How a Solar-Powered Water Wheel Can Clean 50,000 Pounds of Trash Per Day From Baltimore's Inner Harbor
A large wheel has been strolling the Baltimore Inner Harbor the past month, doing its best to clean the trash that has littered a city landmark and tourist attraction.
It's called the Inner Harbor Water Wheel, and though it moves slow, it has the capability to collect 50,000 pounds of trash. The timing for John Kellett's solar-powered creation is crucial—hands and crab nets simply can't keep up with the growing amount of wrappers, cigarette butts, bottles and other debris carried from storm drains into the harbor.
"It looks sort of like a cross between a spaceship and a covered wagon and an old mill," says Kellett told NPR. "It's pretty unique in its look, but it's also doing a really good job getting this trash out of the water."
The wheel has become an integral part of the Healthy Harbor Waterfront Partnership Initiative. It receives power from the Jones Falls river's current near the harbor, which turns the wheel and lifts trash from the water into a dumpster barge. A solar panel array keeps it running when there water current isn't enough.
The wheel is now docked to the harbor. Each it runs, it removes an impressive amount of debris. So far, it has never collected less than eight cubic yards of trash.
Healthy Harbor hopes to make the body of water swimmable in less than six years, and the Water Wheel could be a big part of that.
"The water wheel has been a time-saver for us," said Bill Flohr, who runs Baltimore Harbor's East Marina. "It seems to be collecting probably 95 percent of what we normally had to pick up by hand."
By Tim Radford
Scientists have calculated yet another item on the human shopping list that makes up the modern world: plastics. They have estimated the mass of all the plastic bottles, bags, cups, toys, instruments and fabrics ever produced and tracked its whereabouts, as yet another index of the phenomenal change to the face of the planet made by recent human advance.
Altogether, since about 1950, with the birth of a new industry, more than 8.3 billion tonnes (or 9.1 tons) of synthetic organic polymers have been generated, distributed and discarded. Of that total, 6.3 billion tonnes are classified as waste.
By Jessica Corbett
As Senate Democrats stay silent on an energy bill that environmental groups call "a pro-fracking giveaway to oil and gas interests that would commit America to decades more of dangerous fossil fuel dependence," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is receiving applause for speaking out against it.
"As a nation, our job is to move away from fossil fuels toward sustainable energy and energy efficiency. This bill does the opposite," Sanders said in a statement.
ExxonMobil filed suit against the federal government last week, claiming that a $2 million fine levied against the company by the Treasury Department is "unlawful" and "capricious."
The Treasury Department fined Exxon Thursday morning, alleging that the oil giant displayed "reckless disregard" of U.S.-Russian sanctions in its dealings with Russian company Rosneft in 2014 under CEO Rex Tillerson.
By Andy Rowell
For years, environmentalists have warned that due to climate change, there will be billions of barrels of oil that we will never be able to burn. These reserves will become what has increasingly been called "stranded assets."
To give you one example: In a new report, Friends of the Earth argued that "The coal, oil and gas in reserves already in production and development globally is more than we can afford to burn. There is no room for any new coal, oil or gas exploration and production.
Late last year, the tiny house community celebrated a watershed moment—an official appendix in the 2018 version of the International Residential Code, the model building code used by most jurisdictions in the U.S.
"There are many things that are monumental in the adoption of tiny house construction codes by the IRC," cheered Thom Stanton, the CEO of small space developer, Timber Trails. "Among them, that architects, designers, builders, community developers and (maybe most importantly) zoning officials have a means of recognizing tiny houses as an official form of permissible dwelling."
The colossal mass of throwaway plastic—from straws to bags to bottles—has grown much faster than recycling and disposal efforts can contain it. You might even say this is obvious, no matter where you look.
Check out this video from National Geographic to watch underwater photographer Huai Su film a diver collecting an endless amount of plastic bottles that litter the seafloor off Xiaoliuqiu Island, Taiwan.
A reef off the coast of Cancún will become the first in the world with its own insurance policy, testing a new strategy meant to encourage local investment in the wellbeing of the reef.
Under the policy, created by insurance company Swiss Re and the Nature Conservancy, local hotels and other organizations dependent on tourism will pay into the policy, receiving reimbursements to repair the reef and local beaches after natural disasters.
The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) denounced the USDA's permit for the world's first open-air trials of the Genetically Engineered (GE) Diamondback moth to be released in Geneva, New York.
This announcement came concurrently with the availability of a final environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact for the field release of the GE Diamondback moths. NOFA-NY considers the Environmental Assessment lacking comprehensive health and environmental details.