10 in 2 - Week of February 12th - 60,000 soldiers to plant trees

This is your 10 in 2 for the week of February 12th

 

 

...so here we go:

 

  1. John H. Shott, a West Virginia state lawmaker, did not appreciate when, during a public hearing on the House floor on Friday, a citizen began listing donations he and some of his colleagues had received from the oil and gas industry. After she refused to stop, she was forcibly removed. (NYT)

  2. U.S. regulators have leveled the playing field for batteries and other forms of energy storage, voting to eliminate market barriers for those technologies. Under the rule, technologies such as batteries and flywheel systems can be used by grid operators to dispatch power, set energy prices and offer capacity, energy and ancillary services. (Bloomberg)

  3. News that Swedish furniture giant IKEA is planning to sell solar panels “at cost” in its Australian stores has been met with mixed responses from the local solar industry, with many expressing fears that it will further destabilize – and perhaps undermine – an already overcrowded solar retail and installation market. However, my take is that more access to cheap solar is rarely a bad thing. (reneweconomy.com)

  4. Animals are adapting to rapid climate change. Some species that used to turn white in the winter are now staying brown year-round. The new study by L. Scott Mills  and colleagues mapped hotspots that could foster a rapid evolutionary response to climate, and is likely to help us better foster future persistence of wild animals as the climate changes. (Research Gate)

  5. Europe’s “first sustainable hotel” opened in Dublin this week. The Iveagh (Ivayeah) Garden on Harcourt Street will source all of its energy from an underground river, running 50 metres below the hotel. Large turbines will convert power from the river Swan to meet all of the hotel’s energy requirements. (Irish Times)

  6. The world's largest species of orangutans is rapidly disappearing. Borneo, which has the largest deforestation rates in the world, has lost more than 100,000 orangutans in the last 16 years – that's more than the number of the critically endangered species remaining. (NPR)

  7. China has reportedly re-assigned over 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in a bid to combat pollution by increasing the country's forest coverage. The majority will be dispatched to Hebei province, which encircles Beijing.  (independent.co.uk)

  8. The federal government is quietly reconsidering protected status for endangered Florida Key deer. This comes after a rough patch for the dog sized deer, who have been hit with habitat destroying hurricanes, outbreaks of flesh eating bacteria, and now this possible delisting. (Miami Herald)

  9. A well-known Iranian-Canadian professor has died in prison in Tehran, a statement posted on his son’s Instagram page revealed on Saturday, and his family is seeking an independent autopsy. The professor, Kavous Seyed Emami, was one of the founders of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Iran’s most prominent non governmental organization focused on the environment. (NYT)

  10. Frequent star of the 10 in 2, EPA head Scott Pruitt argued in at least two recent interviews that green groups, scientists, and other advocates working to slow the climate crisis are "arrogant" in saying that humans should work to keep the earth from warming. But hey, at least he admits it might be warming now? (commondreams.org)

 



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10 in 2 - Week of February 5th - we know that humans have most flourished during times of what?

This is your 10 in 2 for the week of February 5th

 

...so here we go:

 

  1. Everyone one was fawning over the Falcon Heavy Space X launch this week, but a certain subset of the internet wasn't having it.  Elon Musk has caught a lot of flak from the left for union busting at Tesla, for one, and using his billions for private space missions when we face so many environmental and social challenges here on earth, for another. There were a lot of good takes to choose from, but I think Naomi Klein had the clearest opinion with this tweet: 

 

  1. Edinburgh University, which, ironically, is where Joseph Black discovered carbon dioxide--divested from all fossil fuels this week. The move makes it the largest university fund in the UK to ditch all coal, oil and gas holdings. (The Guardian)

  2. The number of new enforcement actions by the Environmental Protection Agency has fallen significantly over the past year, according to data released Thursday by the Trump administration. The EPA initiated 20 percent fewer civil cases against polluters for violating environmental laws from the beginning of September 2016 to end of September 2017, as compared to the previous fiscal year. The EPA also opened 30 percent fewer criminal enforcement cases during the same time period. (NBC News)

  3. More scientists than ever before are preparing to run for political office. Of the historic 455 Democratic challengers already filed to run for Congress in 2018, nearly 60 of them have STEM backgrounds. (scienceaf.com)

  4. The Trump administration is poised to ask Congress for deep budget cuts to the Energy Department’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, slashing them by 72 percent overall in fiscal 2019, according to draft budget documents obtained by The Washington Post.

  5. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is again understating the threat posed by climate change, this time by suggesting that global warming may be a good thing for humanity. “We know that humans have most flourished during times of what? Warming trends. So I think there’s assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that necessarily is a bad thing.” (AP)

  6. Dunkin’ Donuts announced plans to eliminate all polystyrene foam cups in its global supply chain beginning in spring 2018, with a targeted completion date of 2020. In U.S. restaurants, they will replace the foam cup with a new, double-walled paper cup. (Dunkindonuts.com)

  7. After Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, hungry people needed food. FEMA tapped Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur with no experience in large-scale disaster relief and at least five canceled government contracts in her past. FEMA awarded her $156 million for the job, and Ms. Brown, who is the sole owner and employee of her company failed to deliver. Needless to say, this did not end well for her or for those who needed those millions of meals. (NYT)

  8. Scientists have confirmed a form of water that is simultaneously solid and liquid. It is the latest advance in the study of water, a seemingly simple substance that can shift between many different configurations. This new form, called superionic water, consists of a rigid lattice of oxygen atoms through which positively charged hydrogen nuclei move. It is not known to exist naturally anywhere on Earth, but it may be bountiful farther out in the solar system. (NYT)

  9. All-female mutant crayfish that clone themselves are taking over rivers and lakes around the world. The entire global population of marbled crayfish has been traced to a single female held in a German aquarium, which was born with the ability to reproduce without having its eggs fertilised by males. It may not be necessary to say, but this could be devastating to local wildlife and ecosystems as it spreads. (independent.co.uk)

 



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10 in 2 - Week of January 15th - just in case the court disagrees

  1. Today is that day that citizens can start staking claims on sections of bears Ears national monument. The Bureau of Land Management has officially begun to move forward with allowing stakeholders to claim plots of land, and has determined the process will be governed by the General Mining Law of 1872, which covers mining for metals such as copper, gold, silver, and uranium. There are no environmental guidelines specific to hard rock mining, and no requirement to pay a royalty. (alternet)

  2. Chevron is suing another oil company for causing climate change. Last year, Oakland sued the American oil company and four others for billions of dollars, to pay for sea walls and other measures to protect the city from the impacts of global warming. Chevron says it hasn’t caused climate change and shouldn’t have to pay—but just in case the court disagrees, then they want Statoil, Norway’s state-owned oil company, to have to pay up, too. (New Republic)

  3. Long strips of bright wildflowers are being planted through crop fields to boost the natural predators of pests and potentially cut pesticide spraying. The strips were planted on 15 large arable farms in central and eastern England last autumn and will be monitored for five years, as part of a trial run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH). (The Guardian)

  4. As the Trump administration looks to open up the Atlantic Ocean up to oil and gas drilling, New Jersey and New York are racing forward to develop offshore wind energy projects that would generate significant amounts of power and create thousands of clean energy jobs. (ThinkProgress)

  5. A concrete dome holding the radioactive waste of 43 nuclear explosions is leaking into the ocean. The Enewetak Atoll was used by the US government to test 30 megatons of weapons - equivalent to 2,000 Hiroshima blasts - between 1948 and 1958. A vet from the cleanup team is claims that the dome is just one typhoon away from a even more serious breach. (express.co.uk)

  6. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink on Tuesday sent a letter to CEOs of public companies outlining his expectation that they start accounting for their effect on society. "Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose," (Business Insider)

  7. The slaughter of people defending their land or environment continued unabated in 2017, with new research showing almost four people a week were killed worldwide in struggles against mines, plantations, poachers and infrastructure projects. The toll of 197 in 2017 – which has risen fourfold since it was first compiled in 2002 – underscores the violence on the frontiers of a global economy driven by expansion and consumption. (The Guardian)

  8. Ultraviolet blocking chemicals in sunscreen have been linked with a variety of environmental harms, most notably coral bleaching.  But recently, scientists have created bacteria that produce the key ingredient for environmentally friendly sunscreens thanks to gene modification, which I’m sure will have zero unintended consequences.  Regardless, I’m here for it. (independent.co.uk)

  9. Chile has declared the start of their coal power phase-out. President Michelle Bachelet says the country will not build new coal plants without carbon capture and begin talks to replace existing capacity with cleaner sources. (Climate Change News)

  10. In more excellent Chilean news, on a subject we have talked about a ton on this podcast, but, now it is official. On Monday, President Bachelet signed into law the historic creation of 5 new national parks spanning 10.3 million acres. This is the culmination of decades of work by Kristine Tompkins and her late husband Doug who have poured their lives into purchasing, rewilding, and then donating large swaths of land in the name of conservation. (NYT)



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22nd Century Leadership - The Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith

A conversation between Jib Ellison & Fletcher Harper.

 

Fletcher Harper, an Episcopal priest, is Executive Director of GreenFaith, an international interfaith environmental organization. He has developed a range of innovative programs to make GreenFaith a global leader in the religious-environmental movement.

In the past four years, he coordinated the 2015 OurVoices campaign, which mobilized religious support globally for COP 21, led organizing of faith communities for the People’s Climate Marches in NYC and Washington DC, helped lead the faith-based fossil fuel divestment movement, supported the launch of the global Interfaith Rainforest Initiative, and co-founded Shine, a faith-philanthropy-NGO campaign to end energy poverty with renewable energy by 2030. He helps lead GreenFaith’s new local organizing initiative, creating multi-faith GreenFaith Circles in local communities globally.

Fletcher accepted GreenFaith’s Many Faith’s, one Earth Award from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2009 and was named an Ashoka Fellow in 2011. He is the author of GreenFaith: Mobilizing God’s People to Protect the Earth (Abingdon Press, March 2015).



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10 in 2 - Week of January 15th - as bad for the environment as millions of cars

this is your 10 in 2 for the week of January 15th

...so here we go:

 

  1. In 2015, an estimated 200,000 saiga antelope (representing 2/3 of the global population) dropped dead for no apparent reason. But, this week, a study on rats has led scientists to identify the likely culprit of what suddenly killed them: a normally harmless bacteria made deadly by climate change. (The Atlantic)

  2. The official photographer for the Department of Energy leaked photographs of Rick Perry hugging major Trump donor and coal magnate Robert E. Murray. After the leak he got fired without explanation, and is now seeking whistleblower protections. (NYT)

  3. Norway already has more electric cars than any other country in the world, and now have their sights set on electric shipping, and airlines. They aim to have 100% of short-haul flights 100% electric by 2040. One ironic fact about this announcement is that Norway also happens to be the largest oil and gas producer in western Europe. (The Guardian)

  4. New research from the University of Manchester suggests that microwave ovens could be as bad for the environment as millions of cars.  The biggest impact comes from electricity use, but the manufacturing process, and the frequency with which they are discarded make significant impacts on the environment. (manchester.ac.uk)

  5. 2017 was among the warmest years on record, according to new data released by NASA and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. NASA and NOAA disagree on exactly where 2017 ranks but, "both analyses show that the five warmest years on record have all taken place since 2010".  (NPR)

  6. Inspired by the recent move by New York, the city council of Los Angeles has announced its intentions to file a lawsuit against oil and gas companies over allegations that they have consciously contributed to climate change. (Climate Action)

  7. Moscow is not known for being especially nice in December getting only 18 hours of sunlight during the month of December on average. But December 2017 was extra gloomy, getting sunlight for what must have been a very glorious, albeit short 6 minutes. You heard me right, 6 minutes of sunlight, total, in Moscow during December. (NYT)

  8. More than three-quarters of the members of a federally chartered board advising the National Park Service have quit out of frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had refused to meet with them or convene a single meeting last year. Zinke keeps coming up on this podcast, and it’s not because of our great admiration for him. (The Washington Post)

  9. The EU is waging war against plastic waste as part of an urgent plan to clean up Europe’s act and ensure that every piece of packaging on the continent is reusable or recyclable by 2030. This comes on the heels of China’s decision to ban imports of foreign recyclable material (The Guardian)

  10. Trump is afraid of sharks, and allegedly, refuses to support any orgs that work to protect them. So, that’s cool and totally normal. (NY Daily News)

 

That’s it for this week.

 

 

 



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10 in 2 - Week of January 8th - take a trip to Venus; I will pay the fare

...so here we go:

 

  1. New York City is taking on the oil industry on two fronts, announcing a lawsuit Wednesday that blames the top five oil companies for contributing to global warming and saying the city will sell off billions in fossil fuel investments from the city's pension funds. (The Intercept)

  2. Warming temperatures are having a profound and potentially devastating impact on one of the most important green sea turtle populations in the world. Scientists were surprised to find that "virtually no male turtles" are being hatched in a key breeding ground in the northern Great Barrier Reef. (NPR)

  3. Weird weather report part one. On Sunday, Ain Sefra, a desert town in Algeria known as the "Gateway to the Sahara," and one of the hottest places in the world, experienced a substantial amount of snow for the third time in 40 years. Some reports say parts of the area got nearly 15 inches. (CNN)

  4. Weird weather report part 2. In its hottest December ever recorded, Alaska was a stunning 15.7°F above the 20th century average. And the year ended with Arctic sea ice hitting an all-time record low. While the East Coast had a cool December, Alaska baked. Last Tuesday, Anchorage hit 48°F, warmer than southern cities from Atlanta and New Orleans. (Think Progress)

  5. It’s the height of summer in Cape Town which is gripped by a catastrophic water shortage. Unless the city adopts widespread rationing, the government says, the taps “will be turned off” on April 22, 2018, because there will be no more water to deliver. This would make Cape Town the first major city in the world to run out of water. (Quartz Media)

  6. Governors from several coastal states ramped up pressure on the Trump administration to exempt their waters from an offshore drilling plan, hours after the Interior Department granted Florida’s request to opt out. So far this has only taken the form of sharply worded tweets, but Sectretary Zinke has promised to meet with all of the affected governors. (Reuters)

  7. Environmentalists accused of shutting off pipeline valves in Minnesota will likely be the first defendants in the United States to use the “necessity defense” for environmental reasons  which allows defendants to argue that they committed a crime to prevent a greater harm from occurring. It will be interesting to see if a legal precedent will be set, so keep an eye on the “Valve Turner” case. (The Daily Beast)

  8. Stephen Hawking warns Earth could become as hot as Venus if we do not cut greenhouse gas emissions. Venus is by far the hottest planet in the solar system with an average surface temperature of 864 degrees Fahrenheit. In his new show, “Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places” he quips "Next time you meet a climate-change denier, tell them to take a trip to Venus; I will pay the fare." (EcoWatch)

  9. In a unanimous vote, state regulators agreed Thursday to a plan that will see the closing of the last nuclear energy power plant in California. Environmental groups hailed the vote but want assurances that greenhouse gas emissions will not rise as a result. (San Diego Union Tribune)

  10. 4,000 reindeer die in traffic accidents in Finland every year but herders are spraying their reindeer with reflective paint to help drivers see them in the dark. The special spray is being tested on their fur and antlers to see how it holds up in different weather conditions, and will hopefully save the lives of both humans and the animals. (BBC)

 



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10 in 2 - Week of January 1st - great news for the tick population

this is your first 10 in 2 of 2018.

...so here we go:

 

  1. Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, have found that a decrease in wildlife populations causes an upsurge in local tick populations, potentially increasing the threat of infectious diseases globally. Ticks transmit many diseases to both humans and animals, and are found on nearly every continent in every type of environment. I guess it isn't really shocking that conservation benefits both human health AND wildlife health. (phys.org)

  2. The world’s last great wildernesses are shrinking at an alarming rate. In the past two decades, 10% of the earth’s wilderness has been lost due to human pressure, according to a mapping study by the University of Queensland. James Watson, the senior author of the study, said “If this rate continues, we will have lost all wilderness within the next 50 years.” I consider this great news for the tick population. (The Guardian)

  3. A California bill seeks to ban sale of all fossil-fuelled vehicles by 2040. The legislation introduced on Wednesday in the state legislature, could mean that only battery-electric or hybrid fuel cell cars would available at dealerships, and is especially significant because more cars are sold each year in California than in any other state. (independent.co.uk)

  4. The Trump administration said Thursday it would allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all United States coastal waters, giving energy companies access to leases off California for the first time in decades and opening more than a billion acres in the Arctic and along the Eastern Seaboard. This could be a huge win for people that love oil floating on to their beaches, and for BP who might finally get out from under their image of being the uh, last company to have a major spill. (NYT)

  5. A federal judge has handed a win to South Portland, Maine over a pipeline company that wants to send tar sands oil through the city, a proposal seen as opening a way for Canada's crude to reach the East Coast for export.  But the fight is not over. A federal district court judge dismissed on Dec. 29 all but one of the company's claims against the city. The ruling still leaves open a key question: whether the city is violating the U.S. Constitution by blocking the project. (insideclimatenews.org)

  6. More than one-quarter of the world's population could live in a state of drought by 2050 if the goals of the Paris climate agreement are not met, according to a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change It finds that if the Earth's temperature goes up by 2 degrees Celsius by 2050, more than 25 percent of the world's population would live in a state of drought. (The Hill)

  7. I have a long read recommendation for you this week. From Quartz Media, a historical and 1st person account of coal mining history in Appalachia, where profit equals prosperity, regardless of its true costs. Seriously, just go read the piece, I could never do it justice in this quick and dirty format, it’s called “The 100-year capitalist experiment that keeps Appalachia poor, sick, and stuck on coal” (Quartz)

  8. The ocean is running out of oxygen —and the depletion could choke to death much of the marine life. A review published Thursday in Science documented the causes, consequences and solutions and discovered a four-to-tenfold increase in areas of the ocean with little to no oxygen, which is alarming because half of Earth’s oxygen originates from the ocean. (Newsweek)

  9. The Brazilian government has announced it will stop building mega-dams in the Amazon, according to reports in the Brazilian newspaper O Globo. This is a major victory for indigenous populations, river communities, and the entire ecosystem of the Amazon. (internationalrivers.org)

  10. I am seeking feedback from all of you who are listening to this each week. In this hyper and overwhelming news cycle, is this round up of the weeks environmental news a valuable service? Does this format work well for you?  One thing I struggle with personally is that while we try to shy away from politics as much as possible to keep from getting distracted, everything is so interrelated, it can be hard. If you have an opinion about the content of this show, or have suggestions as to ways we could make it better, that is something we are always interested in hearing. So, reach out via the contact form on our website, or send me an email directly at ZACH [at] BLUSKYE dot COM and I will reply with gratitude to each and every one of you.

 



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10 in 2 - Week of December 18th - this failed Orwellian government

This is a special edition of the 10 in 2 for the week of December 18th

...so here we go:

 

 

I think most of you have heard about the public spat between Patagonia and the white house. In short, the administration took steps to shrink two national monuments in Utah, Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante. Patagonia shot back by changing their homepage to “the president stole your land”. After all that and many more angry tweets were traded between the parties, the situation has escalated this week when House Natural Resources Committee Chair, Republican Rob Bishop from Utah invited Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard to testify in front of the committee. Knowing Yvon, I wondered, would he actually take the bait? I doubted it, and lo and behold he didn’t.

 

So on the eve of Christmas and rumbling into 2018 on the back of a massive tax overhaul, we’ve decided to share yvon’s letter to the committee Chair verbatim. Happy New Year

 

"I find it disingenuous that after unethically using taxpayers’ resources to call us liars, you would ask me to testify in front of a committee for a matter already decided by the administration and applauded by the Utah delegation just a week ago. A macabre celebration of the largest reduction in public lands in a century. It is clear the House Committee on Natural Resources, like many committees in this failed Orwellian government, is shackled to special interests of oil, gas, and mining and will seek to sell off our public lands at every turn and continue to weaken and denigrate Theodore Roosevelt’s Antiquities Act, which has preserved our treasured public lands for over 100 years.

The American people made it clear in public comments that they want to keep the monuments intact, but they were ignored by Secretary Zinke, your committee, and the administration. We have little hope that you are working in good faith with this invitation. Our positions are clear and public, and we encourage you to read them." - Yvon Chouinard

 



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22nd Century Leadership - William McDonough

A conversation between Jib Ellison and William McDonough.

 

William-McDonough-portrait-889x500.jpg

William McDonough is a designer, a global leader in sustainable development, and Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on the Circular Economy. For more than 40 years, McDonough—through McDonough Innovation; William McDonough + Partners, Architects; and MBDC—has defined the principles sustainability. In 2002, McDonough and Michael Braungart co-authored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, a seminal text of the sustainability movement; this was followed by The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance (2013). McDonough has received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development (1996), the first U.S. EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2003), and the National Design Award (2004). In 2007, McDonough and Brad Pitt co-founded the Make It Right Foundation. In 2009, he and Braungart co-founded the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. In 2012, McDonough became the subject of Stanford University Libraries’ first Living Archive.



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10 in 2 - Week of December 11th - climate change broke the algorithm

  • This is your 10 in 2 for the week of December 11th

 

 

...so here we go:

 

  1. New research, published Wednesday in Science Advances, is the largest study ever conducted on fracking’s health effects. It found that mothers who live very close to a fracking well are more likely to give birth to a less healthy child with a low birth weight—and low birth weight can lead to poorer health throughout a person’s life. (The Atlantic)

  2. When checking November meteorological data from a site in Alaska, scientists discovered their climate monitoring station had reported no data for the entire month. Upon closer inspection, they realized an algorithm had removed all the data from that Arctic site for the month of November; it simply thought it was an outlier. It was not. Climate change broke the algorithm. (CNN)

  3. Rock salt helps reduce winter road accidents. But it can also have serious, negative effects on aquatic ecosystems. At high concentrations, salt can be fatal to some aquatic animals and can also change the way the water mixes and lead to the formation of salty pockets near the bottom of lakes, creating biological dead zones. (CNN)

  4. Boyan Slat, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands, created a  u-shaped buoy made of high-density polyethylene nearly two kilometers in length, with a screen extending a few meters below. With any luck, five of these buoys will be deployed in the great pacific garbage patch by 2020. (Singularity Hub)

  5. David Attenborough warns that “The damage we are inflicting on species and ecosystems is so extensive and profound that scientists now believe we are witnessing Earth’s sixth mass extinction event – the last one marked the end of the dinosaurs,” (Inverse)

  6. World Bank, which provides loans to developing countries to foster economic growth, announced on December 12 that it will no longer offer financial support for oil and gas exploration after 2019. It is important to note that this is not necessarily a moral decision: The economics surrounding the energy sector are increasingly making it more fiscally attractive to switch to renewable energy. (Science Alert)

  7. In the opinion section of the Guardian, an atmospheric scientist for NASA named Peter Kalmus argues that because 25,000 of his colleagues flew to a conference last weekend, leaving a colossal carbon footprint in their wake, such action makes their warnings less credible to the public. He calculates the emissions from these flights emitted 30,000 tonnes of CO2. (The Guardian)

  8. A new report, conducted by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany,  found that around 90 percent of the plastic polluting our oceans comes from just ten rivers. The biggest offenders are indeed two of the largest rivers in the world, the Yangtze and the Ganges carrying over 900,000 tons of plastic between them to the ocean every year. (New York Post)

  9. Using taxpayer dollars, the Environmental Protection Agency has hired a cutting-edge Republican PR firm that specializes in digging up opposition research, to help Administrator Scott Pruitt’s office track and shape press coverage of the agency. This. Is. fine. (Mother Jones)

  10. The tiny Pacific island nation of Palau has introduced a new law requiring visitors to sign a pledge not to harm the environment before entering the country. Visitors will be required to sign before proceeding through immigration, making a formal promise to the children of Palau to “tread lightly, act kindly and explore lightly”. (The Guardian)

 



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