While the developed world wrestles with curbing carbon emissions from luxuries like personal automobiles and the multi-megawatt power plants that keep homes and offices at a comfortable 72 degrees, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is engineering an ambitious bottom-up approach to reduce emissions in the third world: providing cleaner cooking stoves. Clinton aims to introduce 100 million clean stoves to poor people the world over by 2020.
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar have officially declared that the cement cap permanently plugging BP's Macondo well is successfully in place, ending a five-month effort that nonetheless saw nearly 4.9 million barrels of oil escape into the Gulf of Mexico. "With the successful first intercept by the relief well and our confirmation through pressure tests that the cement plugs are secure, we can now declare BP's Macondo well effectively dead," the secretaries said in a joint statement. Finally.
Rare earth elements have received a good deal of attention lately, not least because they are indeed very rare, and the country holding most known reserves – China – is gobbling them up faster than it can mine them, leaving few leftovers for export. But now Boeing has announced a deal to deploy its remote sensing technology to map out possible U.S. deposits of rare earth elements in an effort to rebuild a domestic supply chain for U.S. industry.
It seems like we get everything from automated vending kiosks these days, from cash to DVDs to postal service to gasoline. The French have simply taken the next logical step. Putting a modern (and greener) spin on an old way of doing business, a French vendor has begun selling wine by volume from 500- and 1,000-liter vending pumps in French supermarkets. All customers need is a container.
Building smart homes that are networked to run as efficiently as possible is supposed to be one of the technological fixes to our current energy consumption problem. But what's often lost in all the heady talk about innovating our way to a greener future is the fact that those wireless networking technologies also consume power, reducing the net benefit.
Leave it to the French to do something that’s undeniably awesome yet leaves us feeling somewhat uncomfortable at the same time. An experimental heating system, being installed in a public housing project in Paris, will use the warmth generated by human bodies in a nearby Metro station to heat the building.
Plants are extremely efficient converters of light into energy, more or less setting the bar for researchers creating photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity. As such, researchers are constantly trying to mimic the tricks that millions of years of evolution and development have taught to plant biology. Now, a team of MIT scientists believe they've done it, creating a synthetic, self-assembling chloroplast that can be broken down and reassembled repeatedly, restoring solar cells that are damaged by the sun.
Miss the good old days of daily oil disaster news? Worry not, for another oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded this morning, leaving all 13 crew members in the water but – according to initial reports – all are alive and only one is injured. The rig is owned by Mariner Energy (somewhere a BP exec is breathing again) and is not currently producing, according to the Coast Guard. Updated.
The father of evolution apparently played God with a tropical ecosystem 160 years ago, and the results could inform future experiments to terraform Mars, botanists say.
The BBC recounts how Charles Darwin helped build an artificial forest on Ascension Island, one of his subjects of study from his trips on the HMS Beagle. Today, the island is home to species of plants that would not naturally co-exist. Darwin and his friends put them there, and nearly two centuries later, their grand experiment is living proof that we can transform natural environments.
Apparently, some tigers can change their stripes -- especially if they have books to sell. One of our favorite climate villains, the Danish economist Bjørn Lomborg, has apparently warmed to the idea of climate change, and now says it's a problem on which the world ought to spend $100 billion annually.