Article image

5 Earth stories we were grateful for in 2016

As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving this year, it’s time to put aside our worries for a day and remember that we have a lot to be grateful for – including these five incredible scientific breakthroughs that taught us more about the planet we all live on. Happy Thanksgiving:

  1. Scientists capture images of photosynthesis in action: Humans have known about photosynthesis – the process through which plants use light, air and the nutrients absorbed from the soil to create their own food – for a while. We don’t really understand how it works, though. Now, scientists are using ultrafast X-ray lasers to get a better picture of the process, and their results could lead to cleaner, more plentiful fuel sources.
  1. Researchers investigate alternative sources of fuel: Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory may have discovered a way to turn sewage into biofuel using a process called hydrothermal liquefaction. Meanwhile, researchers at Tel Aviv University believe they’ve figured out how microalgae produces hydrogen, the first step in increasing its output of this clean fuel source.
  1. Asteroid impacts may be responsible for seeding life on Earth: A group of researchers studying the effects of an asteroid suspected wiping out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago made a surprising discovery. The asteroid impact caused some changes in surrounding rock that might explain how much earlier asteroids created conditions for life to take hold on Earth.
  1. Human occupation actually improves some environments: While scientists normally seek to minimize the human impact on the environment, from litter to greenhouse gas emissions, some ecosystems have actually benefited from human residents. One of these is the temperate rainforest along the coast of British Columbia, which benefited from First Nations people living there.
  1. Study: Eco-friendly wines taste better: A study at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that wines grown by “eco-friendly” vintners got better reviews from wine experts in blind taste-tests. They’re also often cheaper to produce, the study found.

By Olivia Harvey, Staff Writer

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day