1. An Insect and Plant Invasion Threaten Antarctica
Scientists say that as temperatures rise in Antarctica, invading plants and insects pose a major threat to local wildlife and conservation efforts. Glaciers have receded in the region, thus exposing more land that is being colonized by moss, which serves as a potential home for invading insects, such as the common housefly. According to Dominic Hodgson of the British Antarctic Survey, “Insects like the fly carry pathogens that could have a devastating effect on indigenous lifeforms.” In addition, more and more invasive plants, such as meadow grasses and sunflower species, have been found on the Antarctic peninsula and have required removal. These non-native species are usually introduced by tourists in the form of larvae and seeds. However, it is global warming that is the main driver of the greening of Antarctica, allowing these species to thrive.
2. Zara, H&M, and Other Stores Linked to Polluting Factories
Just a few weeks ago, I made a news report applauding Zara and H&M’s in-store recycling program. However, according to a new report by the Changing Markets Foundation, some major fashion brands such as Zara, H&M, and Marks&Spencer have been linked to viscose produced in polluting factories. Viscose, touted as a sustainable alternative to cotton or polyester, is often used as a cheaper and more durable alternative to silk, but production is chemical-heavy. Investigators had visited ten manufacturing sites across Asia and found severe environmental damage that included water pollution from untreated contaminated waste, and air pollution. The brands contacted by the Guardian have “acknowledged that the impacts of viscose production are an industry-wide problem and say they are exploring ways to produce more responsibly.”
3. Environmental Group Warns of Lead in Baby Food
A new report by the Environmental Defense Fund shows that low levels of lead contaminate nearly all categories of baby food, with fruit juice, root vegetables, and cookies being the most likely foods to contain lead. After the environmental group analyzed data from the FDA’s Total Diet Study, they found that over an 11-year period, at least one test had measurable levels of lead in all but five types of baby food. Contamination can come from naturally-occurring lead in the soil or from leaching from food-handling equipment. The Environmental Defense Fund is pushing manufacturers to set a voluntary limit of 1 ppb of lead in baby food.
4. Nevada Boosts Solar Power In a Change of Plans
Last Thursday, the Republican governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, signed a bill restoring net metering in the state, which is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. Sandoval said, “I believe, humbly, it will be a national model across the country. I'm as competitive as it gets, and I want Nevada to truly be a leader in energy policy.” This represents a reverse in course: in December 2015, the Public Utilities Commission voted to end net metering. Now, national solar installers such as Tesla have said they intend to resume work in the state. The turnaround focuses on the economic benefits of solar, consumer choice, and a gradually declining reimbursement rate for solar owners as more homeowners install panels.
5. Judge Rules Environmental Survey for Dakota Access Pipeline Inadequate
US District Judge James Boasberg ruled last Wednesday that the US Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately consider the possible environmental impacts of an oil spill where the Dakota Access Pipeline passes under the Missouri river. The corps failed to consider the pipeline’s potential effects on “fishing rights, hunting rights, and environmental justice.” As a result of the ruling, the Army must redo its environmental analysis in certain sections. This marks an important turning point for the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
*Source credit: all images are from The Guardian.