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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PODCAST & VIDEO: Engineering Around Extreme Events
Extreme events, such as super floods and hurricanes, are becoming more common, so civil engineers are trying to adapt civil infrastructure such as bridges to these unpredictable and sometimes devastating meteorological events. Engineer Ana Barros discusses how engineering can prepare us for extreme weather events, but also how changing climate and population conditions can affect the ability of infrastructure to hold up over time.
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