The Dangers of Microbeads in Personal Care Products

Microbeads, those tiny plastic beads included in personal care products for exfoliating power, have been popular for a number of years, with a growing number of companies sneaking them into toothpaste, body scrubs, soap and more. That’s despite evidence that they cause significant environmental problems, an issue that’s led a number of states to ban them or seriously consider such bans in order to protect the environment. But there’s more: There’s evidence that microbeads are also harmful for human health.

Meet Chernobyl's Wild Residents

It seems like a strange place to call a wildlife park: Nearly 30 years after the most catastrophic nuclear incident in global history, Chernobyl’s exclusion zone has turned into a paradise for animals of all species and sizes. A variety of raptors, deer, big cats, foxes, bears and birds have moved into the region, taking advantage of a vast habitat with almost no humans. That habitat, though, is contaminated with radioactive materials, and scientists still hotly debate the potential costs of radiation exposure to the animals of Chernobyl, some of whom have become famous.Researchers have seen an explosion of wildlife at the site in recent years, with camera traps providing an opportunity to look deep into the world of the region’s animals without disturbing them. Stunning photography shows animals like wolves and bears roaming freely in the exclusion zone, unconcerned about the potential for human visitors. Perhaps most astonishingly, a population of Przeswalski’s horses, an endangered species critical to the biological and evolutionary history of modern equids, is booming in the region—which isn’t exactly what one might expect, given the radioactive contamination.

Study Finds Leaks in Boston's Natural Gas Pipelines

A team of researchers led by Kathryn McKain of Harvard University has recently discovered that approximately three percent of the natural gas delivered to Boston leaks directly into the atmosphere, taking with it a heavy load of methane, a known greenhouse gas. Their study doesn’t just have significant environmental implications: It’s estimated that the city is losing around $90 million to leaks every year. Correcting leaks is a relatively straightforward task, though it would require some investment in natural gas infrastructure and consumer education. However, these costs would be mitigated by the substantial savings offered if Boston was able to cut down on its methane problem.

New Technology Brings Temperatures Down

Greek villages are famous for their glittering white walls and beautiful blue painted accents, which make them a dazzling sight whether you’re approaching the sea or looking out across them from the windows of your blessedly cool room — which stays cool even in the height of summer heat. If you look around, you might notice that there’s no air conditioning. The Greeks don’t need it, because their homes are specifically designed to control temperatures and keep people comfortable. Thick walls insulate rooms to keep temperatures stable, while those handsome white roofs and walls reflect heat.

Toxic Algae Scare Prompts Backlash Against Farms

What do a no-drink order in Toledo and a backlash against factory farming have in common? A lot, as it turns out. Residents of Ohio's fourth-largest city were advised for multiple days earlier this month to refrain from drinking their tap water because it had been contaminated by toxic algae. As residents struggled to deal with their contaminated water supply, the culprit behind the problem became readily apparent: factory farms. The Ohio Agriculture Advisory Council (OAAC) is proposing a regulatory crackdown that could forever change industrial farming practices in this Midwestern state.

duh DUN… It’s Shark Week!

It's time for the 27th annual Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, featuring a solid week of shark-centric programming for viewers who just can't get enough of ... factually incorrect fear-mongering stories about sharks. Sharks are the villain everyone loves to hate, from Jaws to endless B-movies on the SyFy Channel, but in fact, the real enemy is humans. Worldwide, sharks are in critical danger, and we're the only ones who can save them. It's time to put down the remote and take up the cause of shark conservation, because it won't be too long before Shark Week is little more than a series of antique horror films about a superorder of fish that used to be abundant in the world's oceans.

California NEEDS dry farming!

Residents of California have been noting something disconcerting when they hit the grocery store this year: it's a terrible year for stone fruit. Despite the fact that it's the height of summer, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, cherries and their ilk are much more expensive than unusual, and of much poorer quality, too. What's going on? The answer lies in the state's extreme drought, which wreaked havoc on numerous crops this year, including stone fruit. The state's agriculture may be undergoing some major shifts in the coming years thanks to climate change and natural shifts in rainfall levels, and it's not the only region looking at a drier future.

Ethanol: Worse Than Conventional Fuel?

Ethanol was pitched as the new hope for alternative fuels in America, but what if it’s actually worse than conventional gasoline? That’s exactly what a new government-funded study is saying in an analysis of cellulostic ethanol — fuel made from byproducts like the leftovers from growing corn.

Just How Clean is Natural Gas?

Just the other day I hopped on a natural gas bus to head to downtown Oakland, enjoying one of the East Bay’s many environmentally-friendly public transit options. But how friendly was that bus to the birds, the bees and the trees?

Why can’t you walk to the big game?

Super Bowl XLVIII, featuring my archenemies the Seattle Seahawks against the Denver Broncos, is about to go down. Millions of fans will be gathering around TV screens across the country to watch, but of course the best experience of all is available to those who get to see the magic in person at MetLife Stadium. Better yet, organizers are touting this as the "greenest Super Bowl ever," with initiatives like composting, low water landscaping, Energy Star Certified equipment, donation of leftover food, a massive solar panel installation, and the use of recycled steel in construction. In other words, you'd think these guys are pretty serious not just about sports, but also the environment, with all this hard work to make the match as eco-friendly as possible. We're seeing the same kinds of initiatives in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, as well as Rio, indicating that in the sports world, green is in. Which is exciting news for those of us who like the Earth and think it should stick around in habitable form a little longer.