Sunday, June 12, 2011

Are We Heading To A Mass Extension?

The bad news is that our dear planet might be heading towards a mass extinction, where at least 75% of the life on earth will be gone.
The good news is the chances of it happening are pretty low for at least three more centuries.
Scientists writing in the journal Nature are suggesting that we might be on the brink of a massive extinction, the kind of which has only been seen only five times in 540 million years.
“If you look only at the critically endangered mammals–those where the risk of extinction is at least 50 percent within three of their generations & assume that their time will run out and they will be extinct in 1,000 years, that puts us clearly outside any range of normal and tells us that we are moving into the mass extinction realm,” said Anthony Barnosky, an integrative biologist at the University of California at Berkeley.
Who is responsible for this? Possibly we.
“A modern global mass extinction is a largely unaddressed hazard of climate change and human activities,” H. Richard Lane of the National Science Foundation said.
According to Barnosky, if the species that are now considered critically endangered, endangered & vulnerable actually went extinct, and that rate of extinction continued, the sixth mass extinction could arrive in three to twenty-two centuries.
However, this is not a very solid thing and according to the researchers we still have enough time to rescue these species. For this we're gonna have to deal with threats of storms, destruction of habitat, disease and global warming.
Last time such thing ever happened was 65 million years ago when that meteor fell into whats now Yucatan, causing the massive die-off.
Arctic polar bears are often symbolized as species facing threats because of their icy habitat that is melting fast.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Environment Friendly Construction Material

Civil engineers at Purdue University are on working on a low cost and lightweight mixture for road and bridge building. Its made up of shredded tires & sand, and it is applicable for the regions of roads and bridges that get the weight & pressure, particularly the areas that are built above soft, weak soil deposits. It can also be applied as backfill behind retaining walls and to increase the strength of slopes prone to landslides etc.
As per 2007 EPA report, 7.5 million tons of rubber ends up as waste every year, most of it comes from vehicle tires. And approximately just 35 percent of tires are recycled. The Indiana Department of Transportation has used this new compound on nine different projects so far & 1.1 million tires have been utilized, thus saving $1.2 million.
Most importantly, this mixture is very easily compacted when compared to other materials, it uses far less energy. Another factor contributing to its cost efficiency.