Food Will Get More Expensive; The Clean Water Act Is Working

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Discovered in Green: Food prices will rise, the Clean Water Act is working, China's getting dirtier and a better, leafier solar panel design. 

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    We can expect food prices of pollen dependent plants will go up. With the pesticides killing all those bees, it takes more money to maintain crops. This trend will continue. And, unfortunately, a lot of the best plants -- cocoa, coffee, apples -- fall into that category. Looking at the entire market of this type of agriculture, researchers not only concluded that we can expect things to get more expensive, they pinpointed where. And guess what, American, California and the corn belt, for example, are particularly dependent on these types of bee-impregnated food stuffs. So get ready to up your grocery budgets. [UFZ]
  • The Clean Water Act is working. What sounded like a good idea in 1972 actually turned out to be a good idea. "For the first time, we have evaluated the impact of the Clean Water Act in the waters of a coastal environment as extensive as Southern California," explains researcher Sergio Sañudo-Wilhelmy. Took long enough. And? "We can see that if we remove the contaminants from wastewater, eventually the ocean responds and cleans itself. The system is resilient to some extent," he continues. Sometimes policy does work. [USC]
  • China's going to keep getting dirtier. Which also means the world will get dirtier, since pollution knows no boundaries and all. Yippie. An economist made a model of China's expansion and decided that to continue growing, the country will have to continue doing dirty industrial things. "China's economic growth is still powered by physical capital expansion and substantial energy consumption," said researcher Yanqing Xia. That means more manufacturing, more carbon emissions, and more of all those fun consequences that come with that. Thanks, China. [International Journal of Global Energy Issues]
  • A better, leafier solar panel. Modeling their design after plants, which absorb light for, well, a living, researchers created a more efficient solar panel. Instead of a flat surface, it has curves. "On a flat surface, the light either is absorbed or it bounces back," explains researcher Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo. "By adding these curves, we create a kind of wave guide. And that leads to a greater chance of the light's being absorbed." You can see the little guy over there. Since leaves aren't exactly flat, researchers suspected adding curves would improve the whole process. "I expected that it would increase the photocurrent because the folded surface is quite similar to the morphology of leaves, a natural system with high light harvesting efficiency," added researcher Jong Bok Kim. "However, when I actually constructed solar cells on top of the folded surface, its effect was better than my expectations." [Nature Photonics]

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.