Environmental News

  • Fracking's Chemical Cocktails
    Fracking is once again in trouble. Scientists have found that what gets pumped into hydrocarbon-rich rock as part of the hydraulic fracture technique to release gas and oil trapped in underground reservoirs may not be entirely healthy. Environmental engineer William Stringfellow and colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of the Pacific told the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco that they scoured databases and reports to compile a list of the chemicals commonly used in fracking.
  • Grizzly Bears in the North Cascades
    The National Park Service this week took an important step toward recovering grizzly bears in the North Cascades in Washington state. The agency says it is beginning a three-year process to analyze options for boosting grizzly bear populations in the area, including the possibility of translocating bears and developing a viable population. "We're happy to see the Park Service begin the long-overdue conversation about bringing grizzly bears back to the North Cascades," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Grizzlies have lost more than 95 percent of their historic habitat in the lower 48 states so we welcome any step that brings them closer to returning to some of their ancestral homes."
  • How does CO2 go from Permafrost into the atmosphere?
    The vast reservoir of carbon stored in Arctic permafrost is gradually being converted to carbon dioxide (CO2) after entering the freshwater system in a process thought to be controlled largely by microbial activity. However, a new study – funded by the National Science Foundation and published this week in the journal Science – concludes that sunlight and not bacteria is the key to triggering the production of CO2 from material released by Arctic soils.
  • Study shows sunlight, not microbes dominate CO2 production in Arctic
    Just how much Arctic permafrost will thaw in the future and how fast heat-trapping carbon dioxide will be released from those warming soils is a topic of lively debate among climate scientists. To answer those questions, scientists need to understand the mechanisms that control the conversion of organic soil carbon into carbon dioxide gas. Until now, researchers believed that bacteria were largely responsible.
  • University of Illinois studying bee venom as cancer treatment
    Another reason to love bees: they might be able to help us fight cancer. While venom isn't usually known as a friendly thing, new research shows that venom from bees, snakes and scorpions could potentially be used to fight certain forms of cancer. While you wouldn't go and inject someone with a dose of venom, which could have lethal effects, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that if they isolated specific proteins in the venom, these could be used in a safe way to block tumor growth.

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