Here are some noteworthy science and environmental links folks are Digging today:
— Developing economic superpowers like China and India are also emerging as carbon-emitting superpowers, making it clear that developed nations can't fight climate change on their own. And while the developing world still had installed only 88 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2008, compared with richer countries' 207 gigawatts, Wired reports that they're poised for a major clean-power comeback, thanks to dropping costs and a growing desire to exploit domestic sources.
— With a $787 billion price tag, the economic stimulus package has enough room for the entire visible spectrum of colors, but green projects make up an especially sizable chunk. Many of them are practical, energy- and money-saving ideas that simply lacked the political traction to get this much federal attention before. Treehugger offers this sleek photo gallery highlighting 15 green projects that will benefit from stimulus money, such as the $9.3 billion for an ambitious (and long-overdue) high-speed rail system, $11 billion for upgrading the power grid, and $2.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research.
• Associated Press: "Over budget $1B, NASA gets $1B more from stimulus"
— Hitting budget targets isn't exactly rocket science, which is maybe why NASA is so bad at it. The space agency's enormous projects go over budget so often that it's been on the Government Accountability Office's "high risk" list since 1990, and agency officials have even publicly joked about it. Congressional auditors reported this week that while NASA got $1 billion in stimulus money, it's already over budget estimates by nearly $1.1 billion on nine projects alone; the U.S. House Science Committee held a hearing today focusing on the frequent cost overruns. NASA tells the AP that its missions "are one-of-a-kind and complex, which always makes estimating challenging."
• New Scientist: "Obama goes 'all in' for science"
— I sure hope this "science" thing pans out, considering how much President Obama's betting on it. New Scientist reports this week that his investment of billions into research and development may be the biggest science project in American history — even the costly Apollo program and Manhattan project were spread out over longer periods of time. In a separate editorial, the British magazine is enthusiastic that such a "deluge" of funding for innovation can help upend the global financial crisis, but worries that if it doesn't happen quickly enough, the American public might overcorrect, turning against science and undoing all this progress. "I think we only get one real shot at this," Glenn Ruskin of the American Chemical Society tells New Scientist. "It's unprecedented, but it has to be done."
— Male fish around the world have been found in recent years growing female sex organs and sometimes even producing eggs, a problem that scientists usually blame on endocrine disruptors — chemicals that mimc an animal's hormones, in this case the female hormone estrogen. But a new study suggests an entirely different class of chemicals may be at least as culpable: ones that block the action of male hormones called androgens. Anti-androgenic chemicals are often found in pesticides or pharmaceuticals that end up in wastewater, and scientists believe that "[i]f it happens in fish, it can happen in humans." For more information on the same phenomenon in frogs, click here.
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