UNC Program Promotes Energy Awareness Among Local HS StudentsJuly 28, 2014 at 7:14 am
This week the Institute is hosting 28 local high school students who will spend a week on the campus of UNC exploring topics related to current energy use, climate change, alternative energy and sustainability as part of the Climate Leadership and Energy Awareness Program (Climate LEAP).
Soil Part I: Seaweed FertilizerJuly 27, 2014 at 8:22 pm
I am frequently drawn to write columns about soil, due to its vital importance as a national resource as well as the fact that we treat it so poorly. In this column, I will weave together some of the points I have made in the past and also explain why we should consider using seaweed-based fertilizers.
First, let’s talk about soil. An ideal soil has approximately 50% of its volume filled with solids and the other 50% with water and air. Ninety percent of the solids should be minerals, basically eroded rocks, and 10% should be organic matter such as decaying leaves. The spaces between the solids accommodate water and allow air to reach plant roots, a vital step in plant growth. Healthy soil is the most biologically productive environment on Earth. A single gram of soil can contain up to a billion organisms, representing over a thousand species.
Chikungunya Is Coming Part IIJuly 20, 2014 at 6:37 pm
Despite the fact that it has been clear for a long time that chikungunya would eventually reach the U.S., we have not been preparing in a meaningful way. In particular, we have not created a vaccine nor have we been trying very hard to do so. A vaccine for chikungunya would come from either government labs or the pharmaceutical industry. Government health research has been hampered for the last several decades due to funding cuts, and developing new vaccines is not viewed as sufficiently profitable by the shareholder-value driven pharmaceutical industry. As a result, we are about to be caught with our pants down.
Chikungunya Is Coming: Part IJuly 13, 2014 at 8:44 pm
I have some troubling news to share with you. If not this year, then next, the United States is almost certain to experience an epidemic from a disease of which you may not have heard, chikungunya virus. Before I explain why I feel so confident in this prediction, let me give you some background on […]
Hello, ArthurJuly 6, 2014 at 8:13 pm
When it is hot in the Pacific, it’s too windy in the Atlantic for many hurricanes to form – which explains why this year’s Atlantic hurricane season is off to a slow start. As I write this, the first named storm of the year, Arthur, has formed off of the Florida coast and is headed […]
Brazil and BBQJune 29, 2014 at 9:19 pm
I did not publish a column for the last two weeks because my family and I were in Brazil attending a few World Cup Soccer games. For this week’s column, I want to share a few non-science thoughts about our Brazil experience, and also tell you about a safety incident that occurred at my house […]
Fracking Gag Rule Part III: WastewaterJune 8, 2014 at 4:07 pm
This is the conclusion of a three-part series inspired by the North Carolina General Assembly’s decision to make the disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking a crime here in the Tar Heel State, purportedly to protect the trade secrets of the drilling companies. In Part I, I reviewed why I do not believe that […]
Fracking Gag Rule Part II: The Real ReasonsJune 1, 2014 at 9:14 pm
As I write this column, Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) are fast tracking a new law which makes it a Class 1 felony to disclose the identities of chemicals used in fracking here in the Tar Heel State. The purported rationale for this law is that identities of these chemicals are closely […]
Fracking Gag Rule Part I: Trade Secret?May 26, 2014 at 9:06 am
I was in the middle of writing a column about the unique benefits and properties of fertilizer made from seaweed when I got distracted by the North Carolina General Assembly. A Republican-led senate committee has proposed to make it a felony for a citizen to disclose the names of the chemicals used by drilling companies […]
Renewable Energy is Sort of Like the InternetMay 18, 2014 at 9:55 pm
I am often inspired to write a column when I feel that a science or technology topic has been covered incorrectly or incompletely in other media outlets. Lately, stories on renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, are getting on my nerves. To understand why, first I need to complain about the internet for […]