Nature

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 »

Palm oil ‘disastrous’ for wildlife but here to stay, experts warn

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The deforestation it causes is decimating species such as orangutans and tigers – but the alternatives could be worse, finds authoritative report Damian Carrington The Guardian It is consumed daily by billions of people but palm oil is “disastrous” for wildlife such as orangutans and tigers, according to an authoritative new report. However, the analysis warns that alternatives are likely to drive biodiversity losses elsewhere, rather than halt them. The analysis, from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), found… Palm oil ... Read More »

An island nation in the Mediterranean Sea is running dry

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Countries in the eastern Mediterranean are increasingly vulnerable to drought as the changing climate brings higher temperatures and less precipitation. NBC2 MARONI, Cyprus — The salty water of the Mediterranean in plain view from Charis Christoforou’s olive farm is no help to the cracked, white earth suffering from a third year of drought. A shortage of rain combined with clouds of dust carried over from the water-starved Middle East has slashed Christoforou’s olive production to a quarter of what it ... 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 »

How Native American food is tied to important sacred stories

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The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling, on June 11, that asked Washington state to remove culverts that block the migration of salmon. Rosalyn R. LaPier The Conversation The ruling has significant implications for Northwest Coast tribes, whose main source of food and livelihood is salmon. The legal decision stems from the 1855 Stevens treaties when Northwest Coast tribes retained the “right to take fish” from their traditional homelands. Fighting to protect salmon habitat, however, is more than ... 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 »

Brumby law ‘turns Australia into global laughing stock’

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Environment groups condemn legislation protecting feral horses in national park Lisa Cox The Guardian Australia has become a “global laughing stock” after the New South Walesparliament passed legislation to protect the heritage of feral horses in the Kosciuszko national park, environment groups say. The Berejiklian government, with support from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party and the Christian Democrats, passed the Kosciuszko wild horse heritage bill 2018 through the NSW Legislative Council late on Wednesday. On Thursday, Dave Watson, a… Brumby ... Read More »

The art of healing: five medicinal plants used by Aboriginal Australians

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People have lived in Australia for at least 65,000 years. In all those generations the land provided original Australians with everything they needed for a healthy life. Beth Gott The Conversation At least half the food eaten by the first Australians came from plants, and it was the task of women to collect them. Fruits, seeds and greens were seasonal, but roots could usually be dug up all year round, because the earth acted as a natural storage cupboard. The ... Read More »

NSW chooses timber over koalas, critics of habitat plan claim

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The great bulk of new reserves set aside by the Berejiklian government for koala habitat offer no new protection for an animal whose numbers are plummeting in some regions of the state, new mapping analysis shows. Peter Hannam Brisbane Times The government last month hailed the release of its $45 million koala strategy as “the biggest commitment by any state” to protect the “national treasure”. But mapping details obtained by environmental groups show 82 per cent of the reserves being set aside ... Read More »

England’s fields ‘are turning to concrete’

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ENGLAND’S green and pleasant land is being concreted over “at an alarming rate”, campaigners warned yesterday. John Ingham Express The area of undeveloped greenfield land used for housing has soared by 58 per cent in four years, said the Campaign to Protect Rural England. The pressure group called for the Government to require brownfield sites to be used before greenfield land is released. The group cited official figures showing that the area of “nonpreviously developed land” lost to housing annually ... Read More »

Largest swordfish ever caught in Australia may miss out on record due to fishing association requirements

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The largest swordfish ever caught in Australia — and the second-largest in the world — may miss out on the official record because it did not meet strict rules in the way it was caught. ABC Illawarra Nick McLaren The monster fish was caught off Mallacoota near the NSW Victorian border on Sunday afternoon by a crew from the Ulladulla Game Fishing Club. It weighed in at 436.2 kilograms, well above what is thought to be the current Australian record ... Read More »

Australia’s deal with Timor-Leste in peril again over oil and gas

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In April, Australia and Timor-Leste reached agreement on their maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea. Rebecca Strating and Clive Schofield The Conversation This resolved a longstanding source of contention between them. The potential benefits of this historic breakthrough are now in peril, because the critical issue of how the shared oil and gas of the Timor Sea are to be developed remains in dispute. Breakthrough on maritime boundaries Australia and Timor-Leste’s boundary agreement was achieved thanks to a… Australia’s deal ... Read More »

Loss of marine habitats is threatening the global fishing industry – new research

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Seafood consumption is both a love and a necessity for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. And its supply is a key part of maintaining food security for the whole planet. Authors: The Conversation But during a time of rapid population growth and increasing demand, stocks of wild fish and invertebrates (such as mussels and… The problem is that policies and plans designed to make sure there are enough fish and invertebrates almost exclusively target fishing activity. But we also ... Read More »

Climate change an ‘existential security risk’ to Australia, Senate inquiry says

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Threat is not a possible future one but one endangering Australia now, parliament told Ben Doherty The Guardian Climate change is a “current and existential national security risk” to Australia, a Senate inquiry has told parliament, one that could inflame regional conflicts over food, water and land, and even imperil life on Earth. The Senate committee inquiry into the implications of climate change for Australia’s national security recommended an increase in foreign aid to be dedicated to climate change mitigation and… The inquiry, ... Read More »

EU court upholds insecticide ban to protect bees

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An EU court upheld on May 17 a partial ban on three insecticides known as neonicotinoids, saying that the European Commission had been right in 2013 to restrict their use to protect bees. LUXEMBOURG – Reuters Hurriyet The ruling covers three active substances – imidacloprid developed by Bayer CropScience, clothianidin developed by Takeda Chemical Industries and Bayer CropScience, as well as Syngenta’s thiamethoxam. The court said the European Union’s “precautionary principle” meant that the EU could take measures if there was scientific ... Read More »