Agriculture is broken. Traditional techniques use too much energy and produce too little food for our growing planet. One fix: skyscrapers filled with robotically tended hydroponic crops and lab-grown meat
When a tornado leveled Greensburg, Kansas a class of college students took it on to help rebuild the town - with an eye on the environment
On May 4, 2007, a two-mile-wide F5 tornado destroyed 95 percent of Greensburg, Kansas, leaving two thirds of the town’s 1,500 inhabitants homeless. Many thought the town was finished. But in fact, the townspeople decided to rebuild using the greenest, most forward-thinking materials and construction methods possible.
Turning a landfill into a park is no easy feat
This spring the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation released the draft environmental impact statement for the Fresh Kills Park Project, their plan to turn the Fresh Kills landfill—hitherto best known as a smelly Staten Island mountain—into a world class public park. The statement will be discussed at an open public hearing on September 4th, 2008, and work begins next year on the project's first small section—wrapping around the landfill's north mound and reaching down to the waterfront. This sliver should be finished within a few years, though the park in its entirety is expected to take around 30 years to complete, with $198 million in initial funding, but much more needed along the line.
Next: "New Yorkers filled Staten Island's Fresh Kills landfill for 50 years..."
Samples of Greenland's ice show that our air is cleaner than our forebears' air
Although we still have much progress to make on reducing emissions, new research suggests the situation could be worse.
According to a study by the Desert Research Institute, pollutant levels at the beginning of the 20th century were two to five times higher than current levels of pollution. Researchers attribute the decrease in pollution levels to the advent of more efficient coal-burning technologies, as well as legislation aimed at reducing emissions.
Researchers ditch the ethanol in favor of biofuels derived from junk crops and trash, like cornhusks
We all thought biofuels we’re going to be our eco-savior (what could be greener than running our cars on renewable corn, soy, or sugarcane?) That is, until it turned out eco-fuels contribute to rising food prices, put conservation land back into agricultural production, and turn into an all-around bust because fermentation of the starches and sugars put lots of CO2 into the atmosphere. But biofuels may yet make their mark on mother earth.
MIT scientists inspired by photosynthesis have developed a process that might finally make solar energy affordable and easy to produce
It doesn’t take a stellar imagination to figure out the main downside of solar power. For years, the question of how to store the energy generated when the sun is shining for use at night has prevented solar power from becoming a viable alternative energy source. However, a new breakthrough may have overcome that storage problem, opening the door for solar energy on a grand scale.
A new study, which could help scientists model global change more accurately, finds that typhoons bury tons of carbon in the oceans
When typhoons and hurricanes sweep through mountainous areas, they cause more than human destruction. They also physically and chemically weather the mountains they pass, taking carbon with them and burying it in the oceans in the form of sediment. This in turn allows the planet to cool. While scientists have long predicted that extreme storms cause such effects, only recently have they been able to measure just how carbon much storms take away: tons.
Cow dung could generate enough electricity for millions of homes and offices, and considerably cut down on greenhouse gases
It's mostly bad news when it gets under your shoes, but scientists now believe cow dung may be more of a blessing in disguise than previously believed. According to a team at the University of Texas Austin, if the manure from hundreds of millions of livestock in the U.S. were to go through anaerobic digestion—a fermentation process similar to one to create compost—it could turn into an energy-rich biogas. The gas would be efficient enough to produce 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity; that could meet about 3 percent of North America's entire consumption needs.
As our planet heats up and gas prices creep higher, prepare for some unusual consequences
As the planet overheats and gas prices remain high, we could get thinner; we might sneeze more; and we have a higher chance of getting kidney stones. That's the good, the bad and the ugly, according to the latest research released concerning the future of our health in terms of external circumstances.
A team of international scientists discover that one-third of the world's coral-building reefs face extinction
Time and time again we hear news about the danger the world's coral reefs are in. Now, the first-ever comprehensive international assessment of their conservation status reveals that the fate of coral is worse even than scientists previously believed.
The water-choking stuff could be the key to reversing climate change
Biologists at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University have a strange fascination with pond scum. But the fascination may prove more useful than anyone could have imagined.
Autism affects one in every 150 children born today in the U.S., a more than threefold increase from ten years ago. A variety of studies try to explain why
Dear EarthTalk: What's going on with all the cases of autism cropping up and no one seems to know why? It stands to reason it must be something (or some things) environmental, yet every study allegedly turns up no conclusion? What are the possible causes? -- Jessica W., Austin, TX
Scientists design a microwave device to halt invasive aquatic critters
Transoceanic freighters haul 80 percent of the world’s commercial goods. But those boats inadvertently carry destructive cargo as well. An empty ship can suck up more than 10 million gallons of water to stay balanced as it crosses the open ocean. Upon its arrival into another port, the crew pumps the ballast water and any small animals or plants living in that water—sometimes thousands of organisms per gallon—into foreign harbors, where they invade and damage local ecosystems.
Researchers develop a mercury-absorbing material that could take the risk out of recycling compact fluorescents
Compact fluorescent light bulbs solve one problem, but present another: Although the bulbs are longer-lasting and more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, CFLs contain mercury, a neurotoxin. If a bulb breaks or isn’t recycled properly, the mercury can be released into the environment.
The Group agrees to halve greenhouse gases by 2050, developing nations don’t buy it
On Tuesday, G8 leaders in Japan made an agreement that sounds great – by 2050, they’ll cut the number of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by half. It’s an improvement to Kyoto Protocol, at least, which the United States refused to adopt (and refused to apologize about). But developing nations, including China and India, were quick to criticize the accord, insisting that the G8 cut their emissions by more than 80 percent.