White House kills ban on bottled water at National Parks

August 18, 2017 by  
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The Trump administration has put the kibosh on a six-year-old ban on selling bottled water at some national parks . The National Park Service announced on Wednesday that, effectively immediately, parks like the Grand Canyon will no longer be able to block the sale of plastic water bottles in a bid to reduce litter. In a statement, the National Park Service said it wanted to “expand hydration options for recreationalists, hikers, and other visitors to national parks.” The decision serves as yet another rollback of one of President Barack Obama’s environmental policies. Since 2011, the Green Parks Plan has encouraged the use of refillable water bottles on park lands. While it didn’t prohibit the sale of bottled sweetened drinks, the policy allowed parks to prevent the sale of disposable water bottles in vending machines, stores, and hotels. Related: Big Water fights plans to ban plastic water bottles in national parks Besides the Grand Canyon, 22 of the 417 National Park Service sites implemented the policy, officials said. These included Bryce Canyon National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Zion National Park. The rollback is a win for the bottled water and beverage industry, which campaigned against the ban, noting that the Obama administration “removed the healthiest beverage choice at a variety of parks while still allowing sales of bottled sweetened drinks.” “Consumption of water in all forms, tap, filtered, and bottled, should always be encouraged,” said Jill Culora, a spokeswoman for the International Bottled Water Association , a trade group. “The rescinded policy was seriously flawed.” The move by the National Parks comes three weeks after the Senate confirmation of David Bernhardt as deputy interior secretary. Bernhardt, according to the Washington Post , served as a lobbyist with the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which has represented Nestlé Water , one of the largest water bottlers in the United States and the distributor of the Deer Park brand. Via Washington Post and Associated Press Lead image via Pixabay , others by National Park Service/Flickr

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White House kills ban on bottled water at National Parks

Compact OffGridBox provides clean drinking water and power where it’s needed most

August 18, 2017 by  
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An Italian company has developed a compact solution for communities that lack access to clean drinking water and electricity – the OffGridBox . Measuring 6x6x6 feet, the container cube features everything necessary to generate, convert and store solar energy , as well as collect, treat and distribute clean drinking water . But the system does have drawbacks – including a $15,000 price point that’s hard to justify in certain corners of the world. Read on to learn how the founders are trying to scale their innovative solution for maximum impact. According to Fast Company, “Founder and CEO Emiliano Cecchini has sold a few of the units, but he worries he’s not yet found the formula to take his invention to scale.” “We’re looking for the next system to scale,” Cecchini told FastCo. “The idea came three years ago and, yeah, we’re kind of struggling to make it bigger. Back in Italy, it’s not easy to find the right financing strategy, mentors, and accelerator programs.” Related: Desert Twins produce drinking water in the driest place on Earth It’s a pity, because OffGridBox has the capability to serve up to 1,500 people per unit, the company says, and that’s without any upgrades. The basic model comes equipped with 12 solar modules, an inverter and battery storage. This system provides enough power to charge 300 battery packs that can each charge three LED lights for four hours and two cell phones, according to FastCo. OffGridBox also has a built-in water filtration system that produces food-quality drinking water, and a built-in storage tank that holds up to 396 gallons. That’s potentially life-changing for communities that lack good infrastructure. The company is persevering with a new model that will charge end users a nominal fee to use the station. “The new model is pay-as-you-go micro-payments, local contractors, and local empowerment,” Cecchini told FastCo. A family of four will pay 12 US cents per day for water, and the battery packs are subsidized by the company. They’re testing this new tactic in Rwanda , where the company plans to install units in 18 villages. Eventually they hope to equip the boxes with Wi-Fi. Head over to FastCo for the full story . + OffGridBox

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Compact OffGridBox provides clean drinking water and power where it’s needed most

The devastating reason Mumbai dogs are turning blue

August 17, 2017 by  
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Lately, blue stray dogs have been spotted running around Navi Mumbai, India , and it’s no laughing matter. Inadequate waste treatment at a local river has allowed dye to leach into the water, turning dogs who wade in a bright blue color. To add to the concern, the pollution is likely harming fish and birds who rely on the water resource. Residents began noticing blue dogs roaming the streets and were prompted to bring a complaint to the local authorities, asking that the water pollution be controlled. “It was shocking to see how the dog’s white fur had turned completely blue,” said Arati Chauhan , who runs the Navi Mumbai Animal Protection Cell. Related: What’s the deal with this green cat? According to the Hindustan Times , “the levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) — the concentration of oxygen required to sustain aquatic life — was 80 milligram a litre (mg/L). Levels of chloride, which is toxic, harms vegetation, aquatic life and wildlife, were also high. “Allowing the discharge of dye into any water body is illegal. We will take action against the polluters as they are destroying the environment,” said Anil Mohekar of MPCB in Navi Mumbai. According to Arati Chauhan, she and others have been working with local authorities to assure that the problem is cleaned up and prevented in the future. Via the Hindustan Times and Boing Boing Images via Arati Chauhan/ Deepak Gharat

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The devastating reason Mumbai dogs are turning blue

New discovery suggests large quantities of water hidden inside the Moon

July 24, 2017 by  
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For years, scientists have assumed that the interior of the Moon is dry. However, a new study of satellite data has located numerous volcanic deposits around the moon – which could indicate large quantities of water trapped beneath its surface. The study, published in Nature Geoscience , explains that the ancient deposits are believed to be glass beads formed by the explosive eruption of magma from the deep lunar interior. As a result of this discovery, scientists are formulating a new opinion that the lunar mantle is actually water-rich. The study was led by Ralph Milliken, an associate professor in Brown University’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences . He said of the findings, “The key question is whether those Apollo samples represent the bulk conditions of the lunar interior or instead represent unusual or perhaps anomalous water-rich regions within an otherwise ‘dry’ mantle. By looking at the orbital data, we can examine the large pyroclastic deposits on the Moon that were never sampled by the Apollo or Luna missions. The fact that nearly all of them exhibit signatures of water suggests that the Apollo samples are not anomalous, so it may be that the bulk interior of the Moon is wet.” To detect the water content of the lunar volcanic deposits , scientists used orbital spectrometers to measure the light that bounces off a planetary surface. After collecting that data, they took into account the wavelengths of light which are absorbed or reflected by the surface to get an idea of which minerals and other compounds may be found in the rock’s interior. One challenge was taking into account the rising surface temperatures over the course of a day. Using the new thermal correction, the scientists were able to find evidence of water in almost all of the pyroclastic deposits that had been previously mapped across the Moon’s surface. Such deposits include the Apollo 15 and 17 landing sites. “The distribution of these water-rich deposits is the key thing,” said Milliken. “They’re spread across the surface, which tells us that the water found in the Apollo samples isn’t a one-off. Lunar pyroclastics seem to be universally water-rich, which suggests the same may be true of the mantle .” Now that evidence has been obtained suggesting that the interior of the Moon is water-rich, theories about its formation are evolving. Scientists presently believe the moon formed from debris left behind after an object about the size of Mars slammed into the Earth early in the solar system’s history. However, the original theory assumes that the Moon’s interior was dry. “The growing evidence for water inside the Moon suggest that water did somehow survive, or that it was brought in shortly after the impact by asteroids or comets before the Moon had completely solidified,” said co-author Shuai Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii and a recent Brown Ph.D. graduate. “The exact origin of water in the lunar interior is still a big question.” The finding has huge implications for future lunar exploration . The volcanic beads don’t contain a lot of water, but the deposits are large, meaning the H2O could be extracted. Said Li, “Anything that helps save future lunar explorers from having to bring lots of water from home is a big step forward, and our results suggest a new alternative.” + Nature Geoscience Via Phys Images via Depositphotos , Wikimedia , Pixabay

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New discovery suggests large quantities of water hidden inside the Moon

Transgenic fish are ready for us — are we ready for them?

July 19, 2017 by  
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After decades of regulatory and legal challenges, AquaBounty aims to bring genetically engineered salmon to U.S. and Canadian markets next year.

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Transgenic fish are ready for us — are we ready for them?

Dog rescues drowning baby deer in the most adorable video youll see today

July 18, 2017 by  
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We already knew dogs are saviors to humankind – but it turns out they are heroes to other species as well! Recently a golden retriever named Storm rescued a baby deer from drowning off the coast of Long Island, New York . The dramatic ordeal was captured on video and has since gone viral – check it out below. This past weekend, Storm was out for a walk with his caretaker Mark Freeley when he “plunged into the water and started swimming out to the fawn, grabbed it by the neck and started swimming to shore,” according to CBS New York . In the video, Freeley can be heard saying, “Storm is trying to save this baby deer — I think he’s trying to save him.” Upon realizing that Storm was, in fact, saving the 3-month-old fawn’s life, Freeley started offering words of encouragement to the dog. “Storm, bring him in! Storm, bring him in! Good boy, Storm, bring him in!” he yelled. The golden retriever dragged the dog to the beach, where it immediately stood up, scurried away, then collapsed. This prompted Storm to chase after it — again. Freeley encouraged Storm to leave the fawn alone as the dog nudged its body and pawed its leg. After receiving a call, Frank Floridia with the Strong Island Animal Rescue League rushed to the beach. There, he found the fawn “completely disoriented.” Out of distress, it rushed into the water again. Erica Kutzing, the animal rescue’s co-founder, told The Washington Post : “They tried to encourage Storm to go back into the water, but the deer was so far out that Storm could not see the deer.” Once they saw the deer’s head was underwater, Floridia jumped into the water to rescue the animal. According to the activist , “It was a do-or-die situation.” Fortunately, the deer made it. Related: Living green bridge keeps wildlife safe from a busy highway According to Kutzing, deer can swim – even in the Long Island Sound – but it’s likely the fawn was spooked and too young to be able to survive in the water. Fortunately for the animal , Storm was nearby to save its life and alert humans to its struggle. Via The Washington Post Images via Mark Freeley

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Dog rescues drowning baby deer in the most adorable video youll see today

Dear Southeast Asian nations: Dive deep into marine preservation

July 7, 2017 by  
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Marine ecosystems, which provide livelihoods for 130 million people in Southeast Asia, show how the health of nature and economy are interconnected.

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Dear Southeast Asian nations: Dive deep into marine preservation

Dear Southeast Asian nations: Dive deep into marine preservation

July 7, 2017 by  
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Marine ecosystems, which provide livelihoods for 130 million people in Southeast Asia, show how the health of nature and economy are interconnected.

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Dear Southeast Asian nations: Dive deep into marine preservation

Researchers find sunscreen becomes toxic when exposed to chlorine

June 30, 2017 by  
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Most of us are quick to reach for our sunscreen before heading outdoors in the summer , but that might not be a great idea – especially for swimmers. New research reveals that sunscreen becomes toxic when exposed to chlorine, sometimes resulting in kidney and liver dysfunctions, as well as nervous system disorders. The study, conducted by Lomonosov Moscow State University, was published in the journal Chemosphere . The researchers were reportedly stunned to discover that chlorine — a chemical commonly used in the US and UK to disinfect water by killing bacteria — breaks down suncream into other potentially-hazardous chemicals. Specifically, the ingredient Avobenzone is what breaks down into hazardous components when mixed with chlorinated water. As Phys.org reports , Avobenzone was approved by the FDA in 1988 due to its ability to absorb ultraviolet light by converting the energy of the light into thermal energy . Every year, it is regularly applied by millions of people worldwide — a fact which makes this finding so concerning. Related: Hawaii aims to ban coral reef-killing chemical sunscreens Dr. Albert Lebedev, the study’s author, said, “On the basis of the experiments one could make a conclusion that a generally safe compound transforms in the water and forms more dangerous products. In spite of the fact that there are no precise toxicological profiles for the most established products, it’s known that acetyl benzenes and phenols, especially chlorinated ones, are quite toxic .” Scientists are now looking into a suitable alternative for avobenzone that won’t break down when exposed to chlorination or bromination of fresh and sea water. “Studying the products of transformation of any popular cosmetics is very important as very often they turn out to be much more toxic and dangerous than their predecessors,” said Lebedeve. “In principle, basing on such researches, one could obtain results, which could restrict or even put under a ban the usage of one or another product, and preserve health of millions of people.” Via Express.co.uk , Phys Images via Pixabay , SheKnows

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Researchers find sunscreen becomes toxic when exposed to chlorine

Scientists discover water has not one, but two liquid phases

June 27, 2017 by  
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We know from our early science classes that water exists as a solid, liquid, and gas. But an international team of 19 scientists say that’s not the case. They discovered that liquid water actually has two phases – low and high density – and can fluctuate between them. While providing new information, the research reminds us how much we still don’t know about a substance that covers over 70 percent of the planet. There’s still a lot we don’t have a clue about when it comes to water. The substance has around 70 properties as a liquid that are utterly unique from other liquids, according to the team led by physicists at Stockholm University in Sweden, who used X-ray imaging to scrutinize water molecules in new detail to discover water fluctuates between high density and low density liquid forms. Related: Scientists figured out how to make water freeze at boiling temperatures Physicist Lars G. M. Pettersson said in a statement, “In a nutshell: water is not a complicated liquid, but two simple liquids with a complicated relationship.” He said their research supports the idea of water at room temperature being unable to decide which form it should be in, so it changes between the two distinct phases. The two phases differ in their density and structure. There have been hints of water’s second liquid phase in the past. In 2016 Oxford University researchers found liquid water could switch states between 104 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, with each state exhibiting different properties. The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America published the research online this week. Scientists at institutions in the United States, Germany, and Austria were also part of the study. Their findings are intriguing but for now, there’s still a lot about water that remains a mystery. Nature consultant editor Philip Ball once said in an article, “No one really understands water.” Via ScienceAlert Images via Mattias Karlén and Mark Doda on Unsplash

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Scientists discover water has not one, but two liquid phases

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