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Archive for November 23rd, 2007

DISCOVERY: TERMITE GUTS MAY HOLD KEY TO BETTER BIOFUELS

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Cool Products, News Brief on November 23rd, 2007

THE EFFICIENT PROCESSES THAT TERMITES USE TO TURN WOOD INTO FOOD COULD BE HARNESSED TO TRANSFORM WOOD INTO FUEL AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO CROPS LIKE CORN

ethanol1.jpgThe back half of a termite is an odd place to look to solve the world’s energy crisis, but scientists believe the insects’ guts may hold the key to better and cheaper biofuels.

Researchers said on Wednesday that they have identified a rich reservoir of wood-digesting enzymes exuded by bacteria living in termites.

The efficient processes the insects use to turn wood into food could one day be harnessed in factories to transform wood into fuel for transport as an alternative to crops like corn.

The discovery follows a genome-wide analysis of bacteria from the hindgut of the Nasutitermes termite species in Costa Rica, published in the science journal Nature.

Soaring oil prices and concerns about climate change have triggered a boom in biofuels produced from renewable resources like sugar, corn and soybeans.

But making gasoline substitutes from wood – a plentiful but tougher biomass source – has proved elusive.

Termites, whose voracious appetite for wood causes massive damage to homes worldwide, have no such problems. In fact, their intestines are astonishingly efficient bioreactors – chemical processing chambers.

Now the secret of how they convert wood into sugars is starting to be unlocked by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, the California Institute of Technology and biotechnology company Verenium Corp.

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Source: Reuters

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UN: “EMISSIONS GROWTH MUST END IN SEVEN YEARS”

Posted in Conscious Actions, Eco Warriors, Endangered Species, Global Warming, News Brief on November 23rd, 2007

REPORT LAYS OUT STARK CHOICES TO AVOID THE DEATH OF SPECIES

unpicture.jpgThe world will have to end its growth of carbon emissions within seven years and become mostly free of carbon-emitting technologies in about four decades to avoid killing as many as a quarter of the planet’s species from global warming, according to top United Nations’ scientists.

The stark choices laid out yesterday by the agency’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describe the daunting task if the world is to avoid the consequences of a planet heated up by more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) since 2000.

Rajendra Pachauri, who leads the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won this year’s Nobel Peace opens the lid of a paella, a typical dish of Valencia, cooked by Greenpeace activist using a solar kitchen outside the City of the Arts and Sciences complex in Valencia, Spain. Friday, Nov. 16, 2007. Working until dawn, negotiators on Friday concluded a policy guide for governments on global warming that declares climate change is here and is getting worse, one of its authors said. The brief Summary for Policymakers, will be released Saturday by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

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Source: WaPo

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A TOUGH TIME THIS THANKSGIVING

Posted in News Brief on November 23rd, 2007

FOOD BANKS SUFFER FROM SHARPLY REDUCED DONATIONS FORCING MANY TO GO HUNGRY ON THIS,THE MOST AMERICAN OF HOLIDAYS

turkdinner.jpg The fact that the following condition exists for many in America today is disgracefull. As we give thanks this day, we should remember those who are suffering and commit to embrace their issues in the year to follow. Perhaps if we can learn that we are only as strong as the weakest among us, we would have a chance of maintaining this social experiment that is the United States of America for our children and their children’s children to enjoy. Each and every one of us must commit to banishing from positions of power in our land, those who feel that it is acceptable to unfairly profit on the backs of others.

Happy Thanksgiving.

-LIB

Today as millions of Americans sit down to their turkey dinners with all the trimmings, the safety net of hundreds of food banks and pantries that put food on the table of the nation’s poor is creaking and torn as a result of sharply reduced donations. From New England to California warehouses that should be groaning with surplus foodstuffs are going half empty.

“We’re bracing ourselves for a very tough winter, especially with home heating fuel prices at record highs in the north-east,” said Mark Quandt of the regional food bank in New York. “People living in poverty or near poverty just can’t sustain those types of increases.”

America’s obsession with energy independence from Middle East oil may be to blame. The country’s farmers have brought in the greatest corn harvest since the Second World War, but their surpluses which once were bought by the government and sent to food banks are no longer available. Instead the corn is turned into heavily subsidised ethanol and less land is available to grow food.

And the corn syrup that turns up in almost every product found on a US supermarket shelf is in short supply. A cheap dollar means that food exports are booming and a crippling two-year drought in the south has left fruit and vegetables withered and useless.

Unnoticed by most Americans, as they drop off their old canned goods and surplus food at schools and church halls for the Thanksgiving food drives, the entire system may be heading for collapse.

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Source: The Independant (GB)

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