Betty Barkha Takes Climate Change Personally. Very Personally.

Read the full story from NPR.

Climate change is a global issue. But for Betty Barkha, it’s personal.

The 25-year-old grew up in the city of Lautoka in Fiji, a couple of minutes from the Pacific, amid the fish markets and flocks of tourists roasting on the beach.

The government of Fiji said in a policy report issued in 2012 that the island nation is recording more storms, less rain, higher temperatures and rising sea levels. Barkha’s favorite childhood picnic spot on the beach is now perpetually under water.

And just three months ago, Fiji was rattled by Cyclone Winston, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere. Dozens died, and thousands lost their homes. Barkha’s parents were caught in the floods while buying supplies.

New track for converting waste heat to electricity

Read the full story from Chalmers University of Technology.

Huge amounts of energy are lost every day in the form of waste heat. Now an interdisciplinary project at Chalmers has found that a special class of material – high-entropy alloys – can open the door to efficient heat recycling.

Boosting energy efficiency is an important element of the transition to a sustainable energy system. There are big savings to be made. For example, less than half the energy content of diesel is actually used to power a diesel truck. The rest is lost, mostly in the form of heat. Many industrial processes also deal with the problem of excessive waste heat.

That’s why many research teams are working to develop thermoelectric materials – materials that can convert waste heat into energy. But it’s no easy task. To efficiently convert heat to electricity, the materials need to be good at conducting electricity, but at the same time poor at conducting heat. For many materials, that’s a contradiction in terms.

National Endowment for the Humanities funding available for radio, TV, and film projects

Proposals due August 10, 2016.

The Media Projects program supports film, television, and radio projects that engage general audiences with humanities ideas in creative and appealing ways. All projects must be grounded in humanities scholarship in disciplines such as history, art history, film studies, literature, drama, religious studies, philosophy, or anthropology. Projects must also demonstrate an approach that is thoughtful, balanced, and analytical (rather than celebratory). The approach to the subject matter must go beyond the mere presentation of factual information to explore its larger significance and stimulate critical thinking.

NEH is a national funding agency, so the projects that we support must demonstrate the potential to attract a broad general audience. Film and television projects may be single programs or a series addressing significant figures, events, or ideas. Programs must be intended for national distribution, via traditional carriage or online distribution. The Division of Public Programs welcomes projects that range in length from short-form to broadcast-length video.

The Division of Public Programs also encourages film and television projects that examine international themes and subjects in the humanities, in order to spark Americans’ engagement with the broader world beyond the United States. These projects should demonstrate international collaboration by enlisting scholars based both in the United States and abroad, and/or by working with an international media team. The collaborations should bring broad cross-cultural perspectives to the proposed topics and should be intended primarily for U.S. public audiences.

Radio projects, including podcasts, may involve single programs, limited series, or segments within an ongoing series. They may also develop new humanities content to augment existing radio programming or add greater historical background or humanities analysis to the subjects of existing programs.

Programs receiving production grants may be either broadcast or disseminated online. They may be intended for national or regional distribution. NEH encourages projects that engage public audiences through multiple formats in the exploration of humanities ideas. Proposed projects might include complementary components to a film, television, or radio project. These components should deepen the audience’s understanding of the subject in a supplementary manner: for example, book/film discussion programs, supplemental educational websites, or museum exhibitions.

Development Grants enable media producers to collaborate with scholars to develop humanities content and to prepare programs for production. Grants should result in a script and may also yield a detailed plan for outreach and public engagement in collaboration with a partner organization or organizations.

Production Grants support the production and distribution of films, television programs, and radio programs that promise to engage a broad public audience.

New atlas shows extent of light pollution – what does it mean for our health?

Read the full story at The Conversation.

The new comprehensive World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness has just appeared in Science Advances. Written by a group of distinguished scientists lead by Italian Fabio Falchi, it is a noteworthy accomplishment. The first atlas appeared in 2001, but was based on a less precise satellite measurement system. This latest atlas provides far more clarity.

The atlas measures what is called artificial sky glow – reflected light scatter in the atmosphere from the electric lighting below – across the world. Sky glow results from light pollution, or the excess of electric light during the night. But “light pollution” is not like “water pollution” which is pollution of water. It’s actually “night pollution by electric light.”

So what is the magnitude of the problem?

Federal Financing Programs for Clean Energy

Federal Financing Programs for Clean Energy is a resource guide to U.S. government programs that support the development of clean energy projects in the U.S. and abroad. Featuring programs from ten agencies, the guide includes summaries and case studies that can benefit private sector partners in finding capital for energy efficiency and clean energy projects.

Now in its third edition, the guide includes financing programs for both domestic and international projects. For every program listed, the guide identifies additional contact information to answer questions and provide additional direction. The guide includes programs from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, State, Transportation and Treasury, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Small Business Administration.

Spring Is Swarm Season, When Beekeepers Are On The Hunt For New Hives

Read the full story from NPR.

Late spring is swarm season — the time of year when bees reproduce and find new places to build hives. Swarms of bees leave the nest and zoom through the air, hovering on trees, fences and houses, searching for a new home.

While a new neighborhood beehive can be stressful for homeowners, it’s an exciting time for beekeepers, who see it as an opportunity.

Recently, these vital pollinators have been under threat. U.S. beekeepers report losing about a third of their honeybee colonies each year in recent years. And North America’s 4,000 other species of native bees are also declining.

So, when a swarm is announced on the Bee Town Bee Club Facebook page in Bloomington, Ind., beekeepers race to call dibs.

Improving Household Hazardous Waste Collection Options for East Central Illinois

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center’s latest technical report, Improving Household Hazardous Waste Collection Options for East Central Illinois, assesses the current state of household hazardous waste (HHW) collection activity in Illinois and reviews the options in Champaign County as of January 2013.

It summarizes applicable federal and state regulations, best management practices related to HHW collection, and challenges associated with HHW collection in Champaign County. It also compares the costs of one-day collection events in Illinois and the costs associated with start-up, operation, and processing of permanent HHW collection facilities. Finally, it includes a preliminary “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats” (SWOT) assessment for three potential options for Champaign County.

Supreme Court rejects new challenge to Obama air pollution rule

Read the full story in The Hill.

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider a third request from a group of states to overturn a sweeping Obama administration air pollution rule.

The states, led by Michigan and joined by numerous business and energy interests, told the court that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2012 mercury and air toxics standards rule for coal-fired power plants is illegal, and a lower court erred when it refused to overturn the regulation.

The Supreme Court ruled nearly a year ago that the EPA did not properly consider costs before writing the regulation. But it did not overturn the rule, instead kicking it down to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which decided in December to let the EPA keep enforcing the measure.

The mercury rule is separate from the Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon dioxide emissions and is currently on hold due to a Supreme Court stay.

Justices, as usual, did not say why they declined to take the mercury rule appeal.

The Supreme Court’s Monday decision is a major victory for the Obama administration and environmentalists.

House votes to condemn carbon tax

Read the full story in The Hill.

The House voted Friday to condemn a potential carbon tax, closing the door on a climate change policy popular in some conservative circles.

Lawmakers passed, by a 237-163 vote, a GOP-backed resolution listing pitfalls from a tax on carbon dioxide emissions and concluding that such a policy “would be detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States.”

Six Democrats voted with the GOP for the resolution. No Republicans dissented.

The non-binding resolution is first and foremost a defensive measure, to get lawmakers on the record against a carbon tax, in case it’s part of a future proposal, perhaps part of a comprehensive tax reform package or in return for repealing certain regulations.

President Obama has not proposed a carbon tax, and while many Democrats support the idea, it has not taken hold as a serious legislative proposal in years.

Nonetheless, Republicans spoke as if they were opposing a specific policy that has a significant chance of passage.

Climate change mitigation: Turning CO2 into rock

Read the full story from AAAS.

An international team of scientists have found a potentially viable way to remove anthropogenic (caused or influenced by humans) carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere – turn it into rock.

The study, published today in Science, has shown for the first time that the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) can be permanently and rapidly locked away from the atmosphere, by injecting it into volcanic bedrock. The CO2 reacts with the surrounding rock, forming environmentally benign minerals.