Midnight In The Desert — pollution

Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles

Posted by K R on

Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles

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...

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What is in our water? Known unknowns, and unknown unknowns

Posted by K R on

What is in our water? Known unknowns, and unknown unknowns

What is in your drinking water? It turns out there may be more than we know. In general, we are enjoying a golden era of clean water, with healthy refreshment available at the twist of a tap to over 70% of the population of the world (source: WHO). But we are threatening this most valuable of resources. In many high-profile cases, such as microplastics and rocket fuels, people are beating the drums of change and regulators are acting. But we can't control what we don't know. Target chemicals don't tell the story When it comes to monitoring water supplies for...

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We already have planet-cooling technology, the problem is, it’s killing us.

Posted by K R on

We already have planet-cooling technology, the problem is, it’s killing us.

A trope of sci-fi movies these days, from Snowpiercer to Geostorm, is that our failure to tackle climate change will eventually force us to deploy an arsenal of unproven technologies to save the planet. Think sun-deflecting space mirrors or chemically altered clouds. And because these are sci-fi movies, it’s assumed that these grand experiments in geoengineering will go horribly wrong. The fiction, new evidence suggests, may be much closer to reality than we thought. When most people hear “climate change,” they think of greenhouse gases overheating the planet. But there’s another product of industry changing the climate that has received...

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Cleaning Up Air Pollution May Strengthen Global Warming

Posted by K R on

Cleaning Up Air Pollution May Strengthen Global Warming

Pollution in the atmosphere is having an unexpected consequence, scientists say—it's helping to cool the climate, masking some of the global warming that's occurred so far. That means efforts worldwide to clean up the air may cause an increase in warming, as well as other climate effects, as this pollution disappears. New research is helping to quantify just how big that effect might be. A study published this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters suggests that eliminating the human emission of aerosols—tiny, air-polluting particles often released by industrial activities—could result in additional global warming of anywhere from half a...

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Ocean plastic a 'planetary crisis'

Posted by K R on

Ocean plastic a 'planetary crisis'

Life in the seas risks irreparable damage from a rising tide of plastic waste, the UN oceans chief has warned. Lisa Svensson said governments, firms and individual people must act far more quickly to halt plastic pollution. "This is a planetary crisis," she said. "In a few short decades since we discovered the convenience of plastics, we are ruining the ecosystem of the ocean." She was speaking to BBC News ahead of a UN environment summit in Nairobi. Delegates at the meeting want tougher action against plastic litter. Ms Svensson had just been saddened by a Kenyan turtle hospital which...

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