Environment Science Debate Science Policy 

Plastic Waste Necessitates Policies for Producers

By Neha Jain (@lifesciexplore) This article is part of a series about key science policy issues. Please use these articles to become an informed voter, ask political candidates about the issues, and put every candidate on record about science. Countries around the world, both developed and developing, have been grappling with growing piles of plastic waste from overuse of packaging materials, such as those for food and beverages, and single-use plastic tableware. In 2015, 42 percent of all plastic produced was used for packaging, much of which is used only…

Read More
Environment 

Microplastics Contaminate Snow from Alps to Arctic

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that pollute the environment and can range from 0.05 to 5 millimeters in length. Bigger plastic items can be fragmented by the action of light, temperature fluctuations, ocean waves, or mechanical abrasion into smaller pieces that are widely dispersed, persistent in the environment, and sometimes accompanied by microorganisms. A recent article by Bergmann et al., published in the periodical Science Advances, assessed quantities of microplastics in the snow from the Alps and other northern European sites to the Arctic and…

Read More
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…

Read More
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…

Read More
Biology Botany Physics 

How Do Plants Know Which Way to Grow?

By Shayna Keyles (@shaynakeyles) How do plants know which way is up and which way is down? No matter which way you put a seed in the soil, it will always send its roots down and its shoots up. (Unless you’re in space–we’ll get back to that later.) The answer lies in tropism: motion in response to external stimulus. This is pretty amazing, considering that in the traditional sense, plants can’t move. Specifically, plants are affected by geotropism, phototropism, and hydrotropism. In other words, plants move toward gravity, light, and water,…

Read More
Honeybees Are Attracted to Fungicides and Herbicides Animals Environment 

Honeybees Are Attracted to Fungicides and Herbicides

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore Whenever you eat fruits, vegetables, and nuts, take a moment to thank honeybees for their pollination services that contribute $17 billion to the US economy each year. In fact, almonds are almost solely dependent on honeybees for pollination. Populations of these much-needed pollinators have mysteriously plunged over the past decade, and many studies suggest a link to the use of neonicotinoid insecticides among other factors such as climate change and disease. Recently, scientists found that honeybees prefer sugar water laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil and the…

Read More
global warming Environment Videos 

Global Warming: What’s Really Warming the Earth?

Dr. Joe Hanson explores the possible causes of global warming in this episode of It’s Okay To Be Smart.   References and Further Reading July 2016 is hottest on record NOAA’s State of the Climate July 2016 Bloomberg’s climate change data viz project Solar activity and temperature show opposite trend Milankovitch cycles (I left out eccentricity because it operates on scales so long that it doesn’t affect short-term climate change) Connecting climate models with actual temperature changes NASA Goddard’s Gavin Schmidt explains the history of the instrumental temperature record Last time…

Read More
Marshall Islands Nuclear Test Radiation Environment Health 

Marshall Islands Radiation Still Too High Decades Later

By Emily Rhode @riseandsci In the years immediately following the end of World War II, the United States government conducted large-scale testing of nuclear weapons on a small group of islands in the remote Pacific Ocean. On March 1, 1954, the largest nuclear device ever tested by the United States was detonated at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Castle Bravo, as the bomb was known, created a mushroom cloud of radiation almost four and one-half miles wide. This was more than 1,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on…

Read More
Curbing the Chainsaws: Recycled Smartphones Hunt Down Illegal Loggers Environment Technology 

Recycled Smartphones Hunt Down Illegal Loggers

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore In the summer of 2011 Topher White, founder of Rainforest Connection, a nongovernmental organization (NGO), visited the rain forests of Borneo as a tourist. He was shocked to learn that among the buzzing of insects, chirping of birds, and howling of gibbons, illegal loggers were sawing down a tree, just a few hundred meters away from a ranger station. The guards could not hear the noise of the chainsaw amid the cacophony of sounds. Deforestation accounts for the second-highest emission of greenhouse gases—even higher than that…

Read More
Hot Towns, Urban Heat Islands. Sunlight: Solar as Equitable Energy Source. Environment 

Hot Towns, Urban Heat Islands

By Steven Spence It’s Hotter in the City Have you ever noticed on weather reports that cities seem to be hotter than the surrounding areas? That’s a result of the  Urban Heat Island (UHI) phenomenon. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, urban areas with 1 million or more residents have a mean annual temperature 1°C to 3°C warmer than their surroundings. At night, the effect is even more pronounced, with city temperatures reaching up to 12°C hotter. With more than half (54 percent) of the world’s population living in urban…

Read More