Effects of COVID-19 lead to increased deaths of Florida manatees

July 1, 2020 by  
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While many species are enjoying a break from humans during the pandemic, Florida’s manatee death rate is up this year. Increased boating activity, rollbacks on emission caps and delays in environmental improvements all put these defenseless giants in the crosshairs. “There are several troubling factors coming together during the pandemic,” Patrick Rose, an aquatic biologist and executive director of the nonprofit Save the Manatee Club , told The Guardian . “Manatees were already facing accelerated habitat loss, rising fatalities from boat collisions and less regulatory protection. With COVID, we’re seeing manatees at an increased risk, both from policies that undermine environmental standards and from irresponsible outdoor activity, such as boaters ignoring slow-speed zones.” Related: Conservationists in Florida are making the ultimate effort to protect manatees from tourism Now with pandemic-related problems, manatee deaths were up almost 20% for April through May compared with 2019 figures. June exceeded the five-year death average. However, officials haven’t been able to establish causes for all manatee deaths because the Fish & Wildlife Commission isn’t doing necropsy — the word for “autopsy” when performed on animals — during the pandemic . Some manatees have undoubtedly been killed or injured by boat collisions. According to Rose, boat ramps remained open in March when other recreational options closed, leading to an uptick in dangerous boating activity. Slow-moving manatees often fail to get out of the way of boats. Injuries are so frequent that researchers tell the animals apart by their scar patterns. Regulatory changes also threaten manatee habitats. The marine mammals, which are most closely related to elephants, will reap the consequences of the EPA’s decision to suspend water and air pollution monitoring requirements during the pandemic. COVID-19 is also delaying environmental initiatives. In-person meetings have been postponed, including talks about providing more warm-water manatee habitat by breaching the Ocklawaha River dam. “We’ve lost tens of thousands of acres of seagrass over the past decade,” Rose said. “The power plants, which currently supply artificial warm water , will also be closing in the coming years, making our fight to protect natural warm springs habitat all the more critical.” Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Effects of COVID-19 lead to increased deaths of Florida manatees

The Consequences of Climate Change

May 18, 2020 by  
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This article is the third of five in a series … The post The Consequences of Climate Change appeared first on Earth911.com.

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The Consequences of Climate Change

Earth911 Podcast: Making Environmental Lemonade From COVID-19 Lemons

May 18, 2020 by  
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We’re still deep in the lockdown and the Earth911 team … The post Earth911 Podcast: Making Environmental Lemonade From COVID-19 Lemons appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast: Making Environmental Lemonade From COVID-19 Lemons

Is CBD Oil the Natural Cure-All We Want It To Be?

May 18, 2020 by  
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Is CBD Oil the Natural Cure-All We Want It To Be?

Invasive "murder hornets" arrive in US, threaten honeybees

May 7, 2020 by  
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If you’ve been itching to get back to the outside world, two words might make you think again: murder hornets. For the first time, these gigantic, invasive hornets have been spotted in the U.S., which could be a problem for both humans and honeybees . The Washington State Department of Agriculture verified four sightings of Vespa mandarinia — the official name for the Asian giant hornet — last December. But after The New York Times recently reported on them, murder hornets have moved into the limelight. Related: How to live harmoniously with bees and wasps The black-and-yellow hornets measure up to two inches long and have bulging eyes. “They’re like something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face,” said Susan Cobey, bee breeder at Washington State University’s (WSU) Department of Entomology. “It’s a shockingly large hornet,” Todd Murray, WSU Extension entomologist and invasive species specialist, said. “It’s a health hazard, and more importantly, a significant predator of honeybees.” The hornets are native to the forests and mountains of eastern and southeast Asia, where they feast on large insects . One of their favorite foods is the European honeybee. Scientists in Washington worry that if the hornets spread, they could decimate the state’s honeybees, which farmers rely on to pollinate apple and cherry crops. Invasive species like murder hornets can permanently alter an ecosystem. “Just like that, it’s forever different,” Murray said. “We need to teach people how to recognize and identify this hornet while populations are small, so that we can eradicate it while we still have a chance.” WSU and the state agriculture department are working with beekeepers and volunteers to locate the enormous hornets before they become too active again. April is the month when queens usually emerge from hibernation, so the hornets are just getting started. Obviously, the consequences will be devastating if these creatures manage to spread across the country. While humans are not the hornets’ typical target, the hornets will attack anything if they feel threatened. When a group of hornets attack, they can inject as much venom as a snake bite. Murder hornets kill up to 50 people in Japan every year. + Washington State University Image via LiCheng Shih

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Invasive "murder hornets" arrive in US, threaten honeybees

EPA suspends environmental law enforcement

March 30, 2020 by  
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The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that, in accordance with the wishes of the Trump administration, it will suspend enforcing environmental laws for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses will not face any repercussions for polluting American air, land or water, as long as they can claim their practices are related to COVID-19. “This temporary policy is designed to provide enforcement discretion under the current, extraordinary conditions, while ensuring facility operations continue to protect human health and the environment,” said Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the EPA. Related: Air pollution could make COVID-19 more dangerous The memo explains that staff shortages and social distancing restrictions may constrain laboratories’ abilities to analyze samples and companies’ abilities to meet reporting obligations. The new policy applies retroactively, beginning on March 13, with no end in sight. “The EPA will apply this policy to actions or to missions that occur while this policy is in effect even after the policy terminates,” according to the memo. Last week, the American Petroleum Institute, which promotes the interests of gas and oil companies, sent the EPA a letter lobbying for the suspension of rules requiring these companies to fix leaky equipment or monitor pollution . Air pollution is particularly worrisome at the moment, as COVID-19 attacks the human respiratory system. People with preexisting respiratory conditions are especially in danger, as are those who live near industrial facilities emitting large quantities of pollution. Because these facilities are usually located in less affluent neighborhoods, those with low incomes and people of color will unfairly bear the consequences of these relaxed laws. The EPA’s new policy has shocked and outraged public health and environmental advocates. “EPA should never relinquish its right and its obligation to act immediately and decisively when there is threat to public health, no matter what the reason is,” said Cynthia Giles, who headed EPA enforcement during the Obama administration. “I am not aware of any instance when EPA ever relinquished this fundamental authority as it does in this memo. This memo amounts to a nationwide moratorium on enforcing the nation’s environmental laws and is an abdication of EPA’s responsibility to protect the public.” + Environmental Protection Agency Via The Guardian Image via Environmental Protection Agency

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EPA suspends environmental law enforcement

EWG warns forever chemicals are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected

January 24, 2020 by  
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Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFAS, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, persist in the environment , grossly tainting the drinking water of many United States cities, like Miami, New Orleans and Philadelphia. More specifically, findings by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveal that the a 2018 estimate of 110 million U.S. citizens being contaminated with PFAS is far below actual numbers. “It’s nearly impossible to avoid contaminated drinking water from these chemicals,” shared David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG and co-author of the report. “Everyone’s really exposed to a toxic soup of these PFAS chemicals.” Related: Climate change-induced melting of mountain ice threatens global supply of freshwater PFAS are highly fluorinated chemicals that do not break down in the environment. The most infamous PFAS are those associated with Teflon and 3M’s Scotchgard. Much of the PFAS contamination is legacy pollution . In fact, both Teflon and Scotchgard were phased out years ago, but these harmful PFAS still persist in the environment — in soils and especially in water , such as the rainwater that supplies drinking water. Despite the original PFAS chemicals being taken off the market, they’ve been replaced by modern PFAS chemicals that might still be just as harmful, if not more so. These modern PFAS chemicals lurk in packaging, stain-resistant furnishings, water-repellent clothing and items, cosmetics and personal care products and firefighting foam. What’s worrisome, too, is that PFAS can accumulate in the human body, thus compromising health . Cancer, disease, endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, low birth weights and a host of other compromised health incidences are some of the consequences of drinking PFAS-tainted water. EWG is advocating for tougher regulations and laws to reduce PFAS chemicals in drinking water and consumer products to help reduce human exposure to these toxins . Some states are ramping up their efforts to reduce PFAS in the drinking water by banning PFAS-based food packaging or firefighting foam. But more work is still needed. + EWG Via The Guardian and Reuters Image via Arcaion

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EWG warns forever chemicals are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected

Building a movement: How Emerging Leaders are shaping a circular economy

July 15, 2019 by  
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Meaningful transition strategies are beginning to take shape in energy, waste and food systems. But younger generations will shoulder most of the work to turn them into reality, as well as the consequences of inaction.

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Building a movement: How Emerging Leaders are shaping a circular economy

Patagonia donates its $10 million in tax cuts to save the planet

December 4, 2018 by  
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Last year, President Trump said that his tax bill would be an incredible Christmas gift for millions of hard-working Americans, but it also resulted in billions of dollars of tax savings for businesses — especially those in the oil and gas industry. But one outdoor retailer has opted to donate its tax savings to the planet instead of putting it back into the business. Patagonia announced last week that it would be giving away the $10 million the company made as a result of the Republican tax cut. “Based on last year’s irresponsible tax cut, Patagonia will owe less in taxes this year — $10 million less, in fact. Instead of putting the money back into our business, we’re responding by putting $10 million back into the planet,” CEO Rose Marcario wrote in a LinkedIn blog post . “Our home planet needs it more than we do.” Related: Patagonia strikes back at Trump over public lands policies Marcario also wrote that taxes protect the most vulnerable in our society as well as our public lands and other resources. In spite of this, President Trump still initiated a corporate tax cut that threatens those services at the expense of the planet. In addition to cutting taxes for individuals and businesses, the bill also lifted a 40-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Patagonia will donate the money from its tax cut to various conservation organizations. The money will also go toward the regenerative organic agriculture movement, which, according to the company, could help slow or reverse the climate crisis. Marcario cited the recent National Climate Assessment Report, compiled by 13 different federal agencies and 300 scientists. The report found that climate change is impacting people all over the globe and will cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars. She wrote that far too many people have suffered from the consequences of global warming, and the political response has been “woefully inadequate.” Patagonia has been a long-time champion of grassroots environmental efforts, and the company has also been vocal in its criticisms of the Trump administration. + Patagonia Via EcoWatch Images via Yukiko Matsuoka and Monica Volpin  

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Patagonia donates its $10 million in tax cuts to save the planet

Striking home in Greece uses bioclimatic features to be energy-efficient year-round

December 4, 2018 by  
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Tucked into a sloping hillside looking out over the Aegean Sea, the TRIF House designed by Sergey Fedotov boasts a gorgeous, contemporary design with massive floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the breathtaking sea views. In addition to its striking aesthetic, the private residence also includes a number of passive features that insulate the home and reduce energy use throughout the year. Located in Porto Heli, Greece, the massive home, which spans over 3,800 square feet, sits on a naturally sloped landscape spotted with olive trees. To appreciate the gorgeous sea views, the front facade is a series of frameless, floor-to-ceiling windows that can slide open and shut at just the push of a button. The glazed exterior not only creates a seamless connection between indoors and out but also allows for natural sunlight to illuminate the interior. Related: A modern, energy-efficient home is built around a beloved madrone tree Alternatively, the home’s north facade was embedded into the natural slope of the hillside. Burying part of the house into the landscape was another passive feature that helps provide the structure with a strong thermal envelope. The main floor houses a kitchen, dining and living room, all of which open up to an expansive veranda with a swimming pool. The top floor, which is enclosed in a large white rectangular volume that cantilevers just slightly over the ground floor, is home to the master bedroom and two guest rooms, all of which enjoy stunning panoramic views. The interior boasts a minimalist design with custom-made furniture. Surrounding the home, the landscape was left in a natural state. Large olive trees and shrubs dot the sloping hillside, which has various walking paths that wind through the home’s beautiful surroundings. + Sergey Fedotov Via Archdaily Photography by Pygmalion Karatzas via Sergey Fedotov

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Striking home in Greece uses bioclimatic features to be energy-efficient year-round

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