Archive for 2013

Colorado floods triggered by convergence of geography and climate, experts say

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

The torrent of water that gushed over and down the Rocky Mountains late last week resulted from a fateful confluence of geography and weather. While the deluge is unprecedented in the historic record, it may offer a window onto the new normal as the planet continues to warm.

The exact role of global climate change in the deluge is uncertain, but it certainly played a part, according to climate, weather and policy experts.

As of Tuesday, more than 17 inches of rain had fallen since Sept. 12 in Boulder, Colo. The soaking, described as “biblical” by the National Weather Service, left at least eight people dead with hundreds more still missing and rendered untold millions of dollars in property damage.

‘Living battery’ generates electricity from sewage and wastewater

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 16, 2013   View Article

A new type of living battery has been created that generates electricity from dissolved organic matter such as that found in wastewater flushed down the toilet or washed off farms and out to sea.

The system is as efficient as the highest performing solar cells and, in theory, could generate as much energy as is needed to treat wastewater with current technology, according to researchers working on the so-called microbial battery at Stanford University in California.

Why Does Friday the 13th Scare Us So Much?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 12, 2013   View Article

It’s Friday the 13th, and millions of people are on edge, fearing a calamity with personal or global repercussions-a broken leg, a stock market crash, or the trigger pulled for World War III.

Why all the anxiety? In short, because the fear is ingrained in Western culture, according to experts.

“If nobody bothered to teach us about these negative taboo superstitions like Friday the 13th, we might in fact all be better off,” said Stuart Vyse, a professor of psychology at Connecticut College in New London.

$2 million in prizes offered for better tools to monitor ocean acidification

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 9, 2013   View Article

The tools that scientists use to monitor the acidification of the world’s oceans are expected to get a major upgrade, thanks to a $2 million competition aimed at rewarding innovations that lower the cost and improve the accuracy of chemical sensors.

The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X Prize, unveiled Monday, is the latest multimillion-dollar prize program conducted by the California-based X Prize Foundation. Past prizes have targeted technologies ranging from commercial spaceflight to energy efficient cars— but the latest prize focuses on an even bigger global issue: climate change.

Covert satellite cams may catch animal poachers in the crosshairs

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 9, 2013   View Article

High-tech cameras are being deployed behind bushes and tall grasses in Africa in an effort to curtail the illegal slaughter of rhinos, which are sought for their horns to decorate daggers and treat everything from hangovers to cancer.

The motion of an animal or poacher approaching the camera is enough to trigger a clandestine snapshot, which is then relayed to local game wardens and wildlife enthusiasts around the world via a satellite communications network.

Saving most of Earth’s plants may take just a bit of land

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 5, 2013   View Article

Nearly two thirds of the world’s plant species — and the creatures and critters that depend on them for survival — can be saved by protecting patches of land, from the cloud forests of South America to islands in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, according to a new study.

The finding is based on analysis of data on the distribution of more than 110,000 plant species, and is an effort to determine if internationally agreed conservation targets of protecting 17 percent of the Earth’s land area and 60 percent of its plants by 2020 are achievable.

No water, no beer: brewers race to save the ales

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 3, 2013   View Article

As water becomes increasingly scarce on our ever more crowded and warming planet, brewers of beer are racing to secure a steady supply of their most prized ingredient by using less of it.

“Without water, there is no beer,” Kim Marotta, the sustainability director for MillerCoors, the Chicago-based joint venture of international brewing giants SABMiller and Molson Coors, told NBC News.

Like many in the brewing industry, MillerCoors understands that access to water of the quantity and quality it needs to grow barley and hops and brew beer is no longer a guarantee as population growth, water pollution and climate change threaten water resources.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach