Drought causes more than 100 elephant deaths in Botswana

news.yahoo.com

Gaborone (Botswana) (AFP) – More than 100 elephants have died in two months in Botswana’s Chobe National Park due to drought, which has also affected wildlife in other countries in the region, the government said Tuesday.

Several southern African countries are enduring one of the worst droughts in decades, caused by months of over-average temperatures and erratic rainfall.

The drought has wilted grasslands and dried up water holes, making it increasingly difficult for animals to survive.

Botswana’s environment ministry said it has recorded a spike in the number of elephant and other animal deaths since May.

“More than one hundred elephants are estimated to have died naturally in the past two months,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that 13 deaths were recorded just this week.

In neighbouring Zimbabwe, Its wildlife agency has recorded at least 55 elephant deaths over the past month due to lack of food and water.

Preliminary investigations in Botswana have also suggested some of the elephants may have died from anthrax.

“Due to the severe drought, elephants end up ingesting soil while grazing and get exposed to the anthrax bacteria spore,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The animals are also travelling long distances in search of food which leaves some highly emaciated, ending in death.”

Anthrax is an infectious disease found naturally in soil. It is generally contracted by herbivores and is a common cause of death for both wild and domestic animals around the world.

The environment ministry said it would be burning “anthrax related carcasses” to prevent the disease from spreading to other animals.

It warned the public not to touch any animal carcasses they might find and report them to the authorities.

https://news.yahoo.com/drought-causes-more-100-elephant-deaths-botswana-164006451.html

Eco-friendly tips

Scientists scramble to learn why monarch butterflies are dying so quickly

EVANSVILLE, Ind., July 22 (UPI) — Scientists across the country are scrambling to understand why monarch butterflies are disappearing at such an alarming rate as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers listing the butterfly as endangered.

North America’s largest population of monarchs, which migrate between Mexico and the Midwest, has fallen 80 percent, from a billion in the 1990s to 200 million in 2018.

A smaller monarch population in the western United States that migrates between California and the Pacific Northwest is disappearing even faster, dropping from 1.2 million in the 1990s to just 30,000 last year — a 98 percent drop.

“That is a catastrophic decline,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, which is based in Arizona. “They might not be able to bounce back.”

Faced with those numbers, the Fish and Wildlife Service is several years into a massive review of North America’s butterflies to determine if they qualify for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

“We have a species status assessment team that is modeling threat evaluations,” said Georgia Parham, a spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest office, which is leading the review.

“We’re are also soliciting evaluations from monarch experts, and we’ve also launched a monarch database that anyone can enter information into,” Parham said.

The agency plans to announce its findings in December 2020.

But many scientists say conservation efforts cannot wait that long. Groups like the Center for Biological Diversity, which petitioned the service to list the monarchs as endangered in 2014, and the Monarch Joint Venture are spearheading conservation programs based on the latest available science.

That science, they are quick to admit, is incomplete.

Scientists cannot say for certain why monarchs are dying. Several unrelated phenomena could be killing them.

“There are several hypotheses for the decline, all of which are probably contributing to some degree,” said Andrew Myers, a doctoral student at Michigan State University’s Department of Entomology who studies monarchs.

Finding precise causes are difficult, in part because monarchs are migratory insects.

They clump together on tree branches in the mountains of Mexico to hibernate during the winter — turning those forests orange. When it warms, they fly north to lay their eggs on milkweed plants growing throughout the Midwest.

They can then travel as far north as Canada in search of the nectar from flowering plants. And when the weather turns cold, they return to Mexico.

Climate change might be disrupting their long migrations, Meyers said. Urban sprawl could be choking out flowering plants. And the Mexican forests in which the insects overwinter are being logged, which undoubtedly is a threat to their survival.

“Any one of those things is enough to wipe out the monarch population,” Curry said.

But the timing of the eastern population’s decline could be the most telling, she said, because it seemed to begin around the same time as the first herbicide-resistant crops were introduced to U.S. agriculture.

These crops were genetically engineered to survive the application of certain herbicides, allowing farmers to spray those chemicals on their fields and kill off other plants without harming their crops.

One of the plants these herbicides are especially effective at killing is milkweed — the sole food monarch butterfly larvae can eat.

“What happens to milkweed in the Midwest is incredibly important to the monarch population,” said Ian Kaplan, a professor of entomology at Purdue University.

Researchers at Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota in 2013 estimated nearly 60 percent of the milkweed had disappeared from the Midwest landscape since 1999. That decline coincides with an increase in herbicide resistant crops.

Monsanto introduced the first herbicide-resistant soybean plant, called RoundUp Ready soybean, in 1996, followed by a RoundUp Ready corn in 1998. Today, about 90 percent of the corn and 94 percent of the soybeans grown in the U.S. are herbicide resistant, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The monarch butterfly did fine in croplands before RoundUp Ready crops,” Curry said. “That allowed more RoundUp to be sprayed, and that killed more milkweed in agricultural fields.”

Many of the monarch conservation efforts revolve around planting more native milkweed in public spaces, parks, private lands and on the edges of agricultural fields in hopes those plants replace those lost to agriculture.

But it is unclear how big of an impact that is having because scientists still don’t understand how other factors — like pesticide use — contribute to the insects’ decline.

With that in mind, entomologists like Kaplan are devising new studies every year to obtain a more detailed picture of what is happening to monarch larvae in their shrinking habitat.

Kaplan recently conducted a study at Purdue that measured the volume of pesticides present on wild milkweed growing near Midwestern agricultural fields.

“In Indiana, it’s hard to get very far from a corn field,” Kaplan said.

His study found pesticides on wild milkweed throughout Indiana, and although the amount tended to decline the farther from an agricultural field the researchers got, they still found pesticides on milkweed plants more than a mile away.

“Some of these pesticides are very hard to escape from,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan is now studying the impact the various pesticides he found on native plants have on the monarch larvae. He hopes to complete that study sometime this fall.

Elsewhere, researchers at Michigan State University are looking at monarch larvae predators, like lady beetles, ants and spiders.

“Since monarchs have lost their milkweed host plants in agricultural fields, they are now relegated to milkweed growing in grasslands in places like roadsides, fallow fields and agricultural field edges,” Meyers said.

“These areas have more diverse and abundant communities of predators, which results in naturally low survival of monarch eggs and caterpillars to adulthood. I am trying to determine which predators contribute most to monarch egg and caterpillar mortality and specific ways that these interactions take place,” he said.

“The work could eventually lead to grassland management practices that reduce predation pressure on monarchs.”

More work needs to be done, scientists say, but it is possible early conservation efforts are yielding results.

Last year, for this first time since scientists started tracking the butterfly more than 20 years ago, the eastern Monarch’s population increased.

It is impossible to know if that was because of efforts to plant more milkweed in the Midwest, or if other unrelated conditions helped the insect.

“We’re waiting to see if it is a trend, or a one-year thing,” the Fish and Wildlife Services’ Parham said.

But researchers and conservationists are pushing ahead.

“People can help right now by planting native milkweed,” Curry said. “That’s only one of the problems. It’s milkweed loss, it’s urban sprawl, it’s climate change, it’s insecticide use. It sounds really big and overwhelming, but we have to start somewhere.”

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2019/07/22/Scientists-scramble-to-learn-why-monarch-butterflies-are-dying-so-quickly/6961563481223/

July 4th Quake Centered at Skytop Rocket Propulsion Test Facility; Quake Swarm Appears Mostly Centered in Low Risk Area-Away from Faults

Mining Awareness +


This area of the US Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake dates from the Manhattan Project. Common sense, as well as eye-witness testimony, indicate that there are underground facilities, as well as above ground ones. We can only speculate as to the extent of the underground network. There are likely old mines in the area, as well. Most likely old mines were expanded and turned into underground tunnel-test facilities. The original M 6.4 earthquake was centered in the area of the Skytop Rocket Propulsion Test Facility, described further below. The quakes appear to be apart from known earthquake faults, or at least apart from any major ones. They are almost entirely within the Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake. CalTech estimated that the original M 6.4 earthquake in the area of Skytop was at a depth of 8.7 km (more shallow the USGS). An article written by Dr. Jennifer Andrews…

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Digital Exclusive: Dr. Patrick Moore TEARS APART The Green New Deal | Huckabee

It’s World Ocean Day

 

It is World Oceans Day
What will YOU do?

It is Time To Act

Oceans are in trouble. Overfishing, pollution, warming, acidification and poaching are a few issues we face. These insults do not recognize political boundaries. With a myriad of issues dominating headlines daily, we must raise our voices to say: “Ocean health must be a priority; without healthy oceans, life on earth is unsustainable.”

Get Trashy!

Wherever you are, take just a few minutes to pick up some trash. Sea Save Foundation is working hard to stop this glut of plastics and trash “upstream” with laws that stop single use plastic pollution, but today we need you to help us clean up. Parks, waterways, beaches, underwater everywhere. Please take a pix and post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with our hashtags (below) so we can repost!

#GetTrashy #MotionForTheOcean #SeaSave

Motion for the Ocean

We want to encourage you to take action. We need some “Motion for the Ocean”. You can be involved in a worldwide virtual movement. If we all pitch in the results will be great! You do not have to drive, march or organize. You can MULTITASK! Enjoy a beautiful day with friends and family, and take 15 minutes to clean up and then post! You’ve Got This!

Another Mississippi rise threatens to trigger Morganza Spillway opening

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.VSB5DDMSMJC3PESOZF2ZYUB7JQ

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.6ecekz6rhfea5jxw3rtwxkve241670628639.jpg

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.

THE TIMES-PICAYUNE

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.

https://www.nola.com/environment/2019/05/another-mississippi-rise-threatens-to-trigger-morganza-spillway-opening.html

Mark Schleifstein covers the environment and is a leader of the Louisiana Coastal Reporting Team for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. Email: mschleifstein@nola.com. Facebook: Mark Schleifstein and Louisiana Coastal Watch. Twitter: MSchleifstein.

How to Use Coffee Grounds in the Garden

Before taking those spent coffee grounds to your yard, learn the facts about giving your garden a caffeine fix.

As clocks spring ahead to daylight saving time, that lost hour of sleep sends most of us reaching for a second cup of joe. In addition to a caffeine jolt, those extra cups create lots of used coffee grounds — at home and in shops around the country. If your favorite barista is bagging grounds to go for garden use, hit the pause button before you grab a few bags. Learn what you need to know about using coffee grounds in the garden.

If you tune into the grounds-for-gardens channel, you’ll learn that people count on used coffee grounds to do all kinds of things. Spread on planting beds like mulch, grounds are said to repel cats, fertilize soil, kill slugs and keep weeds at bay. A coffee mulch is also rumored to beckon earthworms and acidify soil. Other gardeners work coffee grounds into beds, swearing it aerates and acidifies soil.

Just the Java facts

There’s limited research on using coffee grounds in the garden, and much of what has been done involves:

tests to determine if grounds are acidic (mostly they are)
what happens as grounds break down (they eventually shift from acid to more or less neutral pH)
testing grounds on various agricultural crops (it either enhances or deters growth, depending on the plant)

As with most rumors, even the ones about coffee grounds contain a grain of truth. While coffee grounds have not been found to repel or kill pests, they do have some antimicrobial properties. In very specific controlled research conditions, grounds have suppressed some diseases (fungus rots and wilts) on spinach, bean, tomato and cucumber. Could you replicate those conditions in a garden setting? Likely not.

In terms of fertilizing soil, coffee grounds do have significant nitrogen content, which means they can help improve soil fertility. But because they also affect microorganisms in soil, plant growth and possibly soil pH, you don’t want to rely on coffee grounds as plant food.

Several independent pH tests on coffee grounds show that they tend to be acidic. In most cases, the grounds are too acidic to be used directly on soil, even for acid-loving plants like blueberries, azaleas and hollies.

Coffee grounds inhibit the growth of some plants, including geranium, asparagus fern, Chinese mustard and Italian ryegrass. Conversely, grounds (used as mulch and compost) improve yields of soybeans and cabbage. In other cases, grounds inhibit seed germination of clovers (red and white) and alfalfa. On the flip side, coffee grounds enhance sugar beet seed germination. The effects of coffee grounds on seeds and plants is variable, unreliable and tough to call.

Coffee Grounds for Gardens

So what’s the right course of action with coffee grounds? Follow these tips for the best success in repurposing grounds in your garden.

Compost ‘em. The safest way to use coffee grounds is adding to compost. Take care to add grounds so that they comprise only 10 to 20 percent of your total compost volume. Any higher, and they might inhibit good microbes from breaking down organic matter. Another way to approach this volume is to add 4 parts shredded leaves to 1 part coffee grounds (by weight). Some folks still suggest adding lime or wood ash to the compost to offset the initial acidity of the grounds. You can do that, but it’s not really necessary. If you want to do it, aim for a ratio of 1 cup of lime or ash to 10 pounds of grounds.
Spread thinly and cover. Using coffee grounds as a thick mulch isn’t a great idea because they tend to compact, forming a barrier that doesn’t let air or water pass. If you want to spread grounds on soil, use a thin layer (half an inch, tops) covered with a thicker layer (2-4 inches) of organic matter, such as shredded bark, wood chips or compost.
Shift soil pH. If your goal is to acidify notoriously alkaline soils west of the Mississippi River, take a soil test first to know your soil’s pH. If you need to acidify it, dig grounds into soil to a depth of 7 to 8 inches.

https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/planting-and-maintenance/how-to-use-coffee-grounds-in-the-garden

40 Years Ago: US President Jimmy Carter Pushed For Renewable Energy Funding After Three Mile Island Nuclear Disaster

Mining Awareness +

Probably because he knew so much about nuclear power from the US nuclear Navy; had helped clean-up the Chalk River Nuclear Disaster in Canada,  while serving in the US Navy, and was US President during the Three Mile Island Nuclear Meltdown, Jimmy Carter tried to get massive investment in renewables research (NREL). He even had solar panels put on the White House. Had Carter had his way, we would not even be discussing nuclear power today. Nor would we be worried about climate change. Instead Reagan got in and funding was cut for renewable energy.  Reagan pulled the solar panels off of the White House. Forty years after Three Mile Island, instead of 100% renewables, we have dirty everything coups by Trump, Putin, and others: dirty energy, dirty money, dirty old men.  As the history of humanity makes clear, with abuse and exploitation of…

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First came the Straw Wars. Next up are the Balloon Battles.

treehugger.com
Katherine Martinko feistyredhair January 11, 2019

The balloon bubble is about to get popped as the anti-plastic movement gathers force.

When a night club in the Philippines announced that it would host an enormous balloon drop on New Year’s Eve in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record, there was international outrage. The spectacle was decried by Greenpeace Philippines as “nothing short of an arrogant and senseless enterprise” and the Climate Reality Project blasted it as “wasteful, unsustainable, and ecologically apathetic.”

The club, Cove Manila, was initially defensive, saying the event would be held indoors and, because the 130,000 balloons were made of biodegradable latex, they would be recycled afterward. But then the government’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources sent a letter to the night club, asking it to reconsider. A spokesperson urged the club to “redirect their efforts towards more sustainable, environmentally-friendly activities that the majority of Filipinos will enjoy and be proud of.” Shortly after, Cove Manila said it had voluntarily canceled the balloon drop.

This interesting news story is a sign of changing times and a glimpse of a not-so-distant future in which balloons will be reviled in much the same way as disposable plastic straws are now. This night club is not the only place where balloon-centered events are no longer allowed. Last year Clemson University announced it would end the tradition of releasing 10,000 balloons into the air before football games. The anti-balloon website Balloons Blow has an ongoing list of “balloon releases averted.” The Associated Press describes other newly implemented limitations:

“In Virginia, a campaign that urges alternatives to balloon releases at weddings is expanding. And a town in Rhode Island outright banned the sale of all balloons earlier this year, citing the harm to marine life.”

What’s unique about balloons, however, is that there’s no obvious replacement for them, unlike straws, which can be recreated in paper, metal or glass and work in exactly the same way. Balloons – unless we go back to the days of inflated pig bladders… just kidding! – must cease to exist for now, and we have to learn that it’s still possible to have a fun party without them. (The Cove Manila people did. They still had an awesome New Year’s Eve bash.)

It’s important, too, not to fall for the greenwashed ‘biodegradable latex’ label because it means very little. As Quartz reported about the Cove Manila controversy, “Purchasing, transporting, inflating, and discarding 130,000 rubber orbs, even if they are made from earth-friendly latex, results in significant waste.” While latex is biodegradable in theory, every balloon reacts differently depending on where it lands. And you can’t avoid the fact that you’re still sending trash up into the air to fall back to earth at some point, to the detriment of wildlife. There’s no way to make this OK other than to stop doing it. (Read more about why latex balloons are not environmentally friendly.)

I predict this is something we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the next year. First it was the Straw Wars; next up are the Balloon Battles.

https://www.treehugger.com/culture/first-there-were-straw-wars-next-are-balloon-battles.html

RECYCLE CLAMSHELLS AND HELP SAVE THE OCEAN

The Clamshell Report

When I think of all the hours that are spent looking at stupid stuff on screens instead of paying closer attention to the real world, the one we take for granted; trees, nature, water, and air, I wonder, “why is this happening?” All it would take would be a little (okay, a whole lot of!) people with passion and energy to make a difference. Wouldn’t it? It seems as if we humans have been stuck in a passive inertia vortex for too long, one that allows the problems to heap up and mount ever higher. We are drowning in our own discordance with nature.

Ignoring the “real world” is to ignore life’s positive energy, the tremendous gift of will to live, one that flows from the universe bringing us health, happiness, and vitality. To me, that is what Sustainably is. Want to feel better about this? Well, now you can…

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Sandals Resorts To Eliminate All Styrofoam At Caribbean Resorts – Sea Voice News

seavoicenews.com
by Alex Larson →

Sandals Resorts is set to eliminate all styrofoam from its 19 Sandals and Beaches-branded resorts across the Caribbean, the company announced this week.

The company said the elimination of styrofoam was particularly important in the Caribbean, with its abundant marine life.

Ocean pollution continues to grow daily and the fact that cooperations are starting to recognize this is extremely important. A recent study found that 100% of all sea turtles tested on seven species of sea turtles across three different oceans all had micro plastics inside of them which also includes styrofoam.

In the first decade of this century, we made more plastic than all the plastic in history up to the year 2000. And every year, billions of pounds of plastic end up in the world’s oceans.

“As we enter the New Year, it’s incredibly important to our Sandals family that environmental sustainability remains a key priority,” said Adam Stewart, Deputy Chairman of SandalsResorts International. “After eliminating plastic straws, stirrers, laundry bags and gift shop bags last year, we’re choosing to eliminate Styrofoam from our resorts. We’re proud that many of the islands in which we operate are also making this shift to ensure that future generations can enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean.”

The company also said it would explore ways to eliminate other plastic across its resorts this year.

While this is move is a positive step, a much bigger change than having almost 20 resorts ban an item is needed. Most top notch resorts such as Sandals have programs in place that already due handle waste very well but trash and plastic can be found littering the pristine beaches of the Caribbean.

To take the next step, we need to push the countries such as the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and others to ban single-use plastics and styrofoam altogether.

http://seavoicenews.com/2019/01/08/sandals-resorts-to-eliminate-all-styrofoam-at-caribbean-resorts/

Fish bones could help us trace the toxic path of coal ash

grist.org
By Greta Moran on Dec 29, 2018

When Hurricane Florence flooded the Carolinas in September, the rivers turned from blue to a sickly gray. The water ran so thick with soil, dead leaves, and pollution that you could see murky ink blots forming from outer space. Duke Energy admitted that the intense floodwaters had caused a breach in one of its dams, setting loose a gross sludge known as coal ash — a toxic byproduct of burning coal.

Laden with arsenic, lead, mercury, and other toxins, coal ash tends to be stored near low-income communities and communities of color. For this reason, Mother Jones reporter Julia Lurie noted that the sludge has “quietly become one of America’s worst environmental justice problems.”

Scientists have found a new, unlikely tool to help track the spread of coal ash contaminants: fish bones. Researchers at Duke University discovered that the pearlescent, calcified structure in a fish’s inner ear — known as the otolith — can provide a picture of coal ash contamination in rivers and lakes.

Looking at the otolith under a microscope, you can see a new layer laid down for almost every day of the fish’s life, says Jessica Brandt, the lead author of the new Duke study. “They grow like tree rings,” Brandt says. The layers contain a lot of information, from the fish’s age to its migration patterns — as well as if and when it came across coal ash contamination.

This knowledge could help researchers track changes over time with more accuracy and ease. “If you go and collect a water sample at any given point, you’re only getting information for the time of collection,” explains Brandt, who is also a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The scientists from Duke examined fish from two North Carolina lakes with a history of coal contamination, Mayo Lake and Sutton Lake (the lake that was contaminated by coal ash from a Duke Energy plant during Florence). In the wake of the hurricane, Duke Energy claimed that the leaked coal ash posed no environmental or health risks. But experts aren’t convinced.

“The fact that we are finding fish, which is the top of the predator system, with a ‘fingerprint’ suggests that the system is already affected by coal ash,” said Avner Vengosh, one of the authors on the study and a professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke University. Exposure to coal ash can lead to cancer and a number of other long-term health problems.

Vengosh’s previous research on coal ash was used in a lawsuit in 2017, when a judge ordered the Tennessee Valley Authority to clean up coal ash that had been leaking into nearby rivers in eastern Tennessee for decades. The ruling was recently overturned by a higher court. Still, the more we know about coal ash contamination, the better. Perhaps the pearly, inner ear of fish could also prove to be a useful tool for protecting people from the dangers of coal ash.

https://grist.org/science/fish-bones-could-help-us-trace-the-toxic-path-of-coal-ash/

The problem with paper receipts

treehugger.com
The problem with paper receipts
Katherine Martinko feistyredhair November 7, 2018
4-5 minutes

They seem so innocuous, but they’re becoming an environmental nightmare.

In recent months, the one statement I always make at checkout counters – “I don’t need a bag” – has been joined by another – “No receipt, please.” I began doing this after learning about the harmful effects of thermal paper, the shiny smooth paper that most retailers now use to print receipts.

Thermal paper uses heat rather than ink to form letters and numbers, and it relies on bisphenol A to do so. (If you scratch a receipt and see a dark line, then you know it contains BPA or its common substitute BPS.) BPA is a hormone disruptor and is absorbed through the skin, which means that even reaching for a receipt poses a risk of contamination.

Turning down receipts at the time of purchase also saves me having to deal with all those annoying slips of paper that fill up my wallet. I used to be amazed at how many I’d unearth every few months, but when you think about it on a global scale, the amount of receipt waste is staggering. In the UK an estimated 11.2 billion receipts are handed out annually, costing around £32 million to make and generating 1.5 billion pounds of waste.

To make matters worse, thermal paper cannot be recycled. Its only ‘safe’ destination is the landfill, because the recycling process would only release more BPA into the environment and cause further damage. Stop and chew on that for a minute. All that contaminated trash, just so you can remember six months down the road that you paid $3.50 for a crappy muffin and weak coffee at a truck stop somewhere.

Now, I understand that not all purchases are an unmemorable as that muffin-coffee combo. Many others, particularly more expensive ones, do require proof of purchase, so what are the alternatives?

  • Digital receipts, emailed from retailer to customer, are becoming more common. But this can also mean handing over your email address, which enables a company to inundate you with promotional material. Whenever I feel I have to do this, I make sure to say I don’t want to receive any other communication.
  • Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay can be used on your smartphone to make small purchases. As Sanjana Varghese writes for Wired, some retailers are moving to plug-ins such as Flux, which “creates an itemized record of a user’s transactions.” Similar apps include Transaction Tree and Yreceipts.

  • Be selective about the receipts you accept. Only take receipts for items that you know may have a higher chance of needing to be returned, or that you can claim as a business expense, or that come from cash transactions that can’t be tracked online. For example, I’d take a receipt for a pair of shoes, but not for a meal eaten out or even groceries.

  • Track your expenses elsewhere. Don’t use receipts to keep track of your expenses. Make a habit of writing down that information in a special place that you can reference any time. For me, that’s in my phone, but a small notebook could do the job too. As soon as I leave a store, I add the amount to my monthly expense tally with a brief description.

  • Ask stores to reconsider their system. If you’re a regular shopper at a store that uses thermal paper, bring it up in conversation. It doesn’t hurt to ask and educate. After all, if every store finds that customers are rejecting their receipts, they will be more inclined to come up with an alternative.

Veronique Barbossa, the co-founder of Flux, is absolutely right when she tells Varghese, “Paper receipts are non-recyclable, consume oil, trees, and water, and they don’t fit into the digital lifestyle that we currently have.” They seem nearly as outdated as paper cheques, which I haven’t owned in several years because e-transfers make life so much easier.

It’s not a problem that’s going to be solved overnight, but it is something I suspect we’re all going to start hearing more about.

They seem so innocuous, but they’re becoming an environmental nightmare.

https://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/problem-paper-receipts.html

E-Cigarettes and a New Threat: How to Dispose of Them

ecowatch.com

By Yogi H. Hendlin

The two largest global brands of capsule coffee, Nespresso and Keurig, are regarded by many as environmental nightmares. Billions of the throwaway nonrecyclable plastic products currently clutter waste dumps, waterways and city streets. Both inventor of the “K-cups” John Sylvan and former Nespresso CEO Jean-Paul Gaillard have publicly bemoaned the environmental consequences of the products they once championed. Sylvan has stated that the disposable (but not biodegradable) coffee capsule is “like a cigarette for coffee, a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance.”

The comparison between cigarette butts and capsule coffee is surprisingly fitting. Both butts and capsules are intentionally designed to be convenient, single-use products. Both are also nonbiodegradable and unrecyclable. As pervasive and polluting as cigarette butts are, however, the e-waste from e-cigarettes presents an even more apt comparison.

As a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco with a background in environmental philosophy and public health, I became curious how the waste stream of e-cigarettes has passed completely outside the regulatory radar.
A Smoking Gun?

San Francisco’s Pax Labs, maker of the market-leading electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) Juul, thinks of its product as a “Nespresso machine, if Nespresso still made great coffee.” It also describes its e-cigarette as a “gun.”

The product has soared in popularity, particularly among teenagers. In September Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, called Juul smoking among teens an epidemic.

While the health outcomes for e-cigarette vapor versus an inveterate capsule coffee drinker vary greatly, both “disruptive” products present lingering harms to the environment greater than the products they replace.

The legacy of cigarette butts imparts a dark story. An estimated two-thirds of cigarette butts are littered, clogging sewer drains, blighting city parks and contributing to estimated cleanup costs of US$11 billion yearly for U.S. litter alone. Cigarettes are environmentally irresponsible by design, and yet e-cigarettes pose an environmental threat of considerable proportions. Instead of merely being thrown away, these complex devices present simultaneously a biohazard risk with potential high quantities of leftover or residual nicotine and an environmental health threat as littered electronic waste.

Their endocrine-disrupting plastics, lithium ion batteries and electronic circuit boards require disassembly, sorting and proper further recycling and disposal. Their instructions do not say anything about disposal. Electronic waste (e-waste) already presents a daunting environmental quandary and is notoriously difficult to recycle. When littered, broken devices can leach metals, battery acid and nicotine into the local environment and urban landscape.
A Preventable Environmental Health Disaster

A main question public health regulators must face is: How are these new devices being disposed of? Are e-cigarettes being thrown away carelessly, like cigarette butts? Or disposed of in special electronic waste facilities, like smartphones? Preliminary results from litter pickups give mixed results. Juul pods are found routinely littered, especially where young people congregate. But because of the double-bind of e-cigarette waste being both electronic waste due to the components and hazardous waste due to the nicotine liquid residue, currently there is no legal way to recycle them in the U.S. The Office on Smoking and Health and the EPA need to coordinate their regulations to allow for the safe recycling and waste minimization of these products.

More than 58 million e-cigarette products were sold in the U.S. (not including those sold in vape shops or online) in 2015, 19.2 million of which were disposable e-cigarettes. A 2014 study found that none of the surveyed e-cigarette packages contained disposal instructions.

The major transnational tobacco companies so far primarily sell throwaway, one-use “closed” system products. Vuse and MarkTen, owned by Reynolds American and Altria, respectively, are two leading U.S. e-cigarettes, and both are closed systems. While these products may prevent nicotine poisoning in small children, their environmental health harms may be significantly larger due to their expendable design.

Most independent vaporizer manufacturers sell open, or reusable, systems, which are more popular with longer-term users and possibly more effective to quit than traditional cigarettes. In other markets, however, like the U.K. and Japan, transnational tobacco companies British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco International have begun to heavily market open systems.

BAT’s website on the disposal of their Vype e-cigarette warns “electrical waste and electronic equipment can contain hazardous substances which, if not treated properly, could lead to damage to the environment and human health.” So neither open nor closed systems are environmentally sustainable.

The World Health Organization, in its report Tobacco and Its Environmental Impact: An Overview, recently noted the “quieter but shockingly widespread impacts of tobacco from an environmental perspective.” Article 18 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control states that all signatory parties “agree to have due regard to the protection of the environment and the health of persons in relation to the environment in respect of tobacco cultivation and manufacture within their respective territories.” It is time to close the loop and pay increased attention to tobacco product disposal as well.

As regulatory agencies continue deciding how to regulate e-cigarettes, not only should the immediate health effects and secondhand effects of the products be taken into account, but I believe the environmental effects of these products should be too.

The mounting environmental impact of the single-use nonrecyclable coffee fad has left coffee capsule Keurig inventor John Sylvan regretting his invention. Will apocryphal e-cigarette inventor Hon Lik ever have a similar reckoning regarding the mountains of e-cigarette e-waste? Let’s hope it never gets to that point.

Dr. Hendlin is an environmental philosopher and public health policy researcher with over 12 years experience in tobacco control.

Reposted with permission from our media associate The Conversation.

https://www.ecowatch.com/e-cigarettes-pollution-2615410167.html?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=2a31e01a97-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-2a31e01a97-86074753

U.S. Bureau of Land Management Shutting Door on Americans, Auctioning Away New Mexico Public Lands

ClimateWest

30377612417_ce5c53ebdb_k_dChaco Canyon petroglyphs. Photo by Steve Snyder, Flickr.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is barreling ahead to auction New Mexico public lands for fracking and steamrolling, sidelining, and shunning the American public in the process.

The agency yesterday announced its intent to sell more than 84,000 acres of the Land of Enchantment to the oil and gas industry this December. This includes more than 43,000 acres in the Greater Chaco region of northwest New Mexico and 41,000 acres in southeast New Mexico’s Greater Carlsbad Caverns region (the sale also includes more than 5,000 acres in Oklahoma and Texas).

See for yourself where these lands are located, click here to access an interactive map >>

Simultaneously, the Bureau of Land Management rejected a request from WildEarth Guardians and many others for public hearings around the proposed sale. A broad coalition of environmental, Tribal, health, and clean energy…

View original post 408 more words

House Destroyed, Homes Evacuated After PA Pipeline Explosion |

globaljusticeecology.org
House Destroyed, Homes Evacuated After PA Pipeline Explosion |
Posted on September 11, 2018 by GJEP staff Leave a Comment
2 minutes

A gas pipeline explosion “sent flames shooting into the sky” in Center Township, Pa. on Monday morning, according to WPXI News.

“A massive gas explosion shook parts of Beaver County early Monday, destroying a house, garages and multiple vehicles and bringing down six high-tension electric towers” reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Energy Transfer Partners pipeline, according to industry news source Natural Gas Intelligence, had only been placed into service last week and exploded due to “torrential rain and saturated ground.”
One resident stated that their “house started shaking. The sky was pure red from the flames shooting.”
Someone else told reporters that “It sounded like a jet was taking off.”
Appalachians Against Pipelines Facebook

According the the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, “Energy Transfer’s reputation in Pennsylvania over the past few years has been dominated by its Mariner East 2 project, which involves laying a pair of pipelines across the southern part of the state to ferry natural gas liquids from Ohio to refineries and export terminals near Philadelphia. The effort has yielded dozens of environmental violations, drilling mud spills into creeks and streams, and a series of construction stops ordered by regulators that have delayed the pipelines’ in-service dates.”

https://globaljusticeecology.org/house-destroyed-homes-evacuated-after-pa-pipeline-explosion/#comments

Contact Lenses Add to Earth’s Microplastic Crisis

ecowatch.com
Contact Lenses Add to Earth’s Microplastic Crisis
Lorraine Chow
4-5 minutes

Contact lenses may appear harmlessly soft and small, but a big chunk of American users are improperly disposing their used lenses and adding to the planet’s microplastic problem, Arizona State University researchers found.

In a survey of 409 wearers, about 1 in 5 responded that they flushed their used lenses down the toilet or sink instead of throwing them in the trash, according to a new study presented at the American Chemical Society’s National Meeting and Exposition.

“We found that 15 to 20 percent of contact wearers are flushing the lenses down the sink or toilet,” said Charlie Rolsky, an Arizona State University Ph.D. student who is presenting the work, in a press release.

The flushed lenses, which are mostly plastic, turn up at wastewater treatment plants and become part of sewage sludge that gets spread on farmland.

Contact lenses recovered from treated sewage sludge Charles Rolsky

With 45 million contact users in the U.S., the research team estimated 6-10 metric tons of plastic lenses end up in wastewater in the U.S. alone each year.

Rolf Halden, the director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University and one of the authors of the new study, noted at a press conference on Monday that these contacts do not decompose.

“They don’t degrade. They don’t attenuate but they become smaller. So they create what we know as microplastic pollution, which is contaminating the oceans,” he said.

Halden said that fragments have been found in sewage sludge, which can contaminate the soil environment and become ingested by earthworms when it’s spread on land.

“We know that earthworms take up soil and can ingest plastics, and then if birds eat the worms it creates a pathway for plastics to enter the food chain,” he said. Further, after heavy rains, the plastic bits can trickle out into streams and other waterways and make their way into the ocean.

And it’s not just the contact lenses themselves that are an environmental problem. Dailies, weeklies and monthlies are packaged by the billions in polypropylene plastic containers and aluminum lids, and “the unfortunate news is that they do not get recycled very effectively,” Halden said. Only one manufacturer, Bausch + Lomb, has a take-back recycling program.

Soft contacts are usually made of a combination of poly(methylmethacrylate), silicones and fluoropolymers, which makes them feel watery and gel-like. Halden suggested that people flick their contacts down the sink or toilet because they do not feel like solid plastic waste.

The researchers hope their study will teach users to stop flushing their contacts. They are also calling on lens manufacturers, at the very least, to label their products with proper disposal instructions.

“Ultimately, we hope that manufacturers will conduct more research on how the lenses impact aquatic life and how fast the lenses degrade in a marine environment,” Halden said in the press release.

Angela Lashbrook, who reported about the new study for The Atlantic, admitted to flushing lenses down the toilet herself. She also polled a few of her contact-wearing friends and was surprised to find they all flushed their lenses, too.

Thanks to the study, she and her friends vowed to make the simple switch of throwing used contacts in the trash.

“It’s quite possibly the easiest change to my behavior I’ve ever had to make that could avoid hurting the environment. My contacts-wearing friends, without my scolding, all pledged to do the same,” Lashbrook wrote.

Watch here to learn more about the study:

https://www.ecowatch.com/contact-lenses-microplastic-waste-2597484024.html?utm_source=EcoWatch%2BList&utm_campaign=4d13d4e552-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-4d13d4e552-86074753

Why recycling won’t save the planet

treehugger.com
Why recycling won’t save the planet
Katherine Martinko feistyredhair

We blame ourselves for not recycling more plastics, and yet our efforts are like “hammering a nail to halt a falling skyscraper.” It’s time we got to the root of the problem.

“People need to get better at recycling” is a comment I often hear as soon as the topic of plastic waste comes up. It’s a misleading assumption, however, to think that tossing more items in the recycling bin and fewer in the trash can make that much of a difference in dealing with the catastrophic level of plastic contamination that our planet currently faces. In fact, it’s pretty much pointless.

Before you think I’ve given up and gone all anti-TreeHugger, please realize that this is an issue we discuss every single year on America Recycles Day, an annual event sponsored by Keep American Beautiful and the plastics industry that has taught us to pick up our garbage. Matt Wilkins explains in Scientific American that we need to rethink the way we deal with trash, saying that individual consumers cannot sole this problem because individual consumers are not the problem. We have taken it on as our problem because of some very astute, corporate-driven psychological misdirection in the form of campaigns like Keep America Beautiful.

Huh? you might be thinking. Isn’t Keep America Beautiful a good thing? Well, Wilkins has a different view. Keep America Beautiful was founded by major beverage companies and tobacco giant Philip Morris in the 1950s as a way to encourage environmental stewardship in the public. Later it joined forces with the Ad Council, at which point, “one of their first and most lasting impacts was bringing ‘litterbug’ into the American lexicon.” This was followed by the ‘Crying Indian’ public service announcement and the more recent ‘I Want To Be Recycled’ campaign.

While these PSAs appear admirable, they are little more than corporate greenwashing. For decades Keep America Beautiful has actively campaigned against beverage laws that would mandate refillable containers and bottle deposits. Why? Because these would hurt the profits of the companies that founded and support Keep America Beautiful. Meanwhile, the organization has been tremendously successful at transferring the blame for plastic pollution onto consumers, rather than forcing the industry to shoulder responsibility.

Wilkins writes:

“The greatest success of Keep America Beautiful has been to shift the onus of environmental responsibility onto the public while simultaneously becoming a trusted name in the environmental movement. This psychological misdirect has built public support for a legal framework that punishes individual litterers with hefty fines or jail time, while imposing almost no responsibility on plastic manufacturers for the numerous environmental, economic and health hazards imposed by their products.”

If we are serious about tackling plastic pollution, then corporations’ actions are where we should start. They are the real litterbugs in this situation. The focus should be on the source of the plastic, not its near-impossible disposal.

Reading Wilkins’ article felt disorienting for me, in light of all the zero-waste, pro-recycling, plastic-free articles I write for this website. One line in particular made a big impression:

“Effectively, we have accepted individual responsibility for a problem we have little control over.”

I see where he’s coming from, but cannot agree entirely. First, I think that people have to feel like they can do something in the face of great difficulty. So, even if it’s not the most effective method, putting bottles in the blue bin is at least some kind of beneficial action. Second, I believe in the collective power of people: that’s how movements start. Governments won’t force corporations to change their ways unless the public is crying for it — and that begins ever so humbly, with individual households putting their blue bins out each week.

So, how does one even start shifting the blame for plastic pollution to where it’s supposed to be? Wilkins calls on people first to reject the lie:

“Litterbugs are not responsible for the global ecological disaster of plastic… Our huge problem with plastic is the result of a permissive legal framework that has allowed the uncontrolled rise of plastic pollution, despite clear evidence of the harm it causes to local communities and the world’s oceans.”

Then start fighting. Talk about the plastic problem with everyone you know. Contact local and federal representatives. Think beyond zero waste and recycling initiatives to cradle-to-cradle models, “where waste is minimized by planning in advance how materials can be reused and recycled at a product’s end of life rather than trying to figure that out after the fact.” Support bans on single-use plastics or, at the very least, opt-in policies where customers have to request straws or disposable coffee cups, instead of getting them automatically. Support bag taxes and bottle deposits. Fight the preemptive laws in some states that prevent municipal plastic regulation.

As Wilkins concludes, “There are now too many humans and too much plastic on this pale blue dot to continue planning our industrial expansions on a quarterly basis.” We need a better approach, and it has to get at the real root of the problem.

https://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/why-recycling-wont-save-planet.html

Nitrogen pollution is a problem as big as climate change. Science might have a fix.

grist.org
By Nathanael Johnson on Aug 16, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Some think nitrogen pollution may be the greatest danger we face. The Stockholm Resilience Center, an organization that examines the largest threats to natural life-support systems, considers our overuse of nitrogen a more extreme risk to life on Earth than climate change.

But a new paper, published in the journal Nature this week, uncovered a way that we could keep millions of tons of nitrogen fertilizer from evaporating into the atmosphere and running into the oceans.

Nitrogen is a basic building block of our food, so farmers spread tons of the stuff — in the form of manure, compost, and synthetic fertilizer — on their fields. But only half of this nitrogen makes it into plants. The rest gets chewed up by hungry soil bacteria and turned into a greenhouse gas 300 times worse than carbon dioxide, or gets washed into waterways where it fuels an explosion of algae growth that turns into lakes and oceans into gloopy, oxygen-starved dead zones.

It’s a massive problem that doesn’t get enough attention. If the Earth were a spaceship [eds note: isn’t it?], the control panel’s nitrogen light would be flashing red.

The Stockholm Resilience Center’s estimation of planetary boundaries F. Pharand-Deschênes/Globaïa

Humans accelerated the nitrogen disaster during the “green revolution” of the 1960s with the worldwide adoption of fertilizer-hungry crops. These replaced strains of wheat, rice, and other grains that grew more slowly and conservatively. Grain harvests more than doubled in two decades, but clouds of pollution spread into the air and water. It seemed like a vicious tradeoff.

But this new research suggests that crops can be nitrogen-hoarding and high-yielding at the same time. Before this study came out, it seemed like we had to choose between frugal crops that grow slowly and hoard nitrogen, and spendthrift crops that grow quickly require extravagant nitrogen.

What had looked like a trade-off may simply have been a mistake. The scientists identified a gene that inhibits nitrogen absorption in rice, which had become hyperactive in high-yielding strains, and figured out how to counteract it. This gene (metaphorically) shouts, “Don’t suck up nitrogen!” Through breeding, scientists were able to turn down the volume of this shout to a whisper. The result is high-yielding rice that needs less fertilizer.

A rice-breeding program to bring this breakthrough to farmers is underway in China, where nitrogen pollution is especially bad. It will take about five years before we really know if this works for farmers outside of greenhouses and test plots. If it does, it might change that nitrogen warning on spaceship earth’s dashboard from red to yellow.

https://grist.org/science/nitrogen-pollution-is-a-problem-as-big-as-climate-change-science-might-have-a-fix/

Plastics aren’t just polluting our oceans — they’re releasing greenhouse gases

by Emily Hunter

I’m a French-Canadian postdoctoral scholar at the University of Hawaii, Manoa and part of the School of Ocean and Earth Science & Technology (SOEST). As part of our team’s research, we found that, as plastic decomposes, it is producing a new source of greenhouse gas pollution not included in previous climate models. These emissions are only expected to increase — especially as more plastic is produced and accumulated in the environment and degrades over time.

Researchers from the University of Hawaii, Manoa have discovered startling new evidence that the plastics on land and in the ocean release greenhouse gases as they break down. In this article, scientist Sarah-Jeanne Royer tells us about what she found in the field and why it’s now even more important to break free from plastic. © Sarah-Jeanne Royer

Greenhouse gases have a direct impact on climate change — affecting sea level rise, global temperatures, ecosystem health on land and in the ocean, and storms, increasing flooding, drought, and erosion. Most plastic is created from natural gases, so the release of greenhouse gases from plastic waste might not seem surprising. Even so, the University of Hawaii is actually the first group publishing data about the link between greenhouse gases and plastic in the environment.

Of particular concern is a type of plastic called low-density polyethylene, which is the highest emitter of climate-wrecking greenhouse gases. It’s commonly found in the most produced, used, and discarded single-use plastics making their way into our oceans and waterways today. Our research shows that as this plastic breaks down in the ocean, the greenhouse emissions increase dramatically — up to 488 times morethan in pellet form, the term used to describe ‘raw’ plastic before it’s been made into an end product like a bag or water bottle.

Unfortunately, that’s not all. Plastics exposed directly to sunlight in the air — like on land at beaches, coastlines, fields, and playgrounds — make an even greater contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. So while we urgently need to keep plastics out of the ocean to stop the negative impacts of pollution on marine life and coastal communities, that’s not enough. On land, discarded plastics still release greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change even while no one is watching.

 

This research has big implications for waste management as well as potential climate change impacts. Plastic pollution is already reaching crisis levels, and this new information only makes the problem more urgent to address — and fast. Considering the amounts of plastic washing ashore on our coastlines, along with the amount of plastic exposed to environmental conditions, to protect our planet against climate change, we need to stop plastic production at the source.

Greenpeace UK Oceans campaigner Tisha Brown holds up plastic straws collected during a beach cleanup activity on Freedom Island, Philippines.

Sarah-Jeanne Royer is a French-Canadian postdoctoral scholar at the University of Hawaii, Manoa and part of the School of Ocean and Earth Science & Technology (SOEST). To learn more about her research on plastics and greenhouse gas emissions, read the full published report here

https://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/story/plastics-arent-just-polluting-our-oceans-theyre-releasing-greenhouse-gases/

NEPA Under Attack! Tell Trump ‘Hands Off Nat’l Env Law’ Before Aug. 20 |

globaljusticeecology.org
Posted on July 13, 2018 by GJEP staff Leave a Comment
Note: Thanks to a major effort by eco and other groups in the US (including GJEP), the period for commenting on the government’s attempt to gut one of the country’s strongest remaining environmental laws (the National Environmental Policy Act) has been extended to 20 August. NEPA requires production of extensive Environmental Impact Statements, including input from the public, before actions can be taken that would impact or harm the environment. This law also applies to the proposed release of genetically engineered trees in the US.

For more info or to submit comments, go to: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=CEQ-2018-0001-0001

– Anne Petermann, GJEP Carl Segerstrom/High Country News

A linchpin environmental law is now being scrutinized by the Trump administration and could be targeted for reforms. The National Environmental Policy Act, commonly referred to as NEPA, dictates the environmental planning process for federal agencies. Any changes to the NEPA process could have far-reaching impacts on the vast public lands and infrastructure of the West.

The NEPA reform push broadly traces political dividing lines, as pro-business and anti-regulation Republicans, who want to see NEPA reworked, square off with environmental groups and conservation-minded Democrats hoping to preserve the law and implementation process. Caught between the vocal factions of each party are state governments and federal land managers arguing for a middle ground of limited reform.

An August 2017 executive order, aimed at cutting environmental regulations and speeding up infrastructure projects, key goals of the Trump administration, prompted the ongoing review. The review looks at changing the implementing procedures for environmental reviews and offers some examples of what could be altered, including: limiting the time frame for environmental reviews, changing how agencies consider state and tribal input, and reducing the need to explore project alternatives.

When federal agencies consider timber sales, build bridges, renew licenses on dams, pave highways, permit nuclear facilities or make any decision that will impact the local environment, they trigger the NEPA process. Contractors working on federal projects often commission and pay for NEPA reviews. The NEPA review process has three tiers that determine how rigorous an environmental review must be. The Categorical Exclusion designation exempts actions from environmental review if they are deemed to have no “significant effect on the human environment.” The next tier is Environmental Assessment, which compels agencies to prepare a formal review of potential impacts and decide whether the action has no significant impact or requires an Environmental Impact Statement. The Environmental Impact Statement is the most thorough review process and requires multiple drafts, a public comment period and that agencies explore alternatives to proposed projects.

Heading the push for NEPA reform is Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, who has had the law in his sights for the last decade. During a committee meeting on NEPA, Bishop, the chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, complained the law has been warped by lawsuits and court interpretations and become “a weapon for litigants to force delays and denials on all sorts of activities.” Bishop, who has been a vocal proponent of loosening federal regulations on oil and gas companies and the transfer of federal lands to state control, said, “Environmental reviews should inform government of the actions they need to take, not paralyze it.”

Conservation groups are digging in order to preserve NEPA and asking for an extended public commenting period on the current review. The “Protect NEPA Campaign,” which is a coalition of environmental, labor and civil rights group, such as the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council has called the Trump administration’s review an unprecedented attack on the law. More than 350 environmental organizations signed a letter to the Council on Environmental Quality, asking for an extension of the public comment period from 30 to 90 days. Raul Garcia, the senior legislative counsel for the environmental law group Earthjustice, said the month-long commenting process “is the latest in a long line of this administration’s efforts to silence public opinion and hinder democracy.”

The Western Governors’ Association recently called for changes to the NEPA process that would give more influence to state governments. In a policy resolution, the association, which represents Western state executives, asked that federal agencies adopt more consistent NEPA planning processes and better engage with state and local governments. The group of Western lawmakers also asked that state environmental impact studies carry more weight in federal decision-making.

Land management professionals say parts of the NEPA process could be reformed, but caution against sweeping changes to the law. Mike Ferguson, a retired Bureau Land Management land planner, first worked on NEPA implementation with the BLM in the 1970’s and has seen the implementation of the law become more convoluted over time. He says tightening the time frame for NEPA actions, clarifying the role of public comments, and investing in training and agency personnel could improve the process.

Getting back to the basic language and intent of the law should be the goal of any NEPA reforms, says Ferguson. “A tug-of-war obliterates what NEPA was designed for in the first place, and I don’t care whether that’s from the left or the right,” he says. “Opening it up on either side will lead to a downward spiral that will dilute its effectiveness in the long-run.”

The commenting period for NEPA reform is slated to be open through Aug. 20, and a comment form can be accessed via the Council on Environmental Quality’s website. To date, the majority of the comments so far have either urged the council to keep NEPA intact or asked for an extended commenting period.

https://globaljusticeecology.org/nepa-under-attack-tell-trump-hands-off-natl-env-law-before-aug-20/#comments

Category: Climate Justice, Featured, Social Media News Tags: High Country News, National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA

Microplastics and Harmful Chemicals Discovered in Antarctic Ice … and Even Freshly Fallen Snow

onegreenplanet.org
Microplastics and Harmful Chemicals Discovered in Antarctic Ice … and Even Freshly Fallen Snow
Aleksandra Pajda
3-4 minutes

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!

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/microplastics-harmful-chemicals-discovered-antarctic-ice/?utm_source=Green+Monster+Mailing+List&utm_campaign=642fbf4340-NEWSLETTER_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_bbf62ddf34-642fbf4340-106049477

Image source: Free-Photos/Pixabay

A building El Niño in 2018 signals more extreme weather for 2019

grist.org
A building El Niño in 2018 signals more extreme weather for 2019
By Eric Holthaus on May 22, 201811:39 am
4 minutes

In case you couldn’t get enough extreme weather, the next 12 months or so could bring even more scorching temps, punishing droughts, and unstoppable wildfires.

It’s still early, but odds are quickly rising that another El Niño — the periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean — could be forming. The latest official outlook from NOAA and Columbia University gives better-than-even odds of El Niño materializing by the end of this year, which could lead to a cascade of dangerous weather around the globe in 2019.

That’s a troubling development, especially when people worldwide are still suffering from the last El Niño, which ended two years ago.
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These early warnings come with a caveat: Predictions of El Niño at this time of year are notoriously fickle. If one comes, it’s impossible to know how strong it would be.

When it’s active, El Niño is often a catch-all that’s blamed for all sorts of wild weather, so it’s worth a quick science-based refresher of what we’re talking about here:

El Niño has amazingly far-reaching effects, spurring droughts in Africa and typhoons swirling toward China and Japan. It’s a normal, natural ocean phenomenon, but there’s emerging evidence that climate change is spurring more extreme El Niño-related events.

On average though, El Niño boosts global temperatures and redistributes weather patterns worldwide in a pretty predictable way. In fact, the Red Cross is starting to use its predictability to prevent humanitarian weather catastrophes before they happen.

All told, the the U.N. estimates the 2016 El Niño directly affected nearly 100 million people worldwide, not to mention causing permanent damage to the world’s coral reefs, a surge in carbon dioxide emissions from a global outbreak of forest fires, and the warmest year in recorded history.

In Ethiopia, it spawned one of the worst droughts in decades. More than 8.5 million Ethiopians continue to rely on emergency assistance, according to the UN. That includes some 1.3 million people — a majority of whom are children — who have been forced to migrate from their homes.

Initial estimates show that, if the building El Niño actually arrives, 2019 would stand a good chance at knocking off 2016 as the warmest year on record. With a strong El Niño, next year might even tiptoe across the 1.5 degree-Celsius mark — the first major milestone that locks in at least some of global warming’s worst impacts.

Recently, the United Kingdom’s Met Office — the U.K’s version of the National Weather Service — placed a 10-percent chance of the world passing the 1.5 degree Celsius target before 2022. That target was a key goal of the 2015 Paris climate agreement because a sharp upward spike in temperature that severe, if sustained, would be potentially catastrophic — causing, among other impacts, “fundamental changes in ocean chemistry” that could linger for millennia, according to a draft UN report due out later this year.

Another El Niño is bad news, but it has been inevitable that another one will happen eventually. Knowing exactly when the next one is coming will give those in harm’s way more time to prepare.

https://grist.org/science/a-building-el-nino-in-2018-signals-more-extreme-weather-on-tap-for-2019/

Provisions in ‘Farm Bill’ Seek to Fast Track Logging in National Forest

globaljusticeecology.org
Provisions in ‘Farm Bill’ Seek to Fast Track Logging in National Forest
Posted on May 15, 2018 by GJEP staff Leave a Comment
3 minutes

New York – Often seen politically as a must pass for legislators, the current “Farm Bill”, more accurately known as the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, has taken on a menacing form this legislative session as it has just been passed by party line vote from committee on May 3rd.

The bill in its current form is replete with provisions that seek to undermine environmental laws and safeguards. The bill has been opposed by a long and growing list of environmental groups that includes the Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, Defenders of the Wild, Earthjustice, League of Conservation voters among others.

Global Justice Ecology Project is announcing its opposition to H.R. 2 as a blatant attempt to undermine environmental protections and severely limit the ability of the public to challenge destructive forest policies. This includes the logging of up to ten square miles of trees at a time within the national forest system – under the guise of forest health.

H.R. 2 would double a similar carve out for the logging industry that was included in the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill (budget). In doing so, it would further allow exemptions from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of up to 6,000 acres per single cut to be exempt from review- and thus meaningful citizen input.

“The Farm Bill in its current form is a gift to the logging industry as it would allow for tremendously destructive increases in extraction of timber from our national forests without review or disclosure of potential harm,” said Anne Peterman, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP). “Pro-logging provisions in the bill use fear-mongering, including the specter of wildfire, to give extractive industries carte blanche access to devastate our public lands with no opportunity for input from the public.”

https://globaljusticeecology.org/provisions-in-farm-bill-seek-to-fast-track-logging-in-national-forest/

Global Justice NOW

Category: Climate Justice, Featured, Press Releases, Pressroom, Social Media News Tags: Farm Bill

Humans didn’t exist the last time there was this much CO2 in the air

grist.org
Humans didn’t exist the last time there was this much CO2 in the air
By Eric Holthaus on May 3, 2018

The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high, millions of years ago, the planet was very different. For one, humans didn’t exist.

On Wednesday, scientists at the University of California in San Diego confirmed that April’s monthly average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration breached 410 parts per million for the first time in our history.

We know a lot about how to track these changes. The Earth’s carbon dioxide levels peak around this time every year for a pretty straightforward reason. There’s more landmass in the northern hemisphere, and plants grow in a seasonal cycle. During the summer, they suck down CO2, during the winter, they let it back out. The measurements were made at Mauna Loa, Hawaii — a site chosen for its pristine location far away from the polluting influence of a major city.

Increasingly though, pollution from the world’s cities is making its way to Mauna Loa — and everywhere else on Earth.

In little more than a century of frenzied fossil-fuel burning, we humans have altered our planet’s atmosphere at a rate dozens of times faster than natural climate change. Carbon dioxide is now more than 100 ppm higher than any direct measurements from Antarctic ice cores over the past 800,000 years, and probably significantly higher than anything the planet has experienced for at least 15 million years. That includes eras when Earth was largely ice-free.

Not only are carbon dioxide levels rising each year, they are accelerating. Carbon dioxide is climbing at twice the pace it was 50 years ago. Even the increases are increasing.

That’s happening for several reasons, most important of which is that we’re still burning a larger amount of fossil fuels each year. Last year, humanity emitted the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions in history — even after factoring in the expansion of renewable energy. At the same time, the world’s most important carbon sinks — our forests — are dying, and therefore losing their ability to pull carbon dioxide out of the air and store it safely in the soil. The combination of these effects means we are losing ground, and fast.

Without a bold shift in our actions, in 30 years atmospheric carbon dioxide will return back to levels last reached just after the extinction of the dinosaurs, more than 50 million years ago. At that point, it might be too late to prevent permanent, dangerous feedback loops from kicking in.

This is the biggest problem humanity has ever faced, and we’ve barely even begun to address it effectively. On our current pace, factoring in current climate policies of every nation on Earth, the best independent analyses show that we are on course for warming of about 3.4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, enough to extinguish entire ecosystems and destabilize human civilization.

Climate change demands the urgent attention and cooperation of every government around the world. But even though most countries have acknowledged the danger, the ability to limit our emissions eludes us. After 23 years of United Nations summits on climate change, the time has come for radical thinking and radical action — a social movement with the power to demand a better future.

Of the two dozen or so official UN scenarios that show humanity curbing global warming to the goals agreed to in the 2015 Paris Accord, not one show success without the equivalent of a technological miracle. It’s easier to imagine outlandish technologies, like carbon capture, geoengineering, or fusion power than self-control.

Our failed approach to climate change is mostly a failure of imagination. We are not fated to this path. We can do better. Yes, there are some truly colossal headwinds, but we still control our future. Forgetting that fact is sure to doom us all.

https://grist.org/science/humans-didnt-exist-the-last-time-there-was-this-much-co2-in-the-air/

World’s First Collapsible, Reusable Straw Fits Right On Your Keychain

 

 

ecowatch.com
World’s First Collapsible, Reusable Straw Fits Right On Your Keychain
Lorraine Chow
3 minutes

Straws suck—literally and figuratively. Americans throw away 500 million of these single-use plastics everyday day, clogging landfills, polluting oceans and causing harm to aquatic creatures.

And while reusable straws made of bamboo or metal already exist on the market, the Santa Fe-based team at FinalStraw have invented the world’s first collapsible, reusable straw you can conveniently attach to your keychain so you won’t forget to bring your own when you’re on the go.

The FinalStraw consists of a foldable stainless steel straw, a tiny squeegee to keep the straw clean and a recycled plastic case that’s no bigger than a smartphone.

To help reduce plastic straw use, every FinalStraw also includes five information cards for you to leave with your bill at restaurants that still serve plastic straws. According to the campaign, “we hope to make the public more aware of the devastating effects of plastic pollution and use that awareness to pressure restaurants to stop serving straws.”

A lot of buzz has already generated around the project. A feature on BuzzFeed Video has generated 9.4 million views and counting. A successful Kickstarter, now with more than 11,000 backers, easily blew past the team’s initial $12,500 goal. More than $500,000 has been raised so far with more than 20 days to go.

“The success of our Kickstarter just goes to show that people want reusables, they just need to be convenient and make sense,” FinalStraw co-founder Emma Cohen told EcoWatch in an email.

The start-up recently partnered with the Plastic Pollution Coalition’s The Last Plastic Straw Movement for a limited edition Earth Day straw, where part of the proceeds were donated to the organization.

Now that they’ve hit their fundraising goal, Cohen said the team is looking forward to teaming up with more organizations to give back to the community and to continue making more sleek, convenient reusable to-go ware.

“Our mission is to make sure we provide people with the highest quality, socially responsible and coolest reusables possible,” she said.

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FinalStraw costs $20 on Kickstarter and comes with a lifetime warranty. The estimated delivery is November 2018.

https://www.ecowatch.com/finalstraw-collapsible-straw-2562955647.html?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=e12c646d61-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-e12c646d61-86074753

5 Environmental Victories to Inspire You This Earth Day

Olivia Rosane

Planet Earth is at a crisis point. Researchers say we have to begin reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 if we want to meet the temperature goals outlined in the Paris agreement and avoid catastrophic climate change.

The work to be done can seem overwhelming. A survey published this week found that only 6 percent of Americans think we will succeed in reducing global warming.

But Earth Day weekend is no time to give up! History has shown that when human beings come together to face environmental challenges, we are capable of making the planet a healthier, happier place for humans and non-humans alike.

Here are five environmental victories to inspire you this Earth Day.

  1. The First Earth Day Creates a Movement

Before the first Earth Day in 1970, polluted rivers in the U.S. sometimes caught fire, and industry polluted the air without worrying about consequences. Then Sen. Gaylord Nelson decided to launch a “national teach-in on the environment,” drawing on the tactics of the anti-war movement to unite different struggles against pollution, oil spills and wilderness depletion under a single green umbrella. Twenty million Americans participated in the first Earth Day and it led to major legislative victories, such as the formation of the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, which set out to make all U.S. rivers swimmable and fishable again, and insured they would no longer be flammable.

As hard as it might be to believe in today’s political climate, that first Earth Day was a bi-partisan affair. Nelson reached out to Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey to act as the day’s co-chair, in a model of the kind of bipartisan collaboration we need to tackle today’s environmental challenges.

  1. The U.S. Saves Its Symbol

One of the factors that raised environmental consciousness in the U.S. in the decade leading up to the first Earth Day was the 1962 publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. In the book, Carson explained how the widely-used pesticide DDT entered the food chain, killing many more insects than targeted and harming the birds who feasted on the insects, including bald eagles.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), a year after Carson’s book was published, there were only 487 nesting pairs left in the country. But the U.S. acted to save its national bird. In 1972, the nascent EPA banned DDT, and, in 1978, the species was listed as endangered, five years after the passage of the Endangered Species Act. In 2007, the FWS announced that the bald eagle had entirely recovered.

  1. International Collaboration Closes the Ozone Hole

As insurmountable as global climate change seems at times, there is precedent for nations coming together to solve an environmental problem. When a hole in the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from the ultraviolet rays that cause skin cancer and harm plants, was discovered in the 1980s, nations came together and finalized the Montreal Protocol in 1987.

The protocol banned ozone-depleting products such as chlorofluorocarbons that were used in refrigerants and aerosol sprays. And it worked. A 2018 NASA study found that the reduction in ozone-depleting chemicals had resulted in 20 percent less ozone depletion since 2005.

  1. The Green Belt Movement Plants More Than 50 Million Trees

Prof. Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her role in founding the Green Belt Movement. Fredrick Onyango

In the 1970s, Prof. Wangari Maathai listened to the complaints of women in rural Kenya who told her that they had to walk further for fuel, their local streams were drying, and their food supply was more precarious. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1972 to encourage them to plant trees in order to improve the soil, store rainwater, and provide fuel and food. Tree planting led to grassroots activism as the women realized the deterioration of their land was also the result of government policies. Overall, the movement has planted more than 51 million trees since its founding.

  1. Maori Win 140-Year-Old Environmental Court Case

 

 

In 2017, New Zealand’s parliament granted the Whanganui River, called Te Awa Tupua by the Maori, the legal rights of a person, something the local Maori had petitioned for since 1873. The move honored the persistence of indigenous activists, who are often on the forefront of struggles to protect the environment, and signals that settler governments might finally be willing to learn from a worldview that places fewer separations between human beings and the planet. The legislation included money for compensation and for improving the river’s health, and paved the way for Mount Taranaki to be offered similar legal status later that year.

https://www.ecowatch.com/environmental-victories-2561818321.html?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=1db4b0c0eb-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-1db4b0c0eb-86074753

End Plastic Pollution | Earth Day Network

From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet.

In response, Earth Day 2018 will focus on fundamentally changing human attitude and behavior about plastics and catalyzing a significant reduction in plastic pollution.

Our strategy to End Plastic Pollution will:

Lead and support the adoption of a global framework to regulate plastic pollution
Educate and mobilize citizens across the globe to demand action from governments and corporations to control and diminish plastic pollution
Inform and activate citizens to take personal responsibility for the plastic pollution that each one of us generates by choosing to reject, reduce, reuse and recycle plastics
Work with universities, school teachers and students to End Plastic Pollution
Work with other organizations and networks and make Earth Day 2018 a platform to End Plastic Pollution by developing resources that others can use and build partnerships.
Promote the work that cities and local governments are doing to tackle plastic pollution
Empower journalists across the globe to report on the problem and its emerging solutions.

Earth Day Network will leverage the platform of Earth Day, April 22, 2018 and the growing excitement around the 50thAnniversary of Earth Day in 2020. We will work with key constituencies and influencers to build a world of educated consumers of all ages who understand the environmental, climate and health consequences of using plastics.

We will engage and activate our global network of NGO’s and grassroots organizations, campus youth, mayors and other local elected leaders, faith leaders, artists and athletes, and primary and secondary students and teachers.

We will organize events in all continents of the world, build a global following and activate citizens to join our End Plastic Pollution advocacy campaigns.

In sum, we will use the power of Earth Day to elevate the issue of plastic pollution in the global agenda and inspire and demand effective action to reduce and control it.

Sign the End Plastic Pollution Petition

Make a pledge to reduce your use of plastic

Send your ideas or propose a partnership to plastic@earthday.org

https://www.earthday.org/campaigns/plastics-campaign/

Climate-friendly burgers: fact or fiction?

By Nathanael Johnson on Apr 16, 2018

Here’s a crazy idea: What if your love of steak wasn’t a massive environmental problem but part of a solution instead? What if we could suck carbon out of the air and save the world simply by eating beef?

A new study suggests that all this is possible, but it comes with a whopper of a caveat.

Ranching advocates have long thought carbon-negative beef was possible. The hypothesis was that grasslands and grazing animals have an ancient relationship; they’ve evolved together and depend on each other for optimal health. But modern ranching methods severed that connection, so the thinking went. Allow cattle to graze in the manner of wild herds — very heavily in one area for short periods, and then giving that area time to regrow — and the ancient relationship could be restored. Grasses would grow lush and suck up lots of carbon dioxide, more than compensating for the greenhouse gases that the cattle produce.

The problem was, there wasn’t good science to support this hypothesis. There have been studies looking at carbon sequestration in grazed land, but those only worked when you trucked in tons of compost, which can be prohibitively expensive. Then, a couple of weeks ago we finally got our first study showing grass-fed beef can be carbon negative. Here it is. Let the beef bacchanal begin.

Actually, before you dump gravy over your head and skip off to join the celebrants, let’s look at that big caveat: The beef in this study took up twice as much land as conventional beef production.

About half of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions come from cutting down forests, and livestock are a primary culprit because they dominate 77 percent of agricultural land. And farms keep expanding to feed more meat-hungry people. There’s a danger that findings like this could give grass-fed beef a green halo, and allow people to feel virtuous for buying more double cheeseburgers. That would be a disaster. If everyone in the world started eating this kind of carbon-negative beef, we’d have to clear forests and wildlands to expand pasture, and that would wipe out any carbon savings.

Getting it right requires a balancing act. If we manage to slash our collective burger habit in half, while only buying beef raised the way described in this study, then voila, carbon-negative beef! That really could happen if good replacements — say, the Impossible Burger and good old mushrooms — help us drive down beef consumption. And that’s also assuming these practices work in a lot of different places. Remember, this is just one study (other terms and conditions apply, not valid in Veganistan).

There’s another way this might work: Conventional beef cattle spend two-thirds of their lives eating grass before they move to a feedlot and start eating grain. If ranchers around the world start applying the lessons of this study to that first two-thirds of a steer’s life, it could go a long way toward offsetting cattle emissions without taking up any more space. That’s a way we could tweak the system, and it wouldn’t require optimistic assumptions about how we’d keep people from clearing more farmland or convince everyone to eat less meat.

https://grist.org/science/climate-friendly-burgers-fact-or-fiction/