Court orders EPA to ban pesticide that causes learning disabilities in children

August 10, 2018 by  
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After over a decade of fighting, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has finally scored a victory in securing the ban of the pesticide chlorpyrifos. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a court order to the EPA  requiring it to ban the chemical agent, which has harmful neurodevelopmental effects. Longstanding studies have indicated that exposure to chlorpyrifos can lead to increased risk of learning disabilities such as ADHD, developmental delays, and a lower IQ. Related: Unreleased internal FDA emails show glyphosate weedkiller residue in almost every food tested The NRDC and a coalition of labor and health organizations were represented by EarthJustice in the court case. The court found that the EPA broke the law by ignoring proven scientific evidence – including some evidence discovered by the agency itself – that chlorpyrifos could harm children who consumed produce treated with the chemical . Even small quantities of ingestion can cause developmental issues for some children, and so the long-overdue ban has left many parents relieved. “Some things are too sacred to play politics with—and our kids top the list,” said Erik Olson, the senior director of NRDC’s Health and Food program. “This is a victory for parents everywhere who want to feed their kids fruits and veggies without fear it’s harming their brains or poisoning communities.” States such as Hawaii had undertaken solitary battles against chlorpyrifos, banning it before the court ruling. However, many (including the NRDC) are upset it took so long for these protections to expand. Thankfully, yesterday’s court order mark a significant step toward protecting the food supply from chlorpyrifos at the national level. + EarthJustice Via NRDC

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Court orders EPA to ban pesticide that causes learning disabilities in children

UK bag tariff halves plastic bag marine litter, reduces sales of plastic bags by 86%

August 2, 2018 by  
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Following a 5p charge per bag, the sale of plastic bags in the U.K. has fallen by 86 percent, according to reports from the “big seven” supermarkets in the country. Scientists at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) have also found that approximately 50 percent of plastic bag marine litter has been eliminated from the Earth’s waters since the tax was put into effect. Statistics on individual consumption show a decline from 140 bags per person to 19 as a result of the bag fees — a total elimination of 300 million bags. The 5p (roughly 0.07 USD) tariff introduced in 2015 seems to be working in the favor of marine ecosystems, which receive nearly all of the plastic waste after human handling. “Every plastic bag not purchased is one which will not end up in our sea, damaging habitats or harming marine life,” said Thomas Maes, a marine litter scientist who has been working on the 25-year study at CEFAS . Government scientist-contributed data has estimated that in the next 10 years, nearly one million birds and more than 100,000 marine mammals  will die each year as a result of consuming or getting caught in plastic litter. Realted: Former businessman bicycles down the Thames River to stop plastic pollution “Since efforts from across Europe came into effect, including the U.K.’s 5p charge, we have observed a sharp decline in the percentage of plastic bags captured by fishing nets on our trawl surveys of the seafloor around the U.K. as compared to 2010,” Maes said. While the reduction in plastic bags found in the ocean was significant, the CEFAS study revealed that the dumping was only replaced by other plastic items and fishing debris, maintaining the amount of litter at an equilibrium, at least for now. Government projections report that levels in marine plastics will triple in the next 10 years, making efforts on every level that much more important. +CEFAS Via SkyNews ,  Sky Ocean Rescue  and  Mirpuri Foundation

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UK bag tariff halves plastic bag marine litter, reduces sales of plastic bags by 86%

Earth911 Quiz #22: Hot Years

August 2, 2018 by  
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The temperature is rising on Earth. In this week’s quiz, … The post Earth911 Quiz #22: Hot Years appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #22: Hot Years

One-planet prosperity: The business case for addressing ‘earth overshoot’

July 31, 2018 by  
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Recognizing Earth’s physical constraints represents an opportunity, if we seize it.

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One-planet prosperity: The business case for addressing ‘earth overshoot’

Dealing with disruption means embracing opportunities

July 31, 2018 by  
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Brace yourself for the speed and scope of these changes ahead.

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Dealing with disruption means embracing opportunities

Dealing with disruption means embracing opportunities

July 31, 2018 by  
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Brace yourself for the speed and scope of these changes ahead.

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Dealing with disruption means embracing opportunities

University of Queensland wants to drop "bommies" on the Great Barrier Reef

July 25, 2018 by  
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Experts at the University of Queensland are experimenting with a new way of saving Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – one of the most endangered natural environments on the planet – and their strategy might surprise you. Researchers in the university’s Civil Engineering and Biological Sciences department have been salvaging portions of dead coral and recycling them into new structures. They hope that the project will not only protect still-active parts of the reef, but restore it with new life as well. University scientists are collaborating with engineering, science and technology consulting firm BMT to create netted structures that contain unstable rubble made up of dead coral, with the goal of transforming them into bombora. Bombora, or “bommies” as Australians have dubbed them, are large pillars of coral that serve as a habitat for myriad fish species and – when strategically positioned – may help repair the reef in a natural, non-invasive manner. Related: Australia is investing over $377 million to save the Great Barrier Reef The team has received funding from the Australian and Queensland governments that will allow it to commence pilot testing on the project. If the reef is not aided by external forces, it may not be able to survive the coral bleaching events of 2016 and 2017. While other projects have been suggested, including using giant fans in an attempt to cool down reef waters or developing films to shield the coral from increased sunlight exposure, the bommies would represent a more sustainable and natural endeavor. Professor Tom Baldock, who is working on the project, explains, “on a healthy reef, the wave energy is reduced by the coral structure, enabling broken coral to naturally bind to form a stable layer, initially through the growth of crustose coralline algae, or CCA. CCA helps bind coral rubble together to create the framework for reefs and releases chemicals which attract free-swimming coral larvae.” The research team is working hard in their race against the clock to establish this organic foundation and protect one of the Earth’s most beautiful yet endangered habitats. +University of Queensland Via NewAtlas

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University of Queensland wants to drop "bommies" on the Great Barrier Reef

Earth911 Quiz #20: Carbon, for Better or Worse

July 19, 2018 by  
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Carbon is everything to life on Earth, but too much … The post Earth911 Quiz #20: Carbon, for Better or Worse appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #20: Carbon, for Better or Worse

Trading specimens for science? Theres a website for that

July 2, 2018 by  
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Good news for science and for the Earth: scientists looking for rare research specimens, such as the smoothtooth blacktip shark or Antarctic skate, now have a website to request or trade biological odds and ends. Built by students and backed by startup accelerators, Otlet.io allows researchers to list their surplus research samples and request those currently not available through other means. The site has already been acknowledged as a major win for conservation . The website is a product born of frustration: founders Lauren Meyer and Madi Green, two PhD students in Australia and Tasmania, were having trouble finding specimens to complete projects. After completing an undergraduate honors thesis with limited data, Meyer discovered that a colleague held several tiger shark livers – which she needed to present a conclusive report. To improve communications and cooperation between researchers, Meyer and Green started SharkShare.com, which ultimately evolved to Otlet. Related: 500-mile-long shark highway could become a protected wildlife corridor Universities hail the project as a crucial step forward for conservation. Some species listed on Otlet today are either Red List-threatened or considered data deficient by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – and, by sharing existing resources, scientists can continue their current research without further threatening any species. To begin the specimen swapping process, scientists simply create an account on Otlet and share what they have or what they need. When a match occurs, individuals can reach out to one another to coordinate exchanges and determine shipping responsibility. The community is only open to active researchers: before requesting or listing anything, users must provide their academic status, organization affiliation and details on their specific field of study. Even though the website is relatively new, it’s already created major waves across the international science community: there are more than 10,000 listings on Otlet representing 135 distinct species from 47 nations. Recently added to the specimen database are flapnose ray fins from the Red Sea, livers from South Australian thresher sharks and Pacific spookfish muscles from the subantarctic Pacific Ocean . All are available for exchange with other scientists. Otlet receives support from Australia’s St. George Bank and the New South Wales Government, startup incubator BlueChilli and the Save Our Seas foundation. + Otlet Via  Earther Images via Wikimedia Commons

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Trading specimens for science? Theres a website for that

Congo could open its national parks to oil drilling

July 2, 2018 by  
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Two national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo could soon face pollution threats and habitat destruction if oil drilling is given the green light. The national government announced on Friday, June 29, 2018 that it is deciding on whether to permit oil wells in parts of the Salonga and Virunga National Parks, which are both home to rare and endangered wildlife. Under the plan put forward by the Congolese government, over one-fifth of Virunga National Park could open for oil exploration. Virunga is home to approximately half of the world’s mountain gorillas . Salonga National Park occupies more than 13,000 square miles of the Congo Basin , the second largest rainforest in the world. The dense jungles are home to bonobos, along with the African golden cat, forest buffalos and pangolins. The government did not elaborate on how much of Salonga could be available for oil drilling. In statements to the press, the government expressed its rights to allow oil well construction in both parks, while claiming it would be mindful of wildlife protection in both areas. Related: New Ebola outbreak strikes the Democratic Republic of the Congo These plans come under heavy criticism from inter-governmental organizations and environmental watchdog groups, whom already denounced previous plans. As World Heritage Sites , UNESCO calls drilling and illegal resource extraction continuing threats to conservation in both the Salonga and Virunga . Oil drilling is not the only issue facing the wildlife in these parks. Poaching and kidnapping remains a major concern in both preserves. After two British tourists were held hostage and a park ranger was killed in the first five months of 2018, government officials have closed Virunga through 2019. Opening the parks to drilling comes as the national government prepares for another wave of sanctions. Before the announcement, the United Nations Security Council upheld an asset freeze and travel ban against the nation. Although British oil and gas exploration firm Soco International previously tested the Virunga area for viability, its license is no longer valid. No other petroleum companies have announced plans to drill in either of the two parks. Via  Reuters  and  BBC Images via Fanny Schertzer ( 1 , 2 )

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