Archive for April, 2013

To fight climate change, don’t mention it, study suggests

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 29, 2013   View Article

Shhh! Widespread adoption of energy-efficient technologies such as compact fluorescent light bulbs and electric cars promises to curb the pace of global climate change. But if widespread adoption is the goal, don’t mention the environmental benefits, a new paper suggests.

“There is likely to be a significantly sized group that may not like these environmental messages,” Dena Gromet, a researcher at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the paper’s lead author, told NBC News.

‘Living’ building signals new era of sleek sustainability

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 22, 2013   View Article

In cloudy, drizzly Seattle, Denis Hayes, the environmental activist who organized the first Earth Day in 1970, is pulling the wraps off a six-story office building that generates all of its electricity via an oversized rooftop array of solar panels.

A sun-powered building in Seattle is “formidable,” Hayes told NBC News, but the Bullitt Center project aims to show it is possible in a visible, tangible manner that, in turn, makes an impact on the often invisible, slow-motion challenge of global climate change.

“When this whole [Earth Day] thing got launched in 1970, we had people walking around with gas masks and smokestacks were pouring out enormous impenetrable clouds of black smoke,” said Hayes, who is now president of the Bullitt Foundation, which supports environmental causes.

Global warming study suggests human causes dating back to 1800s

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 22, 2013   View Article

A long-term global cooling trend ended in the late 19th century, a reversal in temperature that cannot be explained by natural variability alone, according to a new study.

The finding stems from 2,000-year-long continental-scale temperature records inferred from tree rings, ice cores, lake sediments and other so-called proxies from around the world.

Methane gobbling material found, scientists say

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 17, 2013   View Article

Scientists have discovered a new material that can capture and concentrate methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

While carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas, can be captured using a variety of techniques, methane capture has proved elusive primarily because it interacts weakly with other materials, according Amitesh Maiti, a researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

He and colleagues discovered that various forms of zeolites, which are commonly used in water purification and other industrial processes, appear well-suited for the task. That’s because the material’s crystalline structure can be fine-tuned for various gas separation or storage applications, he explained.

Genome of ancient-looking fish gives clues to first limbed landlubbers

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 17, 2013   View Article

The genome of the coelacanth, an ancient-looking lobed-finned fish, has been sequenced and is already providing insight to the evolutionary changes that allowed the first four-limbed animals, called tetrapods, to crawl out of the water and on to land.

The sequence and preliminary analysis, reported Thursday in the journal Nature by a team spanning 40 research institutions and 12 countries,┬áis a “massive piece of work,” Xiaobo Xu, a paleontologist at Kean University who was not involved in the effort, told NBC News in an email.

Where did global warming go? The deep ocean, experts say

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 11, 2013   View Article

The deep oceans have recently been soaking up much of the excess heat trapped under the ever-thickening blanket of greenhouse gases that humans pump into the atmosphere, according to a recent study.

The finding may help explain why the pace of global warming at the surface has slowed in recent years compared to the 1990s, a phenomenon that has left members of the climate science community scratching their heads.

“The warming at the surface hasn’t stopped, but it has been less than most of the climate models have been predicting,” David Pierce, a climate researcher with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, explained to NBC News. “So the question is: Where is that extra heat going?”

Technique turns ash into hydrogen gas

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 11, 2013   View Article

Piles of ash leftover from incinerated trash may be a viable source of hydrogen gas that can be used to generate electricity and power cars, suggests a process pioneered in a research lab.

The trick? Just add water, which reacts with residual metallic aluminum in the ash, explained Aamir Ilyas, a water resource engineer at Lund University in Sweden, who developed the technique.

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