NYU faculty senate recommends ending fossil fuel investments

By: Mercedes Pliego

ChimneysClimate6

New York University’s faculty senate voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the university “divest” and strip its $3.5 billion endowment of investments of major fossil fuel stocks in order to make a statement about the dangers of global warming.

If the university’s Board of Trustees signs off, NYU will join more than a dozen universities across the country — from Stanford to Syracuse — that have responded to pressure from environmental activists and promised to reduce or end their fossil fuel investments.

Some universities, such as Harvard, see divestment as hypocritical because nearly everything students use – from plastic bottles to air conditioning and computers – are the products of fossil fuels.

The NYU faculty vote came despite a recommendation by an NYU faculty working group studying the issue not to divest for financial reasons.

Source: foxnews.com

Ancient Collision Made Nepal Earthquake Inevitable

By Emily Himes

India, on a sliding plate of the Earth, crashed into Asia 25 million years ago. The two are still pushing into each other around 1.5-2 inches a year, which has created the Himalayan mountains. The high death toll in Nepal over the weekend could not be avoided due to the location of Nepal, combined with the flimsy and week buildings.

There have been large earthquakes in the area before, such as the 1934 one that killed 10,000. The earthquake over the weekend took place northwest of the Nepal capital Katmandu, with a 7.8 magnitude. According to Dr. Bilham, a professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado, said that the earthquake “translated the whole city southward by 10 feet.”

Source: New York Times

California begins to take tougher approach to curtail water use

By: Mercedes Pliego California rain 0409.jpg

In California state officials weigh drastic measures to deal with a devastating drought. State regulators are naming and shaming local water departments that have let water wasters slide and are forcing agencies to slash water use by as much as a third. The regulators claim it is necessary as the state’s reservoirs and snow packs reach record lows.

The drought does not have a clear end in sight, but it is up to hundreds of local agencies, from small irrigation districts to the city of Los Angeles, to make sure California has enough water to power through it. In  response, state regulators have drafted plans that show how much each community has conserved and assign mandatory water reduction targets. A third of the water departments must make the deepest 35 percent cuts because they have high water use. The city of Los Angeles will have to cut its water use by a fifth. Those who do not meet the targets or take steps to conserve face $10,000-per-day fines if they do not adopt new water restrictions or change rates as demanded by the state. Source: www.foxnews.com

Scientists cool buildings by beaming heat into space

By: Emily Himes

StanfordCooling.jpg

Stanford researchers have discovered a new way to keep buildings cool by using a “new super-thin material that can beam indoor heat into space.” Using outer space, which averages at -454.81 degrees Farenheit, to cool buildings is a new and exciting idea. Stanford professor Shanhui Fan and his team developed a material that emits infared waves, and cools itself down afterwards when you send the heat outside. It consists of several layers of silicon dioxide and halfnium dioxide that is spread on top of a sheet of silver, creating a panel 1.8 microns thick. This works well as a mirror that reflects 97% of sunlight and radiates heat into outer space. Fan put this into simple words, “It reflects sunlight, and it emits, very strongly, thermal radiation.” These panels would stay on top of a building to make it colder, which also decreases the cost of its electric bill.

Source: Fox News

Aral Sea Looks Like a Painting from Space

By: Maria Vargas

The Aral Sea is shrinking due to it drying up, replacing what used to be the blue water with a white coat. However, radar satellite detect the sea’s shores as a colorful abstract painting. 50 years ago, the Aral Sea lost its two rivers to Soviet irrigation projects and ever since 1960, it lost 90% of its volume. What once was the world’s fourth largest inland body of water, is now an artistic painting from space. In response to the sea depleting, local business and fisheries have suffered. Besides becoming more salty, the remnants of the Aral Sea is filled with pollution from agricultural fertilizer and pesticides. Such problems create dust storms making it a public health threat.

Aral Sea in RadarSource: http://www.livescience.com/50292-aral-sea-radar-image.html

Deadly Frog Fungus Pops Up in Madagascar, An amphibian Wonderland

By: Mercedes Pliego

Madagascar is home to a mind-boggling array of frogs, 99 percent of which are found nowhere else in the world. But a recent study finds out that the island nation now also hosts the greatest threat to amphibian biodiversity in modern times—the chytrid fungus.

As many as 7 percent of the world’s amphibian species live only in Madagascar. Chytrid is responsible for the decline or extinction of hundreds of amphibian species around the world. One forest in Panama lost 30 amphibian species to the fungus in about a year, according to a 2010 study.

A new study in the journal Scientific Reports finds that chytrid is present in multiple Madagascar frog species. Bletz and colleagues examined skin swabs and tissue samples from 4,155 amphibians tested for chytrid from 2005 to 2014. They found, to their surprise, that the fungus began to appear on frogs starting in 2010.

Picture of a frog with a fungus in Madagascar

A Williams’ bright-eyed frog clings to vegetation at the Ankaratra Massif in east-central Madagascar. The area is one of several locations where researchers have found the chytrid fungus.

Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/0n2/150226-chytrid-fungus-frogs-madagascar-animals-science/

Baby boom: Watchers spot fourth newborn among endangered Puget Sound Orcas; population hits 81

By: Emily Himes

The fourth baby Orca whale in the waters near Washington state born this winter has been documented, and this is important because they are endangered. The whales are endangered because of pollution and lack of food. The newborn was first spotted Monday, swimming with its pod. This makes the Orca population 81, but they are still endangered. According to Kevin Balcom, the senior scientist with the Center for Whale Research, this whale looked “quite plump and healthy.” Sadly, the survival rate for the baby whales is only around 50%,but despite this reality, researchers are staying optimistic.

Source: Fox News