How Science Can Help with Key Environmental Issues

Since the first ever Earth Day on April 22, 1970, there has been a focused emphasis on helping preserve and care for our planet and the environment. Many people have taken up the banner of “green living”, and are taking proactive steps to live more sustainably. There are efforts to recycle as much as we can, reduce the trash and refuse we generate and dramatically curtail our use of plastic bags and other items that don’t degrade or break down for several centuries. Every step we take helps make a contribution.

The interest in living in harmony with our environment and planet also relates to our very quality of life. During the pandemic, when everything came to a standstill, people spent a lot of time reflecting on the fragility of life and what we could do to live well. Throughout the time of lockdown, we were so aware of the hidden dangers that could threaten our blissful existence at any time. Factors like climate change also came into play, and we truly began to understand that there were things that put both our lives and our quality of living at risk. More and more, people began to call for environmental accountability to help preserve our existence on the planet.

Using Sophisticated Testing to Help Determine Which Compounds Are Present

When scientists need to identify unknown crystalline materials in the environment, they will often retain the services of a materials analysis lab that specializes in X-Ray Power Diffraction, or XRD. Determining the exact nature of unknown solids in a sample is key to the fields of environmental sciences, biology, general engineering, geology and materials science.

Crystalline samples tested with XRD will return distinct patterns of X-Ray Diffraction; this basically serves as a DNA-like identifier for the element being tested. With diffraction, scientists are also able to find out more about the crystal structure, specific phases and preferred orientation.

Reclaiming Land at Mining Sites

Mining can produce minerals that are vital to our economic engine. Unfortunately, without proper care, it can also have a negative impact on the land near the mine and the environment. If a company is only interested in short-term profit, they may conduct the mining operation and extract the ore, and then simply walk away from the project when done.

To protect the land and find out exactly what remediation is needed to restore the mining site and watershed, scientists will turn to sophisticated testing. XRD allows them to study areas that have been affected by acid drainage from mines, and recommend the exact steps needed for remediation.

Using Science to Help with Improvements in Energy Efficiency

With temperatures rising year by year, and new records being set regularly, consumers are very aware of issues related to climate change. As we try to cope with new levels of heat, we find ourselves tempted to turn down the setting on our air conditioning. Due to the jump in energy costs because of our booming economy and world events, that’s not a feasible solution.

Scientists are key players in inventing, designing and testing new solutions that provide green energy and sustainable ways to live on our rapidly warming planet. They can also help deliver improvements to existing energy solutions.