Science Briefs – March 15, 2011

Compiled by Kelsey Gobroski / Sun Star Reporter
March 15, 2011

Discovery grounded

The space shuttle Discovery landed one last time at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) after 27 years of service to astronauts and cargo. NASA will launch two more orbiters before its space shuttle program retires, ending 7,000 jobs at KSC. In the near future, astronauts will ride in Russian rockets and commercial rockets will ferry cargo. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum will likely end up with Discovery.

Source: Discovery News

Climate crushes coffee

Coffee crops plummet in mountainous Cauca, Colombia as rising temperatures and unpredictable rains threaten the harvest. Coffee needs the right climate cocktail of dry spells, while this wet weather promotes fungal pests. The shade-grown Arabica coffee grows in Cauca, and is already in short supply. This shortage comes at a time when coffee addiction is proliferating in new markets like Brazil, India, and China. Peter Baker, coffee scientists, said the world may reach “peak coffee,” a phenomenon similar to the concept of peak oil, where production reaches a maximum rate. Colombian farmers react by working with scientists to control pests, predict the weather, and grow fungus-resistant plant strains.

Source: New York Times

Congressman questions EPA

Representative Fred Upton (R – MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Commitee, introduced a bill that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. He said EPA greenhouse gas legislation would raise gas prices and hurt jobs. In response, more than 160 Michigan scientists protested the bill in a letter to Upton. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said EPA regulations on air pollutants fall under the Clean Air Act. Upton said his bill is not an attack on the politics and science of climate change or the Clean Air Act, but a push to safeguard jobs from the negative economic impacts on tighter regulation.

Source: Detroit News

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