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…]

Kauai’s Hawaiian Honeycreepers On the Brink of Extinction

honeycreeper

Kauai’s native honeycreeper population is facing extinction. (Photo credit: Sami Sarkis/Photographer’s Choice RF/Getty Images)

New research indicates that six of seven native forest birds found on the island of Kauai in Hawaii are quickly disappearing from the landscape and their range is rapidly contracting. All six of these species are honeycreepers, and four are only found in small, remote locations. The reason for this collapse, as reported in an article in the journal Science Advances, is the spread of avian malaria by mosquitoes. The mosquitoes have been able to expand their territory upward due to climate change and global warming. [Read more…]

Battling Boat Barnacles with Biology

man removing barnacles from boat

Barnacle buildup reduces boat performance. (Photo credit: Ingemar Magnusson/Alamy)

Barnacles and other sealife stuck to the bottom of a boat not only doesn’t look all that great, but it’s not a good thing for the boat’s performance, either. [Read more…]

Front Yard Gardens Growing in Popularity

edible yard

Vegetable gardens are no longer relegated to the backyard. (Photo credit: Mark A Johnson/Alamy)

Home gardening has grown greatly in popularity over the past five years. According to research gathered by the National Gardening Association, 42 million households grow food at home or in a community garden. The greatest surge in home gardeners is among millennials (those between 18 and 34 years of age); over the past five years, food gardening among this age group has increased 63 percent. [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…]

Coral Reef Bleaching Devastating Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

diver assesses coral bleaching

The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing severe coral bleaching this year. (Photo credit: XL Catlin Seaview Survey)

Coral reef bleaching is occurring at an unprecedented rate on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. A recent aerial survey of 911 reefs by Australia’s National Coral Bleaching Task Force found evidence of bleaching on 93 percent of the reefs. The damage is most severe in the Great Barrier Reef’s northern section, where no reef has escaped bleaching. To put this in perspective, the bleaching is currently affecting an area about the size of the state of Maine. [Read more…]

The Flint Water Crisis

Flint water crisis

Unsafe levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water supply has led to an ongoing water crisis in the city. (Photo credit: Bill Pugilano/Getty Images)

In April 2014, the fateful decision to switch the city of Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River was made. The results of this decision were disastrous and the repercussions continue to affect the city’s citizens today.

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Termites Lay Foundation for the Savanna Ecosystem

a cheetah sits atop a termite mound

Termites may hold the key to savanna ecosystem health. (Photo credit: Graeme Purdy/iStock/Getty Images)

The abundant grasses, iconic grazers, and legendary predators of the African savanna ecosystem all depend on one thing: fertile soil. Although it has long been known that termites play an important role in recycling nutrients in soil, researchers are now discovering that termites may do more than just contribute to the savanna ecosystem, they may make the whole thing possible. [Read more…]

195 Countries Sign Historic Climate Agreement in Paris

President Obama speaks at the Paris Climate Talks

US President Barack Obama delivers a speech during the plenary session at the COP 21 United Nations conference on climate change. (Photo credit: Eric Feferberg/AFP/ Getty Images)

On Saturday, December 12, delegates from 195 countries signed an agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit climate warming to 2 degrees Celsius. [Read more…]