Scientists 3D Print New Solar Panels Which Work Best When Cloudy
The commercial use of solar panels has been on the rise recently. In areas of the United States that receive a lot of sunshine, people are taking advantage and having panels installed on their homes. People who live in areas like Seattle, Britain, and Northern Europe cannot really partake in the rise of solar energy use. This week, British scientists at the National Physical Laboratory created solar panels which function best when it’s cloudy outside. They produce more energy when clouds are blocking the sun, than when the sun is out in full force. These new solar panels manage only 10% efficiency when placed in direct sunlight, while that number goes up to 13% when placed in cloudy conditions. These organic photovoltaic solar cells are made up of small organic molecules which act as semi-conductors when struck with solar radiation. These molecules can be easily dissolved into a solution and 3D printed into any shape, size, or color desired. The things that this technology can be used for in the future are endless.
Kentucky coal-ash dumping tracked by hidden cameras
Environmental groups plan to sue a Kentucky coal-ash plant for continuous dumping into the Ohio River, after a hidden camera they set up captured alleged illegal discharges of chemicals by the company. The Sierra Club says that their lawsuit against Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) is based on time-lapse photography from a camera the strapped to a tree. The hidden camera captured a year’s worth of images showing coal ask waste-water constantly being dumped into the Ohio River. The environmental groups also claim that LG&E has clearly violated the federal Clean Water Act and the terms of the utility’s permit, which allows for only occasional discharge into the river. According to the EPA, coal ash contains high levels of arsenic, lead, selenium, and other heavy metals that can cause cancer, birth defects, and respiratory problems.
Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr declares marine sanctuary, bans all commercial fishing
Palau’s President Tommy Remengesau Jr. has declared the small Pacific island nation will become a marine sanctuary, where no commercial fishing will take place. He has told a UN oceans conference that the country’s 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone will be a “100 per cent marine sanctuary”, and commercial operations will be banned within territorial waters. He said, “We have no choice – the ocean is our way of life. It’s our livelihood, it’s our culture, it’s our economy – I always say the economy is our environment and the environment is our economy.” Palau currently has commercial fishing contracts with Taiwan, Japan, and several companies. These contracts will soon be allowed to expire. Locals and tourists will still be able to fish, but no commercial scale operations will take place.
Palau is urging the UN to adopt a new Sustainable Development Goal to help protect the world’s oceans. The Sustainable Development Goals are a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals, which pledged countries reduce poverty and improve health and environmental protection by 2015. Deputy Secretary-General with the UN, Jan Elliason, has paid tribute to the Pacific and other island countries for raising awareness of the issue. “They have an acute sense of the dangers of climate change and the level of sea rise – becoming an existential threat for them. They are a bit like canaries in the coal mine, the canaries that warn us that now the oxygen is [running] out…they’re the first ones to leave. We should listen to those states.”
How Mismanagement of GMO Corn Created a Super Predator
The genetically-modified crop, “Bt corn”, was engineered to be poisonous to corn rootworms, a pest that used to cause billions of dollars in damage to corn crops. It worked well at repelling the insects for a while, but rootworms eventually evolved a resistance to Bt corn, largely due to industry and farmer resistance to proper management. According to scientists, the key to effective management were refuges set aside and planted with non-Bt corn. In these fields, rootworms would remain susceptible to the Bt toxin. By mating with any Bt-resistant worms that may have evolved in neighboring fields, they’d prevent resistance from building up in the gene pool. The scientists’ recommendations were eventually resisted by seed companies and the EPA itself, which set voluntary refuge guidelines at between 5 and 20 percent. A lot of farmers did not even follow those guidelines. Rootworm resistance was expected from the outset, but the Bt seed industry, seeking to maximize short-term profits, ignored outside scientists.
Climate change is putting world at risk of irreversible changes, scientists warn
The American Association for the Advancement of Science(AAAS) has made a rare policy intervention urging the US to act swiftly to reduce carbon emissions and lower risks of climate catastrophe. Usually the organization tries to stay away from the world of politics and public policy, but they felt they had to speak up and urge Americans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The AAAS said in a news report, “As scientists, it is not our role to tell people what they should do, but we consider it our responsibility as professionals to ensure, to the best of our ability, that people understand what we know: human-caused climate change is happening, we face risks of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes, and responding now will lower the risks and costs of taking action.”
The UN climate science panel, the IPCC, will gather in Japan next week to release reports outlining climate change’s effect on rainfall and heat waves, sea level and the oceans, fisheries and food security. The AAAS scientists are releasing their own assessment ahead of the UN conference because they were concerned that Americans had failed to take the risks associated with climate change seriously. “The sooner we make a concerted effort to curtail the burning of fossil fuels as our primary energy source and releasing the CO2 to the air, the lower our risk and cost will be.”