News, Pollution, World Problems

China didn’t emit as much CO2 as we think it did, Harvard study concludes

Image via IB Times.

China – the world’s most populous country and the world’s top polluter has a lot of responsibility on its shoulders. China gets a lot of well deserved flak for its often unsustainable ways, but according to a new study, at least some of the flak is undeserved. China’s emissions have been overestimated, according to a study published in Nature.

Climate, Environmental Issues, News

Not just ugly: grimy buildings help build smog in the sunshine

grimy building

For the first time, a group of researchers from Canada showed that the grime on buildings can emit ozone when exposed to light. Ozone is the main compound found in smog, a dangerous mixture to public health. Up until now, grimy urban buildings weren’t included in models that assess how polluted an urban area is, but the new findings suggest their contribution is significant. Dirty buildings are thus not only unpleasant to look at, but also detrimental to your health.

News, Science, World Problems

Not even World War III will stop Unsustainable Human Population Growth. The ‘Fix’ lies with Lowering Impact

world-population-day

Seriously – after making a complex cross-scenario examination, scientists found that given humanity’s current population growth momentum, not even WW3, a global pandemic or stringent fertility restraints  will be enough to keep the global population at sustainable levels. In light of these findings, Australian researchers at Univ. of Adelaide’s Environment Institute  conclude that lowering our environmental impact through mass scale recycling and shifting

Animals, Biology, News

This oddball octopus mates with its mouth and is actually social

Male and Female Larger Pacific Striped Octopus wrapped in a beak-to-beak dance. Image: PLOS ONE

Octopuses are like aliens and there are few creatures weirder than these eight legged critters. They survive freezing waters, perceive light through their skin, are masters of camouflage and can do many other things, some still oblivious to science. One uncanny feature of octopuses is their mating behavior or social order. Most octopus species mate at a distance, with the male using its reproductive arm to reach the female’s mantle. They have to do this to avoid being cannibalized by the female. Either way, once the job is done, the male dies while females only lives a little longer, just enough to lay the eggs. That’s the peak of both the octopus’ sex and social life. Besides a few instances, octopuses live their lives in isolation, alone in some shell or barren rock. However, there’s one octopus that seems to be totally different, even human-like: the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus.

News, Renewable Energy

New solar fuel generator makes hydrogen fuel out of water with unprecedented efficiency

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Scientists working at Monash University in Melbourne have developed the most energy-efficient ‘artificial photosynthesis’ method to date. The process relies on running an electrical current through water to separate it into oxygen and hydrogen, and the team behind it say it could be used to power our home on the cheap in just a few years.

Climate, News, Science

Central Asia glaciers are melting at an alarming rate threatening the water supply of millions

Glaciers in the Tien Shan range with Khan Tengri in background, Kazakhstan

Glaciers covering Asia’s Tian Shan mountains have lost a quarter of their mass over the past 50 years, at a rate four times higher than the global average due to the particularly dry climate of the area. At this rate, by 2050 half of the remaining ice that covers the 2,500 kilometers long mountain rage could melt, threatening the water supply and affecting millions of people. If left unchecked, the situation might even turn into a conflict for the most basic resources (water and food).

News, Pollution

China’s smog kills 4,000 people each day

Smog in Beijing. Image via City Lab.

We all know that pollution and smog in China is pretty bad, but China has only recently published their air quality data – so we get to know just how bad it is. According to a new study published by Berkeley Earth, smog alone kills 4,000 people in China every day; that’s 17% of all premature fatalities.

Feature Post, World Problems

The devastating Tianjin blast as seen from above

The huge crater left in the wake of the explosion in Tianjin, China.(EPA)

Just before midnight, last Wednesday, a devastating explosion occurred in the Chinese port city of Tianjin. The blast took place in some chemical containers with a force equivalent to two dozen tons of TNT, killing 85 and relocating citizens over a 3-mile radius. These aerial photos shared by Quartz, document the dramatic event which paralyzed a whole city for days and was witnessed from space. Explosions continued to happen days after the initial event, whose cause has yet to be identified.

Climate, News

When NOT divesting hurts bad: California retirement funds lose $5 billion in a year by betting on coal

A coal merchant shovels coal at a coal yard in Melmerby, northern England. Photo: Telegraph

Two of the biggest pension funds in California have lost $5 billion in assets last year by sticking to their fossil fuel investments. The report released by Trillium Asset Management suggests that the loss was due to the huge dip in oil and coal prices registered between July 2014 and June 2015.

Climate, News

How much solar panels on your roof can save you? Ask Google

google rooftop

Most people have an outdated belief that solar energy is too expensive. For most people living in the United States, this isn’t true for some time and Google just released a new project to make a point of this. Called Project Sunroof, the tool uses extensive satellite imagery from Google Maps and superimposes sunlight energy flux data over them.