Thursday, June 30, 2016

Climate change and plastic fibers

A couple of articles in the past few weeks are about addressing climate change via technology. The first is a creative approach to trapping carbon underground, while the second is a NYT article advocating for more nuclear energy, a topic that's come up here before. While no one is excited about dealing with nuclear waste, techniques have been developed for storing it safely for longer, and the fact is that removing reactors usually results in the use of more fossil fuels, doing climate damage.

A third article is about a threat to the environment I hadn't thought about: recently much has been documented about the damage done by tiny plastic beads used in facial scrubs and toothpaste, but this is the first I've heard of how synthetic fabrics, such as those produced by Patagonia, slough off tiny bits of plastic that also have a big effect on small creatures. To Patagonia's credit, it's their own research that uncovered the problem. I wonder if this is the beginning of the end for the Snap-T, produced by my former employer from recycled PET bottles....

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Aquaculture FTW

I've been excited about aquaculture for a long time, but now it's no longer the Next Big Thing: it's the current big thing. I'm not saying that all aquaculture is great- look no further than the devastating "marea roja" in Chile last month, which led the loss of 100,000 tons of farmed salmon. However, if done properly, aquaculture has a better chance of being sustainable than do most capture fisheries, IMHO.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Fruit in the news

Apple consumption has been stable for a long time, but for the industry there's a new hope: sliced apples. Just as baby carrots have revolutionized the carrot industry, slicing the fruit McDonalds-style is giving a big boost to apple farmers. Consumption in school lunches went up a great deal when apples were served sliced, and soon they'll be coming to supermarket shelves. Amazing how 30 seconds and a knife can do so much for consumption!

Also, have you heard that the end may be near for the banana as we know it? The most common banana is called the "Cavendish" banana and a disease threatens to wipe it out. This actually happened once before: 100 years ago the most popular banana was called the Gros Michel banana. It tasted better but didn't travel as well and proved susceptible to disease, and was eventually wiped out. Now scientists in the lab and in the field are both working to find a variety that is resistant to disease.