Environmental News Roundup!

Method, A Producer Of Green Soaps, Creates Plastic Resin From Ocean Plastics

New packaging from Method uses recovered ocean plastic and post-consumer recycled plastic to make containers for hand soap you can buy at your local Wholefoods and Target. The combination of plastics results in a uniquely gray resin. It might not be beautiful, but imagine if all plastic makers were to start mining and using ocean plastic as their core resin. Right now, the plastic collection is done through volunteer cleanup efforts in Hawaii, but if Method can compete in the US market and get the attention of large plastic producers like Coke and Johnson & Johnson, plastic mining and ocean plastic collection could be the resin of the future, cleaning our oceans and saving millions of gallons of oil at the same time.

‘Third Plate’ Reimagines Farm-To-Table Eating To Nourish The Land

Author Dan Barber discusses the wastefulness of American food culture, suggesting that we rotate the most desirable and valuable foods, like tomatoes, with more humble offerings like buckwheat or barley or mustard greens — which are often overlooked when it comes to dining. Rotating crops and growing certain crops together in the same field for healthier growth has fallen out of practice. He also laments the American-born tradition of large meat portions, as meat takes a heaping amount of energy to produce and is bad for health when eaten in large quantities. In most countries, meat is used in small quantities as a flavoring rather than a main attraction. He adds that chefs are in a unique position to change food culture by pairing foods together that grow well together in a field (eg; beans and tomatoes), changing food culture for the better.

Have You Heard About Baltimore’s Solar Powered Trash Collecting Water Wheel?

“A study published on Sunday in Nature Climate Change gave us the news that climate change is bringing about a higher proportion of female sea turtles to males, thanks to a seemingly idiotic genetic quirk called temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), also found in a few other species. Essentially TSD gives the turtles a baseline temperature of 84.2 degrees, at which there are 50/50 odds of being male or female. Beyond a certain threshold of heat, too few males will exist to sustain the population.”

Environmental News Roundup!

One use for 150,000 plastic bottles: Build your own personal island

Richart Sowa,a former carpenter, assembled a mass of recycled junk over almost seven years to make his own personal island near Cancun. Sowa gathered bags of more than 150,000 plastic bottles and fastened them to old wooden pallets before flipping them over in the water. He then put sand and dirt on top, which somehow manages to sustain trees and other plant life on the 82-foot island. I guess I have my retirement plan now.

Millions To March Against Monsanto On May 24

On May 24, millions of activists from around the world will once again March Against Monsanto, calling for the permanent boycott of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and other harmful agro-chemicals. Currently, marches will occur on six continents, in 52 countries,with events in over 400 cities. In the US, solidarity marches are slated to occur in 47 states. A comprehensive list of marches can be accessed at www.march-against-monsanto.com.

Environmentalists Sue US Government To Get Bees Listed As Endangered Animals

“The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.”- UN report. With the massive drop in bee populations, our food supply is in jeopardy. If Any living creature had to be protected, bees should be #1.

“Last year the Xerces Society petitioned the Interior Department to list the bee as endangered but received no response. So the society sued the Interior Department along with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Right now, there aren’t any bees listed as endangered, though several bees native to Hawaii are under consideration, despite the fact that bee populations have suffered dramatic losses.”

Germany Sets New Record, Generating 74 Percent Of Power Needs From Renewable Energy

“On Sunday, Germany’s impressive streak of renewable energy milestones continued, with renewable energy generation surging to a record portion — nearly 75 percent — of the country’s overall electricity demand by midday. With wind and solar in particular filling such a huge portion of the country’s power demand, electricity prices actually dipped into the negative for much of the afternoon, according to Renewables International.”

10 Feet of Global Sea Level Rise Is Now Guaranteed

At least 10 feet of sea level rise is now guaranteed worldwide. An ice sheet two miles thick has collapsed in West Antarctica—glaciologists have been dreading this moment for decades, though in recent years, it was more of a question of when than if—and there is nothing that can stop it from melting now.

LOCAL Environmental News Roundup!

Hi guys! Erin here this week wishing our intern, Anthony, good luck on his exams. I’ll be doing the roundup this week, focusing on local news.

Bike To Work Day

On Friday May 16, 2014 Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association invite you to join over 10,000 area commuters for a celebration of bicycling as a clean, fun, and healthy way to get to work. Attend one of 79 pit stops throughout D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to receive refreshments, and be entered into a raffle for  bicycles being given away. Free T-shirts available at pit stops to the first 14,000 who register and attend. You can even sign up on the website to join a commuter convoy led by an experienced bicyclist. Wear a helmet and stay safe!

Sixth Graders in Charlottesville, Virginia Step Up To Urge Dominion Virginia Power Toward Renewables, No More Nuclear

Students in Charlottesville were inspired to testify for more renewable power in Virginia after reading a book and seeing a TED talk about a young boy in southeast Africa who cobbled together materials and skills under adverse conditions to construct a wind turbine that could supply electricity to his village. They practiced testifying with one of their teachers and were prepared to speak at a recent public hearing, although none of the judges agreed to hear their testimony and a staffer tried to whittle down their numbers from ten, to two. The most common theme of their intended testimony: Dominion should not build a third reactor at its North Anna nuclear power plant as the utility is contemplating. Instead, it should deploy available funds to increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources, led by offshore wind, solar and biomass. It is true that sixth graders don’t typically have a good understanding of the more technical details of supplying power to millions of people, but it is important to observe those who would take a stand and get involved at such a young age.

American Wind Energy Association to highlight Virginia potential at June conference

Virginia currently has only a handful of small wind turbines statewide, putting us far behind neighboring states like Maryland and West Virginia. But AWEA’s Larry Flowers, who leads the team organizing the event, says his trade association sees great potential in the Commonwealth.

 

Washington, DC Green Festival celebrates its 10th year at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center May 31 – June 1, 2014!

At Green Festival®, there is something for everyone interested in living a more sustainable and healthier life. Experience the widest selection of products and services to work green, play green and live green – from food, fashion and health, to energy, construction and design. Enjoy vegan and vegetarian cooking demos, educational activities for kids and families, panels featuring inspirational speakers, and live music and entertainment. Shop in our unique marketplace of more than 300 eco-friendly businesses – everything from all-natural body care products and organic clothing to Fair Trade gifts, beautiful home renovations made from renewable resources, plus vegan and vegetarian offerings based on organic, non-GMO or local, artisanal foods.

Grant Funds Available for New Beekeepers in Virginia

With the advance of colony collapse disorder, other diseases and pest challenges like mites, life has been difficult for honey bees in America—and for the beekeepers trying to raise them. But assistance for establishing new hives in Virginia is available through the state’s Beehive Grant Fund. Any individual who purchases a new hive or purchases materials or supplies to construct a new hive can apply for a grant from the fund. Each grant will be in the amount of actual expenses incurred for the purchase of items to establish a new hive, up to $200 per hive, not to exceed $2,400 per individual per year.

Environmental News Roundup!

Human litter found in Europe’s deepest ocean depths

A seabed survey has revealed the depth of the marine litter problem by mapping waste in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, and the Mediterranean Sea. Plastic bags, bottles, fishing nets, and other human litter have been found in the deepest parts of Europe’s oceans. Scientists used video and trawl surveys to take nearly 600 samples from 32 sites, from depths of 35 meters to 4.5 kilometers. Trash was found in every Mediterranean site surveyed, and all the way from the continental shelf of Europe to the mid-Atlantic ridge, around 2,000km from land.

Derailed US train bursts into flames in Lynchburg

A freight train carrying crude oil has derailed and burst into flames in Lynchburg, Virginia. Three or four tanker cars carrying crude oil were breached, and over a dozen tanker cars were involved in the collision. Oil has been spilling into the James River since the accident. About 300 people have been evacuated from nearby buildings close to the city center. The environmental effects of the crude oil leaking into the James River have yet to be known.

Chicago Approves Ban On Plastic Shopping Bags

Chicago has become the latest U.S. city to approve a ban on plastic grocery bags. The City Council overwhelmingly voted in favor of a partial plastic bag ban in Chicago. The new ordinance will first go into effect in August 2015, when retailers occupying stores that are more than 10,000 square foot will no longer be allowed to offer plastic bags. The ban will be extended to smaller chain stores and franchises in August 2016. Fines run between $300 and $500 each time the ordinance is violated. An estimated 3.7 million plastic bags are used in Chicago daily and between 3 and 5 percent of them become litter.

Texas jury awards $3M to family for illnesses related to fracking

A Texas jury has awarded nearly $3 million to a family for illnesses they suffered from exposure to contaminated groundwater, solid toxic waste, and airborne chemicals generated by natural gas fracking operations surrounding their 40-acre ranch. The verdict is seen as a landmark decision for opponents of hydraulic fracturing – a process in which high-pressure fluid is injected into the ground to fracture shale rock and release natural gas. Up to 600 chemicals are used in fracking fluid, and they include known human carcinogens. Only 30 to 50 percent of those fluids are recovered, with the rest of the nonbiodegradable chemicals left in the ground.

April Becomes 1st Month With CO2 Levels Above 400 PPM

Every day in April 2014 has been over 400 ppm of carbon dioxide concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere. Pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide were around 280 ppm. The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high consistently was anywhere from 800,000 to 15 million years ago. Carbon dioxide concentrations will most likely stay above 400 ppm through May and possibly June, dipping down below this level again in July. The 400 ppm mark will very likely be reached earlier next year, possibly in February.

All about Earth Day

Earth Day is celebrated around the world each year on April 22! Although caring for the planet and being sustainable are year-round practices, Earth Day is important to spread environmental awareness.

The idea for Earth Day started in 1970 after Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator at the time, witnessed the disastrous effects of the oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He wanted to infuse the energy of the student anti-war movement at the time with a growing awareness about air and water pollution. Nelson wanted to force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Environmental awareness was not something very common in politics before Earth Day. The sulfurous smell of factories in a city was considered the smell of economic success. On the first Earth Day, 20 million Americans all over took to the streets to show support for a healthy environment. Politicians from both sides of the spectrum took part in this new movement and created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This led to the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Act.

The past few decades, Earth Day has gone global with over 192 countries taking part to show support for the environment. Earth Day’s India program is engaging people to build and enhance the region’s civic mobilization in the environmental movement. The Asian elephant, once prevalent throughout many areas of India, is now listed as an endangered species. To reverse the Asian elephant population decline, Earth Day India has launched a campaign to protect and preserve the species from poaching. As a part of Earth Day, mass tree-planting campaigns have taken place in Canada, The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, and Uganda. Over 413,000 new trees were planted in these countries as a part of these efforts.

There are lots of things you can do on your own to celebrate Earth Day! You can organize a neighborhood clean-up. You can walk, bike, or take the bus for one day. You can plant a garden in your backyard with your family. You can also help plant a tree in your community!

Even though Earth Day has been going on for a while, we should continue to care about the day and what it represents. There has been a growing sense of apathy and even skepticism towards the green movement. No matter what you believe or what your political viewpoints are, everybody should get behind making the Earth a less-polluted, more sustainable place to live. Earth Day is a very important reminder every year that we only have this one place to call home, and we should keep it livable for our children.

Environmental News Roundup!

Plane Search Shows World’s Oceans Are Full of Trash

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been hampered by the huge amount of garbage that is floating in the ocean. Before major news outlets began covering every aspect of the search, ocean garbage patches never made global headlines. People searching for the missing plane were bewildered to see hundreds of objects off the Australian coast that turned out to be cargo container parts, plastic shopping bags, or discarded fishing equipment. About 90 percent of the debris in ocean garbage patches is plastic. All of this plastic has a disastrous effect on marine animals. Sea turtles and California gray whales are big unintentional consumers of plastic. This can lead to starvation or malnutrition when plastic builds up in the animal’s stomach causing the animal to feel full.

Wind Power Has Cut U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions by 4.4 Percent: Report

The rise of wind power in the United States is putting a big dent in carbon emissions. Wind generation avoided 95.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2013, which is equivalent to taking 16.9 million cars off the road. That equates to a 4.4 percent cut to power sector emissions. It was also found that the expansion of wind energy has helped reduce water consumption by 36.5 billion gallons, or about 116 gallons of water per U.S. resident. Elizabeth Salerno, American Wind Energy Association’s vice president for industry data and analysis said, “Every time a megawatt of wind power is generated, something else is not generated.” Two big factors could help boost the continued growth of wind power: the extension of the production tax credit, which gives a financial incentive for wind development, and possible changes to the EPA’s emission standards for existing power facilities.

Gulf Oil Spill “Not Over”: Dolphins, Turtles Dying in Record Numbers

Even four years after the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, several species of wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico are still struggling to recover. Bottlenose dolphins and sea turtles are dying in record numbers, and the evidence is stronger than ever that their demise is connected to the BP oil spill. Ongoing research shows that dolphins swimming in oiled areas are underweight, anemic, and showing signs of liver and lung diseases. Over 900 bottlenose dolphins have been found dead or stranded in the oil spill area since April 2010. Sea turtles are also being hit hard as a result of the oil spill. About 500 dead sea turtles have been found in the spill area every year since 2011. The full extent of the repercussions from the 2010 oil spill are still yet to be known.

New climate pragmatism framework prioritizes energy access to drive innovation and development

A new report  from climate and energy scientists has shown that expanding access to reliable energy offers better route to address global challenges. “Climate change can’t be solved on the backs of the world’s poorest people. They key to solving for both climate and poverty is helping nations build innovative energy systems that can deliver cheap, clean and reliable power.” The report is the first of the Climate Pragmatism project, led by Arizona State University’s Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes in partnership with The Breakthrough Institute. Given the pivotal relationship between abundant energy access and human development, climate change must be addressed within the context of poor nations gaining access to modern energy.

Climate change will ‘lead battles for food’, says head of World Bank

Head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim urged campaigners and scientists to work together to form a coherent plan in the fight against climate change. He predicts that battles over water and food will arise within the next five to 10 years as a result of warming climates. “Is there enough basic science research going into renewable energy? Not even close. Are there ways of taking discoveries made in universities and quickly moving them into industry? No. Are there ways of testing those innovations? Are there people thinking about scaling [up] those innovations?” Kim said that there were four areas where the bank could help in the fight against global warming: finding a price for carbon; removing fuel subsidies; investing in cleaner cities; and developing climate-smart agriculture.

Self Watering Plants From Plastic Bottles!

A friend of ours passed along this eco-friendly invention you can try at home- check it out!

1Remove the guess work out of watering your plants.  This easy self watering bottle lets you see when to add water to the reservoir and promotes even distribution of water for a happy plant.

Items you will need

• Empty plastic bottle

• 2-Fabric strips

• 3/16 inch drill bit and drill

• Knife or saw to cut the bottle in half

 • Soil 

• Plant (African Violets work great)

 

Instructions2.jpg

Cut the bottle into two parts leaving enough room on the top half for your plant and soil.  Roll down the edge of the bottom, if necessary, to support the top half.  (this is necessary when using a one-liter bottle so the top does not slip down into the bottom.) (You can also roll the top edge to protect the leaf stems)

 

3.jpgDrill a  large hole in the lid, insert the fabric strips and screw it back on your top. Make sure the fabric comes up near the top edge to promote even wicking of the water up into your soil.

 

 

4Soak the fabric in water and wet it before adding the dirt to ensure capillary action of the water up the fabric.  Leave enough fabric hanging below the screw cap to sit in your water reservoir.

5

 

 

 

Remember: there are many shapes and sizes of plastic bottles that can be used to make self-watering planters.

Have fun!

Environmental News Roundup!

Climate impacts ‘overwhelming’ – UN

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a new report on the future impacts of climate change. The report has warned that the impacts of global warming are likely to be “severe, pervasive and irreversible”. Some of these impacts include a higher risk of flooding and changes to crop yields and water availability. Since the last IPCC report in 2007, scientists have found evidence that the impacts of global warming have nearly doubled. The oceans will become more acidic, threatening coral and the many different species they harbor. Land plants and animals will begin to move towards higher ground or towards the poles as the average global temperature rises. “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri told journalists.

International Court of Justice finds Japanese whaling in Antarctic illegal

The International Court of Justice has found that Japan’s whaling program in the Artarctic (JARPA II) is not in accordance with three provisions of the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Australia appealed to the court to help stop Japan’s whaling expeditions in the Southern Ocean for “scientific” purposes. Over the years, Japan has not yielded many useful scientific findings as a result of their whaling. Most the the whale meat was used for food in Japan.

In the ICJ’s report, “Examining Japan’s decisions regarding the use of lethal methods, the Court finds no evidence of any studies of the feasibility or practicability of non-lethal methods, either in setting the JARPA II sample sizes or in later years in which the programme has maintained the same sample size targets. The Court also finds no evidence that Japan examined whether it would be feasible to combine a smaller lethal take and an increase in non-lethal sampling as a means to achieve JARPA II’s research objectives.

EPA proposes greater protections for streams, wetlands under Clean Water Act

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule Tuesday that would give the federal government regulatory authority over millions of acres of wetlands and about 2 million miles of streams. The proposal would lead to stricter pollution controls on some of these areas and aims to resolve a long-running legal battle over how to apply the Clean Water Act to the nation’s intermittent and ephemeral streams and wetlands. Environmentalists argue that these waters are crucial to both fish and waterfowl. Land developers and some farmers, however, say the process of obtaining a federal permit to conduct their activities imposes an unnecessary burden on their operations. Under this rule, the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have to evaluate the environmental impact of an activity that could impair one of these waterways.

Bags of Mountain Air Offered in Smog-Addled Chinese City

Bags containing fresh mountain air were shipped into the city of Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan province. The air originated from Laojun Mountain, about 120 miles away from the city. This was all part of a promotional stunt to show smog-laden city residents what they’re missing. China’s environmental ministry announced last week that Zhengzhou was among the country’s top 10 most-polluted cities. The city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) on Monday was 158, incredibly unhealthy to humans. For reference, the Monday AQI forecast for Bakersfield, CA, the most polluted city in the U.S., was 45.

U.S. drug firms move to bar antibiotic use in livestock growth

U.S. regulators said that 25 out of 26 drug-makers that sell antibiotics used in livestock feed for growth enhancement have agreed to follow new guidelines that will make it illegal to use their products to create beefier cattle and other over-sized animals. Companies such Eli Lilly & Co’s Elanco Animal Health unit, Bayer Healthcare LLC’s animal health division and Zoetic Inc – have agreed to start removing any growth promotion claims on their products’ labeling. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the guidelines this past December, as part of an effort to stem a surge in human resistance to certain antibiotics. Public health experts have become worried in recent years about the emergence of new strains of bacteria that cannot be controlled by a wide range of current antibiotics.

Environmental News Roundup!

Stanford scientist unveils 50-state plan to transform U.S. to renewable energy

Stanford University scientist Mark Jacobson has developed a 50-state roadmap for replacing coal, oil, and natural gas with wind, hydro, and solar energy. The idea is to transform the United States from dependence on fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Completely replacing fossil fuels with clean, renewable energies would significantly cut back on carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere that contribute to global warming. Estimates say that this would spare the lives of an estimated 59,000 Americans every year who die from exposure to air pollution. This interactive map lays out unique plans tailored maximize the renewable energy potential of each of the 50 states. You can check out this roadmap for yourself here!

Crews try to contain oil spill in Galveston Bay

A barge carrying nearly a million gallons of thick, sticky oil collided with a ship in Galveston Bay in Texas on Saturday, leaking an unknown amount of fuel into the Bay’s waters. Galveston Bay is a popular bird habitat in Texas, with the peak of the migratory shorebird season approaching. The barge was carrying 924,000 gallons of marine fuel oil, also known as special bunker. Officials believe only one of the barge’s tanks was breached, but that tank had a capacity of 168,000 gallons. Jim Suydam, spokeman for the General Land Office, described the type of oil the barge was carrying as “sticky, gooey, thick, tarry stuff. That stuff is terrible to have to clean up.”

Wind Farms Flourish Across The U.S. As Interest In Renewable Energy Skyrockets

In New York and many other big cities across the United States, you can have access to a program that will allow your home to be powered with wind energy through your local utility. Wind energy is expected to make up about 4.6% of total U.S. electric power generation by 2015, totaling about 77,000 megawatts of wind power capacity nationwide, U.S. Energy Information Administration data show. One megawatt of wind power is enough energy to provide electricity to around 300 homes. As of 2012, there were over 45,000 wind turbines in 39 states and Puerto Rico, providing enough electricity to power around 15 million homes. The U.S. Geological Survey has launched a new online mapping tool, called the WindFarm Mapping Application, which allows users to see how turbines are distributed across the country.

7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution

The World Health Organization has released a report estimating that around 7 million people died in 2012 as a result of exposure to air pollution. This accounts for one in eight of total global deaths in 2012. This study confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could literally save millions of lives. The new data reveal a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischaemic heart disease, as well as between air pollution and cancer.

Regionally, low- and middle-income countries in South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor pollution. People in developing countries who mainly use solid fuels and biomass for heating and cooking inside their homes are the primary victims of indoor air pollution. Dr. Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, said, “Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry. In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to health-care cost savings as well as climate gains.”

Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals Linked to Fracking Found in Colorado River

Evidence that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) poses serious risks to drinking water quality and human health has arisen in the Colorado River. A team of researchers from the University of Missouri found evidence of hormone-disrupting activity in water located near fracking sites, including samples taken from the Colorado River near a dense drilling region. The Colorado River is a source of drinking water for over 30 million people. The researchers found that 11 chemicals commonly used in the fracking process are “endocrine disrupters” – compounds that can affect the human hormonal system and have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and infertility. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has said the state will sue any city that bans fracking within its borders. The long-term health impacts from water pollution as a result of fracking in Colorado will increase as long as fracking continues in the state.

Environmental News Roundup!

 Scientists 3D Print New Solar Panels Which Work Best When Cloudy

The commercial use of solar panels has been on the rise recently. In areas of the United States that receive a lot of sunshine, people are taking advantage and having panels installed on their homes. People who live in areas like Seattle, Britain, and Northern Europe cannot really partake in the rise of solar energy use. This week, British scientists at the National Physical Laboratory created solar panels which function best when it’s cloudy outside. They produce more energy when clouds are blocking the sun, than when the sun is out in full force. These new solar panels manage only 10% efficiency when placed in direct sunlight, while that number goes up to 13% when placed in cloudy conditions. These organic photovoltaic solar cells are made up of small organic molecules which act as semi-conductors when struck with solar radiation. These molecules can be easily dissolved into a solution and 3D printed into any shape, size, or color desired. The things that this technology can be used for in the future are endless.

Kentucky coal-ash dumping tracked by hidden cameras

Environmental groups plan to sue a Kentucky coal-ash plant for continuous dumping into the Ohio River, after a hidden camera they set up captured alleged illegal discharges of chemicals by the company. The Sierra Club says that their lawsuit against Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) is based on time-lapse photography from a camera the strapped to a tree. The hidden camera captured a year’s worth of images showing coal ask waste-water constantly being dumped into the Ohio River. The environmental groups also claim that LG&E has clearly violated the federal Clean Water Act and the terms of the utility’s permit, which allows for only occasional discharge into the river. According to the EPA, coal ash contains high levels of arsenic, lead, selenium, and other heavy metals that can cause cancer, birth defects, and respiratory problems.

Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr declares marine sanctuary, bans all commercial fishing

Palau’s President Tommy Remengesau Jr. has declared the small Pacific island nation will become a marine sanctuary, where no commercial fishing will take place. He has told a UN oceans conference that the country’s 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone will be a “100 per cent marine sanctuary”, and commercial operations will be banned within territorial waters. He said, “We have no choice – the ocean is our way of life. It’s our livelihood, it’s our culture, it’s our economy – I always say the economy is our environment and the environment is our economy.” Palau currently has commercial fishing contracts with Taiwan, Japan, and several companies. These contracts will soon be allowed to expire. Locals and tourists will still be able to fish, but no commercial scale operations will take place.

Palau is urging the UN to adopt a new Sustainable Development Goal to help protect the world’s oceans. The Sustainable Development Goals are a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals, which pledged countries reduce poverty and improve health and environmental protection by 2015. Deputy Secretary-General with the UN, Jan Elliason, has paid tribute to the Pacific and other island countries for raising awareness of the issue. “They have an acute sense of the dangers of climate change and the level of sea rise – becoming an existential threat for them. They are a bit like canaries in the coal mine, the canaries that warn us that now the oxygen is [running] out…they’re the first ones to leave. We should listen to those states.”

How Mismanagement of GMO Corn Created a Super Predator

The genetically-modified crop, “Bt corn”, was engineered to be poisonous to corn rootworms, a pest that used to cause billions of dollars in damage to corn crops. It worked well at repelling the insects for a while, but rootworms eventually evolved a resistance to Bt corn, largely due to industry and farmer resistance to proper management. According to scientists, the key to effective management were refuges set aside and planted with non-Bt corn. In these fields, rootworms would remain susceptible to the Bt toxin. By mating with any Bt-resistant worms that may have evolved in neighboring fields, they’d prevent resistance from building up in the gene pool. The scientists’ recommendations were eventually resisted by seed companies and the EPA itself, which set voluntary refuge guidelines at between 5 and 20 percent. A lot of farmers did not even follow those guidelines. Rootworm resistance was expected from the outset, but the Bt seed industry, seeking to maximize short-term profits, ignored outside scientists.

Climate change is putting world at risk of irreversible changes, scientists warn

The American Association for the Advancement of Science(AAAS) has made a rare policy intervention urging the US to act swiftly to reduce carbon emissions and lower risks of climate catastrophe. Usually the organization tries to stay away from the world of politics and public policy, but they felt they had to speak up and urge Americans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The AAAS said in a news report, “As scientists, it is not our role to tell people what they should do, but we consider it our responsibility as professionals to ensure, to the best of our ability, that people understand what we know: human-caused climate change is happening, we face risks of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes, and responding now will lower the risks and costs of taking action.”

The UN climate science panel, the IPCC, will gather in Japan next week to release reports outlining climate change’s effect on rainfall and heat waves, sea level and the oceans, fisheries and food security. The AAAS scientists are releasing their own assessment ahead of the UN conference because they were concerned that Americans had failed to take the risks associated with climate change seriously. “The sooner we make a concerted effort to curtail the burning of fossil fuels as our primary energy source and releasing the CO2 to the air, the lower our risk and cost will be.”