Guess which company was just crowned the world’s biggest plastic polluter (Again)

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On one day in September, people from over 50 countries decided to do something about our plastic problem.

Together, they picked up almost half a million pieces of plastic garbage littering the planet. Over 40 percent of this mountain of trash was still clearly identifiable by brand, and one producer’s trash in particular was picked up much more than any other: Coca-Cola.

An audit of the 476,423 pieces of plastic waste picked up by over 70,000 volunteers on World Clean Up Day suggests that Coca-Cola is the world’s biggest plastic polluter, responsible for 11,732 of the pieces of plastic trash retrieved during the global event.

Continue reading… “Guess which company was just crowned the world’s biggest plastic polluter (Again)”

In this “biorecycling” factory, enzymes perfectly break down plastic so it can be used again

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In this “biorecycling” factory, enzymes perfectly break down plastic so it can be used again

 The process lets any plastic—say a polyester shirt—be recycled into any other plastic (like a clear water bottle). It could fundamentally change the market for recycling.

Inside a bioreactor in the laboratory of the France-based startup Carbios, pulverized PET plastic waste—the kind of plastic found in drink bottles and polyester clothing—is mixed with water and enzymes, heated up, and churned. In a matter of hours, the enzymes decompose the plastic into the material’s basic building blocks, called monomers, which can then be separated, purified, and used to make new plastic that’s identical to virgin material. Later this year, the company will begin construction on its first demonstration recycling plant.

“Our process can use any kind of PET waste to manufacture any kind of PET object,” says Martin Stephan, the company’s deputy CEO. It’s a process that could happen in an infinite loop: Unlike traditional recycling, which degrades materials each time you do it, this type of “biorecycling” can happen repeatedly without a loss in quality. A new transparent water bottle made this way will look and perform like one made from oil, even if the source was a mixture of old clothing and dirty plastic food trays. “The final product will be the same quality as petrochemical PET,” Stephan says.

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Why Everything Is Getting Louder

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The tech industry is producing a rising din. Our bodies can’t adapt.

Karthic thallikar first noticed the noise sometime in late 2014, back when he still enjoyed taking walks around his neighborhood.

He’d been living with his wife and two kids in the Brittany Heights subdivision in Chandler, Arizona, for two years by then, in a taupe two-story house that Thallikar had fallen in love with on his first visit. The double-height ceilings made it seem airy and expansive; there was a playground around the corner; and the neighbors were friendly, educated people who worked in auto finance or at Intel or at the local high school. Thallikar loved that he could stand in the driveway, look out past a hayfield and the desert scrub of Gila River Indian land, and see the jagged pink outlines of the Estrella Mountains. Until recently, the area around Brittany Heights had been mostly farmland, and there remained a patchwork of alfalfa fields alongside open ranges scruffy with mesquite and coyotes.

In the evenings, after work, Thallikar liked to decompress by taking long walks around Brittany Heights, following Musket Way to Carriage Lane to Marlin Drive almost as far as the San Palacio and Clemente Ranch housing developments. It was during one of these strolls that Thallikar first became aware of a low, monotone hum, like a blender whirring somewhere in the distance. It was irritating, but he wrote it off. Someone’s pool pump, probably. On another walk a few days later, he heard it again. A carpet-cleaning machine? he wondered. A few nights later, there it was again. It sounded a bit like warped music from some far-off party, but there was no thump or rhythm to the sound. Just one single, persistent note: EHHNNNNNNNN. Evening after evening, he realized, the sound was there—every night, on every street. The whine became a constant, annoying soundtrack to his walks.

Continue reading… “Why Everything Is Getting Louder”

Envisioning and designing a floating future

 

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A prototype deployed in San Francisco Bay may signal what’s to come: floating buildings, or whole communities, built to withstand sea-level rise.

ON AN August day that is brutally hot by San Francisco’s foggy standards, Margaret Ikeda and Evan Jones, architecture faculty at the California College of the Arts (CCA), are on one of the campus’ back lots to present a vision of the future — though at first glance, the object they’re showing off doesn’t look like much. It’s white, roughly heart-shaped, and about the size of a sedan.

As a prototype for what the underside of a floating building — or possibly a whole floating community — might look like, however, it represents years of imagination, research, design, and testing. It also represents the hopeful vision of Ikeda, Jones, and their CCA colleague Adam Marcus, who together developed the concept with an eye toward a future of flooding amid steadily rising seas — particularly for the 10 percent of the world’s population that lives in low-lying coastal areas.

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Make like a leaf: Researchers developing method to convert carbon dioxide

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Professor Jun Huang from the University of Sydney’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is developing a carbon capture method that aims to go one step beyond storage, instead converting and recycling carbon dioxide (CO2) into raw materials that can be used to create fuels and chemicals.

“Drawing inspiration from leaves and plants, we have developed an artificial photosynthesis method,” said Professor Huang.

“To simulate photosynthesis, we have built microplates of carbon layered with carbon quantum dots with tiny pores that absorb CO2 and water.

“Once carbon dioxide and water are absorbed, a chemical process occurs that combines both compounds and turns them into hydrocarbon, an organic compound that can be used for fuels, pharmaceuticals, agrichemicals, clothing, and construction.

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A floating device created to clean up plastic from the ocean is finally doing its job, organizers say

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The Ocean Cleanup’s System 001/B collects and holds plastic until a ship can collect it.

Could this giant floating pipe clean up 90% of ocean plastic?

(CNN)A huge trash-collecting system designed to clean up plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean is finally picking up plastic, its inventor announced Wednesday.

The Netherlands-based nonprofit the Ocean Cleanup says its latest prototype was able to capture and hold debris ranging in size from huge, abandoned fishing gear, known as “ghost nets,” to tiny microplastics as small as 1 millimeter.

“Today, I am very proud to share with you that we are now catching plastics,” Ocean Cleanup founder and CEO Boyan Slat said at a news conference in Rotterdam.

The Ocean Cleanup system is a U-shaped barrier with a net-like skirt that hangs below the surface of the water. It moves with the current and collects faster moving plastics as they float by. Fish and other animals will be able to swim beneath it.

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These tree-planting drones are firing ‘seed missiles’ into the ground. Less than a year later, they’re already 20 inches tall.

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 Technology is the single greatest contributor to climate change but it may also soon be used to offset the damage we’ve done to our planet since the Industrial Age began.

In September 2018, a project in Myanmar used drones to fire “seed missiles” into remote areas of the country where trees were not growing. Less than a year later, thousands of those seed missiles have sprouted into 20-inch mangrove saplings that could literally be a case study in how technology can be used to innovate our way out of the climate change crisis.

“We now have a case confirmed of what species we can plant and in what conditions,” Irina Fedorenko, co-founder of Biocarbon Engineering, told Fast Company. “We are now ready to scale up our planting and replicate this success.”

Continue reading… “These tree-planting drones are firing ‘seed missiles’ into the ground. Less than a year later, they’re already 20 inches tall.”

A fire lookout on what’s lost in a transition to technology

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A single tree burns in southwest New Mexico after a lightning strike. For more than 100 years, the U.S. Forest Service has been posting men and women atop mountains and trees, and in other hard-to-reach places, to wait and watch for smoke.

Can you see it? The fire in the photo above?

A single tree burning doesn’t put up much smoke.

There’s a flash of lightning, sizzling across the sky. Then a pause as bark smolders and flames creep, building heat until poof: a signal in the sky.

Philip Connors, gazing outward from a tower, sees it as a new dent on the crest of a distant ridge. He’s spent thousands of hours contemplating the contours of southwest New Mexico. The fuzzy smudge is out of place.

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An electromagnetic health crisis

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If living beings have always been exposed to natural electromagnetic fields, and their bodies produce electric currents as well, why is there a growing concern about the human-made electromagnetic fields?

Exposure to the electromagnetic field is not a new phenomenon for living beings. While living beings have always been exposed to natural electromagnetic fields, the growing sources, applications, and impact of human-made electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) on humans and the environment are creating more questions than answers.

This is extraordinarily complex to evaluate when all living beings are technically electromagnetic, and every thought and emotion is a measurable frequency as well. Moreover, even in the absence of external electric fields, there is a presence of tiny electrical currents in living beings due to the numerous chemical reactions that occur as part of the healthy living bodily functions. According to a WHO report, the heart is electrically active and nerves relay signals by transmitting electrical impulses. Furthermore, since all human body systems are regulated by EMF signals, it is essential to evaluate not only how the biologically active human-made electric and magnetic fields impact humans, but also how it impacts all living beings at the cellular level.

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Bug smuggling is big business

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Demand for exotic pets and collectors’ items drives a flourishing illegal trade in beetles, spiders, and more.

SPECIAL AGENT RYAN Bessey was in his office at the New Jersey branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in Galloway, on September 23, 2015, when he took a call from a colleague in the intelligence unit. The analyst told him that French customs officers had seized 115 emperor scorpions in two shipments from Cameroon. They were addressed to a man in Metuchen, New Jersey, named Wlodzimie Lapkiewicz.

If French authorities considered the bust important enough to tell the U.S. about it, Lapkiewicz was worth looking into, Bessey thought. He began to do some digging.

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Fossil fuel drilling could be contributing to climate change by heating Earth from within

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Fossil fuel drilling could be contributing to climate change by heating Earth from within

Almost all scientists agree that burning fossil fuels is contributing to climate change. But agreement is less clear cut on how exactly it’s influencing rising global temperatures.

The world is now 1°C warmer than it was in pre-industrial times. Is this solely down to emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2? Meteorologist Hubert Lamb, regarded as the father of modern climatology, argued that CO2 levels alone couldn’t account for all of the global warming that’s been observed.

His attention turned instead to the role of thermal emissions. Burning fossil fuels doesn’t just produce greenhouse gases, it also generates a lot of heat, which leaks out to the atmosphere. Nuclear tests and volcanic eruptions are some examples of other large heat sources.

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Acclaimed Israeli astrophysicist suggests the sun drives Earth’s climate, not CO2

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Nir Shaviv is an Israeli astrophysicist and chairman of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University’s physics department. He says that his research, and that of colleagues, suggests that rising CO2 levels play only a minor role in earth’s climate compared to the influence of the sun and cosmic radiation.

“Global warming clearly is a problem, though not in the catastrophic terms of Al Gore’s movies or environmental alarmists,” said Shaviv. “Climate change has existed forever and is unlikely to go away. But CO2 emissions don’t play the major role. Periodic solar activity does.”

But I thought that 97% of climate scientists agreed that human activity is the main driver of climate change?

“Only people who don’t understand science take the 97% statistic seriously,” said Shaviv. “Survey results depend on who you ask, who answers and how the questions are worded. In any case, science is not a democracy. Even if 100% of scientists believe something, one person with good evidence can still be right.”

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