Citizen Science Environment Health Science Policy 

Environmental Health Is a Social Justice Issue

By Shayna Keyles (@shaynakeyles) When we talk about recycling, mitigating climate change, protecting habitats, and more, it’s not only for some abstract mission of “saving the earth,” though that would be good, too. These are environmental justice issues; they are part of the struggle for basic human rights. Environmental justice in the US In the United States, the environmental justice movement grew out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Communities of Black, Latinx, Native American, low-income, and immigrant groups found that they were disproportionately affected by…

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Environment Oceanography Science Policy 

The US Needs a Federal Ban on Marine Plastic Pollution

By Neha Jain (@lifesciexplore) Plastics may be convenient and cheap, but they are littering every part of the Earth, even once-pristine areas. The sheer scale of marine plastic pollution is staggering: over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are estimated to engulf the oceans. And the amount of plastic entering the oceans is expected to increase by an order of magnitude by 2025. In the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” located between California and Hawaii, almost half of the waste by size comes from fishing nets. Marine plastic waste is not just…

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Botany Ecology Environment 

An Evolutionary Approach to Conserving Plant Habitats

By Mackenzie Myers (@thetiniestnail) To conserve plant habitats, a traditional approach to biodiversity—species richness, or saving as many species as possible—might not be the most effective route. Instead, vulnerable landscapes might be better served by a quality-over-quantity mindset, a recent paper from a team of UC Berkeley scientists suggests. Think of going into a grocery store. On a budget and with limited cooking time, shoppers probably don’t buy the first dozen random ingredients they see on the shelf. Rather, they find it more practical to shop deliberately, perhaps by looking…

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Citizen Science Citizen Science Connected Blog Environment Health 

Empowering Communities to Examine Lead Exposure with Crowd the Tap

By Bradley Allf Lead pipes for transporting water have been a fixture of modern civilization for more than two thousand years.  Ancient Romans channeled water into homes and bathhouses through lead piping. In fact, the Latin word for lead, plumbum, is where we get the English word “plumbing.” Yet we have also long recognized that lead can have a serious impact on our health. Vitrivius, who lived during the first century BCE, wrote at length about the physical harm caused by lead exposure, concluding that “water should therefore on no…

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Biology Environment Science Policy 

Does Habitat Fragmentation Affect Biodiversity?

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) Most scientists used to believe that habitat fragmentation was a real threat to biodiversity, but some controversial ideas have made this a potential topic for further discussion. Iconic experiments in the Brazilian Amazon, for example, have shown the edge effects on the ability of small patches to retain species. Edge effects relate to the possible outcomes of having too much border on chopped forests, which creates a boundary between two habitats. Where there is deforestation, patches are the remaining pieces of natural vegetation among other human-affected…

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Ecology Environment Science Policy 

Forest Restoration, Not Plantations, Will Curb Warming

By Neha Jain (@lifesciexplore) Forests are our best natural weapon against climate change. By sucking up large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air, forests can store about a quarter of the carbon necessary to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. So, it is not surprising that boosting forest area through restoration has been one of the main goals of international organizations tackling rising global temperatures. Encouragingly, 43 countries concentrated around the tropics, where trees grow fast, have pledged to restore 292 million hectares of forest…

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Craft beer aisles in a grocery store. Each aisle is labeled with the name of a different country. Environment 

Globalization and Its Environmental Impact

By Megan Nichols (@nicholsrmegan) Broadly speaking, globalization refers to the increased interdependence of nations and the way people from different cultures and geographic locations can receive goods or communicate with each other thanks to free trade and information technology, among other things. But it’s a much more complex phenomenon than that, and it’s necessary to have an all-encompassing understanding of what it entails. Here, we’ll examine how globalization affects the environment in both positive and negative ways, and what changes could be made to ease its adverse effects in a…

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Biology Biota Project Ecology 

The Millions of Microbes Beneath our Feet

By Nicholas Dove (@nicholascdove), for The Biota Project Microorganisms are everywhere on planet earth—on every surface, in the air, in the ground, and inside you. The good news is that many of these benefit you. Recent findings have shown that having a healthy gut microbiome (community of microorganisms) is important for proper digestion and even disease prevention (Penicillin is an antibacterial fungus that is used to treat many types of infections). Similarly, having a healthy soil microbiome is important to support plants and properly functioning ecosystems. Soil microbes play a…

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Environment Health Science Policy 

Imagining Future Wastewater Solutions

By Emily Folk (@EmilySFolk) Wastewater represents a serious risk to human health in both developing and developed countries. Through industrial, commercial, agricultural, and domestic activities, affected sources of water cause illness, disease, and even death. One particular case study serves as an example of these dangers. The Adyar River in Chennai, India, once supported the area’s economy and culture. With the introduction of untreated wastewater, the river soon became an active landfill, inundated with debris and refuse, with a thick consistency that no longer allowed for safe interaction (Hariram, 2017).…

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Biota Project Blogs Environment 

Living with Wildfires: Fighting Fire with Fire

By Nicholas Dove (@nicholascdove), for The Biota Project How do people live with the threat of wildfires, and what can be done to protect lives? That’s a question on a lot of people’s minds as wildfires get worse and worse each year. If you haven’t already, check out last month’s post by the Biota Project featuring Erin Dickman to learn about how she was evacuated from the Ferguson Fire. This month, however, we try to understand how people live with this risk. Fires Have Become More Severe Before we go…

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