Category Archive: Uncategorized

Texas Ice Storm Highlights Fragility of Wind Power

Most Texans probably knew that the state would have to shut down when weather forecasters said an ice storm was on the way. What they didn’t expect was that a significant portion of the state’s power grid would be shut down, too. Texas’s use of wind power turned a bad storm into a nightmare for millions of Texans who were left to ration their power -- or left without power altogether. As ice built up on the blades of the turbines, much of the state’s generation of wind power went still. In many states, going without wind power would not be...

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Biden Administration’s Climate Policies Will Do Little To Protect the Planet

Newly inaugurated President Joe Biden immediately issued executive orders to target American energy production as part of his effort to mitigate climate change.  Natural gas fracking and crude oil pipelines were the hardest hit. Biden announced that he would halt the construction of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline while also implementing a moratorium on oil and natural gas leases on federal lands. Labor unions, local governments, and leftwing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau all expressed frustration with Biden’s decision because many workers in the energy sector will likely lose their jobs.  Economics aside, many others have raised concerns about whether these two...

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President Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Aims to Bring Safe Drinking Water to All Americans

There are an average of 240,000 water main breaks in the United States each year, sparking widespread boil water advisories that affect millions of Americans. When water mains experience a leak or break, the loss of water pressure—even if just for a few hours—can allow bacteria or other contaminants to seep into the water supply. More often than not, these breaks take only a couple of days to repair, but there are many instances where citizens are left without a clean water source for weeks or even months. In a recent article published by The Hill, former policy analysis associate director for...

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The Top 5 Inventions of 2020

With all the quarantine and shutdowns, it’s easy to feel like 2020 was a lost year. The world may have been on pause, but scientists, engineers, and inventors remained hard at work to improve the world around us so we can leave it healthier and cleaner than we found it.  Here are five of the most important inventions and scientific discoveries that were created or uncovered in 2020:  1. The COVID-19 Vaccines It’s hard to think about any part of the past year without dwelling on the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost and hundreds of millions of people were...

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Rolls Royce’s “Mini Nuclear Plants” Could Fuel UK’s Zero Emissions Goal

Rolls Royce is aiming to change the future of power generation in the United Kingdom.  The company called on officials in the U.K. to provide funding for 16 small modular reactors (SMRs) which could generate carbon-free nuclear energy for England. If granted, the plan would create 6,000 new jobs over the next five years with the first mini plant operating within a decade.  The SMRs are small nuclear power generators manufactured in Rolls Royce factories which can be transported piece-by-piece to regions of the country to provide clean power -- a major innovation over the monolithic nuclear power plants of the 1970s....

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Where Does Plastic Ocean Trash Come From?

There is a patch of plastic twice the size of Texas floating in the Pacific Ocean. Compelling images of sea creatures tangled in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are often used in campaigns throughout the United States aimed at reducing the amount of plastic waste the country produces. Municipal governments have banned straws, bags, and water bottles as part of their effort to prevent plastic waste from entering the oceans.  But Americans are not responsible for the plastic waste in the ocean.  According to a peer-reviewed study from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), just 0.9 percent of the mismanaged plastic...

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What Kind of Plastic is Produced in the US?

Plastic is the subject of much discussion in the media. Environmentalists claim plastic is bad and we should pass laws to ban common products such as straws, while others say we should focus on recycling and that plastic provides many benefits for consumers. Missing from the debate is this: What kind of plastic do we actually use? That information is helpful to determine what solutions are viable. Plastic is categorized into one of 7 resin numbers. You may have seen a triangle on a product with a "1" or a "2" in it. That's a resin identifier. Different resins have different properties--some...

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Nuclear Energy Deal Helps Poland Maintain Independence from Russia

The United States and Poland reached an $18 billion nuclear energy deal that will reduce Poland’s dependence on Russia.  U.S. officials agreed that American companies will supply Poland with nuclear technology which will allow them to transition away from the natural gas they have been sourcing from Russia. Polish officials said that the deal will help them halt all purchases of natural gas from Russia by 2022. This decision follows several contentious spats between Polish and Russian officials.  Polish and American officials will spend the next 18 months developing a nuclear energy program that includes six reactors, according to the U.S. Department...

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What’s the Big Fracking Deal?

There aren’t many issues on which Joe Biden and Donald Trump agree, but fracking appears to be one of them—at least to a degree. The issue has been a point of contention during the election. So why is fracking such a big issue? Both Biden and Trump’s campaigns have vowed not to ban fracking generally if they win in November (though Biden has said his administration would restrict fracking on federal lands). Their common view on fracking should not come as a surprise given that the industry has helped create American jobs while also lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The latter point...

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Reopening Schools Safely During COVID-19

Obviously education is looking different due to COVID-19. While some will continue to learn virtually, just as they ended the previous school year, others will be making the adjustment to in-person learning--with procedures in place to prevent the spread of the virus. Health and safety continue to be at the forefront of discussions for those who will be physically going back to school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations have published guides to help ease the minds of parents, students, and teachers. For some, in-person learning might require the use of face masks, increased hand washing or hand...

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