the environment


How to make a water filter | Do Try This At Home | At-Bristol Science Centre

Water is essential to life on Earth. But how does the water get from the rivers and streams to your tap at home? Ross & Heather of the Live Science Team show you how to make a water filter and visit Bristol Water treatment works to investigate the science and engineering behind a glass of water:

By: At-Bristol Science Centre


The Ruinous Beauty Of California’s Wildfires

In addition to its recent record-breaking rain and flooding, California is in the thick of an especially cataclysmic wildfire season. Last week, a 3,500-acre fire swept through the area just northeast of Los Angeles, charged across Interstate 15, and torched 20 cars in the process. At this very moment, a massive fire with flames 100 feet high is heading toward nearly 100 homes in the wine country, where firefighting helicopters are refilling their water buckets in a nearby lake to keep up with the surging blaze. But despite the destruction, there is a certain beauty to all of this, and local photographer Stuart Palley has captured it perfectly.

New Research in Green Plastics Uses Tree Resin

New research into renewable, green plastics is using tree resin rather than petroleum. University of South Carolina researcher Chuanbing Tang has given evergreen a new meaning. The polymers come from evergreen trees such as pine and fir. These materials are loaded with hydrocarbons, which through the polymerization process can be turned into various types of plastics. Tang says that these wood products are useful because “they’re a rich source of the cycloaliphatic and aromatic structures that make good materials after polymerization, and they have the rigid molecular structures and hydrophobicity that materials scientists know work well.“

Not only are these products ‘green’ from the beginning, they also end ‘green’. Since these polymers are derived from living materials, they are biodegradable. "With a polymer framework derived from renewable sources, we’re able to make materials that should break down more readily in the environment” says Tang.



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The Last Family Portrait | Neil DaCosta

Every 20 seconds, a family in Sub-Saharan Africa loses a loved one to unsafe drinking water. Without anything to remember them by. That’s why WATERisLIFE, working with Deutsch New York and award-winning photographer Neil DaCosta, embarked on another emotional project that gave Ethiopian families their first ever portraits. Knowing it might be their last.

 Tsunami Debris Clogging Alaskan Beaches

The debris from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami is washing up on beaches in Alaska. According to Chris Pallister of the Gulf of Alaska Keeper the amount of debris has exceeded most expectations. The debris was at first small items like bottles and Styrofoam, but now large items such as appliances and fuel tanks are washing up as well.

The money for the cleanup is running thin though. Japan contributed $5 million to the US government for cleanup and each of the Pacific Coast states received a portion of these funds, but this is far below what is needed to thoroughly clean up the debris. Alaska is expected to contribute an additional $900,000 of state money to cover the estimated >$1 million cost on their beaches alone. Another problem is that these beaches are so remote, simply getting to them can be a difficult prospect.

For the area of Prince William Sound this is the third major environmental disaster in the last 50 years; in 1964 an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the local communities and natural areas, in 1989 the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred, and now this.


Photo: Annie Feidt (NPR)

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The little blue penguin (Eudyptula minor) also know as fairy penguins, with 33 cm in height is the smallest species of penguin. It is found in Australia, New Zealand, with some possible records from Chile.

The role of environmental variability in modulating organisms’ life-history strategies is still an outstanding issue in ecology. Now an international team of researchers have discovered that dynamism of ocean currents may be influencing the pattern of penguin breeding. These finding provide new guidelines to investigate the effects of environmental disturbances on marine organisms.

“Ocean currents affect the seasonal patterns of marine productivity and thus, the availability of food,” explains CSIC researcher Francisco Ramirez. 

The expert adds that using environmental cues, “such as the surface temperature, the penguins are able to predict those patterns and adjust their reproductive cycle at the time of maximum food availability”.