Category Archives: Environment

Plastic, paper, or cotton bags?

NPR Planet Money: Are Plastic Bag Bans Garbage?

“It was only about 40 years ago that plastic bags became standard at U.S. grocery stores. This also made them standard in sewers, landfills, rivers and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. They clog drains and cause floods, litter landscapes and kill wildlife. The national movement to get rid of them is gaining steam — with more than 240 cities and counties passing laws that ban or tax them since 2007. New York recently became the second U.S. state to ban them. But these bans may be hurting the environment more than helping it.
Plastic haters, it’s time to brace yourselves. A bunch of studies find that paper bags are actually worse for the environment. They require cutting down and processing trees, which involves lots of water, toxic chemicals, fuel and heavy machinery. While paper is biodegradable and avoids some of the problems of plastic, Taylor says, the huge increase of paper, together with the uptick in plastic trash bags, means banning plastic shopping bags increases greenhouse gas emissions. That said, these bans do reduce nonbiodegradable litter.
A 2011 study by the U.K. government found a person would have to reuse a cotton tote bag 131 times before it was better for climate change than using a plastic grocery bag once. The Danish government recently did a study that took into account environmental impacts beyond simply greenhouse gas emissions, including water use, damage to ecosystems and air pollution. These factors make cloth bags even worse. They estimate you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment.”

Graphische Biographie zum Humboldt-Jahr

Deutsche Welle: Andrea Wulf: “Humboldt bringt Kunst und Wissenschaft zusammen”. “Ihre Humboldt-Biografie wurde 2015 ein Weltbestseller. Zum Humboldt-Jahr veröffentlicht Andrea Wulf nun ein weiteres Werk über den berühmten Forscher. Mit der DW sprach sie über ihre “illustrierte Entdeckungsreise”.”

“Deutsche Welle: Frau Wulf, Sie haben 2015 mit der Monumentalbiografie “Alexander von Humboldt und die Erfindung der Natur ” einen preisgekrönten Weltbestseller vorgelegt. Was hat Sie veranlasst, sich Humboldt jetzt noch einmal auf ganz andere Weise zu nähern: mit einem farbenprächtigen, opulent illustrierten Buch über seine berühmte Südamerika-Expedition?

Andrea Wulf: Humboldt wird immer gern als Wissenschaftler dargestellt, dabei wird aber vergessen, dass er auch ein Künstler war. Humboldt bringt die Kunst und die Wissenschaft zusammen, und ich wollte ein Buch machen, das das auch wirklich zeigt. Der eigentliche Anlass dafür war, dass Ende 2013 die legendären Südamerika-Tagebücher von Humboldt, die bis dahin in Privatbesitz waren, erstmals der Öffentlichkeit verfügbar gemacht wurden, weil die Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz sie gekauft hat. Sie wurden digitalisiert und waren ab Ende 2014 online verfügbar. Als ich diese Dokumente gesehen habe, hat es mich einfach umgehauen.”

“The EPA finally banned indoor use of the pesticide in 2001.”

Medium: My Quest to Understand What Caused My Children’s Birth Defects. “A journey into my family history, the chemical industry, and genetics”. By Amy Roost.

“It matters because the government is no longer working for the people or public health when a $1 million donation by Dow Chemical to the Trump Inauguration happens to coincide with former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt rejecting the advice of his agency’s chemical safety experts and reversing the Obama era’s prohibition against agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos. Fortunately, environmentalists and public health advocates were quick to file suit. A federal appeals court has issued a stay effectively banning the agricultural use of the chlorpyrifos until the case is settled. The EPA has appealed the court’s decision and the $800 billion chemical industry lobby will undoubtedly hire the best lawyers money can buy.

It matters because Dow continues to sell chlorpyrifos without proper warning labels in developing nations.”

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Relationship status: it’s complicated

The Dodo: Bald Eagle Trio Is Raising Their Babies Together. “The three parents share incubation responsibilities for the eggs … Like their relationship, their history is complicated.”

“This trio has been together since 2017, according to the Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge, a nonprofit organization that, among other things, provides a live stream of the nest. But the two males, Valor 1 and Valor 2, have been together for longer — since 2013 — and they began as rivals. Valor 2 tried to replace Valor 1 as the king of the nest — but Valor 1 decided not to leave.

At that time, there was a female in the nest, Hope. She and both Valors raised two eagle chicks together back in 2014. She was seen mating with both Valor 1 and Valor 2. The trio was seen the next year, too, taking care of the nest. In 2017, three little eaglets were hatched and raised by the trio. Somehow, the nontraditional situation seemed to just click.”

There’s a webcam of the nest.

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“I’m not for impeachment… because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”

The Washington Post Magazine: Nancy Pelosi on Impeaching Trump: ‘He’s Just Not Worth It’. “In a wide-ranging interview, the country’s most powerful Democrat says Trump is unfit to be president — “ethically,” “intellectually” and “curiosity-wise” — but impeachment would be too divisive.”

There have been increasing calls, including from some of your members, for impeachment of the president.

I’m not for impeachment. This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this: Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.

A lot of Americans are really anxious about where the country is right now, and some of them feel the nation’s institutions are in a perilous state. Do you share that concern?

No. Here’s why I don’t: Our country is great. It’s a great country. Our founders gave us the strongest foundation. … All the challenges we have faced, we can withstand anything. But maybe not two [Trump] terms. So we have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

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