Sunday Assembly Rochester getting up to all sorts of good! Yesterday, we cleaned up the “duck pond” region of Highland Park, and managed to fill over a dozen trash bags, as well as recovering a few tires that will (hopefully) be recycled. We only have one planet - it’s our duty to take care of it, yes?
Today is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which falls on the last Saturday in April each year. If you have unwanted prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicines, this day is a good time to safely discard them.
Search online for a collection site, or contact the Call Center at 1-800-882-9539 if you require assistance.
Don’t flush medicines down the toilet or drain. Doing so could affect drinking water sources. Don’t throw medicines directly in the trash. Doing so could lead to the poisoning of a child or pet, or drug abuse by a teen or adult.
Researchers at Michigan State University have created a fully transparent solar concentrator, which could turn any window or sheet of glass (like your smartphone’s screen) into a photovoltaic solar cell. Unlike other “transparent” solar cells that we’ve reported on in the past, this one really is transparent, as you can see in the photos throughout this story. According to Richard Lunt, who led the research, the team are confident that the transparent solar panels can be efficiently deployed in a wide range of settings, from “tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader.”
Scientifically, a transparent solar panel is something of an oxymoron. Solar cells, specifically the photovoltaic kind, make energy by absorbing photons (sunlight) and converting them into electrons (electricity). If a material is transparent, however, by definition it means that all of the light passes through the medium to strike the back of your eye. This is why previous transparent solar cells have actually only been partially transparent — and, to add insult to injury, they usually they cast a colorful shadow too.
To get around this limitation, the Michigan State researchers use a slightly different technique for gathering sunlight. Instead of trying to create a transparent photovoltaic cell (which is nigh impossible), they use a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC). The TLSC consists of organic salts that absorb specific non-visible wavelengths of ultraviolet and infrared light, which they then luminesce (glow) as another wavelength of infrared light (also non-visible). This emitted infrared light is guided to the edge of plastic, where thin strips of conventional photovoltaic solar cell convert it into electricity. [Research paper: DOI: 10.1002/adom.201400103- “Near-Infrared Harvesting Transparent Luminescent Solar Concentrators”]
in a study published yesterday in plos one, researchers at the five gyres institute concluded that more than 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing almost 270,000 tons are afloat in our oceans. said one of the study’s authors, “it’s an important first step to bringing awareness that the entire ocean is a plastic soup.”
the pieces of garbage - be it bottles, toothbrushes, bags, toys - gather at massive garbage patches known as gyres where ocean currents converge. brittle from exposure to the sun, they then collide against one another, breaking into smaller and smaller bits of plastic, some of which are ultimately consumed by marine life.
on midway atoll, a remote cluster of islands more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent, this detritus ends up inside the stomachs of thousands of baby albatrosses. the nesting chicks are fed lethal quantities of plastic by their parents, who mistake the floating trash for food.
notes photographer chris jordan, "kneeling over their carcasses is like looking into a macabre mirror. like the albatross, we [the consumers and polluters of this world] find ourselves lacking the ability to discern anymore what is nourishing from what is toxic to our lives and souls.“
a study by the commonwealth scientific and industrial research organization concluded that 43 percent of all seabirds globally have plastic in their digestive systems, and predicts this number to rise to 95 percent by mid century.
On this day in 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated, marking what many consider the beginning of the modern environmental movement. The environmental movement capitalised on increased activist fervour which gripped the United States during the Vietnam War. Attention had increasingly been turned to the problems plaguing the natural landscape, especially after Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962. The idea for Earth Day came from Senator Gaylord Nelson (D - WI.) after an oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA. Nelson teamed with activist Denis Hayes who led the national promotion of the day. Earth Day proved a popular idea, garnering support from Republicans and Democrats and people from all walks of life; it also encouraged the Nixon administration to create the Environmental Protection Agency and led Congress to pass several environmental measures. In 1990, Earth Day was again commemorated, and this time went on an international scale, reaching 141 countries and involving 200 million people. The celebration only grew from there, and continues as an annual event around the world, though now faces challenges from climate change deniers and powerful lobbyists.
I’m honestly shocked at how many environmentalists eat meat and animal products. Like, okay cool you recycle, but you also pay for 80% of deforestation and the biggest driver of climate change. But your Prius is making a real difference.
“The thing is, I DO care about the environment but I cannot stand it when white people pretend they are all connected to the earth and refuse to understand that many of us — Migrant Brown People — come from backgrounds where ‘environmentalism’ is not talked about because we grow up doing unintentional 'green’ things.”
Earth Day Wouldn’t be the Same Without Lady Bird Johnson
Lady Bird Johnson was a passionate environmentalist and was instrumental in making conservation a part of the national dialog.
The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 was the result of her national campaign for beautification. As First Lady, she enlisted the aid of friends to plant thousands of tulips and daffodils which still delight visitors to our nation’s Capital.
Lady Bird was honorary chairman of the LBJ Memorial Grove on the Potomac in Washington, D. C. She also chaired the Town Lake Beautification Project, a community effort to create a hike and bike trail and to plant flowering trees along the Colorado River in Austin, Texas. She became a member of the National Park Service’s Advisory Board on National Parks, Historic Sites, Buildings and Monuments in 1969 and served on the council for many years.
On her 70th birthday in 1982, Lady Bird founded the National Wildflower Research Center, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the preservation and re-establishment of native plants in natural and planned landscapes.