From Space, Whales Look Much Smaller

A weekly roundup of the best in science journalism, doodled.

April 07, 2015

Someone told me that last week’s edition of Perrin’s Awesome Science Week was the most depressing thing she’d read in years. Environmental news, alas, can be like that. We’ve kinda botched the job of being responsible stewards of the planet, but hey, there’s no time like the present. So this week, I’m focusing on some potential answers to our problems. Here are a few ingenious ideas that humans have cooked up to improve our—and the earth’s—lot. 

What if we could flip algal blooms on their heads to make them useful instead of harmful? Maddie Stone, who’s quickly becoming one of my favorite solutions-oriented science journalists, explores the prospect of turning toxic algal blooms into green—really green—energy.

A list of things I didn’t know about mussels before I read this article about how reviving their endangered freshwater colonies can help clean polluted waterways.

1. America is a hotbed for mussel diversity, boasting 300 species in our rivers (65 percent of which will likely not live out the century).

2. Mussels have parasitic larvae that grow in fish gills, so protecting fish help mussels thrive, too.

3. Some mussel species live 100 years or more.


Satellite imagery can now identify two earthlings from space: elephants and whales. The technology could be really handy for conservation efforts—especially for whales, which are extremely hard to get population numbers on.

Photo: Jen Otis

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a new restriction on the “probably carcinogenic” and widely used herbicide glyphosate, which is found in Roundup. This was welcome news to Jennifer Sass, a scientist in NRDC’s health program. “The more farmers reduce their use of pesticides like glyphosate,” she says, “the more we can protect people, wildflowers, and milkweed for bees and monarch butterflies.” 

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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