World Transformation - Category: Environment, Ecology
 Who's it calling for?
picture CNN, Whale Sings Lonely Song

For twelve years, marine biologists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have tracked a lone whale whose song is at a completely different frequency from any other whale. This particular baleen whale calls at 52 hertz while whales usually sing at frequencies in the 15-20 hertz range. The whale doesn't follow normal migration patterns either.
[ | 10 Dec 2004 @ 02:30 | PermaLink ]

 Wind Power getting cheaper
Rocky Mountain Collegian:
The cost for wind power is more expensive than other options, but the cost has recently decreased.

The price used to be 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, but as of June it dropped to 1 cent per kwh.

[ | 15 Sep 2004 @ 10:44 | PermaLink ]

 Arctic Ocean Survey May Reveal Lost World
picture A new survey of the depths of the ice-capped Arctic Ocean as reported at Reuters, BBC, and others, could reveal a lost world of living fossils and exotic new species from jellyfish to giant squid, scientists said on Thursday. They speculated that Arctic waters might hide creatures known only from fossils, such as trilobites that flourished 300 million years ago. The international scheme will include probing a 12,470-foot abyss off Canada described by project leaders as the "world's oldest sea water -- a vast, still pool unstirred for millennia, walled by steep ridges and lidded with ice."
[ | 26 Jun 2004 @ 09:19 | PermaLink ]

 Human-Caused Global Warming Confirmed
picture From WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Almost lost amidst the (justifiable) outrage and attention regarding the Iraqi prisoner abuses is news that a team at the University of Washington has knocked down the last scientific objection to the notion that global warming is real, and that human activity is a significant causal factor.

As reported in the May 6, 2004, issue of Nature, researchers from UW investigated why, if surface temperature records show clear signs of warming, satellite measurements of the troposphere -- the atmosphere from the ground to about 11 kilometers up -- did not. Opponents of the human-caused global warming model pointed to this contradiction as a sign that climate change wasn't real or was triggered by natural causes. According to Dr. Qiang Fu's team, cooling in the upper atmosphere -- itself a known result of greenhouse gases -- alters the satellite measurements; when that is accounted for, the troposphere data matches precisely with current models of human-caused warming.

While not good news in the "we're all going to be just fine" category, it does mean that we now have a much better understanding of the mechanisms underlying global warming, as well as confirmation that the current models work. It also means that the inevitable continued objections to doing anything about global warming have likely lost any remaining scientific credibility.

The Nature link above is to a short report; the article (linked from that page) is not freely available. Better details on the story can be found in this article from the London Times, and this release from UW, via Eurekalert.
[ | 14 Jun 2004 @ 17:07 | PermaLink ]

 'Junk' DNA reveals vital role
picture Nature:
Scientists are puzzling over a collection of mystery DNA segments that seem to be essential to the survival of virtually all vertebrates – but their function is completely unknown. Researchers have found more than 480 “ultraconserved” regions of “junk” DNA that are completely identical across the man, mouse, and rat species, implying that they are essential to the descendants of these organisms. The regions largely match up with chicken, dog, and fish sequences too. Their presence adds to the growing evidence that the importance of these areas could be much more fundamental than anyone suspected.

[ | 5 Jun 2004 @ 05:32 | PermaLink ]

 Waste to oil
picture The first waste to oil production plant has gone into production and is selling oil commercially. They use a process called TCP = Thermal Conversion Process:
TCP succeeds in breaking down long chains of organic polymers into their smallest units and reforming them into new combinations to produce clean solid, liquid and gaseous alternative fuels and specialty chemicals.

The process emulates the earth's natural geothermal activity, whereby organic material is converted into fossil fuel under conditions of extreme heat and pressure over millions of years. It mimics the earth's system by using pipes and controlling temperature and pressure to reduce the bio- remediation process from millions of years to mere hours.

The process entails five steps:
(1) Pulping and slurrying the organic feed with water.
(2) Heating the slurry under pressure to the desired temperature.
(3) Flashing the slurry to a lower pressure to separate the mixture.
(4) Heating the slurry again (coking) to drive off water and produce
light hydrocarbons.
(5) Separating the end products.

TCP is more than 80% energy efficient. In addition, it generates its own energy to power the plant, and uses the steam naturally created by the process to heat incoming feedstock, In addition, TCP produces no emissions and no secondary hazardous waste streams.
More information:
[ | 21 May 2004 @ 13:39 | PermaLink ]

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