Nine uses for graphene

Just one atom thick (or thin, depending on how you think about it), graphene is among the strongest materials in the known universe, with 100 times the strength of steel, an astonishing amount of flexibility, and a whole lot of other talents lurking beneath the surface.

Do you remember that classic scene from The Simpsons in which Homer is offered “wax lips,” described by the salesman as “the candy of 1,000 uses?” Well, graphene is the wax lips of the material science world. And while we don’t have time to detail 1,000 uses, here are some of the most exciting graphene discoveries made so far.

Source: 9 amazing uses for graphene, from filtering seawater to smart paint

“High Risk” of Global warming exceeding Paris agreement’s 1.5C 

There is a “very high risk” that the most ambitious global warming limit set in the Paris climate agreement is likely to be exceeded by the 2040s, according to a draft United Nations (UN) report.

Only a dramatic and unprecedented shift away from fossil fuels will enable world governments to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial times, it said.

Hitting this target would “involve removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” said the report compiled by scientists on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Source: Global warming set to exceed Paris agreement’s ambitious 1.5C limit by mid-century, according to dr.3aft UN report

Bipartisan lawmakers to Trump: designate climate change a security threat


A bipartisan group of more than 100 House lawmakers are urging President Trump to name climate change a major security threat after he declined to include it in the administration’s national security strategy.

In a letter sent to the White House Thursday, 106 members, including 11 Republicans, implore Trump to “reconsider this omission.”

“We have heard from scientists, military leaders, and civil personnel who believe that climate change is indeed a direct threat to America’s national security and to the stability of the world at large,” write Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who co-authored the letter.

Source: More than 100 lawmakers call on Trump to designate climate change a security threat

Climate Change And Plant Growth

Global warming affects more than just plant biodiversity – it even alters the way plants grow. A team of researchers at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) joined forces with the Leibniz Institute for Plant Biochemistry (IPB) to discover which molecular processes are involved in plant growth. In the current edition of the internationally renowned journal Current Biology, the group presents its latest findings on the mechanism controlling growth at high temperatures. In the future this could help breed plants that are adapted to global warming.


Why Are Atmosphere Methane Levels Rising? 

The concentration of methane in the atmosphere has risen sharply—by about 25 teragrams per year — since 2006. In recent years, different research teams have come up with viable but conflicting explanations for the increase.
Some teams have published evidence showing that emissions from biogenic sources is driving the increase. Wetlands, ruminants, and rice paddies—all home to methane-producing microbes—are some of the major sources of biogenic methane.

Other teams have argued that a simultaneous increase in atmospheric ethane, a key component of natural gas, implies that fossil fuels are the culprit. Extracting and transporting fossil fuels add both ethane and methane to the atmosphere via leaks in wells, pipes, and other infrastructure.

Source: What is Behind Rising Levels of Methane in the Atmosphere? : Image of the Day

Study Suggests CO2 trouble in freshwaters 

The study found that some freshwater ecosystems have become more acidic with rising pCO2 (partial pressure of CO2). They also show in lab studies that increases in freshwater pCO2 can have detrimental effects on at least one keystone species, a tiny freshwater crustacean, leaving them less able to sense and defend themselves against predators. The findings suggest that increasing CO2 levels may be having widespread effects on freshwater ecosystems.

“Ocean acidification is often called the ‘climate change’s equally evil twin,’ and many current investigations describe tremendous effects of rising CO2 levels on marine ecosystems,” says Linda Weiss at Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany. “However, freshwater ecosystems have been largely overlooked. Our data indicate another pCO2 problem: pCO2-dependent freshwater acidification.”

Source: Rising CO2 is causing trouble in freshwaters too, study suggests

Studying disaster impact escalation to improve emergency responses

Mapping common pathways along which the effects of natural and man-made disasters travel allows more flexible and resilient responses in the future, according to UCL researchers.

Naturally occurring extreme space weather events or man-made cyber security attacks affect critical infrastructure through shared points of vulnerability, causing disasters to cascade into scenarios that threaten life and the global economy.

“We’re quite good at responding to high-frequency threats, such as floods, but aren’t well equipped to deal with risks that indirectly cause loss of life,” explained lead author PhD candidate, Gianluca Pescaroli (UCL Institute of Risk & Disaster Reduction).

“It’s often the knock-on effects rather than the initial event that threaten life as access to technology that provides electricity, food and clean water is compromised. We’ve developed a strategy to test disaster preparedness and increase our response to unknown, complex, high-impact, low-probability events.”

Source: Tracing how disaster impacts escalate will improve emergency responses

Greener Fuel Cells Closer to Reality

A new design of algae-powered fuel cells that is five times more efficient than existing plant and algal models, as well as being potentially more cost-effective to produce and practical to use, has been developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge.

In a new technique described in the journal Nature Energy, researchers from the departments of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Physics have collaborated to develop a two-chamber BPV system where the two core processes involved in the operation of a solar cell – generation of electrons and their conversion to power – are separated.

“Charging and power delivery often have conflicting requirements,” explains Kadi Liis Saar, of the Department of Chemistry. “For example, the charging unit needs to be exposed to sunlight to allow efficient charging, whereas the power delivery part does not require exposure to light but should be effective at converting the electrons to current with minimal losses.”

Source: Harnessing the power of algae: New, greener fuel cells move step closer to reality

A climate for coffee: Researchers work to get ahead of potential threats to Hawaii’s signature crop

KAILUA-KONA — Climate change poses a viable threat to coffee production around the world, yet Hawaii appears more immune to its impacts than most other coffee-heavy regions — at least for now.

Love cited several reasons he doesn’t believe climate change has or will hit the crop in Hawaii nearly as hard as has been observed in other coffee centers throughout the world.

“We’re at the perfect latitude,” Love explained. “It’s more the ideal temperature here.”

He added while droughts come to Hawaii more frequently than before and heavy rainfall events can pose problems, Hawaii’s drainage is superb.

The geographical buffers afforded Hawaii via its mid-ocean location also mitigate the havoc weather events can bring down upon the state’s coffee industry, said Andrea Kawabata, a University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources extension agent based in Kainaliu.

Climate change doesn’t only affect heat and rainfall, however. The coffee berry borer, the most recent scourge on the Kona industry, is bolstered by rising temperatures, Steiman said.

Source: A climate for coffee: Researchers work to get ahead of potential threats to Hawaii’s signature crop

Interior ends climate change policies

Many regulations were axed because they are ‘burdens’ to energy development.

The order echoes earlier mandates from President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to Interior’s 70,000 employees: Prioritize energy development and de-emphasize climate change and conservation. The order is another in a long string of examples of science and conservation taking a backseat to industry’s wishes at the Interior Department under Zinke.

The sweeping order, which Bernhardt signed Dec. 22., affects a department that manages a fifth of the nation’s land, 19 percent of U.S. energy supplies and most of the water in the 12 Western states. It fulfills a high-profile executive order by Trump and a secretarial order from Zinke, both announced in March. Interior did not publicize the order but posted it on its website with other secretarial orders. The Interior Department refused to answer questions about order 3360 on Thursday. “Sorry, nobody is available for you,” Heather Swift, the department spokesperson, wrote in an email.

Source: Interior revokes climate change and mitigation policies