Day: April 20, 2020

On the road to high-value recycling, storage is ahead of solar

Read the full story in PV Magazine.

Solar lags, at least in part, because the major components of panels — glass and silicon — while highly recyclable, are not as valuable as the lithium, cobalt and nickel in batteries.

Ocean advocate raises alarm as masks wash up on beaches

Read the full story in the Times Colonist.

Single-use face masks are washing up on Hong Kong beaches, threatening marine life and raising questions about hygienic disposal of the masks, says a Saanich researcher in marine plastic pollution

When Photographers Get Too Close, Wildlife Pays the Price

Read the full story in Hakai Magazine.

Capturing up-close-and-personal animal encounters on camera can help garner public support for conservation, but at what cost?

For climate activists, coronavirus lockdown means more time to organize

Read the full story at Waging Nonviolence.

Forced to take the climate movement online after a momentous year of mass mobilization, the most internet-savvy generation in history is proving it’s up for the challenge.

Coronavirus pumps the brakes on the electric vehicle revolution

Read the full story at Grist.

One of the starkest ways the coronavirus pandemic has upended daily life is its impact on transit: Simply put, we’ve stopped moving aroundFlights and cruises are being canceled en masse, subways are losing riders, and highways have become eerily empty as commuter traffic peters out.

Far from just impacting transportation today, the pandemic and ensuing economic fallout could have big implications for the transit systems of tomorrow. Early signs suggest that the electric vehicle market, like the rest of the auto market, is taking a serious hit from COVID-19. For now, it appears to be a short-term stallout. But with the economy headed for recession and the price of oil reaching historic lows, bigger challenges could lie ahead for the EV industry unless governments take proactive measures to ensure a clean transit future.

Rethinking short-term droughts in Illinois

Read the full story from the Prairie Research Institute.

In 2012, a fast-moving drought struck the central U.S. during the midst of its growing season. The drought was widespread and devastating, with the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) reporting an estimated $31.2 billion loss primarily from widespread damage to corn, soybeans, forage crops, and pasture.

While there is no universally accepted definition of drought, contemporary definitions look at a percentage of precipitation over a protracted period of time, in most cases over the course of a year. Some say this approach leaves people and communities vulnerable to a different type of drought – flash droughts.

Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford warns that defining droughts as solely long protracted events with minimal precipitation can underestimate short-term drought risk. Ford is at the forefront of research to better understand flash droughts and the unique impacts they create, which can help those vulnerable to its effects better prepare.

Nature’s archives: piecing together 12,000 years of Earth’s climate story

Read the full story at

Much like archaeologists dig up artifacts to piece together stories of ancient civilizations, climate scientists dig up natural “artifacts” to piece together stories of past climates. From fossil pollen to air bubbles trapped in ice cores, these artifacts, or “proxies,” allow scientists to compare current climate change to the past. This week, NOAA released the most comprehensive database ever assembled of proxies—many available publicly for the first time—that can tell scientists about temperatures since the last ice age ended roughly 12,000 years ago.

Microplastics are a Potential Vector for Chemical Contaminants

Read the full story from the International Joint Commission.

Given the properties of plastics, many have the potential to soak up pollutants from their surrounding environment. To investigate the potential of microplastics to adsorb pollutants, a collaborative effort between the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois, along with the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University and the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom has conducted a field experiment on Lake Muskegon in Michigan.

Webinar: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Food Supply & Feeding the Hungry

Wednesday, April 29, 1 pm CDT.
Register here.

The recovery of excess food to sustain the food-insecure population in the U.S. is a critical concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. Food rescue organizations and food waste experts are focused on assessing the short-term and potential long-term impacts, including:

  • How will the pandemic affect food supply chains? What would be the effects of disruptions in supply chains?
  • How can we ensure that excess food gets to the people who need it most?
  • How will an increase in public demand for food impact the availability of excess food for rescue organizations?  
    • How are food banks and agencies that deliver meals to homebound people handling this situation?
    • How are they adapting in order to continue to feed hungry people?
    • How are they implementing new safety standards?
    • How do they continue to combat hunger as unemployment rises and needs escalate?

Opinion: In a pandemic, we need green spaces more than ever

Read the full story at Ensia.

Here’s why some neighborhoods don’t have them — and what we can do about it.

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