WHENEVER A PLASTIC bag or bottle degrades, it breaks into ever smaller pieces that work their way into nooks in the environment. When you wash synthetic fabrics, tiny plastic fibers break loose and flow out to sea. When you drive, plastic bits fly off your tires and brakes. That’s why literally everywhere scientists look, they’re finding microplastics—specks of synthetic material that measure less than 5 millimeters long. They’re on the most remote mountaintops and in the deepest oceans. They’re blowing vast distances in the wind to sully once pristine regions like the Arctic. In 11 protected areas in the western US, the equivalent of 120 million ground-up plastic bottles are falling out of the sky each year. And now, microplastics are coming out of babies. In a pilot study published today, scientists describe sifting through infants’ dirty diapers and finding an average of 36,000 nanograms of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) per gram of feces, 10 times the amount they found in adult feces. They even found it in newborns' first feces. PET is an extremely common polymer that’s known as polyester when it’s used in clothing, and it is also used to make plastic bottles. The finding comes a year after another team of researchers calculated that preparing hot formula in plastic bottles severely erodes the material, which could dose babies with several million microplastic particles a day, and perhaps nearly a billion a year. - Wired
The website Women for Natural Gas is a pink-tinged, fancy-cursive-drenched love letter to the oil and gas industry. A prominently featured promo video shows women in hard hats and on rig sites. “Who’s powering the world? We are!” enthuses the narrator. Viewers can click through to a “Herstory” timeline of women working in the oil sector. Another page, about the group’s grassroots network of supporters, announces, “We are women for natural gas,” and shows three professionally dressed ladies alongside their testimonials. There’s a Carey White gushing, “The abundance of oil and gas in Texas helps keep prices at the pump lower.” One Rebecca Washington raves, “Natural gas is a safe, reliable source of energy that provides countless numbers of jobs.” But there’s a catch: The women don’t exist. - Mother Jones
About half of the biggest sources of the potent greenhouse gas methane in the Permian Basin oilfield are likely to be malfunctioning oilfield equipment, according to a month-long airborne study by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of Arizona, and Arizona State University. - NASA
President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan proposes to spend $16 billion plugging old oil and gas wells and cleaning up abandoned mines. But there’s no authoritative measure of how many of these sites exist across the nation. In a recent study, my colleagues and I sought to account for every oil and gas well site in the lower 48 states that was eligible for restoration—meaning that the well no longer was producing oil or gas, and there were no other active wells using that site. We found more than 430,000 old well sites, with associated infrastructure such as access roads, storage areas, and fluid tanks. They covered more than 2 million acres—an area larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. - Fast Company
What if someone told you that we have everything we need to decarbonize most of the economy? We would just need to start electrifying every new car, furnace, water heater, drier, and cookstove, and industrial process starting right now. And yeah, and put solar on every roof that can handle it. If we are on a wartime footing for decarbonizing the economy, our guest, Saul, could be considered a 5-star general of the “electrify everything” movement. He founded or co-founded around a dozen companies and organizations. And he has a PhD from MIT in materials science and information theory. Saul is now trying to marshal the world around his “a defensible and believable” pathway for decarbonizing America with clean electricity. - Energy Gang
The world needs a “radical” shift towards renewables to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and secure the 1.5C goal, says the International Energy Agency (IEA). This would see renewable energy overtake coal by 2026, passing oil and gas before 2030. By 2050, it should go on to meet two-thirds of global energy supply and nearly 90% of electricity generation. In a 227-page report, titled “Net-zero by 2050: A roadmap for the global energy sector,” the IEA calls for “a total transformation of the energy systems that underpin our economies”. It says this is a “critical year at the start of a critical decade for these efforts”, which must start turning the world’s energy system from one dominated by fossil fuels into a future “powered predominantly by renewable energy like solar and wind”. - Carbon Brief
When a report makes oil and gas companies—and the politicians they help elect—this mad, you know the author is on to something. Researcher Sean O'Leary, with the Ohio River Valley Institute, joins us to talk about his new report, which found that the local economic benefit of fracking to communities in the Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia gas corridor was slim to none. - Drilled
I started a CGCC Facebook page in May of '20 to share geo-environmental news but had concerns about FB's issues with accuracy. This page, GeoNews, is a response and partial solution, sharing a few items from reliable sources each week.