Tag Archives | Pollution

Urban Treehouse That Absorbs Pollution

© Beppe Giardino

© Beppe Giardino

Not only is this apartment complex badass, but it’s also good for the environment. The apartment building, 25 Verde located in Turin, Italy, contains 150 trees that absorb air pollution and noise pollution.

The building, designed by Luciano Pia, elevates the trees “off the ground in an attempt to evade Turin’s homogeneous urban scene and integrate life into the facade of the residential building.” The trees absorb about “200,000 liters of carbon dioxide an hour,” while providing insulation from the busy street and glaring sun.

© Beppe Giardino

© Beppe Giardino

What are the chances NYC would build something like this? I’m thinking slim-to-none…

Check out more photos at Colossal.

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Great Barrier Reef Corals Eat Plastic

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These are corals on the Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Mia Hoogenboom

 

Via ScienceDaily:

Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution.

“Corals are non-selective feeders and our results show that they can consume microplastics when the plastics are present in seawater,” says Dr Mia Hoogenboom, a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

“If microplastic pollution increases on the Great Barrier Reef, corals could be negatively affected as their tiny stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic,” Dr Hoogenboom says.

Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic in the environment and are a widespread contaminant in marine ecosystems, particularly in inshore coral reefs.

Despite the proliferation of microplastics, their impact on marine ecosystems is poorly understood.

“Marine plastic pollution is a global problem and microplastics can have negative effects on the health of marine organisms,” says Dr Hoogenboom.

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Map shows the loudest and quietest areas in the US

National Park Service Division of Natural Sounds and Night Skies

National Park Service Division of Natural Sounds and Night Skies

Brad Plumer | @bradplumer via Vox:

Not surprisingly, cities tend to be very noisy, with background levels averaging around 50 to 60 decibels. And that’s just the average: heavy truck traffic can reach around 85 dB, while construction jackhammers can reach 95 dB if you’re standing less than 50 feet away.

By contrast, regions like Yellowstone National Park have background noise levels down at around 20 decibels, which, as Underwood reports, is about as hushed as things were before European colonization.

So who cares? For one, all the artificial noise and light that cities produce can have bizarre effects on humans and wildlife — effects we have yet to fully understand. Loud cities can interfere with the ability of owls and bats to hunt. And, because of urban noise, some male birds now have to sing at higher frequencies, making them less attractive to potential mates.

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Crustaceans Win Battle Against Being Feminized

Michal Maňas (User:snek01) (CC BY 2.0)

Michal Maňas (User:snek01) (CC BY 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

Male crustaceans can ‘lock down’ their maleness to avoid being completely feminised by seawater contaminated by feminising pollutants, according to scientists.

New research by scientists at the University of Portsmouth has shown that crustaceans turned partially into females retain a core of masculinity, and they may have learned how to do it after evolutionary battles with parasites.

The researchers have also published the entire genetic code for the amphipod crustacean they studied, which they hope will lead to even better understanding of their biology.

The research is published in Environmental Science and Technology.

One of the researchers Dr Alex Ford said: “We’ve known for some time that fish change sex if they’re subjected to even small amounts of oestrogen in the water, but until now we didn’t know what was happening to crustaceans.

“What we found is that once a crustacean has decided to be male, it can lock down its maleness.

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Why libertarians must deny climate change, in one short take

Part of the frustration of dealing with certain curmudgeons, for me at least, is misunderstanding how they can deny something as plain as day. Perhaps you feel same, maybe this will shed some light on such, and allow you to move forward.  Mind you, this article is a couple of years old.

via The Guardian

Don't Forget To Pay The Ferryman

Don’t Forget To Pay The Ferryman (Photo credit: Cayusa) (CC)

In a simple and very short tract, Matt Bruenig presents a devastating challenge to those who call themselves libertarians, and explains why they have no choice but to deny climate change and other environmental problems.

Bruenig explains what is now the core argument used by conservatives and libertarians: the procedural justice account of property rights. In brief, this means that if the process by which property was acquired was just, those who have acquired it should be free to use it as they wish, without social restraints or obligations to other people.

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Using Solar Energy to Convert CO2 to Fuel

originalVia ScienceDaily:

Research to curb global warming caused by rising levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, usually involves three areas: Developing alternative energy sources, capturing and storing greenhouse gases, and repurposing excess greenhouse gases. Drawing on two of these approaches, researchers in the laboratory of Andrew Bocarsly, a Princeton professor of chemistry, collaborated with start-up company Liquid Light Inc. of Monmouth Junction, N.J. to devise an efficient method for harnessing sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into a potential alternative fuel known as formic acid. The study was published June 13 in the Journal of CO2 Utilization.

The transformation from carbon dioxide and water to formic acid was powered by a commercial solar panel generously provided by the energy company PSE&G that can be found atop electric poles across the state. The process takes place inside an electrochemical cell, which consists of metal plates the size of rectangular lunch-boxes that enclose liquid-carrying channels.

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Is Air Pollution a Risk Factor for Suicide?

PIC: Joseph Herman Bolduc: (PD)

PIC: Joseph Herman Bolduc: (PD)

John Upton writes at Pacific Standard:

Saying “it’s so smoggy I could kill myself” may seem as flippant as uttering “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”

But it’s not.

Four years ago, Asian researchers reported links between air pollution and suicide rates in South Korea; and between air pollution, asthma, and suicides in Taiwan. Now, University of Utah scientists say they have uncovered similar links in pollution-prone Salt Lake County.

Delegates who have gathered in Los Angeles for the American Association of Suicidology’s annual get-together will hear this evening about the unpublished research, which compared the timing of 1,500 suicides in the Beehive State with air quality data.

Suicide can be difficult to talk about, but it’s America’s 10th leading cause of death. It’s the eighth-leading cause in Utah, home to some of the nation’s smoggiest cities. Earlier this year, the pollution problem prompted a 5,000-person protest outside the state’s capitol building.

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Chinese Man Sues Government Over Smog

Benxi Steel IndustriesIs this a sign that China is becoming a nation with a legal system that can actually protect its citizens against oppressive government? Suing the Chinese government could have been a one way ticket to prison or worse in years past, but Reuters via Haaretz is reporting on a brave soul who thinks it’s time to try litigation to solve China’s smog problem:

A Chinese man in a smoggy northern city has become the first person in the country to sue the government for failing to curb air pollution, a state-run newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Li Guixin, a resident of Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province, has submitted his complaint to a district court, asking the Shijiazhuang Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau to “perform its duty to control air pollution according to the law”, the Yanzhao Metropolis Daily said.

He is also seeking compensation from the agency for residents for the choking pollution that has engulfed Shijiazhuang, and much of northern China, this winter.

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How the U.S. Exports Global Warming

AirPollutionSourceSad but not surprising that as the Greedy Lying Bastards of Big Carbon are being exposed and opposed in the United States, they are turning to less developed countries to make their megabucks. Tim Dickinson reports for Rolling Stone:

The greening of American energy is both real and profound. Since President Obama took office, the nation’s solar capacity has increased more than tenfold. Wind power has more than doubled, to 60,000 megawatts – enough to power nearly 20 million homes. Thanks to aggressive new fuel-efficiency standards, the nation’s drivers are burning nearly 5 billion fewer gallons of gasoline a year than in 2008. The boom in cheap natural gas, meanwhile, has disrupted the coal industry. Coal-power generation, though still the nation’s top source of electricity, is off nearly 20 percent since 2008. More than 150 coal plants have already been shuttered, and the EPA is expected to issue regulations in June that will limit emissions from existing coal facilities.

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Poison-Breathing Bacteria May Be Boon to Industry, Environment

Pic: Cir_Flickr (CC)

Pic: Cir_Flickr (CC)

Interesting that they list industry first, seeing as how economic activity depends on the environment.  Via ScienceDaily:

Buried deep in the mud along the banks of a remote salt lake near Yosemite National Park are colonies of bacteria with an unusual property: they breathe a toxic metal to survive. Researchers from the University of Georgia discovered the bacteria on a recent field expedition to Mono Lake in California, and their experiments with this unusual organism show that it may one day become a useful tool for industry and environmental protection.

The bacteria use elements that are notoriously poisonous to humans, such as antimony and arsenic, in place of oxygen, an ability that lets them survive buried in the mud of a hot spring in this unique saline soda basin.

“Just like humans breathe oxygen, these bacteria respire poisonous elements to survive,” said Chris Abin, author of a paper describing the research published recently in the journal Environmental Science & Technology and a doctoral candidate in microbiology.

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