Here are some recent articles and reports concerning science and the environment for your weekend reading enjoyment.
Scientific American (podcast): Recycled Toilets Make Path Green in Bellingham
The Meador Kansas Ellis Trail in Bellingham became the first certified sustainable road under the Greenroads rating system, in part because about 30 percent of the pavement consists of recycled concrete and, yes, crushed-up toilets, nicknamed “poticrete.”
Green (New York Times): Coyotes in New York City: A Bonus?
The growing presence of these top predators in New York City has piqued the interest of researchers, who say that coyotes in human territory might not be such a bad thing.
Google this week expanded its popular Street View feature to the forests of the Amazon basin, posting more than 50,000 photos that allow online users to take a virtual tour down the Rio Negro River in the world’s largest tropical region. The project is a partnership between Google and the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation.
U.S. Intelligence Community: I.C. Assessment of Global Water Security
The American intelligence community warns in a report released Thursday that scarcity and competition over water could destabilize countries in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia over the next decade. Water problems will hinder the ability of key countries to U.S. interests to produce food and generate energy, posing a risk to global food markets and hobbling economic growth. As a result of demographic and economic development pressures, North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia will face major challenges coping with water problems.
Science Daily: Pulp Nonfiction: Fungal Analysis Reveals Clues for Targeted Biomass Deconstruction
Without fungi and microbes to break down dead trees and leaf litter in nature, the forest floor might look like a scene from TV’s “Hoarders.” Massive-scale genome sequencing projects supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are of interest to bioenergy researchers because they possess enzymes that can break down plant biomass and could therefore be useful for accelerating biofuels production.
Science Daily: Cooking Better Biochar: Study Improves Recipe for Soil Additive
A team of scientists from Rice University has learned that when it comes to helping get water to plants, not all forms of biochar are the same. Charcoal produced at temperatures of 450 Celsius or higher was most likely to improve soil drainage and make more water available to plants, while charcoal produced at lower temperatures could sometimes repel water. The findings are timely because biochar is attracting thousands of amateur and professional gardeners, and some companies are scaling up industrial biochar production.