Global environmental challenges
The U.S. Department of Energy announced this week $60 million in funding for scientists to develop “revolutionary research” to lower the cost of solar power systems.
The initiative is being called a “sign of the times for the sector“, and comes amidst accusations the government is squandering taxpayer money on businesses doomed to fail, best exemplified by recently bankrupt solar heavyweight Solyndra.
The DOE says the SunShot CSP grant is meant to look beyond short-term innovation and explore transformative concepts with the “potential to break through performance barriers like efficiency and temperature limitations,” the DOE announced. It wants scientists to think big.
What venture capitalists really think and what they say aren’t always the same thing.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and subsequent oil leak this summer captured urgent intellectual efforts of leading scientists around the world.
Though it was the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, it was not the first oil spill nor will it be the last.
Would you eat a genetically modified fish? What about pork from a pig with mouse genes? Beef from cattle with genes spliced to resist “mad cow” disease?
These are questions Americans may soon have to answer for themselves if the U.S. health regulators allow the sale of a genetically engineered salmon. The company that makes it, Aqua Bounty Technologies Inc <ABTX.L>, expects an agency decision by year’s end.
Scientists in Scotland have unveiled a new biofuel made from whisky byproducts that they say can power ordinary cars more efficiently than ethanol.
A research team from Edinburgh’s Napier University spent two years creating the biofuel butanol that can be used in gas tanks either as a stand-alone fuel or blended with petrol or diesel, they announced Tuesday. It is derived from distillation byproducts pot ale (liquid from copper stills) and draff (the spent grains).
One man alone does not make a movement. But can he influence one?
There are no limits is the attitude espoused by PhD, MBA, entrepreneur, eco-designer, and visionary Gunter Pauli (above), who is now pouring his life’s work into a project to spark a new way of doing business, ergo a new economy.
He calls it the Blue Economy, because it’s not enough to be green and good to the environment. Blue creates a competitive and sustainable society and blue thrives on innovation. Blue is better than green, he asserts.
from Tales from the Trail:
If Sarah Palin had her way, President Barack Obama would be staying away from this month's global climate change talks in Copenhagen and "sending a message that the United States will not be a party to fraudulent scientific practices."
The summit will hear from scientists like those from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, where recently revealed e-mails showed information that raised questions about climate change was suppressed, writes Palin.
The research vessel Professor Khromov is just a few kms off the easternmost point of Siberia, and U.S. technologist Kevin Taylor is struggling to reel in an orange buoy that had been deep beneath the Bering Strait for nearly a year.
The first time he tries, the ship veers too far away from the prize and must make a slow, wide turn for another pass. The second time, Taylor’s hook is not quite ready and the float bobs again into the Khromov’s wake. This takes practice, even in calm waters.
"We believe that there isn't a moral gap between humans and other animals, and that saying things like 'the behavior patterns that wolves or chimpanzees display are merely building blocks for human morality' doesn't really get us anywhere. At some point, differences in degree aren't meaningful differences at all and each species is capable of 'the real thing.' Good biology leads to this conclusion. Morality is an evolved trait and 'they' (other animals) have it just like we have it."
That's a pretty bold statement. If a book declares that in its introduction, it better have to have some strong arguments to back it up. A convincing argument could influence how we view our own morality and its origins, how we understand animal cognition and even how we relate to animals themselves.
Among U.S. religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are the least likely to believe that human activities are contributing to climate change, according to a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. You can see the numbers, based on a broader 2008 poll, here.
Overall the Pew Forum found that a plurality, or 47 percent, of the adult U.S. population accepts that there is solid evidence that the earth is warming because of human activities. Most scientists have reached the conclusion that the planet's climate is changing because of human-induced factors, notably the emissions from burning of the fossil fuels that drive the global economy.