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Solar-Powered Water Wheels Prevented 1 Million Pounds of Trash From Entering Baltimore Harbor
Meet Mr. Trash Wheel and Professor Trash Wheel—a pair of floating, solar and hydro-powered trash interceptors keeping Baltimore's waters clean. These frankly adorable trash wheels can collect as much as 38,000 pounds of debris in a single day.
Mr. Trash Wheel, located at the mouth of Jones Falls, has stopped more than one million pounds of garbage from entering Baltimore's Inner Harbor since its installation in May 2014. Because it has been so effective, a second water wheel, "Professor Trash Wheel," was installed at Harris Creek Park in Canton and opened this past December.
Professor Trash Wheel has googly eyes like Mr. Trash Wheel but with eyelashes.
The anthropomorphized wheels have become so popular they have their own merchandise, their own social media pages (Mr. Trash Wheel: Twitter and Facebook; Professor Trash Wheel: Twitter and Facebook) and have done several amusing AMAs on Reddit.
When one Redditor asked, "If there were a 6th season of The Wire centering around trash in the Inner Harbor, what would the main plot points be? What roles would you and Professor Trash Wheel play?"
Mr. Trash Wheel responded:
"Here's the plot: Trash is over flowing the streets of Baltimore. Trash storms plague the city on a regular basis and micro plastics have formed a choking fog that sits on the city at all times. Professor Trash Wheel believes she can work within the system to get litter of the streets. She creates coalitions with nonprofits and government agencies to battle the rising tide of trash. Mr. Trash Wheel obeys no law or man. He goes rogue attacking trash on the streets, in the harbor, wherever he can find it. Who will win out? Find out on Season 6 of the Wire. David Simon, you have my number. Stop ignoring my texts"
The iconic harbor is "polluted by millions of gallons of sewage, hundreds of tons of trash, and stormwater runoff are polluting the harbor and streams every year," the local environmental nonprofit states on its website.
"These conditions are threatening the lives of the fish, crabs, turtles, birds, and river otters that are part of the harbor, and even simple contact with the water can be dangerous due to the threat of waterborne diseases."
The Baltimore Sun reported that local environmentalists would like to see at least two more water wheels to address the city's litter problem.
So how do these devices work? Using water currents, trash and debris floats into containment booms in front of the wheel. The trash moves onto a conveyor belt that leads to a dumpster barge. When the dumpster is full, the trash is towed away. A backup solar panel array powers the wheel when the current is not strong enough.
The collected material is weighed and separated into different categories: plastic bottles, polystyrene containers, cigarette butts, glass bottles, grocery bags and chip bags. Some of the trash is incinerated to help generate electricity for the city.
The trash wheel's creator, John Kellett, told National Geographic that it's a common misconception that people are littering directly into the water. Instead, most of the garbage—such as trash thrown from cars, illegal dumping and cigarettes butts—ends up in the watershed after it rains.
"If it rains, there is always trash," Kellett told the publication.
In about two-and-a-half years, Mr. Trash Wheel has picked up almost nine million cigarette butts and more than 300,000 plastic bags. It also picks up an average of 14,000 Styrofoam containers a month.
According to National Geographic, "the data is used to support environmental legislation. For example, the Waterfront Partnership recently supported a bill that would ban Styrofoam containers."
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By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.
Company Safety Data Sheets on New Chemicals Frequently Lack the Worker Protections EPA Claims They Include
By Richard Denison
Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).
By Grant Smith
From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.
By Brett Walton
When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.
In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.
This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.
If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›