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Electricity Access Has Small Effect on Emissions in India, Study Says

Yale Environment 360 - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:17

Expanding electricity to the homes of 650 million people in India over the past 30 years had minimal A third of all households in India lack electricity. direct impact on the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change. Although many humanitarian and development organizations have stressed the importance of improving electricity access in low-income countries, it has been unclear how this would impact overall emissions levels. An analysis of trends in India between 1981 and 2011 shows that expanding household electricity access by roughly 45 percent contributed only 3 to 4 percent to the nation's overall growth in carbon dioxide emissions. When the indirect effects of greater electricity access, such as increased wealth and consumerism, are taken into account, household electricity use raised India’s emissions by 11 to 25 percent over that period, the study found.

Categories: Environmental News

Drive to Mine the Deep Sea Raises Concerns Over Impacts

Yale Environment 360 - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 07:31

Armed with new high-tech equipment, mining companies are targeting vast areas of the deep ocean for mineral extraction. But with few regulations in place, critics fear such development could threaten seabed ecosystems that scientists say are only now being fully understood. BY MIKE IVES

Categories: Environmental News

Pesticide Linked to Bee Deaths Does Not Improve Soybean Crops, EPA Finds

Yale Environment 360 - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 10:58

Coating soybean seeds with a class of insecticides that has been implicated in honeybee deaths and partially Soybeans (left) and corn coated with pesticides banned in the European Union does not increase soybean yields compared to using no pesticides at all, according to an extensive review by the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Seed treatment provides at most $6 in benefits per acre (an increase in revenue of less than 2 percent), and most likely no financial benefit at all, the EPA analysis concluded. The insecticides, known as neonicotinoids, are only effective for the first few weeks after planting, studies have found, when soybean pests are not typically active. Neonicotinoid seed treatments could theoretically help fend off sporadic and unpredictable pests, the report notes, but that benefit would be small and unlikely to be noticed outside of the southern U.S.

Categories: Environmental News

Global Boom in Natural Gas Unlikely to Help the Climate, Study Suggests

Yale Environment 360 - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 10:10

Increasing global supplies of unconventional natural gas will not help to reduce the overall upward trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions and the planetary warming that comes with it, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. The findings further undercut the notion, long touted by proponents of natural gas, that the fuel — which emits less CO2 than coal when burned — represents an important "bridge" in the transition to low-carbon energy resources. The study, which synthesized models developed by numerous researchers working independently, suggested atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations over the next 35 years would remain virtually unchanged — and in some models, warming would be worsened — by increased natural gas production. This was in part attributed to the fact that the new gas supplies would provide a substitute not only for coal, but also for low-emissions technologies like nuclear power and renewables.

Categories: Environmental News

Electric Power Rights of Way: A New Frontier for Conservation

Yale Environment 360 - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 07:30

Often mowed and doused with herbicides, power transmission lines have long been a bane for environmentalists. But that’s changing, as some utilities are starting to manage these areas as potentially valuable corridors for threatened wildlife. BY RICHARD CONNIFF

Categories: Environmental News

Academia and industry: Companies on campus

Nature - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 05:00

Academia and industry: Companies on campus

Nature 514, 7522 (2014). doi:10.1038/514297a

Authors: Jana J. Watson-Capps & Thomas R. Cech

Housing industry labs in academic settings benefits all parties, say Jana J. Watson-Capps and Thomas R. Cech.

Categories: Literature

U.S. Climate Envoy Says All Nations, Rich and Poor, Must Curb Emissions

Yale Environment 360 - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 09:56

The negotiating architecture that has governed the decades-long pursuit of an international climate Climate Envoy Todd Stern agreement is outdated, said Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy for climate change at the State Department and the nation’s lead climate negotiator. In remarks delivered at Yale University’s Law School on Tuesday, Stern reiterated the U.S. position that all nations — both rich ones and developing ones — must be brought together under one agreement that includes pledges to cut emissions. "This split between developed and developing countries in the climate convention is the singular fault line in these negotiations," Stern said, "and has been from the beginning." Under the recently expired Kyoto protocol, developing countries like China and India were exempted from committing to emissions cuts. Climate talks are scheduled to resume in Lima, Peru later this year, with a goal of achieving a new and fully global treaty at a meeting in Paris in 2015. That pact, Stern argued, ought to require all nations to submit emissions reduction targets, tailored as needed to national interests and abilities.

Categories: Environmental News

Cardiac biology: Cell plasticity helps hearts to repair

Nature - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

Cardiac biology: Cell plasticity helps hearts to repair

Nature 514, 7524 (2014). doi:10.1038/nature13928

Authors: Toru Miyake & Raghu Kalluri

Fibroblast cells are known as key players in the repair of damaged heart structures. New findings show that injury also induces fibroblasts to become endothelial cells, helping to mend damaged blood vessels. See Article p.585

Categories: Literature

Mesenchymal–endothelial transition contributes to cardiac neovascularization

Nature - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

Mesenchymal–endothelial transition contributes to cardiac neovascularization

Nature 514, 7524 (2014). doi:10.1038/nature13839

Authors: Eric Ubil, Jinzhu Duan, Indulekha C. L. Pillai, Manuel Rosa-Garrido, Yong Wu, Francesca Bargiacchi, Yan Lu, Seta Stanbouly, Jie Huang, Mauricio Rojas, Thomas M. Vondriska, Enrico Stefani & Arjun Deb

Endothelial cells contribute to a subset of cardiac fibroblasts by undergoing endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition, but whether cardiac fibroblasts can adopt an endothelial cell fate and directly contribute to neovascularization after cardiac injury is not known. Here, using genetic fate map techniques, we demonstrate that cardiac fibroblasts

Categories: Literature

Climate change: A crack in the natural-gas bridge

Nature - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

Climate change: A crack in the natural-gas bridge

Nature 514, 7523 (2014). doi:10.1038/nature13927

Authors: Steven J. Davis & Christine Shearer

Integrated assessment models show that, without new climate policies, abundant supplies of natural gas will have little impact on greenhouse-gas emissions and climate change. See Letter p.482

Categories: Literature

Piezoelectricity of single-atomic-layer MoS2 for energy conversion and piezotronics

Nature - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

Piezoelectricity of single-atomic-layer MoS2 for energy conversion and piezotronics

Nature 514, 7523 (2014). doi:10.1038/nature13792

Authors: Wenzhuo Wu, Lei Wang, Yilei Li, Fan Zhang, Long Lin, Simiao Niu, Daniel Chenet, Xian Zhang, Yufeng Hao, Tony F. Heinz, James Hone & Zhong Lin Wang

The piezoelectric characteristics of nanowires, thin films and bulk crystals have been closely studied for potential applications in sensors, transducers, energy conversion and electronics. With their high crystallinity and ability to withstand enormous strain, two-dimensional materials are of great interest as high-performance piezoelectric materials. Monolayer MoS2 is predicted to be strongly piezoelectric, an effect that disappears in the bulk owing to the opposite orientations of adjacent atomic layers. Here we report the first experimental study of the piezoelectric properties of two-dimensional MoS2 and show that cyclic stretching and releasing of thin MoS2 flakes with an odd number of atomic layers produces oscillating piezoelectric voltage and current outputs, whereas no output is observed for flakes with an even number of layers. A single monolayer flake strained by 0.53% generates a peak output of 15 mV and 20 pA, corresponding to a power density of 2 mW m−2 and a 5.08% mechanical-to-electrical energy conversion efficiency. In agreement with theoretical predictions, the output increases with decreasing thickness and reverses sign when the strain direction is rotated by 90°. Transport measurements show a strong piezotronic effect in single-layer MoS2, but not in bilayer and bulk MoS2. The coupling between piezoelectricity and semiconducting properties in two-dimensional nanomaterials may enable the development of applications in powering nanodevices, adaptive bioprobes and tunable/stretchable electronics/optoelectronics.

Categories: Literature

Limited impact on decadal-scale climate change from increased use of natural gas

Nature - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

Limited impact on decadal-scale climate change from increased use of natural gas

Nature 514, 7523 (2014). doi:10.1038/nature13837

Authors: Haewon McJeon, Jae Edmonds, Nico Bauer, Leon Clarke, Brian Fisher, Brian P. Flannery, Jérôme Hilaire, Volker Krey, Giacomo Marangoni, Raymond Mi, Keywan Riahi, Holger Rogner & Massimo Tavoni

The most important energy development of the past decade has been the wide deployment of hydraulic fracturing technologies that enable the production of previously uneconomic shale gas resources in North America. If these advanced gas production technologies were to be deployed globally, the energy market could see a large influx of economically competitive unconventional gas resources. The climate implications of such abundant natural gas have been hotly debated. Some researchers have observed that abundant natural gas substituting for coal could reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Others have reported that the non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions associated with shale gas production make its lifecycle emissions higher than those of coal. Assessment of the full impact of abundant gas on climate change requires an integrated approach to the global energy–economy–climate systems, but the literature has been limited in either its geographic scope or its coverage of greenhouse gases. Here we show that market-driven increases in global supplies of unconventional natural gas do not discernibly reduce the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions or climate forcing. Our results, based on simulations from five state-of-the-art integrated assessment models of energy–economy–climate systems independently forced by an abundant gas scenario, project large additional natural gas consumption of up to +170 per cent by 2050. The impact on CO2 emissions, however, is found to be much smaller (from −2 per cent to +11 per cent), and a majority of the models reported a small increase in climate forcing (from −0.3 per cent to +7 per cent) associated with the increased use of abundant gas. Our results show that although market penetration of globally abundant gas may substantially change the future energy system, it is not necessarily an effective substitute for climate change mitigation policy.

Categories: Literature

Universities challenged

Nature - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

Universities challenged

Nature 514, 7522 (2014). doi:10.1038/514273a

The accelerating pace of change in today’s world means that universities must modify how they fulfil their function of seeking and sharing knowledge.

Categories: Literature

Review rewards

Nature - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

Review rewards

Nature 514, 7522 (2014). doi:10.1038/514274a

Welcome efforts are being made to recognize academics who give up their time to peer review.

Categories: Literature

How terror-proof is your economy?

Nature - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

How terror-proof is your economy?

Nature 514, 7522 (2014). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/514275a

Author: Erwann Michel-Kerjan

Scientists can help to develop a financial safety net by providing transparent market data and loss-impact analysis, says Erwann Michel-Kerjan.

Categories: Literature

Meteorology: Weather explains Asian glacier survival

Nature - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

Meteorology: Weather explains Asian glacier survival

Nature 514, 7522 (2014). doi:10.1038/514276a

Some glaciers in central Asia could be weathering climate change better than those in neighbouring mountain ranges because of different seasonal weather patterns.Geoscientists have puzzled over why the glaciers of the Karakoram region (pictured) have not receded as much as others nearby. A team

Categories: Literature

Energy: Benefits outweigh clean-energy costs

Nature - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

Energy: Benefits outweigh clean-energy costs

Nature 514, 7522 (2014). doi:10.1038/514276b

Large-scale investments in wind, solar and hydropower could double the electricity generated globally from these sources by 2050 — with only modest environmental costs.Thomas Gibon of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and his colleagues compared the environmental impacts of low-carbon

Categories: Literature

Zoology: Birds colour-match their nests

Nature - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

Zoology: Birds colour-match their nests

Nature 514, 7522 (2014). doi:10.1038/514276c

Zebra finches seem to actively camouflage their nests when building them.Many birds' nests appear camouflaged, but this could be a serendipitous result of their use of local materials. Ida Bailey at the University of St Andrews, UK, and her team let 20 male zebra

Categories: Literature

Materials: Plants inspire medical coating

Nature - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

Materials: Plants inspire medical coating

Nature 514, 7522 (2014). doi:10.1038/514276d

A coating for medical implants such as artificial heart valves could prevent blood-clot formation — a common problem in which blood cells and proteins stick to the surfaces of such devices.To make the surfaces less sticky, Donald Ingber of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts,

Categories: Literature

Neurodegeneration: A monkey model of Alzheimer's

Nature - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

Neurodegeneration: A monkey model of Alzheimer's

Nature 514, 7522 (2014). doi:10.1038/514276e

The molecule that has been implicated in Alzheimer's disease causes many hallmarks of the disorder in monkey brains, suggesting the potential for a primate model of the disease.Amyloid-β forms plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. Fernanda De Felice at the Federal University

Categories: Literature

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