Scary Facts About Recycling

 

As someone who checked plastic for the recycle symbol including the # to be certain my collector accepted that particular plastic and washed away food waste, I was dismayed to learn from the latest issue of Sierra Club magazine,  I might have been contributing to plastic being dumped in the ocean. I had blamed cruise ships and careless fishermen. Now I learn with China’s rejection of our products intended for recycling — first by rejecting unclean waste, and now altogether — that they have been routinely dumping the unclean waste into our oceans. We turned to Malaysia, which soon rejected the waste for similar reasons. In fact grocery bags, yogurt containers, Styrofoam, and clamshells are supposed to be recycled, but they almost never are. Plastic bags, soda straws, plastic wrap, and bottle caps are unrecyclable junk. Somewhere I read not to try to recycle anything smaller than a credit card.

Sometimes the ocean rejects what’s dumped into it and spits it back out.

Shredded paper confuses recycling equipment. Further, all undesirable plastic contaminates bales of genuine recyclables. The plastic would have been better off in a landfill. It should be noted that China is now producing more of its own plastic and subsequently trade war or not, they won’t be wanting our waste.

 

 

Fortunately, only the less desirable half of our recycling had been shipped overseas. Edward Humes, the author of the Sierra Club article sees China’s rejection as a wakeup call to an opportunity for our country to do better: improved recycling facilities and factories, more education of the public, clearer directions to the public on what is recyclable in their communities, deposits on plastic bottles, and less use of single use plastic. Places where recyclables are separated before they reach the curb yield the cleanest and most desirable material for recycling. We need to emphasize the first two of the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, and not depend on others to sort out our “when in doubts.”

Hey readers, I’m participating in Smashwords annual sale on ebooks. In fact, I’m making the following free for the month of July! Just click on the covers.

Some Fun News, Some Good News

Puppy Dog Eyes:  We’ve all seen puppy dogs whose adorable eyes plead for food, a back scratch, or forgiveness. It turns out that dogs have evolved to contain a facial muscle that allows them to raise their inner eyebrow, which makes their eyes look larger and appealing. Wolves have no such muscle.

 

More good news on beating plastic pollution: Seafood shells contain chitin, which can be used to make a plastic-like substance, which is biodegradable. The food industry generates 6 million to 8 million metric tons of crab, shrimp and lobster shell waste every year. Depending on the country, those claws and legs largely get dumped back into the ocean or into landfills. Unfortunately, current methods of extraction of the chitin is impractical and wastes resources. Investigators are optimistic that better methods can be found.

 

Research is also being done on microbes scientists have discovered who dine on plastic in the ocean. Plastic in the ocean doesn’t degrade but breaks up into small particles, which are consumed by fish to their detriment. There is a strain of microbes, on the other hand, which seems to be developing a taste for the plastic. It is hoped that this strain can be developed to help solve the problem in the oceans. I find it unforgivable that plastic makes its way into the oceans. At best it belongs in landfills, and we need tougher punishment of cruise ships and fishing vessels who illegally dump waste into the ocean. One cruise line paid over 40 million dollars in fines for illegal dumping including waste and oil, but didn’t stop its ways.

Not only can your devices synch up, so can bats and mice brains: Even when these creatures are not interacting with each other, when in close proximity the neural activity of their brains have been seen to coordinate. A pushier mouse’s brain has been seen to dominate. Can this explain crowd mentality in humans? Scientists are also studying octopus brains as a part of the octopus brain is very much like a human brain. In particular, the effects of Ecstasy are being studied. In general, it seems that tiny doses of dangerous drugs are being studied as therapeutic for some people.

Listen to your plants: Many people believe that talking to your plants is good for their health and growth. Now scientists are listening to plants grow by recording them, then amplifying and speeding up the sound. It’s suggested plants communicate with each other via sound. Hmm? Where I grew up, we had a saying that an evening was so quiet one could hear the corn grow. Check out the video in the article. This just in: University of Minnesota given grant by Minnesota Corn Growers Assn to study making better plastic from corn. It is biodegradable, but needs to be made more durable. So great to hear about all the efforts to replace plastic.

There’s a new bio-glue that can rapidly repair arterial wounds: Chinese researchers have discovered a bio-glue that is activated by UV light that can seal a bleeding heart in 20 seconds. It has yet to be used on humans, but has been successful on rabbits and pigs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is Ocean Worlds Day!

Today’s blog is not about how our oceans are in trouble, but about the many wonderful organizations that are working to save them. They range from those that help keep beaches and shorelines clean—today  many will be picking up litter—to those that take aggressive action against polluting and improper fishing practices.

Surfrider strives for accessible  beaches, clean water, protection of our oceans, preservation of our coasts and keeping plastic from polluting our waterways. Take 3‘s title indicates their message to beach goers. Take 3 bits of trash away when you visit a beach.

Blue Frontier is a grassroots organization or as they say, a seaweed organization, calling attention to conserving the oceans. 5gyres is dedicated to ridding our oceans of plastic.

Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation via efforts to affect policies that make a difference.

Blue Ocean Institute focuses on the positive, encouraging defending  fish rather than condemning poor fishing practices.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is particularly aggressive in stopping whaling vessels from engaging in species-endangering whaling and fishing practices. Their methods may be controversial, but Sea Shepherd decreases the number of whales killed  and garners  attention for the plight of these beautiful creatures.

Greenpeace is known for a range of environmental activism and is among the most successful organizations working in the area of oceans, whales and seafood. They aim to  to change seafood choices made at a wholesale level, convince governments and the United Nations that marine reserves are critical to our oceans’ future, and fight to close loopholes that enable commercial whaling.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution researches and educates on ocean life, coastal oceans, climate change’s effect on oceans, and deep water exploration. As such they are among the most influential on ocean related issues. Scripps Institute of Oceanography is a second influential  research institute. They run the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and head the world’s largest privately funded network for observing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Ocean Conservancy helps formulate ocean policy at the federal and state government levels based on peer reviewed science.

Mission Blue was founded by the first female aquanaut and has identified Hope Spots— special places critical to the health of the ocean — Earth’s blue heart. Some are formally protected, while Mission Blue is working to provide protection for the others. San Francisco Bay is one of the Hope Spots.

Deep Sea Conservation Network is an alliance of over 70 organizations including  Greenpeace, Oceana and the Natural Resources Defense Council— an organization defending the entire planet and its life from the ill effects of climate change.

I find these organizations inspiring, but my point is not for readers to relax and think the threat to our oceans is being handled, but to point to organizations that need your support to solve the problems. Other things you can do: eat seafood that is sustainably fished—ask before you buy— minimize plastic use, and help create awareness of the effect of climate change on the oceans. They provide 70% of the world’s oxygen. Our lives depend on healthy oceans.

In honor of World Oceans Day, I’m giving you a coupon to get a free ecopy of Lower World at Smashwords. Simply enter the code: TC75X when you go to pay. Available for a limited time.

Happy World Oceans Day!
Eloise

This Made My Day: Possible Substitutes for Plastic!

I needed some good news on the climate front, and I had been wondering for some time why someone hasn’t found a way to make biodegradable plastic so I decided to search. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that plastic in the ocean is so pervasive it’s been found in sea creatures at the very bottom of the ocean, being consumed by and killing all kinds of sea life threatening the ocean’s ability to continue to produce the 70% of oxygen it provides for land creatures to breathe.

California, having the longest coastline, is very concerned about plastic making its way into the ocean. They banned thin plastic grocery bags, but somehow allowed heavier reusable ones. I fervently hope they are being reused. I like the cloth bags inside their own little bags, which fit in my purse. Trader Joes uses soft thin plastic bags that states they are compostable in industrial sites. I take that to mean I can put them in my compost container.

At any rate, in my search I first came up with an article on the work of a PhD student in Sweden, who had found that something called nanocellulose made from wood byproducts and plants could make superior packaging for food and other uses and is completely biodegradable. The manufacturing would be more expensive than plastic and there were some issues that remained to be resolved. I checked the date at 2017 and wondered if progress had been made.

I tried a search for nanocellulose 2019 and with great delight discovered a press release on May 6th, 2019 on expected huge growth in use of nanocellulose for not only packaging, but as as a low-calorie additive to thicken, flavor, and stabilize food products. The nanocellulose market accounted for 7.5 million dollars in 2016 and is growing rapidly. A number of other sectors have found uses for the product with great potential.

Not all current plastic is recyclable such as the hard plastic used for children’s toys, buckets, containers, etc., and I also found a science alert about a new kind of plastic for these purposes, which can be recycled again and again.

A bit of good news.

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And of course, my research for my books in the Ocean Worlds series has made me extra aware of the threats to our oceans.Try a unique read.

 

Click here to buy Lower World         And here for Lost Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat your crickets if you want dessert?

I’ve always known that insects are high in protein and that they are diet mainstays in some indigenous cultures. Aboriginal Australians love witchetty grubs. One woman describes them as tasting like almonds when raw and scrambled eggs when cooked. They were not on the menu on our trip to Australia or I would have checked them out.

Mexico is the home of the largest variety of edible insects: gusanos, jumiles, chicatanos, ahuatle, escamoles, cuchamas, chapulines, and alacranes to name a few. I didn’t give their translations as the names sound better without the labels: worms, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and scorpions. There are over 2,000 species of edible insects worldwide.

I’m also aware that many Mexicans have unfortunatley altered their diets to include fewer insects and therefore less protein because of the disdain of peoples from other parts of the world.

Now, Trina Chiasson, a tech from Silicon Valley, has partnered with James Ricci, science officer and Tequila Ray Snorkel, tech officer. Hmm, gusanos are the grubs found in tequila bottles. The trio has purchased an existing cricket farm in Florida. They are working on making the farming more efficient. The Science News article describes the farming as difficult, citing one farmer’s attempt as resulting in a loss of millions of crickets in a matter of days. Other ideas are to use waste to feed the insects. After all, they have to eat too.

Worldwide, insect farming has become a 55 million dollar business. One chef includes them in an eight-course meal with insect bodies mixed with popcorn and chocolate mousse toppedd with wasps. Crickets average $15 per pound, but I imagine one pound contains many of the little critters.

 

Some insects are crunchy and others chewy, two textures I enjoy. However, I’m not ready to have them looking up at me from my plate. However, I do like the idea of them being ground and uses in protein bars or being fed to farmed fish. Hmm, chocolate covered, maybe?

 

If the human population continues to grow as it always has, we will need to look for resources to support them wherever we can.

 

 

 

 

Our Wired Brains and Memory Loss

 

Thanks, Pixabay

In my last blog I related the effect of magnetism on human brainwaves regarding our sense of direction. Our thoughts and emotions due to brainwaves are determined by synchronized electrical pulses from masses of neurons communicating with each other. That electricity and magnetism are connected is one of the most fascinating scientific discoveries in my opinion, and our brains evidently reflect that there is a connection.

Now according to an article in Science News, it appears that memory loss may be bcaused by a lack of synchronization of our brainwaves between the left prefrontal cortex and the left temporal cortex. Experiments attempting to get those wiggly waves back in synch using external electrodes from a head cap to deliver electric alternating current has resulted in improved working memory at least short term.

In a previous study of epileptic patients, ripples of brainwaves were discovered just before a memory was retrieved.

It is interesting that we use language like the phrase ‘hard-wired’ in reference to our brain. Humans are hard-wired to learn language. Those who can play music by ear are hard-wired to do so.

It is hoped that this research will provide noninvasive procedures to help people with dementia and possibly also autism, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. It would be great if brain surgery could become a thing of the past.

Check out my Ocean Worlds series for a unique read:

 

Click here to buy Lower World         And here for Lost Sea

Origins of Easter—Bonus blog— No Science

Many know that Christmas combines the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a pagan winter festival ritual. I’m not sure everyone knows that Easter is similar in that it combines a spring festival with the resurrection of Christ. The spring festival celebrated fertility and rebirth of the earth. Some sources believe that the word “Easter” is taken from the Teutonic goddess of fertility and spring – Eostre. The word estrus is no doubt also derived from the name of the goddess. A resurrection can be viewed as a rebirth.
Eggs, of course, are symbolic of birth. I suspect a bunny rabbit plays a role in Easter as rabbits are known for their fertility. Chocolates? Well, any excuse will do for eating chocolate.
Easter is set on the first Sunday following the full moon after the March equinox, and varies between March 22nd and April 25th. It seems ironic to me that this formula is related to Passover. The resurrection is believed to have happened after Passover, which  is dated according to the Hebrew/Jewish calendar, namely the 15th of the month Nisan. There is no fixed correspondence between dates on different callendars.
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2nd in series

 

Writing and publishing a book takes even longer than bringing a new life into the world and in fact, to an author one feels the result is one’s baby.  The characters in my Science Fiction are likable and my plots are imaginative and suspenseful. The setting is below the ocean floor, a part of our planet that is the last frontier.
Lost Sea is second in the trilogy Ocean Worlds It is written so that you don’t need to read the first.   Buy now from Amazon by clicking on Lost Sea’s cover for a fun and unusual read.                                 

 

1st in series

 

For a full experience, read Lower World first.  Buy now from Amazon by clicking on the cover.                 

 

 

 

 

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