Excess nitrogen in the environment is a big problem. The most visible aspect of the problem is the spread of toxic algae blooms in oceans, lakes and other bodies of water. But there are other effects as well such as unwanted alterations to ecosystems.
The battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is heavily focused on replacing fossil fuel power plants with renewable energy and replacing internal combustion engine autos with electric cars. But there is another elephant in the room: air conditioners.
Genetic engineering, or equivalently synthetic biology, is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise involved in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, biofuels and, of course, agriculture. In these fields, it is already the source of a great deal of controversy. But there is increasing interest in using synthetic biology (or synbio) technology as a tool for protecting the natural world, which is a prospect some find tantalizing and others find absolutely terrifying.
Offshore wind farms are becoming increasingly important around the world. Europe has thousands of wind turbines off its coasts generating more and more of its power. The first offshore wind farm in the U.S. opened for business last year and more are on the way.
We’ve discussed the problem of microplastics polluting our oceans at great lengths on this program before. Much of the small plastic particles result from the breakdown of plastic litter, such as plastic bags, packaging, and other materials. Another source is microbeads, which are often found in health products such as face scrubs and even some toothpastes. But there is a another source of microplastic pollution that is quite troubling: dirty laundry.
Electric cars have been around for a long, long time. The first ones appeared in the mid-19th century. Around the turn of the 20th century, they were popular for taxi cabs in places like New York City. But within about 10 years, they mostly disappeared. In the 1990s, electric cars had a brief revival with vehicles like the General Motors EV1. But again electric cars mostly vanished.
The world’s rivers carry billions of cubic yards of sediment – sand, silt and other material – and transport it to wetlands and coastal areas. Until fairly recently, this was viewed as a negative thing. But that has changed.
We have talked about the monarch butterfly on a number of occasions. The population of these iconic orange and black butterflies in North America has plummeted from 1 billion to 33 million over the past 20 years. People have undertaken a variety of efforts to try to save the species but now a major project to restore the dwindling habitat of the monarch is underway.
Carbon dioxide is not a very popular substance. As a greenhouse gas, it is the chief culprit in climate change and, as such, the world continues to seek solutions for preventing its release in the environment.
Sea pickles are translucent, tubular creatures that are usually found in tropical ocean waters. Also known as pyrosomes, they are actually made up of many small multicellular organisms that are linked together in a tunic to form a tubelike colony that is closed on one end.
There have been many stories in the media about the ongoing environmental crisis at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Over the past two years, the reef has lost almost half of its coral because of bleaching events. Faced with this situation, the Australian government created the Reef 2050 Plan, a strategy to protect and maintain the reef through the year 2050.
Terrible traffic in cities around the world is a real blight on urban life. Increasingly, there are many cities where you simply don’t want to have to go anywhere by car during morning and evening rush hours.
On the heels of the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, France has rolled out ambitious plans to reduce its carbon footprint even further.
Now that the Trump administration announced that the United States would cease implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, various state, local and corporate entities in this country have been stepping up to assume climate leadership.
A tipping point is a point in time when a small thing can make a big change happen. The term was popularized in sociology in recent decades, but really comes from physics where is refers to adding a small amount of weight to a balanced object causing it to topple over.
A new study warns that coral reefs are in danger of disappearing forever. According to U.N. research, the world’s coral reefs could die out completely by mid-century unless carbon emissions are reduced enough to slow ocean warming.
There is no question that solar power has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years, but whenever one really looked at the numbers, it seemed to still be only a tiny fraction of the country’s power generation – until quite recently, less than one percent.
We have talked about the problem of food waste before. About 40% of the food produced in the United States goes to waste, which is a truly shameful statistic. According to a Business for Social Responsibility study on the subject, about 44% of the food that goes into landfills comes from homes. About a third comes from the food service industry.
Satellites orbiting the earth are becoming an increasingly powerful tool for counting and monitoring wildlife populations and to answer a host of other questions about the natural world.