UN lists plastic as hazardous waste, votes to control international trade

May 15, 2019 by  
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On May 10, 187 countries voted to list plastic as hazardous waste and tighten control over its international trade. The governing agreement, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal dictates legally binding standards for importing and exporting toxic materials. For the first time ever, the agreement now includes plastic , with the exception of PE, PP and PET plastics. The new agreement gives lower income countries — particularly Southeast Asian countries — more control over the indiscriminate dumping of toxic materials. “This is a crucial first step toward stopping the use of developing countries as a dumping ground for the world’s plastic waste , especially those coming from rich nations,” said Von Hernandez from Break Free From Plastic. European nations and the U.S. export waste to African and Asian countries as a way to dispose of their trash and hazardous materials. Sometimes these countries are paid for their recycling or landfill services, but many times the dumping happens without permission. Under the Basel Convention agreement, export countries must receive written permits before dumping hazardous waste, which now includes most contaminated, mixed and non-recyclable plastic . Related: A guide to the different types of plastic In 2018, China banned imports of plastic waste and nearby countries Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand saw a massive upsurge in dumping. With China no longer an option, the $200 billion global recycling industry suddenly had no buyers that could handle the scale of the world’s plastic addiction. Ports in the U.S. and Europe began to overflow with plastic while exporters struggled to find new dumping sites. The U.S. is not a member of the Basel Convention and therefore could not participate in the vote. As the largest exporter of plastic, however, it will be required to obtain permits when dumping in participating countries. The American Chemistry Council and Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries were among the outspoken opponents, arguing these new obstacles will hinder recycling programs. One million citizens around the world signed online petitions in support of the new agreement. “Plastic waste is acknowledged as one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues,”  said Rolph Payet , executive secretary of the convention. “The fact that this week close to 1 million people around the world signed a petition urging Basel Convention Parties to take action here in Geneva at the COPs is a sign that public awareness and desire for action is high.” + UN Environment Via Plastic Pollution Convention and CNN Image via Jasmin Sessler

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UN lists plastic as hazardous waste, votes to control international trade

Chevron admits "there’s no debate about climate science" in court hearing

March 23, 2018 by  
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“From Chevron’s perspective there’s no debate about climate science ,” attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr. said in a courtroom this week. In a case pitting Big Oil companies against the cities of San Francisco and Oakland , which allege the fossil fuel corporations should pay for actions like sea walls to deal with the impacts of climate change , Chevron’s attorney acknowledged that manmade climate change is real. Don’t get too excited, though. According to Boutrous, it may be real, but it isn’t Chevron’s fault – it’s yours. United States District Judge William Alsup called for a two-part climate change tutorial  earlier this month to help educate all the parties involved in the lawsuit on climate change. During this tutorial,  Science Magazine and The Verge reported that Chevron agreed with the existing scientific consensus. The tutorial wasn’t an echo of the famous Scopes trial, according to Alsup. Science Magazine said he told the audience, “This will not be withering cross-examinations and so forth. This will be numbers and diagrams, and if you get bored you can just leave.” Prominent scientists spoke for San Francisco and Oakland, but Boutrous was the sole speaker for the oil industry — and he said, “Chevron accepts what the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] has reached consensus on concerning science and climate change.” Related: Federal court orders first hearing on the science of climate change Boutrous did emphasize parts of the IPCC’s fifth climate science assessment report regarding uncertainties, according to Science Magazine, such as challenges over predictions of sea level rise in particular parts of the planet or modeling Antarctic ice’s response to increasing temperatures. Even if Chevron does agree on the science, they don’t seem to agree a lawsuit is the correct way to tackle climate change — Boutrous described it as a global issue necessitating global action. Chevron spokesperson Sean Comey told The Verge the company “welcomes meaningful efforts to address the issue of climate change, but litigation is not an appropriate tool for accomplishing that objective.” He also claims that Chevron is no more to blame for climate change than anyone else. “Anyone in the world could be brought in in the case, including the plaintiffs themselves,” he said. Which gets to the crux of the argument: Chevron claims that burning fossil fuels is to blame, so it rests on the shoulders of those driving cars or heating their homes with coal to stop climate change. But the plaintiffs argue that, like the cigarette companies in the past, companies like Chevron knew about the impact of their product on the environment and chose to continue pushing it. Science Magazine said Exxon, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips, the other oil companies involved, stayed away from the tutorial as they have questioned Alsup’s jurisdiction to hear the case. Alsup afforded them two weeks to disagree with what Boutrous had to say, or he’ll assume they’re in agreement. Via The Verge and Science Magazine Images via Depositphotos and Pixabay

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Chevron admits "there’s no debate about climate science" in court hearing

ESA launches world’s first mission to explore the "atmospheres of hundreds of planets"

March 23, 2018 by  
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Behold a brand new era of space exploration. The European Space Agency (ESA) just selected the Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey (ARIEL) mission from three candidates to launch what Nature describes as the “world’s first space telescope dedicated to studying the atmospheres of exoplanets.” The four-year, $552 million will launch on the Ariane 6 rocket in 2028. The agency said we’ve found thousands of exoplanets with a massive range of sizes, masses, and orbits, but we haven’t uncovered a pattern connecting such characteristics to the parent star’s nature. “In particular, there is a gap in our knowledge of how the planet’s chemistry is linked to the environment where it formed, or whether the type of host star drives the physics and chemistry of the planet’s evolution,” according to ESA. Related: Kepler data reveals 20 potential habitable worlds ESA plans to zero in on hot and warm planets, “ranging from super-Earths to gas giants orbiting close to their parent stars.” Nature said a spectograph will scrutinize light filtering through an exoplanet’s atmosphere while it passes by its host star, “revealing chemical fingerprints of gases that shroud the body.” ARIEL could detect signs of water vapor, methane, and carbon dioxide, and also measure exotic metallic compounds. ESA says such findings could help place an exoplanet in context of a host star’s chemical environment. ESA Director of Science Günther Hasinger said in the statement, “ARIEL is a logical next step in exoplanet science, allowing us to progress on key science questions regarding their formation and evolution, while also helping us to understand Earth’s place in the universe .” + ESA’s Next Space Mission to Focus on Nature of Exoplanets Via Nature Images via ESA/ATG medialab, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO and NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech

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ESA launches world’s first mission to explore the "atmospheres of hundreds of planets"

Dutch parliament votes to shut down all of the country’s coal plants

September 26, 2016 by  
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The Dutch parliament voted Thursday night to shutter the nation’s coal industry in order to achieve a 55-percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The vote, which is not yet binding, would require shutting down the five coal power plants currently operating in the Netherlands, three of which just came online in 2015. Slashing CO2 emissions by 55 percent would bring the country’s emissions in line with the targets set by the Paris climate deal last December, and set a strong precedent among European nations for policies to slow the effects of climate change . The Netherlands’ Liberal and Labour parties led the 77 to 72 vote on September 22, in favor of the 2030 emissions reduction goal. Parliament will next move to get the plan into effect. The decision comes on the heels of the discovery that the nation’s CO2 emissions have jumped 5 percent over the last year, which analysts blame on the three new coal-fired power plants. Turning away from coal power is the fastest and simplest method for drastically reducing emissions over time. Related: Peak number of coal plants are shutting down in 2015, ushering in a greener era “Closing down big coal plants–even if they were recently opened–is by far the most cost effective way to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement, and all countries will need to take such far-reaching measures,” the Dutch Liberal MP and vice president of the parliament, Stientje van Veldhoven, told the Guardian. “We cannot continue to use coal as the cheapest source of energy when it is the most expensive from a climate perspective.” The most recent vote echoes the court order last year which demanded prime minister Mark Rutte’s government make climate change a bigger priority by cutting emissions 25-percent by 2020. That short-term goal is included in the measure approved last week. Opponents of the plan have argued that the Dutch coal plants are cleaner than those operating elsewhere in the world, and many are concerned that the leading candidate in March’s election for a new government would block the initiative. Supporters hope the current government will act quickly to move the plan forward, in an effort to secure a greener future for the nation—or at least delay the ill effects of the next administration. Via The Guardian Images via RWE and Shutterstock

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Dutch parliament votes to shut down all of the country’s coal plants

COP18 Ends in Colossal Failure

December 7, 2012 by  
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The 18th Conference of the Parties or COP18 ends today in colossal failure. Not only have the negotiations failed to produce any meaningful emissions cuts , but ‘Hot Air’ permits that allow countries like Poland and Russia to maintain their heavy industries may even result in more emissions . Talks have stalled for a host of reasons, though most developing nations blame rich countries like the United States , Canada and Japan for refusing to sign an interim successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol that would bind them to emissions reductions. Finance continues to be a contentious issue. At the COP15 meetings in Copenhagen, rich nations agreed to building a $100 billion annual fund by 2020 that would help developing nations cope with the effects of escalating climate change. The EU has offered interim funding but the US has failed to commit, citing the global economic crisis as justification. The Loss and Damage mechanism would require rich nations responsible for the highest emissions to compensate the countries that are most vulnerable, but the BBC reports that nobody wants to agree to any terms because of admission of guilt such a move would imply. Meanwhile, Qatar has come under fire for its soft leadership. Instead of compelling other Arab countries to reach a meaningful agreement to slash emissions, the emirate agreed to build an Institute for Climate Studies. The president of the conference, Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, told BBC News that he didn’t have luck creating a joint Arab position on the issue. “I want us to move together on climate change but I can’t get consensus on this.” Another UN climate meeting comes to a close without any substantial consensus as scientists issue increasingly grave warnings about the state of the earth. In short, COP18 was a colossal #FAIL. Via BBC News Lead image via Penny.Yi.Wang , flickr, Blacked out Lower Manhattan by Iwan Baan

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COP18 Ends in Colossal Failure

Parents Host Chicken Pox Parties to Infect Their Children With the Virus

November 12, 2011 by  
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Would you ever willingly infect your child with a virus? Parents across the country are doing just that as they host chicken pox parties and invite uninfected kids over for fun and a body-full of itchy bumps. Facebook pages such “ Find a Pox Party Near You ” are allowing parents of infected kids to find one another, in turn forgoing the need to vaccinate their kids from the virus. So would you bring your kid to a pox party ? Take our poll and share your thoughts ahead! READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: adult chicken pox , baby health , chicken pox , chicken pox complications , chicken pox party , chicken pox vaccine , deadly chicken pox , pox party , shingles , vaccine safety , viruses

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Parents Host Chicken Pox Parties to Infect Their Children With the Virus

Factory Farming Is Not the Best We Have to Offer

October 25, 2011 by  
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© Derek Goodwin Over the last half-century in the US, small farms have been replaced by large, industrialized operations that treat animals and the natural world as mere commodities. This factory farming system, which slaughters animals by the billions, costs us all dearly…. Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Factory Farming Is Not the Best We Have to Offer

How Organic Farmers and Ethical Consumers are Taking on the Mafia

October 25, 2011 by  
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UK In Italy / CC BY-ND 2.0 A few years ago, a friend of mine attended a Slow Food event in Italy. She recounted how one farmer had stood up and desperately pleaded for the artisan food movement to take on organized criminals. Without loosening their grip on farm supply and produce distribution, the farmer argued, it was impossible to make a sustainable living working on the land. … Read the full story on TreeHugger

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How Organic Farmers and Ethical Consumers are Taking on the Mafia

IKEA’s New Solar-Powered Solvinden Lamp is Perfect For Summer Backyard Parties

April 28, 2011 by  
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IKEA has continued to wow us with their solar powered lighting options , and their new “Solvinden” lamps are no exception. Available in black, turquoise, white and lime green, the adorable tabletop lamps include three rechargeable solar batteries that will light up the night long after the sun has set.

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IKEA’s New Solar-Powered Solvinden Lamp is Perfect For Summer Backyard Parties

COP16: Reporting from Day 1 of the Climate Talks in Cancun

November 29, 2010 by  
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This morning marked the start of the much anticipated COP16 climate talks in Cancun and we’ve been on the scene scoping out what the general outlook is as the world’s leaders prepare to once again try to tackle global warming head on.

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COP16: Reporting from Day 1 of the Climate Talks in Cancun

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