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- Tue Feb 20, 2018 - An unfrozen North
Like a giant dragonfly, the chopper skims over undulating swaths of tussocky tundra, then touches down at Wolverine Lake, one of a swarm of kettle lakes near the Toolik Field Station on Alaska's North Slope. Even before the blades stop spinning, Rose Cory, an aquatic geochemist from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, gracefully swings to the ground and beelines to the spot where, four years ago, a subterranean block of ice began to melt, causing the steep, sloping bank to slump into the water. The lake throws back a somber reflection of the clouds swirling above, its surface riffled by the wind.
Cory has brought me here because the slump provides a vivid example of the ordinarily inaccessible stuff she studies. Slick with meltwater, the chocolaty goop brims with microscopic bits of once-living things that have not touched sunlight or air or flowing water for centuries, perhaps millennia. Deeper still lie plant and animal remains that could be tens of thousands of years old, da
- Tue Feb 20, 2018 - Without city jobs, tech-savvy Kenyan youth head back to the farm
When Francis Njoroge graduated with an engineering degree in Nairobi, he expected to earn a six-figure salary. Instead he found himself working as an electrician on a three-month contract, for 20,000 Kenyan shillings (about $200) per month.
Realising permanent and well-paid jobs were hard to come by in the Kenyan capital, he decided to move back to his parents' farm in Kimandi, a village about 150km away, and start his own business planting and selling tree seedlings.
\'My parents are tea and maize farmers and always managed to pay our school fees,\' Njoroge told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, walking around the farm in dark blue overalls.
\'So I thought rather than be frustrated in my job or not even have one, why not go into something I know will bring me money?\'
Njoroge is not alone. Kenya has the highest rate of youth joblessness in East Africa, according to the World Bank, with nearly one in five young people who are eligible for work not finding jobs.
Poor job prospe
- Tue Feb 20, 2018 - HOW CLIMATE CHANGE IS ALTERING AIR TRAVEL
Phoenix gets hot. But not usually as hot as last June, when the mercury at the airport one day soared above 118 °F (48 °C). That exceeded the maximum operating temperature for several aircraft ready for take-off. They didn't fly. More than 50 flights were canceled or rerouted.
Thanks to climate change, soon 118 °F may not seem so unusual. Welcome to the precarious future of aviation in a changing climate. As the world warms and weather becomes more extreme, aircraft designers, airport planners and pilots must all respond, both in the air and on the ground. With around 100,000 flights worldwide carrying some 8 million passengers every day, this is a big deal.
Why is heat a problem for planes? In a word: lift.
Lift is the upward force created by diverting air around wings as an aircraft moves down the runway. It is harder to achieve when the air is scorching hot, because hot air is thinner than cold air. The International Civil Aviation Organization warned in 2
- Tue Feb 20, 2018 - Are we poisoning our children with plastic?
Can exposure to plastics harm your health? It's a question currently being explored by researchers after a recent study suggested that traces of a synthetic chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA) can be found in more than 80% of teenagers. BPA is added to plastic to create a special form called polycarbonate plastic, used in making robust, impact-resistant materials for everything from food and drink packaging to DVD cases and medical devices. First created in 1891, it has been used commercially since the 1950s and is now one of the most commonly produced chemicals in the world, with 3.6bn tonnes of BPA generated every year.
The problem is that BPA can be ingested or absorbed through skin contact, meaning that humans are regularly exposed through the chemical leaching out of packaging into food and drink -- and over the past 20 years various studies have linked BPA to a variety of adverse health effects. The biggest concerns have been the impact on foetuses and young children, who have u
- Mon Feb 19, 2018 - First ship crosses Arctic in winter without an icebreaker
A ship has made a winter crossing of the Arctic without an icebreaker for the first time as global warming causes the region's ice sheets to melt.
The tanker, containing liquefied natural gas, is the first commercial vessel to make such a crossing alone during the winter months.
The voyage is a significant moment in the story of climate change in the Arctic and will be seized on by those with concerns about thinning polar ice and its implications for the environment.
Belonging to the shipping company Teekay, the ship Eduard Toll made its way from South Korea to the Sabetta terminal in northern Russia in December.
From there, it sailed to Montoir in France to deliver a load of liquefied natural gas.
A similar vessel made the same crossing in August last year, but this is the first time it has been completed when the temperatures are at their coldest.
\'The people and passion one needs for an ice passage like this cannot be underestimated,\' Teekay gas group's president a
- Mon Feb 19, 2018 - Canada must strengthen its key environmental protection law
Canada needs to clean up its act. That's the clear message from 540 scientists and doctors who appealed to the Trudeau government this week to toughen this country's cornerstone environmental protection law.
They wrote urging Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to follow through with changes to the most important law governing pollution and the use of toxic chemicals, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).
There's a lot at stake in terms of both health and dollars. Air pollution alone, the scientists and doctors point out, causes 7,000 premature deaths a year in this country. And pollution costs Canada a minimum of $39 billion a year in direct costs, according to one authoritative estimate. That's $1,100 per person.
And yet Canada is a laggard in this area, despite our self-image as leaders in environmental protection.
The scientists point out that Canada is the only western industrialized country without legally binding and enforceable national air quality st
- Mon Feb 19, 2018 - The secret on the ocean floor
In the summer of 1974, a large and highly unusual ship set sail from Long Beach in California.
It was heading for the middle of the Pacific where its owners boasted it would herald a revolutionary new industry beneath the waves.
Equipped with a towering rig and the latest in drilling gear, the vessel was designed to reach down through the deep, dark waters to a source of incredible wealth lying on the ocean floor.
It was billed as the boldest step so far in a long-held dream of opening a new frontier in mining, one that would see valuable metals extracted from the rocks of the seabed.
But amid all the excited public relations, there was one small hitch - the whole expedition was a lie.
This was a Cold War deception on a staggering scale, but one which also left a legacy that has profound implications nearly half a century later.
The real target of the crew on board this giant ship was a lost Soviet submarine. Six years earlier, the K-129 had sunk 1,500 miles north-wes
- Mon Feb 19, 2018 - Climate change spells turbulent times ahead for air travel
Phoenix gets hot. But not usually as hot as last June, when the mercury at the airport one day soared above 48C. That exceeded the maximum operating temperature for several aircraft ready for take-off. They didn't fly. More than 50 flights were cancelled or rerouted.
Thanks to climate change, soon 48C may not seem so unusual. Welcome to the precarious future of aviation in a changing climate. As the world warms and weather becomes more extreme, aircraft designers, airport planners and pilots must all respond, both in the air and on the ground. With about 100,000 flights worldwide carrying eight million passengers every day, this is a big deal.
Why is heat a problem for planes? In a word: lift.
Lift is the upward force created by diverting air around wings as an aircraft moves down the runway. It is harder to achieve when the air is scorching hot, because hot air is thinner than cold air. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) warned in 2016 that as a result, high
- Thu Feb 15, 2018 - How Iceland became the bitcoin miners' paradise
The island nation is the first to use more electricity on mining cryptocurriencies than on its households -- thanks in part to its magma-fuelled power plants.
Bitcoin's price may be down more than 50% from its highs in December, but no one has told Iceland, where the cryptocurrency and its offspring are reshaping the economy.
According to Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson, an employee of the energy company HS Orka, Icelandic cryptocurrency \'mining\' is likely to double its energy consumption to about 100 megawatts this year. That is more than households use in the nation of 340,000 people, according to the national energy authority.
Mining is the name for the decentralised process that underpins the integrity of most cryptocurrencies. Effectively, a bunch of computers engage in a race to burn through the most electricity possible and, every 10 minutes, one wins a prize of 12.5 bitcoin for the effort -- still worth more than $100,000, despite recent falls.
As the price of bitcoin h
- Thu Feb 15, 2018 - Germany considering free public transportation to take on air pollution
Under pressure from the European Union to rein in air pollution, the German government said it is considering a plan that would make public transportation free in its most polluted cities, according to a letter seen by German media on Tuesday.
The letter, sent to European Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella in Brussels, was written by German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt and chancellery office chief Peter Altmaier.
The German government proposed the free public transportation scheme to encourage people to leave their cars at home, thereby reducing nitrogen dioxide emissions and particulate matter.
They selected five cities to roll out the program: Bonn, Essen, Reutlingen, Mannheim and the town of Herrenberg which is south of Stuttgart --- one of Germany's most heavily polluted cities.
The letter also reportedly proposed instating \'low emission zones\' for large transporter vehicles, increasing the number of electric-powered