Paying With Plastic: Recycling Earns Public Transit Fares in China
By Chad W. Lutz
Remember in the opening scenes of Back To The Future: Part II when Doc Brown frantically rummages through a couple of garbage cans for fuel? When the film was released in 1989, the idea of using biodegradable materials as fuel for vehicles was entertaining but wildly science fiction. And while scientists still haven't made available the means to convert everyday garbage into a reusable fuel source, steps have been taken in the fight to reduce carbon footprints and environmental impacts in societies around the world.
Photo credit: Xinhua.
For instance, China—which has experienced widespread legacy pollution—recently debuted recycling-for-payment programs in busy subway stations in Beijing. The initiative saw the installation of recycling machines which accept plastic bottles as payment. Passengers receive credit ranging from 5 to 15 cents per bottle, which are then applied toward rechargeable subway cards. The first of the machines officially opened for use in Shaoyaoju station, Beijing in December 2012.
According to a report from The Guardian, more than 100 machines will be put in place in the coming years. Incom, a state-owned resources recovery company, is responsible for the implementation of the machines. Incom currently undertakes processing tens of thousands of plastic bottles every year and hopes the new machines will help reduce the amount of refuse discarded on streets and in public areas.
According to GreenGeeks, one recycled plastic bottle produces enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for several hours. However, dissenters of the program still wonder if the machines themselves won't increase environmental degradation with the amount of energy necessary to operate them citing that the process to melt down and reconstitute plastics requires energy and may degrade the quality of the recycled product.
Rather than having to implement and organize costly task forces to retrieve discarded garbage, China hopes to limit federal spending on resources recovery by collecting plastic bottles directly from citizens with the use of the subway recycling machines. To lend perspective, a figure shown by Clean Air Council states that California spends roughly $25 million transporting plastic bags to dumps and an additional $8.5 million collecting these plastic bags from the streets annually.
Eventually, Incom would like to see the recycling-for-payment machines installed along every subway line as well as bus stops and other public means of transportation, such as parking spots in commercial and residential areas.
Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY page for more related news on this topic.
The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
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In 'Road Map for a More Sustainable Future,' NY Regulator Tells Banks to Consider Climate Risks in Planning
By Brett Wilkins
Regulators in New York state announced Thursday that banks and other financial services companies are expected to plan and prepare for risks posed by the climate crisis.
There are many different CBD oil brands in today's market. But, figuring out which brand is the best and which brand has the strongest oil might feel challenging and confusing. Our simple guide to the strongest CBD oils will point you in the right direction.
A NASA spacecraft has successfully collected a sample from the Bennu asteroid more than 200 million miles away from Earth. The samples were safely stored and will be preserved for scientists to study after the spacecraft drops them over the Utah desert in 2023, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Exxon Mobil will lay off an estimated 14,000 workers, about 15% of its global workforce, including 1,900 workers in the U.S., the company announced Thursday.
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