Posted on March 2, 2018 by GJEP staff
PORTLAND, Ore.— Within the next two years, more than 60 million acres of monarch habitat will be sprayed with a pesticide that’s extremely harmful to milkweed, the only food for monarch caterpillars, according to a new analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity.
Monarch populations have already fallen by 80 percent in the past two decades due to escalating pesticide use and other human activities. Now the Center’s report A Menace to Monarchs shows that the butterfly faces a dangerous new threat from accelerating use of the notoriously drift-prone and highly toxic weed killer dicamba across an area larger than the state of Minnesota.
“America’s monarchs are already in serious trouble, and this will push them into absolute crisis,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center. “It’s appalling that the EPA approved this spraying without bothering to consider the permanent damage it will do to these butterflies and their migration routes.”
Today’s report found that by 2019, use of dicamba will increase by nearly 100-fold on cotton and soybean fields within the monarch’s migratory habitat across the heart of the United States.
Other key findings include:
Accelerating harm: In addition to 61 million acres of monarch habitat being directly sprayed with dicamba, an additional 9 million acres could be harmed by drift of the pesticide.
Deadly timing: The timing and geographical distribution of dicamba use coincides precisely with the presence of monarch eggs and larva on milkweed.
Double trouble: Dicamba degrades monarch habitat both by harming flowering of plants that provide nectar for adults as they travel south for the winter and by harming milkweed that provides an essential resource for reproduction.
Greater menace to milkweed: Research has shown that just 1 percent of the minimum dicamba application rate is sufficient to reduce the size of milkweed by 50 percent, indicating it may have a greater impact on milkweed growth than the already widely used pesticide glyphosate.
The Environmental Protection Agency in 2016 approved new dicamba products for use on genetically engineered cotton and soybeans. In 2017 there were reports of at least 3.6 million acres of off-target, dicamba-induced damage to agricultural crops and an unknown amount of damage to native plants and habitats, including forests. The EPA has refused to take necessary action to address the harms caused by the chemical.
“There’s no question that use of dicamba across tens of millions of acres will deepen risks to our dangerously imperiled monarch populations,” said Donley. “When dicamba’s use on GE cotton and soybeans comes up for reapproval later this year, the only responsible thing for the EPA to do is allow that approval to expire.”
For this analysis the Center examined monarch habitat and projected usage rates for dicamba, with a particular emphasis on examining the effects of increased use of dicamba in the coming years, which is expected to reach about 57 million pounds annually.
The decline in monarchs in recent decades has coincided with the surge in use of glyphosate, which is sprayed on crops genetically altered to survive being sprayed by the pesticide. Around 300 million pounds of glyphosate are sprayed in fields each year in the United States. The massive overuse of glyphosate triggered the large-scale decline of milkweed and the proliferation of glyphosate-resistant weeds across millions of acres. In response to the proliferation of resistant weeds, farmers have turned to dicamba — compounding the danger to monarchs and their habitat.
Via Center for Biological Diversity
Category: Climate Justice, Featured, Social Media News Tags: Butterfly, Center for Biological Diversity, monarch, Monarch Butterfly, neonic
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Marine ecosystems could be devastated by a new industry called “deep sea mining.” The plan is to use oil and gas technology to conduct heavy mining operations on the seafloor. This will destroy marine life and the environment, and must be stopped.
The habitat of 500 chimpanzees in Uganda’s Bugoma Forest Reserve is in danger. Conservationists and local residents are fighting to stop a company, that has begun clearing trees in the protected area for a sugar plantation. Please call Ugandan government to keep precious land out of the hands of such dubious investors.
It happens to lie on the flower Creek Watershed, that feeds directly into Lake Michigan. Due to the location of our community our water sources are extremely sensitive to pollution such as Farm sewage runoff, antibiotic-resistant bacteria,high nitrate levels, increased ammonia levels etc; all which have been tracked back to CAFO’s. The shear increase of waste being introduced into our community by 8,000 pigs total annually, is what will have the most impact. Each pig averages 3 gallons of manure a day for a total of over 1 million gallons of manure per year.
Source: Seeking Shelter from the Storm
Jul. 28, 2017 08:58AM EST
Beef cattle awaiting slaughter in a corral. Fabio Nascimento
Study Links Most Amazon Deforestation to 128 Slaughterhouses
By Eduardo Pegurier, Translated by Bruno Moraes
Satellites are mechanical reporters of the Amazon deforestation process. By documenting the degradation and gaps created by the clear-cutting process over the years, they deliver the verdict: Two-thirds of the Amazon’s deforested area has been turned into pastures.
From the ground, the cattle count reveals that the Amazon is home to more cattle than people. By 2016, the region’s cattle numbers amounted to 85 million head, compared to a human population of 25 million—more than three cows per person. In the city of São Félix do Xingu, which contains the largest herd in Brazil, this proportion reaches 18 cows to 1 person.
The Brazilian Amazon covers 61 percent of the nation’s territory and harbors 40 percent of the national herd. Cattle are kept on about 400,000 farms and ranches there, ranging in size from a few to tens of thousands of hectares.
So it was that when the NGO Imazon finished a new and detailed survey on the region’s slaughterhouses, they received a major surprise: finding that a small number, just 128 active slaughterhouses belonging to 99 companies, are responsible for 93 percent of the annual slaughter—close to 12 million head.
The fact that slaughterhouses represent a bottleneck in the livestock breeding chain was already known. But Imazon’s survey breaks new ground because it clearly reveals the geography of livestock production in the Brazilian Amazon, documenting the area of influence—the amount of pasture required to fulfill the supply demands of each of the 128 slaughterhouses.
To put things in perspective, fulfilling the annual processing capacity of a single large meat processing plant requires almost 600 thousand hectares (2,317 square miles) of pasture, an area more than seven times larger than New York City. The set of slaughterhouses analyzed in the study, operating at full capacity, would require a pasture area of 68 million hectares (262,559 square miles, or roughly the size of Texas). Importantly, this amount exceeds the total pasture area available in the region today, indicating that in the near future cattle ranching will generate more Amazon deforestation.
Imazon’s study results reinforce the correctness of the satellite record, documenting an ongoing Amazon deforestation process linked to the cattle industry.
With this reality in mind, the Federal Public Ministry (MPF), the independent federal prosecutor’s office, has pressured the region’s slaughterhouses to sign the so-called Beef Agreement since 2009, starting in the state of Pará. This contract, made between the MPF and each signing slaughterhouse, commits the firms to inspections of the pasture land where acquired animals originated, in order to ban cattle pasture expansions resulting in deforestation.
Paulo Barreto, the Imazon study lead researcher, explains the practicality of the processing plant contracts: “It was like having two options to address this issue: gathering managers for each of these 100 slaughterhouse firms in a conference room or, alternatively, filling five huge soccer stadiums with all the farmers involved in cattle ranching.”
Fulfilling the annual processing capacity of a single large meat processing plant in the Amazon requires almost 600 thousand hectares (2,317 square miles) of pasture, an area more than seven times larger than New York City. The need for so much pasture has resulted in significant deforestation.
The analysis detailing the influence of so few slaughterhouses on almost the entire Amazon cattle industry involved detective work and geo-processing technology.
The first step was to obtain the addresses of every large meatpacking plant and certify them by using high-definition satellite images to look for typical facilities, such as corrals and wastewater treatment systems. From there, researchers wanted to answer two questions: What was the potential cattle supply range for each slaughterhouse? And, how do these potential pasture supply zones relate to already deforested areas and to those that are at higher risk of deforestation in the near future?
The researchers determined the maximum distance between each slaughterhouse and its suppliers by interviewing local managers by phone, then crossing data. There were extreme cases at both ends of the spectrum, including one plant in the state of Acre which did not buy cattle raised any farther away than 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from their door. On the other extreme, a slaughterhouse in the state of Amazonas acquired animals from more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) away to compensate for a local livestock shortage during the dry season.
The study dealt with two slaughterhouse categories: those with a state license, which allows them to sell meat within their states; and those with a federal license, allowing the firms to sell country-wide and for export. On average, meatpacking plants with state licenses have the capacity to slaughter 180 animals per day, and buy from farms that can be up to 153 kilometers (95 miles) away. Plants with national licenses can slaughter 700 animals per day, brought from up to 360 kilometers (223 miles) away.
The next step in the analysis process, based on the maximum pasture to meat processing plant distances, was to establish the potential area that supplied each slaughterhouse—a goal accomplished with geospatial technology.
Satellite image of the JBS slaughterhouse in Santana do Araguaia, in the state of Pará, Brazil.
“Imazon has an extensive database of formal and informal roads in the Amazon, which has been updated since 2008,” said Amintas Brandão Jr., a study co-author. “We ran a spatial analysis in which you insert the coordinates of the slaughterhouse in the software and its maximum buying distance, say 100 kilometers. Then the software automatically goes through all the roads and navigable rivers accessible to that slaughterhouse up to those 100 kilometers distant. Thus, we have been able to delineate a potential supply zone.” According to Brandão, this was the study’s novelty: it establishes each slaughterhouse’s area of influence using the infrastructure network—the systems of roads and navigable rivers through which cattle can be transported.
Importantly, the total pasture zone of influence corresponding to all 128 analyzed slaughterhouses covers almost the entirety of areas embargoed due to deforestation by Ibama, the federal agency that polices environmental offenses. It also matches 88 percent of all deforestation that occurred in the Amazon between 2010 and 2015.
Also importantly, the study generated a forecast of the most likely future deforested areas in the Brazilian Amazon.
Again, the researchers utilized geospatial analysis software. They divided the entire region into a grid of 1 kilometer-wide squares. The probability of future deforestation was estimated for each square based on the presence of factors that stimulate forest destruction, such as available roads or rivers for transportation, distance to markets and land production potential. Using this data, they created a map of deforestation probability for the entire Brazilian Amazon. Then the researchers used the deforested area for the three previous years—1.7 million hectares (17,000 square kilometers; 6,564 square miles)—as an estimate of total forest loss that can happen in the three year period between 2016 to 2018. Based on this probability map, they determined the areas under higher risk of new deforestation. The last step was to overlap these projections and the slaughterhouses’ zones of potential supply. The match between the two was 90 percent.
In other words, if the current deforestation rates are repeated between 2016 and 2018, 90 percent of new forest loss will occur within the estimated cattle supply zone of 128 slaughterhouses.
If the Amazon’s current deforestation rate is repeated between 2016 and 2018, then 90 percent of new forest loss will occur within the estimated cattle supply zone of the 128 slaughterhouses.
Consequences and Solutions
“From the surveillance point of view, this work can help control deforestation by showing where its hot spots are,” said Brandão.
According to Barreto, “it is impressive how small is the number of slaughterhouse firms that sit at the end of a [cattle supply] chain that involves almost 400,000 ranchers.” For him, this confirms that the best way to reduce forest loss due to livestock is to involve the slaughterhouses in the deforestation surveillance, as the MPF agreements require.
But Barreto also points out problems with this approach: 30 percent of the slaughters are done by meat processing firms that have not signed the Beef Agreement. That means that these firms do not inspect the place of origin of their cattle. Worse, these slaughterhouses are located in the same area of activity as those who have signed the agreement, thus becoming alternatives for the sale of cattle raised in illegally opened pastures.
Imazon’s study created a detailed picture of the influence that slaughterhouses can have on deforestation. “We already have a map, and the technologies are available to trace cattle from the ranches where they are bred all the way to intermediate fattening ranches, and to the slaughter sites,” said Barreto. “Now, we need consistent legal pressure and punishment for breeders and meatpackers who condone environmental crimes.”
The new study forecasts that serious Amazon deforestation will likely continue to occur unless effective enforcement policies are adopted to monitor and control the pasture usage of the region’s slaughterhouses.
This sort of pressure, he said, came from the market itself in the case of foot-and-mouth disease, when the cattle industry realized that it would lose global markets if an effective vaccination program wasn’t implemented. The pinch from the market led farmers to organize themselves and to partner with the government to effectively control foot-and-mouth disease, which was quite a feat.
Likewise, if the government and slaughterhouses have the will, he says, then they can work together to end ranching activities that bring down forests. For Barreto, a good starting point for reducing deforestation would be the creation of a new round of beef sector law enforcement pressure administered by the MPF and Ibama. Such a move would be a huge step toward achieving zero deforestation in the Amazon.
This article was originally published in Portuguese by ((o))eco and can be found at their site or it can be viewed at Mongabay.com which edited this version of the story for English speakers.
The Standing Rock protests, which lasted for nearly a year, have come to an end. For months, members of the Sioux Tribe, along with protestors from around the country, held firm in a small encampment off the banks of the Missouri River, where they had gathered to protest the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). At its peak, 10,000 people had gathered at the site in a show of solidarity, backed by 200 Native American tribes. Just north of the Sioux reservation lay burial grounds sacred to the tribe, which occupies land they claim was illegally sequestered in an 1886 treaty.
Driven by concerns that the pipeline might burst and contaminate local waters downstream, adjacent to the Standing Rock reservation, as well as pollute sacred sites to the North, the Sioux decried the pipeline’s construction, which had been undertaken without their consultation, technically illegal under U.S. law. Their numbers swelled throughout the summer, but as winter approached, conditions became dire. Despite a halt to the construction given by the Obama administration in September of 2016, the situation remained tense. Private security pepper-sprayed and allowed dogs to attack protestors, and several waves of arrests were made by local authorities. Enforcements were sent in to bolster the ranks of police on site, equipped with riot gear, military grade vehicles, pepper spray, beanbag bullets, and stinger balls.
Then, on the night of November 20, as protestors attempted to remove two trucks forming a barricade on a bridge, police responded by deploying tear gas, a hail of rubber pellets, and unleashing a water cannon on protestors in temperatures that dropped to well below freezing. Infuriated by the violence, 2,000 U.S. veterans pledged to travel to Standing Rock in order to offer their support and to act as human shields to ensure the safety of Sioux Tribe members and other protestors. Then, two weeks after the night of violence, the Army Corp of Engineers officially denied the final easement to Dakota Access, LLC, which, if given, would have allowed for the final completion of the pipeline. This was the major victory that protestors had been fighting for. Their work done, people left the camp in droves until only a few remained. Within days of President Trump’s election, however, executive orders were given to revive both the DAPL and the previously stalled Keystone Pipeline, effectively overturning everything that had been accomplished.
Their numbers dwindled, the Sioux Council willingly passed a resolution to close down the protest camps, not only due to eminent flooding now that the winter snows were beginning to melt, but also due to the burden the large influx of people had on nearby reservation towns. But the final order of eviction came from the Army Corp of Engineers, who gave the remaining protestors until February 22 of 2017 to leave; ten people were later arrested for failure to do so, marking the end and ultimate defeat of the protests that had taken place there.
With the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone Pipeline now eminent, what do we potentially have to lose?
How Common Are Oil Spills?
The day after Trump signed executive orders to revive the Keystone Pipeline and expedite the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the very thing protestors had feared occurred in a small town in rural Iowa, where a pipeline carrying diesel fuel burst and began leaking onto farmland.
Though the pipe was only 12 inches in diameter, the contents of these pipes are under pressure, meaning that massive amounts of oil can spill out into the environment in a very short amount of time. This particular spill leaked upwards of 138,000 gallons of oil into the surrounding area. Nor was this an isolated event; the company that owns the pipeline, Magellan, has had several similar incidents in the last seven years alone.
In October of 2016, a Magellan pipeline transporting ammonia burst, killing one person and causing 23 households to be evacuated. In 2010, Magellan was required to pay $46,200 in reparations for a 5,000 gallon diesel spill that had leaked into a nearby stream, violating the Clean Water Act (a recent provision to the Clean Water Act is currently being attacked by the Trump administration). They were fined another $418,000 the same year for another oil spill in Oklahoma.
And that’s just one company. As of 2015, there are over 73,000 miles of crude oil pipeline in the United States. Since 2000, over 970,000 gallons of oil have leaked due to spills, 370,000 of which was unrecoverable by cleanup crews. Since 2010 alone, there has been a total of 4,269 pipeline incidents reported, 64 of which resulted in at least one fatality.
What Happens to the Oil That Remains in the Environment?
Crude oil spills are toxic to several types of living organisms, and while oils spills in marine and aquatic ecosystems cause the most damage, they can have severe deleterious effects on land as well. Contact with oil can negatively impact the degree to which mammals can insulate themselves, leading to hypothermia and death. Even a slight amount of oil on a bird’s feathers is enough to cause death as well. Several types of adverse effects can by caused by inhalation of fumes by animals, such as damage to the liver and lungs as well as the central nervous system. If an oil spill makes its way into a nearby body of water, such as a lake or river, it can cause massive die offs and pollute the drinking water of nearby residents.
Oil spills also pose a threat to endangered species, such as the whooping crane, whose wintering habitat was compromised in 2014 due to an oil spill in Galveston Bay. The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that 12 endangered species will be threatened by the Keystone Pipeline alone, including the American burying beetle, interior least terns, northern swift foxes, and pallid sturgeons.
With the Dakota Access Pipeline slated to be up and ready for operation by April 1, it’s likely that the NODAPL protests have come to an end. But what the Sioux Tribe and other protestors accomplished was no small feat; by standing up for the environment and the rights of Native people, a disparate group of protestors made their voice heard and got the federal government to halt the completion of the pipeline along its scheduled path.
Even though that decision has been overturned, it brought national awareness to the issue and a momentum that can be used to fight against future projects. As the new head of the EPA begins to dismantle existing regulations put in place to protect the environment, the most helpful thing everyone can do is raise their voice. Contact your representatives to voice your concerns and vote in state, local, and federal elections.
Lead image source:Mike Shooter/Shutterstock
Carrying our groceries in plastic bags, drinking water from plastic bottles, how often do we really stop and think about where those convenient things came from and – more importantly – where they go once we are done using them? Unfortunately, most of the plastics we use end up in the oceans where it is driving around 700 marine species toward extinction. Seeing as we produce around 300 million tons of this material every year, if we hope to help these animals, we need to cut plastic – and STAT.
Luckily, public awareness about the problem of plastic is now greater than ever and social media, especially, is doing wonders for our collective environmental consciousness. Or, to be specific, it is the people behind such social media accounts that make all the difference – like the creators of Plastic Menace.
Plastic Menace is an organization whose mission it to get people to learn the truth about plastic. In order to help relay their message to the masses, Plastic Menace has an Instagram account full of stunning graphics illustrating important, and often unknown, facts about the production, use, and waste management of plastic.
The graphics draw attention to the many dangers of using PET bottles – something that is often completely overshadowed by convenience. Polyethylene Terephthalate, abbreviated as PET, is the most common material utilized for containers and bottles.
PET plastic contains harmful chemicals that tend to migrate from the plastic itself into the container’s contents, like our juices and sodas. That makes plastic bottles not only harmful for the environment but also very directly dangerous to our health.
Using plastic is a matter of convenience – but is it worth it? Once you know about the dangers associated with plastic, you will probably be more likely to choose better right? The problem is this information is rarely given due attention.
Plastic never really disappears – after hundreds of years it gets broken down into smaller parts, but it does not biodegrade. That means that once we throw plastic away, it is going to stay there, polluting our planet, virtually forever.
Plastic Menace also highlights how dangerous this material is to marine life. Around 8.8 million tons of plastic gets thrown into the oceans every year. Consequently, around 700 marine species are in danger of becoming extinct because of the various risks of plastic waste, like entanglement and ingestion.
Plastic waste is one of the most serious issues we have to face today, but thanks to groups like Plastic Menace, the facts and solutions are becoming more well-known to the public. Since spreading awareness is a key to mobilizing change, we hope that those fascinating graphics will reach as many people as possible! To keep up with Plastic Menace on Instagram, click here.
If you’re ready to start removing plastic from your daily routine, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign for tips on how to do it!
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.
Enbridge, the company responsible for the biggest inland oil spill in the U.S. and part owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline, wants to double the capacity of tar sands coming to the US from Canada on its Alberta Clipper pipeline. Submit a public comment!
An oil pipeline has ruptured, spilling 600,000 gallons of toxic oil into the environment. This massive spill is destroying the ecosystem, which may never fully recover. Demand that the oil company responsible for the spill be held accountable.
When we start to look for it, we quickly find there is a literal sea of distressing environmental news flooding our phones and computers every day. Seeing this deluge of negativity, it’s easy to start to lose faith. But the winners of the Bow Seat’s 2016 Ocean Awareness Contest reminds us that we have the power and the creativity to change the course of our oceans’ fate. Bow Seat is an organization dedicated to, “inspire[ing] the next generation of ocean caretakers through education and engagement with the arts, science, and advocacy.” As a part of this mission, Bow Seat hosts The Ocean Awareness Contest. Every year, they ask middle schoolers and high schoolers across the world to submit a piece of artwork addressing ocean pollution and the challenges we face going forward. They say a picture is worth 1000 words, and these images speak volumes. Here are a few of some of the compelling pieces centered around ocean plastics from the 2016 winners.
This piece is titled, “Message in a Bottle” by Jessica Yang. It shows how the 40 billion plastic bottles we put in landfills every year make their way into our oceans and affect marine life.
We have a responsibility to future generations to maintain our most precious resource. These children clearly see the danger plastic poses to our oceans and marine life – we owe it to both these young ones and animals to stop our reckless behavior and prevent plastic pollution. Join One Green planets #CrushPlastic movement to learn about easy ways that you can help to save our planet’s oceans and the animals that live in them.
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.