Straw Wars: The Fight to Rid the Oceans of Discarded Plastic | National Geographic

Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/04/plastic-straws-ocean-trash-environment/

Small and lightweight, straws often never make it into recycling bins; the evidence of this failure is clearly visible on any beach. And although straws amount to a tiny fraction of ocean plastic, their size makes them one of the most insidious polluters because they entangle marine animals and are consumed by fish. Video of scientists removing a straw embedded in a sea turtle’s nose went viral in 2015.

The plastics industry opposes bans at every turn. Bag manufacturers have persuaded lawmakers in Florida, Missouri, Idaho, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Indiana to pass legislation outlawing the bag bans.

Keith Christman, managing director for plastic markets for the American Chemistry Council, says the industry also will oppose any efforts to outlaw plastic straws.

Bans of individual products often come with “unintended consequences,” Christman argues. Replacement products can cause more environmental harm than plastic products there were banned, he says. In some cases, products advertised as biodegradable sometimes turn out not to be. Worse, consumer behavior sometimes changes. When San Francisco banned Styrofoam products, he says, an audit of litter showed that while Styrofoam cup litter dropped, paper cup litter increased.

“What we really need is good waste management structure in countries that are the largest source of this challenge,” he says. “Rapidly developing countries in Asia don’t have that structure.”

What sets the anti-straw campaign apart from other efforts—and why the anti-straw campaign may succeed—is that activists are not seeking to change laws or regulations. They are merely asking consumers to change their habits and say no to straws.

‘Shocking’ levels of PCB chemicals in UK killer whale Lulu | BBC

Video source: https://www.facebook.com/bbcnews/videos/10154639020352217/

Article and video Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39738582

“Lulu had a level of PCBs of 957mg/kg – and this has put her as one of the most contaminated individuals we have ever looked at.”

Scientists believe Lulu’s age, estimated to be at least 20, may be one reason that the levels of PCBs were so high, because they had built up over the years.

The chemicals have a range of effects. There is evidence that they can impair the immune system. They also affect reproduction, preventing killer whales from bearing young.

It is estimated that there is a million tonnes of PCB-contaminated material waiting to be disposed in Europe.

But getting rid of them is expensive and difficult – they need to be incinerated at more than 1,000C to be destroyed.

Prof Ian Boyd, chief scientific adviser at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said that the issue was very concerning but also complicated.

He said: “The records show PCBs have been declining in concentration in the marine environment, so the regulation we have in place is working.

“It’s just they take a very long time to disappear. Overall I think we are going in the right direction, but it is going to take many more years to get to a point where they are going to disappear entirely.”

China Wants Fish, So Africa Goes Hungry | The New York Times

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/03/opinion/china-wants-fish-so-africa-goes-hungry.html

Of all the stresses that humans have inflicted on the world’s oceans, including pollution and global warming, industrial fishing ranks high. For years, trawlers capable of scouring the ocean floor, and factory ships trailing driftnets and longlines baited with thousands of hooks, have damaged once-abundant fisheries to the point where, the United Nations says, 90 percent of them are now fully exploited or facing collapse.

The damage is not just to the fish and the ecosystem but also to people who depend on them for food and income. This is particularly true in Africa. In 2008, in two striking articles, The Times reported that mechanized fleets from the European Union, Russia and China had nearly picked clean the oceans off Senegal and other northwest African countries, ruining coastal economies.

Tampines set to use ‘green’ pesticide in HDB bin chutes | Today Online

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/tampines-set-use-green-pesticide-hdb-bin-chutes

The new method comes as a relief for Tampines resident Tang Wai Cheng, who squirms whenever she sees cockroaches near the chute at her home during thermal fogging. “The new method is better for the environment,” said the clinic assistant. “It’ll also help people with asthma, like me, who would close the windows whenever fogging is conducted.”

Pampered pets vs Abused animals

Cat food/toy – Source: https://youtu.be/aeKsKr9X4KE

Pampered Pets – Source: https://youtu.be/GGytoCC23B4

Yulin – Source: https://youtu.be/4gGAn_khApA

Farm Animals – Source: https://youtu.be/tKaCFyGdazo

Questions:

  • Do animals have a good life now?
  • Should people become vegetarian if they love animals?
  • What do you consider as animal abuse?
  • What can be done for animals that are bred for food or work?
  • Should animals be kept in zoos?
  • Should animals be used for entertainment?

Norway decides to cull its wolf population

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/outrage-as-norway-offers-licences-to-kill-two-thirds-of-its-endangered-wolf-population/

In a move that is baffling many, from environmentalists to its own people, the Norwegian government has announced a plan to cull two-thirds of its wild wolf population. At last count, that population is currently at just 68.

The government is justifying the cull – the largest planned since 1911 – by claiming it is predator population control to minimize harm done to farmers’ sheep. However, environmental groups, including WWF Norway, have argued that the damage caused by such a small population is minimal and the government’s response is out of proportion and motivated by other factors.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/23/norways-wolf-cull-pits-sheep-farmers-against-conservationists

At the heart of the matter is the conflict between sheep farmers and conservationists. Norway is a large sheep farming nation, unique in letting most of its 2 million sheep roam free all summer without herding, fencing and with little supervision.

Questions:

  • Why do you think that the Norwegian government has decided to cull wolves, an endangered species?
  •  In a situation where human interests and animal well-being conflict, which should win out? Why?

Why Do Dogs Sometimes Wait For Years By The Graves Of Their Owners? | IFL Science

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/why-do-dogs-sometimes-wait-for-years-by-the-graves-of-their-owners/all/

“Dogs are extremely social and are highly aware of the loss of an individual who is important in their life, but they don’t have this idea that they are necessarily gone forever,” he says.