UK startup turns plastic waste into wax


Plastics dump in the Maldives

A British startup’s innovation to tackle plastic pollution by decomposing the material into a wax that’s digested by nature is making inroads in Asia.

Polymateria Ltd., which has a lab on Imperial College London’s campus, has struck a deal with a supplier to 7-Eleven in Taiwan, Polymateria Chief Executive Officer Niall Dunne said in an interview. The company has also inked a deal worth as much as $100 million to license its technology to Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Corp., one of the world’s biggest petrochemical manufacturers.

Polymateria’s technology uses about a dozen different chemicals, including rubbers, oils and desiccants, that are added to plastic during the manufacturing process. The additives can be adjusted to create thin films that cover food products or more rigid materials to make cups or drink pouches. The products can be customized to essentially self-destruct after a certain time. The additives help break down plastic polymers and turn the plastic into a wax that’s fully digested by natural bacteria and fungi.

Hey! It’s a start.

An earthquake lasted 32 years and ended in disaster

An 8.5-magnitude earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra in February 1861, shook the earth and caused a wall of water to wash away the nearby banks and kill thousands of people…Now it seems that the tragic incident was not an isolated incident: the truth is that It was the end of the longest documented earthquake to date, which occurred over a span of 32 years. These types of earthquakes, known as slow slip events, can occur over days, months, or years. But the recently described phenomenon lasted more than twice as long as the previous record holder, as stated in an article published in natural earth sciences…

Like fast phenomena, slow earthquakes release energy stored by the movements of tectonic plates. But instead of releasing it into an earth-shaking storm, slow earthquakes release tension little by little over time and are not a danger on their own. However, subtle changes below the surface can increase pressure in adjacent areas along the fault, which could increase the risk of a larger nearby earthquake…

In 2016, Reshav Malik from Nanyang Technological University analyzed coral reef data with fresh eyes. By modeling the physics of the subduction zone and the movement of fluids along the fault, the researchers discovered that the rapid change was caused by the release of accumulated stress – the onset of a slow earthquake…

Understanding these slow phenomena is critical to understanding the potential risks they pose in causing larger tremors. Slow landslides preceded many of the strongest earthquakes documented to date…“It’s a hot topic in this area,” says Noel Bartlow, a slow seismic geophysicist at the University of Kansas who was not involved in the study. But proving that slow slip events can cause major geological earthquakes has been difficult. Not all slow earthquakes cause a large earthquake…“The evidence is growing, but it is still limited to a few case studies…”

Worth learning about. Of course. As our knowledge and research technology improves, we find more to research…in addition to what prompted study in the first place.

U.S. has hottest summer on record

The United States had its hottest summer on record this year, narrowly edging out the previous milestone that was set 85 years ago during the Dust Bowl.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that the average temperature this summer for the contiguous U.S. was 74 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2.6 degrees warmer than the long-term average. The heat record caps off a season full of extremes, with parts of the country experiencing persistent drought, wildfires, record-breaking heat waves, hurricanes and other extreme weather exacerbated by climate change.

This summer beat the previous record set in 1936 by a hair, coming in at less than 0.01 degrees warmer than during the Dust Bowl year, when huge portions of the West and Great Plains were parched by severe drought…

Global warming is making heat waves and other extreme weather events both more likely and more severe, and climate scientists have said conditions this summer offer a glimpse of what could become more common in the future.

If you accept and understand the science, get ready to sweat. If you don’t accept the science, guess what? You still get to sweat!

Think disasters are unrelated? Think again!

Given the ever-increasing frequency of severe weather events, human-made catastrophes and epidemics, piecemeal and fragmented responses will fail to address root causes and may in fact compound the challenges, a new United Nations report argues.

The Interconnected Disaster Risks report analyses 10 disasters of 2020 and 2021, including the Amazon wildfires, the Beirut explosion, and the cold wave in Texas in the United States among others, and makes the case that solving such problems will require addressing their root causes rather than surface challenges.

“If we keep trying to manage disasters as isolated events, we will fail,” Jack O’Connor, senior scientist at the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security, told Al Jazeera.

“Unless we change our approach to not only ask ‘what’ happened when investigating disasters, but also ‘why’ they happened, any preparatory measures we devise will not be enough,” said O’Connor, who is the lead author of the report.

Say it, again, Jack. After decades of scientists trying to convince folks just how interconnected societies, cultures, economies are becoming…nature and human-made climate change may finally push ignorant “locals” into understanding (1) how small the world has become…and (2) we may have reached the limits of passing the buck instead of taking some part of responsibility to act to cure whole problems. Finally.

Save money, don’t worry!


Miguel Alarcon stands in Hillview Park, a block from the house where he once lived near Reid-Hillview Airport

With rent costing more than $3,200 on average for a three-bedroom home in San Jose, many working-class people like Miguel Alarcon have been forced into making a wrenching decision: pay more affordable rent but endure poorer air quality.

That’s because Reid-Hillview is one of 13,000 so-called general aviation airports, from which leaded-fuel piston-engine aircraft fly. While leaded gasoline was fully phased out in 1996 with the passage of the Clean Air Act, it still fuels a fleet of 170,000 piston-engine airplanes and helicopters. Leaded aviation fuel, or avgas, now makes up “the largest remaining aggregate source of lead emissions to air in the U.S.,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The presence of this fuel means the areas near these airports are often inundated with tiny lead particles, according to a 2020 report from the EPA. Lead has been proven to have a detrimental impact on children’s brains and nervous systems.

Understand this. There is NO SAFE LIMIT for lead in children’s brains and nervous systems.