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Inspiring: Healing Our Earth News Stories

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Herbicide Roundup to be pulled from U.S. store shelves in response to lawsuits
2021-07-29, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2021-08-08 17:44:13
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Herbicide-Roundup-to-be-pulled-fr...

Facing billions of dollars in potential liability to cancer victims, Monsanto’s parent company said Thursday it would stop selling the current version of Roundup, the world’s most widely used herbicide, for U.S. home and garden use in 2023. The forthcoming version of the weed-killer will replace its current active ingredient, glyphosate, with “new formulations that rely on alternative active ingredients,” subject to approval by the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulators, said Bayer AG, the German pharmaceutical giant that purchased Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018. The company ... will continue to market the current version of the product for farm use in the United States and for general use in other nations that permit its sale. But while the EPA has found the current version of Roundup to be safe, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, concluded in 2015 that glyphosate was a probable cause of cancer in humans. Tens of thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto and Bayer in state and federal courts. In the first case to go to trial, a San Francisco jury awarded nearly $290 million in damages in 2019 to Dewayne “Lee” Johnson of Vallejo, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer after spraying the herbicide as a groundskeeper for the Benicia Unified School District. State courts reduced the damages to $21.5 million and rejected the companies’ appeal.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Magawa, the Explosives-Sniffing Rat Who Uncovered 71 Land Mines, Retires
2021-06-11, Popular Mechanics
Posted: 2021-06-28 20:33:15
https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a36687356/magawa-explosives...

Magawa the rat is retiring. And while most rats step away from their active careers with little to no fanfare, this rodent is a bit different: he's directly responsible for saving the lives of untold numbers of men, women, and children. Magawa - who spent five years (2016-2021) sniffing out hazardous, unexploded weapons of war dotting the Cambodian countryside - is credited with leading his handlers to more than 100 buried explosive devices. This hero is a Gambian pouched rat. Like many rodents, Gambian rats have poor eyesight, but make up for it with an exceptional sense of smell. Magawa's trainers at the Belgian nonprofit APOPO taught him to sniff out military-grade explosives. The rat is essentially a living sensor, capable of detecting land mines, bombs, and other explosives. Minefields have proven especially deadly in postwar Cambodia. Experts believe that military forces left behind somewhere between 4 and 6 million idle land mines at the close of the Cambodian Civil War. Between 1979 and 2020, abandoned mines and other explosive devices killed 19,789 Cambodians and injured or maimed 45,102 others. Magawa completed his training in Africa, and then traveled to Cambodia, where he spent five years searching for whiffs of explosives. In his half-decade career, the big rat "helped clear over 225,000 square metres of land," according to APOPO. All in all, he led his handlers to 71 land mines and 38 other items of unexploded ordinance.

Note: Along with sniffing out land mines, rats have also been trained to detect tuberculosis. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Going Circular: 7 European Cities’ Quest to Become Fully Sustainable
2021-03-12, Yes! Magazine
Posted: 2021-03-23 01:42:56
https://www.yesmagazine.org/economy/2021/03/12/construction-waste-sustainable/

About 30 kilometers from Denmark’s capital of Copenhagen, lies a small, but significant district called Musicon. Sit on a bench in Musicon, and you’ll likely be sitting on slabs of concrete salvaged and repurposed from a demolition site nearby. Or bring your kids to the skatepark, and they’ll be riding their scooters on concrete that used to be a basin and canals for collection of rainwater. Musicon was founded in 2007 on the premise that the old concrete factory that occupied the site should ... become the foundation for the new district’s development. This meant that new construction projects would have to reimagine the old factory buildings in creative ways to create structures for living and working. This is one example of what is called a circular economy. To become fully circular means to avoid as much waste as possible, and to preserve as much value in what does go to waste. City planners have been cozying up to the idea of circularity in recent years, typically with the hope of combating climate change and resource scarcity, and many have begun embracing the approach. The CityLoops experiment ... aims to create sustainable city planning solutions based on the premise of circular economy. In several participant cities, including in Musicon, the circular economy takes the form of “banks” or “marketplaces,” digital and physical, where salvaged materials are stored and offered up for use in other projects in the area, including anything from a birdhouse to an apartment block.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Atlanta creates the nation's largest free food forest with hopes of addressing food insecurity
2021-03-02, CNN News
Posted: 2021-03-14 16:16:52
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/02/22/us/atlanta-free-food-forest-trnd/index.html

When a dormant pecan farm in the neighborhoods of south Atlanta closed, the land was soon rezoned and earmarked to become townhouses. But when the townhouses never came to fruition and with the lot remaining in foreclosure, the Conservation Fund bought it in 2016 to develop an unexpected project: the nation's largest free food forest. Thanks to a US Forest Service grant and a partnership between the city of Atlanta, the Conservation Fund, and Trees Atlanta, you'll find 7.1 acres of land ripe with 2,500 pesticide-free edible and medicinal plants only 10 minutes from Atlanta's airport. The forest is in the Browns Mill neighborhood of southeast Atlanta, where the closest grocery store is a 30-minute bus ride away. "Access to green space and healthy foods is very important. And that's a part of our mission," says Michael McCord, a certified arborist and expert edible landscaper who helps manage the forest. The forest is part of the city of Atlanta's larger mission to bring healthy food within half a mile of 85% of Atlanta's 500,000 residents by 2022, though as recently as 2014, it was illegal to grow food on residential lots in the city. Resources like the food forest are a rarity and necessity in Atlanta as 1 in 6 Georgians face food insecurity, 1 in 3 Browns Mill residents live below the poverty line, and 1 in 4 Atlantans live in food deserts. The forest is now owned by the parks department and more than 1,000 volunteers and neighbors are helping to plant, water and maintain the forest.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The rising e-waste crisis is being reckoned with in Rwanda, one gadget at a time
2021-02-26, CNN News
Posted: 2021-03-07 21:38:35
https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/26/africa/marketplace-africa-ewaste-electronics-r...

For Eric Nshimiyimanain, who owns two small electronic repair shops in Kigali, Rwanda, the startup chime of an old Windows laptop is the sound of a business opportunity. He refurbishes broken PCs, laptops, phones and secondhand gadgets classified as electronic waste, or "e-waste" that would otherwise end up as trash in Nduba, Rwanda's only open-air dump. "Sometimes we even use computer screens as TVs," Nshimiyimanain says. Converting those screens to televisions then becomes a cheaper option, he adds, for "citizens who have low incomes and cannot afford buying a brand-new TV." According to the UN-affiliated Global E-Waste Monitor report, nearly 54 million metric tons of e-waste was generated around the world in 2019. It includes everything from phones and computer monitors to larger appliances like refrigerators. Rwanda is one of only 13 countries in Africa that have passed national legislation regarding e-waste regulation, according to the report. And it has led to the first official recycling and refurbishing facility in the country. Operational since early last year, this public-private partnership between the government and Dubai-based Enviroserve became a source of pride for Rwanda. The state-of-the-art plant near Kigali can process up to 10,000 metric tons of e-waste per year. Enviroserve has already repaired and refurbished more than 5,000 computers, which were sold to public schools. To date, it has processed more than 4,000 tons of e-waste and created more than 600 jobs.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Social Life of Forests
2020-12-02, New York Times
Posted: 2021-01-25 21:58:39
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/12/02/magazine/tree-communication-my...

As a child, Suzanne Simard often roamed Canada’s old-growth forests. Simard noticed that up to 10 percent of newly planted Douglas fir were likely to get sick and die whenever nearby aspen, paper birch and cottonwood were removed. The reasons were unclear. The planted saplings had plenty of space, and they received more light and water than trees in old, dense forests. So why were they so frail? Simard suspected that the answer was buried in the soil. Underground, trees and fungi form partnerships known as mycorrhizas: Threadlike fungi envelop and fuse with tree roots, helping them extract water and nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen in exchange for some of the carbon-rich sugars the trees make through photosynthesis. Research had demonstrated that mycorrhizas also connected plants to one another and that these associations might be ecologically important. By analyzing the DNA in root tips and tracing the movement of molecules through underground conduits, Simard has discovered that fungal threads link nearly every tree in a forest — even trees of different species. Carbon, water, nutrients, alarm signals and hormones can pass from tree to tree through these subterranean circuits. Before Simard and other ecologists revealed the extent and significance of mycorrhizal networks, foresters typically regarded trees as solitary individuals that competed for space and resources. This framework is far too simplistic. An old-growth forest is ... a vast, ancient and intricate society.

Note: If you are interested in cutting edge work on tree and plant consciousness, this long article is worth reading in full. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How 'biophilic' design can create a better workspace
2020-10-05, BBC
Posted: 2020-10-27 13:18:49
https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200929-how-biophilic-design-can-create...

Houseplant sales were skyrocketing among US millennials even before the pandemic, with a nearly 50% rise in sales between 2017 and 2019, according to the National Gardening Association. Now, many like [travel writer MaSovaida] Morgan see them as a necessary tool in fostering optimal work-from-home conditions. Experts say this desire to fill indoor environments with objects from the outdoors ties in to the growing movement toward 'biophilic design', which is a concept used to increase wellbeing through both direct and indirect exposure to nature. Biophilic design was a major office trend in the years leading up to 2020, when Amazon introduced spherical conservatories to its Seattle headquarters; Microsoft debuted treehouse conference room in nearby Redmond, Washington; and Facebook created a 3.6-acre rooftop garden at its Silicon Valley hub. Thanks to the pandemic, millions of [remote workers] now have the chance to create a work environment with their own wellbeing in mind. An increasing body of evidence shows that incorporating nature can help with things like decreasing stress and increasing productivity, creativity and attention span. Beyond adding greenery ... there are several other simple additions for optimising a home office, including light and colour. Natural light supports the circadian rhythms of the body, which regulate our sleep-wake cycle, as well as hormones. Those working in a ... dark environment can typically mimic natural light by incorporate a variety of lighting levels throughout the workday.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


In Sweden, Trash Heats Homes, Powers Buses and Fuels Taxi Fleets
2018-09-21, New York Times
Posted: 2020-10-12 00:12:37
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/21/climate/sweden-garbage-used-for-fuel.html

In a cavernous room filled with garbage, a giant mechanical claw reaches down and grabs five tons of trash. As a technician in a control room maneuvers the spiderlike crane, the claw drops its moldering harvest down a 10-story shaft into a boiler that is hotter than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The process continues 24 hours a day to help fuel this power plant run by Tekniska Verken, a municipal government company in Linköping, a city 125 miles south of Stockholm. It is one of Sweden’s 34 “waste-to-energy” power plants. Instead of burning coal or gas, this power plant burns trash. Sweden is known for strikingly reducing the trash sent to its landfills. Less than 1 percent of household waste in this Scandinavian country finds it way to landfills, according to Avfall Sverige, the Swedish Waste Management and Recycling association. Trash accounts for a small portion of Sweden’s overall power supply; hydro and nuclear energy generate about 83 percent of Sweden’s electricity, and wind generates another 7 percent. But garbage supplies much of the heat during cold months for the country’s nearly 10 million residents. Energy from trash equals the heating demand of 1.25 million apartments and electricity for 680,000 homes, according to Avfall Sverige. Along with heat and electricity, Tekniska Verken produces methane biogas from 100,000 tons of food and organic waste each year. This biogas runs more than 200 city buses in the county, as well as fleets of garbage collection trucks, and some taxis and private cars.

Note: Why aren't other countries racing to embrace this amazing technology which remediates the huge trash problem? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This boat makes its own hydrogen fuel from seawater
2020-07-17, CNET
Posted: 2020-08-10 18:08:03
https://www.cnet.com/news/this-boat-makes-its-own-hydrogen-fuel-from-seawater/

Somewhere in the vast ocean, a little boat covered in solar panels is doing something extraordinary: making its own hydrogen fuel from the seawater underneath it. The Energy Observer uses a patchwork of different cutting-edge technologies to generate enough energy to power nine homes each day. During the day, 200 square meters of solar panels charge up the boat's lithium ion batteries. Any extra energy is stored as hydrogen, thanks to a special fuel cell that goes by the name Rex H2 (short for Range Extender H2). The Rex H2 was made by Toyota, using components from Toyota's hydrogen-powered Mirai vehicle line. The fuel cell brings in seawater, removes the salt and then separates the H from the pure H20 with electricity. When the Energy Observer began its journey in 2017, it could only produce hydrogen while stopped. That changed in a big way with the addition of the Oceanwings, 12-meter sails that improved the efficiency of the Energy Observer from 18% to 42%, to the point where it can now produce hydrogen even while sailing. One of the main benefits of hydrogen is its ability to store more more electricity by weight than its lithium ion competition. This benefit is especially useful at sea. Because fossil fuels have had more than a century's head start, we now find ourselves far beyond the point of any one technology being a silver bullet for our growing energy needs. A sustainable future will require a patchwork of new technologies, like the one powering the Energy Observer.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How Mushrooms Can Save the World
2013-05-30, Discover
Posted: 2020-08-02 16:44:13
https://www.discovermagazine.com/environment/how-mushrooms-can-save-the-world

For Paul Stamets, the phrase mushroom hunt does not denote a leisurely stroll with a napkin-lined basket. This morning, a half-dozen of us are struggling to keep up with the mycologist. He points to a clutch of plump oyster mushrooms halfway up an alder trunk. These could clean up oil spills all over the planet, he says. He ducks beneath a rotting log, where a rare, beehive-like Agarikon dangles. This could provide a defense against weaponized smallpox. He plucks a tiny, gray Mycena alcalinafrom the soil and holds it under our noses. Smell that? It seems to be outgassing chlorine. To Stamets, that suggests it can break down toxic chlorine-based polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. Most Americans think of mushrooms as ingredients in soup or intruders on a well-tended lawn. Stamets, however, cherishes a grander vision, one trumpeted in the subtitle of his 2005 book, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World. Mushroom-producing fungi, he believes, can serve as game changers in fields as disparate as medicine, forestry, pesticides and pollution control. He describes mycelium, the web of fibrous tissue from which mushrooms spring, as the neurological network of nature, a sentient membrane that has the long-term health of the host environment in mind. To some, such language seems uncomfortably metaphysical. Yet Stamets ideas have gained an expanding audience among mainstream scientists, environmental engineers, federal officials and Silicon Valley investors.

Note: The stunningly beautiful documentary Fantastic Fungi takes you on an amazing journey through the wild and wonderful world of mushrooms. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Mushrooms Clean Up Toxic Mess, Including Plastic. So Why Arent They Used More?
2019-03-05, Yes! Magazine
Posted: 2020-08-02 16:42:36
https://www.yesmagazine.org/environment/2019/03/05/mushrooms-clean-up-toxic-m...

When wildfires burned across Northern California in October 2017, they killed at least 43 people and displaced another 100,000. The human toll alone was dire, but the fires also left behind a toxic mess. The charred detritus of paint, pesticides, cleaning products, electronics, pressure-treated wood, and propane tanks left a range of pollutants in the soilincluding arsenic, asbestos, copper, hexavalent chromium, lead, and zinc. In Sonoma County, a coalition of fire remediation experts, local businesses, and ecological activists mobilized to cleanse the foundations of burned-out buildings with mushrooms. The Fire Remediation Action Coalition placed more than 40 miles of wattlesstraw-filled, snakelike tubes designed to prevent erosioninoculated with oyster mushrooms around parking lots, along roads, and across hillsides. Their plan? The tubes would provide makeshift channels, diverting runoff from sensitive waterways. The mushrooms would do the rest. The volunteers, led by Sebastopol-based landscape professional Erik Ohlsen, are advocates for mycoremediation, an experimental bioremediation technique that uses mushrooms to clean up hazardous waste, harnessing their natural ability to use enzymes to break down foreign substances. Mushrooms [have been used to] clean up oil spills in the Amazon, boat fuel pollution in Denmark, contaminated soil in New Zealand, and polychlorinated biphenyls, more commonly known as PCBs, in Washington state’s Spokane River. Research suggests mushrooms can convert pesticides and herbicides to more innocuous compounds, remove heavy metals from brownfield sites, and break down plastic. They have even been used to remove and recover heavy metals from contaminated water. Research suggests mushrooms can convert pesticides and herbicides to more innocuous compounds, remove heavy metals from brownfield sites, and break down plastic.

Note: The stunningly beautiful documentary Fantastic Fungi takes you on an amazing journey through the wild and wonderful world of mushrooms. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Why You Should Move Into An
2016-11-08, Forbes
Posted: 2019-11-24 18:40:12
https://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2016/11/08/why-you-should-move-into-an-ag...

When Stephanie Walsh and her husband were looking to buy a home in Atlanta, GA, they had a pretty unusual set of qualifications for their new home: They wanted to have access to local, organic produce (and not just from the grocery store); they wanted a neighborhood that was easily walkable; and they wanted to be true friends not just smile and nod acquaintances with their neighbors. On a whim, she searched the internet for ecofriendly neighborhoods near Atlanta and happened upon the website for Serenbe, a community of 270 green homes and 30 retailers planned around a 25-acre organic working farm and 15 miles of trails. I fell in love immediately, she says. Theyve now lived in Serenbe for over four years, and Walsh says they hardly ever leave. Serenbe is whats known as an agrihood, a community that is usually planned around a farm and offers access to unblemished landscapes, locally grown food, and homes built to environmentally friendly standards. The planning of agrihoods is done in a way that fosters community and interaction between the people who live there. In Arizonas Agritopia, fences arent any higher than 5 feet, making it very easy to have a conversation with the family next door when you see them in their backyard. Every house has a front porch, and the houses are closer to the street, says resident Katie Critchley. You can be sitting on your porch and be able to have a normal-decibel-level conversation with someone walking their dog. It forces you to say hello.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


In Detroit, A New Type of Agricultural Neighborhood Has Emerged
2019-11-04, Yes! Magazine
Posted: 2019-11-24 18:38:30
https://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/food-community-detroit-garden-agric...

Another trend has entered the urban agricultural scene: agrihoods, short for agricultural neighborhoods. The Urban Land Institute defines agrihoods as master-planned housing communities with working farms as their focus. Overwhelmingly, they have large swaths of green space, orchards, hoop houses and greenhouses, and some with barns, outdoor community kitchens, and environmentally sustainable homes decked with solar panels and composting. Agrihoods, which number about 90 nationwide, are typically in rural and suburban areas. Within the city of Detroit, home to nearly 1,400 community gardens and farms, there is one officially designated agrihood, Michigan Urban Farming Initiative. The Michigan initiative is a 3-acre farm focusing on food insecurity in one of Detroits historic communities that was once home to a thriving Black middle class. Now the median home value is under $25,000, and about 35% of the residents are homeowners. The Detroit agrihood model plans to provide a Community Resource Center with educational programs and meeting space across from the garden, a caf, and two commercial kitchens. For us, food insecurity is the biggest issue, says, Quan Blunt, the Michigan initiatives farm manager. The closest [fresh] produce store to this neighborhood is Whole Foods [4 miles away in Midtown], and you know how expensive they can be. At MUFI, produce is free to all. The farm is open for harvesting on Saturday mornings.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This southern city is fighting food deserts with a forest of free produce
2019-05-24, CNN News
Posted: 2019-09-08 23:26:23
https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/24/us/atlanta-food-forest-fighting-food-desert/in...

Among the heavily trafficked streets of Atlanta, a massive urban food forest is growing to provide fresh produce for the public. But what exactly is a food forest? In the fight against food deserts - low income areas that lack access to fresh, whole foods - a food forest is a public space in the city where fresh produce will grow in trees, bushes, plants, and community garden beds for the community to enjoy. And at 7.1 acres, the site in Atlanta will become the city's first and the nation's largest. In the Lakewood-Browns Mill community, which will house the Urban Food Forest, more than a third of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the USDA, who has assisted in the project. "Residents still talk about the land's former owners, who left excess produce from their farm on fence posts for neighbors to claim and enjoy," the USDA said. "Now this land will celebrate that history and make new memories for the community." A city ordinance passed in the beginning of the month grants money for the city to purchase the plot from the Conservation Fund, which currently owns and has helped develop the land. In addition to community outreach and education, the forest is meant to make strides in the city's goal of putting 85% of residents within a half mile of fresh food by 2021.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Flowers can hear buzzing bees and it makes their nectar sweeter
2019-01-15, National Geographic
Posted: 2019-07-28 18:12:04
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/01/flowers-can-hear-bees-and-...

Sound is so elemental to life and survival that it prompted Tel Aviv University researcher Lilach Hadany to ask: What if it wasnt just animals that could sense sound - what if plants could, too? The first experiments to test this hypothesis ... suggest that in at least one case, plants can hear, and it confers a real evolutionary advantage. Hadanys team looked at evening primroses (Oenothera drummondii) and found that within minutes of sensing vibrations from pollinators wings, the plants temporarily increased the concentration of sugar in their flowers nectar. In effect, the flowers themselves served as ears, picking up the specific frequencies of bees wings while tuning out irrelevant sounds like wind. A sweeter treat for pollinators, their theory goes, may draw in more insects, potentially increasing the chances of successful cross-pollination. Indeed, in field observations, researchers found that pollinators were more than nine times more common around plants another pollinator had visited within the previous six minutes. As the team thought about how sound works, via the transmission and interpretation of vibrations, the role of the flowers became even more intriguing. Though blossoms vary widely in shape and size, a good many are concave or bowl-shaped. This makes them perfect for receiving and amplifying sound waves, much like a satellite dish. This single study has cracked open an entirely new field of scientific research, which Hadany calls phytoacoustics.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The unlikely, eccentric inventor turning inedible plant life into fuel
2019-06-23, CBS News
Posted: 2019-07-15 16:56:32
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/marshall-medoff-the-unlikely-eccentric-inventor-...

A breakthrough can come from the least expected - perhaps like an 81-year-old eccentric from Massachusetts who toiled in isolation with no financial support for more than a decade. His focus? A challenge that has stumped scientists for many years: how to transform inedible plant life into environmentally friendly transportation fuels in a clean and cost-effective way. 25 years ago, [Marshall Medoff] became obsessed with the environment and decided to abandon his business career and become an amateur scientist. "What I thought was, the reason people were failing is they were trying to overcome nature instead of working with it," [said Medoff]. He knew that there's a lot of energy in plant life. It's in the form of sugar molecules that once accessed can be converted into transportation fuel. The key word is "access." This sugar is nearly impossible to extract cheaply and cleanly since it is locked tightly inside the plant's cellulose. What's so tantalizing is that sugar-rich cellulose is the most abundant biological material on earth. Medoff's novel idea [was to use] machines called electron accelerators to break apart nature's chokehold on the valuable sugars inside plant life - or biomass. Machines like these are typically used to strengthen materials. Medoff's invention was to use the accelerator the opposite way - to break biomass apart. This process, Medoff's remarkable invention, releases plant sugars that he's now using to make products he claims will solve some of the world's most intractable problems.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The holy grail of plastic? Scientists create material that can be recycled over and over again
2019-05-09, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2019-05-20 03:03:19
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/scientists-berkeley-holy-grail-of-...

The holy grail of plastic a material that can be repeatedly recycled without any loss of quality has been created by scientists. Placed in an acid bath, it can be fully broken down into its component parts. Like lego, these monomers can then be reassembled into different shapes, colours and textures, according to the scientists at Californias Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who created it. Currently, less than a third of recyclable plastic is re-purposed to create new materials, leaving the majority of it to end up in landfill or the ocean. The new material called poly (diketoenamine) or PDK can, unlike normal plastics, have its monomers separated by dunking the material in a highly acidic solution. The acid breaks the bonds between monomers and separates them from additives that give the plastic its distinctive look and feel. These monomers can be recovered for reuse for as long as possible, or upcycled to make another product. Were interested in the chemistry that redirects plastic lifecycles from linear to circular. We see an opportunity to make a difference for where there are no recycling options, said Brett Helms, a staff scientist in Berkeley Labs Molecular Foundry. Dr Helms added: With PDKs, the immutable bonds of conventional plastics are replaced with reversible bonds that allow the plastic to be recycled more effectively. The research team believe their recyclable plastic could be an alternative to non-recyclable plastics in use today.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Florida brewery introduces biodegradable, edible six-pack rings
2018-05-31, CBS (Local Utah affiliate)
Posted: 2018-06-10 22:37:29
http://kutv.com/news/nation-world/florida-brewery-introduces-biodegradable-ed...

A microbrewery in Delray Beach, Florida has devised a crafty solution to plastic six-pack rings that often wreak havoc on marine wildlife. After years of research and development, Saltwater Brewery has introduced six-pack rings made of wheat and barley. The brewery developed the rings with a start-up company called E6PR. Whereas plastic rings can become tangled in the wings of sea birds, warp the shells of growing sea turtles and choke seals, Saltwater Brewery's new rings are not only biodegradable but also perfectly edible. "E6PR hopes other breweries - both small and large - will buy into the new rings and help bring costs down," Nola.com reports. The Louisiana State University (LSU) reports that the Gulf of Mexico has one of the highest concentrations of marine plastic in the world. Every net that LSU dipped into the Gulf's water came up with some form of plastic. "We found it every time," LSU's Mark Benfield [said]. E6PR is testing the edible rings with "a select group of craft breweries," but the company is not yet ready to discuss specifics.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Plants use underground communication to learn when neighbours are stressed
2018-05-02, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2018-05-15 06:37:28
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/plants-underground-communication-c...

Plants use an underground communication network to exchange chemical warnings, according to a new study. Work by a team of biologists at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has provided new insights into the complex subterranean life of seemingly immobile corn plants. The work adds to a body of research exploring the chemical pathways that plants use to talk to each other. Our study demonstrated that ... above ground mechanical contact between plants can affect below ground interactions, acting as cues in prediction of the future competitors, said Dr Velemir Ninkovic, lead author of the study. [Plant] signaling both within their bodies and with neighbors consists of the relatively slow exchange of chemical messages. Some of this communication takes place via strands of underground fungi that plants use to share food, warning signals and even toxic chemicals a phenomenon that some biologists have informally termed the wood-wide web. The study by Dr Ninkovic and his colleagues ... found that the fresh seedlings responded [to stresses] by growing more leaves and fewer roots than plants that had grown under normal conditions. [The Results] suggested that the corn seedlings, upon being exposed to the chemical signals of recently touched plants in the soil, were responding by preparing themselves for the trouble ahead posed by new neighbors or becoming somethings dinner.

Note: Read the New York Times review of a mind and heart expanding new novel about the secret life of trees. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles
2018-04-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2018-04-23 02:42:24
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-c...

Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles. The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug. The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process. Industrial enzymes are widely used in, for example, washing powders and biofuel production. They have been made to work up to 1,000 times faster in a few years, the same timescale [Prof John McGeehan, who led the research] envisages for the plastic-eating enzyme. Earlier work had shown that some fungi can break down PET plastic, which makes up about 20% of global plastic production. But bacteria are far easier to harness for industrial uses.

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