Day: February 15, 2018

Bitcoin energy use in Iceland set to overtake homes, says local firm

Read the full story from the BBC.

Iceland is facing an “exponential” rise in Bitcoin mining that is gobbling up power resources, a spokesman for Icelandic energy firm HS Orka has said.

No-Till Farmers’ Push for Healthy Soils Ignites a Movement in the Plains

Read the full story at Civil Eats.

No-till farming started as a way to keep costs down for conventional farmers in danger of losing their land. Now it has become a subculture and a way of life for outsider farmers all over rural America.

In Defense of Biodiversity: Why Protecting Species from Extinction Matters

Read the full story from e360.

A number of biologists have recently made the argument that extinction is part of evolution and that saving species need not be a conservation priority. But this revisionist thinking shows a lack of understanding of evolution and an ignorance of the natural world.

OSTI Launches OSTI.GOV

The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) has taken another step in improving citizen and researcher access to DOE research results.  Specifically, OSTI has redesigned its homepage and website so that OSTI.GOV now serves as the search tool for DOE’s research and development (R&D) results, as well as OSTI’s organizational hub.

DOE conducts more than $12 billion a year in R&D to help keep the U.S. at the leading edge of discovery and provide the science and technology to fuel innovation and long-term economic growth.  From DOE’s origins in the Atomic Energy Commission, these investments have resulted in troves of scientific and technical information (STI), and OSTI maximizes their reach and impact by fulfilling agency-wide responsibilities to collect, preserve, and disseminate STI emanating from DOE R&D activities at DOE national laboratories and facilities and at universities and other institutions nationwide.  OSTI’s mission is to advance science and sustain technological creativity by making R&D findings available to DOE researchers and the public.

“OSTI.GOV is a consolidation of OSTI’s homepage and our primary search tool for DOE-funded science, technology, and engineering research results, a streamlining intended to enhance the user experience and make it easier to manage performance and overall website quality,” said OSTI Director Brian Hitson regarding the latest improvement in electronic delivery of R&D information.  “OSTI.GOV was created to simplify the user search interface, drive search of DOE STI through the homepage, help to unify OSTI’s product environment, and provide intuitive navigation beyond search functionality.”

The search tool feature of OSTI.GOV, formerly called SciTech Connect, makes available over 70 years of research results from DOE and its predecessor agencies, including journal articles/accepted manuscripts and related metadata; technical reports;  scientific research datasets and collections; scientific software; conference and workshop papers; books and theses; patents; and multimedia.  OSTI.GOV contains nearly 3 million total records, including citations to 1.5 million journal articles, 1 million of which have digital object identifiers linking to full-text articles on publishers’ websites.  It also has more than 445,000 full-text DOE-funded documents.  OSTI.GOV provides access to this DOE STI by offering easy-to-use search capabilities and customization options. For the DOE community, additional citation information is available to help researchers evaluate article impact and find related research.

In addition, OSTI.GOV provides information about OSTI and its other search tools, services, and operations.  The website includes information about OSTI’s organization, leadership, and strategic plan; policy and guidance regarding the management and submission of DOE-funded R&D research results to OSTI; technical support for submitting research results using OSTI’s corporate submission tool, E-Link; resources about data services and developer tools, including the DOE Data ID Service, API documentation, OAI services, and DOE MARC records; and news about OSTI and its search tools and services.

In consultation with researchers across the DOE complex, OSTI works continuously to enhance access to ever growing DOE R&D results.  The redesign of OSTI.GOV is part of OSTI’s ongoing efforts to make science more open, efficient, and reproducible – and to better serve the needs of DOE-funded scientists and the American public.

As federal efforts lag, states are picking up the slack on appliance standards

Read the full post from ACEEE.

With a little more than a year elapsed since President Trump’s inauguration, progress on federal appliance standards has slowed to a crawl, while state efforts are picking up steam. Although the administration affirmed or completed several important Obama-era standards during its first months, others remain in limbo. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has now missed multiple legal deadlines and, in December, released a regulatory plan that puts the government on track to miss many more in 2018 and beyond. State policy makers have not wasted any time stepping into the breach; this year is already shaping up as a big one for state standards.

Trump budget would undo gains from conservation programs on farms and ranches

Read the full story in The Conversation.

Members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are starting to shape the 2018 farm bill – a comprehensive food and agriculture bill passed about every five years. Most observers associate the farm bill with food policy, but its conservation section is the single largest source of funding for soil, water and wildlife conservation on private land in the United States.

Farm bill conservation programs provide about US$5.8 billion yearly for activities such as restoring wildlife habitat and using sustainable farming practices. These programs affect about 50 million acres of land nationwide. They conserve millions of acres of wildlife habitat and provide ecological services such as improved water quality, erosion control and enhanced soil health that are worth billions of dollars.

Sixty percent of U.S. land is privately owned, and it contains a disproportionately high shareof habitat for threatened and endangered species. This means that to conserve land and wildlife, it is critical to work with private landowners, particularly farmers and ranchers. Farm bill conservation programs provide cost shares, financial incentives and technical assistance to farmers and other private landowners who voluntarily undertake conservation efforts on their land.

President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget request would slash funding for farm bill conservation programs by about $13 billion over 10 years, on top of cuts already sustained in the 2014 farm bill. In a recent study, we found that it is highly uncertain whether the benefits these programs have produced will be maintained if they are cut further.

Discarded Christmas trees a weapon against Asian carp

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

Canada’s Royal Botanical Gardens sit near the western end of Lake Ontario, just a short drive from the U.S. border. When the weather is warm, visitors come to see acres of gardens with roses, lilacs and other collections in bloom.

In the winter, it’s much quieter. But scientists stay busy, protecting wetlands from destructive carp. And they’re using an unusual weapon: Christmas trees.

Cover crops in nitrogen’s circle of life

Read the full story at Science Daily.

A circle of life-and nitrogen-is playing out in farms across the United States. And researchers are trying to get the timing right. The goal is to time nutrient release from cover crops to better match the nutrient needs of specific cash crops.

Minneapolis first ‘perc-free’ city in the nation

Minneapolis became the first city in the nation to go entirely “perc-free” as the last dry cleaner switched over to a safer process. With help from the City of Minneapolis, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, East Isles Resident Association and Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association, Osman Cleaners switched its machines over from using perchloroethylene – also called “perc” – to a process using clean solvents safer for employees, neighbors and customers. In less than six years since the City’s cost-sharing program began, Minneapolis has helped the last nine dry cleaners in the city using perchloroethylene replace their equipment to make the switch.

Perchloroethylene is the main chemical solvent used in dry cleaning. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies perchloroethylene as a “likely carcinogen”; it also has the potential to damage the kidneys, liver, immune system and blood system, and affect reproduction and fetal development. A 2015 Minneapolis Health Department study detected 99 occasions of perchloroethylene above levels that are considered health risks over a long period of time in outdoor, ambient air in Minneapolis.

Financial assistance from the neighborhood groups made this and other cost-prohibitive projects possible for small businesses and also laid groundwork for more healthy City-neighborhood partnerships.

The funds for the program come from pollution control fees that businesses pay to the City. Find more information about the City’s green business cost-sharing programs here.

Can There Be Equity in the Bike Lane?

Read the full story at Stateline.

Bike sharing may be the ultimate symbol of gentrification, the province of avocado-toast loving, espresso-swilling — and mostly white — millennials.

But some cities are taking measures to combat that, by making it easier for low-income riders and those without a credit card or smartphone to take a two-wheeler for a spin.

They’re calling it bike equity, and to achieve it, cities are trying a number of things: steeply discounted memberships for food stamp recipients; bike-riding classes; pay stations that accept cash; and recruiting riders from underserved neighborhoods.

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