Day: November 28, 2017

Could fried foods influence climate change?

Read the full story at Food Dive.

British university chemists found that cooking fat droplets released into the atmosphere form complex structures that can attract moisture and create clouds. The scientists believe that the study results, published in the journal Nature Communications, could have implications for climate change.

Turning emissions into fuel

Read the full story from MIT.

MIT researchers have developed a new system that could potentially be used for converting power plant emissions of carbon dioxide into useful fuels for cars, trucks, and planes, as well as into chemical feedstocks for a wide variety of products.

The new membrane-based system was developed by MIT postdoc Xiao-Yu Wu and Ahmed Ghoniem, the Ronald C. Crane Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and is described in a paper in the journal ChemSusChem. The membrane, made of a compound of lanthanum, calcium, and iron oxide, allows oxygen from a stream of carbon dioxide to migrate through to the other side, leaving carbon monoxide behind. Other compounds, known as mixed ionic electronic conductors, are also under consideration in their lab for use in multiple applications including oxygen and hydrogen production.

EPA swaps top science advisers with industry allies

Read the full story from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Eleven new members of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board have a history of downplaying the health risks of secondhand smoke, air pollution and other hazards, including two who have spun science for tobacco companies, according to an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

The government must regulate lawn equipment. Seriously.

Read the full column in The Week. For a perspective on Illinois, see ISTC’s 2008 report entitled VOC Emissions from Gas Powered Leaf Blowers in the Chicago Metropolitan Region.

It’s late fall, and that means one thing: It’s leaf blower season. To the lasting irritation of many (especially The Atlantic‘s James Fallows), for the next several weeks communities across the country are going to be subjected to the blower’s endless wheedling drone and associated plume of carcinogenic haze.

Gas-powered leaf blowers are indeed bad. But the problem runs deeper. In fact, all small gasoline engines — used in things like weed whackers, lawn mowers, tillers, and so forth — are astoundingly filthy and should be phased out as soon as possible. It’s time to electrify all lawn equipment.


Jenga Ocean game is made from recycled fishing nets

Read the full story from Treehugger.

If your family loves playing board games during the holidays, then you should check out this eco-friendly update on an old classic. Jenga Ocean is played the same way as regular wooden Jenga, except its blocks are made entirely from recycled plastic that comes from fishing nets.

President’s Environmental Youth Award now accepting applications

Apply or encourage a student you know to apply for the President’s Environmental Youth Award and see what a difference they can make for the environment with an award-winning project. Applicants from all 50 states and U.S. territories are eligible to compete for a regional certificate of special recognition and a national Presidential award.

Applications are due by March 1, 2018.

Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators now accepting applications

The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students. Up to two teachers from each of EPA’s 10 regions, from different states, will be selected to receive this award. The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers this award to honor, support and encourage educators who incorporate environmental education in their classrooms & teaching methods.

Applications are due by March 1, 2018.

Video: The environmental impact of online shopping

What’s the environmental impact of online shopping and what are the solutions to make it more sustainable?

Climate Lab is produced by the University of California in partnership with Vox. Hosted by conservation scientist Dr. M. Sanjayan, the videos explore the surprising elements of our lives that contribute to climate change and the groundbreaking work being done to fight back. Featuring conversations with experts, scientists, thought leaders and activists, the series demystifies topics like nuclear power, food waste and online shopping to make them more approachable and actionable for those who want to do their part. Sanjayan is an alum of UC Santa Cruz, a Visiting Researcher at UCLA and the CEO of Conservation International.


That Ethical, Sustainable Chocolate You Love? It May Be a Fraud

Read the full story at Alternet.

Ten percent of products in the food and drink category are “adulterated or mislabeled,” according to a new study by Ecovia Intelligence, an ethical product research firm. Seafood, parmesan cheese, Kobe beef, herbal tea—all of these products were investigated and outed as oft-disguised and mis-marketed in Larry Olmstead’s 2016 food fraud expose, “Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do About It.”

But what about labeled grocery products we’re conditioned to trust? Especially products that can charge a high premium for being “ethical” or “sustainable”? Chocolate, particularly, comes to mind. The bean-to-bar phenomenon can command upwards of $10 for a single chocolate bar, but are we really getting what we pay for? According to an April 2016 study on millennial purchasing habits, the artisanal-loving generation often fails to ask questions about the ethics of their chocolate sourcing, so we asked the questions ourselves.

The problem with bioplastics

Read the full post at Treehugger.

Plastic was once hailed as a miracle material, but as its favored sheen slowly wears off with better understanding of its environmental repercussions, bioplastics are now rising to the forefront as the savior of the future. Bioplastics, the thinking goes, will enable our consumption habits to remain more or less the same because we won’t have to worry about where the plastic ends up after use. It breaks down, so that’s good, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. A revealing chapter in “Life Without Plastic: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Healthy,” a brand-new book written by Jay Sinha and Chantal Plamondon, founders of the eponymous website, takes a closer look at bioplastics, the confusing terminology, and what it all means.

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