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Last week, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) began a ten-day meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, to negotiate draft regulations about the exploitation of mineral resources from the bottom of the ocean by mining companies. The outcome could determine whether a Canadian enterprise known as The Metals Company will be allowed to apply for a permit to mine the seabed for mineral-rich nodules containing copper, manganese, nickel, lithium, and more, which could be used in smartphones, wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries.
A small lake not far from Toronto, Canada, best shows how Earth’s environment began a new epoch brought on by humans called the “Anthropocene.” Scientists chose Crawford Lake because sediment deep at its bottom contains fallout from intense fossil fuel burning and plutonium bomb tests. They say mud at the bottom of the lake reflects the 70-year period in which human activity caused more changes to the environment than occurred in the previous 7,000 years—referred to as the Great Acceleration.
Crawford Lake, Ontario, Canada | Credit: Whpq/Creative Commons
As recent days will attest, climate change is affecting our planet in numerous ways—droughts, floods, heat waves, extreme storms—and now, according to new research, it’s changing the color of the ocean. Waters in the sea appear a certain color depending on what’s in the upper layers. Generally, the ocean will look deep blue reflecting little life, whereas a greener tinge indicates microscopic organisms like phytoplankton which contain the green pigment chlorophyll that helps them harvest sunlight.
To track the changes in ocean color, scientists analyzed measurements of ocean color taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite, which has been monitoring ocean color for 21 years. | Credit: NASA and Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey and MODIS data from LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response
Paper products have a lot of green cred for being recyclable and biodegradable because they’re made from cellulose—the carbohydrates found in the cell walls of trees. But the paper and pulp industry is notorious for its environmental footprint for the amount of energy and water involved, plus the amount of toxic pollutants released—in part to separate cellulose from the woody part of a tree, its lignin.
CRISPR-modified poplar trees (l) and wild poplar trees grow in an NC State greenhouse. | Credit: Chenmin Yang, NC State University