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‘Drones of the Sea’ Will Protect the Great Barrier Reef From Coral-Killing Starfish
The Great Barrier Reef is under constant threat from climate change and aggressive pests, so it's a good thing that scientists at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have built it it's own Terminator to defend it.
Perhaps the bot's most distinctive feature is its ability to spot reef-devouring crown-of-thorns starfish with 99.4 percent accuracy and inject them with a lethal dose of vinegar or bile salts, as The Guardian reported.
But the 15 kilogram (approximately 33 pound) robot can also monitor other dangers threatening the reef, like coral bleaching and pollution, according to QUT.
"We believe this represents a significant technology leap in both marine robotics and reef protection—the only autonomous, affordable, multi-function solution for effectively detecting and addressing threats to coral reefs," QUT Professor Matthew Dunbabin said in the press release.
The project was funded after the concept won $750,000 from the 2016 Google Impact Challenge People's Choice Prize and was also developed with the support of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
Dunbabin said the RangerBot was designed specifically to be affordable so it could be scaled up and widely used by reef managers and researchers.
Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said that, even though the Great Barrier Reef was the most well managed in the world, it's size still made the process difficult and costly.
"RangerBot has the potential to revolutionize the way we manage our oceans and is an important tool to have at our disposal in the quest to save our coral reefs," she said in the QUT release.
A graphic posted to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation by Dunbabin explains how the RangerBots could help keep the reef safe at low cost.
Six human divers could only cover half of the reef in a year and the process would cost about $1.44 million. Six RangerBots, on the other hand, could cover the reef 14 times in one year and would cost $720,000.
Further, a human diver can only accomplish one task at a time, while RangerBots could complete several at once and could stay underwater day or night.
It's not for nothing that Dunbabin pitched this multi-purpose drone as a "swiss-army-knife" for the reef.
The RangerBots are also easy to use, as they only take 15 minutes to learn to operate by tablet, Dunbabin said in the QUT release.
"This project and partnership with QUT and Google is about putting these cost-effective, flexible and readily deployable 'drones of the sea' into the hands of the people at the front line of looking after and managing our coral reefs, as extra 'hands and eyes' to manage those critical environments," Marsden told QUT.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.