World’s smallest reptile discovered in Madagascar

February 5, 2021 by  
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Lizard lovers will swoon over a newly discovered species of tiny chameleon. Brookesia nana dwells in the Madagascar rainforest and may be the smallest — and cutest — reptile on Earth. Scientists announced its discovery in the journal Scientific Reports late last month. With a full-grown male measuring 21.6 millimeters from nose to tail tip, this wee chameleon can balance on the tip of a human thumb. Picture a living creature the size of a sunflower seed, and you’ll get an idea of just how small this reptile is. Related: Iguanas reintroduced to island after 200 years In 2012, researchers first saw the tiny chameleon in northern Madagascar’s Sorata massif, a damp, chilly area in the mountains . “At the first glance, we realized that it was an important discovery,” study coauthor Andolalao Rakotoarison, a herpetologist at University of Antananarivo in Madagascar , told National Geographic . Of course, it’s easier to spot, say, an elephant than a seed-sized reptile. That may be why scientists have only identified two members of the species so far. The female they found was about 7 millimeters longer than the male. The Bavarian State Collection of Zoology led the international team. While the discovery of the species is noted in the new report, the research was concentrated on a specific, personal matter. “A comparison with 51 other chameleon species showed that the new species has exceptionally large genitals,” the researchers concluded. Judging from the reptilian genital structures called hemipenes, scientists have determined that the smallest chameleons often have the largest genitals. In a comparison of racy reptiles, the new species came in fifth, with the genitals measuring 18.5% of the chameleon’s body size. Most impressive of all? Brookesia tuberculata , with hemipenes about a third of the male lizard’s length, excluding his tail. The researchers are already concerned that this species could be vulnerable or even endangered due to deforestation . The new chameleon isn’t the only petite critter in the East African country. “There are numerous extremely miniaturized vertebrates in Madagascar, including the smallest primates and some of the smallest frogs in the world, which have evolved independently,” Rakotoarison said. But why Brookesia nana evolved to seed-size is still a mystery. Its closest relative is twice as large and lives in the same mountains. + SNSB Via EcoWatch Image via Frank Glaw (SNSB/ZSM)

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The potential for carbon-capture tech is captivating

February 4, 2021 by  
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The potential for carbon-capture tech is captivating Heather Clancy Thu, 02/04/2021 – 01:30 This week, oil giant ExxonMobil pledged $3 billion to the development of a carbon capture and storage business over the next five years — in a bid to manage its business risks associated with climate change. CEO Darren Woods noted in the company’s press release: “We are focused on proprietary projects and commercial partnerships that will have a demonstrably positive impact on our own emissions as well as those from the industrial, power generation and commercial transportation sectors, which together account for 80 percent of global CO2 emissions.”  Even Elon Musk is intrigued by the emerging market for carbon removal innovations, as his recent tweet promising $100 million for the “best carbon capture technology” well illustrates. The good news is that even without the pocket change the Tesla billionaire is promising, 2021 is shaping up as a potential tipping point for carbon removal solutions in the United States.  The biggest breakthrough came with the passage of a two-year extension to the 45Q corporate tax credit for carbon removal projects in the dying days of the Trump administration — projects now have until Dec. 31, 2025, to commence construction — along with the publication of guidance from the Internal Revenue Service about how it can be applied. The credit allows for a deduction of up to $50 per metric ton of carbon captured and sequestered, but many viewed the earlier timing window as too restrictive to really jumpstart the market.  In our view, DAC is feasible, available and affordable. “The final rule will provide long-overdue regulatory and financial certainty to incentivize private investment in economy-wide deployment of carbon capture, removal, transport, use and geologic storage across a range of key industries,” noted the Carbon Capture Coalition , an industry group convened by the Great Plains Institute that advocates the cause.  Like another industry group focused on advocating carbon removal solutions, Carbon 180 , the coalition has some suggestions for policies it would love to see the Biden administration embrace related to the nurture of carbon capture and storage approaches that go beyond planting trees.  One argument in favor of direct air capture (DAC) investments fits well with the new president’s climate-equals-job-creation mantra: A June analysis by the Rhodium Group suggests the industry has the potential to create at least 300,000 U.S. jobs. DAC technologies remove emissions from the atmosphere, then store them geologically or use the captured CO2 as a feedstock for something else, such as fuel, chemicals or construction materials.  The need for cost-effective carbon removal solutions is urgent. The International Energy Agency reports that around 30 carbon capture and storage projects have been approved since 2017 — the ones already in operation sucked up around 40 million metric tons last year. But that’s a teeny-tiny amount compared with the roughly 35 billion metric tons of carbon the industrial and agricultural worlds spit up annually. Some models figure we need carbon removal methods to draw down at least one-quarter of the current emissions in order to really address climate targets. It’s widely believed that the U.S. tax credit should make DAC more attractive to companies beyond the oil and gas companies, and power, chemical, cement and steel companies that typically have shown interest in the earlier projects. The list of examples is already growing. United Airlines in December said it would become a “multimillion-dollar” investor in 1PointFive, a joint venture between Occidental Petroleum and Rusheen Capital Management developing an industrial-sized DAC plant using technology licensed from Carbon Engineering (CE). E-commerce company Shopify was actually CE’s first corporate buyer ; it is investing in the Canadian company’s first commercial plant in Squamish, British Columbia, which should be up and running by August. Climeworks’ technology captures atmospheric carbon by drawing in air and binding the CO2 using a filter. The filter is heated to release the concentrated gas, which can be used in industrial applications, such as a source of carbonization for the food and beverage industry. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Julia Dunlop/Climeworks Close Authorship Other tech companies including Amazon, Microsoft and Stripe are talking up direct investments in carbon removal technologies. Last week, Microsoft announced an extensive portfolio of carbon removal projects as part of an update about its year-old carbon-negative strategy . In aggregate, the company reduced emissions by 6 percent in its first year. It also purchased the removal of 1.3 million metric tons of carbon from 15 suppliers, across 26 projects — including bioenergy, blue carbon, forestry and agricultural soil sequestration. Its nod to DAC includes a contract for 1,400 metric tons of CO2 captured by a plant being developed by Climeworks in Iceland .  “In our view, DAC is feasible, available and affordable,” says Steve Oldham, who as CEO of CE obviously has a vested interest in seeing the market move toward the mainstream.  The plant CE is planning to build in the Permian Basin of Texas, with construction scheduled to begin by the end of 2021, will be capable of removing 1 million metric tons of CO2 per year at a price of $95 to $250 per metric ton, according to Oldham. The ultimate price will depend on the financing the project receives — it will take two to three years to build it. For context, carbon capture costs easily can run $600 per metric ton. So, that’s a significant reduction. In Oldham’s view, DAC investments are necessary to “decarbonize in parallel” with renewable energy deployment. To those who suggest carbon capture schemes perpetuate fossil fuels extraction and production, he says it’s not feasible to transition cold-turkey and that it’s imperative to finance removal alongside new generation capacity. “One plus minus-one is also zero,” he says. As corporate climate types are aware, most strategies for carbon removal will include a portfolio or projects — including nature-based solutions such as regenerative agriculture or forests or blue carbon as well as the sorts of innovations that the DAC crowd is hoping to perpetuate. Research published in mid-January in the journal Nature Communications suggests that creating a “wartime” response to climate change by investing 1.2 to 1.9 percent of GDP in DAC innovation and deployments could stimulate the removal of 2.2 to 2.3 gigatons of CO2 per year. But it’s no silver bullet: Even “massive deployments” aren’t likely to start reversing concentrations until the 2070 timeframe, according to the researchers. Really, we have no time to waste, and the companies investing directly in projects are to be commended for being in the advance guard of action. Pull Quote In our view, DAC is feasible, available and affordable. Topics Carbon Removal Direct Air Capture Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Air pollution could increase risk of irreversible blindness

January 27, 2021 by  
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A study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology has revealed that exposure to air pollution increases the risk of blindness in older adults. The study found that small increases in air pollution contribute to the occurrence of age-related muscular degeneration (AMD), a condition that causes irreversible blindness. The study, conducted in the U.K. with data of more than 115,000 participants, shows that tiny pollution particles increase the risk of AMD by 8%, while changes in large particle pollution increase the risk by 12%. “There is an enormously high flow of blood [to the retina] and we think that as a consequence of that the distribution of pollutants is greater to the eye than to other places,” said Paul Foster, professor at the University College London and a researcher behind the study. “Proportionately, air pollution is going to become a bigger risk factor as other risk factors are brought under control.” Related: How clean is your indoor air? Today, AMD is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in developed countries. The disease mainly affects people above the age of 50 but may also affect younger individuals. Over 200 million people around the world have been diagnosed with AMD. In the U.K. alone, about 5% of people over the age of 65 have AMD. Although air pollution is not among the biggest risk factors for this condition, worsening air quality might make things worse in the future. Currently, the biggest risk factors include poor physical health , particularly smoking. “It’s important to keep things in context — people shouldn’t be looking outside their door and thinking: ‘I can’t go out because it is polluted out there,’” Foster said. “The study gives people information that they can use to alter their lifestyle choices. For example, it may be another reason why we might consider going for an electric car , instead of buying a diesel.” The researchers are planning to conduct another study that will determine the impact of indoor air pollution on eye health. + British Journal of Ophthalmology Via The Guardian Image via Cristi Goia

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Why collaboration is the missing ingredient in food system reform

January 8, 2021 by  
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Why collaboration is the missing ingredient in food system reform Jim Giles Fri, 01/08/2021 – 01:30 One of the most exciting things about food and ag right now is the potential for change. The industry’s environmental problems — waste, greenhouse gases, biodiversity loss — are real. But so are the solutions. Multiple studies have shown that new farming techniques, low-carbon foods and other advances can create a radically more sustainable food system. As we kick off 2021 and await a new U.S. administration, I’m wondering how — or if — one of these possible futures can become an actual future. The ingredients for new food systems have been rigorously detailed in reports from the World Resources Institute , the EAT-Lancet Commission and others. But building futures is a far more messy business than identifying solutions.  “These reports treat these systems as something we can program,” said Chris Barrett, an applied economist at Cornell University, when we talked this week. “As opposed to massive systems of billions of people that make decisions that none of us can control.” I’d called Barrett and his colleague, plant scientist Rebecca Nelson, to talk about a report from the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability and the journal Nature Sustainability, which they and others published last month . Yes, another report. But this one is different, because it examines the messy problem of turning potential into reality. This intrinsically social process, the authors conclude, “demands cooperation that is in shorter supply than are brilliant scientific insights.” To see what the authors mean, let’s go back to an earlier problem in food. The early 1970s saw increasing consumer interest in healthy food, but packaged food sold in the United States didn’t then include reliable nutrition information. Through a collaborative process involving the Food and Drug Administration, food companies and later the United Nations, industry and regulators developed the nutrition facts labels that we’re familiar with today — and that are mandatory in 58 countries. This kind of collaboration just isn’t a feature of U.S. food policy. These kinds of processes aren’t pretty. They involve countless meetings and technical reports and lobbying and conflict. But they can result in trusted systems that underpin structural change. We almost certainly need more of them if we’re to fully realize the potential of regenerative agriculture, alternative proteins and other promising technologies in food and agriculture. Let’s go back to labeling for an example. Last year, Unilever committed to adding emissions information to each of 400 brands, which reach 2.5 billion people every day. Other companies are pursuing similar goals. This could lead to competing emissions labels that confuse consumers and blunt the ability of food companies to translate emissions reductions into higher sales. A collaborative process involving the private sector, regulators, scientists and others could produce a unified, trusted label that would drive real change. There’s another great example in Barrett and Nelson’s report: China’s Science and Technology Backyard program . In 2009, scientists at the China Agricultural University moved their research to a village in Hebei province. Working from a local backyard, they spread the results of their research by working with the local farming community. Farmers who participate in the Backyards program, which has expanded to include other villages, local government and private companies, have increased yields while reducing environmental impact. It’s no coincidence that these examples come from another time and another country. This kind of collaboration just isn’t a feature of U.S. food policy. The closest the country has to the Backyards program, for instance, might be the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The service helped U.S. farmers recover from the Dust Bowl, but its ranks have been depleted in recent decades. That’s just one reason why I hope the ag experts on Joe Biden’s team have read the Cornell report. Pull Quote This kind of collaboration just isn’t a feature of U.S. food policy. Topics Food & Agriculture Food Systems Public-Private Partnerships Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Organic and conventional meat production cause equal amounts of emissions

December 24, 2020 by  
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Research published in the journal Nature Communications  has revealed that the environmental impact caused by organically farmed meat is equal to that caused by conventionally farmed meat. The research was carried out to determine the exact cost of foods if their climate costs were accounted for. According to the researchers, the analyzed data should be used to set food prices and taxes that reflect the true costs of food. The research shows that the emissions caused by organically produced meat is similar to those from conventionally farmed meat. This is especially true for cattle and sheep. The researchers found the climate-related damage of raising organic chicken to be slightly worse than raising conventional chicken. On the other hand, organic pork was found to be slightly better in terms of emissions as compared to conventional pork. Related: Will gene editing and cloning create super cows that resist global warming? The research further revealed that if all climate-related costs were considered per food item produced, there would be a 40% increase in shop prices for conventional meat. At the same time, there would be a 25% increase in organic meat . This is not because organic meat causes less pollution but because it is already more expensive than conventional meat. The prices of conventional milk would rise by about 33% while that of organic milk would increase by at least 20%. The study, led by Maximilian Pieper of the Technical University of Munich, analyzed German food production alone. But researchers say that the results would likely be replicated in many other European countries. “We expected organic farming to score better for animal-based products but, for greenhouse gas emissions, it actually doesn’t make much difference,” Pieper said. “But in certain other aspects, organic is certainly better than conventional farming.” Meat produced either organically or conventionally pollutes the environment in many ways. Overuse of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and mishandling of manure are some of the ways in which food production is problematic. Meat consumption can also lead to health complications. Research carried out in 2018 revealed that a  20% tax increase  on red meat would be necessary to cover its associated health effects. + Nature Communications Via The Guardian Image via Pen Ash

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Wood-burning stoves can triple particulate matter levels in homes

December 21, 2020 by  
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A recent study published in the journal Atmosphere shows that wood-burning stoves are harmful to air quality and can triple the level of particulate matter in homes. Researchers are proposing that these wood burners be sold with health warning labels. The study authors also recommend that the stoves are not used around children or elderly adults. According to the researchers, the number of harmful particles in a room increases when the wood-burning stove’s door is opened for refueling. Thus, the level of pollution depends on the number of times the stove is refilled. People who load wood into the stove once are less exposed to the higher particulate matter levels as compared to those who refuel multiple times. Related: In London, coroner rules air pollution as cause of death of a child The research was carried out in Sheffield over a period of one month in early 2020. A total of 19 homes were surveyed, all of which use modern wood-burning stoves that are certified by the government as being “smoke-exempt appliances.” The research shows that these products are still risky due to the particles they supply to the indoor atmosphere. “Our findings are a cause for concern,” said Rohit Chakraborty, lead author of the study. “It is recommended that people living with those particularly susceptible to air pollution , such as children, the elderly or vulnerable, avoid using wood-burning stoves. If people want to use them, we recommend minimizing the time the stove is open during lighting or refueling.” The particles produced by such stoves have been found to be damaging to the human respiratory system . The particles can pass through the lungs into the blood system and can increase risk of heart and lung diseases. Wood and coal burning jointly contribute about 40% of outdoor  tiny particle pollution. Although there is no sufficient data on the potential pollution from wood used indoors, this study sheds light on how harmful this type of fuel can be. In a bid to deal with particle and carbon pollution, the U.K. government is currently phasing out sales for wet wood, which produces more smoke. However, more efforts still have to be made, given that the research only surveyed homes that use dry wood. + Atmosphere Via The Guardian Image via Meg Learner

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Episode 248: Mastercard CSO, parsing plastics policy, Paris Agreement at 5

December 11, 2020 by  
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Episode 248: Mastercard CSO, parsing plastics policy, Paris Agreement at 5 Heather Clancy Fri, 12/11/2020 – 00:10 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (5:30). HSBC invests in world’s first “reef credit” system Does 2020 mark a turning point for delivering on the Paris Agreement goals? How do you avoid getting distracted and stay focused on the mission? Features What will Biden mean for the circular economy? (18:20)   Don’t expect the incoming administration to use that nomenclature, but plastics pollution and recycling are far more likely to get national attention. Associate Editor Deonna Anderson chats with GreenBiz’s senior analyst for circular economy issues, Lauren Phipps. How Mastercard is helping spenders restore trees (26:45)   Big brands are leaning into growing consumer interest in supporting products and services that do “better” for the planet. Kristina Kloberdanz, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer of Mastercard, discusses the recent expansion of the Priceless Planet Coalition — which aspires to restore 100 million trees.  Happy 5th anniversary, Paris Agreement (39:25)   Maria Mendiluce, CEO of the We Mean Business Coalition, chats about signs of progress, the power of alliances and how companies can improve disclosure without engaging in greenwashing.  Climate change and healthcare (53:45)   What’s the emissions profile of the powerful healthcare sector? Can we create a circular supply chain for supplies? How should training evolve? Alan Weil, editor-in-chief of Health Affairs, visits with perspective from the journal’s recent report on these issues.  *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “Curiosity,” “Keeping Stuff Together,” “Southside,” “Night Caves” “New Day,” “Sad Marimba Planet” and “As I Was Saying” *This episode was sponsored by Salesforce and WestRock Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Deonna Anderson Lauren Phipps Topics Podcast Policy & Politics Finance & Investing Consumer Products Paris Agreement Health & Well-being Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 1:06:56 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 248: Mastercard CSO, parsing plastics policy, Paris Agreement at 5

Adidas and H&M join project to scale circular fashion and recycled fibers

December 11, 2020 by  
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Adidas and H&M join project to scale circular fashion and recycled fibers Michael Holder Fri, 12/11/2020 – 00:05 Adidas and H&M Group are among a host of fashion and textile firms to have teamed up for an EU-funded sustainable fashion project announced in late November, which aims to develop a circular economy for clothing that would result in old garments and fibers being recycled into new items for major high street brands. Over three years, the New Cotton Project will see textile waste collected and sorted via consumer apparel take-back programs, then regenerated into cellulose-based textile fibers by Finnish biotechnology specialist Infinited Fiber Company, the 12 project partners confirmed. The resulting fiber will be used to create different types of fabrics for clothing that are designed, manufactured and sold by global sportswear brand Adidas and retail companies in the H&M Group, they explained. The “world first” project is being led by Infinited Fiber Company, alongside a consortium of 11 other companies and organizations spanning the entire supply chain, including manufacturers Inovafil, Tekstina and Kipas, which will use old garments to produce yarns, woven fabrics and denim, respectively. The New Cotton Project was a direct response to major and growing environmental problems in the textile industry relating to the production of raw materials such as cotton, viscose and fossil-based fibers such as polyester. Textile recycling specialist Frankenhuis, meanwhile, has been tasked with sorting and pre-processing the textile waste, and South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (Xamk) aims to develop a technical solution for the continuous processing of textile waste fibers for pre-treatment, they said. In addition, Revolve Waste has been appointed to collect and manage data on textile waste to estimate feedstock availability across Europe, while RISE — Sweden’s state-owned research institute — has been brought on board to conduct sustainability analyses and manage eco-labelling for garments created through the project. Finally, sustainable fashion platform Fashion for Good has been tasked with leading stakeholder co-operation and communications efforts, with branding support from Finland’s Aalto University and Infinited Fiber Company. Petri Alava, co-founder and CEO of Infinited Fiber Company, said the New Cotton Project was a direct response to major and growing environmental problems in the textile industry relating to the production of raw materials such as cotton, viscose and fossil-based fibers such as polyester. By developing a system to replace some need for virgin fiber and materials, he said the project was “breaking new ground when it comes to making circularity in the textile industry a reality.” “The enthusiasm and commitment with which the entire consortium has come together to work towards a cleaner, more sustainable future for fashion is truly inspiring,” he added. Pull Quote The New Cotton Project was a direct response to major and growing environmental problems in the textile industry relating to the production of raw materials such as cotton, viscose and fossil-based fibers such as polyester. Topics Circular Economy Supply Chain Fashion Textile Waste European Union BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  MikeDotta  on Shutterstock.

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Climate crisis could turn the Amazon rainforest to savanna

October 6, 2020 by  
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A new study published in the journal Nature Communications indicates that the Amazon rainforest could shift from a closed canopy rainforest to an open savanna due to the climate crisis. The study shows that the rate of deforestation coupled with forest fires sparked by climate change could significantly change the status of the rainforest in the future. According to the researchers, rainforests are very sensitive to changes in rainfall. If they experience prolonged droughts and fires like the ones recently witnessed in the Amazon , they may lose more trees and become more like a savanna. Although scientists have always known that this was possible, it was thought that such changes were decades away. The new study, led by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, now indicates that the changes are much closer than initially anticipated. Related: You can help monitor Amazon deforestation from your couch Almost 40% of the Amazon is already receiving less rainfall than usual and is at the point where it could exist as a savanna instead of a rainforest . While the researchers say that the process of fully changing the forest to savanna would take decades, they also say that once the process starts, it is nearly irreversible. “Drier conditions make it harder for the forest to recover and increase the flammability of the ecosystem,” Arie Staal, lead author of the study, told The Guardian . If the Amazon rainforest changes to a savanna, there would be dangerous consequences. Rainforests are important because they support a huge number of species and absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If the rainforest changes, much of the plant and animal species here could be lost. The problems experienced by rainforests like the Amazon are exacerbated by harmful policies. For instance, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has made promises to develop the Amazon , a move that has been criticized by many. This year, the Amazon has experienced a 60% increase in fire hotspots compared to 2019. The study now warns that if such fires continue, the rainforest could be permanently altered. + Nature Communications Via The Guardian Image via Jose Eduardo Camargo

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Maryland bans single-use foam containers

October 6, 2020 by  
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Last week, Maryland became the first U.S. state to ban single-use foam containers for carryout. Although the legislation banning their use was passed in 2019, it came into effect on Thursday, October 1. Among the items that will be prohibited in the new law include cups, plates, trays and containers. All entities in the state will be affected by the law, including businesses and institutions, such as schools. Originally, the state had set July 1 as the deadline for implementing the new law. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the deadline was pushed to October 1. Even with the delays, many cities and counties within the state had already implemented the ban early. Related: Maryland could become the first state to ban plastic foam containers Democratic Delegate Brooke Lierman was the main sponsor of the House bill that led to the new law. Although she had proposed the bill twice before, it was unsuccessful. But due to the recent climatic events, her colleagues started to shift their positions. According to Lierman, plastics are already hurting our environment, and actions have to be taken now to stop their effects. “Single-use plastics are overrunning our oceans and bays and neighborhoods,” Lierman said. “We need to take dramatic steps to start stemming our use and reliance on them … to leave future generations a planet full of wildlife and green space.” For a long time, polystyrene foam containers have been the go-to solution for businesses. They provide a cheap option for food packaging and are preferred by most business operators. But they are detrimental to the environment. In opposition to the new bill, the American Chemistry Council said that banning the single-use containers would vastly harm the local businesses. “Polystyrene foam packaging and containers provide business owners and consumers with a cost-effective and environmentally preferable choice that is ideal for protecting food and preventing food waste , particularly when used for food service,” the council argued. “Foam packaging is generally more than 90 percent air and has a lighter environmental impact than alternatives.” Although the law does not leave loopholes for continued use of the outlawed products, the Maryland Department of Environment allows schools and other institutions to apply for a grace period of up to one year. This will only be granted in special situations, where the institution may not be able to fulfill the ban in time. + Maryland Expanded Polystyrene Ban Via CNN Image via Jens S.

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