SCIENCE IN THE NEWS WEEKLY
A Hidden Risk of Biofuel Crops
Such non-food crops as reeds and wild grasses may seem an attractive alternative to corn for making biofuel, but scientists warned last week that many of the crops being discussed qualify as invasive species. As such, they could spread to adjacent farms and other land, doing economic and ecological harm in the process.
In other news, researchers say the encroachment of conifer forests on Arctic tundra threatens to accelerate warming in the far north in areas now covered by reflective snow much of the year.
A new study in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests that we may experience fewer rather than more hurricanes as the world warms. But there may be a "modest increase" in the intensity of the storms.
The Washington Post looked at how symbols can overshadow substance when it comes to climate change initiatives. When the 2 million residents of Sydney, Australia, turned off their lights for an hour, it was a dandy publicity stunt—that didn't really save a significant amount of energy.
And the Minneapolis Star Tribune featured local television meteorologist Mike Fairbourne, who is among thousands of scientists who have signed a petition saying that human influence on global warming is exaggerated. The petition drive is the work of several staff members at the non-profit Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.
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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays
Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.
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