[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/EW-07-12-12-Military-Biofuels.mp3|titles=EW 07-12-12 Military Biofuels]
What if I told you that a new policy would be good for the military, good for farmers, and good for the environment? You’d probably find that combination hard to believe. But, suppose I also told you that the U.S. Congress just killed it. [Read more…] about Keeping the military on a black-gold diet
[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/EW-06-20-12-Dryers-II.mp3|titles=EW 06-20-12 Dryers II]
Refrigerators, lighting, and clothes dryers are the top energy consumers in modern households. Most of us would find it challenging to live without lights or refrigeration. But for dryers, there is an alternative–an inexpensive, solar-powered tool: the clothesline. [Read more…] about The next front for environmental activism: your household laundry
[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/EW-05-23-12-Fukushima-Radiation.mp3|titles=EW 05-23-12 Fukushima Radiation]
Scientists have long recognized that many pollutants travel far from where they originated. Power plant emissions can be carried by winds to distant states, where they contribute to acid rain, ground-level ozone, or mercury in isolated lakes. That’s why some of our national parks, even though they are protected areas, have smog and haze problems.
The challenge for scientists is teasing out the sources of pollution once they have dispersed. Although some elements carry isotopic signatures, others do not; so it’s challenging to trace pollutants like lead or compounds like nitrogen oxides back to their precise source.
The earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan last year provided an inadvertent demonstration of how air currents can transport pollution over long distances. Within a week of the earthquake, radioactive material was found in rainfall on the west coast of North America. It was in such small concentrations that it didn’t pose a health hazard. But the point is that, because there was no other possible source for the radioactive material, it served as a tracer. Meteorologists noted a strong jet stream over Japan in the days after the disaster; it carried the contaminants across the Pacific where they were then deposited in rainfall.
Although this fallout did not prove hazardous to Americans, the story is a sobering reminder that ocean and air currents are powerful mechanisms for moving pollution. We can’t control or regulate them. It is also a reminder that no matter how safe the nuclear power industry portrays itself to be, all of the safeguards in the world could not prevent the disaster that unfolded in Japan.
Scientific paper on Fission-Product Isotopes from Fukushima to U.S.
[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/EW-05-17-12-Dryers.mp3|titles=EW 05-17-12 Dryers]
Sometimes, doing the right thing for the environment costs more money. But that’s not the case in the household laundry room. [Read more…] about Is the humble clothesline poised for a comeback?
[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/EW-05-15-12-Tidal-Power.mp3|titles=EW 05-15-12 Tidal Power]
For years, when we talked about using renewable energy, our options were solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower. Each has its pluses and minuses, but each is a significant step away from burning fossil fuel. [Read more…] about A new renewable energy source is making waves
[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/EW-04-10-12-Volcano-Power.mp3|titles=EW 04-10-12 Volcano Power]
It sounds like a grade school science experiment on a grand scale. This summer, a team of geothermal energy developers is planning to pump 24 million gallons of water into a dormant volcano in Central Oregon. Their hope: that volcanic rock will heat the water to a temperature that is hot enough to generate clean electricity. [Read more…] about Power from the deep earth?
[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/EW-03-26-12-Sustainability.mp3|titles=EW 03-26-12 Sustainability]
Every day, I am pitched something about sustainability: sustainable forests, sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy. Look closely, and you’ll find there is no consistent meaning for this adjective. [Read more…] about Sustainability – let’s say what we mean
[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/EW-03-07-12-Woody-Biomass.mp3|titles=EW 03-07-12 Woody Biomass]
In an attempt to wean the nation from coal—an unhealthy source of energy that drives global warming, several policy groups have suggested switching to wood. Existing coal-fired power plants could be converted to burn wood with relatively little cost and expense. And trees have the benefit of being a renewable resource. [Read more…] about Let’s not put the last log on the fire
[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/EW-02-22-12-Photovoltaics.mp3|titles=EW 02-22-12 Photovoltaics]
Amongst the flurry of depressing news about the environment, there is a bright spot—solar power. Solar comes in two forms: thermal—where sunlight heats water, and photovoltaic—where sunlight is converted to electricity. [Read more…] about Good morning sunshine
[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/EW-02-16-12-Forest-Biomass-.mp3|titles=EW 02-16-12 Forest Biomass]
In our quest for renewable energy, attention has shifted to our nation’s forests. Forest-based energy has the potential to be “carbon-neutral.” The carbon released into the atmosphere when trees are burned is taken back out of the atmosphere when new trees grow. [Read more…] about Warming your home with wood—an old idea becomes new again
[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/EW-02-10-12-Retrofitting.mp3|titles=EW 02-10-12 Retrofitting]
When it comes to making buildings more energy efficient, there are the elaborate steps, like solar panels and green roofs. And there are simpler measures, like updating water boilers and installing controllable thermostats. [Read more…] about More efficient boilers and new windows have a positive impact on the environment and wallets
[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/EW-02-09-12-Ocean-Acidification.mp3|titles=EW 02-09-12 Ocean Acidification]
Earth is called “the blue planet” because oceans cover more than 70% of its surface. Oceans affect weather and temperature and are home to a diversity of marine life.
[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/EW-01-31-12-Microbial-Fuel.mp3|titles=EW 01-31-12 Microbial Fuel]
For most of us, the word “micro-organism” takes us back to high school biology lab. At the time, few of us knew that the bacteria swimming under our microscopes were powerhouses that could be harnessed to create energy. [Read more…] about The next generation of electricity might be powered by wastewater
[audio:http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Mtn-Top-Mining_web.mp3|titles=Mtn Top Mining_web]
Some of the most scenic mountain views in our nation are being transformed, with dire consequences for wildlife, freshwater, and humans. Lush forests are being razed, leaving behind what looks like desert mesas from the Southwest, separated by barren streams filled with broken rock. Welcome to mountaintop removal coal mining. [Read more…] about In our nation’s quest for non-renewable energy, we’re blowing up mountains!
Few studies have been conducted on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, but there should be. [Read more…] about Little Science Fuels Fracking Debate
One of the simplest fuel-saving technologies for automobiles involves what’s happening when they’re not moving. [Read more…] about Start-Stop Technology Could Be Major Part of Higher Fuel Efficiency