Day: November 27, 2017

Soon we won’t be able to ship our recycling to China — and that’s a problem

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

It’s no secret that China, the top global importer of numerous recyclable materials, has accepted everyone else’s garbage with open arms for decades. The United States — along with a slew of other developed nations — sends China our recyclable trash and, in turn, China transforms foreign garbage into consumer products and packaging and sends it back our way…

This tidy reciprocal relationship, however, is coming to an end.

In July, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection told the World Trade Organization that it would no longer accept imports of 24 common types of once-permitted solid waste due to contamination concerns. The ban extends to various recyclables including several plastics such as PET and PVC, certain textiles and mixed waste paper. Easier-to-recycle metals are not included in the new restrictions.

The “phantom reference:” How a made-up article got almost 400 citations

Read the full post at Retraction Watch.

Here’s a mystery: How did a nonexistent paper rack up hundreds of citations?

Pieter Kroonenberg, an emeritus professor of statistics at Leiden University in The Netherlands, was puzzled when he tried to locate a paper about academic writing and discovered the article didn’t exist. In fact, the journal—Journal of Science Communications—also didn’t exist.

Perhaps Kroonenberg’s most bizarre discovery was that this made-up paper, “The art of writing a scientific article,” had somehow been cited almost 400 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

Fish and Wildlife Service retracts concerns about massive housing plan

Read the full story from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last month lifted its longstanding objections to the construction of a city-sized development that threatens the last free-flowing major river in the arid Southwest.

The San Pedro is a vital resource in the parched Sonoran Desert, sustaining some 400 species of migratory birds. The agency twice in recent years had warned that a key federal permit to build 28,000 homes, golf courses and other amenities near the San Pedro River in southern Arizona would have “appreciable” effects on wildlife. It cited substantial scientific research warning of risks to rare species such as the jaguar and yellow-bellied cuckoo.

Chicago intends to sue U.S. Steel after 2 toxic spills this year, mayor says

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday threatened to sue U.S. Steel after one of the company’s northwest Indiana plants spilled toxic metal into a waterway less than 20 miles away from one of the city’s Lake Michigan water intakes.

Emanuel’s decision to piggyback on a legal challenge filed last week by a University of Chicago law clinic is part of a concerted push by the Chicago Democrat to crack down on polluters as President Donald Trump moves to dramatically cut funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state enforcement efforts.

How Tulsa Became A Model For Preventing Floods

Read the full story at NPR.

If Houston’s record deluge during Hurricane Harvey highlighted the dangers of unchecked, sprawling development, then Tulsa — another city built on oil — is a showcase for the opposite.

For decades it has planned carefully and imposed wide-ranging regulations that aim to prevent the kind of devastating floods that used to make national headlines here. Other cities are taking note, as expanding development and a warming climate threaten to make flooding worse.

Next To A Georgia Highway, This Plant Is Helping Fight Climate Change

Read the full story in Fast Company.

On a small section of highway near the exit for the small town of West Point, Georgia, a new experiment is underway: The shoulder next to the road is now planted with Kernza, a perennial grain that can help fight climate change.

Until recently, like most roadsides, the area was planted with grass, and this particular stretch of highway in a relatively rural part of Georgia might seem like an unlikely place for sustainable innovation. But it happens to be part of “The Ray,” a project to create the world’s first sustainable highway.

New database catalogues plants that soak up contamination

Read the full story at

Hyperaccumulators are unusual plants that can absorb much larger amounts of metal compounds in their leaves and stems than normal plants, and they are very useful for cleaning up contaminated land. As described in a New Phytologist article, researchers have published a database that provides easier access to information on the plant world’s hyperaccumulators.

The new Global Hyperaccumulator Database contains data on 721 species of hyperaccumulators. Investigators hope that it will expand as more discoveries are made.

The Global Hyperaccumulator Database can be found at

Sudden Shift at a Public Health Journal Leaves Scientists Feeling Censored

Read the full story in ProPublica.

For much of its 22-year existence, few outside the corner of science devoted to toxic chemicals paid much attention to the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.

But now, a feud has erupted over the small academic publication, as its editorial board — the scientists who advise the journal’s direction and handle article submissions — has accused the journal’s new owner of suppressing a paper and promoting “corporate interests over independent science in the public interest.”

The Toxic ‘Blank Spots’ of Niagara Falls

Read the full story from CityLab.

The region’s “chemical genies” of the early 20th century were heralded as reaching into the future to create a more abundant life for all. Instead, they deprived future generations of their health and well-being.


More Machine Learning About Congress’ Priorities

Read the full story in ProPublica.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is a tax wonk ― and most observers of Congress know that. But knowing what interests the other 434 members of Congress is harder.

To make it easier to know what issues each lawmaker really focuses on, we’re launching a new feature in our Represent database called Policy Priorities. We had two goals in creating it: To help researchers and journalists understand what drives particular members of Congress and to enable regular citizens to compare their representatives’ priorities to their own and their communities.

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