Bacteria Found to Break Down Plastic


Maxwell Bernstein | April 3, 2020

Researchers in Germany published new findings in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology that open up the possibilities of using biodegradation on hard-to-recycle materials to reduce plastic waste. 

The German scientists discovered a strain of bacteria that has the capability to break down chemicals in plastics called polyurethanes. Polyurethane foams can be found in mattresses, car parts, spandex clothing, shoes, and much more. 

The bacteria, Pseudomonas putida, fed on a specific polyurethane called polyurethane diol, a material that is often used to create coatings and adhesives that prevent corrosion. 

According to Phys.org, polyurethanes are difficult to break down since they are temperature resistant and difficult to melt. The difficulty in recycling these plastics causes them to build up and sit in landfills where they end up releasing toxic chemicals; some of which cause cancer. 

New Research Shows Electric Vehicles Really Do Produce Fewer Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions Than Fossil Fuel Powered Vehicles


Maxwell Bernstein | March 27, 2020

Myths based around the “greenness” of the production and use of electric vehicles have been debunked. New research shows that a push for electric vehicles will produce less total heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions than the production and use of fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

Skeptics of electric vehicles thought that the overall production and implementation of electric vehicles would create more greenhouse gas emissions than our current system. 

Researchers in University of Exeter, England; Cambridge University, England; and Nijmegen University, Netherlands recently found that the production and use of electric vehicles produce 30% less greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. than those of gas powered cars. 

Their findings also showed electric vehicles produced 70% less greenhouse gas emissions in France and Sweden because their renewable-centric electric grids reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from the charging of electric vehicles. 

The research found that electric cars are more environmentally friendly than fossil fuel powered vehicles in most countries except for some exceptions, like Poland, who’s power grid consists of 80% coal. 

Cars and trucks that run on gas account for one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Researchers from several universities in England found that using electric vehicles can reduce greenhouse gas emissions without a change in lifestyle, making widespread use of electric vehicles more promising and likely to reducetotal greenhouse gas emissions. 

Second Warmest Winter on Record


Image from NOAA

Maxwell Bernstein | March 18, 2020

Global land and ocean surface temperatures for December through February in the Northern Hemisphere were the 2nd warmest in 141 years according to NOAA’s Global Climate Report, making this Earth’s 2nd warmest winter on record.

Global land and ocean temperatures for the winter of 2019-2020 were 2.02°F warmer than the 20th century average temperature, while December through February of 2015-2016 were 2.12°F warmer than the 20thcentury average temperature. The 2015-2016 winter temperatures were raised by a periodic El Niño boost which the 2019-2020 winter lacked. 

NOAA also released their National Climate Reports for December, January, and February of 2020, making this the 6th warmest winter on record in the United States. 

Some notable statistics included December of 2019 being the 2nd wettest year on record for the United States, with 4.48 inches of precipitation more than the average. This was also the 5th warmest January for the United States with temperatures being 5.4°F warmer than the 20th century average.

The warm winter coincides with 2019 being Earth’s 2nd hottest year in the 140-year records. The global temperatures of 2019 were .07°F less than 2016’s record temperatures. These record temperatures are attributed to the release of heat trapping greenhouse gasses from human-induced climate change