By Joe McCarthy
But for more than two decades, the lake has been known less for water and more for algae. That's because weak regulations have allowed billions of tons of wastewater, animal waste and garbage to flow unimpeded into the water.
This pollution has caused massive explosions of algae that choke out other marine life and make the water hard to filter and drink.
In 2007, nearly one-third of the lake was covered in blue-green algae and the government suspended water collection from the lake, put a cap on how much bottled water could cost because prices began escalating out of control, and shut down factories surrounding the lake.
But the problem persisted.
Now, after many years of botched clean-up efforts and failed attempts to hold polluters accountable, a company claims to have found a way to keep the algae in check.
And now the lake is providing people with not just water, but also shoes.
A company called Bloom has created a mobile platform that sucks algae from the lake, purifies the water, returns it to the lake, and transforms the algae into a tiny pellet that can be used like a plastic.
The founder of the company, Rob Falken, ultimately wants to replace plastic products, which often start as little petroleum-based pellets.
"The end goal is to remove as much of the petroleum feedstock as possible," Falken told Fast Company. "When you take a waste stream from nature—there naturally but there in such mass because of manmade inputs—we can take that feedstock, that problem, and functionalize it into usable goods that are the exact same quality, indistinguishable, from the status quo that's out there today."
The harvester uses a gentle suction and has filters that keep other marine life from getting harmed. Along with algae, it pulls nitrogen and phosphorous from the water, which makes it less likely for algae blooms to happen in the future.
Bloom water purifier / algae converter
The DIY-looking machines sit along the shore and draw from the top six inches of the water column.
Bloom has been working on Lake Taihu for two years and has removed millions of pounds of algae.
Water purified from Bloom machine in stages
Recently, a shoe company called Vivobarefoot began working with Bloom to weave the algae pellets into its signature design—the Ultra III.
Each shoe is made from algae pulled from 57 gallons of water and prevents 40 helium balloons worth of carbon from entering the atmosphere.
Right now, the shoes are only 40% algae and 60% petroleum-based, but the company hopes to improve that ratio going forward.
Bloom has made other products including foam pads for surfboards and wants to expand into as many product categories as possible.
Algae thrives in warm water with high carbon concentrations and as climate change heats up the planet via emissions, more and more lakes are having problems with algae blooms, especially in areas where industrial runoff from agriculture occurs.
For Falken, this is a chance to change the status quo.
"We've already got more algae than we'll ever need," Falken told Fast Company. "In China, Lake Taihu could produce enough algae for us to produce a pair of shoes for every man, woman and child on this planet."
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When Europeans first arrived in North America, Atlantic puffins were common on islands in the Gulf of Maine. But hunters killed many of the birds for food or for feathers to adorn ladies' hats. By the 1800s, the population in Maine had plummeted.
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A "major" natural gas explosion killed two people and seriously injured at least seven in Baltimore, Maryland Monday morning.
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By Alex Kirby
The temperature of the Arctic matters to the entire world: it helps to keep the global climate fairly cool. Scientists now say that by 2035 there could be an end to Arctic sea ice.
Melt Ponds Crucial<p>"The prospect of loss of sea ice by 2035 should really be focusing all our minds on achieving a low-carbon world as soon as humanly feasible."</p><p><a href="http://www.reading.ac.uk/search/search-staff-details.aspx?id=10813" target="_blank">Dr. David Schroeder from the University of Reading</a>, UK, who co-led the implementation of the melt pond scheme in the climate model, says, "This shows just how important sea ice processes like melt ponds are in the Arctic, and why it is crucial that they are incorporated into climate models."</p><p>The extent of the areas <a href="https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/seaice/characteristics/formation.html" target="_blank">sea ice</a> covers varies between summer and winter. If more solar energy is absorbed at the surface, and temperatures rise further, a cycle of warming and melting occurs during summer months.</p><p>When the ice forms, the ocean water beneath becomes saltier and denser than the surrounding ocean. Saltier water sinks and moves along the ocean bottom towards the equator, while warm water from mid-depths to the surface travels from the equator towards the poles.</p><p>Scientists refer to this process as the ocean's global "conveyor-belt." Changes to the volume of sea ice can disrupt normal ocean circulation, with consequences for global climate. </p>
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Russia's Health Ministry has given regulatory approval for the world's first COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
Putin's Daughter Among Vaccinated<p>The Russian leader also said that one of his daughters has already been inoculated and is feeling well.</p><p>"One of my daughters got vaccinated, so in this sense, she took part in the testing," Putin said.</p><p>After the first vaccine shot, his daughter experienced a slight fever, 38 degrees Celsius (100.4°F). Her temperature came down to just slightly above normal the next day. </p><p>"After the second shot, she had a slight fever again, and then everything was fine. She is feeling well and has a high antibody count," Putin said. </p><p>He didn't specify which of his two daughters, Maria or Katerina, received the vaccine.</p><p>Russian health authorities have said that medical workers, teachers and other risk groups will be the first to receive shots of the vaccine.</p>
Years of Work Reduced to Weeks<p>Russia is the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine. As <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/germany-coronavirus-vaccine-may-only-be-available-in-mid-2021/a-54362065" target="_blank">countries worldwide race to produce the first vaccine</a>, health experts warn that speed and national pride could compromise safety.</p><p>Scientists in Russia and abroad have questioned Moscow's decision to register the vaccine before Phase 3 trials that normally last for months and involve thousands of people, but Putin emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary trials and that vaccination will be voluntary.</p><p>Russian officials have said that large-scale production of the vaccine will begin in September, and mass vaccination may start as early as October.</p><p>Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, has <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/philippines-duterte-volunteers-to-be-putins-russian-coronavirus-vaccine-guinea-pig/a-54523030" target="_blank">lauded Russia's efforts in developing the vaccine</a> and said that the Philippines is ready to work with Moscow on vaccine trials, supply and production. Duterte volunteered to "be the first they can experiment on."</p><p>"I will tell President Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity," Duterte said, adding that he thinks Russia's vaccine will be ready for the Philippines by December.</p>
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A powerful series of thunderstorms roared across the Midwest on Monday, downing trees, damaging structures and knocking out power to more than a million people.