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New Studies Find Birds Are Eating Hundreds of Plastic Bits Daily
  • Not just land and sea animals are eating plastic, studies show that birds near river banks are eating hundreds of plastic debris pieces every day.
  • Scientists say this clearly tells us that plastic in rivers is moving up the wildlife food chain very quickly.
  • Researchers looked at the dipper, a bird that dives into rivers and eats underwater insects — they inges hundreds of bits of plastic every day, and feed it to their chicks.
  • It’s been known that insects are contaminated with plastic pollution, but this is the first documented transfer of plastic from insects shown in free-living river animals.
  • Similar study in Florida recently showed similar results - out of 63 examined birds of 8 different species, all of them had microplastics in their tiny bird guts.

The emergence of heat and humidity too severe for human tolerance
  • Heat combined with humidity is one of the biggest natural threats to humans, as there is an upper temperature limit on our body’s cooling mechanisms.
  • At 35 Celsius air temperature, we need to sweat to cool off, but when the wet-bulb temperature (adjusted for humidity) exceeds 35 Celsius, our bodies can’t cool off.
  • In known heat wave instances, it took only 28 Celsius wet-bulb temperature to result in severe mortality rates.
  • Global data shows that instances of >=35 Celsius wet-bulb temperatures have doubled since 1979, and are happening sooner that climate models have predicted.
  • All in all, the study warns us that humid heat is a bigger problem than we thought, and it’s getting worse every year.

Warming climate undoes decades of knowledge of marine protected areas
  • Scientists raise a call to reduce global greenhouse emissions and poor land practices that input pollutants to coastal waters, in order to protect crucial tropical coral reefs.
  • Marine reserves are an important tool for enhancing biodiversity and fish biomass by preventing damage and over-exploitation by fishing.
  • They’ve been helping protect marine wildlife for decades, but climate change is leaving them defenseless, as it causes coral reefs to die.
  • These conclusions are based on studying 20 years worth of data on coral reefs in Seychelles, where 90% of coral died from heat-caused bleaching in 1998.
  • After the bleaching, which will occur more often as temperatures rise, the Seychelles reefs weren’t able to fully recover.

Climate-Driven Megadrought Is Emerging in Western U.S., Says Study
  • “The most up-to-date and comprehensive long-term analysis” of southwestern North America shows that a megadrought is happening in the region.
  • Data shows that there have been several other megadroughts in this area, which were caused by nature.
  • In this new situation, scientists say that human-origin climate temperature warming is making things worse than at least 3 previous recorded megadroughts.
  • The megadrought is in progress, natural water supplies in the region have “shrunk dramatically”.
  • However, there might be a wetter period for some time before the drought kicks back in, because natural variability plays a huge role in this process.

Mutant enzyme could break down plastic bottles for recycling in hours, scientists say
  • There’s an improved version of an enzyme first discovered in 2012, and it degrades plastic bottles like a wild hog (=very, very quickly and with no remorse).
  • It’s a highly efficient, optimized enzyme that breaks down 90% of plastic bottles in 10 hours—the first version of the enzyme took weeks to break down just 1%.
  • The creators of the enzyme have partnered with a biotech firm to industrialize the production of what might be the next big thing for cleaning the environment.
  • But there’s still work to do, and they haven’t yet begun full testing of the enzyme, which is planned to begin in 2021.




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