Daily TIPs: Carbon Bootprints, Wireless Smut, Cheaper Batteries, & More

7/29/08

Smaller Carbon Bootprint Could Save Soldiers’ Lives, Says Army

The Army is looking for ways to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions, with a goal of reducing them by 30 percent by 2015. Reuters reports that steps to reduce the so-called “carbon bootprint” would not only reduce the Army’s contribution to global warming, it might also reduce risks to soldiers. Soldiers are at risk from roadside bombs and other attacks while they’re escorting supply trucks through the countryside; reducing the number of trucks transporting fuel means cutting the number of soldiers at risk.

Scientists Worry that Back-and-Forth Confuses Public About Warming

Some climatologists are concerned that the natural progress of science, in which studies report new results, then are challenged by even newer studies, could be confusing the public about global warming. Part of the problem, according to the New York Times, is that it’s difficult to clearly communicate scientific uncertainty through the media. Some experts say scientists have to be more careful about what they say to the public.

Interest Groups Oppose Smut-free Network

A plan by the Federal Communications Commission to create a free, national wireless broadband service is being criticized by 22 groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Booksellers Association, and People for the American Way. Ars Technica reports that the groups are opposed to the FCC’s plan to filter from this network images and text that could be construed as pornographic or obscene. The groups contend the filtering plan is too broad and would violate the First Amendment.

Cheaper Batteries Could Boost Hybrids

A researcher at the University of Texas at Austin has come up with a cheaper way to manufacture lithium iron phosphate batteries. Because iron is less expensive than the cobalt used in standard lithium ion batteries, such devices have the potential to be cheaper, which is important to makers of hybrid vehicles. Technology Review tells us that Arumugam Manthiram figured out he could produce lithium iron phosphate more quickly and at lower temperatures by using microwaves, potentially cutting the manufacturing costs of such batteries.

Internet Can Be Upgraded Privately, FCC Member Says

The Federal Communications Commission has been looking for ways to deal with the problem of peer-to-peer file sharing eating up much of the Internet’s bandwidth. But Robert McDowell, a member of the FCC, argues in an essay in the Washington Post that the government should leave the issue to unregulated groups of engineers. Those groups, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force, have done a good job of solving previous issues that threatened the viability of the Net, he says.

Brooking Institution Calls for Infrastructure Strategy

The United States needs a national strategy for promoting infrastructure, whether that means bridges or broadband, says a group formed by the Brookings Institution. The Institution has released six policy papers covering the group’s findings. Among their discussions: making better use of the wireless spectrum, bringing broadband to underserved communities, and coping with traffic congestion on the roads.

Startup Offers Home Energy Monitoring

A Boulder, CO, company, Tendril Networks, is developing a system to tell homeowners how much energy they are using. CNET News says the devices work with utilities’ usage monitoring systems and will eventually be able to network to other devices in the home. The aim is to not only tell consumers how much energy they are using in real-time, but how they can make adjustments to save money.

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