Environment

When you take a shower and use soap and then lather, rinse and repeat twice with that shampoo, it gets washed off your body and goes down the drain.

Environmentalists have claimed these soaps and shampoos and washing machine detergents - surfactants - seep into groundwater, lakes and streams, where they could pose a risk to fish and frogs.

But do they? Not likely, finds a new report of the potential impact on the environment of the enormous amounts of common surfactants used day in and day out by consumers all over the world. 


Americans love their dogs, and most people clean up after their pets when they are out on a walk, but some do not: people who claim they wouldn't pour toxic chemicals or medicines onto the ground because they recognize it gets into waterways delude themselves into believing dog excrement is "natural" and will be okay in waterways.

But it isn't. Bacteria and anti-bacterial strains from dogs can make people sick from dogs just like it does humans, and we recognize that humans should not go to the bathroom on the ground near a lake.


Permafrost thaw kills forests in Canada, while drought kills trees in India and Borneo. In the U.S., in Virginia, over-abundant deer eat trees before they reach maturity, while nitrogen pollution has changed soil chemistry in Panama. 

Continents apart, trees have many similar ways to die. Many of the changes occurring in forests worldwide are attributable to human impacts on climate, atmospheric chemistry, land use and animal populations - no surprise, writing papers lamenting humanity is why many conservation groups exist. And hyperbolic cultural pandering has led to calls for a new geologic period in Earth's history—the Anthropocene, the Age of Humans. 


A review in the Journal of Animal Science has found that feeding livestock diets containing genetically engineered crops has no impact on the health or productivity of those animals.

The article documents 30 years worth of livestock-feeding studies, representing more than 100 billion animals, finding that the performance and health of food-producing animals fed GE crops are comparable with those of animals fed non-GE crops. 

Since their introduction in 1996, GE feed crops have become an increasing component of livestock diets. Today, more than 95 percent of U.S. food-producing animals consume feed containing GE crops. Studies that involve feeding GE crops to livestock are used to evaluate the safety of these crops. 



Outside the developed world, global population continues to rise but all of the best agricultural locations are in use. If we want people to be self-sufficient (and we do) science is going to need to be able to help the developing world with innovative and sustainable solutions.

Modern agriculture has not reached any kind of limit, we can easily boost food production by as much as 70-100% in the next few decades. To grow in more difficult areas, and to be resistant to swings in weather, more drought-tolerant food crops are essential.  


Mother Nature may be out to kill us but we shouldn't take it personally. She is out to kill everything. We just never noticed in the past. 

Today, thanks to long-term science projects, we can see how nature pits species off against each other. And biologists are studying streams to optimize how to prevent tallgrass prairies from turning into shrublands and forests.


In our hyperactive media climate, where every incident is proof or not proof of something, it has become common to see claims that wildfires have become worse due to global warming even as American CO2 emissions have dropped.

Scientists have put a fire retardant on claims that Colorado's Front Range wildfires are becoming increasingly severe.


Civil engineering scholars have created a method that uses solar energy to accelerate pond reclamation efforts by industry and that means cleaning up oil sands tailings could be a lot greener.

Instead of using UV lamps as a light source to treat oil sands process affected water (OSPW) retained in tailings ponds, University of Alberta
 professors Mohamed Gamal El-Din and James Bolton have found that using the sunlight as a renewable energy source treats the wastewater just as efficiently but at a much lower cost. 

Oilsands tailings ponds contain a mixture of suspended solids, salts, and other dissolvable compounds like benzene, acids, and hydrocarbons. Typically, these tailings ponds take 20 plus years before they can be reclaimed.


Khabarovsk Krai, a territory occupying the coastline of the Sea of Okhotsk, is on fire. Dozens of red hotspots, accompanied by plumes of smoke mark active fires. The smoke, which appears mostly white or grey, blows to the east towards the Sea of Okhotsk.

Taiga and tundra are found in the north of this area, swampy forest inhabit the central depression, and deciduous forests are the natural vegetation in the south.