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Plans to Export U.S. Natural Gas Stir Debate

A domestic natural gas boom already has lowered U.S. energy prices while stoking fears of environmental disaster. Now U.S. producers are poised to ship vast quantities of gas overseas as energy companies seek permits for proposed export projects that could set off a renewed frenzy of the much-debated kind of drilling known as fracking.

Expanded drilling is unlocking enormous reserves of crude oil and natural gas, offering the potential of moving the country closer to its decades-long quest for energy independence. Yet as the industry looks to profit from foreign markets, there is the specter of higher prices at home and increased manufacturing costs for products from plastics to fertilizers.

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Branson: Space Tourism Won't Hurt Environment

British billionaire Richard Branson said Monday that rocket-powered space tourism flights by his firm Virgin Galactic would have only a minor impact on climate change.

More than 500 people have already reserved seats -- and paid deposits on the $200,000 ticket price -- for a minutes-long suborbital flight on the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) set to begin by the end of this year.

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Warming to Hit Half of Plants, a Third of Animals

More than half of common species of plants and a third of animal species are likely to see their living space halved by 2080 on current trends of carbon emissions, a climate study said on Sunday.

Output of man-made greenhouse gases is putting Earth on track for four degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming by 2100 compared with the pre-industrial 18th century, it said.

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Icy Arctic Rising as Economic, Security Hot Spot

The icy Arctic is emerging as a global economic hot spot — and one that is becoming a security concern for the U.S. as world powers jockey to tap its vast energy resources and stake out unclaimed territories.

Diplomats from eight Arctic nations, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, will meet next week over how to protect the thawing region as its waterways increasingly open to commercial shipping traffic.

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NASA Astronauts on Spacewalk to Fix Ammonia Leak

NASA astronauts on Saturday performed an emergency spacewalk to try to stop ammonia from leaking from the International Space Station's power system, NASA television showed.

During the spacewalk, expected to last six and a half hours, flight engineers Tom Marshburn and Chris Cassidy will inspect and possibly repair the ammonia leak that affected the U.S. segment of the orbiting laboratory on Thursday.

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Historic Greenhouse Gas Level Sparks Calls for Action

The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time in human history, U.S. monitors announced Friday, sparking new calls for action to scale back greenhouse gases.

Climate scientists say the threshold is largely symbolic and has been expected for some time, but warn that it serves as an important message that people need to reverse the damage caused to the environment by the heavy use of fossil fuels.

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London Zoo Seeks Female Mate for Near-Extinct Fish

The London Zoo is urgently seeking a female mate for the last-known males of a critically endangered fish species.

Zoo officials say the Mangarahara cichlid is thought to be extinct in the wild and that two of the last known individuals — both male — are in the zoo's aquarium. A third is in the Berlin zoo.

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Study Shows that Adventure Shapes the Individual

The act of exploring helps shape the brain and adventuring is what makes each individual different, according to a study out Thursday by researchers in Germany.

The findings published in the U.S. journal Science may offer new paths to treating psychiatric diseases, scientists said.

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NASA: Small Ammonia Leak Outside Space Station

The International Space Station suffered a small leak of ammonia used to cool its power system on Thursday, but there was no danger to the crew, NASA said.

The U.S. space agency said crew had spotted small white flakes floating away from an area outside the craft before reporting the incident to Mission Control in Houston.

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Australian Sky-Gazers Witness 'Ring of Fire' Eclipse

Sky-gazers were treated to an annular solar eclipse in remote areas of Australia on Friday, with the Moon crossing in front of the Sun to leave a "ring of fire" around its silhouette.

The eclipse, which occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun but is too close to the Earth to completely cover the Sun, was seen in full across northern Australia, while Sydney saw a partial eclipse.

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