Plastic fertilizer and why oil drilling doesn’t always pay

March 23, 2012 at 6:25 am Leave a comment

This week’s news round-up is coming a bit early because I’m heading off to San Diego on Saturday for the American Chemical Society Convention. Some “green science” stories that might be worthy of your attention include:

  • Old Plastics, Fresh Dirt (C&E News, March 19, 2012, p. 12-18, Cover Story) describes the many up and downsides of compostable plastic. That’s right, plastic that can biodegrade into CO2 and H2O. If you’ve ever felt even the smallest pang of regret over the yogurt tub you tossed in the trash, this article is for you.
  • FACT CHECK: More US Drilling Didn’t Drop Gas Price (Associated Press, March 21, 2012) If there is one thing that makes people angry, it’s higher gas prices. This explains why politicians seeking election try to capitalize on “high gas prices” as a way to climb into office. A new AP study of 36 years of US oil production vs. gas prices shows that production does not keep prices down.
  • Some Corals May Adapt to Warmer Seas (Science NOW, 12 March 2012). Climate change creates winners and losers. Coral is generally thought to be a big loser as oceans warm and become more acidic. Some new data, however, suggests that certain coral species may be able to adapt to warmer oceans.
  • Whisper of the Wild (NY Times, March 15, 2012, Magazine). A reporter follows a team of scientists into the Alaskan wilderness in a search for something that may have already gone extinct: an unpolluted soundscape. Untrammeled nature sounds are not just a matter of peace and quiet. Organisms that rely on sound for communication and signaling may be adversely affected by sound pollution.
  • The Environmental Impact of Coal-Tar-Based Pavement Sealcoats (Environ. Sci. Technol., 2012, 46 (6), pp 3039–3045, DOI: 10.1021/es203699x). Parking lots, driveways, and countless other outdoor surfaces are treated with sealants to protect them from rain, snow, and ice. Commonly used sealants often contain coal tar, a complicated mixture that includes at least 200 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) compounds, many of which are toxic. The authors look at the environmental and health implications of the PAH that are washed off these surfaces into water systems.
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Entry filed under: In the News.

Sherwood Rowland (1927-2012), Remembering Fukushima, and Your Next Career: Environmental Toxicologist Bubble-wrap from mushrooms, and cleaning up the Willamette

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