Mutant Enzyme Recycles Plastic in Hours, Could Revolutionize Recycling Industry

Mutant Enzyme Recycles Plastic in Hours, Could Revolutionize Recycling Industry – EcoWatch

That’s nice but…. Et tu, EcoWatch?

Step away from the plastic recycling kool-aid. Recycling plastic is an unsustainable mysth propagated by an industry that doesn’t want anyone to pay attention to how devastatingly unnecessary and toxic their product is.

Repeat after me morons, the only way to stop the tide of plastic overwhelming our water and our landfills is STOP USING PLASTIC PACKAGING.

As long as you are distracted by recycling, you are tacitly enabling the proliferation of unnecessary single use plastic and plastic packaging. Period.


In the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Construction Is Set to Resume on the Keystone Pipeline

So here’s the situation: in the middle of a pandemic, construction workers will move into isolated rural communities with already strained hospital resources. The “man camps” where many such workers in the industry live are associated with violence against women and other crimes, even in the best of times. Now, with the pandemic, many of the Native communities that live along the pipeline route fear for the worst. “This causes eerie memories for us with the infected smallpox blankets that were distributed to tribes intentionally,” Faith Spotted Eagle, a leader of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, said. (The coronavirus is already wreaking havoc on isolated reservations in other parts of the country, and the chronically underfunded Indian Health Service is struggling to meet the crisis.)

…I don’t know if corporations can be evil—I don’t think so, even if the Supreme Court insists on describing them as people. But this is capitalism at its most naked, willing to endanger people in the covid-19 crisis and to heat the earth in the climate crisis, all in search of a bit more profit. In a world running right now on bravery and love, it’s hard to imagine anything much darker.

In the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Construction Is Set to Resume on the Keystone Pipeline | The New Yorker


How Three Coastal Churches Became Hubs of Climate Resilience

With the help of an ecological restoration company, they coaxed back to the surface the stream that had been diverted through stormwater pipes and built a cascading streambed, with step pools and weirs—low dams to slow water flow—to filter the water as it makes its way toward Back Creek.

…In an age of climate crisis, marshes like this one are critical: As sea levels rise, marshes engage in a kind of dance with the rising tides through a process called accretion. …The marsh is also a carbon sink, more effective at sequestering carbon than the equivalent area of dry land.

By restoring their land to serve its intended purpose, the church created a climate sanctuary: absorbing higher tides, filtering polluted stormwater from extreme rain events, hosting displaced creatures, and drawing carbon out of the air.

…Three hurricanes, in 2015, 2016, and 2017, pummeled Crosstowne, each dumping enough water to require a massive rebuild of the sanctuary. After the third flood, the church interior was rebuilt in two weeks, but the church recognized that rebuilding wasn’t enough. The leadership team at Crosstowne decided to do something unusual for a church: gather scientific data. They hired a hydrology team and an environmental lawyer to analyze the onshore causes of the flooding so that the church could serve as a trustworthy hub of communication with their neighbors and the city.

The study found that as climate change exacerbates rainfall intensity, unsustainable development results in water flowing over concrete rather than percolating into the soil. When rain falls, streets and storm drains are inundated with more water than they can handle, and the excess water ends up 3 feet deep in the sanctuary of Crosstowne. According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, by the end of the century heavy rainfall events in the Southeast U.S. are expected to double, and the amount of water falling on extreme rain days will increase by 21 percent. As more rain falls on hard surfaces around Charleston, Crosstowne has realized it will be underwater more frequently.

With their data-driven study, Crosstowne became experts on flooding in the area around Charleston’s Church Creek Basin. Rienzo worked with the city to develop new stormwater retention guidelines, reshaping how development is done in Charleston. The benefits of Crosstowne’s work extended beyond its walls, to local homeowners who “were looking at buyouts, flooding, delays,” Rienzo told the local Live 5 News. “So we began to see we were not just doing this study for ourselves. It was a study to do for the community around us.”

How Three Coastal Churches Became Hubs of Climate Resilience | Sojourners


Garret Graves’ nutria bill passes the U.S. House; here’s what the bill would do

The bill, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, would broaden the scope of the Nutria Eradication and Control Act to include all states — not just Louisiana and Maryland, where the invasive, orange-toothed rodent has eaten away coastal marshes for decades.

…Nutria are one of many factors contributing to rapid land loss along Louisiana’s coast. The major causes include oil and gas exploration, sea level rise, soil subsidence and the loss of replenishing sediment since the Mississippi River was brought under control with levees.

…Gnawing away the roots of marsh plants, nutria leave little to hold the fragile landscape in place. More than 40 square miles of Louisiana’s coast have been turned into open water by nutria over the past two decades, according to the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Garret Graves’ nutria bill passes the U.S. House; here’s what the bill would do | Environment |


Earth Is About To Enter A 30-Year ‘Mini Ice Age’ As A ‘Solar Minimum’ Grips The Planet

According to NASA, the Sun will reach its lowest activity in over 200 years in 2020. As it further goes into its natural hibernation phase, Earth will experience extremely cold spells which will trigger food shortages across the planet. The average temperatures could drop as much as one degree Celsius in a period lasting about 12 months. 

Earth Is About To Enter A 30-Year ‘Mini Ice Age’ As A ‘Solar Minimum’ Grips The Planet – Science


The toxic reach of Deepwater Horizon’s oil spill was much larger — and deadlier — than previously published estimates

Current estimates show the 210 million gallons of oil released by the damaged BP Deepwater Horizon Macondo well spread out over the equivalent of 92,500 miles.

Spreading with squid-like tentacles, the oil reached Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

In a massive spill response, federal workers, contractors and volunteers sought to detect it, contain it and use chemicals to disperse it. Yet large amounts of oil reached beyond the containment effort and were never fully accounted for until now, the study says.

…The the oil’s reach was 30 percent larger than that estimate, the new study says.

…A significant amount of oil and its toxic footprint moved beyond fishery closures where it was thought to be contained and escaped detection by satellites as it flowed near the Texas shore, west Florida shore and within a loop current that carries Gulf water around Florida’s southern tip up toward Miami.

…“Oil in these concentrations for surface water extended beyond the satellite footprint and fishery closures, potentially exterminating a vast amount of planktonic marine organisms across the domain,” the researchers wrote. The findings show that the government’s understanding of how oil flowed from Deepwater Horizon was limited and that it underestimated the extent to which marine life was killed or poisoned by toxic crude.

…“If you want to respond to this kind of spill, you have to know where the entire mass is, the amount of oil that came out of the well, and know that the footprint is not only on the surface, but in three dimensions,” she said.

The toxic reach of Deepwater Horizon’s oil spill was much larger — and deadlier — than previous estimates, a new study says – The Washington Post


‘Invisible and Toxic’ Oil From Deepwater Horizon Spill Probably Made Disaster Much Worse Than Previously Thought

The Deepwater spill was caused by an explosion on the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig—located around 41 miles off the Louisiana coast—on April 20, 2010, which resulted in the deaths of 11 workers.

The rig subsequently sank and more than four million barrels of oil gushed out of the damaged Macondo well over the course of 87 days until the leak was finally capped, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

…The spill was the largest in marine history, releasing around 795 million liters (210 million gallons) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico with slicks covering an estimated area of 57,500 square miles. The disaster caused extensive environmental damage and forced the closure of vast stretches of the Gulf to fishing operations.

…The “toxic extent” of the spill could [be] up to 30 percent greater than what previous satellite data has suggested, leaving a footprint which stretched from Florida’s Gulf Coast, to the shores of Texas and the Florida Keys.

…”We found that the oil spill extended beyond the satellite footprint, reaching areas which were considered non-contaminated such as the West Florida shelf and Texas shores. A part of the invisible portion that extended beyond the satellite footprint was toxic to marine life,” the authors said.

According to the study, toxic chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons may still be present in water for days or even weeks after satellites can no longer detect an oil slick.

‘Invisible and Toxic’ Oil From Deepwater Horizon Spill May Have Made Disaster Much Worse Than Previously Thought


Can charcoal make beef better for the environment?


This crumbly black substance is often made as a by-product of forestry and other industries. It is created when biomass is left in high-temperature, low-oxygen conditions, where it undergoes a process called pyrolysis. Long before its recent uptake in modern farming, biochar was created and added to soil by indigenous farmers in Amazonia from around the 5th Century BC, to form the rich black earth of the Amazon Basin known as “terra preta.”

…In 2012, a research group in Vietnam found that adding 0.5-1% biochar to cattle’s feed could reduce methane emissions by more than 10%, while other studies have found reductions of up to 17%. Studies on beef cows in the Great Plains of the US found that adding biochar to feed reduces cows’ methane emissions by between 9.5% and 18.4%. Given that methane makes up 90% of greenhouse gas emissions from cattle farming, this could considerably cut cattle’s environmental footprint.

…He was originally drawn to it not for its potential to reduce his herd’s methane emissions, but as a way to sequester more carbon into the soil. This had the dual prospect of sinking carbon and improving soil health.

“Due to the highly porous nature and high surface area of biochar, it improves soil’s ability to hold more water,” says Bhawana Bhatta, a soil science lecturer of the University of Melbourne. “The fine network of pores within biochar gives room for soil microorganisms to live. This increases the microbial diversity in the soil.”

…Enticed by the addition of molasses along with the biochar, Pow’s cattle dutifully chowed down their enriched feed, produced their cowpats, and then the beetles got to work. The bovine beetles then got started on the cows’ dung, working in pairs. The male brings the dung to the female beetles who dig a tunnel into the soil. Every time a beetle burrows into the soil, it also brings to the surface new soil with high levels of phosphorus, which acts as a natural [fertilizer.]

Studies over a three-year period on Doug’s farm showed an increase in total organic carbon, and enhancing soil fertility from when he first started. The research showed that he was also improving soil water retention and increasing the amount of carbon that was being retained in the soil.

Can charcoal make beef better for the environment? – BBC Future


Orphan wells: Canada’s struggling oil industry leaves thousands abandoned

Greg Latimer’s ranch near Sounding Lake, Alberta, has 4,000 acres, 350 cattle — and more than a dozen idle or abandoned oil and gas wells.

Latimer, who took over the family ranch in the southeastern part of the oil-rich province in 2011, worries about leaks contaminating the groundwater and soil. He believes his cows have fallen ill after drinking from puddles near the wells. He and his partner, Marva Coltman, get headaches from the odors that some of them emit.

Neither Latimer, his father nor his grandfather were given a choice about whether to let oil and gas companies onto their property.

…“My grandfather came here in 1911 in the middle of the country to make a homestead,” Latimer said. “These guys came here and destroyed it. It isn’t fair.”

…[The] government slashed municipal property taxes on shallow gas wells last year by 35 percent. Some operators have stopped paying municipal property taxes to the tune of $129.8 million.

Under provincial law, oil and gas companies are responsible for plugging defunct wells and restoring the environment to its pre-drilling state. When the operators are bankrupt or insolvent, the wells are transferred to the industry-funded Orphan Well Association, which is tasked with decommissioning them.

As the energy sector has struggled, the association’s inventory has ballooned, from 162 wells in 2014 to 3,406 today.

…And the number could skyrocket, soon. Last year, both Trident Exploration and Houston Oil & Gas bit the dust, leaving behind a combined 6,100 wells and a $307.9 million cleanup bill. 

…As of December 2019, the energy regulator had $170.3 million to clean up potential oil and gas liabilities estimated at more than $22.5 billion, the figures show.

Orphan wells: Canada’s struggling oil industry leaves thousands abandoned – The Washington Post


The sustainable fashion conversation is based on bad statistics and misinformation

Because only one out of the dozen or so most commonly cited facts about the fashion industry’s huge footprint is based on any sort of science, data collection, or peer-reviewed research. The rest are based on gut feelings, broken links, marketing, and something someone said in 2003.

If we’re serious about recruiting the fashion industry into the fight to save our world from burning, these bad facts do us all a disservice. They make fashion activists look silly. They allow brands to wave vaguely at reducing their impact without taking meaningful action. And they stymie the ability to implement meaningful regulation, which needs to be undergirded by solid data.

There are unmissable clues everywhere that something is wrong, from poisonous rivers in Bangladesh and Indonesia to old clothing littering the shores of East Africa to microplastics in our drinking water. But as long as we have only garbage information, we’ll only get garbage action from brands and governments to fix the problem.

…“Let’s talk for a moment about the Quantis report,” says Greer. “They refused to provide anybody — me, ClimateWorks Foundation that funded them, or the general public — any of the data that went into their conclusions. If you were to try to publish that in a peer-reviewed journal, you would be rejected in 30 minutes. It should have died a quick death.”

…Even without good data, brands and countries are attempting to lessen the fashion industry’s impact. Last year, 150 companies joined a pact where they agreed to “science-based” targets around emissions, biodiversity, and single-use plastics by 2050. It’s the latest in a long line of industry groups, agreements, conferences, promises, and “sustainable” product lines. But companies still don’t know what is happening in their supply chains and so have no baseline for what they will cut their emissions from.

…It’s clear that before we do anything else — demand legislation, invent new textiles, set targets — we need to figure out what research we need, then ask the government and big brands to fund it.

The sustainable fashion conversation is based on bad statistics and misinformation – Vox