Mosquito control officials in the Florida Keys are waiting for the federal government to sign off on an experiment that would release hundreds of thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the risk of dengue fever in the tourist town of Key West. If approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it would be the first such experiment in the U.S. Some residents, however, are worried about the risks.
After weathering concerns about everything from the safety of humans eating the salmon to their impact on the environment, Aquabounty was in a position to become the world's first company to sell fish whose DNA has been altered to speed up growth. But after positive feedback from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010, the agency still has not approved the fish and the company could soon run out of money.
The amount of heat-trapping pollution the world spewed rose again last year by 3%. China was the biggest contributor to the increase, with only the U.S. and Germany decreasing their output among the top 10 polluters. Some scientists say it's now unlikely that global warming can be limited to a couple of degrees, which is an international goal.
Bai Chunli, as head of the largest research organization China, publicly expressed concern recently about when the Chinese scientific community will make an innovative, Nobel Prize-level scientific advance. Citing “negative elements,” he believes that despite massive investments in research and education, China’s scientific research is still weak and needs to improve.
As climate change begins to take the spotlight again as a political issue in the U.S., a once radical idea has resurfaced among both Republicans and Democrats: a carbon tax. On Tuesday, a conservative think tank held discussions about it while a more liberal think tank released a paper on it. And the Congressional Budget Office issued a 19-page report on the different ways to make a carbon tax less burdensome on lower income people.
In March, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission instructed power companies to re-evaluate the seismic and flooding hazards that their power plants face. Recent earthquakes in the eastern U.S., coupled with evidence of the results of the 2011 earthquake in Japan, have highlighted the importance of this effort in order to implement new design measures.
A California judge has tentatively ruled in favor of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by a former computer specialist who alleged he was singled out in part because of his belief in intelligent design.
China's biggest rare earths producer, state-owned Baotou Steel Rare Earth (Group) Hi-tech Co., in an effort to shore up plunging prices of the materials used by makers of mobile phones and other high-tech products. Beijing is tightening control over rare earths mining and exports to capture more of the profits that flow to Western makers of lightweight batteries and other products made of rare earths.
Increasing demand for bioenergy feedstock is generating land-use conflicts and food vs. fuel controversies. An team of 11 scientists from seven European countries and the United States have recently published a study that gives scientific background to the debate. It supports a reassessment of the land available for bioenergy feedstock production.
Applying a global energy-economy computer simulation that fully captures the competition between alternative power supply technologies, a team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the University of Dayton, Ohio, analyzed trade-offs between nuclear and climate policies. They found that incremental costs due to policy options restricting the use of nuclear power do not significantly increase the cost of even stringent greenhouse-gas emissions reductions.
According to recent paper published by Yale University scientists, an international policy is needed for recycling scarce specialty metals that are critical in the production of consumer goods. Specialty metals account for more than 30 of the 60 metals on the periodic table, and their rapidly accelerating usage in many industries makes the complete lack of recycling a concern.
A team of researchers from Arizona State University have found that warming resulting from megapolitan expansion is seasonally dependent, with greatest warming occurring during summer and least during winter. Painting the roofs of buildings white can combat this effect, but not without consequences for the region’s hydroclimate.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has completed and published a comprehensive environmental assessment (CEA) framework study of engineered nanoscale silver, specifically with regard to its behavior in disinfectant sprays. Though not a formal assessment, many factors such as product life cycle, environmental transport and fate, exposure-dose in receptors, and potential impacts in these receptors are covered in the report.
Washington University in St. Louis recently landed a $2 million U.S. Dept. of Energy grant with $1.2 million in matching funds from the university to design a battery management system for lithium-ion batteries that will guarantee their longevity, safety and performance. The development is geared toward electric vehicle technologies.
A recent report released by the National Science Foundation (NSF) found state government agency expenditures for research and development totaled $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2009, a 7% increase over the fiscal 2007 total of $1.1 billion. The survey marked the first time NSF asked state agencies to classify their R&D according to specific categories.
Is gas drilling ruining the air, polluting water and making people sick? The evidence is sketchy and inconclusive, but a lack of serious funding is delaying efforts to resolve those pressing questions and creating a vacuum that could lead to a crush of lawsuits, some experts say.
A new study of renewable energy’s technical potential finds that every state in the nation has the space and resource to generate clean energy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory produced the study, which looks at available renewable resources in each state and establishes an upper-boundary estimate of development potential.
For years, the Silicon Valley company has resisted government regulation, arguing that it simply provides consumers with information, not a medical service. Genetic test maker 23andMe, however, is now asking the Food and Drug Administration to approve its personalized DNA test in a move that, if successful, could boost acceptance of technology that is viewed skeptically by leading scientists who question its usefulness.
A government-backed committee of the National Research Council issued a report Friday saying the United States would have adequate biosecurity protections even if plans for a proposed $1.14 billion lab in Kansas are scaled back.
A drilling company in southwestern Pennsylvania has given researchers at National Energy Technology Laboratory access to a commercial drilling site, a move that may provide some of the first solid answers to a controversial question: Can gas drilling fluids migrate and pose a threat to drinking water?
The conclusion of a new study by Cornell University Professor Lawrence M. Cathles shows that, no matter the timeframe considered, substituting natural gas energy for all coal and some oil production provides about 40% of the global warming benefit that a complete switch to low-carbon sources would deliver. And, it would be a far quicker option than going to sources like nuclear or solar.
Humans and animals have evolved to consume energy very efficiently for movement. If robotic actuation can be made to approach the efficiency of human and animal actuation, the range of practical robotic applications will greatly increase. To help this progression, DARPA has created the M3 Actuation program with the goal of achieving a 2,000% increase in the efficiency of power transmission and application.
Government health experts said Thursday there are few reasons to continue using metal-on-metal hip implants, amid growing evidence that the devices can break down early and expose patients to dangerous metallic particles. The devices were originally marketed as a longer-lasting alternative to older ceramic and plastic models. But recent data from the U.K. and other foreign countries suggests they are more likely to deteriorate.
China on Wednesday defended its export curbs on rare earths used in high-tech products as an environmental measure and rejected a World Trade Organization challenge by the United States, Europe, and Japan.
To successfully reduce the United States' dependence on fuels from outside North America, the government must pursue policies that foster the diversion of Canadian oil sands crude to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, according to a new study by Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.