In brief (March 2015, part II): plastic pollution and planetary boundaries

Two more picks from what I’ve read over the past couple of months:
marine plastic pollution, or how much plastic waste reaches the oceans,
planetary boundaries, or how to define the environmental limits within which human societies may safely develop. Continue reading


Book review: Countdown, by Alan Weisman

Published in 2013, the book had been waiting on one of my shelves for a while (I do have quite a bit of a backlog), and now that I have finally had time to read it, I want to take a bit more time to, well, tell you to read it.

In Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth, Alan Weisman, a journalist and nonfiction writer, addresses head on an issue that most people avoid: the ever growing human population, the environmental, ecological, and social burden it carries, and what it means for the future of not only all other living beings, but also our own species. Continue reading

In brief (October 2014): immunology, sea levels, gender stereotype, and nanomedicine

A selection from what I’ve read over the past couple of months:
immune response and genetic variation, or how interindividual genetic variation affects immune cell behavior, contributing to differences in how people respond to pathogens and how susceptible they are to develop autoimmune diseases,
ice melting and sea rising, or how global seal levels and ice volumes have changed over the past 35,000 years,
gender and speaking up, or how stereotypes related to gender affect an individual’s decision to contribute his/her ideas to a group,
anticancer nanomedicine, or how nano should nanoparticles be to optimally penetrate tumor tissue and exert their anticancer effect. Continue reading

Mercury pollution – Minamata convention

The editorial of this week’s Science issue puts the focus on mercury pollution, ahead of the Minamata convention that will take place in October in Japan. The convention will bring together some 140 nations to sign a treaty aiming at controlling and reducing human uses and releases of mercury. The Science editorial and accompanying articles discuss the issues associated with anthropogenic releases of mercury into the environment, and highlight the importance of drastically reducing these emissions while improving both the monitoring and the understanding of the consequences of local and global mercury pollution. Continue reading

Food miles, climate change, and wine

When “food miles” are not all about distance.

I have just finished taking an online course about health and global environmental change*, and during the course section on food and sustainability I came across an example about the concept of “food miles” and sustainability that I thought would be interesting and fun to share.

Let’s say you live in Chicago, and you’re looking to buy a bottle of wine for tonight’s dinner. Continue reading