eco tech

Quick Fixes for Climate Change

Seeding the seas or the skies to dial down the planet's temperature

Dear EarthTalk: What are some of the leading proposed technological fixes for staving off global warming, and how feasible are they? -- James Harris, Columbus, Ohio

While most of the world fixates on how to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases we emit into the atmosphere, scientists and engineers around the world are busy working on various "geo-engineering" technologies -- many of which are highly theoretical -- to mitigate global warming and its effects. Many scientists oppose using new technology to fix problems created by old technology, but others view it as a quick and relatively inexpensive way to solve humankind's most vexing environmental problem.

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Fly? Or Drive?

Getting there quickly and cleanly

Dear EarthTalk: How can I determine if it is more eco-friendly to fly or drive somewhere? -- Christine Matthews, Washington, DC

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Plug In Your Prius

A number of companies want to help you convert your hybrid

Dear EarthTalk: I understand that Toyota is planning to sell a plug-in Prius that will greatly improve the car's already impressive fuel efficiency. Will I be able to convert my older (2006) Prius to make it a plug-in hybrid vehicle? -- Albert D. Rich, Kamuela, Hawaii

Toyota is readying a limited run of a plug-in Prius, which can average 100 miles per gallon, for use in government and commercial fleets starting in 2009. Toyota will monitor how these cars, which will have high-efficiency lithium-ion batteries that haven't been fully tested yet, will hold up under everyday use.

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Tracking Your Footprint

GPS-based mobile software promises to measure your planetary impact

Soon tracking your carbon footprint will require nothing more than a software installation on your cell phone. Developed at start-up company Carbon Hero in London, the software Carbon Diem takes advantage of global positioning satellites (GPS) to figure out automatically what transportation you are using, and, based on that deduction, calculate your up-to-the-minute carbon impact.

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Gaseous State

Scientists measure methane at the source

In a lush pasture near Buenos Aires, this cow and its compatriots are digesting important information: how much methane—a greenhouse gas 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide—is released by the country’s 55 million bovines. Researchers from Argentina's National Institute of Agricultural Technology connected inflatable tanks to the cows’ first stomach, where methane is made, through a small hole between their ribs.

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Ecologically Sound Explosives

Researchers are developing eco-friendly ways to blow stuff up

Who would think to make explosives more eco-friendly? After all, if enough explosives are used, one may argue, there won't be any environment left to be friendly to. But a team of scientists in California are trying to keep the environment safe even while producing a material that helps blow it up.

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What's Next For Outdoor Adventurers

"Writer, photographer, adventurer" Berne Broudy explores the latest in outdoors-tech innovations

Eco-friendly tent poles, retracting rudders, nano-fabrics, kinetic-core harnesses; PopSci takes a look at all the future tech you need to rough it. Check out the exclusive photo tour.

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EarthTalk: Going Solar

A buyer's guide to harnessing the energy of the sun

Dear EarthTalk: I am considering solar panels for my roof to provide heat for my hot water and possibly to do more than that. Are there some kinds of solar panels that are better than others? How do I find a knowledgeable installer? --Elise, Watertown, MA

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We're Going to Live in the Trees

Projects are underway to create civic amenities shaped from air-grown trees

The ultimate in green living is almost here. Think bus shelters, street lamps, and even houses -- all grown from trees. The process of shaping living trees to create objects, referred to as arborsculpture and pooktre, is well known among hobbyists (a simple Web search shows plenty of results for the art form). Now, researchers at Israel's Tel Aviv University are teaming up with eco-living company Plantware to create commercial structures on a larger scale.

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