Climate Fwd: A future with dangerous warming locked in

Read the full story in the NYT Climate Fwd newsletter.

Over the three decades that scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been issuing major reports about the state of the climate, they’ve gradually expressed more certainty about what is happening and why.

The latest report by the panel, which is convened by the United Nations, is the most certain yet. The more than 200 scientists involved, who perused thousands of climate studies, dispensed with even the slightest doubt that Earth’s climate is changing and that humans are the cause of it, through emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.

A naturally inspired, reusable system that purifies water and builds itself

Read the full story from Penn State University.

In nature, the interaction of molecules at the boundary of different liquids can give rise to new structures. These self-assembling molecules make cell formation possible and are instrumental to the development of all life on Earth.

They can also be engineered to perform specific functions—and now, a team of Penn State researchers has leveraged this opportunity to develop a material that could remove persistent pollutants from water. The researchers recently published their findings in Advanced Functional Materials.

Shady ships: Retail giants pollute communities and climate with fossil-fueled ocean shipping

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This report exposes the untold environmental and public health impacts of retail companies’ reliance on fossil-fueled maritime shipping to bring products into the United States.

Key trends impacting fisheries and aquaculture in the United States

This National Law Review article summarizes key trends in illegal fishing enforcement, ocean plastics, technology, marketing claims, conservation and carbon sequestration, and permitting that impact U.S. fisheries and the aquaculture industry.

A Caltech scientist has apologized for damaging a sacred site. Is it enough?

Read the full story in the Los Angeles Times.

A Caltech professor who outraged Native American tribes by drilling holes in an ancient petroglyph site while doing research without a permit near Bishop, Calif., has issued a public apology, saying he was “horrified” by what he had done.

“While the area’s geology is of significant interest, it is also of cultural and historical importance,” the scientist, Joseph Kirschvink, wrote in a statement. “I am horrified that I inadvertently collected samples from a sacred area that I too cherish and respect. I sincerely and deeply apologize for the disturbance we caused.”

But even as Kirschvink and officials at Caltech seek to make amends for damage caused at a protected archaeological site, a growing number of Indigenous groups and academics say more needs to be done to protect cultural resources from unfettered scientific inquiry.

FSU researchers discover pine sap-based plastic, a potential change for future of sustainable materials

Read the full story from Florida State University.

Over the past 100 years, plastics and polymers have changed the way the world operates, from airplanes and automobiles to computers and cell phones — nearly all of which are composed of fossil fuel-based compounds. A Florida State University research team’s discovery of a new plastic derived from pine sap has the potential to be a gamechanger for new sustainable materials.  

Crafty cockatoos master dumpster diving and teach each other

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

A few years ago, a Sydney scientist noticed a sulfur-crested cockatoo opening his trash bin. Not every resident would be thrilled, but ornithologist Richard Major was impressed by the ingenuity.

It’s quite a feat for a bird to grasp a bin lid with its beak, pry it open, then shuffle far enough along the bin’s edge that the lid falls backward — revealing edible trash treasures inside.

Intrigued, Major teamed up with researchers in Germany to study how many cockatoos learned this trick. In early 2018, they found from a survey of residents that birds in three Sydney suburbs had mastered the novel foraging technique. By the end of 2019, birds were lifting bins in 44 suburbs.

“From three suburbs to 44 in two years is a pretty rapid spread,” said Major, who is based at the Australian Museum.

The researchers’ next question was whether the cockatoos had each figured out how to do this alone — or whether they copied the strategy from experienced birds. And their research published Thursday in the journal Science concluded the birds mostly learned by watching their peers.

Waste not: How the pandemic shifted shoppers’ sustainability priorities

Read the full story at Winsight Grocery Business.

‘The conversation I hear the most about is packaging concerns and food waste,’ FMI’s Rick Stein says.

Indiana to test highways that can charge moving EVs

Read the full story at Auto Blog.

Magnetized concrete slabs can charge electric cars driving overhead.

What’s the true cost of shipping all your junk across the ocean?

Read the full story at Grist.

Take a look around your home and you’ll likely find plenty of goods that traveled by cargo ship to your doorstep. A set of IKEA plates made in China. A dresser full of pandemic-era loungewear, ordered on Target and made in Guatemala, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. Tracing the impact on the environment from shipping any of these goods is incredibly tricky to do. The data — if you can find it — involves many companies, countries, and cargo carriers. 

Such obscurity makes it hard to count the full cost of our consumption. But a recent report helps unravel some of the mystery.