Determined to Climb Mt. Everest? You May Have to Carry Some Poop

iStock.com/hadynyah
iStock.com/hadynyah

At nearly 5.5 miles high, Mt. Everest’s peak is notoriously hard to climb. The mountain's unforgiving weather, harsh terrain, and high-altitude, low-oxygen "death zone" make it difficult and expensive to retrieve items left behind by those making an ascent. That includes waste and, more gruesomely, the bodies of more than 200 mountaineers who perished at some point along the way.

Many of the bodies end up staying on the mountain, but waste management is somewhat easier to tackle. According to Fodor’s Travel, climbers on the Tibetan side of Mt. Everest are now required to start carrying all of their waste (including the waste their bodies produce naturally). So yes, they’ll have to make room in their backpacks for poop.

These measures aren’t exactly extreme, though. Similar requirements are in place at popular climbing spots in the U.S., like Washington state’s Mt. Rainier and Yosemite’s El Capitan, where climbers have to poop in a bag and bring it back with them.

In addition, climbers without permits are now indefinitely banned from the Tibetan base camp. The lack of tourists will give a team of 200 people space to clean up the mountainside and remove trash, which has become a growing problem in recent years.

These new guidelines were announced by Ci Luo, director of the Chinese Mountaineering Association. Because Mt. Everest straddles the border between Nepal and China, each country manages its own side. About 70 percent of all climbers go through to Nepal, but the popularity of the Tibetan side is growing.

Mountaineer Adrian Ballinger, who has scaled Mt. Everest eight times, lauded the new changes. “Like many of the world's most beautiful places, Mount Everest is at risk of being loved to death,” he wrote in an opinion piece for ABC News. “Too many climbers, too much inexperience, and too many ethically questionable commercial outfitters chasing only profits have led to problems with trash, human waste, and unnecessary accidents, many of which unfairly impact mountain workers like the Sherpa, Tibetans, and other local groups.”

As for the Nepalese side, the government requires climbers to pay a $4000 waste deposit, which gets refunded when they return with at least 18 pounds of waste. By Fodor’s estimates, each person produces about 50 pounds of human waste over the course of a two-month trip.

[h/t Fodor’s Travel]

2624-Year-Old Cypress Tree Discovered in North Carolina Swamp

iStock/earleliason
iStock/earleliason

National Love a Tree Day on May 16 is a day to appreciate all the world's trees, but a bald cypress recently identified in North Carolina is especially deserving of recognition. As Live Science reports, scientists date the tree to 2624 years old, making it one the oldest living non-clonal trees on Earth.

For their study, recently published in the journal Environmental Research Communications, a team of researchers studied the rings of trees in North Carolina's Black River swampland to learn more about climate history in the eastern United States. Bald cypresses are known to have impressive lifespans, but after analyzing specimens in the Black River's Three Sisters Swamp, an area that's notable for its long-lived trees, the scientists discovered that cypresses can grow to be even older than previously believed. The 2624-year-old cypress tree they found predates the Great Wall of China and the Roman Empire. Other remarkably old trees, including a 2088-year-old cypress, were also identified in the same grove.

The North Carolina cypresses are old, but there are other types of trees that can grow to be much older. Clonal tress are genetically identical plants that reproduce asexually from a single ancestor. Old Tjikko, a clonal tree in Sweden, has a root system that dates back 9550 years.

Despite all that North Carolina's bald cypress trees have endured, their lives are under threat. The swamp where the 2624-year-old tree stands is located just 6.5 feet above sea level, which means that floods driven by climate change could damage its habitat. And though the grove is in a protected area, industrial runoff and logging that's happening nearby could impact the trees' health. North Carolina is considering establishing a Black River State Park where the trees grow to further protect the ancient natural wonders.

[h/t Live Science]

This Beverage Maker Lets You Enjoy Carbonated Drinks Without Hurting the Environment

Sparkel
Sparkel

Whether you're preparing breakfast before you head off to work or looking for something to wash down lunch, procuring the perfect beverage is vital. If it's a carbonated drink, though, with that comes the carbon dioxide emissions that arise every time you hear that classic "fssst" sound from cracking one open. These emissions are actually quite harmful to the environment.

But thanks to the newly unveiled Spärkel, curating carbonated drinks can be done without using CO2 or any artificial ingredients.

"If you walk into any grocery store, the explosion in the popularity of sparkling drinks is plain to see with more choices and flavors than ever before, but why buy off-the-shelf when it is healthier, cheaper, and more fun to create your own drinks at home?" Darren Hatherell, CEO of Spärkel, said in a press release. "With Spärkel, we created a system that lets people use the freshest ingredients and convenient carbonation process to experiment and unleash their creativity in a way that is kind to their wallet and the environment."

Users can place any kind of ingredients they wish—berries, citrus, cucumbers, etc.—along with their drink of choice—water, tea, cocktails—into the 25 oz. (750 mL) bottle and choose what level, from one to five, of fizz they'd like to have added to their drink. The sealed chamber generates CO2 naturally from a sachet of Spärkel Carbonator powder, which is "made of a special granulation of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate." The CO2 bubbles are cycled through the liquid, and within a couple of minutes, you have a completely personalized sparkling drink.

On top of all that, the beverage maker is suitable for any number of usages from water and juices to cocktails. It also comes in nine different colors—black, white, gray, yellow, orange, red, blue, green, and pink—so it can match up with whatever kitchen palette you have.

To get your hands on the Spärkel, check it out on Indiegogo, where it's available for a pre-sale price of $59.

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