Daily TIPs: Hydrogen an Airy Dream, Is Al Gore Nuts?, Google Bad for Science, & More

7/18/08

Study Predicts Few Hydrogen Cars Before 2023

It will be at least 15 years until hydrogen becomes a competitive fuel, and then only with substantial government and private investment, says a study from the National Research Council. According to Science News, the study found that cars driven by hydrogen fuel cells could be commercially available in a decade, but will be very expensive. At that point, the government would have to step in with subsidies to help build an infrastructure for distributing hydrogen.

EPA Sees Increased Health Risk in Global Warming

Global warming poses risks to both human health and the American way of life, the Environmental Protection Agency says in a new report. Reuters tells us that the EPA has been under fire for not dealing with the impact of climate change. Now its report predicts more heat-related deaths, heart and lung disease from exposure to ozone, and health problems related to hurricanes, extreme precipitation, and wildfires.

Blogger Asks, Are Gore’s Energy Goals Crazy?

Al Gore gave a speech this week calling for a “moon landing” type of project to meet all of America’s energy needs with renewable sources within 10 years. At CNET News, Neal Dikernan, a banker specializing in cleantech startups, asks, “Is Al Gore Nuts?” Though he supports Gore’s goals long-term, Dikernan says Gore’s projections are based on unrealistic assumptions about the maturity of alternative energy technologies.

Metering Broadband May Not Be a Good Idea

Internet service providers such as AT&T and Time Warner are considering plans where a customer pays for broadband access based on how many gigabytes she uses each month. But a writer at GigaOm argues that might not be smart business. If higher prices are discouraging users from downloading more content, he writes, content providers have less incentive to pay the same ISPs to make their content available online.

More Elderly Patients Get Latest Medical Treatments

The combination of a growing population of people older than 75 and new high-tech medical care is leading to more treatment for the very old. People in their 90s are now having hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery, heart valve replacements, and pacemaker implantations, despite a lack of research on the effects of such efforts, the New York Times reports. Now some healthcare experts are questioning whether this is a wise use of Medicare dollars and whether it actually helps some patients.

California Wants Buildings to be Greener

California issued new building standards this week that would reduce the energy used in buildings by 15 percent and cut the water used for landscaping by half. The Los Angeles Times reports that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the new standards. But environmentalists complained that the standards were heavily influenced by the construction industry and not as stringent as they could be.

Internet Research Undermines Science, Sociologist Says

Searching the Internet for scientific articles tends to push researchers towards more recent and more popular publications, cutting off scientists from older scholarship, says a University of Chicago sociologist. Wired reports that James Evans analyzed the pattern of citations of 34 million journal articles that went online between 1998 and 2005. His findings, published in Science, show that Internet searching is narrowing the scope of scientific research.

Solar Factories Headed to Asia

With the growing push for renewable energy, manufacturing solar panels could be an industrial boon for the United States. But the CEO of Applied Materials, an equipment maker in Santa Clara, CA, says the factories he’s selling to are being set up in Asia. The Wall Street Journal warns that the U.S. may be missing out on a chance to create manufacturing jobs.

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