Rocks may be environmentalists’ newest best friends, if recent research is brought to real-world fruition. Working with the U.S. Geological Survey, scientists at Columbia University’s Earth Institute found large areas along the east and west coasts of the U.S. that are lined with rocks that may be able to absorb enough carbon dioxide to slow down climate change.
The new research builds on previous knowledge that rocks naturally absorb carbon dioxide by binding it with minerals to form solids such as calcium carbonate. The absorption takes place over thousands of years, during the recrystallization that occurs after the surfaces of rocks are dissolved by natural weathering. To speed up that process, scientists experimented in the lab by crushing a sample of rocks and adding a catalyst to dissolve them. They reformed in minutes and in doing so, absorbed carbon dioxide. Read More
When nitrate is present in water, worms, mussels, freshwater snails and other underwater creatures emit nitrous oxide as a by-product of digestion. The animals obtain their food from soil, which contains bacteria that survive “surprisingly well” in the gut and are thought to convert nitrate in the water into nitrous oxide gas.
While nitrous oxide is known for its use as dentists’ laughing gas, it’s also 310 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Earthworms also emit the gas because of soil rich in both nitrogen and the microbes that convert it, but the new study illustrates that marine mammals may be pumping it out as well.
As we’ve mentioned before, about 18 percent of methane from human activities is generated in the guts of livestock. As such, cow belching, which is how much of this potent greenhouse gas sees the light of day, has become an important environmental concern. In an effort to make cows less gassy, scientists have tried everything from transferring special methane-reducing bacteria from kangaroo guts into cow guts, to garlic supplements, to promoting a switch to kangaroo-burgers.
But no one wants to be in the field measuring cow burps. Now a team of scientists from New Zealand have a designed a model cow to study the issue in the lab. In fact, they’ve built a whole herd of virtual cows, named Myrtle, Buttercup, Jesse, Ethel, Daisy and Boris. Each consists of a system of tubes, pumps, jars, monitors, and blinking lights which simulate the entire bovine digestive system.
As News 3 reports: