News Stories

Trash

In the same old places: the ocean and SPACE! - If there was a huge dump down the block in your neighborhood, wouldn't you ask your friends (or the local government) to help clean it up? Well, there's one spot in the Atlantic Ocean where plastic trash that's tossed into the sea accumulates. Will anyone do something about it? At least they've discovered a new way to clean up space trash!

In BBC News, Victoria Gill quotes researcher Karen Lavender Law as saying, "We found a region fairly far north in the Atlantic Ocean where this debris appears to be concentrated and remains over long periods of time." It turns out that there's a similar spot in the Pacific Ocean that's known as the "great Pacific garbage patch." A lot of this trash consists of plastic shopping bags, which are now being banned in many coastal communities.

Big ships are trying to clean up their acts in other ways: The UN has ordered the world's shipping lines to begin to put pollution-cutting rules in place, starting with summer cruises, that will radically cut sulfur emissions from ships. This sounds great, but these new rules will not help climate change. The haze caused by sulfur dioxide particles actually blocks the sun and helps COOL the planet, so these new rules might even reverse some climate change progress. And while there will be a reduction the amount of sulfur in the oil the ships use, the REAL cause of climate change, CO2 emissions, are not being addressed. The ships will not run on an alternative fuel, such as propane, and two-thirds of the world's ships are registered in small countries, such as Panama and the Bahamas, that do not have national emissions targets.

In New Scientist, Fred Pearce report that while ship emissions are not as serious as CO2 emissions from cars, there are 100,000 ships in the world fleet and they emit almost a billion tons of CO2 every year, which is 3% of the world's total.

At least we're starting to clean up space: Scientists have developed a device they call the "CubeSail," a kind of "drag net" for space which will pull some of the 5,500 tons of space junk orbiting above our heads out of orbit so it can fall (hopefully harmlessly) back to Earth. In BBC News, Jonathan Amos quotes inventor Vaios Lappas as saying, "It would help make space a sustainable business. We want to be able to keep on launching satellites to provide new services; but unless we do something, the amount of junk up there is going to grow exponentially."

Sometimes it seems as if the kind of junk you hear on the ordinary media is growing exponentially! But we pride ourselves on being special, because we bring you REAL news of science at the edge. We also have some of the most extraordinary radio shows you'll find anywhere, every week (and we're not afraid of controversy! How can you make sure we'll still be here tomorrow? There's only one way: Subscribe today!

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Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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