Legislative & Regulatory Update

Earth's first ecosystems were more complex than previously thought

Computer simulations have allowed scientists to work out how a puzzling 555-million-year-old organism with no known modern relatives fed, revealing that some of the first large, complex organisms on Earth formed ecosystems that were much more complex than previously thought.The international team of researchers from Canada, the UK and the USA, including Dr Imran Rahman from the University of Bristol, studied fossils of an extinct organism called Tribrachidium, which lived in the oceans some 555 million years ago.  Using a computer modelling approach called computational fluid dynamics, they were able to show that Tribrachidium fed by collecting particles suspended in water.  This is called suspension feeding and it had not previously been documented in organisms from this period of time.

Rapid plankton growth seen as indicator of carbon dioxide loading in oceans

Climate Change News - ENN - November 27, 2015 - 8:04am
A microscopic marine alga is thriving in the North Atlantic to an extent that defies scientific predictions, suggesting swift environmental change as a result of increased carbon dioxide in the ocean, a study led a by Johns Hopkins University scientist has found.What these findings mean remains to be seen, as does whether the rapid growth in the tiny plankton's population is good or bad news for the planet.Published today in the journal Science, the study details a tenfold increase in the abundance of single-cell coccolithophores between 1965 and 2010, and a particularly sharp spike since the late 1990s in the population of these pale-shelled floating phytoplankton.

New DOW weedkiller issues

Regulatory news - ENN - November 26, 2015 - 8:40am
Dow AgroSciences, which sells seeds and pesticides to farmers, made contradictory claims to different parts of the U.S. government about its latest herbicide. The Environmental Protection Agency just found out, and now wants to cancel Dow's legal right to sell the product.The herbicide, which the company calls Enlist Duo, is a mixture of two chemicals that farmers have used separately for many years: glyphosate (also known as Roundup) and 2,4-D. It's Dow's answer to the growing problem of weeds that are resistant to glyphosate, which has become the weed-killing weapon of choice for farmers across the country.The new formulation is intended to work hand-in-hand with a new generation of corn and soybean seeds that are genetically engineered to tolerate sprays of both herbicides.

NASA finds answer to why Mars' atmosphere doesn't have more carbon

Mars is blanketed by a thin, mostly carbon dioxide atmosphere -- one that is far too thin to keep water from freezing or quickly evaporating. However, geological evidence has led scientists to conclude that ancient Mars was once a warmer, wetter place than it is today. To produce a more temperate climate, several researchers have suggested that the planet was once shrouded in a much thicker carbon dioxide atmosphere. For decades that left the question, "Where did all the carbon go?"The solar wind stripped away much of Mars' ancient atmosphere and is still removing tons of it every day. But scientists have been puzzled by why they haven't found more carbon -- in the form of carbonate -- captured into Martian rocks. They have also sought to explain the ratio of heavier and lighter carbons in the modern Martian atmosphere.

Something not to worry about, the Earth's magnetic field flipping

The intensity of Earth’s geomagnetic field has been dropping for the past 200 years, at a rate that some scientists suspect may cause the field to bottom out in 2,000 years, temporarily leaving the planet unprotected against damaging charged particles from the sun. This drop in intensity is associated with periodic geomagnetic field reversals, in which the Earth’s North and South magnetic poles flip polarity, and it could last for several thousand years before returning to a stable, shielding intensity.With a weakened geomagnetic field, increased solar radiation might damage electronics — from individual pacemakers to entire power grids — and could induce genetic mutations. A reversal may also affect the navigation of animals that use Earth’s magnetic field as an internal compass.

Bioart: An Introduction

Joe Davis is an artist who works not only with paints or pastels, but also with genes and bacteria. In 1986, he collaborated with geneticist Dan Boyd to encode a symbol for life and femininity into an E. coli bacterium. The piece, called Microvenus, was the first artwork to use the tools and techniques of molecular biology. Since then, bioart has become one of several contemporary art forms (including reclamation art and nanoart) that apply scientific methods and technology to explore living systems as artistic subjects. A review of the field, published November 23, can be found in Trends in Biotechnology.Bioart ranges from bacterial manipulation to glowing rabbits, cellular sculptures, and--in the case of Australian-British artist Nina Sellars--documentation of an ear prosthetic that was implanted onto fellow artist Stelarc's arm. In the pursuit of creating art, practitioners have generated tools and techniques that have aided researchers, while sometimes crossing into controversy, such as by releasing invasive species into the environment, blurring the lines between art and modern biology, raising philosophical, societal, and environmental issues that challenge scientific thinking.

Could Lithium-air batteries make oil obsolete?

Climate Change News - ENN - November 24, 2015 - 6:47am
Sooner than it takes to build a nuclear power station, lithium-air batteries could be helping wind and solar to make coal, oil and nuclear obsolete, say Cambridge scientists. Five times lighter and five times cheaper than current lithium batteries, Li-air would open the way to our 100% renewable future.

Could Lithium-air batteries make oil obsolete?

Sooner than it takes to build a nuclear power station, lithium-air batteries could be helping wind and solar to make coal, oil and nuclear obsolete, say Cambridge scientists. Five times lighter and five times cheaper than current lithium batteries, Li-air would open the way to our 100% renewable future.

Plastics Make It Possible® Unveils New "Tiny House" That's Big on Energy Efficiency at the California Science Center

Energy - November 24, 2015 - 5:08am
"Tiny House Nation's" Zack Giffin builds 170-square-foot house showcasing plastics, energy savings.

Plastics Make It Possible® Unveils New "Tiny House" That's Big on Energy Efficiency at the California Science Center

Energy - November 24, 2015 - 5:08am
"Tiny House Nation's" Zack Giffin builds 170-square-foot house showcasing plastics, energy savings.

Plastics Make It Possible® Unveils New "Tiny House" That's Big on Energy Efficiency at the California Science Center

Energy - November 24, 2015 - 5:08am
"Tiny House Nation's" Zack Giffin builds 170-square-foot house showcasing plastics, energy savings.

How to Eat and Stay Healthy this Holiday Season

When it comes to maintaining healthy lifestyles, people tend to fall off the wagon from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Then, they set “get in shape” and “lose weight” as New Year’s resolutions. That’s not the best idea, says Charlotte Markey, a Rutgers University-Camden psychologist who teaches a course titled “The Psychology of Eating” and studies eating behaviors, body image and weight management. Overeating during the holidays, she notes, is not a matter of if, but when. People need to approach their goals in a smarter way.Rutgers Today spoke with Markey, the author of Smart People Don’t Diet: How the Latest Science Can Help You Lose Weight Permanently, about a more realistic and sustainable strategy to losing weight and living healthier.

US Forest Service proposes coal mining expansion in Colorado

Regulatory news - ENN - November 20, 2015 - 10:08am
National and local conservation groups today condemned a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to continue pressing to open national forest roadless areas in Colorado to coal mining.In a notice filed today, the Forest Service announced it would move forward by issuing a draft environmental impact statement on the proposal to pave the way for mining. The proposal would reopen a loophole in the “roadless rule” for national forests in Colorado to enable Arch Coal — the nation’s second largest coal company — to scrape roads and well pads on nearly 20,000 acres of otherwise-protected, publicly owned national forest and wildlife habitat in Colorado’s North Fork Valley.

US Forest Service proposes coal mining expansion in Colorado

Climate Change News - ENN - November 20, 2015 - 10:08am
National and local conservation groups today condemned a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to continue pressing to open national forest roadless areas in Colorado to coal mining.In a notice filed today, the Forest Service announced it would move forward by issuing a draft environmental impact statement on the proposal to pave the way for mining. The proposal would reopen a loophole in the “roadless rule” for national forests in Colorado to enable Arch Coal — the nation’s second largest coal company — to scrape roads and well pads on nearly 20,000 acres of otherwise-protected, publicly owned national forest and wildlife habitat in Colorado’s North Fork Valley.

Food industry focuses on sustainable sourcing to mitigate climate change

Climate Change News - ENN - November 20, 2015 - 6:59am
Faced with a raw materials scarcity due to climate change, food and drink giants have turned to a sustainable management in order to protect the environment and ensure their future viability. The global population is expected to rise from 7.3 billion today to 9.7 billion in 2050, according to UN projections. As a consequence, according to a survey published in July by FoodDrinkEurope, this will require a 60% increase in food supplies globally, as well as a 30% rise in global demand for water for agriculture.

EVs vs. Gasoline-Powered Cars - Which has the cleaner lifecycle?

It’s the trick question that has left many of us stumped: from the earliest stages of manufacture to the years driving on the road until they are sent to the junkyard, are conventional automobiles or electric cars cleaner for the environment? While acknowledging that electric vehicles (EVs) emit no emissions when running on our streets and highways, many have assumed that those pesky rare earth metals in their massive batteries and the emissions associated with producing the power canceled out any environmental benefits that their drivers enjoyed. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a two-year study has provided the answer.

New study casts doubt on how much sea levels may rise from the collapse of the Antarctic ice sheet

Climate Change News - ENN - November 19, 2015 - 6:54am
A new study by scientists in the UK and France has found that Antarctic ice sheet collapse will have serious consequences for sea level rise over the next two hundred years, though not as much as some have suggested.This study, published this week in the journal Nature, uses an ice-sheet model to predict the consequences of unstable retreat of the ice, which recent studies suggest has begun in West Antarctica.An international team of researchers, including a scientist from British Antarctic Survey (BAS), predict that the contribution is most likely to be 10 cm of sea-level rise this century under a mid to high climate scenario, but is extremely unlikely to be higher than 30 cm. When combined with other contributions, that’s a significant challenge for adapting to future sea level rise. But it’s also far lower than some previous estimates, which were as high as one metre from Antarctica alone.

Ice Cap in Iceland gaining mass

Climate Change News - ENN - November 18, 2015 - 3:05pm
Winter storms can blanket Iceland almost entirely with snow. The relative warmth of summer and fall, however, exposes a spectacular, varied landscape. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color view of the Nordic island nation on November 9, 2015.“The visible snow cover is typical for this time of the year, compared to conditions during the past 15-20 years,” said Thorsteinn Thorsteinsson, a glaciologist at the Icelandic Meteorologial Office. He noted, however, that compared to the reference period of 1961-1990, snow cover is “almost certainly” less than average in the highland and mountain regions above 400 meters in elevation.The melting of seasonal snow cover accentuates the boundaries of Iceland’s permanent ice caps. The ice caps appear smooth and rounded in contrast with the snow-covered interior plateau or the snow-capped ridges along the glacier-carved coastline.

Snowfall shift threatens water supply

Climate Change News - ENN - November 18, 2015 - 7:17am
Climate change-induced changes in snowfall patterns could imperil two billion people who rely on melting snow for their water supply — and developing countries must work to protect citizens from these variations, researchers say.

Another Glacier in Greenland is rapidly melting

Climate Change News - ENN - November 17, 2015 - 8:26am
It's big. It's cold. And it's melting into the world's ocean.It's Zachariae Isstrom, the latest in a string of Greenland glaciers to undergo rapid change in our warming world. A new NASA-funded study published today in the journal Science finds that Zachariae Isstrom broke loose from a glaciologically stable position in 2012 and entered a phase of accelerated retreat. The consequences will be felt for decades to come.The reason? Zachariae Isstrom is big. It drains ice from an area of 35,440 square miles (91,780 square kilometers). That's about 5 percent of the Greenland Ice Sheet. All by itself, it holds enough water to raise global sea level by more than 18 inches (46 centimeters) if it were to melt completely. And now it's on a crash diet, losing 5 billion tons of mass every year. All that ice is crumbling into the North Atlantic Ocean.

Pages

Subscribe to AIChE aggregator - Legislative & Regulatory Update