Coal Powered the Industrial Revolution. It Left Behind an ‘Absolutely Massive’ Environmental Catastrophe
A fridge, toilet seats, and more than 63,000 pounds of trash. That's what a cleanup team recovered in a monthslong effort to chip away at the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive collection of marine debris plaguing the Pacific Ocean. A half-mile long trash-trapping system named "Jenny" was sen out in late July to collect waste, pulling out many items that came from humans like toothbrushes, VHS tapes, golf balls, shoes and fishing gear. Jenny made nine trash extractions over the 12-week cleanup phase, with one extraction netting nearly 20,000 pounds of debris by itself. The mountain of recovered waste arrived in British Columbia, Canada, this month, with much of it set to be recycled. - USA Today
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
CNN found out why. Lilly Geisler goes to a lot of trouble to recycle. So she left CNN a voicemail asking: How much of my recycling actually gets recycled? John Sutter travels to Muncie, Indiana, to find out. See more from our "Let's Talk About the Climate Apocalypse" series. (A lot of your plastic isn't being recycled.) - CNN
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
I started a CGCC Facebook page in May of '20 to share geo-environmental news but had accuracy concerns with FB. GeoNews is a response and partial solution, sharing a few items from reliable sources each week.