Steve Eggleston Writes

Science

New research shows that wind turbines may help corn and soybean crops stay cooler and dryer, help them fend off fungal infestations and improve their ability to extract growth-enhancing carbon dioxide from the air and soil

AMES, Iowa—Wind turbines in Midwestern farm fields may be doing more than churning out electricity. The giant turbine blades that generate renewable energy might also help corn and soybean crops stay cooler and dryer, help them fend off fungal infestations and improve their ability to extract growth-enhancing carbon dioxide [CO2] from the air and soil.

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WASHINGTON, D.C- International relief and development organization Oxfam America joined WWF- International and Africare to bring attention to a groundbreaking method of rice farming known as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) that has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of millions of poor people around the world.

In a new report released today, which is based on the experiences of the three organizations with farming communities in Vietnam, India, and Mali, SRI is shown to increase yields by 50% or more using 25-50% less water and almost 25% lower costs. As a result, farmers, in particular women, saw significant income improvements. In Vietnam, farmers introduced to SRI saw their income increased by about 50%, while in Mali farmers almost doubled their income.

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It reads like a plot line from one of the National Lampoon movies…

“A team of uber nerds set out on cross-country road trip in an RV nicknamed after an urban assault vehicle, hell bent on convincing the government that they’ve discovered a way to make jet fuel from chicken fat.”

No, it’s not reality (TV), it’s actuality.

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Using plant-based, fully renewable resources, the company plans to manufacture a beverage container with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.

For years, scientists and inventors have offered up futuristic alternatives to the resource-intensive plastic packaging clogging up our landfills and recycling bins. And for just as many years, practical environmentalists have said that these designs are all well and good, but until the day they’re used in mainstream commercial production, their impact will be minuscule.

It appears that day may not be as far away as we thought.

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The sellout crowd that turned out Friday to watch the Phillies win their home opener against the Houston Astros in Philadelphia was treated to a pre-game glimpse into the future.

No, not another National League East pennant, though anything is possible on opening day. Instead, minutes before the first pitch, fans were treated to the first “green” flyover as an Air Force F-15 fighter jet streaked over Citizens Bank Park powered in part by fuel made from plant oil.

One of the four jets from the 335th Fighter Squadron based in North Carolina flew on a blend of 50 percent traditional jet fuel and 50 percent synthetic biomass fuel made from camelina oil grown in Montana. Unlike ethanol, which is made from corn, camelina is a weed in the mustard family and not usually considered edible. It is also considered more fuel-efficient than ethanol.

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A protein which could be targeted for a tuberculosis vaccine has been discovered by scientists at Imperial College London.

TB is caused by bacteria and the only vaccine against it, the BCG jab, is not very effective.

The disease of the lungs kills approximately two million people worldwide each year.

The charity, TB Alert, said the research was promising, but a vaccine was a long way off.

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SAN ANTONIO — Drilling rigs in the midst of cow pastures are hardly a novelty for Texans. But on a warm May day at a site about 30 miles south of San Antonio, a rig was not trying to reach oil or fresh water, but rather something unconventional: a salty aquifer. After a plant is built and begins operating in 2016, the site will become one of the state’s largest water desalination facilities.
“This is another step in what we’re trying to do to diversify our water supply,” said Anne Hayden, a spokeswoman for the San Antonio Water System.

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Delegates from 46 different nations have come together and signed a legally binding agreement on forest management. Forest ministers from across Europe have gathered for a three day summit – the sixth Forest Europe conference – in Oslo to shape a resolution regarding the management of Europe’s forests, which is estimated to cover 50 percent of the land surface area.

The delegates also agreed to adopt a second resolution, one that would help shape forest policy over the next decade. Ministers also agreed on a plan to cut the rate of biodiversity loss within forest habitats by half, and moving towards an action plan to stop illegal logging.

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In a “stunning win for the oceans,” Costco recently stepped up its Sustainable Seafood policies. Improving on voluntary changes announced last August, Costco issued its Seafood and Sustainability Report agreeing to stop selling 12 red-listed varieties of fish.

Unless its sources are certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), self-described as “the world’s leading certification and ecolabelling program for sustainable seafood,” Costco will not resume sales of these 12 varieties. Additionally, Costco highlighted their association with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to identify sustainable fisheries for certain at-risk species.

The 12 wild specifies identified as being at great risk (on the Greenpeace Red Fish list) that Costco agreed to stop selling are:

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Workers who listen to music during the morning commute are giving their mental health a boost, according to a new survey.

Figures released by the mental health charity Mind reveal that 74 per cent of employees listen to their favourite songs while commuting and 52 per cent report feeling energised for the day ahead as a result.

Music is shown to be a great pick me up for stressed commuters too with nearly a third of those surveyed admitting to turning to music to give them a lift when they are down about work and almost a quarter say they find listening to music on the way to the workplace relaxing.

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A drug that helps the immune system to break down cancerous tumours has been developed.

It has worked on breast, bowel, prostate, ovarian, brain, bladder and liver cancers, while previous studies show it can also be used to fight some blood cancers.

If given early, the drug could even be a cure, researchers say.

The antibody has so far been tested only on mice, but researchers hope to give it to people within two years.

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German researchers who used a bone marrow transplant to treat a cancer patient with the AIDS virus, have declared him cured of the virus – a stunning claim in a field where the word “cure” is barely whispered.

The patient, who had both HIV infection and leukemia, received the bone marrow transplant in 2007 from a donor who had a genetic mutation known to give patients a natural immunity to the virus.

Nearly four years after the transplant, the patient is free of the virus and it does not appear to be hiding anywhere in his body, Thomas Schneider of Berlin Charite hospital and colleagues said.

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