How to (Try to) make it rain

redirect lightning

There are five current ways that humans can control the weather. First, is seeding the sky. Seeding the sky involves releasing a bunch of silver iodide into the sky which is done by flares attached to the wings of a plane. Once those silver iodide particles get in the clouds, they collide with supercooled water and form ice, which falls to the ground melting along the way. Another is China’s massive weather-modification program that includes 5,000 rocket launchers that fire particles into the clouds to draw rain. The third way is done by an Abu Dhabi company called Meteo Systems that used electrified umbrella shaped towers to send negatively charge particles into the air increasing the chance that supercooled droplets will collide with freezing nuclei, becoming rain.The fourth is by the French which uses hail cannons to save their fruit from storm damage. Every few seconds a chamber in the cannon fires a loud boom into the air which is said to break the ice before it reaches the ground, not much evidence supports it though. Another one redirects lightning by taking a long wire, tying one end to the ground and the other to a rocket launched into a storm. More recent research at the University of Arizona involves high intensity lasers redirecting lightning like this.

– Sean Sabogal –

Saving Salmon From Deadly Lice

The Pink Salmon population has been declining greatly due to sea lice. Although this concern has been prevalent for a while scientists are now finding that different doses on different species cause improved health. Wild Pink Salmon populations have been increasing and there is a positive outcome from the new temperatures. New anti-parasite treatments are being founder which also have caused an increase in population. The sea lice have become immune to these new chemicals and are now causing more problems. If we do not find a new treatment the salmon population could decrease greatly.

-Manny Portela

Naive fish: Easy targets for spear fishers

An Australian team of researchers has found that big fish that spent there early life in marine reserves are easy targets for spear fishers. There has been a large decline in responsible spear fishers and many of the fish that have gotten out of marine reserves are now being hunted. In the Philippine research it was found that fish that strayed out of their reserves do not get scared by spear fishers unlike normal fish. They studied how close a free diver could get to the fish before they would become frightened and it was found that the fish were literally catchable by hand. There is a large problem because locals hunt close to the barrier so that they may catch these straying fish and a large decline has occurred. It is important for us to remember the effects that we have on our marine wildlife and we must follow the local fishing guidelines if we want to keep many of our sea creature species from becoming extinct.

-Manny Portela

Arctic Sea Ice Vanishes — and the Oil Rigs Move In

This summer (2012), the sea ice caps that caps the Arctic Ocean melted to the lowest level since 1979, when satellites first started tracking the ice over the North Pole. By the end of August, the National Snow Ice and Data Center (NSIDC) reported that the Arctic ice had fallen to 1.54 million square miles. That is six times the size of Texas but it is still 45% less than the average it used to be in the 1980 and 1990s. The ice cap has been shrinking over the years due to the increase in temperature. Now some scientists belive the total volume of the Arctic ice is only a quarter of what it was 30 years ago. This shows how the ice caps have been melting faster than scientists had predicted. What is said to be the most immediate impact of climate change regarding the Arctic ice melting is the opening of new drilling territories for oil industries. According to the US Geological Survey, there are said to be more than 90 billion barrels of recoverable oil buried in the Arctic. Therefore, as climate changes, it becomes easier for oil companies to send their drilling ships to produce more oil for us to burn. As a society, we should protest this because we are melting all the ice caps and are killing habitats that live in the Arctic Sea. President Obama is working on trying to limit the drilling in the Arctic Ocean, but it is very hard to stop companies from drilling based on economic issues.


Marina Bryant

Genetically modified cow may hold answer for milk allergy

The article that I read was about a cloned cow that may be the answer to peoples milk allergies. Roughly 2% to 3% of all infants are allergic to cow’s milk, all though many of them outgrow this. Scientist believe that they have found an answer to this issue in the form of a special tailless cow in New Zealand. It is only still a calf and has been conceived through genetic modification and cloning. This cow is important because it produces milk without BLG – beta lactoglobulin, which is the cause of allergic reactions to dairy. The milk that it produces is also more nutritious because it has double the amount of milk protein called caseins. If this cow can be bred, it will be able provide milk for allergic children and adults. This experiment first started using mice by making them produce BLG which is found in cattle and sheep and then suppressed certain genes. They also injected cow cells with anti-BLG. While the first time was unsuccessful, the second time was except for the fact that the cow doesn’t have a tail. It will be a long time until this special milk will have the chance of hitting shelves because of public opinions and approval from the FDA. – Farida Amer

Invasive Grasses as Biofuel? Scientists Protest

This article elaborates on what seems to be a beneficial proposition. The Environmental Protection Agency recently allowed two species of invasive grasses, arundo donax and pennisetum purpureum to be potentially used for biofuel. In response, more than 200 scientists from across the nation have protested and expressed their concern at the EPA’s recent ruling. Scientists claim that the use of these grasses for biofuel could potentially exacerbate the problem and continue the spread of an invasive species that is already harming the environment. Invasive species currently cost the federal government $120 billion a year. Furthermore, many invasive species were introduced by the federal government as a potential solution to an environmental problem.

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Sarah Perez

Chapter 10

Horticultural Scientists Develop Slow-growing Grass

Did you know that 800 million gallons of fuel are used every single year by lawnmowers? It sure made me open my eyes and realize how bad this is for our environment. Lawnmowers produce a scary amount of air pollution, “Research shows a standard gas-powered lawn mower produces as much air pollution as 43 new cars each being driven 12 thousand miles.” In order to help our environment, horticulturist Russel Nagata has bred a new type of grass that grows half the rate of standard grass.This grass named Captiva will cut the use of fuel in half every year, as well as the air pollution. Another good aspect of this new grass is that it repels cinch bugs which are also a huge pest that live in grass. The next step is for people to take action and start using Captiva Grass.

Taylor Marks