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Sparks

Can Plankton Ferry Carbon to the Bottom of the Ocean?

Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council begins three teeny experiments.

Copepods.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Scientists at England’s University of Exeter believe that masses of drifting crustaceans “may help to store enormous amounts of carbon in the ocean,” at once sucking CO2 from the atmosphere and slowing climate change, the BBC reports. Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council has funded three projects to investigate the idea that the small, H.R. Giger-looking creatures, known as copepods or zooplankton, can absorb significant amounts of carbon.

“Don’t be fooled by their size,” said University of Exeter professor Daniel Mayor. “These tiny but mighty life forms play a crucial role in regulating Earth’s climate by moving carbon out of the atmosphere and shunting it down into the deep ocean where it says for hundreds of years or more.” Dr Adrian Martin, of England’s National Oceanography Center, added, “The need to understand how the ocean stores carbon has never been stronger and we know that marine life plays an important role.”

The forthcoming research recalls the work of Running Tide, a Maine start-up that hopes to use kelp to similar ends. As Heatmap’s Robinson Meyer wrote in The Atlantic last year, kelp “absorbs a huge amount of carbon through photosynthesis. [It] could then be harvested, disposed of, or allowed to naturally drift to the bottom of the ocean.” Along with an array of other possible techniques, it seems that the ocean — and the living things within it — could play a key role in the fight against climate change.

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Jacob Lambert

Jacob is Heatmap's founding multimedia editor. Before joining Heatmap, he was The Week's digital art director and an associate editor at MAD magazine. Read More

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Sparks

3 More Offshore Wind Projects Bite the Dust

This time, blame GE.

Offshore wind.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Things are looking down again for New York’s embattled offshore wind industry.

The state is abandoning all three of the offshore wind projects it awarded conditional contracts to last October, after failing to secure final agreements with any of the developers, Politico reported Friday.

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Sparks

Forever Chemical Enforcement Just Got Even Stronger

In addition to regulating PFAS presence in water, the EPA will now target pollution at the source.

Drinking water and the periodic table.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Last week, I reported on the Environmental Protection Agency’s monumental new restrictions on “forever chemicals” in Americans’ drinking water. At the time, I stressed that the issue doesn’t end with the water that flows out of our kitchen and bathroom taps — the government also has a responsibility to hold polluters accountable at the source.

On Friday, the EPA did just that, designating perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, a.k.a. PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, more commonly known as the Superfund law.

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Sparks

Sexier Heat Pumps Are Hitting the Market

The first Quilt units will be available to San Franciscans in just a few weeks.

A Quilt heat pump.
Heatmap Illustration/Quilt

Quilt, a climate tech startup banking on the appeal of sleeker, smarter electric heat pumps, announced today that its products will be available to order in the Bay Area starting May 15.

I first wrote about Quilt a year ago after the company raised a $9 million seed round. Its founders told me they wanted to create the Tesla of heat pumps — a climate-friendly product that prevails because of its superior design and performance, with sustainability as a bonus.

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