Category Archives: Earth & Environment

Focus on research: Does your Easter chocolate have palm oil in it?

By Gregory R. Ziegler

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on The Conversation.

It may come as no surprise that fats and oils are part of any piece of chocolate we eat. But the push to cut trans fats from food for health reasons has created demand for palm oil, an ingredient with significant environmental impacts.

The rapid expansion of palm oil production for food and biofuels in the past 25 years in Indonesia and Malaysia has been blamed for loss of biodiversity and land-use changes that increase carbon emissions. About 80% of palm oil production goes into food, according to a web site sponsored by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board.

Palm oil is used in many candies with chocolate, although a number of confectionery producers do not use it or have started to use certified sustainable palm oil. The El Paso Zoo is just one of the organizations that lists candy products with palm oil, including goodies for a palm oil-free Easter basket fillerContinue reading Focus on research: Does your Easter chocolate have palm oil in it?

Chill out & learn at Polar Day

Penn State’s Polar Center is home to world-renowned researchers who study “the unique beauty and increasingly urgent scientific and cultural value of the Arctic and Antarctic.”

The Polar Center has hosted Polar Day for several years, and this year it will be held on Tuesday, March 22, on Penn State’s University Park campus. The event is free and open to the public and features performances, lectures, and other events celebrating the natural and cultural value of the world’s polar regions.  Continue reading Chill out & learn at Polar Day

Old-fashioned sustainable houses

Everyone wants a house to live in. More and more, people around the world want the kinds of houses seen in Europe and North America, rather than those they grew up in. However, industrial building materials can be scarce and expensive — alternative, locally sourced, sustainable materials are often a better choice.

Continue reading Old-fashioned sustainable houses

Focus on research: Understanding the weather roller coaster

Parks prompt more unity in the community

National Recreation and Parks Association
National Recreation and Parks Association

As spring approaches, many thoughts turn toward warmer weather and outdoor activities. And at the same time we are smack in the middle of the 2016 presidential election season — where so many issues seem to be divided along party lines. But in a recent Penn State study, researchers found that Americans overwhelmingly support local parks regardless of political affiliation.  Continue reading Parks prompt more unity in the community