From Toxic Pellets to Noxious Gases, The World’s Beaches Are In Danger
Nov30

From Toxic Pellets to Noxious Gases, The World’s Beaches Are In Danger

There are roughly 95,471 miles of shoreline across the United States and its territories, but many of those miles are now ravaged with pollution. Luckily, environmental organizations, legislators, nonprofits, and hardworking individuals are doing all they can to increase cleanup efforts across the world’s beaches. According to the Los Angeles Times, one of the most popular beaches in Southern California, Long Beach, will now attempt to slash its air pollution and reach zero-emissions over the next two decades. The Long Beach Clean Air Action Plan includes phasing out diesel trucks at the Long Beach Port and using natural gas instead and eventually using zero-emissions cargo handling equipment and trucks. The plan was unanimously adopted at a joint meeting in Los Angeles and will cost approximately $14 billion. “Every step we take to cut air pollution is one toward our ultimate goal of being the world’s first zero-emission seaport,” said Lou Anne Bynum, Harbor Commission President. “We thank the EPA for providing funds to facilitate these projects and improve the health of our community.” Ajot reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is helping Long Beach by awarding it $2.4 million to fund cleaner, more energy efficient tugboats and shipping equipment. “We will get to zero emissions, make no mistake,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. Along with air pollutions ruining the world’s beaches and ports, tiny plastic items are also causing some serious pollution problems in the open water. According to The Huffington Post, plastic particles from silverware, shopping bags, Styrofoam, bottles, and much more are floating around the earth’s oceans and washing up on shorelines. Perhaps the most damaging kind of plastic, however, is the smallest kind of material, known as nurdles. Nurdles are extremely small plastic pellets that are used for manufacturing purposes. Beaches across the world are now being overrun by these tiny pellets, causing damage so severe its being compared to oil spills. Nurdles attract chemical pollutants, which release additional toxins into the water and can harm marine animals. Fish, turtles, birds, and other animals also mistake these pellets for food and end up dying as a result. Thankfully, there are communities filled with people who are willing to help rid beaches of these toxic pellets. “We were determined to collect as many as we could,” said Hayley Bevis, who, along with her son’s classmates and parents, spent hours collecting nurdle pellets from the local beach. “I’m sad at the state of our beaches and feel the company responsible should be doing more to help clean up the spill. The general public are doing what they can, but are overwhelmed, and some feel their efforts won’t make an...

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Report: U.S. Workplace Injuries Decline In 2016 For Fifth Year
Nov29

Report: U.S. Workplace Injuries Decline In 2016 For Fifth Year

It looks like the frequency of workplace injuries is declining, according to a recent report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, occupational injuries and illnesses declined last year for the fifth year in a row, suggesting that American work environments may be becoming safer for employees. According to the newly released estimates, U.S. private-sector employers reported 48,500 fewer injuries on the job in 2016 than they did in 2015. Approximately 2.9 million people became ill or were injured on the job last year, which equates to 29 cases per every 1,000 full-time workers. About one-third of those cases were serious enough to require one or more days out of work. In 2015, the median number of days spent away from work due to occupational injuries was eight, one day fewer than in 2014, and that median remained unchanged last year. Also in 2015, 4,836 workers were killed in workplace accidents, or roughly 13 deaths each day. But despite these grim statistics, the new report indicates that workplaces are getting safer. In particular, the manufacturing, retail, wholesale trade, and construction sectors all showed statistically significant declines in terms of workplace injuries. That said, the nation’s construction industry is struggling to find qualified workers, so the decline in reported injuries could be partially due to a decreased workforce overall. From April 2006 to January 2011, the construction industry eliminated more than 40% of its workforce mostly due to economic reasons; since then, many firms have been unable to hire employees to meet the growing demand. Still, considering that many branches of the retail sector are flourishing, these findings cannot be entirely attributed to a decreased workforce. However, the numbers could be skewed in other ways. David Michaels, former administrator of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under President Obama from 2010 to 2017, has cited studies — paid for by the Bureau of Labor Statistics — that have found the injury and illness data submitted by employers may not line up with workers’ compensation claim and emergency room visit reports. The most commonly cited injuries, according to employers, were muscular and ligament sprains and strains. In total, private sector and government worker injuries and illnesses numbered 3.2 million. Michaels told Bloomberg Environment, “Whether it is 3 million, 4 million, of 5 million, it is unacceptable.” Still, the decrease in workplace accidents is being felt on the state level, too. Indiana’s non-fatal occupational injury and illness rate was the lowest in the state’s history last year, and Minnesota’s reached the lowest point since the estimations were first taken in 1973. Although California’s rates remained the same, theirs is...

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Bill Gates Gives $100 Million to Help Combat Alzheimer’s Across the Globe
Nov28

Bill Gates Gives $100 Million to Help Combat Alzheimer’s Across the Globe

There are an estimated 5.5 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, by 2040, that number is expected to jump to roughly 11.6 million. Something needs to be done to combat Alzheimer’s and dementia. The fight against Alzheimer’s is nothing new, but it still remains one of the most important battles in the medical field. In 2011, for example, the United States government allotted $450 million for Alzheimer’s research. Recently, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has announced plans to invest $100 million to fight this debilitating mental health disease. According to USA Today, Gates revealed in mid November that he recently invested $50 million into the Dementia Discovery Fund and will invest an additional $50 million in various start-ups specializing in Alzheimer’s research. “It’s a miracle that people are living so much longer, but longer life expectancies alone are not enough,” Gates wrote in a blog post. “People should be able to enjoy their later years—and we need a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s to fulfill that.” Despite the fact that Americans are living much longer and 20% of the entire population is expected to be over the age of 65 within the next 15 years, one-third of those individuals will likely die as a result of Alzheimer’s and related complications. Since there is no known cure or reliable prevention method associated with these mental illnesses, any significant donation will help push research along. Gates’ $100 million donation will surely do just that — but it’s still an uphill battle. Across the globe, donations of all kinds provide assistance to individuals and families who are struggling. More than 14.3 million tons of American textiles, for instance, have been donated to families all over the world. Debilitating diseases like Alzheimer’s, though extremely prevalent in America, affect millions in much poorer countries as well. Gates and other researchers are hoping to provide some assistance to not just American patients, but people all over the world. “I’m making this investment on my own, not through the foundation,” Gates added. “The first Alzheimer’s treatments might not come to fruition for another decade or more, and they will be very expensive at first. Once that day comes, our foundation might look at how we can expand access in poor countries.” Gates pointed out a few specific areas where he hopes his $100 million can help, including coordinating and analyzing all the data being collected on patients across the world, better understanding new areas of research, and more innovative drug treatment trials. “By improving in each of these areas, I think we can develop an intervention that drastically reduces the impact of Alzheimer’s,” he added. “We’re already...

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NASA’s ‘X-Planes’ Use Less Fuel and Reduce Emissions
Nov17

NASA’s ‘X-Planes’ Use Less Fuel and Reduce Emissions

A new era of aircraft technology is on its way, with a focus on energy efficiency and economic impact. The aerospace industry is continuously adopting innovative technologies, but there’s a new interest in exploring alternative propulsion systems and energy sources. This new interest is giving aircraft engineers an opportunity to develop cutting-edge technology that will not only drastically cut fuel usage, but also open up potential new markets and business opportunities. NASA is working with the aviation industry on the development of unique vehicle concepts that will use different fuselage shapes. They will be longer, skinner, with more blended wings. They are also using innovative materials and components. Airplanes are typically made of aluminum or steel, which has a 90% recycled content, making it the most recycled material on the planet. These new materials and components will provide better efficiency with fewer emissions and less noise. “I feel we are at a tipping point in commercial aviation,” says Jim Heidmann, manager of NASA’s Advanced Air Transport Technology Project (AATT). “We are exploring and developing game-changing technologies and concepts for aircraft and propulsion systems that can dramatically improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact and accelerate the introduction of new aircraft.” Through NASA’s New Aviation Horizons initiative, the development of a series of experimental planes (X-planes) is being tested and hopefully validated. These X-planes will achieve the agency’s goal levels for fuel consumption, emissions, and noise. The Single-aisle Turboelectric AiRCraft with an Aft Boundary-Layer (STARC-ABL) will allow the X-planes to use the air flowing along the fuselage to reduce fuel consumption. With 24 million flight hours being logged by aviation aircrafts every year, there is a big concern with harmful emissions. In a traditional airplane, the boundary layer consists of slow-moving air that clings to and flows along the fuselage. This layer helps to reduce friction as it flows off the rear of the aircraft. However, this layer also breaks up into turbulence. The new concept would consists of a giant ducted fan that goes around the stern of the fuselage, allowing it to collect the boundary layer and accelerate it to turn into thrust. According to NASA, with this new technology, the plane’s engines will use 10% less fuel. NASA is working with industry and academic leaders to turn this idea into reality. The agency issues grants to the University of Georgia, Boeing, and Liberty Works with ES Aero to begin developing working designs using the STARC-ABL concept. Meanwhile, other X-place concepts will be explored during a year-long study to create a next generation, turboelectric, or hybrid aircraft concept. These concepts could be implemented and running within 20 years and...

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Bike Lights Equipped With Cameras, A.I. Could Save Lives
Nov17

Bike Lights Equipped With Cameras, A.I. Could Save Lives

Numbering at upwards of 1 billion, there are now twice as many bikes in the world as there are cars. But just because there are more bicycles on the road these days doesn’t mean they’re always a safe form of transportation. In fact, cyclists are vulnerable for many reasons, including subpar infrastructure, dangerous motorists, and simple lack of visibility. Although cyclists may not always have control over driver behavior or non-bike-friendly roads, they can improve how well they’re seen by using a bike light. And the newest forms of illumination are smarter than ever before, able to capture events around you on video or even adjust based on real-time road conditions. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, more than 37,000 U.S. residents die in road crashes every year. Even worse, two cyclists die each day, according to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. Their data shows that in 2015 alone, 818 cyclists died in accidents. The increasing number of accidents can be at least partially attributed to the fact that there are more bikes out there on the road today, but the acceptance of this form of transportation isn’t necessarily widespread among motorists. Unfortunately, cyclists are often seen as a nuisance on busy streets, and many drivers don’t seem to possess the patience to share the road safely. The American Automobile Association, or AAA, has found that aggressive driving is a factor in 66% of fatal traffic accidents, or two out of three deadly crashes. Unfortunately, cyclists are all too familiar with the hazard posed by aggressive and angry drivers. When drivers take it upon themselves to scare bicyclists or engage in unsafe driving behaviors around them, filing a police report may prove ineffective; after all, it’s the cyclist’s word against the driver’s. But some bike light manufacturers are granting more power to the cyclists in the form of video cameras housed inside powerful bike lights. Not only will these lights allow both motorist and cyclist to see more clearly, but they’ll also capture movement in front and behind the bike. The Cycliq Fly6 and Fly12 come equipped with wide-angle HD cameras that capture anywhere from six to 10 hours of footage. Because there’s so little area on a bike for extra devices, Cycliq co-founder Kingsley Fiegert — who got the idea after being hit with slingshot ammunition while on a bike ride with his son — decided to combine lights and cameras and get in on the action. The cameras aren’t perfect (the more affordable versions aren’t really able to capture license plates), but a lot of cyclists want in. These camera lights can act...

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