How to Save the World

When involved in a discussion about global climate change, have you ever heard someone declare “Small changes won’t do anything. We need fundamental systematic change!” Or how about, “The public should not be held responsible. [Insert hypothetically guilty party like industry, gov’t] needs to be accountable!” Statements like these are discouraging and not always true. Today I bring good news. There are ways for everyone to be a part of the solution that don’t involve a world-wide revolution. Here are a handful of suggestions written by scientists and other change-makers across the globe that came together to create “Project Drawdown” –  the most comprehensive plan ever to reverse global warming.

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Things Marie Kondo and Bacteria Have In Common

Horizontal gene transfer was first discovered in 1928, but like many topics in the science realm there is still so much to learn about it. A talk I attended recently highlighted the fact that up to 10% of bacterial DNA wasn’t originally their DNA. Bacteria have the ability to “shop around” for bacteria, adding genes that spark joy to their initial DNA. After a few generations the unuseful DNA tends to get deleted, but certain bacteria may choose to keep it. This is one way that bacteria “evolve” even though they don’t undergo meiosis (combination of an egg & sperm).

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The Nocturnal Boundary Layer

selective focus photography of tree leaves

Photo by Egor Kamelev on Pexels.com

Science calls it a phenomena. But the word “phenomena” makes it sound as though the Nocturnal Boundary Layer (NBL) is something inexplicable. In reality, we know that it is a relatively thin layer of cool air separate from the rest of the Boundary Layer which appears at night. Its creation is spurred by net radiative loss from Earth’s surface. In the unique case of the solar eclipse of 2017, the NBL appeared from the lack of sun in under a half-hour. We also know there is an effect from cooling of the air after sunset, but the Earth constantly emits longwave radiation (infrared) into the universe.

“Many interacting processes can occur within the statically stable nocturnal boundary layer: patchy sporadic turbulence, internal gravity waves, drainage flows, inertial oscillations, and nocturnal jets.”
American Meteorological Society

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Plant Problems

If you follow my blog for a while, you may notice that I like alliteration. Sustainable Cities, World Water Day, Blowing Bubbles, SU-mmer Studies, Camping in Cuba, Warka Water, and now this post all have snappy titles that elicit a certain response. The feeling that my plant problems evoke is not good. There are times when I’ve prided myself for having a green thumb, but when issues with my houseplants arise from the abyss I question my ability to handle plants whatsoever.

golden

Unlike everything else, my golden pothos is thriving.

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Rules to Live By

In the spirit of the new year, I crafted a few environmental “Rules to Live By”. Like environmental resolutions for the planet, these are environmental goals that I would love to see reached in the US – or even worldwide.

  • Recycling incentives do exactly what the name suggests and give people an incentive to save plastic bottles and eventually return them to the store. As it stands, Hawaii, Maine, New York, and other select states refund 5 cents for each item that is returned to a recycling center. I hope to see recycling incentives for everyone in the future.
photo of pile of ripped carton

Photo by Luka Siemionov on Pexels.com

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The Sentience of Sheep

shallow focus photography of sheep

Photo by Dan Hamill on Pexels.com

Is it me, or do dinner parties spark the best conversations? The last dinner party I attended birthed a discussion surrounding animal sentience. Three Bags Full is an internationally best selling novel about a flock of sheep who are driven to solve their shepherd’s murder. It was originally written in German by Leonie Swann, a writer with degrees in philosophy, psychology, and communication. No doubt her education background contributed to the ever-present theme of animal sentience in this peculiar, witty mystery. Continue reading