Elaine Robertson

26 Flips | 1 Magazine | @ElaineRober2jla | Keep up with Elaine Robertson on Flipboard, a place to see the stories, photos, and updates that matter to you. Flipboard creates a personalized magazine full of everything, from world news to life’s great moments. Download Flipboard for free and search for “Elaine Robertson”

Plastic Waste More Pressing Than Climate Change

You may have read recent reports about the University of Georgia’s Jenna Jambeck and team, who estimated the amount of plastic waste that makes its …

Dawn arrives for the first exploration of a dwarf planet

Feathers Missing from 'Feathered Dinosaur' Display

The Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas is currently running an exhibit called "Chinasaurs" that features dinosaur fossils discovered in China. Some …

Solar Powered Floating Eco Home On The Water Is Nearly 100 Percent Recycleable

• Home<br>• ><br>• Home Stylings<br>• ><br>• Solar Powered Floating Eco Home On The Water Is Nearly 100 Percent Recycleable<p>posted 3 years ago<br>Categories: Home Stylings<p>With …

Living Rooms

Earth's varied landscape - from Yemen's blood-red desert to New York's concrete jungle - captured by astronauts onboard the ISS

For more than 16 years the International Space Station and its team of astronauts have given us unprecedented access to breathtaking and …

Kiwis in mission to explore active volcano 1km under the sea

A team of Kiwi, US and Australian scientists have sent one of the world's most advanced unmanned submarines to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean to …

Lake Mead Drought

<b>Photographer:</b> Brandy Rolin<b><br>Summary Author:</b> Brandy Rolin; Jim Foster; Stu Witmer<p>The photo above showing a parched landscape and thirsty reservoir was …

What A Jelly Bean Can Teach Us About Protecting The Environment When I reached for this jelly bean, I was just looking for a sweet treat, not a lesson in environmental impact. But you just never know where you’ll learn something, eh? According to research released last month in the journal Science, 8 MILLION TONS of plastic waste makes its way into our oceans every year (based on 2010 numbers). That’s the equivalent of five plastic grocery bags for every foot of coastline on Earth. Let that sink in for a moment. Eight million tons. This isn’t plastic that’s simply being thrown out the window by uncaring, wasteful Littery McLittersons. This is plastic that is escaping from our landfill and waste collection system, the very system designed to collect trash and keep it out of the ocean. People are trying to be good citizens, and that much is still making its way into ocean ecosystems. It’s enough to make a person go play inside a dry cleaning bag. Marine plastic pollution is a serious problem. As it is broken down by sunlight into smaller bits, plastic debris can resemble plankton and be ingested by filter feeders like whales. And seabirds are regularly found dead, bellies burst with flotsam ranging from cigarette lighters to bottle caps to fishing lures. (This bird finished its life more plastic than albatross. Sad photo by Chris Jordan) Knowing this, you can understand why I was shocked when this week I saw a jar of individually wrapped Jelly Belly jelly beans at a store here in Austin. That’s a picture of it up there (yes, it’s black licorice flavored, because that’s the best flavor). Now, from an enjoyment/annoyance standpoint, M&Ms and Pez might be the only products on Earth less appropriate for individual wrapping. But from an “environmentally conscious company” standpoint, I couldn’t help but think this is just the worst. So I posted that photo to the Jelly Belly Facebook page with a question attached: and I tweeted the picture to Jelly Belly UK (they’re a US company, but they don’t have a US Twitter account): This hit a nerve, apparently. A flurry of retweets, likes, and comments began to flow in. My hope was that rather than a petroleum-based plastic, the ubiquitous polymer concoctions used in everything from sandwich bags to water bottles to K-cups that are likely to stick around, mostly intact, for the next 50-500 years, that the Jelly Belly wrapper I held in my hand was instead made of cellophane, a plant-based biodegradable material. Fingers crossed. Thanks to the social media response from all of you, Jelly Belly took notice, and yesterday I had a very pleasant phone conversation with their director of communications. I have good news, and I have bad news. The bad news: I have now verified that these wrappers are definitely made of petroleum-based plastic, cut into pieces that seem to be the perfect size to slip through the cracks of our landfill system and be gobbled up by ocean species. The good news: Jelly Belly is aware of this, they feel bad about it, and they are actively looking for a different wrapper that is both biodegradable and that will still deliver fresh, jelly bean goodness to the world’s candy-lovers. So will they be replacing these plastic wrappers with magic, space-age bioplastic? No. Sadly, that wonder-material doesn’t currently exist. These sorts of food wrappers have to do certain things like keep humidity out and keep all those delicious flavors and aromas in, and the biodegradable ones don’t do that. Jelly Belly told me that their product people (and the product people from hundreds of other companies in the same position) scour trade shows and engineering fairs every year looking for biodegradable plastics, searching for that magical combination. When they test what they find? Frankly, these eco-friendly plastics suck as packaging materials. Doesn’t matter if the bag is biodegradable, nobody wants a gooey, disintegrated, flavorless jelly bean, or breath mint, or candy bar, or bag of pretzels. And this is the real conflict. As consumers, we demand these products be available in vending machines and candy jars and store shelves in convenient, single serving sizes, tasting great and staying fresh no matter when or where we want them, whether we’re unwrapping them in South Austin or on the South Pole. Companies like Jelly Belly and countless others whose plastics end up clogging our seas and poisoning Earth’s ecosystems are providing what we ask for. Now I don’t want to let those companies completely off the hook. According to Jelly Belly, these single-dose beans amount for less than 1% of their total bean tally, but if that’s the case then why not eliminate them altogether? It won’t have much of an effect on your bottom line. I mean, we all remember what Uncle Ben said, right? Ultimately though, a great deal of that responsibility lies with you and me. It’s up to us to demand that these companies change their ways. Ask yourself if convenience is more important to you than taking care of the environment. If you value the former, then that’s your choice. Enjoy those powdered donuts. But if you value the latter, then buy products that are packaged responsibly, and don’t buy things that aren’t. Tell these companies what you like and don’t like about the containers their products come in. It’s dollars and sense, it’s where economics meets science. I really believe they’ll work harder to change their ways if we make them. I’m very impressed that Jelly Belly was so open in talking to me about this. That tells me that they care. But I will remember it the next time I’m shopping for a treat. One final message to all of you aspiring chemists: Look at this as an opportunity. Companies like Jelly Belly are looking for ways to deliver delicious bean-shaped candies without ruining the environment. Science hasn’t given them what they need to do so… yet. Maybe you’ll be the one to change that. PS - Black jelly beans 4 lyfe.

<b>What A Jelly Bean Can Teach Us About Protecting The Environment</b><p>When I reached for this jelly bean, I was just looking for a sweet treat, not a lesson …

Adventurer Sets Record for Farthest South Swim on Earth

“‘Cold’ is a word that holds no meaning in a blizzard in the Antarctic Ocean. It was very difficult to breathe. I was gasping for air. I kept telling myself to keep calm. I’ve never experienced anything like it, ” says extreme swimmer Lewis Pugh of his record-setting swim.<p>Pughs hands were warmer …

Briefing to highlight results from new Earth missions – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet

Over the past 12 months NASA has added five missions to its orbiting Earth-observing fleet—the biggest one-year increase in more than a decade. NASA …

Space Travel

Mystery signals in space suggest Earth-like planet exists

Astronomers now believe that the mysterious signals, previously dismissed as stellar bursts, are indeed coming from an Earth-like planet.<p>Discovery of …

Venus revealed in high-resolution radar images from Earth

Ice Circles on the Gunpowder River, Maryland

<b>Photographer</b>: J.P. Glynn<b><br>Summary Authors</b>: J.P. Glynn; Jim Foster<p>The photo above shows several decorative circles in ice on a branch of the Gunpowder …

New Books on Dinosaurs 2: Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura’s Dinosaurs of the British Isles

Following on from February’s review of Matthew P. Martyniuk’s Beasts of Antiquity: Stem-Birds in the Solnhofen Limestone, it’s time once again to …

Life beyond Earth? The best bet may be on moons, not planets

There are billions of planets in the universe that straddle the habitable zones of their stars, but the search for potential life might actually narrow down to their moons.<p>Many of the planets that inhabit that zone, the distance that gives planets just the right amount of heat to sustain liquid …

Stardust Maneuvers Into Rendezvous Path With Earth

Ten days before its historic return to Earth with the first-ever samples from a comet, NASA's Stardust spacecraft successfully performed its 18th …

FailedMessiah.com

<b>Recently discovered 1.9 million-year-old pelvis and thigh bones change perspective on human evolution, scientists say.</b>

A Sere and Barren Place. And the Biggest National Park in America's Lower Forty-Eight.

People don't feel isolation very often. Well, plenty of us do feel isolated, but it tends to be an isolation in which we are surrounded by people and …

Amazing Images from Scientists' Dive into Toxic Volcano

Iceland's six-month-long volcanic eruption was over for less than a week when geologists clambered onto the cooling lava lake in Baugur crater to …

Earth Science

Fierce 'Superflares' from the Sun Zapped the Infant Earth

Our young sun may have routinely blasted Earth with gobs of energy more powerful than any similar bombardments recorded in human history.<p>Huge bursts …

Nature Is Losing The Battle Against Humans

Let’s face it. Nature is losing. The wild places of the world are disappearing, and will continue to disappear, until they are no more. I’m glad I’ll be dead before it’s all gone.<p>We were looking at some Audubon data this weekend, and realized that every bird population we care about is in dramatic …

Ecology

Magazines | National Wildlife Federation

<i>National Wildlife®</i><p>Our award-winning flagship publication blends spectacular photos with in-depth articles about wildlife.<p><i>Ranger Rick®</i><p>Bringing the …