Australians Hate Fracking, Too; The Navy's New Recycling Plan
Los Angeles Times on Australia's fracking protests, The Guardian on damaged reefs, Reuters on BP's biofuel plant, Associated Press on the Navy's mattresses, and Grist on the complications of farming.
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Los Angeles Times on the Australian fracking protests When hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was introduced in Australia seven years ago, people "greeted [it] with gusto." Now, locals and activists in Queensland are complaining about the environmental side effects. It's been blamed for diseases in fish and for contaminated waters. Already, temporary bans have been enacted in two states in response to public demand for investigations on environmental damage.
The Guardian on a possible way to restore damaged reefs Beneath the badly damaged areas of the Great Barrier Reef lies healthy coral reef, suggesting that deeper waters may provide a refuge for corals. It's an important finding—the Great Barrier Reef in shallow waters has dropped by more than half in the past 27 years. "This may suggest that the upper and lower corals are part of the same population and have moved between deep and shallow waters, which could be an important part of regenerating the damaged upper reef."
Reuters on BP ending its biofuel plant plan BP canceled plans to build a plant in Florida that converted tough grasses into cellulosic biofuel—the "next generation" of ethanol. Creating biofuels is politically complicated; the government has a mandate for a 8.65 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel in 2012, but the oil industry has been lobbying against it. Instead of the plant, BP will be focusing on research and development of biofuels technology.
Associated Press on how the Navy recycles its mattresses When the Navy comes home, usually the mattresses on board will head to a local landfill. But now, with a new pilot program, those mattresses will be broken down to recycle its springs and foam. Not only is it greener, it's cheaper than sending mattresses to a landfill. Springs will be melted down for scrap metal and mattress foam will be used for carpet pads. "Keeping the old mattresses from going into landfills is the single easiest way for the Navy to reduce its footprint in them."
Grist on how there's no "simple fix" in farming The Marsden Farm Study, where longer rotations produced crops with less chemicals, was hailed by Mark Bittman as a "simple fix" for making commodity farming sustainable. Usually, planting a single type of crop like corn makes the field susceptible to disease, and fertilizer can contaminate groundwater. But farming right now is more complicated, so changes are unlikely to happen. For example, the average age of farmers is 57, and they're unlikely to adopt new habits. "The forces arrayed in favor of the status quo are powerful, perhaps overwhelmingly so."