Scientists from Australia's Deakin University, together with French colleagues, say that they have manufactured a lightweight and reusable material that can absorb up to 33 times its weight in a wide range of spilt oils, chemical solvents and dyes, while repelling water. Deakin University's Dr Wei Wei Lei said that "The effective removal of oils, organic solvents and dyes from water is of significant, global importance for environmental and water source protection.” The absorbant material consists of sheets of boron nitride, also called "white graphene". The sheets are highly porous, have a high surface area and float on water. When the … Continue Reading
Green walls and roof gardens have become extremely fashionable. One New York supermarket is taking the idea two steps further. Rather than just plant any greenery on the roof, Whole Foods is partnering with Gotham Greens to construct an 1,860 square metre greenhouse on its roof. As well as the usual benefits of a green roof and of providing food, the project will reduce foe food miles of the produce to mere "food footsteps".
Back in 2008, we wrote about the Sahara Forest Project – a plan to use solar power and seawater desalination to produce renewable energy, food and water in an area of desert. As shown in this video, the first fully operational pilot plant has now been built. A documentary about the people and progress of the Project is being made using Kickstarter funding.
Engineers at Lockheed Martin Corp say that they have developed a desalination process which requires just 1% of the energy needed in the best systems currently available. The process enables the engineers to produce thin graphene carbon membranes with regular holes about a nanometer in diameter. These holes are large enough to allow water to pass through but small enough to block the molecules of salt in seawater. The sheets of graphene are just one atom in thickness. Because they are so thin, it takes much less energy to push the seawater through the filter to separate the salt from … Continue Reading
As the warming climate causes ice and snow to retreat, vegetation is increasing towards the Arctic. A new analysis of satellite data, collected since 1982, has revealed a vigorous increase in vegetation growth between the 45th parallel north and the Arctic Ocean. In many places, the climate has shifted north by as much as 4 to 6 degrees of latitude and now resembles what was found 400 to 700 kilometres to the south in 1982. At that rate, by the end of this century, northern Sweden could get temperatures similar to southern France now. Howvever, the rate of vegetaion increase … Continue Reading
The video clip below graphically describes the shocking disparity in wealth between the richest and poorest groups of Americans. The video points out that the wealth disparity is very different from what most Americans think is the case and what they would want it to be and includes a chart illustrating this. A similar Australian study was conducted by Empirica Research. In the graph below, the Australian results are overlaid on the American chart. The chart shows that Australians are far more equal in wealth than Americans, but not nearly as equal as they think they are, and far less … Continue Reading
Large areas of grasslands in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, Australia, Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan and many other countries are turning into barren deserts. An estimated one-third of the Earth’s surface is covered with grasslands that are facing the threat of desertification. Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean biologist who has been working on this problem since the 1950s, has set up the Savory Institute to promote his belief that one of the major causes of desertification is agricultural practices. He argues that, in the past, large wild herds of herbivores migrated over the land grazing, defecating and stomping the grasslands. This … Continue Reading
Data collected from Antarctic and Greenland ice cores seems to show CO2 levels rising centuries after temperature increases. However, new research suggests that this may be a misinterpretation of the evidence. Scientists have been using bubbles of air trapped in the ice when it was formed to detemine the CO2 level in the air at the time, the isotopes of elements like hydrogen, carbon and oxygen in the ice to calculate the temperature at which it formed and the depth of the ice sample in the core to estimate its age. This work led to the conclusion that CO2 levels … Continue Reading
Peru's capital, Lima, has very high humidity but hardly any rain. Engineers from the University of Engineering and Technology have taken advantage of the high humidity to build a billboard which gathers the water through reverse osmosis and purifies it to give clean drinking water.
Using a technique deriving from work started in the 1960s by a French priest, Henri de Laulanié, in Madagascar, farmers in many developing countries have increased their paddy field rice yields by 50 to 100% – and often much more. The worldwide average rice yield is about 4 tonnes per hectare. Using modern fertilizers and practices, this can be increased up to about 8 tonnes per hectare. The System of Rice Intensificatation (SRI) has produced much better yields – up to a record of 22.4 tonnes per hectare – in countries around the world, including India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Afghanistan, … Continue Reading