Legislative & Regulatory Update

The Colony-Killing Mistake Backyard Beekeepers Are Making

Jonathan Garaas has learned a few things in three seasons of backyard beekeeping: Bees are fascinating. They're complicated. And keeping them alive is not easy.Every two weeks, the Fargo attorney opens the hives to check the bees and search for varroa mites, pests that suck the bees' blood and can transmit disease. If he sees too many of the pinhead-sized parasites, he applies a chemical treatment.

NASA's Fermi mission expands its search for dark matter

Dark matter, the mysterious substance that constitutes most of the material universe, remains as elusive as ever. Although experiments on the ground and in space have yet to find a trace of dark matter, the results are helping scientists rule out some of the many theoretical possibilities. Three studies published earlier this year, using six or more years of data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, have broadened the mission's dark matter hunt using some novel approaches.

July Electric Car Sales in China Rose by 188 Percent Over Last Year

Regulatory news - ENN - August 12, 2016 - 2:59pm
Chinese consumers bought 34,000 new electric cars in July, a 188 percent jump over the same period last year, according to CleanTechnica, an energy and technology news organization. The monthly total puts China on track to sell 400,000 electrical vehicles in 2016, accounting for 1.5 percent of the total auto sales market — larger than annual EV sales in Europe, or the U.S., Canada, and Mexico combined. 

July Electric Car Sales in China Rose by 188 Percent Over Last Year

Climate Change News - ENN - August 12, 2016 - 2:59pm
Chinese consumers bought 34,000 new electric cars in July, a 188 percent jump over the same period last year, according to CleanTechnica, an energy and technology news organization. The monthly total puts China on track to sell 400,000 electrical vehicles in 2016, accounting for 1.5 percent of the total auto sales market — larger than annual EV sales in Europe, or the U.S., Canada, and Mexico combined. 

Let's roll: Material for polymer solar cells may lend itself to large-area processing

Climate Change News - ENN - August 12, 2016 - 2:48pm
For all the promise they have shown in the lab, polymer solar cells still need to "get on a roll" like the ones employed in printing newspapers so that large sheets of acceptably efficient photovoltaic devices can be manufactured continuously and economically. Polymer solar cells offer advantages over their traditional silicon-based counterparts in numerous ways, including lower cost, potentially smaller carbon footprint and a greater variety of uses.

Global warming's next surprise: Saltier beaches

Regulatory news - ENN - August 12, 2016 - 11:41am
Batches of sand from a beach on the Delaware Bay are yielding insights into the powerful impact of temperature rise and evaporation along the shore that are in turn challenging long-held assumptions about what causes beach salinity to fluctuate in coastal zones that support a rich network of sea creatures and plants.The findings have implications for the migration and survival of invertebrates such as mussels and crabs as global warming drives temperatures higher.A first major study of the effects of evaporation on the flow of subsurface water and salinity, or salt content, in the beach intertidal zone -- the section of the beach between the low and high tide marks -- is being published today in Scientific Reports, an online affiliate of Nature.

Global warming's next surprise: Saltier beaches

Climate Change News - ENN - August 12, 2016 - 11:41am
Batches of sand from a beach on the Delaware Bay are yielding insights into the powerful impact of temperature rise and evaporation along the shore that are in turn challenging long-held assumptions about what causes beach salinity to fluctuate in coastal zones that support a rich network of sea creatures and plants.The findings have implications for the migration and survival of invertebrates such as mussels and crabs as global warming drives temperatures higher.A first major study of the effects of evaporation on the flow of subsurface water and salinity, or salt content, in the beach intertidal zone -- the section of the beach between the low and high tide marks -- is being published today in Scientific Reports, an online affiliate of Nature.

Where Lead Lurks And Why Even Small Amounts Matter

Regulatory news - ENN - August 12, 2016 - 11:29am
Lead problems with the water in Flint, Mich., have prompted people across the country to ask whether they or their families have been exposed to the toxic metal in their drinking water, too.When it comes to assessing the risk, it's important to look in the right places.Even when municipal water systems' lead levels are considered perfectly fine by federal standards, the metal can leach into tap water from lead plumbing.

NASA measures winds of Tropical Storm Conson

NASA's RapidScat instrument provided measurements of sustained wind speeds as Tropical Storm Conson continued tracking north through the northwestern Pacific Ocean.When RapidScat passed over Conson on Aug. 10, it was near peak intensity. RapidScat measured maximum sustained winds around the center of circulation as fast as 49 mph (22 meters per second/79 kph) on Aug. 10. The RapidScat instrument that flies aboard the International Space Station measures Earth's ocean surface wind speed and direction over open waters.

NASA measures winds of Tropical Storm Conson

Climate Change News - ENN - August 11, 2016 - 5:43pm
NASA's RapidScat instrument provided measurements of sustained wind speeds as Tropical Storm Conson continued tracking north through the northwestern Pacific Ocean.When RapidScat passed over Conson on Aug. 10, it was near peak intensity. RapidScat measured maximum sustained winds around the center of circulation as fast as 49 mph (22 meters per second/79 kph) on Aug. 10. The RapidScat instrument that flies aboard the International Space Station measures Earth's ocean surface wind speed and direction over open waters.

Feds Say California's Endangered Channel Islands Foxes Are Recovered

Regulatory news - ENN - August 11, 2016 - 4:48pm
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the successful recovery of three out of four unique subspecies ofisland fox on San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands, removing them from the endangered species list. The agency also upgraded the protection status of the Santa Catalina Island fox — the fourth subspecies — from “endangered” to “threatened” to reflect its status improvement."Because they evolved separately on the islands for 16,000 years, these adorable little foxes are some of the only carnivores endemic to California,” said Jeff Miller with the Center. “They were on the brink of extinction just 12 years ago when they were protected under the Endangered Species Act. Now, thanks to successful reintroduction and recovery efforts, numbers of foxes are way up and threats have been reduced."

Discovery of sunlight-driven organic chemistry on water surfaces

Fatty acids found on the surface of water droplets react with sunlight to form organic molecules, a new study reports, essentially uncovering a previously unknown form of photolysis.The results could affect models that account for aerosol particles, including models related to climate. Conventional wisdom holds that carboxylic acids and saturated fatty acids, which are abundant throughout the environment, only react with hydroxyl radicals and are not affected by sunlight.

Virus attracts bumblebees to infected plants by changing scent

Climate Change News - ENN - August 11, 2016 - 4:18pm
Plant scientists at the University of Cambridge have found that the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) alters gene expression in the tomato plants it infects, causing changes to air-borne chemicals - the scent - emitted by the plants. Bees can smell these subtle changes, and glasshouse experiments have shown that bumblebees prefer infected plants over healthy ones.Scientists say that by indirectly manipulating bee behaviour to improve pollination of infected plants by changing their scent, the virus is effectively paying its host back. This may also benefit the virus: helping to spread the pollen of plants susceptible to infection and, in doing so, inhibiting the chance of virus-resistant plant strains emerging.

U.S. to World: Protect Dolphins, Whales or Lose Access to U.S. Seafood Market

Regulatory news - ENN - August 11, 2016 - 2:46pm
The National Marine Fisheries Service issued regulations today prohibiting seafood imports from nations whose fisheries kill more whales and dolphins than U.S. standards allow. Each year around 650,000 whales, dolphins and other marine mammals are unintentionally caught and killed in fishing gear worldwide. Under the new rule, foreign fishermen must meet the same marine mammal protection standards applied to U.S. fishermen or their fish will be banned from the lucrative American seafood market. The rule is the result of a settlement in a lawsuit brought by conservation groups two years ago.“The new regulations will force countries to meet U.S. conservation standards if they want access to the U.S. market, saving thousands of whales and dolphins from dying on hooks and in fishing nets around the world,” said Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The U.S. government has finally recognized that all seafood consumed in the United States must be ‘dolphin-safe.’”

Self-shading windows switch from clear to opaque

A team of researchers at MIT has developed a new way of making windows that can switch from transparent to opaque, potentially saving energy by blocking sunlight on hot days and thus reducing air-conditioning costs. While other systems for causing glass to darken do exist, the new method offers significant advantages by combining rapid response times and low power needs.Once the glass is switched from clear to dark, or vice versa, the new system requires little to no power to maintain its new state; unlike other materials, it only needs electricity when it's time to switch back again.

With droughts and downpours, climate change feeds Chesapeake Bay algal blooms

Climate Change News - ENN - August 11, 2016 - 11:15am
A study shows that weather patterns tied to climate change may increase the severity of algal blooms in Chesapeake Bay as extreme rainfall cycles flush larger amounts of nitrogen from fertilizer and other sources into the Susquehanna River. The researchers found that a spike in rainfall can increase nitrogen levels in the bay even if the amount of fertilizer used on land remains the same, leading to explosive algae growth that poisons humans and wildlife, and devastates fisheries.While efforts to restore the bay have been successful during the past several years, a study led by Princeton University researchers shows that weather patterns tied to climate change may nonetheless increase the severity of algal blooms by changing how soil nutrients leach into the watershed.

New map reveals how little of Antarctica's rock is ice-free

Climate Change News - ENN - August 11, 2016 - 11:06am
Until now estimates of how much of ice-free rock is exposed in Antarctica were stated as ‘less than 1%’.For the first time scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have been able to produce accurate quantification of how much of the continent isn’t buried under snow.  At a mere 0.18% scientists can now say confidently how much of the frozen continent really is frozen.  This improves the baseline that scientists use to monitor the effects of climate change in the region.Publishing this month in the journal Cryosphere scientists describe how they used the latest NASA and USGS satellite data to produce an automated map of rock outcrop across the entire Antarctic continent.

Why we need to keep rivers cool with riverside tree planting

Climate Change News - ENN - August 10, 2016 - 3:21pm
With some climate predictions warning that river water temperatures will exceed safe thresholds for river fish, the Keep Rivers Cool (KRC) campaign is calling for more riverside tree planting.Fish in Britain's rivers are under threat from warmer waters. Cold-water species such as Atlantic salmon and brown trout, are struggling to cope as climate change brings significant increases in temperature.Today there's a call for urgent action to Keep Rivers Cool by planting broadleaf native trees alongside river banks, creating dappled shading and stopping water from warming up.Shade can reduce temperatures in small rivers by on average 2- 3C compared to un-shaded streams; and by more on hot summer days.

Warmer climate could lower dengue risk

Climate Change News - ENN - August 10, 2016 - 2:48pm
Health researchers predict that the transmission of dengue could decrease in a future warmer climate, countering previous projections that climate change would cause the potentially lethal virus to spread more easily.Hundreds of millions of people are infected with dengue each year, with some children dying in severe cases, and this research helps to address this significant global health problem.Co-lead researcher Associate Professor David Harley from The Australian National University (ANU) said that dengue risk might decrease in the wet tropics of northeast Australia under a high-emissions scenario in 2050, due to mosquito breeding sites becoming drier and less favourable to their survival.

California Freeways to Go Greener by Generating Electricity

Energy conservation is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about freeways jammed with idling vehicles.But in California, which has some of the most congested freeways in the country, that’s about to change. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved a pilot program in which piezoelectric crystals will be installed on several freeways.

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