“In our obscurity, in all this vastness,
there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere
to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the onl world known so far to harbor life.
There is no where else, at least in the near future,
to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet.
Like it or not, for the moment,
the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is humbling, and
character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the
folly of human conceits than this distant image.
To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more
kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish
the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
– Carl Sagan
“I want to know my ancestors–all of them.
I want to be a good, strong link in the chain of generations.
I want to protect my children and the children
of ages to come.
We, who embody the local eyes and ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos,
we’ve begun to learn the story of our origins–star stuff
contemplating the evolution of matter, tracing that long path by which it arrived
We and the other living things on this planet carry a legacy of cosmic evolution
spanning billions of years.
If we take that knowledge to heart,
if we come to know and love nature as it really is,
then we will surely be remembered by our descendents as good,
strong links in the chain of life.
And our children will continue this sacred searching,
seeing for us as we have seen for those who came before,
discovering wonders yet undreamt of…in the cosmos.”
– Neil DeGrasse-Tyson
(Quoted from Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey S1:E13 Unafraid of the Dark)
Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident as posted in the Guardian recently on April 16th! The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles.
The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug.
The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. “What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research. “It’s great and a real finding.”
The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process.
“What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.”
About 1m plastic bottles are sold each minute around the globe and, with just 14% recycled, many end up in the oceans where they have polluted even the remotest parts, harming marine life and potentially people who eat seafood. “It is incredibly resistant to degradation. Some of those images are horrific,” said McGeehan. “It is one of these wonder materials that has been made a little bit too well.”
Original link here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-create-mutant-enzyme-that-eats-plastic-bottles
The Drawdown EcoChallenge is a fun and social way to learn about and take action on the 100 climate solutions featured in the seminal work of Paul Hawken “Drawdown.”
From April 4-25, individuals and teams from around the world will take part in simple daily activities to reduce their carbon footprints and delve into the world’s most substantive solutions to global warming. At the end of the Challenge, the teams with the most points will win great prizes, including copies of Drawdown and a one-hour video session with Paul Hawken!
The EcoChallenges are broken down into these sections (with an added note of current participants):
LAND USE (1260)
ELECTRICITY GENERATION (1751)
WOMEN AND GIRLS (1392)
BUILDINGS AND CITIES (1598)
Executive Director of Drawdown, Hawken states “All of life is comprised of self-organizing systems and the Drawdown EcoChallenge is exactly that—people coming together to share, learn, support, imagine, and innovate for a better world. We are honored to be a part of this significant and brilliant initiative.”
Visit http://www.drawdown.org/ecochallenge for more information!
Although we may already be familiar with Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup Project, and perhaps even the recent advancements in phase two, we can now ask how to get involved in a variety of ways. In his recently posted article on Business Connect World, John Hawthorne brings together the vision behind the international Ocean Cleanup Project. Here is an excerpt:
So, what’s the next step you can take to help the Ocean Cleanup Project, or just to help clean up our waterways, bodies of water, and expanses of fresh and saltwater? While it may seem unlikely, small efforts by individuals can make go a long way toward decreasing the garbage in our oceans.
When speaking specifically about the Ocean Cleanup Project, there are a few specific ways to help this foundation inch their way toward success.
First, you can simply help fund the cleanup. The foundation needs help bridging the gap between their first-system and the full-scale development of the plans they have to clean up the Pacific Garbage Patch. The foundation states that any amount helps to further their mission, so donating is certainly a great way to get involved.
Second, you can volunteer your time, skills, and efforts to the cause. According to their site, there are plenty of career, as well as volunteer, opportunities to work with the foundation.
Speaking generally, though, you can help reduce the amount of garbage in the ocean and contribute to solving the trash problem by making small dedicated efforts.
Reduce your use of single-use plastics
Avoid microbeads in cosmetic products
Back organizations that work to fight pollution and encourage ocean cleanup
Jean-François DAVIAU, president of Sabella and a pioneer of tidal energy. The Sabella D10 is a 17 meter high tidal turbine used to harness the energy from marine currents, generated by the gravitational attraction of the Moon and the Sun!
Sabella is proposing a tidal solution that is especially suited to remote and off grid areas. A clean an reliable alternative to polluting and expensive fossil fuel generators.
Ocean energy from marine current is an innovative way to harness a clean, predictable and renewable energy.
Toyota, the second biggest automaker in the world, announced an ambitious plan today to tackle mobility and delivery services in the age of autonomous cars. Apparently it involves weird, see-through self-driving boxes roaming through cities, delivering people, packages, and pizza.
Toyota is calling them “e-Palettes” and describes them as “fully-automated, next generation battery electric vehicle[s] designed to be scalable and customizable for a range of Mobility as a Service businesses.” Think of them as transparent cargo or shipping containers on wheels that grow and shrink in size depending on their specific task.
Toyota envisions these serving a variety of functions, from typical mobility services like ride-sharing and carpooling, to less-typical purposes like serving as mobile office and retail space, medical clinics, hotel rooms, and more. Need a new pair of shoes? Summon the mobile shoe palette and try on different sizes as you travel from here to there. Hungry from some pizza? Hail the roaming pizza oven, complete with (prisoner?) chef. As far as concepts go, this one is pretty out there.
“Just think how good e-Palette would be at Burning man,” quipped Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Company’s bespectacled president, from the stage at CES in Las Vegas today. That about sums it up.
Recently shared on Engadget, Blue River Technology in Sunnyvale, California is testing “See and Spray”– machine learning and AI software inside a robotic tractor attachment that aims to change the chemical game. The program can recognize the difference between crops and weeds, then sprays herbicide only on the unwanted plant.
Traditionally, farmers applying herbicide and other chemicals spray the entire field. CEO and co-founder Jorge Heraud says using his AI and machine learning sprayer would cut chemical costs a tenth of the cost. If a mid-sized operation is about 700 acres, only spraying the weeds on a farmer’s fields could knock herbicide costs down from about $100,000 to $10,000.
“You can save on the impact that we have to the environment, right now we are frankly overusing chemistry… about 80 percent of the chemicals we use don’t end up in the right place,” Heraud said.
Based out of the waterfront partnership of Baltimore, Maryland and going by the name “Professor & Mr. Trash Wheel” these devices are vacuuming plastic from our oceans much like a Roomba for waterways. They operate exclusively on the energy they get from sunlight and water. Collecting litter and debris, keeping trash from winding up in the ocean, the device uses two trash containment booms in order to direct the waste up a conveyor belt and into the dumpster barge on the other end.
Since being installed, the trash wheels have kept over one millions pounds of litter out of the Atlantic ocean!
Thanks again to @mchllsong for the share!
To visit a link to the YouTube video from Mashable go here;
A pilot project to turn 10 homes in Nottingham into net-zero emission properties without residents even moving out is nearing completion.
Developer Melius Homes and social landlord Nottingham City Homes have worked together on the scheme, with UK solar manufacturer Viridian Solar providing photovoltaic roofing.
The upgrades also include better insulated outside walls and upgraded heating systems.
After the refurbishment, tenants will pay an energy services fee instead of paying for gas and electricity.
With this guaranteed additional income, to which savings on planned maintenance costs are added, the landlord can borrow enough money to fund the upfront costs.
The goal is to drive better economies of scale so the work can be completed at an attractive price requiring no government support.
Stuart Elmes, CEO of Viridian Solar, said: “The opportunity it offers to completely regenerate whole areas of our towns and cities, increasing the value of property and improving the comfort of tenants, all financed by energy savings is amazing.”
The 10 homes in Nottingham are a pilot study, with an option to extend the programme to 400 more.