Science and Technology links (August 10th 2019

    1. A short (less than one hour) online lesson improved grades among weaker students. The lesson taught the growth mindset: that intellectual abilities can be developed.
    2. The chip maker AMD, has released a processor (EPYC 7742) which has 32-billion transistors and 64 cores.
    3. According to a recent study, we tend to see women as victims and men as perpetrator. Managers are perceived as less moral and fair when they fire a group of female (versus male) employees. Female victims are expected to experience more pain from an ambiguous joke.
    4. Blue zones are regions in the world where people claim to live longer. Newman questions the validity of these zones in an article entitled Supercentenarians and the oldest-old are concentrated into regions with no birth certificates and short lifespans. The most likely explanation for these zones is that you find more centenarians in regions where it is easiest to lie about one’s own age.
    5. Young men spend more time than ever playing video games. It is also true young men in the West work fewer hours. Yet video games are not to blame for the reduced work.
    6. There is a massive overproduction of coffee beans, leading to falling prices.
    7. In most cases, electric fans are a good way to mitigate heat-related illnesses, despite contrary government advice. Don’t be shy and use a fan when it is too hot! It is safe and it cools you down.
    8. McDonald’s admitted that its paper straws cannot be recycled at this time, contrary to its plastic straws.
    9. Bilingual people are much more resilient to dementia (like Alzheimer’s) than monolingual people, suffering from dementia four years later on average.
    10. In mice, we can stimulate hair growth using prescription drugs rapamycin and metformin. These drugs are often viewed as anti-aging drugs.
    11. A single season of collegiate football (without injury) leads to a reduction in brain integrity.
    12. Playing video games (but not taking piano lessons) increases grey matter volume in the brain.
    13. Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of plastic. Much of which is produced with coal power. Moreover, most solar panels are built in China using coal power.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

29 thoughts on “Science and Technology links (August 10th 2019”

  1. Dr. Lemire. I am a follower of your blog posts. I mostly enjoy reading the science and technology links. I have one concern about the last link in today’s digest. You, like many other science observers, comment on how most of the clean energy initiatives require using fossil fuel energy as a startup. I think fossil fuel is a capital required to start building the renewable infrastructure that will pay off over time. I agree that we need smarter ways to build them, which we, unfortunately, don’t possess at the moment. Being overtly cynical towards these technologies is giving much leverage to science deniers and climate change deniers at large to go ahead and support dirty energy for our future. I think we need to take a step back and think twice before showing information that does more damage than good to our community, even though it is true to an extent. Because we need more human capital to do whatever we can to make our planet and species sustainable.

    1. Wind and solar energy are in no way “carbon free” or “emissions free”. In fact, they are merely mid-range with respect to carbon emissions once you take into account sporadic availability and life cycle emissions. Hydroelectric is far greener in many contexts, for example, to say nothing of nuclear energy.

      If you are genuinely concerned about climate change, don’t you think that we ought to look at actual numbers rather than relying on possibly false intuitions?

      1. I agree that we need to look at the numbers. In fact, additional R&D to make nuclear energy safer may have a tremendous short-term effect. I think we still need to invest into solar & wind, b/c eventually they are likely to be a more effective solution. I am not sure about hyrdo, how much potential does it have? My impression is that we have plenty of rivers but large rivers that we can use are far from where people live.

        1. Where I live, most of my electricity is from hydro. We get cheap, very low emission electricity. There are many places on Earth where there is huge untapped potential.

          The potential of nuclear is even greater, of course.

    2. The environment will gain nothing by trying to control the discourse. We might gain some comfort of affirmation in our little bubble. Now that is the antithesis is science.

      As to the merits of the argument, it’s a conundrum, right? The math is inconveniently unkind to renewables. If only we could find not unobtanium, but some energy source that is at least a few thousands of times more concentrated than fossil fuels, maybe we need not burn as much carbon and dig up so much stuff.

      Oh.

  2. As to #13: I personally find the article very biased (by the way the link is broken).

    According to Wikipedia, “energy returned on energy invested” isn’t bad for wind energy: around 6 month. And producing wind turbines won’t always require coal (that part reminds me of the Nirvana fallacy).

    Also, the article doesn’t consider the growth of energy sources, which is according to IEA between 2005 and 2016: factor 9 for wind, factor 84 for photovoltaics. And near 1 for all others. Why is that? Because of cost. To me, it sounds like just a matter of time until wind + photovoltaics will beat all other energy sources, just because of cost. Sure, this will require some kind of energy storage, maybe batteries (some in cars).

    Coal, oil and natural gas are far too expensive if the cost of CO2 (climate change) is taken into account. Hyrdo always was expensive, and even nuclear is currently too expensive, due to security costs.

    1. As to #13: I personally find the article very biased (by the way the link is broken).

      The link was correct but the newspaper in question seems to deliberately or accidentally prevent deep linking.

      According to Wikipedia, “energy returned on energy invested” isn’t bad for wind energy: around 6 month.

      Not counting a few things…

      1. With wind/solar, you need extra capacity (e.g., 2x the capacity) because outputs varies over time… and you need to have enough even when the efficiency is low…

      2. Wind and solar need a lot more infrastructure. A nuclear plant is just one building that you need to hook up to the grid. Easy. An array of wind turbines can span kilometers and requires a lot more support.

      3. You need storage in addition to the turbines. The popular option right now are batteries. The cost of batteries far exceeds the cost of the wind turbines.

      And producing wind turbines won’t always require coal (that part reminds me of the Nirvana fallacy).

      How do you make 900 tons of steel without coal?

      Also, the article doesn’t consider the growth of energy sources, which is according to IEA between 2005 and 2016: factor 9 for wind, factor 84 for photovoltaics. And near 1 for all others. Why is that? Because of cost. To me, it sounds like just a matter of time until wind + photovoltaics will beat all other energy sources, just because of cost. Sure, this will require some kind of energy storage, maybe batteries (some in cars). Coal, oil and natural gas are far too expensive if the cost of CO2 (climate change) is taken into account. Hyrdo always was expensive, and even nuclear is currently too expensive, due to security costs.

      Nobody is arguing for coal.

      If nuclear is more expensive, then surely this means that France’s electricity (which depends primarily on nuclear) is more expensive than electricity in Germany, where renewables are in heavy use.

      Is that the case? Is Germany getting the cheapest electricity in Europe?

      1. If hydro is expensive, why is Quebec, where I live, and where most of the electricity comes from hydro, one of the places in the world where electricity is cheapest?

        Shouldn’t Germany have cheaper electricity than Quebec?

        1. Saying windmills are bad because production emits CO2 (coal) is a case of Nirwana fallacy. Energy returned on energy invested is roughly 6 months for wind, and windmills operate much longer than that. If you like, you can reduce CO2 by recycling steel, using more fibre glass / concrete / wood, or compensate CO2. Compensation is often the best option, for example when flying. Another case of Nirwana fallacy: electric cars are very bad because they are a bit heavier (battery) and so have higher levels of non-exhaust emissions (raise dust lying on the road). It was brought up as an argument! It is often easy to spot the reasons for such biased reporting. Matt Ridley has commercial interest in coal?

          Electricity prices in Germany versus France: It is more complicated. Most wind and solar in Germany was installed when that was way more expensive. Those get guaranteed prices, which gradually go down. Also, after Fukushima, Germany turned off quite a few nuclear plants way ahead of schedule. Coal plants are still running, for political reasons (employment I guess). Sometimes, electricity prices in Europe are negative (not for the end user thought), locally. There is also the transmission cost: building new transmissions links is expensive and a political challenge. Europe does have CO2 pricing, but in most countries the price is too low still.

          Hydro is cheap in some places, but very expensive in others. Canada and Norway are lucky. Germany and Norway are building “NordLink”, so that wind energy from Germany can be “stored” in Norway (you don’t need pumped storage: just turn off a hydro plant when energy prices are low). Less extra capacity / reserve power plants are needed if the grid is linked well. Hydro is the most popular energy storage, well ahead of batteries. Still, in Switzerland, many hydro plants operate(d) at a loss.

          Nuclear: “Building new nuclear plants in France uneconomical”. Sometimes nuclear plants have unscheduled shutdowns for months. They are also shut down if the river water gets too warm. A nuclear plant is a few buildings plus a quite large exclusion zone. You don’t want nuclear plants in densely populated areas, but not too far away (transmission cost), and only in politically very stable regions. The price of nuclear security is too high, even though operators don’t have to pay for the biggest risks (most risks are on the public): I case of accident, property prices fall to 0. Sort of the whole of Switzerland would have to relocate if it happens where I live (we have the world’s oldest nuclear plant). Possible reason for accidents: neglectance, earthquakes, flooding, terror attacks, war, political instability, corruption. Operators can go bankrupt; supervision can be corrupt or otherwise bad. Compare those risks with wind turbines (oh, birds!), or solar (maybe shade?).

          1. Saying windmills are bad

            Nobody is saying they are bad. However, they require a lot of infrastructure. So it is a lie to say that they are emission-free.

            Compensation is often the best option, for example when flying.

            Carbon offsets have a terrible track record. They generally do not work. Carbon offsets programs do not offset the carbon output. I have covered this at length on my blog. You can’t both keep and flying and then hope that some magical program will offset the environmental impact of your flying. It is unsupported by science. It is purely political make-belief.

            Another case of Nirwana fallacy: electric cars are very bad because they are a bit heavier (battery) and so have higher levels of non-exhaust emissions (raise dust lying on the road). It was brought up as an argument!

            Never heard of this argument.

            However, it is absolutely the case that electric cars are worse than gazoline cars as far as CO2 emissions are concerned in much of the US. And you don’t even need a fancy study to see why this is true. In much of the US, electricity is produced with fossil fuels. If that’s the electricity you are using in your car, then you have gained nothing as far as CO2 emissions are concerned, and you have even made things slightly worse.

            It is often easy to spot the reasons for such biased reporting. Matt Ridley has commercial interest in coal?

            Note that, as Ridley points out, his interest in coal are well served by wind turbines. They are made with coal!

            Electricity prices in Germany versus France: It is more complicated. Most wind and solar in Germany was installed when that was way more expensive. Those get guaranteed prices, which gradually go down.

            So you are saying that we are starting to see electricity prices in Germany converging to prices in France, and the prices should eventually be lower in Germany than France.

            Do we see this inflexion in the numbers today? Because we are bombarded by articles pointing out that solar and wind are now the cheapest form of energy… we should be seeing massive savings in Germany. Sure, the established infrastructure should cost the same, but new emerging infrastructure should cost much less. Much less than coal and nuclear. So overall prices should be falling in Germany.

            That’s a falsifiable statement. We can look at the prices and see what they are.

            If wind and solar are cheaper than other forms of electricity, then we should see a massive move, all over the world, including where there is no political mandate or subsidy, toward wind and solar. That’s a falsifiable statement: do we see this? Do we see all of the underdeveloped countries in China and Asia rushing toward wind and solar? Because if it is cheapest, they will… people love to save money especially when they are poorer…

            Hydro is the most popular energy storage, well ahead of batteries.

            If by popular, you mean “used”, then you are certainly correct. However, it is not considered green energy. In California, they are going for batteries.

            Compare those risks with wind turbines (oh, birds!), or solar (maybe shade?).

            Solar farms cover kilometers of ground with solar panels. This ground must be kept free from plants and animals… Solar panels are made in China in coal-powered factories. The panels are not recyclable and they don’t last very long.

            Wind turbines similarly cover kilometers, requiring roads and infrastructure to build and maintain. Transmission lines all over. And yes, they are killing birds like no other predator.

            1. Cats are the number one human-related killer of birds, including the cause of several bird species extinctions.

              https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/800519/environment-canada-bird-study.pdf says cats kill far more birds in Canada than the second biggest killer, power lines. The summary at https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/9-leading-causes-of-bird-deaths-in-canada-1.1873654 says “Domestic and feral cats: 200 million”, “2. Power lines, collisions and electrocutions: 25 million”, “Wind turbines accounted for only 16,700 kills”

              In 2007, a 2007 report from the US National Research Council (https://www.nap.edu/read/11935/chapter/5#71 ) summarized the literature for the US as:

              “Collisions with buildings kill 97 to 976 million birds annually; collisions with high-tension lines kill at least 130 million birds, perhaps more than 1 billion; collisions with communications towers kill between 4 and 5 million based on “conservative estimates,” but could be as high as 50 million; cars may kill 80 million birds per year; and collisions with wind turbines killed an estimated 20,000 to 37,000 birds per year in, with all but 9,200 of those deaths occurring in California. Toxic chemicals, including pesticides, kill more than 72 million birds each year, while domestic cats are estimated to kill hundreds of millions of songbirds and other species each year.”

              Since then, the cat estimate has increased to 1.3–4.0 billion birds in the US – https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms2380

              Cats again come out as the #1 predator of human-related causes of bird mortality.

              1. Cats do not typically kill raptors or seabirds. Wind turbines are driving some species of bats to extinction.

                Cats are a threat, no doubt. I have cats and they are not allowed outside for this reason.

                1. In your original statement, I wasn’t sure if you were saying that wind power turbines or transmission lines “are killing birds like no other predator.” The numbers show that transmission lines, buildings, and cars are far more deadly than wind turbines.

                  Why do you think wind turbines are a big-enough killer to describe them as “like no other predator”? Can you give some more concrete numbers?

                  Your original statement was about “birds” not specifically about “raptors or seabirds”, nor about bats, so why shouldn’t I think you are shifting the goalposts?

                  Absolutely wind turbines kill members of protected species, but as far as I can tell, those numbers are low. Again, the total number of wind turbine bird kills in the US is “20,000 to 37,000 birds per year in, with all but 9,200 of those deaths occurring in California.” Cars, cats, power lines, and buildings kill members of protected species too. Probably far more than wind turbines.

                  While it’s true that cats “do not typically kill raptors or seabirds”, neither do wind turbines. doi:10.1002/wsb.774 for example says that one wind farm in California typically (>50% of the total counts) kills rock pigeons, European starlings, and mourning doves.

                  For that matter, cat do not typically kill any of the 430 known species that cats threaten, endanger, or caused to go extinct. See https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/09/13/1602480113 , which includes several species of bats which cats are driving to extinction.

                  By highlighting sea birds and raptors, it feels like you give less weight to those bird species, like the Santa Barbara song sparrow and Lyall’s wren, which cats definitely made extinct.

                  1. You are correct, taken literally, my statement is wrong: cats are far more dangerous to birds. But I was thinking of natural predators. Cats are a man-made threat in my mind.

                    Hayes reports half a million bat fatalities just in 2012 in the USA. Loss et al. reported in 2013 that between 140,000 and 328,000 birds are killed annually at monopole turbines in the US. If this were true in 2013, the number today is certainly much higher. Wind turbines reportedly kill between 6 and 18 million birds per year in Spain.

                    By highlighting sea birds and raptors, it feels like you give less
                    weight to those bird species, like the Santa Barbara song sparrow and
                    Lyall’s wren, which cats definitely made extinct.

                    That’s not the case. I don’t think that cats should ever be let outside.

                    At a minimum, you should be facing high fines if you let a cat outside or if you fail to control its reproduction. Having a cat should be a privilege.

                    1. https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/09/13/1602480113 points out that rodents – mostly rats – threaten about as many species as cats do. The spreadsheet includes many species of birds and several species of bats among those threatened. Do you have any idea of the number of birds and bats that rats kill every year? I don’t, but you made the claim.

                      Minor correction: the report from SEO says “entre 6 y 18 millones de aves y murciélagos muertos” – 6 to 18 million birds and bats.

                      It also says “Con la información disponible, parece que la mortalidad directa producidapor colisión con los aerogeneradores es inferior a la ocasionada por otras infraestructuras humanas” – “With the available information, it seems that the direct mortality caused by collision with the wind turbines is lower than that caused by other human infrastructures”.

                      Wind turbines are far from the biggest man-made killers of birds and bats.

                      It also says that some of the issues are specific to Spain, and not intrinsic to windpower. “En general, todas estas planificaciones ni han considerado de forma adecuada los impactossobre la biodiversidad y sobre los espacios protegidos nihan sido adecuadamente evaluadas ambientalmente.” – “In general, all these plans have not adequately considered the impacts on biodiversity and on protected areas, nor have they been adequately evaluated environmentally.” For example, it describes sites where the environmental impact wasn’t evaluated until after the site was built, and highlights that one of the best ways to reduce kills is to site wind turbines better.

                  2. Andrew:

                    I am no longer sure what you are arguing about. Are you seriously arguing that the fact that a family of mammals (the rodents) threaten many species of birds to extension, maybe more than wind turbines, then we should not take seriously the threat that a fast growing number of turbines will have? Or are you just nitpicking my sentence to the effect that wind turbines kill birds like no other predator?

                    I don’t think anyone is arguing that you should shut down wind turbines to save the birds. But I am arguing that this is part of the cost of deploying wind turbines. It might be killing millions of birds and bats in Spain a year.

                    highlights that one of the best ways to reduce kills is to site wind
                    turbines better

                    This echoes some of my own reading about the problems in Germany. Wind turbines can have a tiny impact on birds and bats, if used properly. Sadly, it seems that there is little work done to mitigate the ill effects of wind turbines, probably because it is assumed that there are none.

  3. [wind turbines] require massive amount of infrastructure. So it is a lie to say that they are emission-free.

    Nobody said emission-free. Just much, much better than oil, coal, gas. See e.g. Wikipedia “Life-cycle greenhouse-gas emissions of energy sources”.

    Carbon offsets have a terrible track record.

    It is better than nothing. Even if they don’t help much (I can’t say): the added cost will result in lower demand or shift in demand, so lower CO2 emissions, as people will look for alternatives (e.g. hydrogen fuel cell trains sound promising, as an alternative to diesel trains). And maybe better offset programs will appear.

    electric cars are worse than gazoline cars … in much of the US.

    According to Wikipedia “Environmental aspects of the electric car”, your numbers are outdated: “on average produce less than half the global warming emissions of comparable gasoline-powered vehicles”. And as energy production is shifting, it will be better in a few years. Or install rooftop solar.

    Ridley … his interest in coal are well served by wind turbines.

    See “Matt Ridley accused of lobbying UK government on behalf of coal”. He also advocates Brexit, which I think it terrible for the UK economy (different story).

    So you are saying that we are starting to see electricity prices in Germany converging to prices in France

    It takes many, many years. And turning off relatively new nuclear plants didn’t help. Likely, France will also install renewable energy source, so it may never happen. Germany may not be the winner here, but they helped making wind and solar energy cheaper.

    we should see a massive move, all over the world

    Well, we see this, e.g. “Solar accounts for 55% of all US electricity added so far in 2018”, “New electric generating capacity in 2019 will come from renewables and natural gas”, “Renewables capture two-thirds of global investment in power plants to 2040 as they become, for many countries, the least-cost source of new generation.”

    Hydro … is not considered green energy.

    Due to methane bubbles? I didn’t know… But I guess fracking is much worse.

    Solar farms cover kilometers of ground with solar panels.
    This ground must be kept free from plants and animals

    You don’t actually need that much space per household. And roofs are fine as well. You also need land to grow food, drive a car.

    Solar panels are made in China … coal-powered factories
    The panels are not recyclable and they don’t last very long.

    “Energy returned on energy invested” is fine for solar panels. They last maybe 20 years, are quite thin, not that dangerous (unlike nuclear waste), and you can recycle most.

    Wind turbines similarly cover kilometers, requiring roads and infrastructure to build and maintain. Transmission lines all over. And yes, they are killing birds like no other predator.

    And hydro kills fish… I read cats eat orders of magnitudes more birds. The main problem may be noise, so they can’t be built closely. Roads and infrastructure are a problem? Really?

    Climate change has a huge cost. At a global scale it will result in huge problems, and increased migration. Rejecting everything that can improve the situation, just because it’s not yet “perfect” (Nirwana fallacy) is irresponsible is short-sighted. I flew way too much in the past, but I can’t change the past, only the future. Now I own a Nissan Leaf, we have rooftop solar, and heat pump heating. No solution is perfect, but at least least one should try to go and advocate in the right direction.

        1. In German there is an idiom “To make an elephant out of a mosquito”. See Wikipedia “Environmental impact of wind power”. It mentions birds and bats, and includes numbers and possible solutions (e.g. microwave transmitters). I just watched Trump talking about “clean” natural gas, and saying wind turbines kills all the birds. What a liar.

          1. But gas is much cleaner than coal! The main challenge is methane, but it has a short half-life.

            Wind turbines do not “kill all the birds”, but they do kill many birds… probably many millions worldwide. They are also a threat to many species.

        2. Yes, we definitely need to take it seriously. There are some good recommendations in the Forbes piece you linked. The author cites Smallwood, and in my own research earlier, Smallwood’s pieces were some of the best I came across, and I just cited one of his works at doi:10.1002/wsb.774 .

          (Though, as a point of criticism, that Forbes article did not say that wind power is the main reason currently driving any species to extinction, only that it could be in the future. Which I agree with.)

          (In addition, the author states “around 400 times more land than do nuclear power plants, which have never threatened any endangered species”. That statement is wrong in multiple ways. https://planetsave.com/2009/06/05/nuclear-power-plants-water-rights-threaten-endangered-species/ is titled “Nuclear Power Plant’s Water Rights Threaten Endangered Species” and https://seaturtles.org/lawsuit-launched-to-force-federal-government-to-protect-endangered-species-from-nuclear-power-plant-in-florida/ is titled “Lawsuit Launched to Force Federal Government to Protect Endangered Species from Nuclear Power Plant in Florida” – both deal with cooling water. Also, that quote ignore the hazards of uranium mining by only focusing on the power plant.)

          But to slightly edit a comment you made easier, “If you are genuinely concerned about [species extinction], don’t you think that we ought to look at actual numbers rather than relying on possibly false intuitions?”

          Are wind turbines really even close to “killing birds like no other predator”? What are the actual numbers that you think best reflect the situation?

    1. Nobody said emission-free.

      I am sure you did not write it or say it, but others do…

      “California has established an ambitious goal of relying entirely on zero-emission energy sources for its electricity by the year 2045.” (Source: NPR)

      “Meanwhile, nuclear power plants generated 20 percent of the nation’s electric power and 63 percent of its zero-carbon power.” (Source: CNBC)

      The expressions “zero-carbon” and “zero-emission” are everywhere in the news, in government programs and so forth.

      The counterpoint would be “but it is better than coal”. Fine. Then write “low-emission”.

      If you could write “low-emission” but choose instead to write “zero-emission” then you are hyping a technology or pursuing a political agenda. You are not being scientific.

      1. According to Wikipedia, “zero emission” refers to an engine, motor, process, or other energy source, that emits no waste products that pollute the environment or disrupt the climate. So constructing the energy source is not taken into account.

        Let’s say a wind turbine needs 900 tons of steel and generates power for 1500 average EU households, that is 600 kg of steel per household. Say you need to replace it in 25 years, that is 24 kg of steel per year and household. I would say that’s OK. (Sure, my calculations are not very scientific.)

        But I agree, “low-emission” would be a much better term.

  4. What I didn’t see in the McDonald’s plastic straw article was a number about what percentage of the plastic straws were recycled. It said only that the plastic ones “could be recycled“. Quoting https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/17/plastic-recycling-myth-what-really-happens-your-rubbish :

    “While virtually all plastics can be recycled, many aren’t because the process is expensive, complicated and the resulting product is of lower quality than what you put in. The carbon-reduction benefits are also less clear. “You ship it around, then you have to wash it, then you have to chop it up, then you have to re-melt it, so the collection and recycling itself has its own environmental impact,”

    While the replacement paper straws aren’t recycled because “their current thickness makes it difficult for them to be processed by our waste solution providers” – which suggests that they could be recycled, but aren’t because it’s too expensive. Just like plastic.

      1. In the EU there is a similar law, also to reduce waste on beaches. Marketing is not a reason: according to the article “EU-Parlament beschließt umfassendes Plastikverbot”: without a change of course, there could already be more plastic than fish in the oceans in 2050, according to the EU Commission.

      2. That’s one interpretation. Another is that CNN and The Sun decided it was hypocrisy, but didn’t bother to figure out the genuine environmental effects.

        Plastics take a long time to break down. If even 1% of the waste straws are not recycled, then those plastics end up … where? We now see microplastics all around the world, including Antarctica.

        While paper straws do break down, even if they are not recycled.

        So if the environmental concern is the buildup of microplastics, then switching from a non-100%-recycled plastic straw to a 0%-recycled paper straw makes perfect sense.

        Plus, paper straws can be burned (eg, as fuel for municipal heating systems) with fewer byproducts than plastic. Unlike burning petroleum-derived plastics, burning of wood products does not add net long-term CO2 to the air.

        So I see a couple of overall environmental benefits even if the paper straws are not currently recycled. There can certainly be a more complete analysis, but the CNN piece seemed to argue that “not recyclable = not environmental”, which isn’t true. Cat poop isn’t recyclable either, but, like wood products, we can augment human-based recycling methods with existing non-human recycling methods.

  5. Maybe I’m missing something, but it looks like the paper on bilingual speakers isn’t just comparing bilingual speakers to monolingual speakers. It’s also comparing European immigrants to non-immigrants. And not just any European immigrants — European immigrants who survived World War II.

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