A Closer Look at the Environmental Consequences of Fracking

wastewater from fracking

This containment pond holds contaminated water produced by the fracking process. (Photo credit: Dwight Nadig/E+/Getty Images)

While not exactly a new technology, fracking (which is short for “hydraulic fracturing”) has been a common topic in the news recently. Fracking is known both for its potential to ease U.S reliance on foreign sources of energy and for its possible adverse effects on the environment, which scientists now think include the potential for starting earthquakes.
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Not So Rosy: The Environmental Cost of Flowers

flowers for sale

Have you ever considered the environmental cost of a bouquet of flowers? (Photo credit: Creatas/Jupiterimages/Getty Images)

Flowers are an important part of many cultures. They are used at ceremonies and holidays, and given to honor someone for a significant achievement or for his or her special day. Many people buy flowers to mark an occasion or simply to decorate their homes without giving a thought about where the blooms came from. What is the environmental cost of flowers?

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The Rise of the Local Food Movement

farmer

Small-scale farmers are the backbone of the local food movement. (Photo credit: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images)

Eating locally is growing in popularity across the United States. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the growth in popularity resulted in profits of $4.8 billion for the local food industry in 2008. These profits include both direct-to-consumer and intermediated sales, such as through a restaurant or grocery store. Small farms accounted for 81 percent of these sales. A farm is considered “small” if it grosses less than $50,000 annually in sales. [Read more…]

Wax Worm Caterpillars Have a Taste for Plastic

wax worm

Scientists have discovered that wax worms (Galleria mellonella) can digest plastic. (Photo credit: Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova/Shutterstock)

Federica Bertocchini’s discovery that wax worms can eat through plastic happened completely by accident. Bertocchini, an amateur beekeeper, was dismayed to find that her beehives were infested by wax worm caterpillars. After cleaning out the hive, she went to pick up the plastic bags she had placed the pests in, only to find the bags riddled with holes.   [Read more…]

22 Environmental Things to Do for Earth Day (and Every Day)

Earth

Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson.  (Photo credit: Loskutnikov/Shutterstock)

April 22 marks the 47th annual celebration of Earth Day. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin founded Earth Day in 1970 to bring environmental issues to the top of the national agenda. Until then, there were little to no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect the environment. [Read more…]

Let’s Talk About Climate Change

climate change

Many questions surround climate change and its effects. One question that has a clear answer: climate change is real. (Photo credit: ALAN DAWSON PHOTOGRAPHY/Alamy Images)

What is climate change? What evidence supports climate change? What role do humans play in climate change? Read on to find the answers to these questions and a few other frequently-asked questions about this topic. [Read more…]

Dealing with Waste in Antarctica

Antarctic penguins

Though it is the most pristine continent on Earth, human activities are polluting Antarctica. (Photo credit: ©Photodynamic/Shutterstock)

Given Antarctica’s geographic isolation and extreme climate conditions, is has long been an area of interest to scientists. But what happens to all the waste generated by the annual influx of scientists and their support staff? [Read more…]

Waste Not, Want Not — Reducing Food Waste in America

food waste

Food waste is a major component of solid waste in landfills. Decomposing food creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. (Photo credit: g215/Shutterstock)

In the United States, 40 percent of all food produced remains uneaten. Some of this food has spoiled, some of it was left in the fields to rot, and some of it never made it to market after being harvested. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Americans routinely throw away about 20 pounds of food per month, which equates to about $28-43 worth of food. In all, it is estimated that $165 billion are squandered each year when perfectly edible food goes uneaten. Why is there so much food waste? And what can you do about it?

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Scientists Closer to Predicting Volcano Eruptions

volcano monitoring

Measuring gas emissions is key to predicting volcanic eruptions. (Photo credit: Konstantina Sidiropoulou/Alamy Stock Photo)

Every month, an average of 40 volcanoes erupt on land into the atmosphere, and hundreds of others on the seafloor erupt into the ocean. Predicting when these eruptions will occur is nearly impossible. Scientists associated with the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) and Deep Earth Carbon Degassing (DECADE) initiative are setting the stage to make accurate volcanic eruption forecasts a reality. [Read more…]

The Environmental Impact of Plastic Bags

plastic bags in trees

A huge number of plastic bags are used each year. A large proportion of them end up as litter. (Photo credit: bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock)

“Paper or plastic?” is a common question heard at the checkout line. Though the environmental impact of paper versus plastic bags continues to be debated, perhaps the best answer is “I’ve brought my own.” [Read more…]