The Toxics Use Reduction Institute at the University of Massachusetts Lowell is hiring for two positions.
Science, Environmental Health and Safety Support Specialist — The individual in this position will help research environmental and health hazards of chemicals that may be added to the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act list. The Science EHS Support Specialist will gather information on chemical toxicity and effects, help to define chemical categories, and identify alternatives, as well as provide support at Science Advisory Board meetings.
Environmental Justice, Social Justice Consultant — TURI seeks a consultant to provide an analytical report on communities in Massachusetts that are disproportionately impacted by the use and release of toxic chemicals. The current state of environmental justice and inequality among workers in Massachusetts are the primary themes of the analysis. The report will be used internally to help TURI identify opportunities to further strengthen the protection of vulnerable and sensitive groups, such as communities of color and migrant workers, among others.
Commercial fishing, one of the oldest industries in the world, is a stark exception. Industrial fishing, with factory ships and deep-sea trawlers that land thousands of tons of fish at a time, are still the dominant hunting mode in much of the world.
But these patterns are starting to change. In my new book, “The Blue Revolution: Hunting, Harvesting, and Farming Seafood in the Information Age,” I describe how commercial fishing has begun an encouraging shift toward a less destructive, more transparent post-industrial era. This is true in the U.S., Scandinavia, most of the European Union, Iceland, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, the Philippines and much of South America.
Fishing with data
Changes in behavior, technology and policy are occurring throughout the fishing industry. Here are some examples:
Global Fishing Watch, an international nonprofit, monitors and creates open-access visualizations of global fishing activity on the internet with a 72-hour delay. This transparency breakthrough has led to the arrest and conviction of owners and captains of boats fishing illegally.
The Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability, an international business-to-business initiative, creates voluntary industry standards for seafood traceability. These standards are designed to help harmonize various systems that track seafood through the supply chain, so they all collect the same key information and rely on the same data sources. This information lets buyers know where their seafood comes from and whether it was produced sustainably.
Fishing boats in New Bedford, Massachusetts – the top U.S. fishing port, based on total catch value – are rigged with sensors to develop a Marine Data Bank that will give fishermen data on ocean temperature, salinity and oxygen levels. Linking this data to actual stock behavior and catch levels is expected to help fishermen target certain species and avoid unintentional bycatch.
Annual catch limits, divvied up through individual quotas for each fisherman, have helped curb overfishing. Imposing catch shares can be highly controversial, but since the year 2000, 47 U.S. stocks that were overfished and shut down have been rebuilt and reopened for fishing, thanks to policy judgments based on the best available science. Examples include Bering Sea snow crab, North Atlantic swordfish and red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico.
A growing “fishie” movement that mirrors the widespread “foodie” locavore movement has been gaining steam for more than a decade. Taking a page from agriculture, subscribers to community-supported fisheries pay in advance for regular deliveries from local fishermen. Such engagement between consumers and producers is beginning to shape buying patterns and introduce consumers to new types of fish that are abundant but not iconic like the cod of yore.
Virtually all new salmon farms in the U.S. – in Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana, and several planned for Maine and California – are land-based. In some cases, water from the fish tanks circulates through greenhouses to grow vegetables or hemp, a system called aquaponics.
There is heated debate over proposals to open U.S. federal waters, between 3 and 200 miles offshore, for ocean aquaculture. Whatever the outcome, it’s clear that without a growing mariculture industry, the U.S. won’t be able to reduce and may even widen its $17 billion seafood trade deficit.
Most Chinese distant-water ships are so large that they scoop up as many fish in one week as local boats from Senegal or Mexico might catch in a year. Much of this fishing would not be profitable without government subsidies. Clearly, holding China to higher standards is a priority for maintaining healthy global fisheries.
The ocean’s restorative power
There is no shortage of gloomy information about how overfishing, along with other stresses like climate change, is affecting the world’s oceans. Nonetheless, I believe it bears emphasizing that over 78% of current marine fish landings come from biologically sustainable stocks, according to the United Nations. And overharvested fisheries often can rebound with smart management.
Another success story is Cabo Pulmo, a five-mile stretch of coast at the southeast end of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Once a vital fishing ground, Cabo Pulmo was barren in the early 1990s after intense overfishing. Then local communities persuaded the Mexican government to turn the area into a marine park where fishing was barred.
Scientists say that thanks to effective management, marine life in Cabo Pulmo has recovered to a level that makes the reserve comparable to remote, pristine sites that have never been fished. Fishing outside of the refuge has also rebounded, showing that conservation and fishing are not incompatible. In my view, that’s a good benchmark for a post-industrial ocean future.
As our world faces existential threats such as climate change and ocean plastics, educators play a critical role in equipping students with the knowledge and skills to build a healthier and more sustainable future for our planet. Green chemistry is an upstream, preventative, solutions-oriented approach to creating a healthier future. Through the application of green chemistry, scientists and innovators can prevent the generation of pollutants and toxic compounds before they’re ever released into the environment or exposed to humans and animals, rather than cleaning up those pollutants afterward.
To enable and inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators to work sustainably, green chemistry must be taught widely in science and chemistry education programs. Cue the Green Chemistry Teaching and Learning Community (GCTLC), a joint initiative by Beyond Benign and the American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute.
Being developed in collaboration with educators from across the U.S. and the world, the GCTLC will be a central online space where teachers, industry leaders and students can share best practices and resources, connect and collaborate, receive mentorship and feedback, and help each other through peer-to-peer learning.
In this Q&A, GCTLC Program Manager Dr. Jonathon Moir shares the goals, structure, and progress of this exciting new community.
This white paper summarizes readily available information on control techniques and measures with the potential to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from stationary combustion turbines permitted to operate as electric utility generating units (EGUs). A discussion of the basic types of available stationary combustion turbines is included as well as factors that influence GHG emission rates from these sources. The subsequent technology discussion includes information on an array of control technologies and potential reduction measures for GHG emissions.
It’s never been easy to accurately measure the impact of any scientific research, but it’s even harder for citizen science projects, which don’t follow traditional methods. Public involvement places citizen science in a new era of data collection, one that requires a new measurement plan.
A mini-review has been published in the journal Polymerson chitosan’s potential for sustainable applications in multiple industries. Researchers from Spain, India, Iran, and China have contributed to the review.
Measuring the energy efficiency of a house is pretty easy: You have your heat loss calculation before it’s built and you have the gas and electric bills after. Figuring out the operating carbon emissions is straightforward as well. But what about the embodied carbon—the upfront carbon emitted when building a house?
Albert Heijn is launching AH Packaging Free, a shopping concept that will see around 70 products – including cereal, pasta, spreads, tea, and nuts – offered in smart dispensers that can be used with consumers’ own containers or reusable jars and bags purchased in store.