June 17, 2019, 1:49 p.m.View more articles
On this week’s newsdesk: dramatic changes to Arctic landscapes, turning shrimp shells into plastic and turning poo into houses!
In a part of the world called the High Arctic, scientists have reported that the landscape is changing fast. So what’s going on?
The ground here is known as permafrost, meaning it’s always frozen. Some of it has been frozen for thousands of years! The permafrost here has lots of ice in it, which holds the ground together. But as temperatures rise due to global warming, the ice is melting. That makes the ground collapse, leaving huge craters.
Unlike at the ice caps, where rising temperatures are causing a steady increase in melting the High Arctic, just one unusually warm summer can cause big, sudden changes. Permafrost collapse threatens wildlife, and destroys houses and roads, forcing people to move. So it’s important to understand where and how fast it’s happening.
When it comes to the problem of plastic waste, a team of designers has an unusual possible solution… shrimp!
Shrimp, lobster and crab shells contain a substance called chitin, which can be turned into a kind of natural plastic. The waste shells are ground down, and chemicals are used to remove the chitin. After the chitin has been mixed with vinegar, it can be used in lots of different ways – for example, to make a thin, flexible film, moulded packaging, or cups and containers. What’s more, the leftovers can be turned back into a liquid and used to feed plants! Now that’s something a plastic bag can’t do!
You may have seen houses built from stone, wood, or even snow! But what about a house made from poo?!
Well, a company in London, in the United Kingdom, is recycling the waste we flush down the toilet, called sewage, into bricks! The sewage arrives at the treatment plant. First, the water is drained off. Then, the solid parts are burned, turning them into ash. In the past, the ash was sent to landfill. Now, it’s mixed with other materials to create bricks! The bricks don’t smell, and the burning process kills any germs. So yesterday’s waste could soon be tomorrow’s houses!
Learn more about climate change and the impact of non-recyclable materials with our film: Global warming.