Excerpts from Keweenaw Bay [American] Indian Community letter: “On April 30, 2018, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice of proposed rule that would drastically reduce the types of scientific studies that can be used to inform EPA regulations protecting public health under the guise of improving transparency.
On August 13, 2018, the National Tribal Air Association (NTAA) submitted comments opposing the proposed rule, explaining, among other things, that the rule would undermine EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment.
The NTAA explained that the proposed rule was vague, purported to addresss a non-existent and unsubstantiated problems, and would result in EPA failing to rely on the best available science in…
Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic Read Caption
New invasions are hitting just as growing season gets underway, threatening millions with hunger.
By Haley Cohen Gilliland Photographs by David Chancellor PUBLISHED May 12, 2020
“These…swarms…are terrifying,” Albert Lemasulani narrated breathlessly as he recorded a video of himself swatting his way through a crush of desert locusts in northern Kenya this April. The insects, more than two inches long, whirred around him in thick clouds, their wings snapping like ten thousand card decks being shuffled in unison. He groaned: “They are in the millions. Everywhere…eating…it really is a nightmare.” null
Lemasulani, 40, lives with his family in Oldonyiro, where he herds goats that survive on shrubs and trees. He’d previously heard of locusts only from stories passed down in the community. That changed earlier this year when the largest invasion of the voracious insects in decades descended on East Africa. With their seemingly bottomless appetites, locusts can cause devastating agricultural losses. An adult desert locust can munch through its own bodyweight, about 0.07 ounces, of vegetation every day. Swarms can swell to 70 billion insects—enough to blanket New York City more than once—and can destroy 300 million pounds of crops in a single day. Even a more modest gathering of 40 million desert locusts can eat as much in a day as 35,000 people.
A large swarm of locusts descends on acacia trees in northern Kenya in April. Swarms can swell to 70 billion insects—enough to cover New York City 1.5 times—and to decimate 300 million pounds of crops in a single day.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic
This is the worst “upsurge”—the category of intensity below “plague”—of desert locusts experienced in Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years and in Kenya for 70 years. The region’s growing season is underway, and as the swarms have grown while the coronavirus complicates mitigation efforts, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates up to 25 millionEast Africans will suffer from food shortages later this year. null
Some 13 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, and Eritrea already suffer from “severe food insecurity,” according to the FAO, meaning they may go without eating for an entire day or have run out of food altogether.
“We fear for our future because these kinds of swarms will mean we don’t have anything to feed our animals,” Lemasulani says. Farmers are equally worried about their crops. “We pray God will clear the locusts for us. It’s as terrifying as COVID-19.” null
In the beginning
Desert locusts flourish when arid areas are doused with rain, because they seek to lay their eggs in damp, sandy soil near vegetation that can sustain the young until their wings develop enough for the insects to forage farther afield.
A dead locust sits on a tree branch. Desert locusts can grow to about four inches long and live for three to five months. Their life cycle consists of three phases: egg, hopper, and adult. Locusts are often solitary, but under the right conditions, they breed exponentially and transform into social, or “gregarious,” creatures, which change color and form large, destructive swarms. Until 1921, people believed that gregarious locusts and solitary desert locusts were two different species.
Desert locusts tend to feed on green vegetation and can pick plants bare, including this bush in northern Kenya. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization warns that if they migrate further into agricultural areas, millions of people could face hunger.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic
Albert Lemasulani, a Kenyan pastoralist, has voluntarily tracked locust swarms for the Kenyan government and the FAO since the insects appeared near his hometown of Oldonyiro, in northern Kenya, in January. They’re typically controlled with pesticides, but because locust swarms can move up to 80 miles a day, simply finding them can be a challenge.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic
Usually, when locusts have space to spread out, they actively avoid one another. But in favorable circumstances, desert locust populations can multiply 20-fold every three months. Crowding together as a result of this increased breeding triggers a behavior change. No longer loners, they turn into social or “gregarious” creatures, forming large swarms.
Recently, conditions for procreation and migration have been not just favorable—but ideal. In 2018 and 2019, a series of cyclones that scientists link to unusually warm seas rolled in off the Indian Ocean and soaked a sandy desert in the Arabian Peninsula known as the Empty Quarter. A locust boom followed. null
“We often think of deserts as environments that are very harsh and low productivity, which they are a lot of the time,” says National Geographic grantee Dino Martins, an entomologist, evolutionary biologist, and executive director of the Mpala Research Centre in northern Kenya. The center is working to sequence the desert locust’s genome to to learn what environmental and genetic factors may prompt the locusts’ transformation from solitary to gregarious. “When [deserts] have the right conditions, they can flip, and you can move to a situation with lots of biological activity. That’s basically what we’re seeing now,” he says.
This valley is on the locusts’ route, which is largely determined by the wind.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic
By June 2019, large swarms were on the move, traveling over the Red Sea to Ethiopia and Somalia. Aided by uncommonly heavy rains that buffeted East Africa from Octoberto December, the insects spread south to Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
Frozen desert locusts stored at the Mpala Research Centre are kept on hand to study. Scientists there are working to help sequence the insect’s genome. “The desert locust is an enigmatic creature who leads a two-faced life,” says Dino Martins, executive director of the research center. On the one hand, it’s “a pretty unremarkable, ordinary grasshopper struggling to survive, and, when better conditions allow…[it’s] a voracious, upwardly, and onwardly mobile beast.” Desert locusts have one one of the largest genomes known of any animal, he says.
Ivy Ngiru, the center’s research lab manager, inspects frozen desert locusts. Scientists hope that sequencing the desert locust’s genome will allow them to better understand what genetic and environmental variables prompt the locusts’ transformation from solitary to wildly social, swarming creatures.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic
Since the locusts first reached East Africa, favorable breeding conditions have continued, and the swarms have expanded. “I can’t tell you if it’s by 20 times, but [the population] is much bigger,” says Cyril Ferrand, Resilience Team Leader for East Africa at the FAO, which monitors the desert locust situation globally.
When the first wave of locusts arrived in the region in late 2019, most of last year’s crops had reached maturity or been harvested. But the timing of the current, so-called “second generation”—an even more massive wave—is especially worrisome.
That’s because East Africa’s primary growing season begins around mid-March, and the emerging plants are particularly vulnerable to locusts, says Anastasia Mbatia, the technical manager of agriculture at Farm Africa, a charity that works with farmers, pastoralists, and forest communities in East Africa. “When [locusts] feed on the germinating leaves, the crop cannot grow,” she says. “Farmers would need to sow seeds again.” But a second planting in the weeks ahead likely would not be successful, as the best growing weather has already passed.
Spraying for relief
To stem the explosion of locusts, governments often spray pesticides—either from the air or directly on the ground. FAO’s Ferrand says sourcing such chemicals during the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge. “We have had delays in supply. That means managing the [pesticide stocks] today is a very different reality because there are fewer planes moving globally,” he says.
Desert locusts tend to fly during the daytime and roost in the evening. Lemasulani says he tries to locate them in the afternoons, so pesticide sprayers have the best chance of finding them.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic
Even more difficult in places such as Kenya that have little experience with gigantic locust invasions is deciding where to spray. Depending on the winds, which largely determine locust flight patterns, a swarm might travel 80 miles in a day. (In 1988, desert locusts were found to have crossed from West Africa to the Caribbean in just 10 days.)
To chase down these highly mobile swarms, the FAO is relying increasingly on information provided by local people, including Lemasulani, who began voluntarily tracking locust swarms in January.
Drawing on an extensive network of contacts who call him when they spot pockets of the insects, Lemasulani hires motorbike taxis to speed him to swarms. When he finds them, he enters their coordinates in a mobile phone app called elocust3m that was released in late February by David Hughesand his colleagues at Penn State University’s PlantVillage program, an open access public resource for smallholder farmers. Hughes developed the app at the request of the FAO, whose field staff have operated a similar tracking program on specialized tablets since 2014. The data are then shared with the government, which can decide how best to react.
Until recently, when PlantVillage began paying him a stipend to cover his transport and telephone costs, Lemasulani paid for his locust scouting out of his own pocket. (His travels have been exempted from COVID-19 restrictions, as are training sessions for new elocust3m volunteers—residents in areas where swarms are expected—who nonetheless must wear masks and stay six feet apart.)
As Lemasulani wraps a red shawl around his shoulders to protect himself from the rain that has begun to fall outside his home, he says over video chat, “I come from a poor family background and got sponsored by the Catholic church in Oldonyiro though my primary and high school years. I was sponsored by a person I have never met. There is no way I can pay my sponsor back, but I feel noble giving back to my community.”
A small part of the Centralia mine fire after being exposed during excavation in 1969
View of smoke rising through a fissure in the ground in the closed-off area of former Pennsylvania Route 61. The melted snow, which covered the ground around it, shows areas where heat is escaping from the ground below.
The Centralia mine fire is a coal-seam fire that has been burning underneath the borough of Centralia, Pennsylvania, United States, since at least May 27, 1962. Its original cause is still a matter of debate. It is burning in underground coal mines at depths of up to 300 feet (90 m) over an 8-mile (13 km) stretch of 3,700 acres (15 km2). At its current rate, it could continue to burn for over 250 years. It has caused most of the town to be abandoned: the population dwindled from around 1,500 at the time the fire started to 5 in 2017, and most of the buildings have been levelled.
On May 7, 1962, the Centralia Council met to discuss the approaching Memorial Day and how the town would go about cleaning up the Centralia landfill, which was introduced earlier that year. The 300-foot-wide, 75-foot-long pit (91 m × 23 m) was made up of a 50-foot-deep strip mine (15 m) that had been cleared by Edward Whitney in 1935, and came very close to the northeast corner of Odd Fellows Cemetery. There were eight illegal dumps spread about Centralia, and the council’s intention in creating the landfill was to stop the illegal dumping, as new state regulations had forced the town to close an earlier dump west of St. Ignatius Cemetery. Trustees at the cemetery were opposed to the landfill’s proximity to the cemetery, but recognized the illegal dumping elsewhere as a serious problem and envisioned that the new pit would resolve it.
Pennsylvania had passed a precautionary law in 1956 to regulate landfill use in strip mines, as landfills were known to cause destructive mine fires. The law required a permit and regular inspection for a municipality to use such a pit. George Segaritus, a regional landfill inspector who worked for the Department of Mines and Mineral Industries (DMMI), became concerned about the pit when he noticed holes in the walls and floor, as such mines often cut through older mines underneath. Segaritus informed Joseph Tighe, a Centralia councilman, that the pit would require filling with an incombustible material.
The Buck Vein Outcrop A plume of smoke wafts from the ground. A DEP monitoring hole A DEP underground reading of 187 °F (86 °C)
This was a world where no human could live, hotter than the planet Mercury, its atmosphere as poisonous as Saturn’s. At the heart of the fire, temperatures easily exceeded 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit [540 degrees Celsius]. Lethal clouds of carbon monoxide and other gases swirled through the rock chambers.— David DeKok, Unseen Danger: A Tragedy of People, Government, and the Centralia Mine Fire (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986)
The town council arranged for cleanup of the strip mine dump, but council minutes do not describe the proposed procedure. DeKok surmises that the process—setting it on fire—was not specified because state law prohibited dump fires. Nonetheless, the Centralia council set a date and hired five members of the volunteer firefighter company to clean up the landfill.
A fire was ignited to clean the dump on May 27, 1962, and water was used to douse the visible flames that night. However, flames were seen once more on May 29. Using hoses hooked up from Locust Avenue, another attempt was made to douse the fire that night. Another flare-up in the following week (June 4) caused the Centralia Fire Company to once again douse it with hoses. A bulldozer stirred up the garbage so that firemen could douse concealed layers of the burning waste. A few days later, a hole as wide as 15 feet (4.6 m) and several feet high was found in the base of the north wall of the pit. Garbage had concealed the hole and prevented it from being filled with incombustible material. It is possible that this hole led to the mine fire, as it provided a pathway to the labyrinth of old mines under the borough. Evidence indicates that, despite these efforts to douse the fire, the landfill continued to burn; on July 2, Monsignor William J. Burke complained about foul odors from the smoldering trash and coal reaching St. Ignatius Church. Even then, the Centralia council still allowed the dumping of garbage into the pit.
A member of the council contacted Clarence “Mooch” Kashner, the president of the Independent Miners, Breakermen, and Truckers union, to inspect the situation in Centralia. Kashner evaluated the events and called Gordon Smith, an engineer of the Department of Mines and Mineral Industries (DMMI) office in Pottsville. Smith told the town that he could dig out the smoldering material using a steam shovel for $175. A call was placed to Art Joyce, a mine inspector from Mount Carmel, who brought gas detection equipment for use on the swirling wisps of smoke now emanating from fissures in the north wall of the landfill pit. Tests concluded that the gases seeping from the large hole in the pit wall and from cracks in the north wall contained carbon monoxide concentrations typical of coal-mine fires.
The Centralia Council sent a letter to the Lehigh Valley Coal Company (LVCC) as formal notice of the fire. It is speculated that the town council decided that hiding the true origin of the fire would serve better than alerting the LVCC of the truth, which would most likely end in receiving no help from them. In the letter, the borough described the starting of a fire “of unknown origin during a period of unusually hot weather”.
Preceding an August 6 meeting at the fire site which would include officials from the LVCC and the Susquehanna Coal Company, Deputy Secretary of Mines James Shober Sr. expected that the representatives would inform him they could not afford mounting a project that would stop the mine fire. Therefore, Shober announced that he expected the state to finance the cost of digging out the fire, which was at that time around $30,000 (roughly equivalent to $251,000 in 2019). Another offer was made at the meeting, proposed by Centralia strip mine operator Alonzo Sanchez, who told members of council that he would dig out the mine fire free of charge as long as he could claim any coal he recovered without paying royalties to the Lehigh Valley Coal Company. Part of Sanchez’s plan was to do exploratory drilling to estimate the scope of the mine fire, which was most likely why Sanchez’s offer was rejected at the meeting. The drilling would have delayed the project, not to mention the legal problems with mining rights.
At the time, state mine inspectors were in the Centralia-area mines almost daily to check for lethal levels of carbon monoxide. Lethal levels were found on August 9, and all Centralia-area mines were closed the next day.
Pressed at an August 12 meeting of the United Mine Works of America in Centralia, Secretary of Mines Lewis Evans sent a letter to the group on August 15 that claimed he had authorized a project to deal with the mine fire, and that bids for the project would be opened on August 17. Two days later, the contract was awarded to Bridy, Inc., a company near Mount Carmel, for an estimated $20,000 (roughly equivalent to $167,500 in 2019). Work on the project began August 22.
The Department of Mines and Mineral Industries (DMMI), who originally believed Bridy would need only to excavate 24,000 cubic yards (18,000 m3) of earth, informed them that they were forbidden from doing any exploratory drilling in order to find the perimeter of the fire or how deep it was, and that they were to strictly follow plans drawn up by the engineers[which?] who did not believe that the fire was very big or active. The size and location of the fire were, instead, estimated based on the amount of steam issuing from the landfill rock.
Bridy, following the engineering team plan, began by digging on the northern perimeter of the dump pit rim and excavated about 200 feet (61 m) outward to expand the perimeter. However, the project was ultimately ineffective due to multiple factors. Intentional breaching of the subterranean mine chambers allowed large amounts of oxygen to rush in, greatly worsening the fire. Steve Kisela, a bulldozer operator in Bridy’s project, said that the project was ineffective because the inrush of air helped the fire to move ahead of the excavation point by the time the section was drilled and blasted. Bridy was also using a 2.5-cubic-yard (1.9 m3) shovel, which was considered small for the project.
Furthermore, the state only permitted Bridy’s team to work weekday shifts which were eight hours long and only occurred during the day time; commonly referred to as “first shift” in the mining industry. At one point, work was at a standstill for five days during the Labor Day weekend in early September.[why?] Finally, the fire was traveling in a northward direction which caused the fire to move deeper into the coal seam. This, combined with the work restrictions and inadequate equipment, greatly increased the excavation cost. Bridy had excavated 58,580 cubic yards (44,790 m3) of earth by the time the project ran out of money and ended on October 29, 1962.
On October 29, just prior to the termination of the Bridy project, a new project was proposed that involved flushing the mine fire. Crushed rock would be mixed with water and pumped into Centralia’s mines ahead of the expected fire expansion. The project was estimated to cost $40,000 (roughly equivalent to $350,000 in 2019). Bids were opened on November 1, and the project was awarded to K&H Excavating with a low bid of $28,400 (roughly equivalent to $238,000 in 2019).
Drilling was conducted through holes spaced 20 feet (6.1 m) apart in a semicircular pattern along the edge of the landfill. However, this project was also ineffective due to multiple factors. Centralia experienced an unusually heavy period of snowfall and unseasonably low temperatures during the project. Winter weather caused the water supply lines to freeze. Furthermore, the rock-grinding machine froze during a windy blizzard. Both problems inhibited timely mixture and administration of the crushed-rock slurry. The DMMI also worried that the 10,000 cubic yards (7,600 m3) of flushing material would not be enough to fill the mines; thus, preventing the bore holes from filling completely. Partially filled boreholes would provide an escape route for the fire, rendering the project ineffective.
These problems quickly depleted funds. In response, Secretary Evans approved an additional $14,000 (roughly equivalent to $117,240 in 2019) to fund this project. Funding for the project ran out on March 15, 1963, with a total cost of $42,420 (roughly equivalent to $355,250 in 2019).
On April 11, steam issuing from additional openings in the ground indicated that the fire had spread eastward as far as 700 feet (210 m), and that the project had failed.
A three-option proposal was drawn up soon after that, although the project would be delayed until after the new fiscal year beginning July 1, 1963. The first option, costing $277,490, consisted of entrenching the fire and back-filling the trench with incombustible material. The second, costing $151,714, offered a smaller trench in an incomplete circle, followed by the completion of the circle with a flush barrier. The third plan was a “total and concerted flushing project” larger than the second project’s flushing and costing $82,300. The state abandoned this project in 1963.
David DeKok began reporting on the mine fire for The News-Item in Shamokin beginning in late 1976. Between 1976 and 1986, he wrote over 500 articles about the mine fire. In 1979, locals became aware of the scale of the problem when a gas-station owner, then-mayor John Coddington, inserted a dipstick into one of his underground tanks to check the fuel level. When he withdrew it, it seemed hot. He lowered a thermometer into the tank on a string and was shocked to discover that the temperature of the gasoline in the tank was 172 °F (77.8 °C).
Beginning in 1980, adverse health effects were reported by several people due to byproducts of the fire: carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and low oxygen levels. Statewide attention to the fire began to increase, culminating in 1981 when a 12-year-old resident named Todd Domboski fell into a sinkhole 4 feet (1.2 m) wide by 150 feet (46 m) deep that suddenly opened beneath his feet in a backyard. He clung to a tree root until his cousin, 14-year-old Eric Wolfgang, saved his life by pulling him out of the hole. The plume of hot steam billowing from the hole was measured as containing a lethal level of carbon monoxide.
A number of competing hypotheses have arisen about the source of the Centralia mine fire. Some of them claim that the mine fire started before May 27, 1962. David DeKok says that the bourough’s deliberate burning of trash on May 27 to clean up the landfill in the former strip mine ignited a coal seam via an unsealed opening in the trash pit, which allowed the fire to enter the labyrinth of abandoned coal mines beneath Centralia.
Joan Quigley argues in her 2007 book The Day the Earth Caved In that the fire had in fact started the previous day, when a trash hauler dumped hot ash or coal discarded from coal burners into the open trash pit. She noted that borough council minutes from June 4, 1962, referred to two fires at the dump, and that five firefighters had submitted bills for “fighting the fire at the landfill area”. The borough, by law, was responsible for installing a fire-resistant clay barrier between each layer of trash in the landfill, but fell behind schedule, leaving the barrier incomplete. This allowed the hot coals to penetrate the vein of coal underneath the pit and light the subsequent subterranean fire. In addition to the council minutes, Quigley cites “interviews with volunteer firemen, the former fire chief, borough officials, and several eyewitnesses” as her sources.
Another hypothesis is known as the Bast Theory. It states that the fire was burning long before the alleged trash dump fire. According to local legend, the Bast Colliery coal fire of 1932, set alight by an explosion, was never fully extinguished. In 1962, it reached the landfill area. Those who adhere to the Bast Theory believe that the dump fire is a separate fire unrelated to the Centralia mine fire. One man who disagrees is Frank Jurgill Sr., who claims he operated a bootleg mine with his brother in the vicinity of the landfill between 1960 and 1962. He says that if the Bast Colliery fire had never been put out, he and his brother would have been in it and killed by the gases. Based on this and due to contrary evidence, few hold this position, and it is given little credibility.
Centralia councilman Joseph Tighe proposed a different hypothesis: that Centralia’s coal fire was actually started by an adjacent coal-seam fire that had been burning west of Centralia’s. His belief is that the adjacent fire was at one time partially excavated, but it nonetheless set alight the landfill on May 27.
Another hypothesis arose from the letter sent to the Lehigh Valley Coal Company by the Centralia Council in the days after the mine fire was noticed. The letter describes “a fire of unknown origin [starting] on or about June 25, 1962, during a period of unusually hot weather”. This may make a reference to the hypothesis of spontaneous combustion being the reason for the start of the landfill fire, a hypothesis accepted for many years by state and federal officials.
The location at which the former roadbed of Pennsylvania Route 61 terminates due to the mine fire. As the joining row homes were demolished, the buttresses were constructed to support the walls of the remaining homes.
In 1984, Congress allocated more than $42 million for relocation efforts. Most of the residents accepted buyout offers and dispersed far away from the area (data from the 1990 United States Census shows that the nearby towns continued to lose population at the same rate as previous decades, suggesting the Centralians did not locate there). A few families opted to stay despite urgings from Pennsylvania officials.
In 1992, Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey invoked eminent domain on all properties in the borough, condemning all the buildings within. A subsequent legal effort by residents to have the decision reversed failed. In 2002, the U.S. Postal Service revoked Centralia’s ZIP code, 17927. In 2009, Governor Ed Rendell began the formal eviction of Centralia residents. In July 2012, the last handful of residents in Centralia lost their appeal of a court decision upholding eminent domain proceedings, and were ordered again to leave. State and local officials reached an agreement with the seven remaining residents on October 29, 2013, allowing them to live out their lives there, after which the rights of their properties will be taken through eminent domain.
The Centralia mine fire also extended beneath the town of Byrnesville, a few miles to the south. The town had to be abandoned and levelled.
The Centralia area has now grown to be a tourist attraction. Visitors come to see the smoke on Centralia’s empty streets and the abandoned portion of PA Route 61, popularly referred to as the Graffiti Highway.
As of April 2020, efforts began to cover up Graffiti Highway by the private owner of the road.
The fire and its effects were featured in 2013 on America Declassified on the Travel Channel, and on Radiolab’s Cities episode.
Sign Petition: We Could See This Country’s Entire Rainforest Disappear in Our Lifetime 10-12 minutes by: Care2 Team recipient: The Government of Madagascar
But a new report from Nature Climate Change found that the cumulative effects of global warming and deforestation within that time will be enough to eliminate 100% of Madagascar’s rainforest. Every last inch of the island country’s rainforest will be gone. Many folks alive today would see this heartbreaking eventuality happen in their lifetime. Sign the petition today and urge the Government of Madagascar to take the strictest possible measures to protect its rainforests! While Madagascar alone is not responsible for human-induced climate change, its government can certainly take action against the potential massive loss of plant and animal life from deforestation. Contributing researchers to the shocking study suggest that “protected areas will help to mitigate this devastation while environmentalists work toward long-term solutions for ending runaway greenhouse gas emissions and resulting climate change.” To make the situation even more alarming, 80-90% of animal and plant species in Madagascar exist in its rainforest. If we fail to save this habitat, there will be a subsequent massive, irreversible loss of diversity and life. Of Madagascar’s 101 different lemur species, only 5% are not are not at risk of extinction in the near future. The ruffed lemur, described as a “cornerstone species” because of the critical role they play in bolstering the survival of other animals and plants, is critically endangered. As daunting as this may seem, we must use this study as an incentive. Please sign the petition and make the Government of Madagascar hear us – they must impose strict deforestation protections on their rainforest before it’s too late!
Sign Petition: This Country Lost 60% of Its Rainforests in One Year and No One is Doing Anything About It
by: Care2 Team recipient: Ghanian Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation Scientists sometimes refer to rainforests as the “lungs of the Earth.” The millions or perhaps billions of trees that populate the world’s rainforests consume huge amounts of carbon dioxide and in turn, produce life-giving oxygen. Yet, it is no secret that over the past decades these collections of towering plants have been toppled in staggering numbers. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in Ghana, where the country has seen its forests disappear by a rate unmatched by any other. According to a study by Global Forest Watch, in just one year (2017-2018), the amount of forests lost in Ghana increased by a jaw-dropping 60%. Sign the demand Ghana take action to save their rainforests. In fact, so bad has deforestation become, that the country, once one of the world’s largest exporters may now have to import it to feed local supply. Rainforests globally hold biodiversity that is unrivaled. The Ghanaian rainforests provide habitat and shelter for animals on the brink of extinction including the mountain gorilla and the grey parrot which, despite being commonplace in pet stores, in the wild is disappearing fast. The main cause of their forest destruction is cocoa farming. Ghana is one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa and farmers have toppled entire swaths of the rainforest to make room for more cocoa plantations. These, and deforestation due to large and small scale mining, especially of bauxite leave the jungles of Ghana vulnerable from all sides. And yet, Ghanian government officials are doing nothing to stop the impending destruction of their natural heritage. According to Quartz, the government has recently signed a deal with China to allow mining in exchange infrastructure and a ban on small scale mining has been inexplicably lifted. Meanwhile, the agency that is supposed to safeguard environmental standards has been crippled by corruption. This is unacceptable. With the recent news that the world stands on the cusp of losing over 1 million species to extinction, it is now more imperative than ever that countries crack down on the practices that destroy the habitats where these animals live. Practices like mining and uncontrolled cocoa farming.
Help keep the Earth healthy by ditching single-use plastic items. You can make a paper straw to use instead of a plastic one, which is one of the top items found at beach cleanups and can hurt ocean animals that mistake them for food.
Add a long line of glue on the side without the pattern.
Place a chopstick at an angle on the back of the paper. Then roll the paper around the chopstick until it’s completely covered. (Be careful to roll the paper on top of itself so you don’t get glue on the chopstick!)
Wait 10 minutes for the glue to dry, then wiggle the chopstick out from inside the paper tube.
Cut both ends of the tube to make them even.
Grab a parent and put the wax in a glass jar. Melt the wax by either putting the jar on a candle warmer or in a pot of warm water on the stove.Kids vs. Plastic10 tips to reduce your plastic useMake pom-pom puffsPlastic Pollution
Dip the paper tube into the melted wax one half at a time (this part might get a little messy!) Then gently wipe the tube with a paper towel to get off any extra wax. Let the straws dry about 10 minutes before using. PLANET PROTECTOR TIPThese paper straws will last only about a day. Ask your parents to purchase reusable straws made of bamboo, metal, glass, or silicone that you can use forever!
Photograph by Joel Sartore, Nat Geo Image Collection Read Caption
The spill drove a push in science and some changes in regulations, but the dangers of offshore drilling remain.
By Alejandra Borunda PUBLISHED April 20, 2020
The BP oil spill of 2010 started suddenly, explosively, and with deadly force. But the response has stretched out for years and scientists say there’s still much more we need to learn.
As a crew on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig worked to close up an exploratory oil well deep under the Gulf of Mexico, a pulse of gas shot up, buckling the drill pipe. The emergency valve designed to cap the well in case of an accident, the “blowout protector,” failed, and the gas reached the drill rig, triggering an explosion that killed 11 crewmembers.
Over the next three months, the uncapped well leaked more than 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools of oil into the Gulf’s waters, making it the biggest oil spill in United States history. The leak pumped out 12 times more oil than the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989.
U.S. Coast Guard fire boats crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon on April 21, 2010 near New Orleans. An estimated 1,000 barrels of oil a day were still leaking into the Gulf at the time. Photograph by U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images
The spill opened many people’s eyes to the risks of drilling for oil in one of the most ecologically rich, culturally important, and economically valuable parts of the world. But 10 years and billions of dollars in cleanup efforts later, many of the same risks that allowed the disaster to occur remain.
“It took the better part of six to seven years [after the disaster] to get in place the inspection of blowout preventers and rules about making drilling plans safer and putting commonsense regulations in place, but those have been rescinded,” says Ian MacDonald, a scientist at Florida State University. “So basically we’re back to where we were in 2010, in terms of regulatory environment.”
And in some ways, more is known now than ever before about the Gulf and how the spill affected its ecosystems.
“We’re just to the point now where we have enough data to recognize things we missed earlier, and there’s still a lot we don’t know,” says Samantha Joye, a marine scientist at the University of Georgia. “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Can this kind of spill happen again?
About 17 percent of the U.S.’s total crude oil production comes from offshore projects in the Gulf. Pipelines—26,000 miles of them—connect wells to the processing infrastructure that lines the coast. Before plummeting demand from the coronavirus pandemic drove already-low oil prices lower, the Gulf of Mexico was producing as much crude oil as it had in years.
“Even in times of low prices like today, offshore just keeps going on,” says Gregory Upton, Jr., an energy economist at Louisiana State University.
A severely oiled brown pelican is rescued in Queen Bess Island, Louisiana, after the oil spill.Photograph by Joel Sartore, Nat Geo Image Collection
And drilling for oil in deep offshore waters is inherently dangerous for the people working the platforms, as well as potentially for the environments they’re drilling in.
“Working on the ultra-deep stuff is pretty much like working in outer space,” say Mark Davis, a water law expert at Tulane University.
But conditions on the Deepwater Horizon rig were particularly concerning. After the spill, the commission created by the Obama administration to investigate the spill reached stark, damning conclusions. Many lapses in safety had contributed to the disaster, many of which traced back to a culture both within BP and the industry more broadly that did not value safety enough.
Boats used absorbent booms to corral the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Photograph by Tyrone Turner, Nat Geo Image Collection
A new agency, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), was created to track and enforce offshore drilling safety issues, something that had been handled by the same agency that approved leases to oil companies.
“Before Deepwater, there was this mentality that had set in in the 1990s and 2000s, that the oil and gas industry, as it was going farther offshore, was capable of self-regulating,” says Matt Lee Ashley, a researcher at the Center for American Progress. “Then Deepwater happened and burst that set of assumptions.”
BSEE announced a new set of safety rules for offshore operations in 2016. Among those rules was one that required blowout protectors—the piece that had failed at Deepwater Horizon—to be inspected by a third party, rather than self-certified by the drilling companies. But many of those rules, as well as other safety practices put in place after the disaster, have been weakened in recent years. Most notably, in 2019 the Trump administration finalized rollbacksof several components of the 2016 rules, including the independent safety certification for blowout protectors and bi-weekly testing.
Inspections and safety checks by BSEE have also declined some 13 percent between 2017 and 2019 and there have been nearly 40 percent less enforcement activities in that time compared to previous years, according to Lee Ashley’s analysis.
Today, more than 50 percent of Gulf oil production comes from ultra-deep wells drilled in 4,500 feet or more of water, compared with about 4,000 feet for Deepwater Horizon. The deeper the well, the more the risk: A 2013 study showed that for every hundred feet deeper a well is drilled, the likelihood of a company self-reported incident like a spill or an injury increased by more than 8 percent.
Terry Garcia, former deputy administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a member of a major safety commission convened after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, worries that the safety changes in the years after the disaster didn’t extend broadly enough, either.
“We have this tendency to fight the last war, to prepare for the last incident that occurred,” he says. After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, for example, new laws and regulations were enacted to deal with future tanker spills. But that focus on the future didn’t happen for oil rigs, and the next disaster is unlikely to look exactly like Deepwater.
A dead black drum fish floats through oiled waters in Grand Isle, Louisiana.Photograph by Joel Sartore, Nat Geo Image Collection
Another concern, says Scott Eustis, the science director at the Louisiana-based Healthy Gulf, a group that focuses on marine protection, comes from the ever-increasing pressures of climate change. Louisiana, which has the most comprehensive climate adaptation plan in the region, is expecting the number and intensity of major hurricanes to increasewithin the next 50 years. Each storm that blows through the Gulf threatens offshore drilling infrastructure.
“Since Deepwater Horizon, we’ve taken two steps forward and one step back, and that one step back is worrying because we could very much end up in a similar situation,” says Lee Ashley.
What we know about the spill’s effects
After the spill, BP agreed to pay out more than $20 billion in penalties and damages, with around $13 billion directed toward restoration and a vast research effort in the region.
But scientists realized they lacked much of the basic background science necessary to predict where, when, and how the oil would spread or what its impacts on the region would be.
At first, it was difficult even to assess how much oil spilled from the well. Early initial assessments were low—but satellite imagery revealed that there was much more oil than had been reported. The final tally showed that the spill dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil.
Oil continued to sink to the ocean floor for more than a year, a recent study shows. It changed the amounts of sediment collecting on the bottom of the sea for years afterwardand choked them of oxygen. Immediately after the spill, the 1,300 miles of contaminated coasts saw oil concentrations 100 times higher than background levelsl even eight years later, concentrations were 10 times higher than before the spill. And In February of this year, a study showed that the footprint of the oil spread some 30 percent wider than previously estimated, potentially contaminating many more fish communities than previously thought.
“It’s astounding,” says Joye. “We underestimated so many of the impacts when we were first looking.” Only after a decade of sustained observation, she says, have the true impacts of the spill started to become clear.
The paradoxical effect of the spill is that scientists know more about the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the physics, ecology, and chemistry of oil spills, than they ever would have otherwise.
The white sand beaches of Orange Beach, Alabama are covered with oil.Photograph by Tyrone Turner, Nat Geo Image Collection
It was clear from the moment the spill began that there were many basic science questions that were unknown about this area of the world, like ocean currents and wind patterns, knowledge gaps that hindered the recovery process.
“The first fundamental issue we faced in 2010 was a chronic lack of baseline data,” says Joye.
For example, no high-resolution map of the seafloor existed, information that would have helped scientists understand where the bottom-dwelling creatures of the Gulf might be affected. Driven by the disaster, federal scientists produced a map in 2016.
“It was crucial to be able to detect and predict where the oil would go,” says Oscar Garcia Pineda, a satellite expert. In 2010, it took days to get satellite images downloaded and processed; today the response time is about 20 minutes, he says. In conjunction with studies that used drifters, boats, drones, and other techniques, scientists have deepened their understanding of the Gulf’s restless movements.
But there’s much more still to learn, say Joye and MacDonald; it’s crucial to set up long-term monitoring programs so scientists can be better prepared for the inevitable next disaster.
“We need much better oceanographic data,” says MacDonald, “so we’re not trying to model after the fact whether Florida is going to get hit by this oil spill, or if it’ll go the other way.”
And other knowledge gaps also engender risk. For example, a 2004 hurricane triggered underwater landslides at another drilling site in the Gulf. The mudslide broke the drilling rig away from the well, leaving it leaking hundreds of barrels a day. But the mudslide risk across the Gulf hasn’t yet been thoroughly mapped out.
“There was a dearth of knowledge. It’s that old adage, ‘you can’t manage what you don’t understand’—well, you can’t protect what you don’t understand,” says Garcia. Why is there drilling in the Gulf of Mexico?
The reason the Deepwater Horizon well existed in the first place? Hundreds of billions of barrels of fossil fuel energy are buried deep beneath the Gulf’s seafloor.
Oil seeps from the floor of the Gulf naturally, in small volumes. The phenomenon has been long known to people who lived and traveled along its marshy shores and coastlines. Hernan de Soto, a Spanish explorer who sailed through the Gulf in 1543, used the gummy oil his sailors collected from the beaches to patch up his wooden ships. Tribal communities gathered tar that caught in the tangled cordgrass of the sandy barrier islands and used it for art and to waterproof pots.
Offshore drilling began in the late 1930s. The first site, Louisiana’s Creole platform, squatted just a mile and a half off the coast, its wooden legs sprouting up through water 14 feet deep.
By the 1950s, engineers were gaining ambition and confidence, nudging the limits of their drilling activities deeper and deeper, following the long, broad slope of the seafloor that tilted away from the Gulf’s shores. By 2000, over 300 operating oil rigs and thousands of platforms dotted the wide, shallow slope. But they pushed further, out to where the ground drops away sharply. Geologists’ glimpses into that underground world, from seismic observations and experimental drill holes, hinted at millions of barrels of oil lurking below, if only the drillers could get to it.
The Deepwater Horizon well, drilled in 2009, pushed the limits of that deep drilling. At its creation, it was the deepest well ever drilled, punching over 35,000 feet down into the ground below the sea, in water over 4,000 feet deep.
Eric Alm, one of the authors of the study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, stressed that the public is not at risk of contracting the virus from particles in the wastewater, but they may have the potential to indicate how widespread the virus has become, Newsweek reported.
“Even if those viral particles are no longer active or capable of infecting humans, they may still carry genetic material that can be detected using an approach called PCR (polymerase chain reaction,) which amplifies the genetic signal many orders of magnitude creating billions of copies of the genome for each starting virus,” Alm told the outlet.
The researchers, along with a team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, analyzed the samples and found the number of coronavirus particles was on par with if there were 2,300 people infected with the virus.
But at the time of tests, there were only 446 confirmed cases in the region, according to the study.
“It was interesting that our estimation was definitely higher than the number of confirmed cases in the area,” said Mariana Matus, CEO and co-founder of Biobot, according to Stat News.
The researchers shared their findings with local health officials who said it was plausible there were hundreds of undetected cases.
“They could believe that [our] numbers could be correct and not out of the realm of possibility,” Matus told the outlet.
Jeff Bezos may have pledged $10 billion to fight climate change, but critics are slamming the billionaire for not making changes closer to home first and reducing the amount of packaging used to send out Amazon parcels.
“Could he please start with his ridiculous packaging that he leaves on our doorstep??? Perhaps the amazon delivery could collect the significant waste left behind,” one Amazon shopper wrote on Twitter.
“If #Bezos wants to do something for the world, he can start with his excessive packaging. Amazon shipping is the most wasteful of any retailer out there. Is junking up the world with plastics part of #BezosEarthFund?” another wrote.
Bezos announced his $10 billion pledge in an Instagram post on Monday. The money will be donated via a new initiative called the Bezos Earth Fund.
Related video: More about Bezos’ pledge (provided by CNBC)
Amazon has frequently been called out for its tendency to use large amounts of packaging to send out small items and there are numerous posts documenting this habit on social media with shoppers sharing images of giant boxes used to house one relatively small item:
@AmazonUK You just delivered to me a slim 1m long boom pole in this massive 1.5x1m box! Gobsmacked by this shocking waste of resources on a planet that is already suffocating. As a huge contributor to packaging waste how can you justify this? #amazon #packaging #waste pic.twitter.com/saC5pwBArg
— matt pelly (@mattpelly) December 15, 2017
@amazon you’ve gotta be kidding me with this packaging!!!! What a collosal waste. pic.twitter.com/08hPhOVFbX
— Samantha (@SamCo2889) February 16, 2020
Ordered 3x peelers from @AmazonUK last night (because it was a minimum order quantity)… So why did you have to pack them in 3 separate pieces of packaging?! #excessivepackaging #packingwaste #amazon #waste pic.twitter.com/0U1ThOqMU5
— Rob O’Hagan (@Rob_OHagan) February 16, 2020
@amazon you should probably look into whoever is in charge of packaging. All this box for 1 tiny little pack of lightbulbs the size of a AAA battery. I get boxes like this all the time. Imagine the profits going to waste here. pic.twitter.com/X1NIm3EeN3
— Justin (@flik623) February 11, 2020
In some cases, Amazon customer service agents have responded to customer’s complaints on Twitter, saying that they will look into it:
@amazon you guys must really hate the environment. This is ridiculous. A huge box for a tiny bottle of nail polish? The packaging probably cost more than the nail polish. How do you make money? This should be your corporate initiative this year. Reduce packaging waste. pic.twitter.com/saD3Lz7QD8
— Apextroll (@Apextroll2) July 23, 2019
A spokesperson for Amazon did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on this.
Bezos said that the $10 billion will be used to fund the work done by scientists, activists, and NGOs among others “to help preserve and protect the natural world.”
“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” he wrote on Instagram. “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share.” The grants will be issued from this summer onward.
His announcement comes after mounting pressure from Amazon employees to do more to fight climate change as one of the world’s largest retailers.
In January, more than 350 employees signed a petition that called out the company’s climate change practices and urged Bezos to invest more money into fighting this cause rather than putting it toward his space exploration company, Blue Origin, for example.
“Amazon, the Earth is our only home. Spend more money on fighting Climate Change than on space exploration!” one Amazon employee wrote in the Medium post, which was reported by Business Insider’s Isobel Hamilton.
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Nearly 40 cents out of every retail dollar Americans spend online now go to Amazon—the company commands a full 4% of U.S. retail as a whole. Three-quarters of a million workers earn a living through Amazon, and more than 100 million Prime subscribers consider Amazon their online home base. Although they’ve long enjoyed free two-day shipping, Prime members now also get a massive library of entertainment, e-books, grocery services, cloud storage, and gaming. The early investors who bought into the company when it first went public rode a wave of nearly unprecedented growth—those who made an initial investment of just $1,000 are now millionaires. Amazon is ranked among the five biggest corporations in America, and its founder is the richest human being on Earth. It’s responsible for starting a trend that cracked the foundations of traditional retail and changed the way things are bought and sold. Former giants like Sears and Toys “R” Us have crumbled under the pressure of e-commerce, a revolution that Amazon stoked more than any other single entity—but it wasn’t always that way. When Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in his garage in 1994, the company he launched wouldn’t be profitable for years to come. It was part of an avalanche of new tech startups riding a wave of new and uncertain technology—most of them would quickly go bust. It started with an idea to let people browse and buy books from their computers instead of going into physical bookstores and choosing from the limited selection they found inside. It was a revolutionary idea, and Amazon soon became the world’s biggest bookstore. Then it became the “Everything Store.” Later it became a wealth-generating machine, with tentacles reaching everywhere from electric vehicles and cloud computing to production studios and grocery stores. It’s heavily scrutinized and controversial—plans to open new headquarters recently sparked both ferocious bidding wars and fierce political blowback at the same time. Stacker compiled a list of key moments in Amazon’s history and its current business from a variety of sources. Here’s a look at the events that turned an online bookstore into a global conglomerate and a self-made entrepreneur into the world’s richest man.
From the dawn of e-commerce in 1994 to today, Amazon evolved from an online bookstore to a global corporate powerhouse.
Today New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered an executive order to end “unnecessary single-use plastic bottles.” The order prohibits city agencies from purchasing water or soda or other beverages in single-use plastic bottles and restricts the sale of plastic bottles on city property. This includes food vendors on city sidewalks, parks, and sports facilities.
New York City government previously cut plastic straws and cutlery from every city location, from schools to hospitals.
Communities all over the world are taking action to stop plastic pollution. Americans alone discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year; less than 8 percent of it gets recycled.
To learn more about the actions you can take, visit the Global Plastic Reduction Legislative Toolkit.
Target: Andrew R. Wheeler, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States
Goal: Stop allowing slaughterhouses to pollute waterways.
Every year, over 4,000 slaughterhouses dump loads of toxic waste into the water thanks to water pollution standards that have not been updated since the 1970s. Environmental and community groups are now collectively suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for allowing slaughterhouses to pollute the country’s waterways and oceans. Demand that the EPA take a stand against this toxic problem.
Not only is the EPA’s refusal to update these standards dangerous for the environment, it is illegal. The Clean Water Act requires yearly reviews of pollution standards, which the EPA has declined to do. Thanks to their lax policies, the waterways become clogged with blood, oil, grease, and fats. The pathogens in these substances create the algae blooms responsible for the disappearance of various sea life and many rivers and streams are becoming public health hazards.
The EPA cannot continue to let this happen. Sign this petition to demand they comply with the law and update their water standards for slaughterhouses.
Dear Administrator Wheeler,
Slaughterhouses are releasing all manner of animal products and their pathogens into America’s waterways, thanks to outdated water pollution standards. Legally, you are required to review and update the water pollution standards for all facilities, but you have not updated the ones for the 5,000 slaughterhouses across the country. This has led to environmental destruction and created a public health hazard.
The standards for slaughterhouses have not been updated since the 1970s, and the waterways have suffered greatly for it. Animal byproducts and their pathogens clog the waterways, resulting in algae blooms that choke sea life and make rivers and streams into public health hazards. You cannot continue to allow this. It is the EPA’s responsibility to keep all aspects of the environment safe and clean, and you must update the standards for slaughterhouses to comply with the law.
For six months now, the days have grown shorter and the nights have grown longer in the Northern Hemisphere — but that’s about to reverse itself.
Winter solstice, the shortest day of 2019, will be Saturday, December 21. Or it will be Sunday, December 22. Which day is it for you? It all depends on your time zone.
CNN meteorologists Dave Hennen, Judson Jones and Brandon Miller help us understand the science and timing behind the solstice. And then we’ll discover some traditions and celebrations around the world that could inspire a travel adventure.
The science and timing behind a winter solstice
The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun appears at its most southerly position, directly overhead at the faraway Tropic of Capricorn.
It’s the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere. There, it marks the longest day of the year — and the beginning of summer in places such as Argentina, Namibia and New Zealand.
When exactly does it occur?
The solstice usually takes place on December 21. The time that the solstice occurs and the day itself shifts because the solar year (the time it takes for the sun to reappear in the same spot as seen from Earth) doesn’t exactly match up to our calendar year.
If you want to be super-precise in your observations, the exact time of the 2019 winter solstice will be 4:19 Universal Time on Sunday. Here are some examples of when that will be for local times around the world:
— Tokyo: 1:19 p.m. Sunday
— Dubai: 8:19 a.m. Sunday
— Rome: 5:19 a.m. Sunday
— Dakar, Senegal: 4:19 a.m. (same as Universal Time)
— Philadelphia: 11:19 p.m. Saturday
— Seattle: 8:19 p.m. Saturday
— Honolulu: 6:15 p.m. Saturday
If you don’t live in one of these time zones above, the website EarthSky has a handy conversion table for your time zone. You might also try the conversion tools at Timezoneconverter.com or WorldTimeServer.com.
What causes the winter solstice to even happen?
Because the Earth is tilted on its rotational axis, we experience seasons here on Earth. As the Earth moves around the sun, each hemisphere experiences winter when it’s tilted away from the sun and summer when it’s tilted toward the sun.
Wait. Why is the Earth tilted?
Scientists are not entirely sure how this occurred, but they think that billions of years ago, as the solar system was taking shape, the Earth was subject to violent collisions that caused the axis to tilt.
What other seasonal transitions do we mark?
The equinoxes, both spring and fall, occur when the sun’s rays are directly over the equator. On those two days, everyone has an equal length of day and night. The summer solstice is when the sun’s rays are farthest north over the Tropic of Cancer, giving us our longest day and summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
Winter solstice traditions and celebrations
It’s no surprise many cultures and religions celebrate a holiday — whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or pagan festivals — that coincides with the return of longer days.
Ancient peoples whose survival depended on a precise knowledge of seasonal cycles marked this first day of winter with elaborate ceremonies and celebrations. Spiritually, these celebrations symbolize the opportunity for renewal, a shedding of bad habits and negative feelings and an embracing of hope amid darkness as the days once again begin to grow longer.
Many of the ancient symbols and ceremonies of the winter solstice live on today.
Here are five extraordinary destinations where you can experience something magical during winter’s relentlessly long night:
UNITED KINGDOM: Cornwall and Stonehenge
Better known for pirates than the solstice, the town of Penzance on the southwest coast of England has revived a delightful array of Cornish solstice events leading up to winter solstice. The Montol Festival is a fun mix of pagan customs and more recent Christmas traditions that were once common throughout Cornwall.
Early in the week, join in caroling and other events. On the solstice, referred to here as Montol Eve, get your dancing card ready for the Guise, a community dance in which people dress in masks and other “topsy-turvy” disguises based on a 19th-century tradition of the rich dressing in rags while poorer citizens effected a “mock posh” look.
You can also don your finery for torchlit processions. The merrymaking only continues when the revelers disperse to pubs around town.
With some planning, it’s also possible to incorporate a trip to Stonehenge, the UK’s most famous site for solstice celebrations. On the winter solstice, visitors have the rare opportunity to enter the towering, mysterious stone circle for a sunrise ceremony run by local pagan and druid groups.
The trip from Penzance to Stonehenge takes less than four hours by car, making it entirely feasible to spend the night in Salisbury, the nearest town to Stonehenge, and rise before dawn for the ceremony among the stones.
SWEDEN: Santa Lucia, yule and aurora borealis
Sweden is rich with solstice traditions. Elements of the yule, Northern Europe’s ancient winter solstice celebration, are also incorporated into modern festivities, including gathering around bonfires, feasting, drinking and telling stories.
A great place to experience all of these traditions is at Skansen, an open-air, living history museum that represents life in Sweden before the Industrial Revolution and features characters dressed in period costumes.
You can marvel at this seasonal interplay of light and darkness by heading for the Arctic Circle to see aurora borealis, the Northern Lights, in the Swedish Lapland. The Aurora Sky Station in Abisko National Park is an ideal place to catch the show.
Another good spot is the tiny village of Jukkasjärvi, where you can stay at the Icehotel, which provides local guides to help you spot the lights. Bundle up and take a dog sled or snowmobile tour, then hibernate in front of a roaring fire with a steaming cup of glögg.
In Mexico, consider visiting Chichen Itza, the spectacular ancient city of temples, columns and pyramids that was once a great center of science and astronomy. The Temple of Kukulkan, with its 365 steps (one for every day of the year), is just one stunning example of the impressive engineering and astronomical feats of the Maya. No wonder this is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Chichen Itza is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Cancun. If you’re planning to take a guided tour, choose tour operators who work with local Maya communities and use expert guides.
Private tours are another option. Although pricier, they can offer a more comprehensive experience and are often led by experts. Sacred Earth Journeys is one recommended company that offers private tours to the site.
INDIA: Makar Sankranti and kite festivals
Unlike people in other places in the Northern Hemisphere that mark the solstice in December, Hindus in India celebrate Makar Sankranti, one of the most important festivals of the year, in January. In 2020, that will fall on Wednesday, January 15, in most places in India (Gujarat state will celebrate a day earlier).
Fundamentally, it is a celebration of the sun’s journey toward the Northern Hemisphere, bringing longer days and the end of winter, which will make possible a good harvest. But Makar Sankranti is also associated with many other themes, including strong family relationships and a renewed opportunity to rid oneself of negativity and embrace a better way of living.
Different regions have various names for the festival and celebrate in a diversity of ways, usually involving bonfire pyres, feasting, singing and prayer. It’s a day when pilgrims make their way to the holy river Ganges for a spiritual cleansing.
Another popular event associated with Makar Sankranti are kite festivals, now held in cities across India.
Jaipur, Mumbai and Ahmedabad host some of the most well-known kite festivals. Kite-makers sell their wares in public markets in the days leading up to the festival, and soon the sky is filled with colorful, elaborate kites flown from balconies, stadiums, parks and beaches.
CANADA: Lantern festival in Vancouver
Vancouver’s Winter Solstice Lantern Festival is a sparkling celebration of solstice traditions from around the world. The Secret Lantern Society assembles a wide array of music, dance, food and spectacular lantern-lit processions.
Staging areas for the main events include the neighborhoods of Granville Island, Yaletown and Strathcona.
Here’s one of the best parts: Before the solstice, neighborhoods throughout Vancouver host lantern-making workshops.
For a relatively small price, you can construct and decorate your own lantern to participate in one of several processions throughout the city that lead to the indoor venues for music, dance and art making.
(TMU) — We all know that consumerism is a force that’s destructive to the environment, but too frequently the blame is placed on cultural factors — for example, our personal habits as consumers.
However, the enormous burden placed on the environment is primarily due to the actions of the large corporations that manufacture and sell consumer goods like clothing.
The waste generated by the fashion industry is no secret. Even clothing industry magnate and designer Eileen Fisher famously admitted that “the clothing industry is the second-largest polluter in the world … second only to oil.”
The Morganza Spillway is seen with a few bays open on Sunday morning May 15, 2011 in Batchelor, La. The Army Corps of Engineers could open the spillway again — for the third time in its history — on June 2 because of rising water on the Mississippi River.
By Mark Schleifstein, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
Heavy rains expected in the Midwest portion of the Mississippi River Valley during the next week have prompted Army Corps of Engineers officials to warn interests within the Morganza Floodway portion of the Atchafalaya River Basin that the Morganza Spillway structure could be opened as soon as June 2.
More than 5 inches of rain is expected to fall across parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa over the next seven days, according to the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.
The river will crest at 62 feet on June 6 at Red River Landing, only a foot and a half below that location’s all-time high crest, according to Wednesday’s forecast by the weather service’s Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center, based in Slidell.
Red River Landing is only about 16 miles above the Morganza Spillway.
Forecast rainfall in the Midwest could total more than 5 inches during the next seven days, according to the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.
Forecast rainfall in the Midwest could total more than 5 inches during the next seven days, according to the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.
Red River Landing is one of several locations along the river where records have been set or about to be set for the number of days above flood stage. At Red River, the record is 152 days, set in 1927, the year of the great Mississippi River Flood. On Wednesday, the location had seen 146 days above flood stage this year.
This chart shows how many days various locations have seen river heights above official flood stages, and how that compares to record flood stage years.
This chart shows how many days various locations have seen river heights above official flood stages, and how that compares to record flood stage years.
The forecast also calls for the river to remain at 16.7 feet at the Carrollton Gage in New Orleans through June 19, well into the beginning of the 2019 hurricane season. Water heights aren’t predicted to rise in New Orleans because the corps already has opened a number of bays in the Bonnet Carre Spillway, which funnels part of the river’s water into Lake Pontchartrain.
But it’s the rising river at the Morganza location that has the corps worried, said spokesman Ricky Boyett on Wednesday evening.
“We have not made a decision on operation (of the spillway) but we did send a notice this evening to stakeholders that have a role in Morganza,” Boyett said in an email response to questions about the rising river.
“Based on the current forecast – specifically projected rain in the valley over the next several days – we could encounter the potential of overtopping the Morganza Control Structure,” he said, adding that the spillway structure – which contains 125 gates that are opened and closed by two cranes rolling on special tracks atop the structure – “cannot be safely operated if overtopped.”
“There are a couple of factors regarding safety that we must consider, but primarily it is unsafe for our personnel. Additionally, the structure is designed to hold back water, but was not designed to be operated while overtopped,” he said.
Boyett said the corps believes the overtopping might occur even before the river reaches a flow speed of 1.5 million cubic feet along the structure, which is the usual trigger for opening gates. “Based on today’s data, that could occur as soon as 5 June.”
But Boyett said the corps could move more quickly to open the structure because it agreed to a “slow opening” strategy to help with evacuating wildlife from the broad floodway leading from the spillway into the Atchafalaya River basin, after the spillway’s opening during a 2011 high river threatened a variety of wildlife species, including protected Louisiana black bears.
The slow opening also expected to reduce scouring in the tail bay area, where the water is released into the floodway, which also occurred in 2011.
The forebay – mostly farmland on the river or batture side of the structure – has been flooded for months during this year’s unusually long high-water season.
Boyett stressed that the decision to open Morganza still will depend on the actual rainfall that occurs over the next few days in the Mississippi floodplain upriver.
Meanwhile, the corps, local river forecast center hydrologists, and the National Hurricane Center’s storm surge prediction team have been conducting a series of drills to assure they can all predict the consequences of storm surge from an early tropical storm or hurricane attempting to push up what will be a near-full river bed through June, and now possibly well into July.
Barges and tugs lines the west bank levee of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Pairsh on Sept. 10, 2005, left there by storm surge that moved up the river during the storm.
Barges and tugs lines the west bank levee of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Pairsh on Sept. 10, 2005, left there by storm surge that moved up the river during the storm.
During both Hurricane Isaac in 2012 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, surge pushed well upriver, swelling the river significantly. But in both cases, the river was at 3 feet or less when the surge moved upriver.
Hurricane Isaac, which became a Category 1 storm with top winds of 80 mph before making landfall at Southwest Pass on Aug. 28, caused the Mississippi to rise to 9.5 feet in New Orleans, from a height of only 3 feet on Aug. 26.
Hurricane Katrina, which was a Category 3 storm with top winds of 125 mph when it made landfall at Buras on Aug. 29, 2005, caused the river to swell to at least 15.24 feet that day before the gage stopped measuring water heights. Several barges ended up beached near the top of the river levee in Algiers, which was then about 17 feet above sea level. On Aug. 27, the river height was only about 3 feet.
“An elevated river is obviously a concern,” said Jamie Rhome, the National Hurricane Center’s lead surge forecaster, during a May 17 interview. “In this case, projections have the river keeping up during the first few weeks of the hurricane season and we have that factored into operational readiness along the coast.”
The testing has included making sure the surge modeling systems used by the center are operating properly, and how they would handle early storms forming in the Gulf, which will have different characteristics from storms occurring later in the hurricane season.
Using the modeling results and applying information about how the river will react to incoming surge – how the weight and speed of the river’s fresh water moving south will in part lessen the effect of the surge moving north – officials have been running case studies aimed at developing strategies for forecasting surge effects on the river, and the kinds of warnings that might have to be given to both emergency managers who have to plan for evacuations, and to the public, Rhome said.
“We look at the output collectively as a team,” he said. “How to interpret the results, what to do, what decisions are made.
“We have several warning tools in our toolbox, and we have to determine which one is most appropriate to clearly address the risk,” he said.
“Thankfully, we have one of the most advanced and interactive river forecast centers in Louisiana,” which has provided key information about how the high river’s water flow will affect surge heights in the New Orleans area and farther upstream, he said.
Mark Schleifstein covers the environment and is a leader of the Louisiana Coastal Reporting Team for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. Email: email@example.com. Facebook: Mark Schleifstein and Louisiana Coastal Watch. Twitter: MSchleifstein.
This story was originally published by Wired and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Earth’s climate is full of terrifying feedback loops: Decreased rainfall raises the risk of wildfires, which release yet more carbon dioxide. A warming Arctic could trigger the release of long-frozen methane, which would heat the planet even faster than carbon. A lesser-known climate feedback loop, though, is likely mere feet from where you’re sitting: the air conditioner. Use of the energy-intensive appliance causes emissions that contribute to higher global temperatures, which means we’re all using AC more, producing more emissions and more warming.
But what if we could weaponize air conditioning units to help pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere instead? According to a new paper in Nature, it’s feasible. Using technology currently in development, AC units in skyscrapers and even your home could get turned into machines that not only capture CO2, but transform the stuff into a fuel for powering vehicles that are difficult to electrify, like cargo ships. The concept, called crowd oil, is still theoretical and faces many challenges. But in these desperate times, crowd oil might have a place in the fight to curb climate change.
The problem with air conditioners isn’t just that they suck up lots of energy but that they also emit heat. “When you run an air conditioning system, you don’t get anything for nothing,” says materials chemist Geoffrey Ozin of the University of Toronto, coauthor on the new paper. “If you cool something, you heat something, and that heat goes into the cities.” Their use exacerbates the heat island effect of cities — lots of concrete soaks up lots of heat, which a city releases well after the sun sets.
To retrofit an air conditioner to capture CO2 and turn it into fuel, you’d need a rather extensive overhaul of the components. Meaning, you wouldn’t just be able to ship a universal device for folks to bolt onto their units. First of all, you’d need to incorporate a filter that would absorb CO2 and water from the air. You’d also need to include an electrolyzer to strip the oxygen molecule from H2O to get H2, which you’d then combine with CO2 to get hydrocarbon fuels. “Everyone can have their own oil well, basically,” Ozin says.
The researchers’ analysis found that the Frankfurt Fair Tower in Germany (chosen by lead author Roland Dittmeyer of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, by the way, because of its landmark status in the city’s skyline), with a total volume of about 200,000 cubic meters, could capture 1.5 metric tons of CO2 per hour and produce up to 4,000 metric tons of fuel a year. By comparison, the first commercial “direct air capture” plant, built by Climeworks in Switzerland, captures 900 metric tons of CO2 per year, about 10 times less, Dittmeyer says. An apartment building with five or six units could capture 0.5 kg of CO2 an hour with this proposed system.
Theoretically, anywhere you have an air conditioner, you have a way to make synthetic fuel. “The important point is that you can convert the CO2 into a liquid product onsite, and there are pilot-scale plants that can do that,” says Dittmeyer, who is working on one with colleagues that is able to produce 10 liters (2.6 gallons) a day. They hope to multiply that output by a factor of 20 in the next two years.
For this process to be carbon neutral, though, all those souped-up air conditioners would need to be powered with renewables, because burning the synthetic fuel would also produce emissions. To address that problem, Dittmeyer proposes turning whole buildings into solar panels — placing them not just on rooftops but potentially coating facades and windows with ultrathin, largely transparent panels. “It’s like a tree — the skyscraper or house you live in produces a chemical reaction,” Dittmeyer says. “It’s like the glucose that a tree is producing.” That kind of building transformation won’t happen overnight, of course, a reminder that installing carbon scrubbers is only ever one piece of the solution.
Scaling up the technology to many buildings and cities poses yet more challenges. Among them, how to store and then collect all that accumulated fuel. The idea is for trucks to gather and transport the stuff to a facility, or in some cases when the output is greater, pipelines would be built. That means both retrofitting a whole lot of AC units (the cost of which isn’t yet clear, since the technology isn’t finalized yet), and building out an infrastructure to ferry that fuel around for use in industry.
“Carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels from electricity can help solve two of our biggest energy challenges: managing intermittent renewables and decarbonizing the hard-to-electrify parts of transportation and industry,” says David Keith, acting chief scientist of Carbon Engineering, which is developing much larger stand-alone devices for sucking CO2 out of the air and storing it, known as carbon capture and storage, or CCS. “While I may be biased by my work with Carbon Engineering, I am deeply skeptical about a distributed solution. Economies of scale can’t be wished away. There’s a reason we have huge wind turbines, a reason we don’t feed yard waste into all-in-one nano-scale pulp-and-paper mills.”
Any carbon capture technology also faces the sticky problem of the moral hazard. The concern is that negative emissions technologies, like what Carbon Engineering is working on, and neutral emissions approaches, like this new framework, distract from the most critical objective for fighting climate change: reducing emissions, and fast. Some would argue that all money and time must go toward developing technologies that will allow any industry or vehicle to become carbon neutral or even carbon negative.
This new framework isn’t meant to be a cure-all for climate change. After all, for it to be truly carbon neutral it’d need to run entirely on renewable energy. To that end, it would presumably encourage the development of those energy technologies. (The building-swaddling photovoltaics that Dittmeyer envisions are just becoming commercially available.) “I don’t think it would be ethically wrong to pursue this,” says environmental social scientist Selma L’Orange Seigo of ETH Zurich, who wasn’t involved in this research but has studied public perception of CCS. “It would be ethically wrong to only pursue this.”
One potential charm of this AC carbon-capture scenario, though, is that it attempts to address a common problem faced by CCS systems, which is that someone has to pay for it. That is, a business that captures and locks away its CO2 has nothing to sell. AC units that turn CO2 into fuel, though, would theoretically come with a revenue stream. “There’s definitely a market,” Seigo says. “That’s one of the big issues with CCS.”
Meanwhile, people will continue running their energy-hungry air conditioners. For sensitive populations like the elderly, access to AC during heat waves is a life or death matter: Consider that the crippling heat wave that struck Europe in August 2003 killed 35,000 people, and these sorts of events are growing more frequent and intense as the planet warms as a whole. A desert nation like Saudi Arabia, by the way, devotes a stunning 70 percent of its energy to powering AC units; in the near future, a whole lot of other places on Earth are going to feel a lot more like Saudi Arabia.
So no, carbon-capturing AC units won’t save the world on their own. But they could act as a valuable intermittent renewable as researchers figure out how to get certain industries and vehicles to go green.
by: Mighty Earth
recipient: Bank of China and Sinohydro
The Tapanuli orangutan–the rarest primate in the world–is on the cusp of being obliterated by two Chinese state-owned entities. The Bank of China is funding and Sinohydro is building a dam that would permanently slice up the Tapanuli’s only habitat, and lead it to a near-certain fate of extinction.
The Tapanuli was first identified in 2017, a finding which drew headlines throughout the world. It marked the first time since 1929 that a new Great Ape species was discovered. The Tapanuli is one of just eight species of Great Ape worldwide (including humans).
With a population of just 800, the Tapanuli is already struggling to survive. It is facing dire threats from poaching, deforestation, and climate change. The Chinese-backed dam in the heart of their habitat would doubtless prove itself a death knell they can no longer overcome.
To save the Tapanuli, we must convince the Bank of China and Sinohydro to stop the Batang Toru dam. Following a widespread day of protest in 14 countries, Bank of China announced their intention to reevaluate the project. Given that the dam would permanently fragment the Tapanuli’s only habitat, any objective analysis would conclude that this orangutan has virtually no chance of survival if construction proceeds.
In all of written human history, no species of of Great Ape has ever been brought to extinction. This could soon no longer be the case.
Clearing for the dam has already begun. The next few weeks and months mark our best–and only–chance to save the Tapanuli before it’s too late.
Tell Bank of China and Sinohydro: Save the Tapanuli orangutan. Stop the Batang Toru dam.
Thousands of rare plant and animals species are in danger due to soybean deforestation. Sign the petition to demand that the government act to protect its tropical rainforests and the species that call them home.
Carey Brown started this petition to Draper City Mayor Troy Walker and 5 others
Mining and other gravel pits are a significant culprit in polluting local air quality. Local research and environmental organizations show Geneva Rock has knowingly distributed fugitive dust and crystalline silica into our air.
As stated by Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, “Fugitive dust is composed of harmful particulate matter and often heavy metals including uranium and arsenic. Crystalline silica present in this dust can cause chronic, irreversible lung disease and lead to lung cancer.” These substances are toxic to humans and a major cause of lung disease and other respiratory conditions, including asthma. These diseases are detrimental to all residents, and especially children, pregnant women, and the elderly.
By allowing Geneva Rock to expand, the city of Draper is prioritizing illegal business practices and greed over it’s residents health and well-being. Geneva Rock has not supplied an environmental impact report, and has repeatedly and knowingly broken the law. See http://uphe.org/priority-issues/reducing-dust/
Similarly, Geneva Rock’s expansion is a potential danger to homes and safety in Draper. The close proximity of explosive charges, large construction machinery, and natural human error has the potential to dismantle the integrity of the Point of the Mountain and the home and lives that live on it. Because the Point is a large sand bar, by continuing to dig and disrupt its foundation, Geneva Rock is putting the lives of Draper residents and their homes at risk.
Geneva Rock’s plan discourages the economic growth and development the state of Utah is proposing with Silicon Slopes. Credible companies will not move to Utah with our unhealthy environment. Additionally, tourists and outdoor enthusiasts flock to the Point annually. In order to retain and attract these groups, the city needs to vote no to the Geneva Rock expansion. We need to protect are best, natural asset for social growth and integrity.
We stand united with the residents of Draper and oppose Geneva Rock’s proposal to rezone their mining operations into the Point of the Mountain.
Microplastics and Harmful Chemicals Discovered in Antarctic Ice … and Even Freshly Fallen Snow
New research conducted by Greenpeace during its expedition to the Antarctic found plastics and dangerous chemicals in the most remote and seemingly pristine areas of the continent. Scientific analysis of water and snow samples revealed that the Antarctic is contaminated with microplastics, microscopic materials that no place on Earth seems to be free from anymore.
The majority of samples tested as part of the study contained plastic or persistent and potentially dangerous chemicals. Researchers found that seven of the eight tested seawater samples contained microplastics, with at least one microplastic fiber per liter. Additionally, microplastics were detected in two of the nine samples that had been taken using a manta trawl.
When it comes to chemicals, researchers reported that detectable concentrations of polyfluorinated alkylated substances, PFASs, were found in freshly fallen snow for almost all of the sites where samples were taken. PFASs are chemicals widely used in industrial processes and consumer products. The substances have been linked to reproductive and developmental issues in wildlife, and they degrade very slowly in the environment. The fact that these were found in freshly fallen snow suggests that some hazardous chemicals are atmospheric, not from a local source.
“We may think of the Antarctic as a remote and pristine wilderness, but from pollution and climate change to industrial krill fishing, humanity’s footprint is clear,” said Frida Bengtsson of Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign. “These results show that even the most remote habitats of the Antarctic are contaminated with microplastic waste and persistent hazardous chemicals.”
In 2017, scientists found ice floes in the middle of the Arctic Ocean to be contaminated with plastic – unwelcomed proof that virtually no place is now safe from human-generated plastic pollution. The findings in the Antarctic are unfortunately more proof of this reality. Due to limited existing data on the presence of microplastics in the continent’s waters, the new findings are a significant addition to the knowledge on plastic pollution in the environment.
Microplastics accumulate in the environment and make their way up the food chain with ease. Mistaken for food or ingested accidentally, tiny pieces of plastic add up in animals’ stomachs and can cause health problems and even death. As humans, we are not safe from microplastics either – they have already been found not only to get into people’s diets through seafood but to also contaminate most of the world’s tap water and bottled water.
You can find the full “Microplastics and Persistent Fluorinated Chemicals in the Antarctic” report here.
Every year, we produce around 300 million tons of plastic, so it is up to all of us to put an end to this environmental scourge. To find out how you can help fight plastic pollution by ditching disposable plastics, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!
A new, comprehensive analysis came to a regrettable conclusion for all you cheeseburger lovers out there: The earth has a beef with your meat and dairy consumption.
A vegan diet is “probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth,” the University of Oxford’s Joseph Poore, the lead researcher, told the Guardian. He says that giving up meat and dairy makes a “far bigger” difference than cutting down on flying or getting an electric vehicle.
The researchers found that meat and dairy production is responsible for 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. The study, published in the journal Science, represents the most comprehensive analysis of farming’s environmental impact to date. It assessed the production of 40 different foods (representing 90 percent of all that we eat) at 40,000 farms across the world, analyzing their impact on land use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and air and water pollution.
If we gave up meat and dairy, we could reduce farmland by more than 75 percent worldwide and have enough food for everyone to eat, the analysis shows.
The results support what the science had already been telling us, even though the researchers took a new approach of gathering data farm by farm. Previous work had used national data to quantify farming’s impact. “It is very reassuring to see they yield essentially the same results,” Gidon Eshel, a Bard College food researcher who wasn’t involved in the Science analysis, told the Guardian.
While this is a confirmation of what we’ve been hearing for years, we also know that getting the entire world to switch to veganism is a hard sell. And in fact, after a few years of decline, meat eating is on the rise again: Americans are predicted to eat a record-shattering amount of red meat and poultry this year. It’s never too late to join the reducetarian movement, meat lovers.
It might seem unbelievable, but one of Australia’s most iconic animals is now under threat of disappearing.
In fact, if things don’t change, researchers say that the marsupial could go extinct within our lifetime. This previously unthinkable headline is mainly because the state governments have been far to lenient when it comes to clear-cutting in the koala’s last remaining ranges.
The numbers tell a horrifying story. In Queensland for example, between 2012 and 2016, 5,000 koalas lost their lives due to habitat loss. Ninety-four percent of them died due to deforestation in the states rural areal.
And while koalas are dying everywhere in Queensland, losing ground to big box stores and skyscrapers as the threat of new developments constantly loom, the rampant destruction of the koala’s habitat outside of the urban centers is by far their biggest threat.
Under Queensland’s previous premier, laws that strictly regulated tree-clearing were rolled back. Now, the new premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk is considering introducing new measures that will help put an end to endless toppling of the koala’s forests.
It couldn’t come at a more crucial time.
Speak up and tell the Palaszczuk government that they have a duty to protect the last remaining Queensland koala populations. Sign and ask them to pass to new tree-clearing restrictions today.
Our Plastic Habit Is so Bad a Man Found a Fish Trapped in an Embedded Powerade Wrapper
October 31, 2017
In Alberta, Canada, a man recently made a discovery that shows just how directly our plastic waste affects wildlife. While fishing in the Saskatchewan River, Adam Turnbull came across a fish like no other he had ever seen – one that had grown with a plastic ring now embedded into its body. The piece of plastic turned out to be a Powerade wrapper. The sad series of images that Turnbull posted on Facebook is another reminder that our plastic waste never just “goes away.”
Turnbull started his post with a simple call: “Pickupyourgarbage.”
“This is a Powerade wrapper which takes up no room in your pocket until you get to a garbage can,” he wrote.
Turnbull told UNILAD that, when he first saw the fish, he thought that it had been attacked and wounded by another fish. When he picked it out of the water, however, he noticed the wrapper – then grabbed a pair of scissors and carefully removed it.
In just a few days, his post has been shared more than 12,000 times.
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard