Cornfield

Scientists accidentally create superior plastic munching enzyme

PETase is a recently discovered enzyme already known for chowing down on the type of plastic found in water bottles. However, after some prodding researchers accidentally introduced a mutation to the enzyme, causing it to devour plastics more efficiently.

This mutation occurred while scientists were researching the enzyme, found naturally in the bacterium Ideonella Sakaiensis. The appetite increases the mutation elicited doesn’t speed up consumption to world-changing rates, but the results do indicate that further manipulation could yield greater consumption rates in the future.

Considering the estimated 9 billion tons of plastic present on Planet Earth, (Live Science) these developments could not arrive any sooner!

Read More at Live Science

Shipping vessels charter course toward decreased emissions

While most of the world’s civilizations had agreed to reduce their carbon emissions as per the 2015 Paris Agreement, the shipping industry basically shrugged its shoulders and declared itself exempt.

However, this policy changed last Friday when the UN International Maritime Organization enacted a strategy to reduce and eventually phase out greenhouse gas emissions from international trade vessels. The goal here is to reduce GHGs by 50 percent of 2008 levels by 2050.

As of the According to the ICCT, shipping vessels around the world account for about 2.6 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more at the IMO website

Americans wasting 150,000 tons of food daily

In yet another interesting tidbit of information, so-called healthy eaters were the worst offenders. How so? Fruit and vegetables were found to be most likely to be thrown out, followed by dairy and then meat.

These were some of the findings by a recently published study by the USDA. The survey, which can be looked at in greater depth here, monitored eight years of information leading up to 2014.

Strive to eliminate food waste in your house hold. Not only does decaying food damage landfills, but the volume of food waste also has a tremendous cost:

  • 30m acres of land used in making that wasted food.
  • 780m pounds of pesticide sprayed on that produce
  • 2 tn gallons of irrigated water.

Finally, this rotting food also releases methane, one of the most nefarious of GHGs. Personally, I am pledging to be more on top of finishing the bunches of bananas I buy, rather than remaining guilty of tossing one or two ‘nanners out by weeks end.

Read more at the Guardian

 

Plant Vaccines: Eliminating pesticides and skyrocketing yield?

European researchers are currently testing a biodegradable, immune-system boosting ‘vaccine’ for crops to better fight pathogens. If the vaccine can prove safe through further testing and research, it may eliminate global need for chemical pesticides.

This vaccine differs from genetic engineering, which is considered to be controversial by some members of the public. Instead, this vaccine is composed of a long sequence of certain double stranded RNA, which is a key activator of the immune system in plants, to be sprayed on the plant to address certain harmful pathogens.

This vaccine will need to overcome many safety hurdles before approval. This will include long-term monitoring of its efficacy, and if it damages the plant, soil, or beneficial insects. Should the vaccine withstand this battery, however, one senior plant biologist estimates it could replace some chemical pesticides in as little as five years.

Read more at Yale Environment 360

 

Photo Credit (CC0): Dirt road beside a cornfield near Clarkesville in Habersham County, Georgia. Original image from Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress collection. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

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