Peak Gold? Cleaner Cookstoves? Bacteria to the Rescue!

March 11, 2012 at 12:11 am Leave a comment

Some recent Science articles that caught my eye:

  • A Quick (Partial) Fix for an Ailing Atmosphere (13 Jan 2012, p. 156 news article + p. 183 research article) – Airborne soot and methane are removed from the atmosphere relatively quickly so reducing their emissions would have quick pay-offs for health and climate change. The news article describes what kinds of steps are necessary to reduce soot and methane.
  • Genetically Engineered Bacteria Could Help Fight Climate Change (2 Mar 2012, p. 1026 Findings) – Many scientists are investigating the conversion of CO2 into minerals, like calcium carbonate, as a way of reducing atmospheric CO2 levels. A solution containing bacterium Caluobacter vibrioides with a surface modified to attract Ca+2 ions was found to accelerate mineralization.
  • Is the World Tottering on the Precipice of Peak Gold? (2 Mar 2012, p. 1038 News Focus + Podcast Interview) Gold is primarily used for jewelry, not electronics and demand for gold has been rising steadily, but don’t think about heading into the mountains with your donkey and pickax. Most gold is extracted from rock by treating the crushed rock with a poisonous cyanide reagent. This has made gold mining profitable (for mine owners, not for mine neighbors) even when the harvest is less than one gram of gold per ton of rock. Experts are worried, however, that gold is getting even harder to find. The average gold content of ore has falled by a factor of 4 since 1979.
  • The Geological Record of Ocean Acidification (2 Mar 2012, p. 1058 Review) Even though CO2 emissions have been rising steadily for decades, oceans have been able to hold down atmospheric CO2 levels somewhat by absorbing the gas and converting it into dissolved carbonic acid. Unfortunately, more dissolved acid means lower ocean pH and this could spell trouble for organisms like shellfish and coral that use CaCO3 to build their shells. This article reviews what is known about ocean pH levels over the past 300 million years (Figure 2 offers a beautiful image of the ocean’s carbon cycle). update Mar 11: Recent articles in the NY Times have reacted to this study. Read Mar 9 editorial “Changing the Chemistry of Earth’s Oceans”.  Read Mar 2 Green Blog “Pace of Ocean Acidification Has No Parallel in 300 Million Years, Paper Says”.

Entry filed under: In the News.

CAMEL joins our Blogroll Sherwood Rowland (1927-2012), Remembering Fukushima, and Your Next Career: Environmental Toxicologist

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