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DocWatch
bioremediation
Twitterit?
News stories about "bioremediation," with punchlines: http://apocadocs.com/d.pl?bioremediation
Related Scary Tags:
smart policy  ~ carbon sequestration  ~ technological innovation  ~ technical cleverness  ~ alternative energy  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ sustainability  ~ species restoration  ~ bisphenol A  ~ plastic problems  ~ topsoil depletion  



Sat, Jan 14, 2012
from Grist:
Lexicon of Sustainability: Biodiversity vs. monoculture
Industrial agriculture = monoculture. Small farms = biodiversity. Small, organic farms like Rick Knoll's are able to eliminate their reliance on petrochemical-based fertilizers and pesticides. The results are fewer pollutants, less environmental degradation, and cleaner air. And by using cover cropping and other soil fertilization principles they are able to sequester carbon and keep topsoil -- which is carbon heavy -- from being lost into the atmosphere (the latter also contributes to climate change). ...


Next you'll be telling me this approach is sustainable, for, like, years.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Aug 27, 2011
from Summit County Voice:
Biodiversity: Can aquatic fleas save the world's amphibians?
Working in a laboratory setting, Oregon State researchers say they've discovered a freshwater organism that eats the free-swimming spores of a fungal pathogen that's been devastating amphibian populations worldwide, including Colorado's endangered boreal toad. This tiny zooplankton, called Daphnia magna, could provide a desperately needed tool for biological control of this deadly fungus if field studies show that the same process works in a natural setting.... "These are just your average Daphnia," zoologist and lead author Julia Buck said Friday in a telephone interview before heading into the field for more research. The small organisms are sometimes described as aquatic fleas. They're native northern and western North America and have been used for decades to test water for toxins. "They're filter feeders ... so they're just taking in these zoospores," she said. "There was evidence that zooplankton would eat some other types of fungi, so we wanted to find out if Daphnia would consume the chytrid fungus," said Buck, an OSU doctoral student in zoology and lead author on the study. "Our laboratory experiments and DNA analysis confirmed that it would eat the zoospore, the free-swimming stage of the fungus." ...


"Average," they may be, but they could become a mighty force for maintaining average!

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Fri, Apr 15, 2011
from Biorefining:
Dow, OPX Biotechnologies enter biobased acrylic acid agreement
OPX Biotechnologies Inc. announced today that the two companies are collaborating to develop an industrial-scale process for the production of biobased acrylic acid ... using a fermentable sugar (such as corn and/or cane sugar) feedstock with equal performance qualities as petroleum-based acrylic acid, creating a direct replacement option for the market. If collaborative research is successful, the companies will discuss commercialization opportunities that could bring biobased acrylic acid to market in three to five years.... The global petroleum-based acrylic acid market is $8 billion and growing 3 to 4 percent per year. Acrylic acid is a key chemical building block used in a wide range of consumer goods including paints, adhesives, diapers and detergents. "Dow is interested in biobased products that are economically competitive to petrochemical-based products with equal or advantaged performance qualities," said Pat Gottschalk, business director and vice president, Dow Performance Monomers. ...


DOW -- innovating with the Human Element™ (if it's economically competitive).

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Sat, Mar 19, 2011
from ASA, via EurekAlert:
Can biochar help suppress greenhouse gases?
Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas and a precursor to compounds that contribute to the destruction of the ozone. Intensively managed, grazed pastures are responsible for an increase in nitrous oxide emissions from grazing animals' excrement. Biochar is potentially a mitigation option for reducing the world's elevated carbon dioxide emissions, since the embodied carbon can be sequestered in the soil. Biochar also has the potential to beneficially alter soil nitrogen transformations. Laboratory tests have indicated that adding biochar to the soil could be used to suppress nitrous oxide derived from livestock. Biochar has been used for soil carbon sequestration in the same manner.... Addition of biochar to the soil allowed for a 70 percent reduction in nitrous oxide fluxes over the course of the study. Nitrogen contribution from livestock urine to the emitted nitrous oxide decreased as well. The incorporation of biochar into the soil had no detrimental effects on dry matter yield or total nitrogen content in the pasture. ...


Can't we do the same thing with industro-char?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from New Scientist:
For self-healing concrete, just add bacteria and food
Like living bone, concrete could soon be healing its own hairline fractures - with bacteria in the role of osteoblast cells. Worked into the concrete from the beginning, these water-activated bacteria would munch food provided in the mix to patch up cracks and small holes. Concrete reinforced with steel forms the skeleton of many buildings and bridges. But any cracks in its gritty exterior make it vulnerable: "Water is the culprit for concrete because it enters the cracks and it brings aggressive chemicals with it," says Henk Jonkers of Delft University of Technology in Delft, the Netherlands. These chemicals degrade both concrete and steel.... To find bacteria that are happy in such an alkaline environment, Jonkers and his colleagues looked to soda lakes in Russia and Egypt where the pH of the water is naturally high - and found that some strains of Bacillus thrived there. Moreover, the bacteria can take on a dormant spore state for long periods - up to 50 years, according to Jonkers - without food or water. He compares them to seeds waiting for water to germinate. To keep the spores from activating in the wet concrete mix, and to keep them and their calcium lactate food from affecting the quality of the concrete, Jonkers and his colleagues first set both into ceramic pellets 2 to 4 millimetres wide and then added them to the concrete. ...


Can we get some bacteria to make concrete? Now there's some GMO I could get behind.

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Fri, Aug 27, 2010
from ScienceDaily:
Artificial Enzyme Removes Natural Poison
For the first time ever, a completely artificial chemical enzyme has been successfully used to neutralise a toxin found naturally in fruits and vegetables. Chemzymes are designed molecules emulating the targeting and efficiency of naturally occurring enzymes and the recently graduated Dr. Bjerre is pleased about her results. "Showing that these molecules are capable of decomposing toxins ... proves the general point that it's possible to design artificial enzymes for this class of task," explains Bjerre.... But where natural enzymes are big and complex, the artificial ones have been pared down to the basics. One consequence of this simplicity is that designing chemzymes for targeted tasks ought to be easier. With fewer parts, there's less to go wrong when changing the structure of chemzymes.... Manmade enzymes take on heat and solvents without batting a molecular eyelid. One of the consequences of this is that chemzymes can be mass-produced using industrial chemical processes. This is a huge advantage when you need a lot of product in a hurry. ...


Should I be thrilled, or terrified?

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Mon, Aug 2, 2010
from American Society of Agronomy, via EurekAlert:
Is biochar the answer for ag?
Scientists demonstrate that biochar, a type charcoal applied to soils in order to capture and store carbon, can reduce emissions of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, and inorganic nitrogen runoff from agriculture settings. The finding will help develop strategies and technologies to reduce soil nitrous oxide emissions and reduce agriculture's influence on climate change.... The study revealed for the first time that interactions between biochar and soil that occur over time are important when assessing the influence of biochar on nitrogen losses from soil. The scientists subjected soils samples to three wetting-drying cycles, to simulate a range of soil moistures during the five-month study period, and measured nitrous oxide emissions and nitrogen runoff. Initially, biochar application produced inconsistent effects. Several early samples produced greater nitrous oxide emissions and nitrate leaching than the control samples. However, during the third wetting-drying cycle, four months after biochar application, all biochars reduced nitrous oxide emissions by up to 73 percent, and reduced ammonium leaching by up to 94 percent. The researchers suggest that reductions in nitrous oxide emissions and nitrogen leaching over time were due to "ageing" of the biochars in soil. ...


Carbon sequestration and nitrogen stabilization and runoff control? This sounds like a conspiracy.

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Thu, Jul 29, 2010
from ACS, via EurekAlert:
The fungus among us: A new way of decomposing BPA-containing plastic
Just as cooking helps people digest food, pretreating polycarbonate plastic -- source of a huge environmental headache because of its bisphenol A (BPA) content -- may be the key to disposing of the waste in an eco-friendly way, scientists have found. Their new study is in ACS' Biomacromolecules, a monthly journal. Mukesh Doble and Trishul Artham note that manufacturers produce about 2.7 million tons of plastic containing BPA each year. Polycarbonate is an extremely recalcitrant plastic, used in everything from screwdriver handles to eyeglass lenses, DVDs, and CDs. Some studies have suggested that the BPA may have a range of adverse health effects, sparking the search for an environmentally safe way of disposing of waste plastic to avoid release of BPA. The scientists pretreated polycarbonate with ultraviolet light and heat and exposed it to three kinds of fungi -- including the fabled white-rot fungus, used commercially for environmental remediation of the toughest pollutants. The scientists found that fungi grew better on pretreated plastic, using its BPA and other ingredients as a source of energy and breaking down the plastic. After 12 months, there was almost no decomposition of the untreated plastic, compared to substantial decomposition of the pretreated plastic, with no release of BPA. ...


That fabled fungus needs an agent, and a brand change. WhiteFix? GreenWhite?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 7, 2010
from TreeHugger:
Reforestation & Biochar: Two Geoengineering Methods That Won't Cause More Harm Than Good
Geoengineering has been a slow burning controversy for some time now, with some truly wacky ideas proposed, as well as some which take a more sober look at the prospect of intentionally tinkering with the climate to stop the effects of human activity disturbing it in the first place. Let's look at a couple of those geoengineering methods which won't cause more harm than good: Biochar and Reforestation/Afforestation.... Biochar is essential using charcoal made through pyrolysis of biomass and then burying it mixed in with the soil. It has a long history of use in Amazonia, where it's known as terra preta, for its benefits in making soil more fertile. In regards to long-term carbon storage potential, biochar can work on a millennial scale with, in most cases, no negative soil side effects. Some estimates show biochar having the potential to sequester one billion tons of CO2 each year. ...


That's no way to grow the economy!

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Sun, May 16, 2010
from Scientific American:
Fungi Take a Bite out of BPA
Bisphenol A. Also called BPA, it's used to make shatter-proof plastic known as polycarbonate, found in everything from water bottles to medical devices to the lining of food packaging. As much as 2.7 million tons of plastics are manufactured each year with BPA. But it's also an endocrine disruptor posing a threat to fetuses and young children. And it's been linked to cancer and metabolic disorders leading to obesity. So how can plastics be properly disposed of to avoid releasing BPA into the environment? Some fungus may help. So say researchers publishing in the journal Biomacromolecules. ...


Some of my best friends are biomacromolecules!

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Mon, Apr 19, 2010
from SciDev.net:
Modified plant clears up deadly cyanobacteria water toxin
A team at St George's Medical School, part of the UK-based University of London, has modified tobacco plants to secrete antibodies from the roots that then bind to microcystin-LR -- the most common cyanobacteria toxin in water -- rendering it harmless. "A toxin that is bound to antibodies should be easier to remove from the environment and also is likely to be less harmful," said Pascal Drake, a biotechnology researcher at St George's Centre for Infection. The antibodies could also be used in simple and cheap tests to see if toxins are present in water supplies, he said. Tobacco plants, grown hydroponically in the lab, were chosen for the first phase of this research, reported last month (March) in The FASEB Journal, because "they are easy to work with and genetically engineer", said Drake. The next step will be to try and modify aquatic plants, which will be more suitable for large-scale treatment of water. Drake anticipated that this "wouldn't be too problematic". ...


Antibody beautiful. Or just Anti-Body, depending.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Mar 11, 2010
from SolveClimate:
New Approach to Farming Could Help Solve Climate, Economic Crises
Discussions of climate change keep running head-long into a barrier: China, India, Brazil and the other countries of the global South need to develop. No leader of an underdeveloped country will ever agree to a climate change proposal that will take away that country's right to develop.... Meanwhile, first-world leaders, mired in economic crisis, can't make the long-run infrastructural investments that would enable them to take the technological lead in a low-carbon transformation -- let alone make the technology transfers or capital grants that are a moral and political imperative. But there's a partial way out of the crisis, or what the New Economics Foundation (NEF) has christened the "triple crunch," the intertwined crisis of climate crisis, systemic economic malaise, and oil depletion. The NEF argues that we need a new Green New Deal, culminating in a "great transition" to a new way of structuring production and consumption so as to re-create an ecology in homeostasis -- a sustainable economy, one that doesn't draw down impossible-to-renew natural resources. Food and agriculture will be central to such a transition... ...


As long as I don't have to get my hands dirty.

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Tue, Jul 28, 2009
from SciDev.net:
Fungal biopesticide saves crops from locusts
Crops in East and Southern Africa have been saved from devastation by the first large-scale use of a biopesticide made of fungal spores. Locust swarms lay waste to crops, with just a small part of a swarm -- around a tonne of locusts -- eating the same amount of food in one day as around 2,500 people, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).... But spraying the biopesticide, Green Muscle, in Tanzania appears to have contained the outbreak. Green Muscle consists of spores of the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae suspended in mineral oils. The fungi grow in the locust, producing a toxin and weakening them, making them easy prey for birds and lizards. Most infected locusts die within 1-3 weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity. The pesticide has an 80 per cent mortality rate.... Green Muscle kills only locusts and grasshoppers, unlike chemical pesticides, which can harm a wide range of organisms. Even the birds and lizards that eat the treated locusts suffer no side effects, says Pantenius. ...


Using a scalpel instead of a sledgehammer! Who'da thunk it?

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Want more context?
Try reading our book FREE online:
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
More fun than a barrel of jellyfish!
Tue, Feb 10, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Tories propose 'biocredits' to put cash value on damage to habitats and species
Under radical new Conservative proposals to stop biodiversity loss in the UK, all would be given a cash value. The scheme is designed to halt the decline of hundreds of habitats and species by assigning a cost to be paid by proposed development schemes that would lead to their destruction. The damage done by a project would be given a cash value and developers asked to compensate for that damage by investing an equivalent amount in projects to protect or improve biodiversity at another location. The plan being put forward by the new Conservative shadow environment secretary, Nick Herbert, is modelled on similar "bio-credits" initiatives, including in the US, Malaysia and Australia, which have created markets in biodiversity worth tens of millions of pounds a year. ...


We need some science going on, to figure out what critters have value. Like, are humans really necessary to biodiversity?

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Fri, Feb 6, 2009
from Entomological Society of America, via EurekAlert:
A natural, alternative insect repellent to DEET
Isolongifolenone, a natural compound found in the Tauroniro tree (Humiria balsamifera) of South America, has been found to effectively deter biting of mosquitoes and to repel ticks, both of which are known spreaders of diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus, and Lyme disease. Derivatives of isolongifolenone have been widely and safely used as fragrances in cosmetics, perfumes, deodorants, and paper products, and new processing methods may make it as cheap to produce as DEET.... Since "isolongifolenone is easily synthesized from inexpensive turpentine oil feedstock," the authors write, "we are therefore confident that the compound has significant potential as an inexpensive and safe repellent for protection of large human populations against blood-feeding arthropods." ...


I can once again walk in the woods without thinking I'm toxifying myself?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 28, 2009
from New Scientist:
Most effective climate engineering solutions revealed
Tim Lenton of the University of East Anglia, UK, has put together the first comparative assessment of climate-altering proposals such pumping sulphur into the atmosphere to mimic the cooling effect of volcanic emissions, or fertilising the oceans with iron. "There is a worrying feeling that we're not going to get our act together fast enough," says Lenton, referring to international efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists have reached a "social tipping point" and are starting to wonder which techniques might complement emissions cuts, he says.... First, Lenton says the exercise shows there is no "silver bullet" -- no single method that will safely reverse climate change on its own. ...


re: Geoengineering
see Law of Unintended Consequences

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 26, 2009
from BBC (UK):
'Climate hope' in economic plans
Economic stimulus packages being drawn up around the world show governments are taking the environment seriously, the UN's top climate official believes. Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN climate convention, cited plans to boost growth by investing in renewable energy and public transport. He said leaders "could not afford to fail" on climate change.... Mr de Boer, who heads negotiations within the UN climate convention, said developments in Beijing and Washington were signs that governments were using the economic troubles as a window of opportunity for reforming their economies. "The high emissions, debt-driven, resource intensive model is dying," he said. "The impacts of climate change would put the final nail in its coffin." ...


Could it really be that the survival instinct has finally kicked in?

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jan 16, 2009
from BBC (UK):
Farms to take heat out of warming
Farmers could help curb rising global temperatures by selecting crop varieties that reflect solar energy back into space, researchers say. Scientists at Bristol University calculate that switching crops in North America and Europe could reduce global temperatures by about 0.1C. Temperatures have risen by about 0.7C since the dawn of the industrial age.... "It could help marginally in certain places but it shouldn't cause anybody to think we can slow up our efforts to stop dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere." Another obvious question with the approach is how to persuade farmers to make crop choices that might impact on their income, if they were asked to adopt strains that fetched less at market. One way would be to allow farmers to gain carbon credits for making a reflective choice, although Professor Caldeira suggested "starting to price albedo could open up a whole can of worms". ...


A good start -- and worth having to swallow some worms.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jan 11, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
20 big green ideas
as Emma Howard Boyd, head of socially responsible investing at Jupiter Asset Management – sponsors of the Big Idea award, makes clear: "The urgency of what is required to combat issues such as climate change has not diminished as a result of the current financial crisis. We need big ideas -- and it is at times like these, when there is widespread disruption, that we see innovation and new thinking." Big ideas need not necessarily be a whistle-and-bells hi-tech response. At least one of our Big 20 can be described as an "ancient technique" on loan from the Aztecs. The modern genius lies in its rediscovery and deployment because, while it would be foolish to believe blindly in a silver bullet for all environmental problems, now is absolutely the time for faith in contemporary ingenuity. ...


This story makes me feel like, y'know, Yes We Can.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Nov 8, 2008
from London Daily Mail:
Park life: Why living in a green area improves your health
Living near parks and forests improves your health and lengthens your life, according to new research published today. Scientists also found the health gap between rich and poor was narrower in greener areas. Lead author Richard Mitchell from Glasgow University said their findings showed the impact of green spaces was bigger than once thought. 'The size of the difference in the health gap is surprising and represented a much bigger effect than I had been expecting,' he said. ...


Great news as more and more people, out of work, will be living in parks & forests!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 27, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Biogas converters -- making fuel and fertiliser from biodegradable waste
Most of the food we throw away in this country ends up in landfill sites, where methane emissions are a real problem. Not so long ago all these gases were allowed to waft up into the atmosphere or were simply burnt off with flares to stop explosions.... The digestors are really silos designed to speed up the rotting process and collect the methane that's released. The brilliant thing about it is that all the gas can than be used for electricity generation -- or even for vehicle fuel. And what's left behind is a great fertiliser -- so almost nothing is actually wasted. ...


Maybe we should put silos over all the permafrost!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Oct 17, 2008
from Science Daily (US):
Microbes Useful For For Environmental Cleanup And Oil Recovery
BioTiger™ resulted from over eight years of extensive work that began at a century-old Polish waste lagoon. "DOE had originally funded us to work with our Polish counterparts to develop a microbe-based method for cleaning up oil-contaminated soils," explains Dr. Robin Brigmon, SRNL Fellow Engineer. From that lagoon, they identified microbes that could break down the oil to carbon dioxide and other non-hazardous products. "The project was a great success," Dr. Brigmon says. "The lagoon now has been cleaned up, and deer now can be seen grazing on it." ...


Not sure that CO2 is exactly "non-hazardous," but this is still a good trend line.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Oct 9, 2008
from National Geographic News:
Heavy Metal-Eating "Superworms" Unearthed in U.K.
Newly evolved "superworms" that feast on toxic waste could help cleanse polluted industrial land, a new study says. These hardcore heavy metal fans, unearthed at disused mining sites in England and Wales, devour lead, zinc, arsenic, and copper. The earthworms excrete a slightly different version of the metals, making them easier for plants to suck up. Harvesting the plants would leave cleaner soil behind. ...


Plus... think what great bait these superworms will make.

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Tue, Oct 7, 2008
from Media Newswire:
Ecosystem Renovation -- Bring Them On Back
A 'lost' lake in Mali and a Kenyan forest that is the water tower for key rivers and lakes in East Africa are among two country projects aimed at bringing significant degraded and denuded ecosystems back from the brink. The projects are among several being drawn up and spearheaded by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), in cooperation with governments, to demonstrate that re-investing in damaged ecosystems can generate significant economic, environmental and social returns. A further project proposal is being drawn up and staff being hired to restore soils, wetlands, forests and other key ecosystem on the hurricane-vulnerable island of Haiti where environmental degradation has been linked to social unrest. ...


Perhaps a better investment than, say, paying for Wall Street's mismanagement.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Sep 30, 2008
from New Zealand Herald:
NZ firm to microwave forest waste into charcoal
A New Zealand company which says it has patented world-first industrial technology to microwave forest waste is planning to offer charcoal to farmers and horticulturists who want to boost the quality of their soils. The technology can capture significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and hold it for 10,000 years by putting the charcoal into topsoils, and at the same time improve plant growth. The company, Carbonscape, has begun initial batch scale production of the "biochar" at its Marlborough plant. ...


Let's hope they're not burning coal to power the microwaves.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Sep 12, 2008
from BBC:
Earthworms to aid soil clean-up
Researchers at Reading University found that subtle changes occurred in metals as worms ingested and excreted soil. These changes make it easier for plants to take up potentially toxic metals from contaminated land. Earthworms could be the future "21st Century eco-warriors", scientists suggested at the British Association Science Festival in Liverpool. ...


Those scientists must have been sipping from their beakers when they came up with that one!

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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Mon, Aug 25, 2008
from European Science Foundation, via EurekAlert:
Future for clean energy lies in 'big bang' of evolution
Dramatic progress has been made over the last decade understanding the fundamental reaction of photosynthesis that evolved in cyanobacteria 3.7 billion years ago, which for the first time used water molecules as a source of electrons to transport energy derived from sunlight, while converting carbon dioxide into oxygen.... For humans now there is the tantalising possibility of tweaking the photosynthetic reactions of cyanobacteria to produce fuels we want such as hydrogen, alcohols or even hydrocarbons, rather than carbohydrates. ...


Bacteria to the rescue!

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Thu, Aug 21, 2008
from American Chemical Society, via EurekAlert:
A new biopesticide for the organic food boom
With the boom in consumption of organic foods creating a pressing need for natural insecticides and herbicides that can be used on crops certified as "organic," biopesticide pioneer Pam G. Marrone, Ph.D., is reporting development of a new "green" pesticide obtained from an extract of the giant knotweed.... "The product is safe to humans, animals, and the environment," says Marrone... The new biopesticide has active compounds that alert plant defenses to combat a range of diseases, including powdery mildew, gray mold and bacterial blight that affect fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals. ...


Before we get too excited, let's be sure it doesn't, say, build up in honeybees, or ants, or worms, or affect water species via runoff....
I'm just sayin'.

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Thu, Jul 24, 2008
from London Daily Telegraph:
Cow power could generate electricity for millions, US study shows
"...Scientists have calculated for the first time how much of a country's electricity needs could be provided from the manure of cattle and other livestock. They estimate that 3 per cent of America's total electricity demand could be created from animal waste, enough to power millions of homes and businesses... Broken down and then burnt, the scientists estimate that the manure from hundreds of millions of livestock in America could produce approximately 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year." ...


That's probably enough juice to run the milking machines!

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Tue, Jul 8, 2008
from Rutgers University via ScienceDaily:
Could Pond Scum Undo Pollution, Fight Global Warming And Alleviate World Hunger?
"Three plant biologists at Rutgers' Waksman Institute of Microbiology are obsessed with duckweed, a tiny aquatic plant with an unassuming name. Now they have convinced the federal government to focus its attention on duckweed's tremendous potential for cleaning up pollution, combating global warming and feeding the world." ...


Plus, it's fun to say ... go ahead, say it... duckweed.

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Mon, Jun 30, 2008
from Science Daily (US):
Tick And Mosquito Repellent Can Be Made Commercially From Pine Oil
In laboratory tests, ARS chemist Aijun Zhang in the Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., and his colleagues discovered that the naturally occurring compound deters the biting of mosquitoes more effectively than the widely used synthetic chemical repellent DEET. The compound also repelled two kinds of ticks as effectively as DEET.... Some segments of the public perceive efficient synthetic active ingredients as somehow more dangerous than botanical compounds, giving additional importance to the discovery of plant-based isolongifolenone. ...


Having read far too many reports on endcrine disrupters, organochlorides, Bisphenol-A, and more....
count me in that segment of the public.

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Tue, Jun 3, 2008
from Peterborough Examiner (Canada):
Holistic permaculture looks at whole system
Permaculture is permanent agriculture (agriculture that can be sustained indefinitely) and permanent culture (a method of working with, rather than against, nature).... using multiple crops that form beneficial plant communities, forest farming, crop rotation, no till, preserving native seeds and plants, composting, conservation of land and water, and bringing nature back to our homes. ...


Working with Nature?
That's not the way we do things here.

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Sat, May 31, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
New insect repellent last three times longer
To identify the new repellents, the team conducted a rigorous search of a library of compounds known as N-acylpiperidines (related to the active ingredient in pepper), using a brain like computer, called an artificial neural network, to link chemical structure to repellent qualities. They used the neural net to find better versions of DEET, which is able to block the insects' sense of smell. Insects also find DEET unappealing to bite through, and at higher concentrations they tend to avoid contact with DEET. The researchers then tested the 34 best candidates in the laboratory on human volunteers. ...


Given the tragic die-off of the bats, the folks in the northeast US will be very interested. Let's test the health effects of this stuff first, though, ok?

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Tue, May 6, 2008
from Edinburgh Scotsman:
Humble mould could be the key to cleaning nuclear test zones
"FUNGI could be the answer to cleaning up war zones and nuclear testing sites, according to research published this week by Scottish scientists. Experts at Dundee University say fungi – related to the blue streaks in some cheeses – have the ability to clear away radioactive waste. Their study – which appears in the journal Current Biology– shows the organisms can transform depleted uranium, the radioactive metal used in nuclear weapons, into a stable mineral." ...


Of course, once this humble mould gets all full of himself, he'll demand higher wages, better working conditions, etc...

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Sun, May 4, 2008
from NPR:
Beavers Offer Solution to Climate Change
"In the Southwest U.S., biologists are talking about returning beavers to rivers they once inhabited in order to fight droughts -- which are expected to get worse as the globe warms. Beaver dams create great sponges that store lots of water." ...


It's about dam time we looked toward natural solutions.

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Thu, May 1, 2008
from CSIRO Australia, via ScienceDaily:
Boost For "Green Plastics" From Plants
Australian researchers are a step closer to turning plants into "biofactories" capable of producing oils which can be used to replace petrochemicals used to manufacture a range of products... "Using crops as biofactories has many advantages, beyond the replacement of dwindling petrochemical resources," says the leader of the crop development team, CSIRO's Dr Allan Green. "Global challenges such as population growth, climate change and the switch from non-renewable resources are opening up many more opportunities for bio-based products."... The CBI is a 12-year project which aims to add value to the Australian agricultural and chemical industries by developing technologies to produce novel industrial compounds from genetically modified oilseed crops. ...


Classic good news, bad news: good for Resource Depletion, possibly good for Climate Chaos, but probably more of the same bad, for Biology Breach: "Plants as machines with which to tinker, to more efficiently do our bidding!"

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Sun, Apr 27, 2008
from New York Times:
Saddled With Legacy of Dioxin, Town Considers an Odd Ally: The Mushroom
"FORT BRAGG, Calif. -- On a warm April evening, 90 people crowded into the cafeteria of Redwood Elementary School here to meet with representatives of the State Department of Toxic Substances Control. The substance at issue was dioxin, a pollutant that infests the site of a former lumber mill in this town 130 miles north of San Francisco. And the method of cleanup being proposed was a novel one: mushrooms. Mushrooms have been used in the cleaning up of oil spills, a process called bioremediation, but they have not been used to treat dioxin." ...


We can think of LOTS of magic that can be associated with mushrooms.

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Wed, Mar 12, 2008
from Chemical & Engineering News:
Maryland Bug Boosts Biofuels
"Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley was at the University of Maryland, College Park, on March 10 to present a $50,000 state grant to Zymetis, a company spun off from research conducted at the university. The company will use the grant to accelerate the commercialization of a novel process to make ethanol from cellulosic biomass. At the heart of the new process is a mixture of enzymes derived from the bacterium Saccharophagus degradans, which was discovered by chance and isolated from Chesapeake Bay salt marsh grasses...Today, most ethanol is made by fermenting sugars from agricultural products such as corn and sugarcane. But the large-scale use of food crops for fuel production is controversial because it will allegedly raise food prices. Thus, companies have been seeking ways to make fuels out of cellulosic waste products such as corn stover, woody residues, and switch grass with a variety of chemical and biochemical processes....Zymetis enzymes are an advance in the field because they break down cellulose faster and "more simply" than other methods." ...


You had us at Saccharophagus, Scooby.

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Wed, Mar 5, 2008
from Associated Press:
Hogs Help Battle Beetle in Apple Orchard
"CLAYTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- Jim Koan has gone hog-wild in his battle against a beetle that threatens his 120-acre organic apple orchard. As part of a research experiment believed to be among the first of its kind, Koan is using pigs to help protect his fruit from the plum curculio, a tiny insect that is among the most destructive apple pests... They hope their work will someday help fruit growers throughout the world reduce the use of pesticides while diversifying their agricultural operations, as he is doing. He plans to periodically sell off the offspring of his four original hogs, keeping only those he needs." ...


Our investigative efforts discovered that a pig named Wilbur got the idea for this from words written in a spiderweb.

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Mon, Jan 21, 2008
from Montana State University:
Renewed Interest In Turning Algae Into Fuel
"The same brown algae that cover rocks and cause anglers to slip while fly fishing contain oil that can be turned into diesel fuel, says a Montana State University microbiologist. Drivers can't pump algal fuel into their gas tanks yet, but Keith Cooksey said the idea holds promise. He felt that way 20 years ago. He feels that way today. "We would be there now if people then hadn't been so short-sighted," Cooksey said." ...


Well, good news for everybody but the algae!

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Fri, Jan 11, 2008
from United Press International:
Hybrid poplar trees to absorb contaminants
"U.S. researchers want to plant poplar trees at a former oil storage facility to see if the trees can turn contaminants into harmless byproducts. Purdue University researchers said a recent a study found that transgenic poplar cuttings absorbed 90 percent of trichloroethylene within a hydroponic solution in one week. The engineered trees also took up and metabolized the chemical 100 times faster than unaltered hybrid poplars." ...


Great! Just as long as these transgenic poplar cuttings don't take over the earth!

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