is not surprising that the plumes are now largely gone

  • Largest-ever Gulf dead zone spans from Galveston to Mississippi River

    The dead zone off the Texas coast is larger this year than scientists have ever measured, stretching offshore from the Mississippi River to Galveston Island; fish and shellfish often can swim away from these areas but immobile organisms, such as clams, simply die without access to oxygen

  • $1.4 million prize for best oil clean-up technology

    X Prize Foundation is offering $1.4 million in prize money for new technologies to clean up oil spills; competitors will be invited to test their technologies in 2011 in a 203- by 20-metre tank owned by the U.S. government’s Minerals Management Service (MMS); a moving bridge that simulates a boat pulling cleanup equipment and a wave generator create ocean-like conditions in the New Jersey-based facility

  • 3,000 chemical-filled barrels washed into major northeast China river

    Severe floods in China’s Jilin Province carried about 3,000 barrels containing toxic chemicals into the Songhuajiang River in Jilin City; in addition, 4,000 empty barrels containing chemical residues were also washed into the river — a major source of drinking water and fishing; each chemical-filled barrel contains about 170 kilograms of chemicals

  • Senate panels to discuss high-risk chemical facilities

    This is an important week in chemical facilities security legislation, as two Senate panels are set to hold hearings on how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DHS can most effectively monitor the security measures taken by U.S. chemical facilities:

  • Flawed predictions of coal, CO2 production lead to flawed climate models, says research

    Most current climate change models assume unlimited coal and fossil fuel production for the next 100 years; one expert says this is an unrealistic premise which skews climate change models and proposed solutions; since widely accepted studies predict coal production will peak and decline after 2011, the expert says that climate change predictions should be revised to account for this inevitable peak and decline

  • BP accused of trying to buy the silence of scientists on spill

    BP is accused of trying to buy the silence of leading scientists: the company offering scientists and researchers lucrative contracts to participate in developing restoration plan for the Gulf after the oil spill — but: the scientists are not allowed to publish the research they do for the oil giant; they are also not allowed to speak about the data for at least three years or until the government gives final approval for the company’s restoration plan for the whole of the Gulf; the company would not allow scientists to take total control of the data or the freedom to make those data available to other scientists and subject to peer review; in the case of the University of South Alabama, BP offered to sign up the entire marine sciences department

  • 25,000 new asteroids -- 95 in near Earth orbit -- found by NASA's sky mapping

    NASA’s newest space telescopes has spotted 25,000 never-before-seen asteroids in just six months; 95 of those are considered near Earth objects — which means, in the language of astronomy, that they are within thirty million miles of Earth; the telescope also sighted fifteen new comets and confirmed the existence of twenty brown dwarfs — stellar objects that are bigger than a planet but much smaller than a star; the full celestial catalog of what is out there will not be released to the public until next year after NASA has had time to process the images and flag false alarms

  • Congress to establish a commission to study threat of asteroid impact on Earth

    The annual probability of the Earth being struck by a huge asteroid or comet is small, but the consequences of such a collision are so calamitous that it is prudent to appraise the nature of the threat and prepare to deal with it, experts say; Congress agrees

  • Endangered antelope interferes with Arizona border security

    Environmental concerns and border security clash along the U.S.-Mexico border; the wild Sonoran Pronghorn numbers are down to about 80 in Arizona and they occupy less than 10 percent of their original range — but what is left of their range straddles the border; environmentalists and government stewards of the environment object to the erection of a fence or watch towers, saying they would drive the antelope-like creature to extinction

  • Particle injection into the stratosphere could mitigate effects of climate change

    In what scientists describe as Plan D, or an insurance policy for the situation in which Earth hits a tipping point in climate change quickly, a 20-kilometer pipe — “garden hose to the sky” — would be deployed to spray a shield of sulphate particles into the stratosphere; the idea is to emulate the eruption of volcanoes which spew sulphur-rich gas that spread worldwide, blocking sunlight and lowering temperatures

  • Scientists: Oil spill's "grim reshuffle" of Gulf food web may destroy region's fishing industry

    The initial impact of the BP disaster on the maritime food chain in the Gulf are already apparent; scientists warn that if such impacts continue, they will result in a grim reshuffling of sea life that could over time cascade through the ecosystem and imperil the region’s multibillion-dollar fishing industry