Consumers May Again Be Free to Choose an Incandescent Bulb

(p. A1) The Trump administration plans to significantly weaken federal rules that would have forced Americans to use much more energy-efficient light bulbs, a move that could contribute to greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

The proposed changes would eliminate requirements that effectively meant that most light bulbs sold in the United States — not only the familiar, pear-shaped ones, but several other styles as well — must be either LEDs or fluorescent to meet new efficiency standards.

The rules being weakened, which dated from 2007 and the administration of President George W. Bush and slated to start in the new year, would have all but ended the era of the incandescent bulb invented more than a century ago.

. . .

The Trump administration said the changes would benefit consumers by keeping prices low and eliminating government regulation.

For the full story, see:

John Schwartz. “New Rollback To Ease a Ban On Old Bulbs.” The New York Times (Thursday, September 5, 2019): A1 & A15.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was last updated Sept. 6 [sic], 2019, and has the title “White House to Relax Energy Efficiency Rules for Light Bulbs.”)

U.S. Forest Service Regulations Delay Monitoring Signs of Volcanic Eruptions

(p. D1) On Mount Hood, “any little thing that happens could have a big consequence,” said Dr. Moran, scientist-in-charge at the federal Cascades Volcano Observatory.

And yet the volcano is hardly monitored. If scientists miss early warning signs of an eruption, they might not know the volcano is about to blow until it’s too late.

Determined to avoid such a tragedy, Dr. Moran and his colleagues proposed installing new instruments on the flanks of Mount Hood in 2014. Those include three seismometers to measure earthquakes, three GPS instruments to chart ground deformation and one instrument to monitor gas emissions at four different locations on the mountain.

But they quickly hit a major hiccup: The monitoring sites are in wilderness areas, meaning that the use of the land is tightly restricted. It took five years before the Forest Service granted the team approval in August.

The approval is a promising step forward, but Dr. Moran and his colleagues still face limitations, including potential legal action that may block their work.

Such obstacles are a problem across the United States where most volcanoes lack adequate monitoring. Although federal legislation passed in March could help improve the monitoring of volcanoes like Mount Hood, scientists remain concerned that red tape could continue to leave them blind to future eruptions, with deadly consequences.

For the full story, see:

Shannon Hall. “Eruptions of Red Tape.” The New York Times (Tuesday, September 10, 2019): D1 & D6.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 9, 2019, and has the title “We’re Barely Listening to the U.S.’s Most Dangerous Volcanoes.”)

Guacamole “Toast-Munching Hipsters” Can Relax: Gene Edited Avocados Would Thrive Under Global Warming

(p. B1) Last month, a team of scientists in the United States and Mexico announced that it had mapped the DNA sequences of several types of avocados, including the popular Hass variety. That research is likely to become the foundation for breeding techniques and genetic modifications designed to produce avocados that can resist disease or survive in drier conditions.

Whether they realize it or not, this could be big news for toast-munching hipsters. Already, rising temperatures are disrupting the avocado supply chain, causing price increases across the United States that have also been exacerbated by trade uncertainty.

“Because of climate change, temperature might not be the same, humidity might not be the same, the soil might be different, new insects will come and diseases will come,” said Luis Herrera-Estrella, a plant genomics professor at Texas Tech University who led the avocado project. “We need to be prepared to contend with all these inevitable challenges.”

. . .

(p. B5) “There are avocados that grow in very hot places with little water, and there are avocados that grow more in rainy places,” Dr. Herrera-Estrella said. “If we can identify genes that confer heat tolerance and drought tolerance, then we can engineer the avocados for the future.”

For the full story, see:

David Yaffe-Bellany. “Genes Ripe for Editing.” The New York Times (Saturday, September 28, 2019): B1 & B5.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was last updated on Sept. 30 [sic], 2019, and has the title “Avocado Toast, Meet Gene Editing.”)

Environmentalist Greta Thunberg’s Sailboat Crew Flew to and from New York by Airplane

(p. B4) A year ago, a 15-year-old in leopard-print tights sat down outside the Swedish Parliament building with a purple backpack and a sign announcing she was on strike over climate change.

This week, Greta Thunberg arrived by solar-powered sailboat in New York, now as the 16-year-old poster child for younger generations’ climate angst. Also making its way to the New World, as evidenced in the coverage of her carbon-neutral trip, was a concept that in just a few years has swept Europe: flight shame, often hashtagged in the original Swedish, #flygskam.

. . .

As Greta . . . hopped ashore in southern Manhattan on Wednesday after 13 days at sea, loud cheers rose from the hundreds in the crowd there to greet her.  . . .

Amanda LaValle, a mother of three from Kingston, N.Y., brought her two eldest daughters to be part of the crowd. “I’m encouraging them to be involved. I have already blown my own climate credentials by having three kids,” she said, half in jest.

She acknowledged how difficult it can be to put her principles into practice. Earlier in August, when she needed to travel to Minneapolis for a three-day training sponsored by Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, she briefly considered taking the train. But, she said, “It would have taken two days and I couldn’t see taking more time away from my family.”

Greta’s voyage has had its own critics, who have pointed out that some members of the sailing crew will return by plane, while others fly in to sail the boat back to Europe.

Boris Herrmann, captain of the sailboat, Malizia II, said that the criticism was expected but that Greta shouldn’t be held responsible for the flights by crew members. “We are kind of the ferry to bring her over. We’re a professional sailing team and sometimes we need to fly. We used this voyage also to train,” he said, adding that the team offsets its flights by funding sustainability projects, including mangrove planting in Indonesia. “The trip is an example of how difficult it is to have zero carbon impact.”

For the full story, see:

Sofia McFarland. “‘Flight Shame’ Comes to U.S.—Via Sailboat.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019): B4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was last updated on Aug. 30, 2019, and has the title “‘Flight Shame’ Comes to the U.S.—Via Greta Thunberg’s Sailboat.” Where the online and print versions differ, the passages quoted above follow the more detailed online version.)

Entrepreneurs Turn Overcooked Corn Flakes from Waste to Resource

(p. B1) Last year, Seven Brothers became partners with the American cereal manufacturer Kellogg’s to create Throw Away I.P.A., a smooth, mellow beer made from Corn Flakes that had fallen short of quality-control standards at the company’s production facility in Manchester. In June, the brewery released two more beers made with Kellogg’s cereals: a pale ale from Rice Krispies and a dark (p. B7) stout that owes its chocolate flavor to Coco Pops.

. . .

“How can we find a home for these perfectly edible flakes that are just slightly overcooked or a bit too big or a bit too small?” Ms. Prince said.

. . .

At Seven Brothers, the process of converting cereal into beer ultimately boils down to ratios, or how much cereal to add to the grain mix that is combined with hot water in the early stages of the brewing process. From there, Mr. McAvoy said, “the process is pretty much the same as we would make any beer.”

But does it actually taste good? At the moment, it’s not available in the United States, though Seven Brothers is looking for an American distributor. At the Dockyard, a chain of Manchester pubs that stocks the cereal-based beers, the Throw Away I.P.A. was a hit with customers.

For the full story, see:

David Yaffe-Bellany. “Stale Corn Flakes? No, a Fine I.P.A.” The New York Times (Saturday, July 4, 2019): B1 & B7.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 3, 2019, and has the title “Drink a Pint, Waste Less Food.”)

Sand from Greenland’s Global Warming Can Help World Make Concrete

(p. A8) A few miles up the Sermilik Fjord in southwestern Greenland, the water has abruptly turned milky, a sign that it is loaded with suspended silt, sand and other sediment.

It is this material — carried here in a constant plume of meltwater from the Sermeq glacier at the head of the fjord — that Mette Bendixen, a Danish scientist at the University of Colorado, has come to see. As their research boat moves farther into the murky water, she and several colleagues climb into a rubber dinghy to take samples.

Dr. Bendixen, a geomorphologist, is here to investigate an idea, one that she initially ran by colleagues to make sure it wasn’t crazy: Could this island, population 57,000, become a provider of sand to billions of people?

Sand for eroded beaches, potentially from the Rockaways to the Riviera. Sand to be used as bedding for pipes, cables and other underground infrastructure. Mostly, though, sand for concrete, to build the houses, highways and harbors of a growing world.

The world makes a lot of concrete, more than 10 billion tons a year, and is poised to make much more for a population that is forecast to grow by more than 25 percent by 2050. That makes sand, which is about 40 percent of concrete by weight, one of the most-used commodities in the world, and one that is becoming harder to come by in some regions.

But because of the erosive power of ice, there is a lot of sand in Greenland. And with climate change accelerating the melting of Greenland’s mile-thick ice sheet — a recent study found that melting has increased sixfold since the 1980s — there is going to be a lot more.

“It’s not rocket science,” Dr. Bendixen said. “One part of the world has something that other parts of the world are lacking.”

For the full story, see:

Henry Fountain. “Melting Greenland Is Awash in Sand.” The New York Times (Thursday, July 4, 2019): A8.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 1, 2019, and has the same title as the print version.)

A Resource Is a Weed You Have Figured Out How to Use

(p. A1) With its warts, a messy sap that can sicken livestock and a tendency to grow in tall, mangy clumps that crowd out other plants, milkweed doesn’t enjoy a history of immortalization in oil paint.

. . .

(p. A10) Some makers of winter clothing are touting the white wispy floss in milkweed pods as a plant-based insulating material. Some forecasters say milkweed could yield $800 an acre this year, which Vermont farmers say is better than they get for most commodities.

. . .

Jaunty enough for the city and practical enough for the weekend cabin, he says, the “refined Canadian parka” sells for $850, the same as Quartz’s duck-down jacket. He says down is still popular but milkweed attracts customers intrigued by a “plant-based” insulator. “We were shocked by the interest we got.”

. . .

Milkweed’s sartorial use harks at least to World War II, when overseas supplies of kapok, an insulating fiber, were cut off. As a wartime substitute, the U.S. rallied civilians to pick milkweed pods for life jackets, says Gerald Wykes, a historian at the Monroe County Museum in Michigan.

After the war, for the most part milkweed went “back to its roots” as a humble weed, he says, because the ornery plant proved challenging to tame as a crop that could be grown in rows and harvested mechanically. The handpicking that went on in the war “wasn’t terribly efficient,” he says, and the rising use of synthetics lessened interest in all natural fibers.

Recently, says Ms. Darby, farmers have improved machinery that is designed to gently pick off milkweed pods without damaging the whole plant.

And milkweed has recently sprouted back into favor in some quarters because of its role not just as a green stuffing option but also as the key source of food for caterpillars of the embattled monarch butterfly.

For the full story, see:

Jennifer Levitz. “This Winter’s Hot Fashion: Parkas Stuffed With Vermont Weeds.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017): A1 & A10.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 27, 2017, and has the same title as the print version.)