On Sunday, Germany’s biggest utility E.ON announced plans to split into two companies and focus on renewables in a major shift that could be an indicator of broader changes to come across the utility sector. E.ON will spin off its nuclear, oil, coal, and gas operations in an effort to confront a drastically altered energy market, especially under the pressure of Germany’s Energiewende — the country’s move away from nuclear to renewables. The company told shareholders that it will place “a particular emphasis on expanding its wind business in Europe and in other selected target markets,” and that it will also “strengthen its solar business.”
In response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency have agreed to analyze how oil-spill response actions in the Hudson River and New York Bay may affect endangered wildlife like Atlantic sturgeon and green sea turtles.
“The dramatic rise of crude oil transport along the Hudson River makes a devastating oil spill almost inevitable," said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist at the Center. “If a spill happens, we shouldn’t add insult to injury by hurting fish, turtles and other endangered wildlife during the cleanup.”
Daniel Stoupin, a PhD student at the University of Queensland in Australia, has created a stunning must-see video that will open your eyes to just how little most of us understand about the many different forms of life we have here on Earth. His “Slow Life” video combines thousands of close-
Compared with eye-catching renewable power technologies like wind turbines and solar panels, energy efficiency is nearly invisible. But advocates say doing more with less power may be an even more critical weapon in the fight against climate change and offers big economic benefits, too.
The gut parasite Nosema ceranae – which originates in Asia but can now be found worldwide – is likely to cause increasing damage to UK bees as the Earth heats up through climate change.
The new finding that this parasite not only has a superior competitive ability, but that its numbers could rise with climate change, has been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Co-author of the study and Adjunct Reader at Queen’s School of Biological Sciences, Professor Robert Paxton said: “This emerging parasite is more susceptible to cold than its original close relative, possibly reflecting its presumed origin in east Asia. In the face of rising global temperatures, our findings suggest that it will increase in prevalence and potentially lead to increased honey bee colony losses in Britain.”
"PANAMA CITY, Oct 22 2014 (IPS) - For indigenous people in Panama, the rainforest where they live is not only their habitat but also their spiritual home, and their link to nature and their ancestors. The forest holds part of their essence and their identity.
“Forests are valuable to us because they bring us benefits, but not just oxygen,” Emberá chief Cándido Mezúa, the president of the National Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples of Panama (COONAPIP), told Tierramérica.
“It is organic matter, minerals in the forest floor, forms of life related to the customs of indigenous peoples,” added Mezúa, the seniormost chief of one of Panama’s seven native communities, who live in five collectively-owned indigenous territories or “comarcas”.
In this tropical Central American country, indigenous people manage the forests in their territories through community forestry companies (EFCs). But Mezúa complained about the difficulties in setting up the EFCs, which ends up hurting the forests and the welfare of their guardians, the country’s indigenous communities.
Of Panama’s 3.8 million people, 417,000 are indigenous, and they live on 16,634 sq km – 20 percent of the national territory."
The data centers that power the Internet use more energy than the entire country of India. Most of that energy is lost as waste heat. That fact inspired an idea: Why not use a network of servers to heat homes?
Cloud & Heat, a cloud infrastructure company in Germany, stores server cabinets in houses and apartment buildings. While the servers crunch data, the excess heat is used to warm up the homes in the winter and provide hot water all year.
The service has a second major benefit: a huge chunk of the energy used in data centers goes to air conditioning to keep the machines cool. When the servers are distributed in homes instead of a single building, the company can eliminate the need for cooling. That, in turn, saves money and makes the service cheaper for customers.
In a paper published in PNAS on Monday November 24, scientists laid out a robust new framework based on in situ observations that will allow scientists to describe and understand how phytoplankton assimilate limited concentrations of phosphorus, a key nutrient, in the ocean in ways that better reflect what is actually occurring in the marine environment. This is an important advance because nutrient uptake is a central property of ocean biogeochemistry, and in many regions controls carbon dioxide fixation, which ultimately can play a role in mitigating climate change.
"Until now, our understanding of how phytoplankton assimilate nutrients in an extremely nutrient-limited environment was based on lab cultures that poorly represented what happens in natural populations," explained Michael Lomas of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, who co-led the study with Adam Martiny of University of California - Irvine, and Simon Levin and Juan Bonachela of Princeton University. "Now we can quantify how phytoplankton are taking up nutrients in the real world, which provides much more meaningful data that will ultimately improve our understanding of their role in global ocean function and climate regulation."
To address the knowledge gap about the globally-relevant ecosystem process of nutrient uptake, researchers worked to identify how different levels of microbial biodiversity influenced in situ phosphorus uptake in the Western Subtropical North Atlantic Ocean. Specifically, they focused on how different phytoplankton taxa assimilated phosphorus in the same region, and how phosphorus uptake by those individual taxa varied across regions with different phosphorus concentrations. They found that phytoplankton were much more efficient at assimilating vanishingly low phosphorus concentrations than would have been predicted from culture research. Moreover, individual phytoplankton continually optimized their ability to assimilate phosphorus as environmental phosphorus concentrations increased. This finding runs counter to the commonly held, and widely used, view that their ability to assimilate phosphorus saturates as concentrations increase.
"Prior climate models didn't take into account how natural phytoplankton populations vary in their ability to take up key nutrients, "said Martiny. "We were able to fill in this gap through fieldwork and advanced analytical techniques. The outcome is the first comprehensive in situ quantification of nutrient uptake capabilities among dominant phytoplankton groups in the North Atlantic Ocean that takes into account microbial biodiversity."
Indonesia's new Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar imposed a moratorium on the issuance of all new logging permits a little over a week after being appointed in late October.
The move is being celebrated by conservation groups and signals that interest in reforming Indonesia's notoriously corrupt and dysfunctional forestry sector has reached the highest levels of government, with direction coming from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
"The President's order is for permit-issuances to be fair, accurate, clear and accountable, which means that the procedure is clear and the result is certain," said Siti. "We will halt issuance of all permits until the integration process is completed to the President's satisfaction."
The moratorium is likely to last between four and six months says the ministry.
"It's a welcome signal that Minister Siti and the president recognize that the forest sector is a vital and highly visible sector," said the Rainforest Action Network's Lacadio Cortesi. "It suggests they are very aware that the sector is plagued by problems that must be addressed to improve fairness and certainty for businesses and communities, to avoid exacerbating land and social conflict, to tackle corruption, to reduce deforestation and Indonesia's carbon footprint, and to improve standing of Indonesian products in the marketplace."
Even as United Nations negotiators expressed optimism that they may finally achieve an elusive deal, experts caution that it probably will not be enough to stave off the near-term impact of global warming.
It is hoped that the Village Safe Water Program will eventually help eliminate dirty sewage lagoons, centralized water transmission lines, and honey buckets -- the 5-gallon buckets still used as toilets by many in the state.
On a visit to China a few years back, I asked a local official about pollution controls after enjoying my first sour, gritty taste of the country’s air. China’s new coal-fired power plants and other industrial boilers often came equipped with expensive scrubbers to clean acid rain and smog-forming sulfur dioxide out of the hot mix of gases that went up and out the smokestack. But the scrubbers required energy to run, this official noted, and therefore were shut off except on days when dignitaries (or foreign journalists) visited.
It was a bizarre meeting in a southern Sudanese supply camp a few years ago, when the civil war between north and south Sudan was slowly winding down. My wife and I were having a drink at a crudely constructed bar when another man, American, approached us and asked what we were doing "in this godforsaken place."
There was something different about him -- a keenness and a fulsome awareness of what was happening in that entire region of Africa. He fascinated us with his knowledge and penetrating insights. It was further into the conversation when he finally conceded that he was an American Intelligence officer, attempting to acquire information regarding mass migrations of people looking for food and water.
"What in all the world are you doing here?" I asked sincerely. Hesitating momentarily, he finally said, "We're studying the effects of climate change in this part of the world and what it's going to mean to the future security of the region, and maybe even to America."
Historic innovations that have been adopted too hastily with grave unforeseen impacts provide cautionary examples for potential side effects of fracking, says report by government’s chief scientist Mark Walport
Foreign companies investing in Guyana’s substantial forests are supposed to adhere to national laws and international agreements. But civil society leaders and activists inside and outside the South American country are crying foul, saying foreign corporations and government officials are paying lip service to the accords while quietly building a timber-harvesting empire in the country with few benefits for the average Guyanese.
In a discovery that experts say could revolutionise fuel cell technology, scientists have found that graphene, the world's thinnest, strongest and most impermeable material, can allow protons to pass through it.
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