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EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
A Brocken spectre above the village of Hayfield in the Derbyshire Peak District. John Finney Photography / Getty Images

We’re all familiar with rainbows, tornados, and shooting stars. Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to see Aurora Borealis, or even bioluminescent waves rolling in from the ocean. Our planet exhibits such awe-inspiring natural phenomena wherever we look: at its highest peaks, deepest ice formations, or right in our own backyards.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Plastic pollution keeps accumulating in the ocean. lindsay_imagery / E+ / Getty Images

The United States is the world’s leader in the generation of plastic waste, nearly all from fossil fuels, and must develop a plan to curb its destructive impacts on the health of oceans and marine wildlife, concludes a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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Lorena Canals

Rugs add a cozy aesthetic to the home, but they can also contribute to toxin exposure if you’re not careful when shopping around. How do you find the best sustainable rugs in a world where almost everything is mass produced with questionable chemicals involved?

There is a lot to consider in the search for a nontoxic rug you hope was ethically made. That’s especially true in a time where we are reevaluating our environmental impact every day. We rounded up four of the best sustainable rugs for any area of your home, from your living room to your outdoor space. Read on to learn more.

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In March, the material entered the high fashion world for the first time as a Hermès Victoria bag. MycoWorks

Could mushrooms create a vegan leather that doesn’t harm animals or contribute to the climate crisis?

In the past year, high fashion has turned to a material called mycelium, which can be grown from fungi in weeks but has the look and feel of calfskin. Experts think that working with mushrooms could give designers a more sustainable relationship with waste.

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Trending
Solar Panel Recycling 101

Can solar panels be recycled?

Renewable Energy
Voyagerix / Getty Images

Despite challenges to growth from the pandemic, the U.S. solar energy market set another record with 19.2 GW of solar installed in 2020. That’s well over 50 million solar panels. Over the next 10 years, the Solar Energy Industries Association projects that nearly 350 GW will be installed, more than 18 times the amount of solar installed in 2020. That means more than 1 billion solar panels will be actively collecting solar energy throughout the U.S. alone over the next decade.

This pace of growth is tremendous — and great news for the environment. However, we at EcoWatch won’t deny that solar panels do have an impact (albeit a nominal one when compared to that of oil drilling, fracking or coal mining). One of the most common challenges surrounding solar energy is the amount of waste that these panels will produce after their 25-year lifespan.

In order to avoid an onslaught of e-waste accompanying our rapid solar development, scientists are developing ways to recycle solar panels, minimizing their environmental impact. Entrepreneurs and economists alike are also eyeing the huge financial value that a practical recycling method would offer.

So, can solar panels be recycled? The short answer is yes, but the process needs refining. Here’s what we know.

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Anika Albrecht of Ocean Voyages Institute, on a 2020 expedition collecting plastic in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, where she served as chief mate. Ocean Voyages Institute 2020 Gyre Expedition

The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, or the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” stretches for more than 610,000 square miles between California and Hawai’i. The gyre hosts around 79,000 metric tons of microplastics, nets, buoys and bottles. And, in a surprising turn, coastal life.

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A wind energy park near Brandenburg, Germany. Patrick Pleul / picture alliance via Getty Images
As renewable energy technologies scale up, their cost can be hard to estimate. A new report from the University of Oxford’s Institute of New Economic Thinking notes that the cost of renewable energies may be less than previously thought.
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The climate crisis requires bold action from governments and corporations, but that doesn’t mean individuals have to sit on the sidelines. Ben White / Unsplash

By John R. Platt

A recent poll found that people today, especially younger people, feel helpless when it comes to fighting climate change.

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Developers Cancel Oregon Pipeline and LNG Export Terminal

The proposed Jordan Cove export terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon, would have been the first liquefied natural gas export terminal on the West Coast.

Energy
The north end of Jordan Cove in Oregon. Alex Derr / Flickr
Developers of what would have been the first LNG export terminal on the West Coast officially abandoned the project on Wednesday.
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The sun sets as rain falls beyond floating ice and icebergs in Disko Bay above the Arctic Circle on September 4, 2021 in Ilulissat, Greenland. Mario Tama / Getty Images

As the climate continues to warm, rain will replace snow as the primary form of precipitation in the Arctic decades earlier than previously thought, according to research. This will have profound implications for the planet.

Snow still falls more frequently than rain in the Arctic, but the study suggests that will change. All the land and nearly all its seas will see more rain than snow before the end of the century if the Earth’s temperatures increase by three degrees Celsius. A global temperature rise of 1.5 to two degrees Celsius would still result in rain dominating the areas of the Greenland and Norwegian Seas.

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A Chevron refinery in Richmond, California. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

A new California mapping project reveals another example of how the climate crisis disproportionately impacts vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.

The Toxic Tides project, unveiled during a virtual workshop Tuesday, maps more than 400 hazardous sites like power plants, refineries and toxic waste dumps that could flood if sea levels rise by more than three feet, which they are projected to do by the end of 2100 if little is done to resolve the climate crisis. This is a major environmental justice issue, because these sites are disproportionately located in low income communities of color.

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A humpback whale breaching off South Africa’s Wild Coast. Reinhard Dirscherl / ullstein bild via Getty Images

Activists have made a last-minute bid to stop Royal Dutch Shell from exploring for oil and gas in whale breeding grounds off the coast of South Africa.

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Training cows to urinate in one location could lower nitrous oxide emissions, researchers say. Rikkie Neutelings
It’s no secret that cows emit a lot of greenhouse gases. Aside from methane, their urine also emits nitrous oxide. In order to minimize these emissions, researchers are testing if potty-trained cows with control over their urinary reflexes can lead to lower nitrous oxide in the atmosphere.
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