Turtles’ Tummies Found Clogged with Plastic

Turtles’ Tummies Found Clogged with Plastic

SOURCE: Hakai Magazine DATE: December 10, 2018 SNIP: Tiny pieces of plastic in the ocean are killing juvenile loggerhead turtles, a new study shows, threatening the survival of the endangered species. Wind, waves, and sunshine break down discarded plastic—from water bottles to fishing gear—into tiny pieces. About 90 percent of the estimated 150 million tonnes of plastic that litters the ocean measures less than five millimeters across, or about half the width of a pinky finger. Plastic like this can now be found littering a brown seaweed called sargassum, in which loggerhead turtles forage for food. For the new study, Evan White of the New Materials Institute at the University of Georgia examined the gastrointestinal tracts of 52 turtles that died at only days or months old and found that 48 contained plastic. The plastic bits, which were up to a millimeter wide, were sometimes lodged in the turtles’ narrow, winding intestines, blocking the passage of food. The blockages were enough to cause the turtles to starve. The plastic was just a tiny percentage of their body weight, but enough to kill them. Juno Beach is one of the world’s most densely nested sea turtle sites. One of every 20 loggerhead turtles on the planet starts its life here. The beach is also littered with plastic. On a recent November survey, for instance, a team of center volunteers found dozens of plastic fragments, including pieces of straws, bottle caps, a comb, and even Chinese sausage packaging. The study’s findings show how serious the dangers of microplastic are to the survival of loggerhead turtles, says Jeanette Wyneken, a biologist at...
‘Like opening a fan oven’: Australia’s rainforest threatened by bushfires

‘Like opening a fan oven’: Australia’s rainforest threatened by bushfires

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: December 9, 2018 SNIP: This year, early summer heat broke all-time records for Queensland. In Cairns, the tropical port city in the state’s far north, 1,600km (1,000 miles) north of Brisbane, the previous highest temperature in November was 37.2C, set in 1900. On Monday 26 November, the mercury hit 42.6C. Bushfires are common in Australia but they mostly flare in the south-eastern states of New South Wales and Victoria, where summers can be hot and dry. But Queensland, much of which is located in the tropics, joins other parts of the globe, such as California and Greece, where unusually hot and dry conditions have fuelled catastrophic fires which are forcing a rethink of what such regions can expect in the future. Typically, rainforest should be able to self-protect during fire, with closed canopies that allow little sunlight to the forest floor and that keep the vegetation moist. But the cyclones have shredded the canopies, leaving an excess of fuel from debris on the ground, and a lack of rain meant the forest was dry. Since 22 November, more than 1m hectares has been burnt across Queensland, much of which lies in the tropics. Since the beginning of its bushfire season in August, more than 3.6m hectares have been destroyed. Philip Stewart, a fire ecologist with Queensland University’s school of earth and environmental sciences said areas of rainforest impacted could take decades or even centuries to recover, adding that the next possible threat to those areas was mudslides as the wet season sets in. “High-intensity fire tends to create a layer within the soil that is...
Heavy rains batter Vietnam’s central coast, flood city streets

Heavy rains batter Vietnam’s central coast, flood city streets

SOURCE: Vietnam Express DATE: December 9, 2018 SNIP: Experts say the downpours are triggered by the northeast monsoon in combination with strong winds. The Central Meteorological and Hydrological Station stated that the onset of monsoon, combined with strong winds, have caused the heavy rain. The rainfall in Da Nang in the last 24 hours since 7 p.m. Saturday is about 635 mm, the heaviest since archives were first available in 1975. Rainfall of 180 mm a day is considered heavy. [635mm is 25...
Climate change: COP24 fails to adopt key scientific report

Climate change: COP24 fails to adopt key scientific report

SOURCE: BBC DATE: December 8, 2018 SNIP: Attempts to incorporate a key scientific study into global climate talks in Poland have failed. The IPCC report on the impacts of a temperature rise of 1.5C, had a significant impact when it was launched last October. Scientists and many delegates in Poland were shocked as the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait objected to this meeting “welcoming” the report. The report said that the world is now completely off track, heading more towards 3C this century rather than 1.5C. But negotiators here ran into serious trouble when Saudi Arabia, the US, Russia and Kuwait objected to the conference “welcoming” the document. Instead they wanted to support a much more lukewarm phrase, that the conference would “take note” of the report. “We are really angry and find it atrocious that some countries dismiss the messages and the consequences that we are facing, by not accepting what is unequivocal and not acting upon it,” said Yamide Dagnet from the World Resources Institute, and a former climate negotiator for the UK. “Climate science is not a political football,” said Camilla Born, from climate think tank E3G. [File under: All these meetings are a waste of time. We need to take matters into our own...
EPA’s New Water Rule will Gut the Clean Water Act

EPA’s New Water Rule will Gut the Clean Water Act

SOURCE: The Intercept DATE: December 7, 2018 SNIP: A new water rule will greatly reduce federal water protections, imperiling drinking water, endangered species, and ecosystems across the country. According to the rule that the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release next week — some details of which were leaked Thursday — streams that are dependent on rainfall and wetlands not physically connected to year-round waterways will no longer be covered by the Clean Water Act. As a result of the change, an estimated 60-90 percent of U.S. waterways could lose federal protections that currently shield them from pollution and development, according to Kyla Bennett, director of science policy at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Alaska and the arid west will be hit particularly hard by the new rule, which will be subject to a comment period before it is finalized. Environmentalists are bracing for what they predict will be disastrous consequences for our nation’s waterways. “For some parts of the country, it’s a complete wiping away of the Clean Water Act,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. By removing water quality standards and permitting requirements, the rule will open these streams, rivers, and wetlands to being paved over, filled in, or polluted. The result, environmentalists say, may take us back to the days of river fires. “You’ll be able to dump as much crap into them as you want,” Hartl said of our nation’s waterways. “Anyone will be free to destroy them as they see fit.” Even before the new rule goes into effect, more than half of the waterways in the...