Scientists pledge to sequence the DNA of all 1.5 million known species on Earth

April 25, 2018 by  
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You may have heard of the Human Genome Project, but an international group of researchers has recently announced plans to go one step further. The Earth BioGenome Project is a massive effort to sequence the DNA of every single one of the 1.5 million species on Earth – and it will officially be the largest genome sequencing project ever undertaken. Ultimately, scientists hope that it will help us understand and protect the plants, animals, and fungi that call our planet home. Researchers announced their ambitious plans this week at the World Economic Forum , writing that “increasing our understanding of Earth’s biodiversity and responsibly stewarding its resources are among the most crucial scientific and social challenges of the new millennium. These challenges require fundamental new knowledge of the organization, evolution, functions, and interactions among millions of the planet’s organisms.” Related: Atacama ‘alien’ skeleton’s identity revealed by genetic testing So far, we’ve sequenced just 0.2 percent (about 2,500) of the eukaryotic species on Earth, so we have a long way to go to before reaching the 1.5 million known species – and that doesn’t even take into account the estimated 10 to 15 million undiscovered ones. The entire project is estimated to take about 10 years and $4.7 billion to complete. While that may sound like a ton of money, sequencing a genome is just a fraction of the cost that it used to be. In fact, today sequencing a new species costs just $30,000, compared to the $2.7 billion it cost to sequence the first human genome. Once completed, the data will be made available as part of the public domain. Via Gizmodo Image via Nikola Jovanovic and Deposit Photos

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Scientists pledge to sequence the DNA of all 1.5 million known species on Earth

EPA to consider burning wood a ‘carbon neutral’ energy source

April 25, 2018 by  
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Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new policy which will classify the burning of wood as a ‘carbon neutral’ fuel source. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt unveiled this policy shift to an audience of timber industry leaders in Georgia, who have a vested interest in whether they can market wood-based fuel products as ‘green energy.’ Pruitt supported his decision by claiming that forest regrowth will lead to greater absorption of carbon dioxide and somehow counteract the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions resulting from deforestation and burning wood. Scientists, none of whom were consulted in this policy change, disagree. “Today’s announcement grants America’s foresters much-needed certainty and clarity with respect to the carbon neutrality of forest biomass,” Pruitt said in a  press release . A study published by British think-tank Chatham House concluded that when all emissions and carbon absorption is accounted for, harvesting energy from burning wood produces carbon pollution equivalent to that of coal . Further, using this method of energy to create steam may be 50 percent more carbon intensive than coal. Scientist William Moomaw, who focuses on forests and their role in climate change, told Mashable that the policy was announced with “zero consultation” of agency scientists or the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. “It’s a bad idea because anything that has carbon in it produces carbon dioxide when you burn it,” Moomaw said. “This is horrific.” Related: Iceland is replanting its forests 1,000 years after vikings razed them The EPA’s decision to inaccurately classify burning wood as carbon neutral may have global consequences. “Between this and the Europeans [who constitute the largest market for bioenergy], it means no chance of staying within the 2-degree limit,” Moomaw explained. Even if the forests do grow back to their original state, the damage will already be done. “The carbon dioxide in the air will have warmed the planet. … When the tree regrows, the glacier doesn’t regrow,” Moomaw said. “The climate change effects are irreversible. Carbon neutrality is not climate neutrality.” Via Mashable Images via Depositphotos (1)

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EPA to consider burning wood a ‘carbon neutral’ energy source

Just before he died, Stephen Hawking predicted the ‘end of the universe’

March 19, 2018 by  
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Just before he died, Stephen Hawking was working on a groundbreaking study that predicted the end of the world and sought to prove the multiverse theory. His co-author Professor Thomas Hertog, of KU Leuven University in Belgium, says that the work is so important that Hawking could have received a Nobel Prize had he not passed away last week . Hawking’s paper, titled “A Smooth Exit From Eternal Inflation,” looks at ways in which humans could identify parallel universes – known as the multiverse theory – using probes on spaceships. It also theorizes about the end of the universe, saying that it will end as the stars run out of energy. Related: Beloved physicist Stephen Hawking passes away at 76 The paper is currently being reviewed by a leading scientific journal, and while it will no doubt contribute to our understanding of the world around us, sadly, Hawking can’t win a Nobel Prize for his work. “He has often been nominated for the Nobel and should have won it. Now he never can,” Prof Hertog told The Sunday Times . Via The Independent an CNBC Images via Wikimedia and Flickr  under CC license

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Just before he died, Stephen Hawking predicted the ‘end of the universe’

3 Great Ways to Help Your Prom Dress Go Green

May 17, 2017 by  
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How many times do you usually wear a prom dress? It’s a ridiculous question, right? Ridiculous because prom dresses, much like wedding dresses, are typically purchased with the understanding that they’ll be worn just once. Once! One…

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3 Great Ways to Help Your Prom Dress Go Green

Ramez Naam: Radical planetary optimism

September 30, 2016 by  
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Climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing, air pollution. We’re up against huge threats. But history and the trends of technology show that we can turn the corner. As clean energy and clean transportation plunge in price, as biotechnology revolutionizes our understanding of the natural world, and as the developing world reaches the demographic transition, a world of greater prosperity with less impact on the planet becomes possible. Make no mistake: The state of the environment will get worse before it gets better.

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Ramez Naam: Radical planetary optimism

Steve Pullins of Hitachi on technology, social innovation and things that matter

September 30, 2016 by  
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A 20+ year sustainability executive talks about the intersection of technology and sustainability in the context of social innovation and the opportunities that microgrids provide to accelerate corporates and community resilience.

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Steve Pullins of Hitachi on technology, social innovation and things that matter

New Study Shows Eukaryotic Phytoplankton Accounts for Almost 50% of Ocean’s Carbon Fixation

April 15, 2010 by  
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Eukaryotic Diatoms.

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New Study Shows Eukaryotic Phytoplankton Accounts for Almost 50% of Ocean’s Carbon Fixation

Hello Jurassic Park: 95-Million-Year-Old Insects Found Fossilized in Amber

April 8, 2010 by  
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Photo: courtesy of PNAS and Alexander Schmidt, used with permission. Or Rather, Cretaceous Park The discovery of splendid fossilized specimens dating back about 95 million years ago in Ethiopia, Africa (though back then the continents weren’t in the same relative position) could change our understanding of the origins of some species, including ants, and of the ecology of Cretaceous woodlands

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Hello Jurassic Park: 95-Million-Year-Old Insects Found Fossilized in Amber

Best of Green: Cars & Transportation (Slideshow)

April 8, 2010 by  
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Click on the image above to be taken to the winners. Congratulations to all the Winners! It’s impossible to conceive a green society without green transportation. People will always need to move around and ship goods, but our current way of doing things is both inefficient and dirty

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Best of Green: Cars & Transportation (Slideshow)

More Than Jobs, We’ve Outsourced Our Carbon Emissions

March 9, 2010 by  
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image: Carnegie Institution We’ve written about the phenomenon of outsourced carbon emissions a number of times, with the example of perhaps up to one third of China’s emissions coming from manufacturing goods destined for consumption abroad being most prominent. Well, a new study by scientists at the Carnegie Institution adds some more data to our our understanding of this issue:..

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More Than Jobs, We’ve Outsourced Our Carbon Emissions

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