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Our Earth – Eco News Roundup: Septembr 22, 2013

September 22, 2013

Our Earth

Our Earth – Eco News Roundup: Septembr 22, 2013

The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.


Fracking may not be as bad for the climate as we thought

At first glance, the shale-gas boom in the United States looks like good news for efforts to tackle global warming. Cheap natural gas is pushing out dirtier coal in the power sector, which is one reason U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions have fallen 12 percent since 2005.

But there’s always been a massive caveat to this story — methane. If too much methane is leaking out of our natural-gas infrastructure, then the shale boom might be worsening climate change. And we don’t quite know how much methane is seeping out, exactly.

Editor’s note: Please read to the end of the above article for limits and caveats on this headlined study
See Also: Unprecedented Measurements Provide Better Understanding of Methane Emissions During Natural Gas Production

First Atomic Level Simulation of a Whole Battery

When it comes to developing the next generation of technology, the biggest bottleneck is arguably the battery. Engineers need better batteries for electric vehicles, for energy storage in power grids and, of course, for consumer electronic devices.

These batteries need to deliver a higher current over more discharge cycles with a greater energy density, to name just a few of the challenges.

Building and testing new battery designs is time-consuming, difficult and expensive. So it is handy for electrochemists to simulate the way a battery performs before they ever get their hands dirty.

Grand Marais sees fuel source in overgrown forest

After the Ham Lake fire burned more than 100 buildings along the Gunflint Trail in 2007, many Cook County residents looked differently at the lush pine forest surrounding their homes. All those beautiful trees posed a very real wildfire hazard.

Homeowners began thinning thousands of trees, adopting a strategy known as “firewise.” They hauled the trees and brush to gravel pits and burned them.

“It’s just a lot of material going up in smoke,” Lutsen resident Paul Nelson said as he gestured to a slash pile near Devil Track Lake outside town, easily 25 feet tall and more than 100 feet across.

So Nelson and other members of the Cook County Local Energy Project hatched an idea. Why not harness that wasted energy, and use it to heat buildings in Grand Marais?

Climate Change Leaves Hares Wearing The Wrong Colors

The effects of climate change often happen on a large scale, like drought or a rise in sea level. In the hills outside Missoula, Mont., wildlife biologists are looking at a change to something very small: the snowshoe hare.

Wouldn’t it be nice if planting more gardens could save U.S. honeybees?

About a week ago, Friends of the Earth published the results of laboratory tests it had underwritten on “bee-friendly” garden plants purchased from three mass retailers in the Twin Cities, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. It was looking for signs of the neonicotinoid compounds that now appear to be the single most important controllable factor in colony collapse disorder (CCD).

Nationwide, 7 of the 13 plants tested contained one or more of the so-called “neonics.”

Water Woes: Vast US Aquifer Is Being Tapped Out

Nearly 70 percent of the groundwater stored in parts of the United States’ High Plains Aquifer — a vast underground reservoir that stretches through eight states, from South Dakota to Texas, and supplies 30 percent of the nation’s irrigated groundwater — could be used up within 50 years, unless current water use is reduced, a new study finds.

Why Are Some People Left-Handed?

For the left-handed people of the world, life isn’t easy. Throughout much of history, massive stigmas attached to left-handedness meant they were singled out as everything from unclean to witches. In Medieval times, writing with your left-hand was a surefire way to be accused of being possessed by the devil; after all, the devil himself was thought to be a lefty. The world has gotten progressively more accepting of left-handed folk, but there are still some undeniable bummers associated with a left-handed proclivity: desks and spiral notebooks pose a constant battle, scissors are all but impossible to use and–according to some studies–life-expectancy might be lower than for right-handed people.

 


At BPI Campus our Progressive Agenda is:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.


 

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