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Displaying items by tag: Pollution

This unprecedented kill reveals why we need to keep rivers resilient.

It was the kind of clear late-August day that anglers live for. Yet at the Yellowstone River near Livingston, Montana, not a single oar boat or even a fishing line broke the river’s calm surface. All was still, save for an osprey scavenging the corpses of pale, shimmering whitefish along the gravelly shoreline. A light breeze carried the sweetish smell of aquatic decay.

Earlier this month, the Yellowstone River made national headlines with the news of an unprecedented fish die-off in its usually healthy waters. Starting in mid-August, biologists counted 4,000 dead whitefish floating on the Yellowstone or washed ashore, but they estimate that the true number is in the tens of thousands. As if that wasn’t enough, they’ve recently spotted rainbow trout and Yellowstone cutthroat trout—both economically important species—go belly-up as well.

Published in News
Friday, 15 July 2016 11:17

Why We Pretend to Clean Up Oil Spills

Six years after Deepwater Horizon spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico, we still have no idea what we're doing.

When the Deepwater Horizon well operated by BP (formerly British Petroleum) exploded and contaminated the Gulf of Mexico with at least 650 million liters of crude oil in 2010, blue-smocked animal rescuers quickly appeared on television screens. Looking like scrub nurses, the responders treated oil-coated birds with charcoal solutions, antibiotics, and dish soap. They also forced the birds to swallow Pepto-Bismol, which helps absorb hydrocarbons.

The familiar, if not outlandish, images suggested that something was being cleaned up. But during the chaotic disaster, Silvia Gaus poked a large hole in that myth.

Published in News

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has become the stuff of legend. This hotspot of marine waste, created by the spiral currents of the North Pacific Gyre, has been described as a floating trash island the size of Russia. But when filmmaker Jo Ruxton visited the location, she found clear blue water, and a deep-rooted problem.

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Startup Carbon Engineering has opened a prototype plant in Squamish, British Columbia, that captures carbon dioxide emissions.

Humans release more than 30 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, thanks largely to the burning of fossil fuels. This number has been rising steadily for more than 100 years.

As the climate situation becomes increasingly dire, scientists, environmentalists, business people and politicians have been seeking solutions. Many of these solutions involve lowering carbon emissions—using greener fuels, driving less. But a growing number of solutions are less about lowering emissions and more about capturing them. One power plant in Iceland has figured out how to turn carbon into stone. A California company claims to have technology to sequester carbon in cement. Other emerging methods involve trapping carbon underground or in water.

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It’s an attractive idea. Magnets could be used to pull oil from spills out of the water, with the help of iron oxide nanoparticles.

The stickiness of oil makes it difficult to remove from marine plants and animals once it is leaked by tankers and offshore rigs, so finding a way to quickly remove spills is essential for protecting ocean environments.

Now Yi Du at the University of Wollongong, Australia, and his team have found a way to do this, using tiny particles of iron oxide that bind tightly to droplets of oil.

Published in News

Ocean plastic pollution is an increasingly devastating crisis, and this new infographic shows exactly where the plastic trash is coming from, where it ends up and why it’s important to start our fight against this environmental scourge at the beach.

Published in News
Saturday, 28 May 2016 14:23

In Kenya, plastic is not fantastic

Plastic bags are becoming a major environmental hazard for citizens of Kenya. Government attempts to curb the problem have stalled or failed, leaving it up to local activists to try to fix the problem.

Published in News

A new U.N. report says the supposed greener technology is anything but.

A prediction that the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050 is likely to intensify the push for sustainable, environmentally friendly alternatives.

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Oceans around the world face a fierce array of threats: plastic pollution, overfishing, acidification, climate change and more.

This infographic from the World Bank highlights the importance of oceans to the health of the planet and economies around the world.

Published in News

Words cannot describe the immense loss of life unfolding along a 50-mile stretch of Florida's Indian River Lagoon.

More than 30 species of fish, estimated in the hundreds of thousands, have started floating to the surface and washing up along shores. In some places, the normally idyllic waterways are being replaced with thousands of rotting fish.

“We’re seeing stingrays, horseshoe crabs, sheepshead, the mullet, the flounder — everything is being impacted by what’s going on here in the lagoon,” Michelle Spahn, a waterway tour operator, told WFTV9.

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