By Callie Babbitt and Shahana Althaf
It's hard to imagine navigating modern life without a mobile phone in hand. Computers, tablets and smartphones have transformed how we communicate, work, learn, share news and entertain ourselves. They became even more essential when the COVID-19 pandemic moved classes, meetings and social connections online.
Recycling Used Electronics<p>Thirty years of data show why the volume of e-waste in the U.S. is decreasing. New products are <a href="https://apnews.com/article/bb5ff45b98f64123b3d408dd4a336b59" target="_blank">lighter and more compact than past offerings</a>. Smartphones and laptops have edged out desktop computers. Televisions with thin, flat screens have displaced bulkier <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathode-ray_tube" target="_blank">cathode-ray tubes</a>, and streaming services are doing the job that once required standalone MP3, DVD and Blu-ray players. U.S. households now produce about <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.13074" target="_blank">10% less electronic waste by weight</a> than they did at their peak in 2015.</p><p>The bad news is that <a href="https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling" target="_blank">only about 35% of U.S. e-waste is recycled</a>. Consumers often don't know where to recycle discarded products. If electronic devices decompose in landfills, hazardous compounds can leach into groundwater, including <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/10962247.2019.1640807" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">lead</a> used in older circuit boards, mercury found in early LCD screens and <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/9/30/toxins-in-plastics-blamed-for-health-environment-hazards" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flame retardants</a> in plastics. This process poses health risks to people and wildlife.</p>
Disassembling Products and Assembling Data<p>Health and environmental risks have prompted 25 U.S. states and the District of Columbia to <a href="https://www.ecycleclearinghouse.org/maps.aspx" target="_blank">enact e-waste recycling laws</a>. Some of these measures ban landfilling electronics, while others require manufacturers to support recycling efforts. All of them target large products, like old cathode-ray tube TVs, which contain up to 4 pounds of lead.</p><p>We wanted to know whether these laws, adopted from 2003 to 2011, can keep up with the current generation of electronic products. To find out, we needed a better estimate of how much e-waste the U.S. now produces.</p><p>We mapped sales of electronic products from the <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/04/a-terminal-condition/361313/" target="_blank">1950s</a> to the present, using data from industry reports, government sources and consumer surveys. Then we <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41597-020-0573-9" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">disassembled almost 100 devices</a>, from obsolete VCRs to today's smartphones and fitness trackers, to weigh and measure the materials they contained.</p>
A researcher takes apart a smartphone to find out what materials are inside. Shahana Althaf, CC BY
This dissected tablet shows the components inside, each of which were logged, weighed and measured by researchers. Callie Babbitt, CC BY<p>We created a <a href="https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3986969" target="_blank">computer model to analyze the data</a>, producing one of the most detailed accounts of U.S. electronic product consumption and discards currently available.</p>
E-waste Is Leaner, But Not Necessarily Greener<p>The big surprise from our research was that U.S. households are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.13074" target="_blank">producing less e-waste</a>, thanks to compact product designs and digital innovation. For example, a smartphone serves as an all-in-one phone, camera, MP3 player and portable navigation system. Flat-panel TVs are about 50% lighter than <a href="https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/06/15/15greenwire-some-see-e-waste-crisis-trailing-switch-to-dig-81110.html" target="_blank">large-tube TVs</a> and don't contain any lead.</p><p>But not all innovations have been beneficial. To make lightweight products, manufacturers miniaturized components and glued parts together, making it harder to repair devices and more expensive to recycle them. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s10098-020-01890-3" target="_blank">Lithium-ion batteries</a> pose another problem: They are hard to detect and remove, and they can spark <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2020/2/28/21156477/recycling-plants-fire-batteries-rechargeable-smartphone-lithium-ion" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">disastrous fires</a> during transportation or recycling.</p><p>Popular features that consumers love – speed, sharp images, responsive touch screens and long battery life – rely on metals like cobalt, indium and <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-are-rare-earths-crucial-elements-in-modern-technology-4-questions-answered-101364" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">rare-earth elements</a> that require immense energy and expense to mine. Commercial recycling technology cannot yet recover them profitably, although innovations are starting to emerge.</p>
Re-envisioning Waste as a Resource<p>We believe solving these challenges requires a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2019.05.038" target="_blank">proactive approach</a> that treats digital discards as resources, not waste. Gold, silver, palladium and other valuable materials are now more concentrated in e-waste than in natural ores in the ground.</p><p>"<a href="https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200407-urban-mining-how-your-home-may-be-a-gold-mine" target="_blank">Urban mining</a>," in the form of recycling e-waste, could replace the need to dig up scarce metals, reducing environmental damage. It would also <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.105248" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reduce U.S. dependence</a> on <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/chinas-critical-minerals-national-security-meaning-supply-chain-interdependence" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">minerals imported from other countries</a>.</p>
Concentration of hazardous (left) and valuable (right) materials within the U.S. e-waste stream. Althaf et al. 2020
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Karen Scofield Seal
Demand for plant-based food and nutrition is growing. According to recent retail sales data, grocery sales of plant-based foods in place of animal products grew 29% in the U.S. to $5 billion between 2017 and 2019.
How Oceanium's technology works. Oceanium
Seaweed farming in Oban, Scotland. Oceanium
A pilot trial of Oceanium's proprietary biorefinery process. Oceanium
Oceanium research associate Andre Rastica at work. Oceanium<p>We are scaling our innovative biorefinery process – we processed approximately 8 tonnes of wet seaweed in December and have plans for 45 tonnes in 2021.</p><p>Meanwhile, we are continuing to build relationships with seaweed farmers in the UK, EU and North America. We are also fundraising for further R&D, patent applications and undergoing regulatory processes as we prepare to launch products in 2021. We are well on our way to "Kelp the World"!</p><h2>What Resources or Assistance Do You Need to Achieve Your Ambitions That You Currently Don't Have? Is There Any Assistance That the Uplink Community Could Offer?</h2><p>Definitely. Our nutraceutical products will go to market next year and we are looking for commercial or business development experts in the nutrition and cosmetics space. Importantly, we are also fundraising so always keen to connect with funders and investors!</p>
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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" data-width="1244" data-height="1244" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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By Zheng Chen and Darren H. S. Tan
As concern mounts over the impacts of climate change, many experts are calling for greater use of electricity as a substitute for fossil fuels. Powered by advancements in battery technology, the number of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on U.S. roads is increasing. And utilities are generating a growing share of their power from renewable fuels, supported by large-scale battery storage systems.
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="15499060d7b57be67100758264d9f877"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iFchfHH0qzg?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Hazardous Contents<p>Batteries pose more complex recycling and disposal challenges than metals, plastics and paper products because they contain many chemical components that are both toxic and difficult to separate.</p><p>Some types of widely used batteries – notably, lead-acid batteries in gasoline-powered cars – have relatively simple chemistries and designs that make them straightforward to recycle. The common nonrechargeable alkaline or water-based batteries that power devices like flashlights and smoke alarms can be disposed directly in landfills.</p><p>However, today's lithium-ion batteries are highly sophisticated and not designed for recyclability. They contain hazardous chemicals, such as toxic lithium salts and <a href="https://www.britannica.com/science/transition-metal" target="_blank">transition metals</a>, that can damage the environment and leach into water sources. Used lithium batteries also contain embedded electrochemical energy – a small amount of charge left over after they can no longer power devices – which can cause fires or explosions, or <a href="https://www.epw.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/e/5/e5530917-434d-451c-8a6b-c5cdfad1b5ec/EED12407A6BF7DE6C86A4B39C25CF6A4.greenberger-testimony-07.17.2019.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">harm people that handle them</a>.</p>
<div id="007de" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="34d57a5a359e141bcf74c9b1f66eae5f"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1026491976722468865" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">The dangers of disposing of lithium batteries improperly - Battery blamed for Guernsey recycling site blaze https://t.co/Xcs76DI520</div> — Daniel Kinsbursky (@Daniel Kinsbursky)<a href="https://twitter.com/kbirecycling/statuses/1026491976722468865">1533569733.0</a></blockquote></div>
Safer and Simpler<p>While it will be challenging to bake recyclability into the existing manufacturing of conventional lithium-ion batteries, it is vital to develop sustainable practices for solid-state batteries, which are a next-generation technology expected to enter the market within this decade.</p><p>A solid-state battery replaces the flammable organic liquid electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries with a nonflammable inorganic solid electrolyte. This allows the battery to operate over a much wider temperature range and dramatically reduces the risk of fires or explosions. Our <a href="http://zhengchen.eng.ucsd.edu/" target="_blank">team of nanoengineers</a> is working to incorporate ease of recyclability into next-generation solid-state battery development before these batteries enter the market.</p><p>Conceptually, recycling-friendly batteries must be safe to handle and transport, simple to dismantle, cost-effective to manufacture and minimally harmful to the environment. After analyzing the options, we've chosen a combination of specific chemistries in next-generation all-solid-state batteries that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1557/mre.2020.25" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">meets these requirements</a>.</p><p>Our design strategy reduces the number of steps required to dismantle the battery, and avoids using combustion or harmful chemicals such as acids or toxic organic solvents. Instead, it employs only safe, low-cost materials such as alcohol and water-based recycling techniques. This approach is scalable and environmentally friendly. It dramatically simplifies conventional battery recycling processes and makes it safe to disassemble and handle the materials.</p>
Rules for Battery Recycling<p>Developing an easy-to-recycle battery is just one step. Many challenges associated with battery recycling stem from the complex logistics of handling them. Creating facilities, regulations and practices for collecting batteries is just as important as developing better recycling technologies. China, South Korea and the European Union are <a href="https://www.epw.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/d/c/dc43cdc9-ef56-4f8c-b442-d325aa8acf72/D775B276380B37ABF9A49BFD581DD1A5.sanders-testimony-07.17.2019.pdf" target="_blank">already developing battery recycling systems and mandates</a>.</p><p>One useful step would be for governments to require that batteries carry universal tags, similar to the internationally recognized standard labels used for plastics and metals recycling. These could help to educate consumers and waste collectors about how to handle different types of used batteries.</p><p>Markings could take the form of an electronic tag printed on battery labels with embedded information, such as chemistry type, age and manufacturer. Making this data readily available would facilitate automated sorting of large volumes of batteries at waste facilities.</p><p>It is also vital to improve international enforcement of recycling policies. Most battery waste is not generated where the batteries were originally produced, which makes it hard to hold manufacturers responsible for handling it.</p><p>Such an undertaking would require manufacturers and regulatory agencies to work together on newer recycling-friendly designs and better collection infrastructure. By confronting these challenges now, we believe it is possible to avoid or reduce the harmful effects of battery waste in the future.</p>
By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.
By Betsy Mason
For decades, climate scientist David Keith of Harvard University has been trying to get people to take his research seriously. He's a pioneer in the field of geoengineering, which aims to combat climate change through a range of technological fixes. Over the years, ideas have included sprinkling iron in the ocean to stimulate plankton to suck up more carbon from the atmosphere or capturing carbon straight out of the air.
Solar geoengineering would involve injecting reflective aerosols from high-altitude planes into the layer of the upper atmosphere known as the stratosphere, which stretches between 10 to 50 kilometers (6 to 31 miles) above Earth's surface. The idea is that the aerosol particles would reflect a small amount of sunlight away from the planet, reducing the amount of heat trapped by greenhouse gases and mitigating some of the effects of climate change.
The planned Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment will send a balloon carrying scientific instruments in a gondola into the stratosphere. The instruments will release a small amount of material — likely ice or mineral dust — to form a kilometer-long plume of aerosol particles (left). Modified airboat propellers will allow the gondola to maneuver above the plume (middle) and lower instruments into the plume to take repeated measurements of how the particles spread through the stratosphere (right). ADAPTED FROM J.A. DYKEMA ET AL / PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY A 2014
David Keith envisions using multiple approaches to combat climate change. The red line shows how the impacts of climate change would worsen with a business-as-usual scenario of unabated burning of fossil fuels and other greenhouse gas emissions. Aggressively cutting emissions bends that curve, and removing carbon from the atmosphere offers further cuts, but there are still consequences from the already high levels of carbon dioxide. In this scenario, solar geoengineering would lessen the impact from existing atmospheric carbon dioxide, effectively carving the top off the curve.<p>Some people think we should use it only as a get-out-of-jail card in an emergency. Some people think we should use it to quickly try to get back to a preindustrial climate. I'm arguing we use solar geoengineering to cut the top off the curve by gradually starting it and gradually ending it.</p><p><strong>Do you feel optimistic about the chances that solar geoengineering will happen and can make a difference in the climate crisis?</strong></p><p>I'm not all that optimistic right now because we seem to be so much further away from an international environment that's going to allow sensible policy. And that's not just in the US. It's a whole bunch of European countries with more populist regimes. It's Brazil. It's the more authoritarian India and China. It's a more nationalistic world, right? It's a little hard to see a global, coordinated effort in the near term. But I hope those things will change.</p>
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The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau are a tribe of less than 300 people in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest who first came into contact with people outside their community in the early 1980s, according to the Povos Indigenas No Brasil. While they still maintain many of their tribal ways, they and other tribes have recently begun using modern drones to detect and fight illegal deforestation in their territory.
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By Sean Taylor
MilkRun, a Portland, Oregon-based company, is supporting small, local farmers by enabling them to sell produce safely and directly to consumers' homes.
By Morgan Erickson-Davis
As the world heads towards 2021 with COVID-19 still raging overhead, it might be easy to forget about the other global crises. But a new app, debuted today, aims to light the way to a brighter future, showing how we can stop global warming, halt extinctions and prevent pandemics – all in one fell swoop.
‘Conserve at Least Half and in the Right Places’<p>The Global Safety Net combines six primary data layers: existing protected areas, habitats where rare species live, areas of high biodiversity, landscapes inhabited by large mammals, large areas of intact wilderness and natural landscapes that can absorb and store the most carbon.</p>
Areas of the terrestrial realm where increased conservation action is needed to protect biodiversity and store carbon. Numbers in parentheses show the percentage of total land area of Earth contributed by each set of layers. Unprotected habitats drawn from the 11 biodiversity data layers underpinning the Global Safety Net augment the current 15.1% protected with an additional 30.6% required to safeguard biodiversity. Additional CSAs add a further 4.7% of the terrestrial realm. Also shown are the wildlife and climate corridors to connect intact habitats (yellow lines). Data are available for interactive viewing at www.globalsafetynet.app. Dinerstein et al., 2020.<p>In a study accompanying the release of the platform published today in <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/36/eabb2824" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Science Advances</em></a>, the researchers describe what we need to do in order to stave off the worst effects of global warming and extinction. Overall, they found that in addition to the 15.1% of the world's land that is already protected, 35.3% will need to be added to fold over the next 10 years. This means that ultimately 50% of the planet's land area will need to be protected from further degradation to keep it under the 1.5-degree threshold and stave off ecological collapse.</p><p>The researchers were surprised how well their numbers lined up with <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half-Earth" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">previous estimates</a> of how much of the planet needs to be set aside for nature.</p><p>"Without trying, the analysis landed on 50.4% of the terrestrial surface requiring protection," said study coauthor Karl Burkart, managing director of the NGO One Earth. "Of course conservation is much more nuanced now and strictly protected areas are just one type of land designation that can contribute towards this goal."</p><p>Zooming in, the study finds 30% of land area is of "particular importance for biological diversity." An additional 20% of land area is needed to maintain ecosystem intactness and provide additional carbon storage and absorption. The authors also note that restoration of degraded areas could help meet carbon sequestration and wildlife conservation goals.</p>
Somalia has large areas inhabited by rare species – but very few protected areas. Global Safety Net<p>It should be noted that these rankings do not take into consideration deforestation within protected areas. If so, countries like <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/takeover-of-nigerian-reserve-highlights-uphill-battle-to-save-forests/" target="_blank">Nigeria</a> and <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/brazilian-amazon-protected-areas-in-flames-as-land-grabbers-invade/" target="_blank">Brazil</a>, where protected areas are increasingly beset by illegal clearing, might not rank so high on the list. Still, the researchers say protected areas provide needed accountability and a metric with which to measure conservation effort.</p><p>"Protected Areas (or area-based targets) are certainly no guarantee of conservation outcome, as we can see with the fires burning in Brazil as we speak," Burkart told Mongabay via email. "But without them we are lost at sea."</p><p>Both Burkart and Dinerstein view area-based targets as the "North Star" of biodiversity preservation and climate protection, and say they are an important part of creating a framework for action that civil society can use to help motivate and mobilize conservation efforts.</p><p>"We've got to take conservation out of the ivory towers of academic institutions (or basements of government ministries)," Burkart said. "It is the public good we're talking about, so we need an open and transparent stocktaking of where we are right now, and what we need to immediately prioritize. Area-based targets are just the beginning, a 'blueprint' if you will of the cathedral we need to build."</p>
Will It Happen in Time?<p>If more than tripling the amount of land under official, effective protection in less than 10 years sounds daunting, you're not alone. But Dinerstein and his colleagues say it is possible.</p><p>One avenue they recommend is safeguarding Indigenous territories. The Global Safety Net shows important conservation areas often overlap with areas occupied by Indigenous communities or regarded as ancestral land, which previous research indicates contain around 80% of the planet's remaining biodiversity and contribute significantly to carbon storage. Putting land under the management of Indigenous and local communities has been shown to <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2014/07/true-stewards-new-report-says-local-communities-key-to-saving-forests-curbing-global-warming/" target="_blank">be an effective way</a> to protect it.</p><p>"Addressing indigenous land claims, upholding existing land tenure rights, and resourcing programs on indigenous-managed lands could help achieve biodiversity objectives on as much as one-third of the area required by the Global Safety Net," the researchers write in their study. "Simultaneously, this focus would positively address social justice and human rights concerns."</p><p>Protecting such a large amount of land will take a lot of money. But researchers say that the COVID-19 pandemic is showing just how quickly countries can allocate large amounts of resources if needed. And since <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02341-1" target="_blank">research shows</a> deforestation can increase the risk of outbreak of deadly diseases like Ebola and COVID-19, Dinerstein and his colleagues say there is added incentive for funding such efforts.</p><p>"The need for an ambitious global conservation agenda has taken on a new urgency in 2020 after the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus," they write in their study.</p><p>The researchers were surprised to find that only 2.3% of the planet's land area would needed to be further protected to safeguard the species most at risk of extinction. This, they say, could be accomplished within five years.</p><p>Overall, they say the investment spent on preserving these important areas of land would be offset by the trillions of dollars worth of benefits provided by a healthy environment.</p><p>"Literally billions of dollars are being spent trying to invent technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere with very little to show for it. Meanwhile we can protect the spectacular diversity of life on this planet while simultaneously providing all the ecosystem services humanity needs by protecting and conserving the 50% of lands identified in the GSN," Burkart said. "Based on a new economic analysis, we estimate that the global safety net would cost about $200 [billion per year] to manage. This is a tiny investment for a massive return, as nature provides $33 trillion in ecosystem services every year."</p><p>For their part, Dinerstein, Burkart and their colleagues are continuing to improve the GSN, and are planning on releasing an updated version next year that will include more data layers and higher resolution. They are also developing technology to help monitor elephant populations in the hopes of reducing human-elephant conflict and prevent poaching, as well as a system that detects logging trucks before they get a chance to start cutting down trees.</p><p>"Protecting forests begins with early detection and then enforcement," Dinerstein said. "We think our ForestGuard AI is an important piece of this."</p><p>But the main thing, the researchers say, is that governments must act – and soon.</p><p>"Human societies are late in the game to rectify impending climate breakdown, massive biodiversity loss, and, now, prevent pandemics," they write. "The Global Safety Net, if erected promptly, offers a way for humanity to catch up and rebound."</p>
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By Sean Fleming
You probably can't outrun a forest fire. They can travel at speeds of up to 22 kilometers per hour (up to 14 miles) and are dangerously unpredictable.
The fires currently tearing through parts of northern California include the second and third largest in the state's recorded history, have seen 200,000 people asked to leave their homes and killed at least six people.
Fire boundaries are clearly marked and refreshed hourly. Google
Wildfire timelapse. Google Maps
Early Warnings<p>The data also feeds into the company's maps and navigation tools, meaning anyone in the vicinity of a fire, and using Google Maps, can be alerted to the danger. Satellite data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is fed into Google Earth, and is refreshed hourly. This gives both infrared and standard optical views of the location and spread of fires.</p><p>Forest <a href="https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/GlobalFire/fire_2.php" target="_blank">fires are part of the natural cycle of the woodland ecosystem</a>, actually helping to maintain biodiversity. Not only does fire kickstart the germination process of many seeds, it also "initiates critical natural processes by breaking down organic matter into soil nutrients," Nasa's Earth Observatory explains.</p><p>Climate change is partly responsible for wildfire spread, or is at the very least becoming a contributory factor. Reduced rainfall in northern California has left forests and surrounding areas drier than normal, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. This helps create <a href="https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/" target="_blank">the ideal circumstances for fires to get out of control</a>, regardless of how they started.</p><p>Large parts of the U.S. face higher than normal fire risk this year, including California, putting lives and property in jeopardy. The cost of fighting such fires is also on the increase, almost doubling in California across the first two decades of the century.</p>
Counting the cost of California's wildfires. Statista
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A Michigan bald eagle proved that nature can still triumph over machines when it attacked and drowned a nearly $1,000 government drone.
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Researchers at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a cheap, efficient way to convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuel, potentially reducing the amount of new carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere.
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