EPA repeals water protections, choosing industry over wetlands

September 13, 2019 by  
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On Thursday, the Trump administration repealed the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, an Obama-era policy designed to protect waterways. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the EPA plans to reinstate 1980s water rules. The EPA and U.S. Army will decide this winter which waterways to regulate. “Today’s Step 1 action fulfills a key promise of President Trump and sets the stage for Step 2 — a new WOTUS definition that will provide greater regulatory certainty for farmers, landowners, home builders and developers nationwide,” Wheeler said in a statement. Related: Nestlé plans to bottle 1.1M gallons of water daily from natural springs in Florida WOTUS stipulated which wetlands and streams would be protected from pesticides , fertilizer, mine waste and other pollutants under the 1972 Clean Water Act . But farmers, miners and other industry players complained the policy was overreach, interfering with their business interests. The states are divided on WOTUS and its repeal. Twenty-two states — as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. territories — have been following the Obama-era policy, while 27 states never moved on from the ’80s regulations. California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, no friend of Trump, plans to fight the repeal, which would cut federal protection to California’s water. Meanwhile, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is celebrating. Environmental groups, including Earthjustice, worry that repealing WOTUS will imperil safe drinking water and thwart safeguards against pollution and flooding. “President Trump’s administration wants to turn back the clock to the days of poisoned flammable water,” said Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice president. “This is shameful and dangerous.” Nor were environmentalists impressed with the repeal being announced at the headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, feeling this privileged industry over public health . Craig Cox, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the Environmental Working Group, said, “The EPA is no longer in the business of safeguarding our resources and protecting us from pollution, but is openly working to advance the agenda of those who profit from fouling our water and threatening our health.” Via Reuters Image via Pixabay

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EPA repeals water protections, choosing industry over wetlands

Brazil turns down international aid for Amazon wildfires

August 28, 2019 by  
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Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is busy tweeting and arguing with French president Emmanuel Macron while enormous Amazon fires burn. The Group of Seven rich countries, otherwise known as the G7, has offered $22 million to combat fires raging throughout the rainforest. But Bolsonaro says he won’t accept the money unless Macron says he’s sorry. While at the G7 summit in France early this week, Macron urged his fellow leaders to action, calling the Amazon wildfires a world environmental crisis and accusing Bolsonaro of making it worse. He also called the Brazilian president a climate change skeptic. Bolsonaro was insulted and accused Macron of treating Brazil “as if we were a colony or no man’s land,” he said in a tweet. Related: Wildfires are decimating the Amazon rainforest at unprecedented rates Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, further dissed Macron by saying if the French president can’t “avoid a predictable fire in a church,” he might not have much to offer Brazil. This remark referred to the recent tragic blaze at Notre Dame . Fortunately for Bolsonaro, he can fall back on support in his mutual fan club with President Trump. “He is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil — Not easy,” tweeted Trump. Bolsonaro thanked Trump and accused Macron et al. of building a fake news campaign against him. Meanwhile, a football field and a half of the Amazon continues to burn every minute. Brazil could well be facing permanent changes to its ecology, such as former rainforest turning into arid landscape. “The Amazon is extremely fundamental for the water system all over the continent,” said Rosana Villar from Greenpeace. “So, if we cut off the forest, we are some years not going to have rain on the south of the country.” Critics say the $22 million offered by the G-7 countries including the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K. wouldn’t be enough to stop the fires . But it would certainly go a lot farther than a juvenile tweet fight. Via NPR and CNN Image via NASA

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Save the environment by pooping less, says Bolsonaro

August 20, 2019 by  
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Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro recently suggested that people could save the environment if their bowels moved less frequently. His intestinal initiative could be accomplished by eating less food, he told one reporter. “You talk about environmental pollution,” Bolsonaro said. “It’s enough to poop every other day. That will be better for the whole world.” Meanwhile, he continues to face widespread backlash for the immense deforestation occurring in the Amazon since he took office. Bolsonaro, the South American country’s 38th president, has been in power since January. In that time, he’s voiced many unusual and far-right views about environmental issues. For example, Bolsonaro commented that only “ vegans , who eat only plants,” care about the environment. Related: Deforestation and climate change combined may split Amazon in two When the National Institute for Space Research released shocking data on rampant forest clearing in the Amazon , Bolsonaro accused the agency of data manipulation and fired the institute’s director. The institute had found more than 870 square miles of forests were cleared in July — 278 percent more than what was cleared in the same time frame last year. Bolsonaro said of the data, “We cannot accept sensationalism or the disclosure of inaccurate numbers that cause great damage to Brazil’s image.” It’s doubtful that the president’s new “waste” campaign will catch on. Defecation is notoriously hard to schedule, and people’s bowels march to the beats of their own drummers. According to Healthline , bowels might want to move three times per day, three times a week or anywhere in between. Eating less, as Brazil’s president suggested, may or may not lead to fewer bathroom visits; what you eat is also key. Those aiming for constipation should cut down on fiber, caffeine, alcohol and liquids in general. Aging, a sedentary lifestyle, stress and certain medications can also aid the quest to put it off till tomorrow, although this strange request “for the whole world” isn’t advised. The world waits in suspense to hear what Bolsonaro will say (or do) next. But consult your doctor before following the president’s gastrointestinal advice. Via AFP , Newsweek and PJ Media Image via Filios Sazeides

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Chattanooga becomes first 100% solar-powered airport in US

August 19, 2019 by  
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Tennessee’s fourth largest city, Chattanooga, became the first American airport to be 100 percent solar powered – and joins only a handful of airports who claim the same across the world.  The $5 million dollar solar farm project has been seven years in the making with funding by the Federal Aviation Administration. “This is a momentous day for the Chattanooga Airport as we complete our solar farm and achieve a major sustainability milestone,” said Terry Hart, the president and CEO of the Chattanooga Airport. “This project has immediate benefits to our airport and community, and we’re proud to set an example in renewable energy for other airports, businesses and our region. While generating a local renewable resource, we are also increasing the economic efficiency of the airport.” Related: Digging deeper for climate solutions: deep-root GMOs could feed world and store carbon While the Chattanooga airport is small and runs flights to just ten domestic cities, it has seen growth by over 500,000 additional passengers in the last year. The solar farm installation is reportedly the size of 16 football fields with capacity for 2.64 megawatts of energy and storage units that enable constant energy supply even during cloudy days and nighttime. The investment will pay for itself in approximately 20 years, and the installation is expected to last between 30 and 40 years with regular maintenance. The rise in popularity of renewable energy is partially due to increasing concern about climate change as well as the rise in affordability of solar panels. According to Forbes: “In 2009, for example, the average gross cost of installing a solar panel was $8.50 per watt. Now? Just shy of $2.98—a 65% decrease in 10 years.” This shift has made a broader range of large and small scale project possible. Internationally, India, the Galapagos Islands and South Africa also have 100 percent solar powered airports. In the U.S., the Denver Airport has a larger solar installation, but because of their scale of operations, Chattanooga is the only American airport so far that can claim 100 percent renewable energy . Via Forbes Image via jaidee

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Chattanooga becomes first 100% solar-powered airport in US

Geothermal-powered bus station will use anti-smog blocks to fight pollution

August 13, 2019 by  
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The Polish city of Lublin will soon be home to an environmentally friendly bus station that not only offers a new and attractive public space, but also combats urban air pollution. Designed by Polish architectural firm Tremend , the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station in Lublin will be built near the train station and aims to revitalize the area around the railway station. The contemporary design, combined with its environmental focus and green features, earned the project a spot on World Architecture Festival’s World Building of the Year shortlist.  Located close to Folk Park, the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station was designed as a visual extension of the neighboring green space with a lush roof garden and large green wall that wraps the northern facade. Greenery is also referenced in the series of sculptural tree-like pillars that support a massive flat roof with large overhanging eaves. Walls of glass create an inviting and safe atmosphere, while the administration rooms will be provided with tinted windows for privacy.  To reduce energy demands, the building will be heated with geothermal energy and outfitted with energy-efficient LEDs . Meanwhile, motion detectors will be used to activate the lighting to ensure energy savings. A rainwater collection and treatment system will also be used to irrigate the plants that create a cooling microclimate and improved air quality. Air quality is further improved with the use of “anti-smog blocks,” a modern photocatalytic material containing titanium dioxide that breaks down toxic fumes.  Related: Cepezed completes the first self-sufficient bus station in the Netherlands “Architecture of public places is evolving in my opinion in a very good direction,” says Magdalena Federowicz-Boule, President of the Tremend Board. “Combining different spaces, open shared zones favors establishing contacts. The communication center, which is to be built in Lublin, is to revive it for revitalization district and become a meeting place where people will be able to meet and spend together time in an attractive environment with green areas. The project is also a response to problems, related to environmental protection and city life, such as smog , water and energy consumption, noise. It is an image of how we perceive the role of ecology in architecture.” + Tremend

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KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Flying-V concept is an important step towards sustainable aviation

July 22, 2019 by  
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The environmental impacts of air travel has become a growing global concern. The aviation industry is focused on producing faster planes that fly higher and provide more comfort for passengers, which may create the alarming potential to produce even more carbon emissions than ever before. Presented as a solution to the increasing need for more sustainable aviation options, KLM Royal Dutch Airline has revealed a design for its “Flying V” sustainable aircraft that will use 20% less fuel than the popular Airbus A350. At the 2019 IATA Annual General Meeting in Seoul, KLM President & CEO Pieter Elbers and Dean of the Netherlands Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology Professor Henri Werij signed an agreement to work together on making aviation more sustainable. Though the design is only a concept at this point, the vision of the Technical University of Berlin and researchers at Delft, the Flying V is a monumental step towards sustainable aviation. Related: Time-saving supersonic airplanes could be a disaster for the environment With a unique aerodynamic shape, the plane’s design is shorter than the Airbus A350 (the most comparable aircraft), but with the same wingspan and the same passenger capacity. Because of this, the plane will fit easily into existing gates and runways, and fit in the same hanger as an A350. Everything from the plane bathrooms to the design of the passenger seats are as lightweight as possible for the safety and comfort of passengers. The signature v-shape wings will include the passenger cabins, the cargo (which will hold the same volume as the A350) and the fuel and the combination of a lightweight design with fuel-efficient turbofan engines makes it much more sustainable than other aircrafts.  Attendees of KLM Experience Days at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to celebrate KLM’s 100th anniversary will have the chance to view a flying scale model and a full size section of the Flying V’s interior in October 2019. Via Images by Edwin Wallet at OSO Studio for TU Delft

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KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Flying-V concept is an important step towards sustainable aviation

UK supermarket tests packaging-free initiative

July 22, 2019 by  
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Bringing reusable bags to stores is now second nature to many shoppers, but will they bring their own containers, too? British supermarket chain Waitrose will find out during an 11-week trial in its Oxford store called Waitrose Unpacked. Customers are encouraged to take refillable containers to restock on options such as a choice of four types of beer and wines, detergent, coffee and 28 dry products including cereals, lentils and pastas. Other unpacked concepts simply eliminate plastic — such as 160 loose vegetable and fruit products, and flowers and plants wrapped in 100% recyclable craft paper rather than plastic. Waitrose also offers a frozen pick and mix station, where customers can choose their own blends of cherries, pineapple, blueberries and other chilly fruits. Related: Sustainable toiletries packaged in soap aim to eliminate single-use plastics Waitrose launched its Unpacked initiative in response to customers requesting more sustainable ways to shop. “This test has huge potential to shape how people might shop with us in the future so it will be fascinating to see which concepts our customers have an appetite for. We know we’re not perfect and have more to do, but we believe this is an innovative way to achieve something different,” Waitrose declared in a press release. Unpacked customers will also benefit from lower prices, since shoppers often pay for excess packaging they don’t even want. The BBC reported that produce in the supermarket’s refill stations would be up to 15 percent cheaper and frozen fruit would also be less expensive. For a £5 deposit, shoppers can load their groceries into a borrowed box from Waitrose to take home. When they return the box, the supermarket refunds their money. Waitrose will continue to offer food in its regular packaging, which will provide a useful control group for the unpacked experiment. The trial ends August 18. We hope the verdict is a win for sustainability. +Waitrose Image via Waitrose

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How to easily make your own reusable produce bags

July 22, 2019 by  
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If you’re focused on sustainability and/or zero waste , you probably cringe every time you return home from the grocery store and pull out bag after bag of fruits and vegetables, each tucked inside plastic bags conveniently located in the produce section where you shopped. The good news is that it’s easy to end the cringe with reusable cloth produce bags. Fortunately, it’s easy to make your own cloth produce bags at very little cost. There are even no-sew options if a sewing machine isn’t your thing. The best part is that you likely already have everything you need to whip up a pile of reusable cloth bags this weekend. Related: RÆBURN upcycles North Face tents into one-of-a-kind bags Material An old, but freshly washed, bed sheet makes the perfect upcycle material for your cloth produce bags. Alternately, grab some lightly-used pillow cases. These work great since they already have seams on some of the sides. Ideally, you will want cotton or linen and organic is always best, but remember that turning one product into something else is already an eco-friendly action so give yourself a break if your sheets aren’t organic.  The linen closet is an easy place to start, but it’s certainly not the only place to find material in your home. Old clothing is an accessible option, especially when you look for shapes that make produce bags easier to make. For example, a child’s shirt will only need small adaptations to turn into a bag. Same goes for wide sleeves or a tight skirt.  No sew Sewing just might not be your thing. Perhaps you don’t have a sewing machine, or you don’t enjoy the whole needle and thread experience. That’s fine with us. To use no-sew reusable produce bags, simply use Velcro instead. Lay your fabric pieces out inside out. Glue Velcro to the length of each side and allow the strips to dry. Then press the Velcro pieces together completely. Use high-quality Velcro for a firm hold.  Sew Making your own produce bags doesn’t require extensive sewing experience. Simply cut and lay out two rectangles of fabric, back to back (or inside out). You can make bags in a variety of sizes. Sew the edges of three sides, leaving the top open. If you are using a material with existing seams, finish the additional edges. For example, cut a pillowcase in four quarters, turn each quarter inside out, finish the seams and turn it back right side out to see your completed bag. The top Now you have your upcycled produce bag ready to go, but you may be wondering how to keep it closed once you stuff your favorite produce inside. The answer is that you don’t really need to if your bag is deep enough. However, if you prefer to have a top that closes, there are several ways you can go about it. For those that enjoyed the sewing portion, go ahead and add a drawstring to the top. To do this, fold over the material at the top leaving about 1/2 inch before making a seam. The 1/2 inch gap allows room for a piece of rope or that non-partnered shoelace in the junk drawer. You can lay it into the space before stitching it up, but be sure not to stitch over it, which locks it into a stationary position and will inhibit the bag from pulling closed. For a no-sew option attach the two sides with Velcro. An even easier solution is to close the top while you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market using a hair tie band. The elasticity allows the cashier to peak inside the bag hassle free. Plus, if you use your produce bag in the bulk section, you can attach the product number tag directly to the tie band.  Other Uses Produce bags are never just for produce. You can use them to store any number of foods . Beans are an excellent example. Rice, pasta and other pantry items also store well in fabric bags. Shopping bulk is a sustainable action that removes much of the packaging waste from the typical shopping venture. While glass jars are best for some things, fabric bags can handle the “bulk” of your dried foods. Outside the food realm you can use them to store art supplies such as markers, paint brushes and rocks. When it comes time to do laundry, throw small items such as kid’s socks inside and wash the entire bag. Care Fabric produce bags are easy to care for because they are machine washable alongside the rest of your laundry. It’s best to wash bags after each use considering the amount of germs they encounter in the shopping cart, at checkout and in your car. Bags can be hung to dry or tossed into the dryer if necessary. Remember to put your bags somewhere you will remember to take them with you for your next shopping trip, or take them directly to the car for storage. Congratulations on your step towards reducing plastic waste ! Images via Sean and Lauren , Pixabay , Laura Mitulla

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How to easily make your own reusable produce bags

Endangered rhino population up 1000% in Tanzania following poaching crackdown

July 15, 2019 by  
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The president of Tanzania reported that since his election, the population of endangered rhinos has increased by 1000 percent. Following years of out-of-control poaching, President John Magufuli fulfilled his promise to crack down on wildlife trafficking and went so far as to use his own government security task force to arrest poachers. The president’s office stated that in 2015, there were only 15 surviving rhinos left in the country. Within the first year as head of state, Magufuli had arrested major Chinese smugglers and sentenced them to 15 to 20 years in prison each. According to government reports, the arrests set a strong example to poaching gangs that regardless of status within the Chinese elite class, Magufuli meant business. Related: Ivory Queen sentenced to 15 years for illegal ivory smuggling In addition to cracking down on poachers , the government has supported a park ranger program to collar and track elephants, which enables them to monitor and protect the species better. Four years later, the current rhino population is estimated to be about 167. Similarly, the elephant population is estimated to have risen 50 percent due to legal efforts against endangered wildlife crimes. “As a result of the work of a special taskforce launched in 2016 to fight wildlife poaching, elephant populations have increased from 43,330 to 60,000 presently,” an official from the Tanzanian government said. Foreign conservationists are skeptical about the president’s claims, arguing that the majority of rhino newcomers are imported and the increase is not thanks to effective breeding or protection measures. CITES also shows that Tanzania had 133 rhinos four years ago, not 15 as the government has stated. “This sounds like very good news, but we should view these figures with caution until there’s verification — there’s no way that has occurred through breeding and protection alone,” said Mark Jones, the policy lead at Born Free Foundation, a wildlife charity . According to environmentalists, the breeding and gestation period is too long for the population to have grown through natural biological processes in just four years. “They mature late, have long gestation periods and don’t produce many young,” Jones said. “Both species take a long time biologically to reproduce.” Via The Independent Image via René Mayorga

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Endangered rhino population up 1000% in Tanzania following poaching crackdown

Trumps July 4th celebration cost our National Parks millions

July 5, 2019 by  
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The Independence Day festivities hosted by the White House yesterday cost the National Park Service an estimated $2.5 million dollars, money that is typically earmarked for park maintenance and rehabilitation. The rainy celebration, which included military jet fly overs, tank displays and the largest firework display in D.C. history, is the most expensive July 4th celebration any president has hosted. What Trump promoted via Twitter as the “show of a lifetime” was loosely inspired by his trip to France during Bastille Day. After the proposed budget for a similar celebration last year reached $92 million, Trump had to scale back his plan. Related: How National Parks benefit the environment The president also made a speech yesterday, a first in 32 years. For the past three decades, presidents have elected to not speak at the Independence Day celebrations out of respect for unity and patriotism and an attempt to not politicize the holiday. “Today, we come together as one nation with this very special salute to America. We celebrate our history, our people and the heroes who proudly defend our flag — the brave men and women of the United States military,” Trump said during his speech. Despite his message of unity, tickets for the highly anticipated events were given out as gifts to high-rolling donors to the Republican National Committee. “This is a breach of trust with the public,” said Theresa Pierno, president of the National Parks Conservation Association. “The public pays parks fees to fix national parks and for educational programs, not the president’s parades.” The national parks are reportedly $12 billion dollars behind in their maintenance needs, and this event is another major setback. While the event cost the country’s parks $2.5 million, the Trump administration refused to reveal exactly how much the antics cost taxpayers in total. Before the celebration, Trump tweeted , “The cost of our great Salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it is worth. We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), all we need is the fuel. We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats.” Via EcoWatch Image via Joyce N. Boghosian / The White House

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Trumps July 4th celebration cost our National Parks millions

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