The new year is about to start. What are some likely environmental priorities for 2014?

Scratch Your Phone No More! This Winter Use Aeon

Photo via Cool Stuff For Vip.

Nanoparticles: In many industries, companies are using infinitesimally small particles of matter for a variety of purposes. For example, silver is often used to help fabric resist bacteria growth–or to make gloves appropriate for touchscreens. As cool as these developments are, we must consider that introducing such fine particles into the environment could have negative effects, for both humans and nature. Expect more studies on nanoparticles to be called for (and hopefully completed) in 2014.

Steam Master

Photo by Mel Assaad.

Antibacterial cleansers: The FDA recently announced that it will be scrutinizing antibacterial cleansers, like soaps and body washes, because it is not convinced that they offer consumers any health or cleanliness benefits. That’s more of a consumer protection issue, but antibacterial cleansers have long been on environmentalists’ radar screens because they’re very harsh and introduce many foreign chemicals into our water supply. It’s possible that the FDA’s inquest may spur other action with regard to these cleansers, which could be a good thing for Mother Earth.

mountain wildflowers

Wyoming wildflowers photographed by Leah Horstman.

Natural gas: The explosion of the U.S. national gas industry may have been the most under-reported story of 2013. Thanks to new technology, we have discovered and been able to harvest vast supplies of natural gas that we previously didn’t know about or could not access. Unfortunately, many of these deposits lie under important natural areas, like Wyoming’s Powderhorn Mountains and Native American reservations in North Dakota. Sadly, environmental and cultural concerns often lose out when pitted against fossil fuels, but we can always hope that a sensible and balanced solution will be achieved.

Posted by Mark Contorno

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