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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Science Scene

Environmental Protection Agency designates carbon dioxide a pollutant

The EPA formally declared on Friday that carbon dioxide as well as five other heat-trapping gases are pollutants endangering public health and welfare.

The move, which has been anticipated since the election of President Barack Obama, begins a 60-day comment period that must be completed before any regulations can be set in motion.

The EPA called the science supporting its decisioncompelling and overwhelming. Opponents argue that regulating carbon dioxide admissions will eliminate jobs and increase energy costs.

In 2007 the United States Supreme Court ordered for the agency to determine if heat-trapping gases pose a threat to public health and the environment in Massachusetts v. EPA.

Despite agency scientists nearly unanimous stance that the gases were dangerous, the Bush administration declined to take action.

The EPA has not yet laid out any specific targets or new requirements to reduce heat-trapping gases, but is expected to do so following the comment period.


(Source: nytimes.com)


Study finds sex ratio varies by latitude

While no one knows exactly why more boys are born than girls worldwide, a new study out of the University of Georgia has found that proximity to the equator could be a factor. Data suggests that populations living closer to the equator have a smaller sex ratio difference.

Many factors are thought to influence the skewed sex ratio – for example war, economic stress, age, diet and selective abortion all correlate with difference – but determining the effect of a single variable is nearly impossible.

Latitude, however, is a phenomenon not affected by socioeconomic factors. By comparing the sex ratios of 202 capital cities in relation to their latitude, political stability, economic status, annual variations in day length and temperature, as well as other socioeconomic indicators, researchers were able to determine that the effect of latitude held constant across all lifestyle and status variations.

The correlation even persisted after removing data from Asian and African countries that have been known to abort or kill baby girls.

Possible explanations for the phenomenon are all speculative. It could be that there is some benefit to having more girls in warmer regions or genetic and racial differences. Researchers say its possible that humans are responding to factors programmed into them long ago, before cultural and socioeconomic factors.


(Source: nytimes.com)


Bacteria discovered under Antarctic glacier

Scientists from Montana State University and Harvard University have discovered a rare bacteria living underneath an Antarctic glacier.

The colony was discovered when researchers were investigating the flow of blood-red water from underneath the glacier. The flows, termedBlood Falls, have been a long-standing intrigue to scientists. The researchers happened to discover the bacteria when determining that the blood color comes from iron compounds.

The bacteria have survived for millions of years on sulfur and iron compounds. Scientists say it is possible that because the colony has been isolated for so long, it could provide insight into how life could exist on other planets and under ice.


(Source: Associated Press)


ALYSOUN BONDE compiles Science Scene and can be reached at campus@theaggie.org. 


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