A good news column for the last six months of 2020
September 13 – Florida Scientists Save Atlantic Corals from Extinction
Florida Aquarium’s Center for Conservation in Apollo beached spawned the corals through lab-induced techniques. The historic breakthrough could ultimately save Florida Reef Tract corals from extinction. “When history is made, there is hope, and today’s scientific breakthrough by The Florida Aquarium’s team of coral experts gives us real hope that we can save the Florida Reef Tract from extinction,” said Roger Germann, The Florida Aquarium President and CEO. “And, while many coral experts didn’t believe it could be done, we took that challenge to heart and dedicated our resources and expertise to achieve this monumental outcome. We remain fiercely committed to saving North America’s only barrier reef and will now work even harder to protect and restore our Blue Planet.”
The Florida Aquarium and the Horniman Museum and Gardens, based in London, spent months mimicking the natural environment of corals using advanced technology to reproduce the timing of sunrises, sunsets, moonrises and moonsets to trigger the animals to spawn.
“The massive and fully synchronized spawning at The Florida Aquarium’s Center for Conservation, which occurred exactly at the predicted wild spawning time, indicated perfect aquatic conditions for pillar corals in our Project Coral system,” said Senior Coral Scientist Keri O’Neil. “When you have great husbandry, great water quality, and all of the right environmental cues, this is what you can do, you can change the game for coral restoration.” – FloridaAquarium.org
September 6 – Energy Storing Bricks
Chemists have demonstrated that conventional bricks can be transformed into energy storage devices powerful enough to turn on LED lights. “Smart bricks” can turn the walls of a home into a battery storage for renewable energy..”sufficient enough for you to light up emergency lighting that’s in a hallway or sensors that could be embedded inside the walls of a house,” said study co-author Julio M. D’Arcy – Washington University assistant professor of chemistry in St. Louis, Missouri. “The next step is trying to store more energy, so that you can power bigger devices – like maybe a laptop – directly from the walls of the house.” He explained that using bricks to store heat and hold electricity has never been tried before. “We took advantage of what bricks offer, and what they offer is a porous network and a very strong material.” However, he clarified that “smart bricks” are technically supercapacitors, which differ from batteries in that they cannot hold onto a charge or deliver sustained energy over long periods of time. – NatureCommunications.com
August 30 – Flint Water Crisis – Justice for Victims
Michigan will pay $600M to settle the groundbreaking Flint water crisis class action suit. “The residents of Flint were victims of horrendous decisions by the state, its employees, and other defendants that have resulted in tragic and devastating consequences,” said Florida attorney Ted Leopold, who led the class-action suit along with Michigan attorney Michael Pitt. “While we can never undo the damage that occurred to the citizens and community of Flint, we are pleased that today we were able to secure a measure of justice.”
August 16 – Thin Triple-pane Windows
Thin triple-pane windows save even more energy while being comfortable and bright. “Windows are how we connect to the outdoors,” says Robert Hart, principal scientific engineering associate at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, noting that they have a great impact on energy use and occupant comfort. But windows used today are typically the “poorest thermally performing part” of the building envelope, potentially resulting in drafts, condensation, or overheating. Hart is part of a Department of Energy-funded team working with organizations and manufacturers (including makers of the new thin triple-pane windows — Anderson Corporation, Ply Gem, and Alpen HPP) to develop better windows, scale production, and reduce costs. – aceee.org
August 9 – Hope for Neglected National Parks
“The House passed, and the president has said he will sign, the Great American Outdoors Act, which includes full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and addresses the National Park System’s long-delayed $12 billion maintenance backlog…The preservation of treasured outdoor spaces accomplished through LWCF funding has been achieved using less than one half of the $900 million per year originally intended by Congress. The remainder has been siphoned off for non-outdoor projects. Today we are on the verge of having a fully funded LWCF at a time when it’s needed most.” – USAToday
August 2 – Saving Endangered Tigers & Reviving 100-million-year-old Microbes
With only 3900 tigers left in the world, sightings of engendered tigers in western Thailand have rekindled hope that the tigers are returning to the country’s forests after being poached nearly into extinction. – CNN.com
Also reported this week: Scientists have revived 100-million-year-old-microbes collected from the deepest depths of the ocean. “It’s the least-explored large biome on Earth, because it covers 70 percent of Earth’s surface,” says the University of Rhode Island’s Steven D’Hondt, who co-led the expedition and coauthored a new paper in Nature Communications describing the findings. Ggeomicrobiologist Fumio Inagaki, director of JAMSTEC’s Mantle Drilling Promotion Office, who co-led the expedition and coauthored the new paper, declared. “I think it provides some crucial information for understanding the habitability of life on Earth, of course, but also the other planets, such as Mars’ subsurface. ” – NatureCommunications.com
July 26 – Carbon Pollution-Free Power by 2035
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced a $2 trillion climate plan for “an irreversible path” to a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. Biden plans to upgrade 4 million buildings and weatherize 2 million homes for increased energy efficiency. The proposal shifts major cities toward public transportation and, according to the Biden team, will “create millions of good, union jobs rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure.”
July 19 – Metal Eating Bacteria
Breaking News: California Institute of Technology (Caltech) microbiologists discovered a type of bacteria that eats and gets its calories from metal – using a chalk-like type of manganese, a commonly found chemical element. Reported in Nature journal on July 14, the scientists note that these are the first bacteria to use manganese as an energy source. This research can result in a better understanding of groundwater and water systems clogged by manganese oxides.
July 12 – Keystone Pipeline & Grizzly Bears
The Supreme Court dealt a major blow to Keystone XL pipeline project by refusing to exclude the project from an arduous permit and regulation process – thus jeopardizing the project under a Biden presidency. Further, the 9th circuit court ruled that grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem will remain federally protected and not be subjected to sport hunting – a huge victory for environmental groups, citizens and tribal entities that sued the Fish & Wildlife service to restore the highest level of protection to grizzlies.
July 5 – Drive Less/Eat More
State Farm is providing a first-ever dividend to auto customers in the form of a policy credit. State Farm’s Good Neighbor Relief Program is reducing payments due by nearly 60 percent for the period March 20 through May 31. Other auto insurers may be following suit. Driving less is not only reducing pollution, but is putting food on the table for many. Imagine that.
June 21 – Countdown for the Eco-Destroyer-in-Chief
The best news this week: According to all leading polls, environment destroyer in-chief Donald Trump is failing miserably in his bid for re-election. Bravo to Joe Biden!
June 14 – Soap Bubble Pollination Replaces Vanishing Bees
“The researchers found that a soap bubble solution with an optimized pH, calcium, other minerals and chemicals was the most effective concentration for germination and for retaining pollen grains on the thin film of the bubbles and transporting them to the targeted flowers.” – CNN.com
June 7 – Unimaginable Forest Growth
“Tiny, dense forests are springing up around Europe as part of a movement aimed at restoring biodiversity and fighting the climate crisis….based on the work of the Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, who has planted more than 1,000 such forests in Japan, Malaysia and elsewhere.” – TheGuardian
“In just 2 years the forest growth is unimaginable. Miyawaki forest is [an] answer to cities which are turning to concrete jungles. Small patch of forests in multiple locations within the city will act as carbon sink for the city.” – SayTrees.org