FSU researchers help develop sustainable polymers

Read the full story from Florida State University.

Researchers at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering have made new discoveries on the effects of temperature on sustainable polymers. Their findings may help the industry to produce plastics that are better for the environment.

Associated journal article: Xiaoshi Zhang, Stephanie F. Marxsen, Patrick Ortmann, Stefan Mecking, and Rufina G. Alamo (2020). “Crystallization of Long-Spaced Precision Polyacetals II: Effect of Polymorphism on Isothermal Crystallization Kinetics.” Macromolecules 53(18), 7899-7913. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.macromol.0c01443

It’s Time the U.S. Insurance Industry Drops Fossil Fuels

Read the full story at Triple Pundit.

Insurance may not seem like an obvious place to fight climate change. But the fossil fuel industry doesn’t work without insurance. The world can’t afford a single new coal plant if we’re going to avoid climate catastrophe, and not a single new plant could be built without insurance. Without insurance, ancient forests couldn’t be cleared to make way for open tar sands pits that spew pollution into the air. And without insurance, pipelines couldn’t transport oil over thousands of miles, often leaking into the air, water, and soil that Indigenous Peoples—and many others—rely on.  

They’re not otters, but endangered mussels in Illinois play a crucial role as environmental sentinels. ‘They all have a story to tell.’

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

On a September afternoon that still felt like summer, a small group in boots and waders drove out to a creek near Elgin, sloshed through cold, bubbling water, knelt down and dug their bare hands into the ground. For hours. For days. And all for a mollusk.

Workers from the Shedd Aquarium and Cook County Forest Preserve District spent a few days this week searching Poplar Creek and tagging more than 100 freshwater mussels, a group researchers say is among the most endangered in the world.

But little is known about the unassuming creatures, some of which can live 100 years. So Kentaro Inoue, a Shedd research biologist who has studied mussels for years, is trying to figure out what kind of mussels are in the Chicago area, where they are, how they’re doing and ways they might be protected.

Rooted in Campus History: Century-Old Trees Near Siebel Center Preserved

Read the full story from ISEE.

A row of Austrian pines borders the construction site for the new Siebel Center for Design, their weathered branches softening the modern lines of the stone and glass building.

Rooted in the university’s early history, these century-old trees have been carefully preserved through the 18-month construction project that is set to wrap up this fall.

They are remnants of a wind break that protected a vast experimental orchard planted there in the late 19th century by botanist Thomas Jonathan Burrill, a pioneer in plant pathology and the third University of Illinois President (1891-94).

More broadly, Burrill is credited with beautifying the young agricultural campus through a comprehensive planting program, some of which survives today. Early university correspondence indicates Burrill personally planted most if not all of the trees on campus during the 1870s, University Landscape Architect Brent Lewis said. Before that, trees were scarce on the prairie landscape.

Camera traps show impact of recreational activity on wildlife

Read the full story from the University of British Columbia.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fired up interest in outdoor activities in our parks and forests. Now a new study highlights the need to be mindful of how these activities may affect wildlife living in protected areas. All wildlife tended to avoid places that were recently visited by recreational users. And they avoided mountain bikers and motorized vehicles significantly more than they did hikers and horseback riders.

Associated journal article: Robin Naidoo, A. Cole Burton. Relative effects of recreational activities on a temperate terrestrial wildlife assemblageConservation Science and Practice, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/csp2.271

Green Washing Saves Water

Read the full story at Food Processing.

Conservation procedures can both cut down on water used for cleaning and recover some of it for reuse.

Webinar: Incorporating Equity in Disaster Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Programs

Wed, October 21, 2020, noon-1:30 pm CDT
Register here.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s next State EJ Training Webinar session will focus on “Incorporating Equity in Disaster Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Programs.” In light of current severe weather events both proliferating and intensifying, this webinar is extremely relevant and timely.

It will feature presentations from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on social vulnerability assessment, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs on the state’s equity investments in its climate adaptation programs, and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality on the inspiring story of the relocation of the historic African American township of Princeville, NC.

Speakers are:

  • Whitney Gray, Florida Department of Environmental Quality
  • Rishi Reddi, Mia Mansfield, Robert O’Conner, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
  • Jennifer Mundt, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality

Climate pledges ‘like tackling COVID-19 without social distancing’

Read the full story from the University of Exeter.

Current global pledges to tackle climate change are the equivalent of declaring a pandemic without a plan for social distancing, researchers say.

Associated journal article: Mark P. Baldwin, Timothy M. Lenton. Solving the climate crisis: lessons from ozone depletion and COVID-19Global Sustainability, 2020; 3 DOI: 10.1017/sus.2020.25

European Commission launches Sustainable Cocoa Initiative and is ‘ready to act’

Read the full story in Confectionery News.

The Sustainable Cocoa Initiative is a new multi-stakeholder dialogue that brings together representatives of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – the two main cocoa producing countries accounting for 70% of global cocoa production – as well as representatives of the European Parliament, EU Member States, cocoa growers and civil society.

New Way of Analyzing Soil Organic Matter Will Help Predict Climate Change, Baylor University Researcher Says

Read the full story from Baylor University.

A new way of analyzing the chemical composition of soil organic matter will help scientists predict how soils store carbon — and how soil carbon may affect climate in the future, says a Baylor University researcher.

A study by scientists from Iowa State University and Baylor University, published in the academic journal Nature Geoscience, used an archive of data on soils from a wide range of environments across North America — including tundra, tropical rainforests, deserts and prairies — to find patterns to better understand the formation of soil organic matter, which is mostly composed of residues left by dead plants and microorganisms.

Associated journal article: Hall, S.J., Ye, C., Weintraub, S.R. et al. “Molecular trade-offs in soil organic carbon composition at continental scale.” Nature Geoscience 13, 687–692 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-020-0634-x