Oil from Grocery Bags, Elephant Repellent, Roadkill and More

University of Illinois researchers make a fine diesel oil from plastic grocery bags. Credit: MTSOfan through a  Creative Commons license.

University of Illinois researchers make a fine diesel oil from plastic grocery bags. Credit: MTSOfan through a Creative Commons license.

By Marty Downs, Bob Lalasz, Matt Miller, and Lisa Feldkamp of the TNC Science Communications team

We find tons of cool conservation and conservation science stuff every week on the Internets — now we’re sharing some of the best with you every week in The Cooler:


Roadkill party! Naturalist Bernd Heinrich celebrates the critters that clean up dead things. (NY Times)

Unusual vacation: spot a wild solenodon, one of the world’s most elusive animals (and one of the few land mammals in the Caribbean). (Mammal Watching)

Why Irrawaddy dolphins are “jerks to study” — and why we should care about their demise, anyway. (Deep Sea News) 

Nature might have thrown the increasingly inbred and dwindling population of wolves of Isle Royale a genetic lifeline: An ice bridge has formed across Lake Superior, allowing potential mating with mainlanders. (Nature)

New Research

What makes an marine protected area effective? Five things — and most MPAs don’t have them. (Nature)

Science has dating advice for spiders. It turns out that some males are more successful when they bring their lady a gift (Wired Science)

You might know that plastics are made from oil, but did you know that plastic bags can be turned into diesel fuel? (PhysOrg)

A newly discovered plant species is a microcosm of biodiversity with over 40 dependent insect species (Science Daily)

Sure we know carbs are bad for us, but did a low-protein diet kill off the mammoths? (Reuters)

Climate Change

Suspect #249 in the decade-long “pause” in global warming — Pacific trade winds (Nature Climate Change)

What can rationalize farming decisions in West Africa — and predict meningitis and malaria outbreaks there, too? Try this data set. (SciDev.net)

The political divide on climate change is not as bad as it seems. 83% of Americans say US should fight climate change even if there are economic costs. (Yale e360)

Climate change shuffles species, but maybe in a predictable way.  (EurekAlert!)

Nature News

Despite falling palm oil prices, premium rises for sustainably-certified product. (Mongabay)

China gets serious about smog with a 1.6 billion dollar fund to combat air pollution. (Reuters)

Birds are eating even more plastic than we realized. (Conservation Magazine)

Conservation Tactics

How chili peppers can help save wild elephants. (CNN)

Recreational anglers and conservationists work well together in the US and Europe. In Australia? Not so much. (Fishing World)

Science Communications

A story for Grisham: Herbicide maker Syngenta takes on the wrong dude in Tyrone Hayes. (Knight Science Journalism Tracker)

Happy Birthday, Mr. Darwin

Busted! Ingenious and irreverent new takes on depicting Darwin for his 205th birthday. (ScienceShot)

Killifish evolve genetic resistance to PCB’s in New Bedford Harbor (WHOI)

Investigation of illegal reptile trade unearths a new (and gorgeous) species of sailfin dragon. (ScienceNow)

What a pedigree! New species of rove beetle gets names from Charles Darwin and David Sedaris. (International Science Times)

Have suggestions for next week’s Cooler? Send them to mdowns[at]tnc.org.

Opinions expressed on Cool Green Science and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Nature Conservancy.

Posted In: The Cooler

Marty joined the Nature Conservancy in January 2014 to write about TNC research and manage the Science Impact Project. She started her career in ecosystem ecology and climate impact research, but has focused on science communications since 1999. She’s now doing what she likes best – writing about cool science and helping scientists find and communicate what’s exciting about their work.

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