bottom view of plane with contrail

DAILY DOSE: Semi-sustainable hypersonic travel on the horizon; New tool helps keep tabs on the Oil and Gas Industry.


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Members of the public interested in keeping tabs on how much fossil fuels are in circulation now have a new tool at their disposal. Per the Associated Press,

A first-of-its-kind database for tracking the world’s fossil fuel production, reserves and emissions launched on Monday to coincide with climate talks taking place at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The Global Registry of Fossil Fuels includes data from over 50,000 oil, gas and coal fields in 89 countries, covering 75% of global reserves, production and emissions. The tool is available for public use, a first for a collection this size.

There was already private data available for purchase, and analysis of the world’s fossil fuel usage and reserves. The International Energy Agency also maintains public data on oil, gas and coal, but it focuses on the demand for those fossil fuels, whereas the new database includes fuels still underground.

The registry was developed by Carbon Tracker, a nonprofit think tank that researches the energy transition’s effect on financial markets, and Global Energy Monitor, an organization that tracks a variety of energy projects around the globe.

Having access to more data will surely allow activists to put even more pressure on the oil and gas industry.


Semi-sustainable hypersonic travel may one day be a real option. Per the South China Morning Post,

Chinese scientists say they expect to slash the costs of commercial hypersonic travel with an air-breathing engine powered by a combination of ethylene and coal powder.

In one ground test, an experimental device using the low-cost mixture produced shocks travelling at more than 2km (1.24 miles) per second, or six times the speed of sound, the researchers said in a paper published in the China Ordnance Society’s peer-reviewed Acta Armamentarii journal’s September 15 edition.

While the notion of environment friendly hypersonic travel sounds awesome, just the idea of jumping into a plane from NYC to all-points west is cool enough for us. Where do we sign up?


During President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration in Brazil, logging companies and other anti-environmental industries have had a friendly ear in power. The idea that they may lose that perk appears to be scaring them silly. Per CNN,

Illegal activity in the Amazon is gaining momentum as the last months of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's administration wind down, experts tell CNN.

According to specialists and people on the ground, loggers, ranchers, miners and others seeking profit are tearing apart the protected region faster than ever, motivated by fears that Bolsonaro's re-election bid could fail -- and that the next president could crack down harder on such activity.

From illegal miners openly declaring their support to an environmental minister's resignation after investigations tying him to illegal log-smuggling, Bolsonaro administration is seen as an ally to environmental law-breakers in the Amazon.

"The government seems to be letting people grab public lands. Trees are being knocked down and burnt in order to create grazing pastures. They just keep going. No one does anything about it," says Marcelo Horta, a sociologist who works with indigenous peoples in Labrea, a town in Amazonas state.

Question is: what happens to all these industries when there’s no more Amazon to rape and pillage?


In general, Science evolves pretty quickly, as does the technology that drives discovery. After a while, things come to a head and there’s just no way that the old way of doing things and tracking discoveries suffices. That’s pretty much what’s happening in the microbiology field. That’s why researchers are trying to work out new ways of naming microbes. Per Science,

A new system for naming certain microbes promises to streamline the process and relieve a backlog created by the thousands of species uncovered through DNA analyses in recent years. In a paper published today in Nature Microbiology, researchers describe SeqCode, a protocol that allows, for the first time, the naming of newly discovered bacteria and other prokaryotes based only on their DNA sequence.

However, with the rise of environmental sequencing and metagenomics, in which all the DNA in a sample from the air, water, an animal’s gut, or other environment is sequenced and compared with DNA in existing databases to provide insights into what organisms are present, there’s been an exponential increase in microbial DNA sequences belonging to no known prokaryote; sometimes researchers can piece together an entire genome but often there are a few pieces possibly missing. An estimated 5000 microbes identifiable only by their DNA are now awaiting attempts to culture them and further characterization. The problem of what to call these new additions “is becoming increasingly difficult,” says Gemma Reguera, a microbiologist at Michigan State University who is the editor-in-chief for the American Society for Microbiology’s (ASM’s) Applied and Environmental Microbiology journal.

The team behind SeqCode developed it as a response to some of these issues. “We needed something easier” than the ICNP protocol, explains William Whitman, a microbiologist at the University of Georgia who spearheaded the development of SeqCode. Researchers who have deposited and published the DNA sequence of a possible new prokaryote file an application through the SeqCode website, no cultures required. The system will automatically check to make sure the sequence is unique by going through existing databases. SeqCode will also require that the proposed name follows certain guidelines—such as being reported in a scientific publication (proposers must include a citation) and following standardized naming procedures that use Latin appropriately.

It’s early days, though, and not everyone is thrilled with the SeqCode in particular.

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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