Pollution

Don’t wait for the government to take the lead on ethical action

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Most people are moved to emit at least an “awww” when they see the sweet, big-eyed face of a baby orangutan staring out of a magazine or a meme. Nicola Philp The Sydney Morning Herald And most people who watched a recent viral video of an adult orangutan trying to escape an excavator as it smashed down the tree it was clinging to would have been horrified. That feeling would continue were they to discover that more than 100,000 of ... Read More »

‘Serious questions’ over whether Australia’s emissions cuts are real

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Methods used to pledge at least $1.15 billion in taxpayer-funded emissions cuts are under a cloud as officials probe whether the environmental benefits credited to the Coalition government’s flagship… Nicole Hasham WAtoday A former government official has told Fairfax Media that the scheme, the emissions reduction fund, has rightly focused on attracting participants to carbon-reducing projects such as revegetation, rather than assessing if the… But critics say a lack of probity in the $2.55 billion Abbott-era policy mean it is impossible ... Read More »

What’s the real price of getting rid of plastic packaging?

SARANGKOT, KASKI DISTRICT, NEPAL - 2016/10/02: Empty Coca Cola bottles in crates are piling up. (Photo by Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Economics of Change Crunching the numbers of how much switching might cost us How much would it cost to switch to plastic alternatives? Richard Gray crunches the numbers. By Richard Gray BBC Walking along a short section of stony beach, Claire Waluda stoops briefly to pick up something from between the rocks. It is a brightly coloured plastic bottle top – just one of hundreds of bits of plastic that she finds washed ashore on the remote, windswept island ... Read More »

What happens when you give up plastic, and is it a lifestyle option for the lucky few?

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Reducing plastics when shopping for food, toiletries and travel products should be easy – so why is it so difficult? Stephanie Convery The Guardian A few months ago, my partner and I went snorkelling off the coast of Indonesia. We dove off tiny deserted islands and swam in the deep with giant manta rays, but what I remember most vividly about that trip was not the stunning coral or dazzling array of colourful, curious fish; it was the sheer amount ... Read More »

Plastic-eating bacteria discovered by student could help solve global pollution crisis

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Exclusive: Microbes found near plastic refinery degrade material, turning it into food Tom Embury-Dennis Independent A student may have found a solution to one of the world’s most urgent environmental crises – breeding bacteria capable of “eating” plastic and potentially breaking it down into harmless by-products. The microbes degrade polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – one of the world’s most common plastics, used in clothing, drinks bottles and food packaging. It takes centuries to break down, in the meantime doing untold damage to its… Plastic-eating bacteria… Read More »

‘We’ve turned a corner’: farmers shift on climate change and want a say on energy

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National Farmers’ Federation head Fiona Simson says people on the land can’t ignore what is right before their eyes Katharine Murphy The Guardian Out in the bush, far from the ritualised political jousting in Canberra, attitudes are changing. Regional Australia has turned the corner when it comes to acknowledging the reality of climate change, says the woman now charged with safeguarding the interests of farmers in Canberra. Fiona Simson, a mixed farmer and grazier from the Liverpool plains in northern ... Read More »

Our natural world is disappearing before our eyes. We have to save it

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The creatures we feared our grandchildren wouldn’t see have vanished: it’s happened faster than even pessimists predicted George Monbiot The Guardian It felt as disorienting as forgetting my pin number. I stared at the caterpillar, unable to attach a name to it. I don’t think my mental powers are fading: I still possess an eerie capacity to recall facts and figures and memorise long screeds of text. This is a specific loss. As a child and young adult, I delighted ... Read More »

‘Bringing reusable bags has been a challenge’: Woolworths backflip on plastic bags

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Woolworths has backflipped on its plastic bag ban after irate customers refused to pay for plastic bags at the checkout. Melissa Cunningham Brisbane Times The supermarket giant will hand out free reusable plastic bags for 10 days, after stores were inundated with complaints from customers who refused to pay for bags or did not have enough of their own stored up. It comes a week after Woolworths issued a ban on single-use plastic bags in stores across Victoria, New South Wales, ... Read More »

China’s scrap plastic ban saddles neighbors with piles of problems

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Thailand and Vietnam struggle with redirected waste but is there a silver lining? NIKKI SUN and APORNRATH PHOONPHONGPHIPHAT, Nikkei staff writers Nikkei Asian Review HONG KONG/BANGKOK — The world is awash with scrap plastic, six months after No. 1 importer China closed its doors to the recyclable materials on environmental grounds. The ripple effects are hitting the shores of Southeast Asia’s emerging countries, which have seen a surge in plastic shipments — not all of them legal. “Thai people are ... Read More »

China Just Handed the World a 111-Million-Ton Trash Problem

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The world’s biggest waste importer is no longer buying. So where’s all that trash going to go? Eric Roston Bloomberg Few people consider used plastic to be a valuable global commodity. Yet China has imported 106 million tons of old bags, bottles, wrappers and containers worth $57.6 billion since 1992, the first year it disclosed data. So when the country announced last year that it finally had enough of everybody else’s junk, governments the world over knew they had a problem. They just didn’t know exactly ... Read More »

Harvard scientists: Trump environmental policies could result in 80,000 more deaths per decade

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A new essay from two Harvard University scientists concluded that the Trump administration’s environmental policies could result in an additional 80,000 deaths per decade. Avery Anapol The Hill The research, from public health economist David Cutler and biostatistician Francesca Dominici, pointed specifically to the health impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) policies on air pollutants and… “This sobering statistic captures only a small fraction of the cumulative public health damages associated with the full range of rollbacks and systemic actions proposed ... Read More »

Are courts the new front line for climate justice?

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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation. In lieu of bold steps from governments and companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, climate justice advocates and lawyers have stepped up to force their hand through litigation. by Maysa Zorob and Marion Cadie | Business and Human Rights Resource Centre Thomson Reuters Foundation News Traditionally, legal cases have been brought against governments, but there is now a steep rise in climate lawsuits ... Read More »

Mediterranean could become a sea of plastic, WWF warns

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The Mediterranean could become a “sea of plastic,” the WWF warned on June 8 in a report calling for measures to clean up one of the world’s worst affected bodies of water. MARSEILLE Hurriyet The WWF said the Mediterranean had record levels of “micro-plastics,” the tiny pieces of plastic less than five millimeters in size which can be found increasingly in the food chain posing a threat to human health. “The concentration of micro-plastics is nearly four times higher” in the Mediterranean compared with ... Read More »

Trump White House axes Nasa research into greenhouse gas cuts

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President Donald Trump’s administration has quietly axed US space agency Nasa’s monitoring system into greenhouse gases, a US journal has revealed. BBC The Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10m (£7m)-a-year project which remotely tracks the world’s flow of carbon dioxide, is to lose funding. Science magazine reports that its loss jeopardises the ability to measure national emission cuts – as agreed to by nations in the Paris climate deal. The US plans to withdraw from the deal. However, until a ... Read More »

Bangkok’s bad air driven by car-making success

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Forward-looking policies promoting electric and hybrid auto production could soon have Thailand’s polluted capital breathing easier Peter Janssen Asia Times During Thailand’s February-April hot season, when the winds off the Gulf of Thailand die down and there is little rainfall, air pollution in the capital, Bangkok, is often palpable. In mid-February, the situation got so bad that the government’s Pollution Control Department advised residents to stay home, especially those who suffer from asthma and other respiratory ailments. Some Bangkok schools ... Read More »

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern bans oil exploration

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is defending her Government’s dramatic ban on offshore oil exploration, saying the transition to a zero-carbon economy “must start somewhere” and promising that no jobs will be lost. Isaac Davison NZ Herald “Unless we make decisions today that will essentially take effect in 30 or more years’ time, we run the risk of acting too late and causing abrupt shocks to communities and our country,” she said at a press conference in Wellington this morning. “I ... Read More »