The world’s growing concrete coasts

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The world’s coastlines are turning to concrete, at a huge cost to wildlife and the climate. But new technologies may offer a way to shore up coasts while benefiting biodiversity.

It’s one of the most impressive feats in modern engineering, and crossing the world’s longest sea bridge – the 55km (34 miles) Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, which opened in October 2018 at a cost of $20bn (£15.9bn) – certainly has its benefits. But impressive as it appears, this mammoth construction project, like so many others, has come at a cost.

No less than one million tonnes of concrete were used in the eight years it took to build the bridge. It was this concrete that invaded the habitat of the critically endangered pink dolphin, and is thought to be the reason that dead dolphins washed up on nearby shores while the population near the bridge plummeted by 60%. Of course, dolphins weren’t the only victims – habitats are destroyed and countless other marine species are affected when large amounts of concrete are poured into the ocean.

Destruction of this kind is often the cost of using concrete – the most widely used manmade material on Earth. With three tonnes per year used for every person in the world, there are few parts of the planet that concrete hasn’t reached. The production of concrete is also a huge emitter of CO2. At least 8% of humanity’s carbon footprint comes from the concrete industry, mostly from the production of cement – one of concrete’s principal components. The cement industry generates around 2.8 billion tonnes of CO2 per year – more than any country other than China or the US.

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Fabien Cousteau is raising $135 million to build the International Space Station of the deep sea

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Concept design for the Proteus undersea habitat.

Fabien Cousteau, grandson of famous undersea explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, is building on his family legacy by constructing a state-of-the art research facility—60 feet below the surface of the ocean.

Fabien Cousteau was born to be an aquanaut. The grandson of the famed explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau learned how to scuba dive at the age of four and grew up joining his grandfather on research expeditions. “Scuba diving is an amazing blessing, but there’s a very real limit of time,” he says.

One way to circumvent that time limit is to live in an underwater habitat, which provides researchers the opportunity to do more extended work in the ocean. His grandfather pioneered such habitats in the 1960s, and today Fabien plans to continue that legacy with the construction of Proteus, an underwater habitat and research station that would be one of the largest ever built. The habitat will take three years to complete, located 60 feet underwater in a marine protected area off the cost of Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean Sea. And it will have room for up to 12 people to live underwater for weeks—possibly even months—at a time.

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Earth’s mysterious ‘deep biosphere’ may harbor millions of undiscovered species

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Scientists say the underground ecosystems are a “subterranean Galapagos” just waiting to be studied.

This unidentified nematode from the Kopanang gold mine in South Africa lives 1.4 kilometers below the surface.Gaetan Borgonie / Extreme Life Isyensya, Belgium

Life on Earth takes billions of shapes, but to see most of them you’ll have to dig deep below the planet’s surface.

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China plans to build a deep sea base run entirely by AI

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Robots, not humans, will run the show.

Artificial intelligences are about to get a place to call their own — and it’s located somewhere humans are unlikely to want to visit.

According to a story published Monday in the South China Morning Post, scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences plan to construct a research base deep in the South China Sea, and they want artificially intelligent robots to run it.

This base could be the “first artificial intelligence colony on Earth,” those involved in the project told the SCMP.

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FinalStraw on’Shark Tank’: A look inside the first reusable straw

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FinalStraw is the world’s first collapsible, reusable straw. The product’s website boasts a mission to “reduce plastic straws use by giving you a convenient, collapsible, reusable alternative.”

The product comes in a small and keychain-friendly container that allows you to bring FinalStraw with you wherever you go. It is also available in five different colors: suck-ulent green, shark-butt grey, healthy coral, artic-melt blue, and sea tur-teal.

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Scientists tweak seat cushion material to clean oil spills

Federal researchers have created a new tool to clean up oil spills by tinkering with the kind of foam found in seat cushions.

The modified foam can soak up oil floating on water and lurking below the surface, and then can be repeatedly wrung out and reused, the researchers say.

It “just bounces back like a kitchen sponge,” said co-inventor Seth Darling, a scientist at the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago.

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Robots are transforming how we see wildlife

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Wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas had long wanted to add up-close-and-personal images of iconic African animals to his portfolio. But to get those intimate shot of lions and leopards, he would need to crawl up right next to their sharp-toothed faces. So Burrard-Lucas devised a far less deadly alternative.

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Beer Company Invents Six-Pack Rings That Feed, Rather Than Kill, Marine Life

A craft beer company and an ad agency brewed up a brilliant idea to save marine life if six-pack rings end up in the ocean. Are you aware that 80% of the plastic humans throw away ends up in the oceans? The sad reality is made worse when one learns that, as a result, billions of pounds of plastic are now swirling in convergences in the seas. In fact, 40% of earth’s total ocean mass is now covered by plastic.

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Like a nuclear submarine, flying drone can hide underwater for months

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A submarine’s periscope is a useful tool, however it puts the vessel at risk since it can only be used when the sub surfaces. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have created a waterproof drone that can float up from the murky depths and then take to the skies.

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Algae used to extract metals from mine tailings

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England’s Cornish Tin Mine

Jamie Doward – A pioneering research project to clean up a flooded Cornish tin mine is using algae to harvest the precious heavy metals in its toxic water, while simultaneously producing biofuel.

If the project, which is at a very early stage, is proven to work, it could have huge environmental benefits around the world.

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Surprising huge diversity in aging revealed in nature

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Not all species weaken and become more likely to die as they age.

Most people would probably describe aging as when we our in our youth we are strong and healthy and then we weaken and die. But, in nature, the phenomenon of aging shows an unexpected diversity of patterns and is altogether rather strange, conclude researchers from The University of Southern Denmark.

 

 

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