Lowly Creature May Represent Saving Grace

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Wayne Boo/USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

Thanks to National Public Radio (USA) for this new appreciation for an otherwise underappreciated creature:

A Worm May Hold The Key To Biodegrading Plastic

MERRIT KENNEDY

People around the world use more than a trillion plastic bags every year. They’re made of a notoriously resilient kind of plastic called polyethylene that can take decades to break down.

But a humble worm may hold the key to biodegrading them. Continue reading

Tools, Tinkering, Science & Salvation

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Tim Boucher sets a camera trap near a bird of paradise lek. Photo © The Nature Conservancy (Justine E. Hausheer)

Camera traps are never going to lose our fascination, and have played a mitigating role in our non-Luddite but still determined effort to keep it simple, back to nature. The future depends on innovation, and we cannot hide behind trees pretending otherwise. If conservation efforts are going to compete effectively against the forces supporting environmental destruction, unconventional approaches are needed. We are entrepreneurially-inclined, and so are naturally comfortable with FishFace, among seven innovative pivots to a better future described by the wonderful team at Cool Green Science:

7 Science Innovations That Are Changing Conservation

BY ,

In our still relatively brief existence, humans have evolved our way to an era many are now calling the Anthropocene – a new geological epoch defined by human impact on Earth. But our unparalleled creativity is a double-edge sword. We are undeniably contributing to many of the global challenges now facing our species, and all species who share this planet. Continue reading

From Ew To Wow, To OMG

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When it comes to biopesticides, one of the most widely used fungi is Beauveria bassiana. Above, a kudzu bug killed by Beauveria bassiana, seen growing out of the cadaver. Courtesy of Brian Lovett/University of Maryland Entomology

Thanks to the salt, at National Public Radio (USA) for their sharing the creepy- crawliest news from the realm of mycologists working on clean solutions to some massive, dirty challenges, and changing the rules of pest management along the way:

Fungal Pesticides Offer A Growing Alternative To Traditional Chemicals

When it comes to biopesticides, one of the most widely used fungi is Beauveria bassiana. Above, a kudzu bug killed by Beauveria bassiana, seen growing out of the cadaver. Continue reading

Landscaping’s Latest Lovechild

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Tillage radish is similar in shape, size, taste, and color to daikon radish. Image courtesy of MVVA.

Do not let the gloom, or the investigative questions of the day, get the better of you. Instead, back to the land. This radish brings a smile. Not least because its story comes via a publication I have just become aware of:

THE DRILLING RADISHES OF ST. LOUIS

Oilseed radish, or Raphanus sativus, goes by the name “tillage radish,” “radish ripper,” “fracking radish,” and the comic book-worthy “turbo radish.” It can reach its two-inch-wide taproots down six feet, breaking up compacted soil and rebalancing nutrient levels, and is commonly put to work as a cover crop in agricultural fields. Continue reading

Possibly Impossible

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The Impossible Burger. Photo via Forbes.

Impossible? We have liked what we have seen, more than once. But we remain open-minded in both directions. Thanks to Dana Perls, senior food and technology campaigner, for the article Is “Food-Tech” the Future of Food? posted on Medium, that raises the right kinds of questions:

…On the surface, the Impossible Burger’s goal to reduce meat consumption sounds important. There are urgent problems with animal factory farming. But at a time when consumers are pushing for more sustainably produced real food, are these biotech products the right answer? Continue reading

Merlin Flying Further Afield

We’ve written about this amazing APP on our pages before, and it’s exciting to watch it’s evolution and expansion of both technology and territory.

Our work has yet to expand to Mexico, but birds don’t acknowledge national borders, so the majority of the species in the Yucatan  can be found in all 3 countries that make up the peninsula – Belize, Guatemala and of course, Mexico.

We look forward to having our marvelous guides try it out just for fun!

 Merlin Expands to Mexico

We’ve spent the last few months working to expand coverage of Merlin, and we’ve just released a new bird pack for the Yucatan Peninsula. Research at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology repeatedly points to the Yucatan Peninsula as a vital wintering ground for many of our favorite breeding birds in the United States. It’s also home to many dazzling birds unique to the Neotropics. Continue reading

You Had Us At Non-Toxic

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Photo: Organic mega-flow battery in the Harvard SEAS lab. (Photo by Eliza Grinnell, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)

Thanks to Anthropocene:

This non-toxic battery lasts a decade, could be renewable energy’s missing piece

by Prachi Patel

As more and more people install solar panels, the need to store solar power is growing. Batteries that store sun-generated electricity are key for houses to have power at night or when it’s cloudy. But today’s battery technologies are riddled with issues such as high cost, toxicity, and short life. Continue reading

Cleaner Cook Stoves

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Image: Gumilang Aryo Sahadewo/Flickr

Thanks to Anthropocene:

Tackling climate change through cleaner cookstoves

Design Worth Reading About

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INGO MECKMANN/PIAGGIO FAST FORWARD

Sometimes it makes more sense to look at a design rather than read about it. This story is in itself interesting (thanks to Wired) and that is because of the combination of the history of Piaggio and the character at the center of the design story:

IN THE SUMMER months of 2015, Jeffrey Schnapp and a few of his colleagues started collecting rideables. The hoverboard craze was in full swing, and OneWheels and Boosteds were showing up on roads and sidewalks. Schnapp and his co-founders rode, drove, and crashed everything they could find. For Schnapp, a Harvard professor and longtime technologist with a shaved head, pointy goatee, and a distinct Ben Kingsley vibe, this was market research. Continue reading

Nanowire & Swamp Surprises

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An artist’s rendition of Geobacter expressing electrically conductive nanowires. Credit: UMass Amherst

Thanks to Anthropocene for a great title to this summary of important recent research finding:

From the swamps of the Potomac, new hope for green electronics

Protein filaments just 3 nanometers wide that are produced by certain species of bacteria could be a key to environmentally friendly electronics manufacturing, according to microbiologists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Scientists discovered the filaments, dubbed “nanowires,” about 5 years ago. Bacteria use them to make electrical connections with other bacterial cells or to generate reactions with metals in the environment. Continue reading

Boosting Crop Yields Without GMO

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Yann Coeuru/Flickr.com

Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary on agricultural technology possibly breaking through the GMO debate in the near future:

A non-GMO approach to producing bigger, better wheat

by Catherine Elton

Researchers have developed a new technology that not only increases the yield of wheat plants, but also makes them more resilient to drought. What makes this technology so interesting is that—if  successful in field trials—it might provide an alternative to genetic modification approaches to boosting wheat yields. Continue reading

Carbon Capturing Crystals

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Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary of a scientific news item worthy of our attention:

A cheaper way to pull carbon dioxide from the air, turn it into crystals

Adaptation, Climate Change, Winery Operations

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Solar panels dot the buildings at the family’s Carneros Hills Winery. Jason Henry for The New York Times

When a family does its homework on the property that represents its livelihood and our own appreciation for their craft, we take note just as we do when the professor teaches:

Falcons, Drones, Data: A Winery Battles Climate Change

Jackson Family Wines is among California
winemakers employing both high-tech and old-school
techniques to adapt to hotter, drier conditions.

By

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Harvested grapes. Jackson Family Wines is one of the largest family-owned winemakers in the country. Jason Henry for The New York Times

On a misty autumn morning in Sonoma County, Calif., Katie Jackson headed into the vineyards to assess the harvest. It was late in the season, and an army of field workers was rushing to pick the grapes before the first rains, however faint, began falling.

But on this day, Ms. Jackson, the vice president for sustainability and external affairs at Jackson Family Wines, was not just minding the usual haul of cabernet, chardonnay and merlot grapes. She also checked on the sophisticated network of systems she had put in place to help crops adapt to a changing climate.

Continue reading

Carbon Capture In India

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Tuticorin thermal power station near the port of Thoothukudi on the Bay of Bengal, southern India. The plant is said to be the first industrial-scale example of carbon capture and utilisation (CCU). Photograph: Roger Harrabin

Thanks to the Guardian’s Environment section for this news:

Indian firm makes carbon capture breakthrough

Carbonclean is turning planet-heating emissions into profit by converting CO2 into baking powder – and could lock up 60,000 tonnes of CO2 a year Continue reading

Solar Road In Normandy Breaks New Ground

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A test phase will evaluate whether the solar panel road can provide enough energy to power street lighting. Photograph: Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA

When we think of Normandy, apples and oysters come to mind. Calvados, too. We are happy those traditions endure but even happier to see the roads there as a hotbed of environmental innovation:

World’s first solar panel road opens in Normandy village

Route in Tourouvre-au-Perche cost €5m to construct and will be used by about 2,000 motorists a day during two-year test period Continue reading

Better Nets, Better Fishing

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Portland’s Gulf of Maine Research Institute has designed a trawl net that aims to target species that can still be profitable while avoiding cod. Courtesy of Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Thanks to the salt folks at National Public Radio (USA):

Fishermen Team Up With Scientists To Make A More Selective Net

FRED BEVER

Some New England fishermen are pinning their hopes on a new kind of trawl net being used in the Gulf of Maine, one that scoops up abundant flatfish such as flounder and sole while avoiding species such as cod, which are in severe decline.

For centuries, cod were plentiful and a prime target for the Gulf of Maine fleet. But in recent years, catch quotas have been drastically reduced as the number of cod of reproductive age have dropped perilously low. Continue reading

Keeping A Family Business Busy, Moving Into The Future While Preserving The Past

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Camillo Sirianni, a third-generation family business that began as a mechanized carpentry company in 1909, has overcome the isolation of its hometown to become a leading manufacturer of school furniture. Credit Gianni Cipriano for The New York Times

The EU, like all governance systems and especially relatively young ones, had its shortcomings; but it also had plenty of visionary good that we continue to admire:

Internet Throws Lifeline to Family Businesses in Small Town in Italy’s South

By

SOVERIA MANNELLI, Italy — Mario Caligiuri can still recall the night that may be credited with changing the fortunes of Soveria Mannelli.

It was New Year’s Eve at the turn of the millennium, and as mayor he dashed off an email to the authorities in Rome seeking an audience to explain his initiative to connect his struggling mountaintop town of about 3,000 inhabitants to the internet. Continue reading

Recycling Thermal Erstwhile-Waste

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Illustration by Tamara Shopsin; Photos by All for You, Mrnok, via shutterstock

We appreciate that the City of Lights keeps brightening our future, as well as their own:

If the Pool Is Warm in Paris, Thank the Washing Machine

By

What do washing the dishes and uploading pictures to Facebook have in common? Continue reading

How Much Energy Does A Bicycle Produce?

We had been wondering this too, we admit:

An NPR listener (with what may be the best Twitter handle ever — Booky McReaderpants) inquired whether a home can be powered by bicycle-powered generator.

It’s an interesting issue about energy and the modern world. And the short answer comes from just running the numbers.

A typical house in the U.S. uses about 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy in a month. So — to Booky McReaderpants’ question — could you generate that much power all by yourself on stationary bike?

No.

Nope.

Not even close. Continue reading

App For Food Waste Reduction

‘A love for food and a distaste for waste’: Iseult Ward (left) and Aoibheann O’Brien in the FoodCloud warehouse in Dublin. Photograph: Mark Nixon for the Observer

‘A love for food and a distaste for waste’: Iseult Ward (left) and Aoibheann O’Brien in the FoodCloud warehouse in Dublin.
Photograph: Mark Nixon for the Observer

Thanks to the Guardian for their coverage of stories about reducing food waste:

FoodCloud: new app proves a nourishing idea for wasted food

The distribution of surplus food in Ireland is being transformed by FoodCloud. Killian Fox meets the duo behind the venture

Killian Fox

Within one community, there can be a business that’s throwing away perfectly good food and just around the corner there’s a charity that’s struggling to feed people in need,” says Iseult Ward of FoodCloud, a remarkable social enterprise which she co-founded with Aoibheann O’Brien in 2012. “We wanted to connect the two.” Continue reading