Straws are a distraction: how the plastics industry successfully got you to blame yourself for pollution

40 years of Reaganomic sociopathy has managed to convince hundreds of millions of otherwise sensible people that big, social problems are caused by their personal choices, and not (say) by rapacious corporations that corrupt the regulatory process in order to get away with literal and figurative murder. The Intercept's Sharon Lerner made a short doc on the subject, showing how the inevitable pollution from single-use plastics was rebranded as a matter of individual carelessness, starting with the "Crying Indian" ads, and how that continues to this day, with the plastics industry successfully lobbying states to ban cities from limiting plastic bags, even as those cities have to pay to landfill and clear them away. Read the rest

Global shipping companies comply with anti-air-pollution rules by dumping pollution into the sea, instead

As of Jan 1, a new International Maritime Organisation standard will seriously restrict the kind of air pollution that shipping vessels can emit; in response, the industry has invested more than $12b in "open-loop scrubbers," which capture the sulphur from heavy fuel oil exhaust and reroute it, along with CO2, into waste water that is dumped from the ships directly into the sea. Heavy fuel oil is the dirtiest form of fossil fuel. Read the rest

UK couple grows their own furniture from living trees

Gavin and Alice Munro are serious about sustainability. On a two-acre field in England's Midlands, they're growing trees that are trained into forming the shape of furniture, including chairs. Read the rest

California sues Trump over climate-warming tailpipe emissions rollback

California and 23 other states are suing to stop the Trump administration's shocking legal reversal of states' authority to set their own rules on climate-warming tailpipe emissions. Read the rest

The dangerous, exploitative, and dirty business of "healing" crystals

Not only is the purported "healing" power of crystals total bullshit, but most of these "magical" talismans come from mines rife with exploitation, danger, environmental ruin, and shady business practices. Good vibes, eh? Read the rest

The largest source of plastic in our fresh water is laundry lint

On average, you consume between 74,000 and 121,000 microscopic pieces of plastic every year. Probably much more. Where does it come from? Read the rest

As Amazon burns, Trump wants to log world’s largest intact temperate rainforest in Alaska

Illegitimate, popular-vote-losing president Donald J. Trump, just yesterday:

“I’m an environmentalist. A lot of people don’t understand that. I think I know more about the environment than most people.” Read the rest

Nepal is banning single-use plastic on and around Mt. Everest

Nepal is banning disposable plastic soda bottles and other single-use plastic items in Khumbu, the region where Mount Everest is located. In May, volunteers collected more than six thousand pounds of trash from the mountain. This new ban is meant to reduce the amount of garbage left by tourists and climbers on Everest and in the villages surrounding it. From CNN:

Nepalese authorities said they will ban plastic soft drink bottles and single-use plastics under 30 microns thick (0.0012 inches, or 0.03 millimeter) in the Khumbu region... The ban will prevent hikers from bringing the plastic goods in -- and stop shops from selling them.

The rules won't come into effect until January next year, and won't apply to plastic water bottles, said Ganesh Ghimire, the chief administrative officer of Khumbu Pasang Lhamu rural municipality.

"We are consulting with all sides about what can be done about plastic water bottles," he told CNN Thursday. "We will soon find a solution for that."

image: "The sun rising on Everest in 2011" by Sebastian Werner (CC BY 2.0) Read the rest

Small but meaningful progress towards a federal Right to Repair rule

The Right to Repair movement has introduced dozens of state-level laws that would force companies to support independent repairs by making manuals, parts and diagnostic codes available, and by ending the illegal practice of voiding warranties for customers who use independent repair services, but these bills keep getting killed by overwhelming shows of lobbying force from members of the highly concentrated manufacturing sector, particularly Apple, whose CEO, Tim Cook, warned investors in January that the number one threat to Iphone sales is that customers are choosing to repair, rather than replace, their mobile devices. Read the rest

You can't recycle your way out of climate change

Mary Annaise Heglar of the Natural Resources Defense Council is tired of her friends confessing their environmental sins to her, like using disposable containers; as she points out, climate change is a systemic problem, not an individual one, and the Ayn-Rand-ish framing of all problems as having individual causes with individual solutions is sheer victim blaming. Read the rest

To reduce plastic packaging, ship products in solid form

There's no one way to solve the plastic waste problem, but in the packaged goods sector, an enormous amount of plastic is used in order to surround and protect simple solutions of some agent dissolved in water, from toothpaste to window cleaner to shampoo. Read the rest

Chinese environment ministry finds widespread pollution coverups and corruption at the local government level

The Chinese central environment minister has released a report detailing thousands of instances of corruption and coverups from local governments in ten provinces last year: the report details instances of fabricated meetings, imaginary progress on remediating toxic waste spills, and falsified claims that polluting factories had been shut down. Read the rest

Study attributes mysterious rise in CFC emissions to eastern Chinese manufacturing

A new study reported in Nature (Sci-Hub mirror) tracks down the origins of the mysterious rise in CFC-11, a banned ozone-depleting greenhouse gas whose rise was first reported a year ago, and blames the increase on manufacturing in eastern China. Read the rest

Global sea levels could rise 6 feet by year 2100, twice as high as previous estimates

A new study on polar ice sheet melt warns that global sea levels could rise by almost six feet by the year 2100, an estimate twice as high as previously predicted. Read the rest

Under Trump, EPA kills funding for kids' health research centers

“The Trump administration is ending funding for a network of research centers focused on environmental threats to kids, imperiling several long-running studies of pollutants' effects on child development,” report @CorbinHiar & @ArielWittenberg for @EENewsUpdates. Read the rest

Plastic bag and other human trash found at the bottom of Earth's deepest ocean trench

During the deepest human sea dive ever, 35,853 feet/10,928 meters down to the bottom of the western Pacific's Mariana Trench in a one-person submarine, underwater adventurer Victor Vescovo found what may be newly discovered species of marine life along with candy wrappers and a plastic bag. This is the third plastic bag that divers have found in the Mariana Trench, considered the deepest natural trench on Earth. From National Geographic:

A study released in October 2018 documented what is still the deepest known piece of plastic—a flimsy shopping bag—found at a depth of 36,000 feet inside the Mariana Trench....

Single-use plastics are virtually everywhere, and they may take hundreds of years or more to break down once in the wild. The Mariana Trench has higher levels of overall pollution in certain regions than some of the most polluted rivers in China, according to a study in February 2017. The study's authors theorized that the chemical pollutants in the trench may have come in part from the breakdown of plastic in the water column.

Read the rest

Organic cotton shopping bags have to be used 20,000 times before they're better for the Earth than plastic disposables

In February 2018, Denmark's Ministry of Environment and Food published its Life Cycle Assessment of grocery carrier bags, which looked at the overall embodied energy, materials and labor in different grocery bags, and also evaluated the environmental impacts of different kinds of plastic bags. Read the rest

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