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The Lead

Supreme Court Considers Mercury Limits

November 25, 2014 2:12 pm | by Associated Press | News | Comments

The Supreme Court is stepping into a new case about Obama administration environmental rules, agreeing to review a ruling that upholds emission standards for mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants.

Image of the Week: Robot Sheds Light on Sea Ice

November 25, 2014 7:00 am | by British Antarctic Survey | News | Comments

The first detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice have been developed using an...

Polyethylene, Glazing Disinfect Soil

November 21, 2014 2:00 pm | by American Society for Horticultural Science | News | Comments

Soil solarization, a process that uses solar radiation to rid the soil of pests, is most common...

Laser Accurately Measures Trees

November 21, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. College London | News | Comments

A terrestrial laser scanning technique that allows the structure of vegetation to be 3-D-mapped...

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Salinity Matters to Sea Level Changes

November 21, 2014 7:00 am | by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

Using ocean observations and a large suite of climate models, scientists have found that long-term salinity changes have a stronger influence on regional sea level changes than previously thought.

Calcium Loss Causes 'Jellification' of Lakes

November 20, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

Declining calcium levels in some North American lakes are causing major depletions of dominant plankton species, enabling the rapid rise of their ecological competitor: a small jelly-clad invertebrate. Scientists say increasing “jellification” will damage fish stocks and filtration systems that allow lakes to supply drinking water, and that lakes may have been pushed into an entirely new ecological state.

City to Add Climate Change Labels to Gas Pumps

November 19, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Kristin Bender | News | Comments

Climate-change warning labels are coming to gas pumps in Berkeley, Calif., a city with a long history of green and clean policies. The Berkeley City Council has voted to draft a proposal by next spring that will put stickers on gas pumps citywide to warn consumers that burning fuel contributes to global warming.

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No Vote for Keystone Pipeline, Republicans Vow it Will Be Back

November 19, 2014 8:06 am | by Associated Press, Dina Cappiello | News | Comments

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising the new Republican majority will quickly resurrect Keystone XL pipeline legislation killed by Democrats, potentially setting up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama. Democratic divisions were on vivid display in a bill that pitted environmentalists against energy advocates.

Federal Plan OKs Fracking in National Forest

November 18, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Brock Vergakis | News | Comments

Over the objection of environmental groups and Virginia's governor, a federal management plan released today will allow a form of natural gas drilling known as fracking to occur in parts of the largest national forest on the East Coast.

San Diego Reconsiders Recycling Water

November 18, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Elliot Spagat | News | Comments

Dismissed only a few years ago by residents of California's second-largest city, San Diego is joining other California cities that are taking a closer look at recycling wastewater for drinking as the state suffers from severe drought.

Huge Solar Plant Isn't Getting Results

November 18, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Michael Blood | News | Comments

The largest solar power plant of its type in the world— once promoted as a turning point in green energy— isn't producing as much energy as planned. One of the reasons is as basic as it gets: the sun isn't shining as much as expected.

Tests Find Water Clean After Energy Boom

November 18, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Matthew Brown | News | Comments

Random testing of shallow groundwater in the Northern Plains oil patch found no evidence of contamination from an energy boom that's already seen more than 8,500 wells drilled, federal scientists have said.

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Will US-China Climate Agreement Ease Global Accord?

November 14, 2014 2:31 pm | by Chris Gorski, Senior Editor, Inside Science News | News | Comments

Despite an agreement between the world's two two polluting countries this week, a global agreement is still needed to limit future warming to levels that experts deem acceptable. Research on negotiations suggests that getting all countries to agree on an overall agreement is still a big job.

Global Research IDs Emissions from Meat Trade

November 14, 2014 2:00 pm | by Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Researchers have estimated the amount of methane and nitrous oxide that countries release into the atmosphere when producing meat from livestock, and assigned the emissions to the countries where the meat is ultimately consumed. They found that embodied, or "hidden," emissions in beef, chicken and pork have increased by 19 percent over the past 20 years.

Major Fracking Chemicals are as Toxic as Everyday Materials

November 13, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Colorado Boulder | News | Comments

The surfactant chemicals— used to reduce surface tension between water and oil, allowing for more oil to be extracted from porous rock underground— found in samples of fracking fluid collected in five states were no more toxic than substances commonly found in homes, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis.

Veggie Diet Extends Lifespan, Saves the Planet

November 12, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Minnesota | News | Comments

As cities and incomes increase around the world, so does consumption of refined sugars, refined fats, oils and resource- and land-intense agricultural products such as beef. A shift away from this trajectory and toward healthier traditional Mediterranean, pescatarian or vegetarian diets could not only boost human lifespan and quality of life, but also slash greenhouse gas emissions and save habitat for endangered species.

Fuel Production Method May Enable Mobile Processing

November 12, 2014 2:00 pm | by Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated a new process to convert all biomass into liquid fuel, and the method could make possible mobile processing plants. The new method, called fast-hydropyrolysis-hydrodeoxygenation, works by adding hydrogen into the biomass-processing reactor and is made possible by development of a new catalyst and innovative reactor design.

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Groundwater is Warming Up

November 11, 2014 7:00 am | by ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Global warming stops at nothing– not even groundwater, as a new study reveals: the groundwater’s temperature profiles echo those of the atmosphere, albeit damped and delayed. Researchers used uninterrupted long-term temperature measurements of groundwater flows around the cities of Cologne and Karlsruhe, where the operators of the local waterworks have been measuring the temperature of the groundwater for 40 years.

Robot Gliders Help Study Melting Polar Ice

November 11, 2014 7:00 am | by Caltech | News | Comments

Using robotic ocean gliders, researchers have found that swirling ocean eddies, similar to atmospheric storms, play an important role in transporting warm waters to the Antarctic coast— a discovery that will help the scientific community determine how rapidly the ice is melting and, as a result, how quickly ocean levels will rise.

Climate Worsening Watery Dead Zones

November 10, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Seth Borenstein | News | Comments

Dead zones occur when fertilizer runoff clogs waterways with nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous. That leads to an explosion of microbes and leaves the water depleted of oxygen, harming marine life. Global warming is likely playing a bigger role than previously thought in dead zones in oceans, lakes and rivers around the world and it's only going to get worse, according to a new study.

Waterproofing Ticks All the Sustainability Boxes

November 6, 2014 2:04 pm | by Queensland Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a new waterproof coating for boxes that is both recyclable and renewable. The lignin-based coating is currently being trialed on fruit boxes. If successful, they anticipate the product will be on the market in mid-2015.

Sunlight, Nanoparticles, Graphene Combo Breaks Down BPA

November 6, 2014 7:00 am | by ACS | News | Comments

Many pollutants with the potential to meddle with hormones— with BPA as a prime example— are already common in the environment. In an effort to clean up these pollutants found in the soil and waterways, scientists are now reporting a novel way to break them down by recruiting help from nanoparticles and light.

Chemists Create Film for Energy Storage, Hydrogen

November 4, 2014 2:00 pm | by Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists who want to gain an edge in energy production and storage have reported that they have found it in molybdenum disulfide. They turned molybdenum disulfide’s two-dimensional form into a nanoporous film that can catalyze the production of hydrogen or be used for energy storage.

Process Yields Valuable Chemicals from Wood, Crop Waste

November 3, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

Scientists today disclosed a new method to convert lignin, a biomass waste product, into simple chemicals. The innovation is an important step toward replacing petroleum-based fuels and chemicals with biorenewable materials.

Engineering Boosts Biogas Production in Microbes

October 31, 2014 7:00 am | by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In the ongoing effort to develop advanced biofuels as a clean, green and sustainable source of liquid transportation fuels, researchers have identified microbial genes that can improve both the tolerance and the production of biogasoline in engineered strains of Escherichia coli.

LEDs Boost Profits, Productivity in Factories

October 30, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Switching to LED lights in factories not only saves energy, it boosts productivity and increases profits, a new study shows. LEDs create less heat than traditional lights, so they help keep factory floors cooler. When workers are more comfortable, they produce more and are less likely to be absent.

Most Ammonium in Ocean Didn't Come from Humans

October 30, 2014 7:00 am | by Brown Univ. | News | Comments

To understand the extent to which human activities are polluting Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, it’s important to distinguish human-made pollutants from compounds that occur naturally. New research, based on two years of rainwater samples taken in Bermuda, suggests that ammonium deposited over the open ocean comes almost entirely from natural marine sources.

California's Drought May Impact Sushi Prices

October 29, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Terence Chea | News | Comments

California's deepening drought is shrinking its rice harvest, and that's bad news for farmers, migratory birds and sushi lovers. The $5 billion industry exports rice to more than 100 countries. Nearly all U.S. sushi restaurants use medium-grain rice grown in the Sacramento Valley.

Using Premium Gas May Save Fuel, Money

October 28, 2014 2:00 pm | by MIT, Jennifer Chu | News | Comments

If the majority of light-duty vehicles in the U.S. ran on higher-octane gasoline, the automotive industry as a whole would reduce its CO2 emissions by 35 million tons per year, saving up to $6 billion in fuel costs, according to a new analysis. The researchers reasoned that the use of higher-octane fuel could spur manufacturers to design vehicles to run on higher-octane— which could lead to more efficient vehicles.

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