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India is Banning Single-Use Plastic and the Rest of the World Should Too

“The world should join India in putting an end to single-use plastic.”

Emma Fiala

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India Banning Single-Use Plastic
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(TMU) — India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the 14th Conference of Parties (CoP) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) on Monday.

During opening remarks, Modi declared the “time has come” for “the world to say goodbye” to single-use plastic, calling on world leaders to follow India’s lead in banning the plastic.

“My Government has announced that India will put an end to single-use plastic in the coming years,” Modi said.

As India gears up to take over the presidency of the CoP, the prime minister said the country “looks forward to making an effective contribution.”

During an Independence Day speech given on August 15, Modi urged citizens and government agencies to “take the first big step” in freeing India of single-use plastics. The prime minister, who is leading efforts to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022, announced a ban on six items on October 2 of this year, the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth.

Those six items include plastic bags, straws, cups, plates, small bottles, and some sachets.

“The ban will be comprehensive and will cover manufacturing, usage and import of such items,” an anonymous official said.

The sweeping ban is expected to cut India’s annual consumption of plastic by five percent. The country’s current consumption is estimated to be about 14 million tonnes—over 30 billion pounds.

Modi’s announcement—and his urging of world leaders to heed India’s example—comes at a time where worldwide concern about plastic pollution is growing rapidly.

India, a country that has been plagued by a trash epidemic for years, is suffering under the unsightly and potentially toxic weight of single-use plastic. According to the Economic Times, the problem is an “all-too familiar sight: an unofficial landfill spread out over an acre and rising several metres high, its base strewn with recently-discarded plastic cups, polybags, wrappers, packaging material and other detritus of our daily lives. This plastic pile, like other similar piles lying by our roadsides or accumulating in empty lots or choking up water bodies.”

Not only are single-use and other plastics ending up in large unsightly piles, just this weeknew study published in Science of The Total Environment says plastic is now taking the form and shape of pebbles that look exactly like the real thing. Earlier this year, Gregory Wetherbee, a US Geological Survey researcher, found multicolored microscopic plastic fibers in rainwater. These discoveries come after the near constant stream of disturbing headlines detailing marine animals and birds found dead tangled in plastic waste or with stomachs full of a host of plastic debris.

The prime minister also discussed India’s attempts at combating land desertification by addressing issues of forest coverage and water scarcity, saying:

“Between 2015 and 2017, India’s tree and forest cover increased by 0.8 million hectares. When we address degraded lands, we also address water scarcity. We have created ‘Jal Shakti Ministry’ to address important water-related issues.”

But according to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, there is no upcoming ban on single-use plastic expected in India, as reported by Hindu Times.

At a Monday press conference Javadekar clarified that the prime minister did not say “ban” but rather said “goodbye” to single-use plastic, adding that starting on October 2, India “will begin an attempt to collect all that waste. Nearly 10,000 tonnes of plastic waste remains uncollected.”

Several of India’s states already have laws dealing with single-use plastic on the books but, according to Hindu Times, they aren’t enforced due, in part, to the costs for collecting and recycling plastic waste.

However, Former Environment Minister and current Union Minister Harsh Vardhan, said on World Environment Day last year:

“We make a solemn pledge that by 2022, we shall eliminate all single-use plastic from our beautiful country. Our beloved Prime Minister Shri Modi ji has envisioned a new India by 2022—an India of our dreams which shall be clean, poverty-free, corruption-free, terrorism-free, casteism-free … and most of all … which will be a global superpower. This India of our dreams shall also be single-use plastic free.” 

India argued for a resolution at the United Nations Environment Assembly in March to phase-out single-use plastic worldwide by 2025. Environmental groups accused the US of blocking this and other ambitious global goals at the conference in Kenya, resulting in a final statement including the far less concrete phrasing of “significantly reducing single-use plastic by 2030.”

By Emma Fiala | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Corruption

Scientists Horrified as Over 27,000 Leaking Barrels of Toxic DDT Discovered on Seafloor Near LA

Elias Marat

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Over 27,000 barrels of the toxic insecticide DDT have been found so far on the seafloor about 12 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, in what could be one of the greatest examples of industrial pollution uncovered in recent memory.

The barrels have been leaking, and researchers fear that there could be up to a few hundred thousand barrels of DDT waste in total. Over 100,000 total objects have been found in the area by researchers at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The barrels cover an area roughly spanning double the size of Manhattan and lie off the coast of Santa Catalina Island, which is home to dozens of endemic species that exist nowhere else in the world.

DDT waste has been linked to cancer and widespread disease among humans as well as mass die-off events in the natural world. It is likely that the vast trove of illegally dumped DDT could be linked to the widespread cancer faced by sea lions along the West Coast.

“Unfortunately, the basin offshore Los Angeles has been a dumping ground for industrial waste for several decades, beginning in the 1930s. We found an extensive debris field in the wide area survey,” said Eric Terrill, chief scientist of the expedition and director of the Marine Physical Laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said in a statement.

Los Angeles Times reports that shipping logs from a disposal company implicate Montrose Chemical Corp. of California, a company that produced DDT, in likely dumping some 2,000 barrels of DDT-laced sludge each month from 1947 to 1961 into a designated dumpsite.

Additionally, logs from other entities show that several other industrial concerns in Southern California used the basin as a dumping ground until 1972, when the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act was enacted.

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Environment

Florida Set to Release a Billion Genetically Modified Mosquitoes in “Nightmare” Experiment

Jake Johnson

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Environmentalists and Florida residents voiced concern and outrage Monday as state government officials and the biotechnology giant Oxitec announced plans to move ahead this week with a pilot project that involves releasing up to a billion genetically engineered mosquitoes in Monroe County over a two-year period.

Presented by local authorities as an effort to control the population of Aedes aegypti—a mosquito species that can carry both the dengue and yellow fever virus—critics warn that the effort’s supposed benefits and its potential negative consequences have not been sufficiently studied.

Responding to news that the first boxes of genetically modified mosquitos are set to be placed in six locations in Monroe County this week, Friends of the Earth noted in a press release that “scientists have raised concerns that GE mosquitoes could create hybrid wild mosquitoes which could worsen the spread of mosquito-borne diseases and could be more resistant to insecticides than the original wild mosquitoes.”

Dana Perls, food and technology program manager at Friends of the Earth, called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—which approved the project last May—to “halt this live experiment immediately.”

“This is a dark moment in history,” said Perls. “The release of genetically engineered mosquitoes puts Floridians, the environment, and endangered species at risk in the midst of a pandemic. This release is about maximizing Oxitec’s profits, not about the pressing need to address mosquito-borne diseases.”

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District and Oxitec said late last week that “less than 12,000 mosquitoes are expected to emerge each week” in Monroe Country over a duration of around three months, the initial phase of the experiment.

The stated goal of the project is for Oxitec’s genetically altered, non-biting male mosquitos to mate with the local biting female population, producing female offspring that die in the larval stage before they can spread disease.

As the Miami Herald explained earlier this year: “A ‘death mechanism’ designed into mosquitoes is meant to ensure no viable female offspring will result from the mating, according to Oxitec. The male offspring will pass on the ‘self-limiting gene’ to half of their offspring, said company spokesman Ross Bethell.”

While Oxitec’s CEO claims “strong public support” from Florida Keys communities, the project has sparked protests and pushback from local residents since the proposal was first floated.

“My family’s bodies, blood, and private property are being used in this trial without human safety studies or my consent,” Mara Daly, a resident and local business owner in Key Largo, Florida, said in a statement Monday.

Barry Wray, executive director of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, added that the “EPA has set the lowest possible bar for approving genetically engineered insects and has opened Pandora’s Box for future experiments that will slide through with little investigation.”

“Everyone should be writing the White House to stop this release until there are regulations and standards that truly protect us,” Wray said.

Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons

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Rapid Melting of Glaciers Has Shifted Earth’s Axis, Study Reveals

Kenny Stancil

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Since 1980, the planet’s north and south poles have moved roughly four meters in distance, and new research shows that shifts in the Earth’s rotational axis have accelerated since the 1990s as a result of the widespread melting of glaciers—a clear manifestation, scientists say, of the climate emergency.

“Faster ice melting under global warming was the most likely cause of the directional change of the polar drift in the 1990s,” Shanshan Deng—a researcher from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciencestold the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Thursday.

In a study published last month in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letter, Deng and her co-authors found that changes in terrestrial water storage—particularly the accelerated loss of water stored on land due to melting glaciers—redistributed enough of the world’s mass to drive “the rapid polar drift toward the east after the 1990s.”

As The Guardian explained Friday:

The planet’s geographic north and south poles are the point where its axis of rotation intersects the surface, but they are not fixed. Changes in how the Earth’s mass is distributed around the planet cause the axis, and therefore the poles, to move.

In the past, only natural factors such as ocean currents and the convection of hot rock in the deep Earth contributed to the drifting position of the poles. But the new research shows that since the 1990s, the loss of hundreds of billions of tons of ice a year into the oceans resulting from the climate crisis has caused the poles to move in new directions.

The scientists found the direction of polar drift shifted from southward to eastward in 1995 and that the average speed of drift from 1995 to 2020 was 17 times faster than from 1981 to 1995.

The AGU noted that “researchers have been able to determine the causes of polar drifts starting from 2002 based on data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), a joint mission by NASA and the German Aerospace Center, launched with twin satellites that year and a follow-up mission in 2018.”

Data from the GRACE satellites has enabled scientists to “link glacial melting to movements of the pole in 2005 and 2012, both following increases in ice losses,” The Guardian reported. “But Deng’s research breaks new ground by extending the link to before the satellite’s launch, showing human activities have been shifting the poles since the 1990s, almost three decades ago.”

While Deng’s team showed that the accelerated decline in water stored on land stemming from glacial losses “is the main driver” of polar drift since the 1990s, the researchers wrote that groundwater depletion in non-glacial regions has also contributed to the movements.

“Groundwater is stored under land but, once pumped up for drinking or agriculture, most eventually flows to sea, redistributing its weight around the world,” The Guardian noted. “In the past 50 years, humanity has removed 18 trillion tons of water from deep underground reservoirs without it being replaced.”

Vincent Humphrey, a climate scientist at the University of Zurich who was not involved in the study, told AGU that the new research “tells you how strong this mass change is—it’s so big that it can change the axis of the Earth.”

This shift in the Earth’s axis, however, is too small to affect daily life, Humphrey added. It could change the length of day, but only by milliseconds.

Nonetheless, other climate experts such as Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona, have said before that the mere fact that the climate crisis is driving polar movements demonstrates “how real and profoundly large an impact humans are having on the planet.”

Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons

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