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The Persistence of Plastic

For Earth Day, a look at the gift that keeps on giving.

Plastic debris

Plastic debris on the beach. Photo by LCDR Eric Johnson, NOAA Corps. (NOAA Photo Library: fish1968) [CC-BY-2.0 or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Plastics.” That famous line from The Graduate has stuck with us for many years—and so, for better or worse, have plastics themselves. Today, plastics are in just about everything we make and use, from cars and computers to clothing and food storage containers. And with good reason: plastics are generally inexpensive, easy to mass-produce, light, strong, durable, corrosion-resistant, with good thermal and electrical insulation properties.

Because plastics are so cheap, most of the plastic containers we use are designed for a single use. And each year we use more; according to a 2010 report from KPMG International, plastic production during the past decade equals that of the entire twentieth century. Although we don’t give those single-use containers another thought once we dispose of them, we should; they are and will always be with us. Read more…

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Five Golden Plovers . . . Happy Holidays!

Five Golden Plovers

In the spirit of working on stuff that matters, our holiday card this year brings a sweet focus to the threatened species we’re trying to help. Featuring music from Radar contributor Nat Torkington and animation from designer Suzy Wivott, our “Twelve Days of Christmas” highlights a dozen animals that have the distinction of gracing O’Reilly covers and being on an endangered list. We want to celebrate them and our Animals Project this holiday season as being among the many things we’re so very grateful for.

Among our marks of gratitude is that O’Reilly is not alone. Read more…

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The Smithsonian goes wild.

China’s Blue Rock Thrush. The short-eared dog native to Peru’s Amazon basin. Kenya’s Common Wart-Hog. These and literally thousands of other rarely seen animals are now captured in a unique archive presented by the Smithsonian Institution. With more than 200,000 wildlife camera trap photographs online, the Smithsonian Wild site showcases the research the Smithsonian and its collaborators are doing around the globe while highlighting the diversity of wildlife in a wide range of habitats. Read more…

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The Amazing Videos of Eyes on Leuser

Leuser is one of the richest expanses of tropical rain forest in Southeast Asia—and the last place on earth where Sumatran elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, Sumatran tiger, and Sumatran orangutan are found within one area. Read more…

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The adventures of Beetlecam

night elephantsTo get unique, close-up, ground-level photographs of African wildlife, photographer Will Burrard-Lucas created BeetleCam, a remote-controlled buggy with a DSLR camera mounted on top. The first-generation Beetlecam took amazing photos of elephants, lions, and water buffalo, but was nearly destroyed. Read more…