Global Warming Could Soften 66 Tons of Human Poop at Alaska’s Denali National Park

iStock.com/zzvision
iStock.com/zzvision

As North America’s tallest mountain, Denali has always been a challenge to climb. Those who dare to scale the Alaskan summit may be forced to dodge avalanches, bears, and altitude sickness—and piles of melting poo could soon be added to the list.

As USA Today reports, decades-old feces left behind by climbers could start thawing out as early as this summer due to climate change. Researchers say 66 tons of frozen poo has been dumped in snow pits or crevasses, according to estimates based on the average human “deposit.” That waste can eventually work its way downstream and end up on the surface of a glacier.

Situated in Denali National Park, the mountain—formerly known as Mount McKinley—rises to an elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level. That makes removing the waste difficult, but climbers are starting to embrace more sustainable practices. Companies that arrange expeditions at Denali have voluntarily offered to make their clients pack up and carry their own waste. Visitors were already required to carry their waste while climbing up the first 14,000 feet of the mountain, but the new measure would help protect the upper section of Denali as well.

“Climbers and particularly guide services are really embracing the new policy and are even exceeding it,” Michael Loso, a National Park Service (NPS) glaciologist, told USA Today. “It has become kind of an informal badge of merit to carry off all your waste.”

Of course, the softening poo is representative of a much larger issue. Some of Denali’s glaciers are melting at a rate that is concerning. The NPS has used comparative photography to measure some of the glaciers and concluded that most of the ones they studied had “retreated, thinned, or stagnated.”

Alaskan parks in general have also seen their ice-covered areas shrink by 8 percent in the last 50 years. “We have lost more glacier cover in the Alaskan national parks than there is area in the whole state of Rhode Island,” Loso said.

[h/t USA Today]

Watch: Rare ‘Ice Volcanoes’ Are Erupting on a Michigan Beach

ehrlif, iStock via Getty Images
ehrlif, iStock via Getty Images

Winter weather leads to all sorts of strange phenomena, from thundersnow to ice tsunamis. But these "ice volcanoes" recently documented on the shores of Lake Michigan are spectacular enough to impress even lifelong veterans of Great Lakes winters.

As News 18 reports, the Grand Rapids, Michigan, department of the National Weather Service shared images of the icy eruptions to its Facebook and Twitter pages on Sunday, February 16. They show geysers of water bursting forth from the tops of snowy mounds on Oval Beach. The scene looks like a bizarre version of a volcano spewing lava, but it's actually the natural result of the lake's tides.

CW50 Detroit reports no one is completely sure how these ice volcanoes form. But Live Science says ice shelves along the coast stop the waves of Lake Michigan from reaching the shore. As the tides move under the ice sheet, pressure builds, and with nowhere else to go, water breaks the ice and spurts through the opening. The water from each eruption freezes when it settles on the ice above the surface, and the ice layers build upon each other to form a cone shape. This is similar to how real volcanoes form, only instead of layers of water freezing into ice, it's molten lava hardening into rock.

There's no seismic activity going on when these ice volcanoes erupt: It's simply the lake's natural tide persisting in spite of freezing temperatures. But, like real volcanoes, they can be dangerous. The ice mounds are hollow and more fragile than the surrounding ice, so onlookers should appreciate them from afar. You can view the phenomenon from the safety of your home by watching the video below.

[h/t News 18]

These Eco-Friendly Bags Are Organic and Break Down in 18 Months or Less

A-Zero
A-Zero

If you’re looking to cut down on the amount of single-use plastics in your life, then reach for these fully compostable organic bags.

The A-Zero bags (which are available on Kickstarter here) may look a lot like their plastic counterparts, but they’re actually made from vegetable starch. According to the campaign, these totes are 100 percent organic, are harmless to nature, and can break down in a matter of 18 months—unlike plastic bags, which take hundreds of years. Each bag also features unique designs created by different artists from all over the world.

When it comes to sizes, you have a few different options. The smallest bag, ideal for snacks and sandwiches, is leak-proof and freezer-friendly, and can even be used in the microwave. A-Zero also makes leak-proof trash bags, grocery bags that can hold up to 18 pounds of food, and a refillable bag dispenser that can hold 20 or more grocery bags and can clip onto a backpack or purse.

You might be thinking that you already have a reusable tote at home, but unfortunately, these also have a detrimental effects on the environment. A 2011 British government study [PDF] estimated that with all the water and energy it takes to create a cotton bag, each one has a carbon footprint of 598.6 pounds of CO2, compared to a plastic bag’s 3.48 pounds.

With $22,522 raised, A-Zero bags already surpassed its original $8000 goal. But you can still help bring the project to life and get your own eco-friendly bags by heading here. Pledge tiers start at $29, and the campaign will be live until April 11.

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