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The Shocking Truth About Sloths

The Revelator - Wed, 03/20/2024 - 07:00

Sloths are the darlings of the internet. Their mouths naturally turn up, making them look like they’re always smiling. They’re the embodiment of chill, with the slowest metabolism of any non-hibernating mammal. On social media posts, there are photos and drawing of sloths, many with humorous or encouraging sayings celebrating sloths’ slowness and sleepiness. “Slow down and enjoy life,” one reads.

Of course, the real lives of sloths aren’t so Instagrammable. Throughout the range of the seven sloth species in Central and South America, the animals face many challenges to their survival, including dog bites, getting hit by vehicles, and electrocution.

Each of these are the consequences of deforestation, says Adriana Aguilar Borbon, marketing and environmental education manager for Proyecto Asís Wildlife Sanctuary in San Carlos, Costa Rica and a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission Anteater, Sloth and Armadillo Specialist Group.

Electrocution is one of the main reasons sloths are admitted to wildlife rescue centers, says Ana María Villada Rosales, a veterinarian at The Sloth Institute in Manual Antonio, Costa Rica. Sloths get electrocuted when they use uninsulated power lines to travel across the forest canopy, instead of branches and vines.

In one recent year, over 20% of the sloths treated at the Toucan Rescue Ranch in San Josecito, Costa Rica had electrocution injuries, according to Janet Sandi, its veterinary director. The actual number of electrocuted sloths is bigger than what her organization sees, Sandi says, because many of the sloths they treat are orphans whose mothers have died from their injuries.

Perilous Power

Road crossings are particularly perilous for sloths. Often branches are cleared away, leaving power and telephone lines as the only way to move over the road.

Sloths are not alone. All over the world, wildlife is electrocuted by powerlines. Scientific literature describes the electrocution of elephants in India; vultures in South Africa; macaws in Brazil; eagles in the United States, Argentina and Spain; and lots of primates.

“Pretty much everywhere there are monkeys, they get electrocuted,” says James F. Dwyer, a wildlife biologist who studies wildlife interactions with electrical equipment for the utility consulting firm EDM International in Fort Collins, Colorado.

It’s not just monkeys. The scientific literature describes the electrocution of primates such as langurs in India and Sri Lanka; Java slow lorises in Indonesia; Angolan black-and-white colobus, Sykes monkeys, white-tailed small-eared galagos, vervet monkeys, and northern yellow baboons in Kenya; and howler monkeys in Brazil.

Especially for smaller primates, electrocution from a power line is often fatal, Sandi says.

Other, even smaller, animals like squirrels can scamper down a bare electrical wire unharmed, Dwyer says, because electricity will only flow through an animal if it is touching two energized wires, or an energized wire and a path to ground. Sloths and primates are large enough to reach two uninsulated wires at the same time.

Transformers and cross-arms have connections that are closer together, allowing even small squirrels to touch two exposed wires, which is why squirrels are the most electrocuted animals in the United States — and the most common cause of power outages, according to Dwyer. But in most of the world, the cross arms of transmission poles are made of metal, he says, and sometimes the pole is made of metal too, providing even more opportunity for wildlife electrocution.

In some cases, electrocution deaths endanger a species. Electrocution is the leading cause of death in adult golden eagles, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In Kazakhstan recently, Dwyer saw photos of thousands of electrocuted saker falcons, listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, under power lines across the steppe.

Saving Sloths Requires Innovation

The electrocution wounds sloths experience can be severe, burning away flesh to the tendons and even to the bone. If the burn reaches the bone, often an entire limb must be amputated to save the sloth’s life, sloth veterinarians say.

An amputee sloth in the forest. Photo: Janet Sandi, used with permission.

While in treatment, sloths belie their chill reputation. “These guys are really feisty,” Sandi says. “They can bite hard and cause infections. We usually need four people to hold them to give them an injection.”

But their slow metabolism means that sloths heal slowly. Bandage changes can be painful for the sloths, and because of both the sloths’ pain and the veterinarians’ safety, many sloths need to be put under anesthesia for each bandage change, which, for traditional bandages, typically happens daily. General anesthesia poses some risk to sloths, just as it does to humans.

Because of this, Sandi and Villada were intrigued when they learned that bears who had been burned in California’s 2018 Thomas fire healed more quickly, with fewer bandage changes, when treated with bandages made from the sterilized skin of a commonly eaten and farmed fish, the tilapia.

In the United States, people who suffer burns are often treated with donated human skin, pig skin or an artificial substitute. These materials are not widely available in places such as Brazil, which has innovated the use of sterilized tilapia skin to treat burns in humans.

Villada and Sandi wanted to have as much information as possible before trying the technique, so they thought about who in their local veterinary network had experience using tilapia skin bandages.

Meanwhile Isabel Hagnauer, a veterinarian at Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center in Alajuela, Costa Rica, was facing a similar issue with the sloths in her care. “Of the 14 two-toed sloths we treated in 2023, five had been electrocuted. We also cared for two baby two-toed sloths orphaned by electrocution.” In Hagnauer’s case, it was news about a burned mountain lion, from the same California fire, that made her eager to try tilapia skin bandages on recovering sloths.

For all three veterinarians, the Costa Rican colleague with the expertise they were looking for was Pricilla Ortiz, a veterinarian mostly working with dogs and cats who was so impressed with the benefits of tilapia skin on her patients that she started a company to sell the bandages.

“Using the tilapia skin, I was able to reduce the amount of antibiotics and analgesics [pain relievers] I was giving,” Ortiz says. “The best part was not having to stress the animals with bandage changes.”

The translation of the bandage techniques from dogs to sloths was not completely smooth. Some of the first two-toed sloths they bandaged with tilapia skin, Villada says, promptly ate the bandage. After that, the team put loose cloth bandages over the tilapia skin to eliminate bandage snacking.

Veterinarians apply a tilapia skin bandage. Photo: Janet Sandi, used with permission.

On dogs, a tilapia skin bandage typically lasts about 10 days, Ortiz says. But Sandi and Villada noticed that some sloths were showing signs of infection after the tilapia skin bandages had been in place for as little as five days. The solution was simple: more frequent bandage changes. Even changing a bandage every five days was a huge improvement over changing them daily.

For veterinarians, and for everyone working at sloth rescue centers across their range, the biggest heartbreak of electrocuted sloths is that even when the animals’ external wounds are healing nicely, they often die after a few weeks of internal injuries, which may not show symptoms.

Of course, the best remedy would be to prevent electrocutions in the first place. In Costa Rica, several nonprofits erect rope bridges over roads to protect sloths and monkeys. In the United States, Dwyer says, California utility companies have found success with plastic covers for power lines, transformers and other power equipment in places where hawks and eagles get electrocuted.

Installing the covers is expensive, Dwyer says. While the covers themselves are low-cost, the expense of sending utility workers to remote locations is significant.

Aguilar says Proyecto Asís Wildlife Sanctuary has been successful working with communities in Costa Rica to report places where wildlife are being electrocuted and getting the power company to install protective plastic covers.

Saving Every Sloth

However, Aguilar believes that sloths’ internet popularity is a threat that overshadows all the threats that are bringing sloths to rescue centers. Veterinarians see the animals that die of electrocution, vehicle strikes and dog bites. What they don’t see, she says, is the sloths that die after being brought from table to table at tourist restaurants for $10 sloth selfies, while also being mistreated by their handlers. “When the sloth dies, they just get another,” she says.

Is the treatment of electrocution injuries helping sloths survive as species? While conservation biologists working with other species may disagree on the value of saving individual animals, sloth experts agree that every animal matters when there is so little known about these species.

While the pygmy three-toed sloth is critically endangered and the maned sloth is vulnerable, less is known about the four common sloth species that are currently considered “least concern” on the IUCN Red List.

“We don’t really know all that much about sloth populations,” says Monique Pool, founder and director of the Green Heritage Foundation and a member of the IUCN SSC specialist group for sloths and their kin. “I can only confidently say something about the sloth populations in greater Paramaribo,” Suriname’s capital city, where the Green Heritage Foundation is located. Pool feels some of the most commonly cited studies of sloth populations greatly overestimate their numbers.

“My biologist friends feel differently about the rescue and rehabilitation work that we do,” Pool says. “Our goal is to maintain viable sloth populations in urban areas. For us, every life matters.”

“Rehabilitation is part of conservation,” says Tinka Plese, founder and director of Aiunau, a Caldas, Columbia-based sloth, anteater and armadillo conservation organization and a member of the IUCN SSC specialist group for those animals. “Every animal we can return to the wild helps.”

A rescued sloth returns to the trees. Photo: Janet Sandi, used with permission.

Once it was thought that sloth amputees and sloths that had been in human care for longer periods could not be released into the wild. But both The Sloth Institute and Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center track the sloths they release and have found that many live long, healthy lives.

Hagnauer says a sloth that was released after a partial arm amputation has lived free within the rescue center’s 19 hectare (47 acre) grounds, often appearing with her babies, for nine years. Another popular sloth, nicknamed Don Lupe, was released in 2021 after a complete arm amputation and was recently seen in the wild.

Sloths that survive electrocution are creating a reputation for grit over chill. Sandi recalls a time when she placed a sloth that had just had surgery to amputate a limb near a tree in an enclosure at the Toucan Rescue Ranch. She went to get a cup of coffee, figuring it would be a long time before this slowest of mammals made a move. But when she came back, the sloth was gone.

She looked up, and there it was, in the branches. “I said, ‘Oh gosh, these guys are really strong.’”

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Previously in The Revelator:

How Social Media Supports Animal Cruelty and the Illegal Pet Trade

The post The Shocking Truth About Sloths appeared first on The Revelator.

Categories: H. Green News

As Carbon Air Capture Ramps Up, Major Hurdles Remain

Yale Environment 360 - Wed, 03/20/2024 - 01:47

Aided by tax breaks and carbon credits, scores of plants are being developed or are now operating that remove CO2 from the air. Such facilities are considered necessary to limit global warming, but critics have questions about the high costs and where the captured carbon will go.

Read more on E360 →

Categories: H. Green News

Amazon says its plastic packaging can be recycled. An investigation finds it usually isn’t.

Grist - Wed, 03/20/2024 - 01:45

Feeling guilty about all those blue-and-white plastic Amazon bags piling up around the house? Fear not — they can be recycled! At least, that’s what the packaging says.

For years now, Amazon’s plastic bags, bubble-lined mailers, and air pillows have featured the ubiquitous “chasing arrows” recycling symbol along with the words “store drop-off.” The idea is simple: Since most curbside recycling programs don’t accept this type of plastic — it’s too expensive to process and can clog machines — consumers can instead leave it at retail stores across the country. From there, this plastic, known as “film,” will go to a specialized facility and be turned into new products.

The problem, however, is that the system doesn’t seem to be working.

An investigation published Tuesday by the nonprofits Environment America and U.S. Public Interest Research Group, or U.S. PIRG, suggests that only a small fraction of Amazon’s plastic packaging makes it to a material recovery facility, the term for operations that sort glass, metal, plastic, and other items for recycling. The packaging is much more likely to end up in a landfill, incinerator, export terminal, or in the hands of a company that downcycles plastic film into things like benches.

The report adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that store drop-off programs are an ineffective solution to the escalating plastic pollution crisis. According to environmental groups, these programs help justify the ongoing production of single-use plastic, helping manufacturers and retailers evade accountability while alleviating consumer guilt.

“The store drop-off system is really not working, and plastic film is not recyclable,” said Jenn Engstrom, state director of U.S. PIRG’s California chapter and a co-author of the report.

To find out what happens to Amazon’s plastic packaging, U.S. PIRG and Environment America attached small tracking devices — mostly Apple AirTags — to 93 bundles of Amazon plastic packaging marked for store drop-off and deposited them at retailers in 10 states. These stores, which were listed in an online directory, included mostly supermarkets like Safeway, Sprouts, Publix, Fred Meyer, QFC, and Whole Foods, although some bundles were placed at outlets like Kohl’s or Home Depot.

A drop-off receptacle for plastic bags at a grocery store in Palo Alto, California. Paul Saukma / AP Photo

The report authors were able to determine the fate of about half the bundles, since, as expected, many of the trackers likely died before reaching a final destination. Of those that survived, 13 went to a landfill, two went to a waste incinerator, and three went to the Port of Los Angeles, suggesting that the bundles were destined for processing or disposal overseas.

Only four trackers eventually made their way to a material recovery facility that sorts plastics for recycling. U.S. PIRG and Environment America said they were able to contact three of those facilities: Two specifically said they do not accept Amazon packaging, and the third said it accepts only paper and cardboard.

Two dozen trackers ended up in the hands of Trex, a company that makes benches and decking out of discarded plastic. But U.S. PIRG and Environment America question whether Trex is using Amazon packaging in its products; the contents of store drop-off bins are often littered with food and beverages, likely rendering this plastic too contaminated to use in manufacturing.

Trex did not respond to Grist’s request for comment, but a similar company reports getting 70 to 80 percent of its plastic from “back-of-the-house shrink wrap,” referring to the material wrapped around shipping pallets, which tends to be cleaner than postconsumer plastic. Meanwhile, a Trex executive told Bloomberg News last year that there is not enough demand for recycled material to make store drop-off successful. 

“All the claims the companies are making are just greenwashing,” he told Bloomberg. “Recycling’s failed.”

While USPIRG and Environment America’s investigation may be the largest of its kind, it isn’t the first to find flaws in the store drop-off system. Last year, Bloomberg tracked 30 bundles of packaging and wrappers marked with the store drop-off icon and found that 13 of them — more than 40 percent — ended up at U.S. landfills. Just four made it to locations that can recycle plastic. A similar effort from ABC News found that about half of 46 bundles of plastic bags went to landfills and incinerators, while only four went to facilities “that say they are involved with recycling plastic bags.”

In 2023, Dell dropped off Amazon plastic packaging (left) at an Albertsons in San Clemente, California. It turned up months later at a warehouse dump pile in Malaysia (right). Photos courtesy of The Last Beach Cleanup.

Jan Dell, an independent chemical engineer and founder of the environmental nonprofit The Least Beach Cleanup, has been deploying her own trackers too. Since December 2022, she hasn’t traced a single bundle of film labeled for store drop-off to U.S. facilities that can turn the material into new bags. Twelve bundles have been sent to a landfill or waste station, and one to an incinerator. Four appeared to have traveled to Mexico, Vietnam, or Malaysia, countries that generally lack adequate recycling infrastructure. 

“They’re absolutely lying with these labels,” Dell said. The store drop-off system has “never worked, it was never true.” 

The labels in question are produced by an initiative called How2Recycle, which began selling them to big companies in 2012 — supposedly to clear up confusion among consumers and retailers about which products could be recycled. The initiative issues several versions of the recycling icon, with the one marked “store drop-off” reserved for products, like plastic bags and film, that aren’t accepted in curbside recycling programs.

The store drop-off labels direct consumers to How2Recycle’s website, which links to a directory of retail locations with collection receptacles. Until last year, that directory was found at and featured more than 18,000 locations — but the consulting firm managing it shut it down following ABC News’ investigation, citing a lack of “real commitment from the industry,” as well as insufficient funding. Many of the locations listed did not actually have a receptacle, while the Target and Walmart locations appeared to be disposing of, rather than recycling, much of the film they received.

“There’s more of an illusion of stuff getting recycled than there actually is because there is an imbalance in supply and demand,” Nina Butler, CEO of the consulting firm, told ABC News. How2Recycle now links customers to a different directory hosted at Earth911. How2Recycle did not respond to Grist’s request for comment.

As scrutiny has increased over the use of the store drop-off label, some companies have pledged to stop using it altogether. Mondelez, which owns brands including Oreo and Ritz, said in March 2023 that it plans to phase out the label by 2025. Dell said she’s also noticed the label’s disappearance from packaging sold by Target and Georgia Pacific, a company that sells toilet paper, paper towels, and other pulp products. Target and Georgia Pacific did not respond to Grist’s request for comment.

Read Next Inside the industry push to label your yogurt cup ‘recyclable’

Amazon, for its part, did not respond to Grist’s questions about its use of the store drop-off label. When Dell asked the company, during a Zoom meeting in 2020 that she shared with Grist, to provide evidence that its packaging is widely recycled through the store drop-off program — as required by California law — an Amazon spokesperson told the state recycling commission that the company has “really high confidence that store drop-off is a solution that is available in California.”

Pat Lindner, Amazon’s vice president of mechatronics and sustainable packaging, told Grist that the company has no control over how its packaging is handled “once it has been disposed of by municipalities or recycling centers.” A spokesperson said the company is investing in better recycling infrastructure while also reducing plastics use overall. As of last year, for example, Amazon has eliminated plastic from shipments delivered in Europe, likely in response to EU regulations banning several categories of single-use plastic. The company also eliminated plastic packaging in India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to ban single-use plastic nationwide by 2022.

In the U.S. last year, Amazon launched an automated fulfillment center in Euclid, Ohio, that uses paper exclusively instead of plastic packaging, and the company said it’s ramping up a program to ship items in their original packages instead of extra plastic ones. The company also said in a 2022 sustainability report that it was “phasing out padded bags containing plastics in favor of recyclable alternatives,” but the spokesperson did not address Grist’s request to clarify the timeline for this transition.

Environmental advocates agree that Amazon has made progress, but say it should be doing more to reduce the hundreds of millions of pounds of single-use plastic trash it generates every year — and that it should remove the How2Recycle symbol from its packaging. In California, where state legislation often sets a national standard, a truth-in-advertising law signed by the governor in 2021 may soon restrict the use of store drop-off labels unless companies can prove that the system is effective. A separate law will require single-use plastic packaging sold in the state to be demonstrably recycled at least 65 percent of the time by 2032, a threshold that may push manufacturers toward paper, which is far easier to recycle.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Amazon says its plastic packaging can be recycled. An investigation finds it usually isn’t. on Mar 20, 2024.

Categories: H. Green News

How Border Externalisation Became the EU’s Migration Strategy 

Green European Journal - Wed, 03/20/2024 - 01:42

The agreement signed in Cairo aims to stop migration flows at a time when Egypt’s dire economic situation, the prolonged civil war in Sudan, and Israel’s indiscriminate destruction of Gaza are making Egypt a point of departure towards Europe for Egyptians and transit migrants alike. Deal after deal, the EU is outsourcing migration control, with little consideration for human rights.

A delegation of five European prime ministers, led by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, signed a 7.4 billion euro deal in Cairo, Egypt, on 17 March. It was timely: the EU is preparing to finalise its New Pact on Migration and Asylum, one that will see Egypt added to the list of countries serving as fundamental assets of Europe’s border offshoring framework. 

In recent years, the different crises affecting the Middle East and East Africa have caused a doubling in the number of migrants fleeing from Egypt. The surge in arrivals onto Italian shores back in 2022 led the EU Commission to launch the first phase of an 80 million euro border management programme with Egypt. Since then, the EU’s efforts to contain migration from the North African country have only intensified.  

On 23 January, Josep Borrell and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry shook hands in Brussels to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Egypt. In October 2023, Egyptian officials had visited the headquarters of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Shortly after, as the Israeli offensive in Gaza forced Palestinians to escape into the south of the Strip near the border with Egypt, Ursula von der Leyen stressed the need to “support Egypt through the current crisis and establish a firm [migration control] partnership.”  

Since then, scant official details have been released, until the deal was sealed on 17 March. In the past weeks, human rights groups had warned that by signing an agreement with Egypt the EU would “risk complicity in abuses” towards migrants, and that the New Pact on Migration and Asylum – which is complemented by similar border control deals with other third countries – will likely “set back European asylum law for decades to come”. 

Rising pressure 

With a population of around 109 million, Egypt is the largest country in North Africa and the Middle East. Political unrest and deep economic woes over the past decade resulted in record annual inflation of 39.7 per cent in August last year. Although this is projected to drop to 26.7 per cent this year, Egypt’s inflation is expected to remain the highest in the region until 2028. 

The economic crisis has pushed tens of thousands of Egyptians to seek opportunities in Europe. In 2022, 21,753 Egyptians made it into the Union. According to the International Organization for Migration, that made Egypt the top source country for Europe-bound migrants. This is a new phenomenon, according to the Egyptian demographer Ayman Zohry. “We do not have an established trend of migration from Egypt to Europe [as we do from] the Maghreb countries”, he says. Instead, Egypt has historically been known as a major hub for transit migrants.   

Egypt currently hosts about 9 million migrants, “most of them transit migrants that are stuck here, wanting to go to Europe”, according to Zohry. Most of these are Sudanese who fled the country as it descended into civil war in April 2023. But Egypt is also a transit hub for people fleeing from the Horn of Africa and, more recently, the war in Gaza.  

The latest reports from humanitarian organisations such as UNRWA claim that at least 1.7 million people in Gaza have been internally displaced since the start of the Israeli offensive. That equates to more than 80 per cent of the population. Most of them fled to Rafah, the southern area of the Gaza Strip close to the border with Egypt, which Israel had designated a “safe zone”. However, Israel’s repeated threats of a land invasion caused many Gazans who had relocated to Rafah to attempt to cross into Egypt. That prompted Egypt to start building a 21-square-kilometer “walled enclosure” next to the border that would accommodate more than 100,000 people in the event that Israel attacked the south of the Strip. The rising hostilities along Egypt’s border with Israel, coupled with the country’s economic issues, means that “the ability of Egypt to keep these transit migrants is decreasing,” Zohry argues. The EU, however, does not seem eager to welcome them. 

Cash for containing departures 

Von der Leyen announced in a letter to EU leaders in December that the Union’s top priority in the creation of the new migration and asylum framework was the strengthening of the bloc’s external borders. With regards to Egypt, the two main ways in which the partnership will be implemented are by enhancing surveillance capacity on both the Mediterranean coast of Egypt and its border with Libya, and by cooperating over the return of “irregular” migrants to their home countries.  

Human Rights Watch has led the efforts in denouncing the EU’s strategic partnership with Egypt. In a letter to the Commission’s president, it warned of Egypt’s hostile environment for migrants and refugees. Claudio Francavilla, Human Rights Watch’s EU advocacy associate director, told the Green European Journal that “for years, [the organisation] has documented a wide range of abuses by Egyptian authorities and civilians against Black African migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees, including arbitrary detention and physical abuse, sexual violence, racism, [and] lack of access to basic health and education services.” He highlights how, for example, Egypt has created barriers to protection for Sudanese trying to flee the conflict, and committed refoulement by forcibly returning Eritreans without assessing their asylum claims. 

However, Egyptians themselves could be among the worst affected by the EU partnership. “Providing a highly abusive government with dual-use surveillance technology and training on how to use it heightens the risk that it may be used for internal surveillance and targeting of opponents,” says Francavilla. The 2022 deal, according to Human Rights Watch, has “contributed to pervasive corruption and mismanagement by the Egyptian government, which in turn has led to a dire economic situation” and produced conditions that are driving Egyptians to leave. The letter from the rights group also claims that instead of “calling out the serious abuses by the Egyptian government, European governments and institutions have decided to reward Egypt’s leaders.”  

Egyptians themselves could be among the worst affected by the EU partnership.

These concerns, Francavilla argues, are not limited to the Egypt case. “The list [of EU migrant deals with third countries] is unfortunately likely to grow, as EU governments and institutions insist on concluding ‘cash for containing departures’ deals, with little if any regard for the migrants’ and asylum seekers’ fate.” He adds that it will limit progress on human rights and democracy in countries of origin and transit more broadly.   

Outsourcing is the new normal 

Over the past decade, efforts by EU member states to prevent migrants and asylum seekers from reaching their borders have intensified, according to Sara Prestianni and Elena Bizzi from EuroMed Rights, a network of human rights groups. “One strategy to reach this goal [is to fund] programs for third countries’ coast guards and border police, and striking untransparent deals with undemocratic countries and authoritarian regimes,” they say. 

Libya has served as a laboratory for border externalisation practices in which the EU’s responsibility for handling migration is outsourced. Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011 culminated in a state of semi-anarchy, and migrants left for Europe in increasing numbers. This prompted the EU to launch Operation Sophia in concert with the Fayez El-Sarraj-led Government of National Accord, in which a naval force was sent to Libya to neutralise attempts by migrants to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.  

Admiral Enrico Credendino, commander of Operation Sophia, told journalists in 2017 that the deal with El-Sarraj was intended to “create a Libyan system capable of stopping migrants before they reach international waters”. This would absolve the EU of legal responsibility on pushbacks, he added. “As a result, it will no longer be considered a push-back because it will be the Libyans who will be rescuing the migrants and doing whatever they consider appropriate with the migrants.” 

Since the Libyan experiment, the EU has struck numerous other deals with third countries to keep migrants and refugees far from European borders. First came the EU-Turkey deal in 2016, which led to the rise of shootings and beatings of Syrian asylum seekers by Turkish guards.  

Then came funding to Morocco, such as the 500 million euros agreed in the wake of the Melilla massacre in 2022, when Spanish and Moroccan border guards shot rubber bullets and teargas at some 1,700 migrants and asylum seekers kettled into a small holding yard on the Morocco-Melilla border, causing a stampede that, according to some estimates, left at least 37 migrants dead. Since the package was announced, organisations such as Walking Borders claim to have witnessed “increasingly militarised and violent migratory controls against migrants” as well as “an increase in the mortality rates of the boats that have left [Morocco]”.  

In July 2023, Tunisia and the European Union signed a memorandum of understanding on “a strategic and global partnership” that echoes the deal with Egypt. In the months since, EuroMed Rights claims to have recorded multiple forms of abuse by Tunisian authorities against sub-Saharan migrants, including physical violence, firearms use, engine removal and boat collisions. “These kinds of externalisation policies and deals push people on the move to find other, more dangerous migratory routes to escape border controls, thus leading to more violence and deaths,” EuroMed Rights says. “According to official data, since 2014, almost 30,000 people have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach Europe.” But the real number, the group says, is likely much higher.  

EuroMed Rights is afraid that the next EU Pact on Migration and Asylum will “maintain the dangerous concept of ‘safe third countries’ to enable Member States to return asylum seekers despite the risk of human rights violations.” In fact, besides Egypt’s onboarding as a strategic partner, the Pact also seeks to prevent migration flows coming from other strategic areas.  

As for the Balkans, Albania has agreed to host two migrant processing centres on its territory that will be run by Italy, and Bosnia and Herzegovina is set to receive 6.4 million euros in funding for a project that will focus on improving integrated border management. Meanwhile, the EU and Spain have agreed to pay Mauritania’s government 210 million euros to prevent transit migrants departing the West African country towards Europe. 

The proliferation of these offshoring deals led civil society organisations and human rights groups such as EuroMed Rights to cooperatively launch the campaign #NotThisPact in December 2023. More recently, on 14 February 2024, 81 civil society organisations called on MEPs to reject the EU’s Pact on Migration and Asylum at the EU Parliament’s Justice Committee (LIBE) vote. 

Migrants as a security threat 

The idea for a new Pact on migration first took root almost four years ago following von der Leyen’s claim in September 2020 that “migration is complex. The old system no longer works”. It is expected to see the light before the EU elections in June. This new Pact will differ from the previous one in three fundamental ways. First, border procedures to deal with asylum requests will be accelerated; second, member states will jointly introduce shared-responsibility mechanisms; and third, they will develop mechanisms for regulating “crises”. 

The Pact’s drafts contain no explicit references to border externalisation, says Alberto Neidhardt, senior policy analyst at the European Policy Center. “However, you could make the argument that in order to make the Pact sustainable, the number of arrivals will have to be kept low, and member states will, for that reason, seek to outsource responsibility to third countries.”  

The change in EU migration policy reflects a broader shift to the right among European governments.

The rhetoric used by von der Leyen to explain the motives for the “comprehensive partnerships” between EU member states and non-members has been cause for concern. In a letter, she wrote: “Those who have no right to come to Europe must know they will not be allowed to stay.” EuroMed Rights has said that the wording of the letter securitises the movement of people. “Migrants are treated as a security threat, with a security/military approach rather than a protection approach.” 

This wording is not accidental, the group points out: “It is important to remember that these policies are implemented by member states, with the support of tech and security companies.” A Cambridge University investigation in 2018 found that security advisory groups are “closely linked to companies and institutions that win EU-funded security projects”. Neidhardt argues that “to implement all of these new reforms you need a lot of funding. These lobbies or security companies will likely try to benefit from increased budgeting for border management purposes following the Pact.” Frontex, the largest EU agency, saw its budget skyrocket from 142 million euros in 2015 to 754 million euros in 2022.  

Neidhardt is not surprised by the securitisation of EU migration policy and the growth of security agencies and lobbies. “I think it would have been unrealistic to expect policymakers to come up with reforms protective of the right to asylum and protection in Europe. That is just not the political environment nor the age in which we live.”  

Human Rights Watch’s Francavilla echoes this, arguing that the change in EU migration policy reflects a broader shift to the right among European governments. “The EU is de facto implementing the migration policies sought by the far right, contributing to legitimising those groups and arguably helping them to succeed. We have argued that the EU’s migration obsession is shaking the credibility of the bloc’s commitment to its human rights obligations, affecting, in turn, the EU’s credibility as a principled international player.” 

Back in Egypt, demography experts know that the EU’s so-called new vision is not the answer. “Migration flows are like water flows, you cannot stop them,” Zohry states. “Even if you try to build fences, migrants fleeing from hardship will not stop trying to reach their destination.” 

Categories: H. Green News

At prom, fast fashion slows down

Grist - Wed, 03/20/2024 - 01:30

This coverage is made possible through a partnership with Grist and Interlochen Public Radio in Northern Michigan.

On a Saturday in February, high school senior Kaylee Lemmien sifted through racks of dresses at Tinker Tailor, a small shop in downtown Elk Rapids, a village of about 1,500 people in northern Michigan.

“I’d call this a mermaid, sequin, light blue gown with a tulle skirt. It’s got a lace-up back, kind of open,” Lemmien said. “Very pretty.”

Tinker Tailor usually alters clothes, but on this day it was selling them — prom dresses, to be exact. Gowns in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors — short and long, neons and pastels, satin and sequins — lined the racks. The garments were donated and consigned by people around the region, with the goal of giving them a new life at the Elk Rapids High School prom in May. Called Sustainable Style, the secondhand shopping initiative takes aim at fast fashion. 

Zoe Macaluso, the president of the Eco Club at Elk Rapids High School, said that when a local volunteer group approached her with the idea, she “immediately latched onto it.” The Eco Club wants to use the project to lead by example and hopefully inspire other schools in the area to pursue their own climate projects.

Kaylee Lemmien, left, browses used evening gowns at the Sustainable Style event in Elk Rapids, Michigan, on February 17. Grist / Izzy Ross

It’s one of many efforts by high school students around the country to address fast fashion — clothing produced cheaply and quickly enough to stay on top of swiftly moving trend cycles — in their own lives and through advocacy. Such efforts are small, but experts say they can help people — especially young people — think differently about their role as consumers. That’s especially relevant in the age of fast fashion, when an online retailer like Shein drops up to 10,000 new items a day.

“Fast fashion is a trend driven by newness,” said Shipra Gupta, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Illinois Springfield. “It tends to treat its products like food that spoils quickly.”

The increased focus on sustainability and thrifting might seem counter to the rise of fast fashion. It’s been described as a paradox, especially for Gen Z. A McKinsey newsletter last year laid out the relationship like this: “On one hand, Gen Zers express a desire for sustainably produced items and love thrifting. On the other hand, clothing ‘hauls’ … make up some of the most watched and most produced content on social media.”


#shein #sheinhaul

♬ original sound – KG A typical #SheinHaul video on TikTok, like the one above, shows content creators dumping boxes crammed with individually wrapped items of clothing.

One way high school students are counteracting that offline is by raising awareness in their communities about how fashion impacts the environment. Last year, for example, a high school in New York put on a carbon-neutral prom. A club in New Hampshire organized a clothing drive to divert used clothes to people experiencing homelessness. And a library in Athens, Georgia, regularly hosts a “Bling Your Prom” secondhand formal wear event with an eye toward sustainability.  

Fast fashion encourages people to cycle through clothing quickly, with serious consequences. But getting reliable information on just how much damage the fashion industry inflicts on the climate is difficult. Its lack of transparency is one reason for that; less than half of brands track all levels of their complex supply chains. Some have made climate pledges but have consistently fallen short of their goals. And while key legislation that would help tackle the problem is pending in places in the U.S. and Europe, policy progress has been slow.

Constantly being exposed to new items can trigger a desire to buy more, said Gupta. By bringing an event like Sustainable Style to the community, she said, the students in Michigan are harnessing that excitement and channeling it toward more environmentally conscious shopping.

“Community involvement is a way of doing that grassroots-level movement, where we can actually create an awareness among the community members,” she said, and that can make them consider what it means to be a responsible consumer.

Read Next The most ‘sustainable’ garment is the one that shows its wear, proudly

Events like Sustainable Style can cut back on consumption locally, providing a responsible place to donate and buy used evening wear. That’s important especially in small towns where options can be limited.

In the past, students in Elk Rapids usually ordered dresses online or traveled to hubs like Grand Rapids, a two-hour drive south.

“You kind of have to drive to Grand Rapids, and you have to go to a mall, and you have to buy a new dress,” said Macaluso. “This just provides another option, another opportunity to say, ‘Oh, I have a chance here to help the environment a little bit. So I’m going to take it.’”

Perhaps most importantly, initiatives like these can help others outside the confines of high school prom think about how fashion relates to the environment.

“I think it’s very meaningful, because it starts to engage consumers, especially the young generation,” said Sheng Lu, an associate professor of fashion and apparel studies at the University of Delaware. 

Innovative grassroots efforts have helped cut down on fashion waste locally in other places, and in recent years, major brands have been trying to work out the kinks of reselling used clothes. 

Although the Elk Rapids effort is relatively small, Lu said, it can help inspire local action.

“I honestly was pretty nervous coming in here,” said sophomore Addison Looney, who was shopping with her mom. “But there were a lot of great selections. … I was pretty indecisive about it. But I picked [one] out.”

The dress is a soft lavender with beading in the front. Addison’s mom, Sara, said she was excited to buy her daughter a secondhand dress.

“Knowing this is just a great opportunity to shop local, and to obviously save money,” she said. “But also just the resale aspect of it — to just kind of keep dresses going, because they’re usually a one-time use.”

Macaluso said they’ve been able to stoke interest in buying used clothing. The prom event even led Tinker Tailor — which had mainly been in the business of altering clothes, not selling them — to set up a “Dress Vault” in the store so people could continue consigning, donating, and shopping for secondhand items.

“I think it really just builds off that idea of, ‘Hey, these dresses didn’t go bad, they haven’t expired,’” she said. “And they can find a new home.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline At prom, fast fashion slows down on Mar 20, 2024.

Categories: H. Green News

Changing the path of our food

Ecologist - Wed, 03/20/2024 - 00:00
Changing the path of our food Channel Comment brendan 20th March 2024 Teaser Media
Categories: H. Green News

Connecticut wants to penalize insurers for backing fossil fuel projects

Grist - Tue, 03/19/2024 - 10:00

The nation’s insurance industry has gone haywire in recent years amid a succession of floods, fires, and other climate-fueled disasters. These catastrophes have forced carriers to pay out billions in claims, and many have responded by raising premiums in disaster-prone states like Florida and Oregon or leaving certain markets altogether.

But many of these companies also provide coverage for fossil fuel projects, like pipelines and natural gas power plants, that would never be built without their backing. This gives the insurance industry a unique role on both sides of the climate crisis: Insurers are helping make the problem worse by underwriting the very projects that warm the Earth even as they bear the costs of mounting climate disasters and pass them on to customers.

Legislation in Connecticut, the capital of the American insurance industry and home to several of its largest carriers, could make insurers pay for that contradiction. If passed, the bill, which just cleared a committee vote in the state Senate, would move toward imposing a fee for any fossil fuel projects companies insure in-state. That revenue would go into a public resilience fund that could underwrite sea walls and urban flood protection measures.

“It’s important to begin to hold [insurers] accountable for how they’ve played it both ways in terms of climate change,” said Tom Swan, the executive director of Connecticut Citizen Action Group, an economic justice nonprofit that has joined several environmental organizations in lobbying the legislature to pass the bill. “People are seeing skyrocketing rates, or they’re pulling out of different areas, and they continue to underwrite and invest in fossil fuels at a pace much greater than their colleagues across the globe,” he said. 

The group pushed a more aggressive proposal last year that would have charged insurers a 5 percent fee for any fossil fuel coverage they issued in the United States, but that bill failed after critics raised several legal questions. In particular, the industry argued that the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause prohibits taxing a company’s out-of-state business.

The new version, attached as an amendment to a climate resilience bill proposed by Democratic Governor Ned Lamont, would only require the state to produce a proposal for an insurance mechanism. The surcharge would apply only to fossil fuel projects these companies insure in Connecticut, avoiding that constitutional challenge.

The assessment would apply not only to new pipelines and fuel terminals, which require ample insurance to attract lenders and investors, but to current coverage for existing infrastructure as well. This means anyone covering the state’s dozens of oil- and gas-fueled power plants would be contributing to the resilience fund. A report from Connecticut Citizen Action Group and several other environmental nonprofits found that the state’s insurers have together invested $221 billion in fossil fuels.

Supporters argue the reduced fee would still raise tens or hundreds of millions of dollars for climate resilience. Connecticut received about $318 million in FEMA disaster aid between 2011 and 2021, or about $149 in spending per capita, according to the climate adaptation nonprofit Rebuild by Design. That puts the state well below disaster-prone locales like Louisiana, which saw $1,736 in federal disaster aid per capita, but far above those like Delaware that haven’t experienced a major disaster in the past decade.

Eric George, the president of the Insurance Association of Connecticut, the state’s largest insurance trade association, said the organization would “strongly oppose” any surcharge, but added that he was still studying the bill.

The legislation comes as other states, including Vermont and Maryland, introduce “polluters pay” bills to hold oil producers accountable for climate damages. Connecticut’s proposed law is an iteration of that effort focused on an area where state regulators wield significant influence, said Risalat Khan of the Sunrise Project, a nonprofit focused on energy transition policy. 

“People are very directly seeing their premiums rise, in relation to climate disasters,” he said. “There’s a direct question there of, why aren’t state level regulators using more of their power to take local action?”

The significance of this financing mechanism could vary from state to state, says Benjamin Keys, a professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on climate insurance risks. 

“One major issue is that the fuels are collected and burned everywhere, but the pain of natural disasters is local in nature,” he said. Because of that, he questioned whether the financing mechanism “would be feasible for all communities to emulate, because many places have [lots of] disasters hit, but very little in the way of fossil fuel production.” Florida, for instance, doesn’t have much more fossil fuel infrastructure than Connecticut, but faces extreme weather and other catastrophes far more often.

Even though the legislation is weaker than the previous version, supporters say passing it in the home of the country’s insurance industry would send a message to big companies that are still underwriting oil and gas projects.

“I think it’s a good policy, but from a narrative-setting perspective, it’s really important,” said Swan.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Connecticut wants to penalize insurers for backing fossil fuel projects on Mar 19, 2024.

Categories: H. Green News

More Than Half of Commutes Globally Made by Car, Study Finds

Yale Environment 360 - Tue, 03/19/2024 - 06:12

A new study of urban transport finds that most commuters globally are getting to work by car, fueling pollution, particularly in wealthier regions.

Read more on E360 →

Categories: H. Green News

Fair is free fares for London

Ecologist - Tue, 03/19/2024 - 00:00
Fair is free fares for London Channel Comment brendan 19th March 2024 Teaser Media
Categories: H. Green News

From Glass Ceilings to Green Houses: More Women Are Needed in Green Industry

The Revelator - Mon, 03/18/2024 - 07:00

In an era marked by increasing environmental awareness and urgency, the need for more diversity in what we call “the green industry” has never been stronger. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines green jobs as those that produce goods or services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources, including ecological restoration, forestry, landscaping, and renewable energy. Despite its crucial role in preserving our planet, the field remains predominantly male, with only 10% women.

As a woman in this field, I’ve gained field experience in both natural areas and urban green spaces, learned technical skills like operating a chainsaw and climbing trees, and secured credentials like becoming an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist. I’ve had the chance to make a difference for the planet, protect habitat for birds and other species, and meet and mentor other women around the United States.

The type of work is varied and dynamic — but why, in an industry dedicated to preserving and protecting “Mother Nature,” are there so few women conducting this important work?

A primary barrier to women’s entry into green industry has been a perception of these jobs as involving physical labor and long hours away from home, features traditionally associated with a male demographic. As a result there hasn’t been sufficient outreach to, or education of, underrepresented groups like women on potential career pathways in the sector. Despite significant improvements in inclusive workplaces, representation is still lacking.

One way to address this is to elevate the many benefits of working in the green industry. Outdoor work not only contributes to improved mental and physical health but also offers a fulfilling choice to those seeking a break from the confines of an office setting.

Opting for a forestry career, for instance, means immersing yourself in nature more than the average person, which actively decreases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, preventing chronic inflammation and supporting a well-regulated immune system. Spending time in a forest, whether urban or rural, also contributes to the mitigation of health problems like respiratory diseases and skin cancer and encourages an active lifestyle, combating obesity.

Growing Trees, Growing Careers

The green industry is experiencing unprecedented growth. Based on data from the Urban Forestry 2020 Project, U.S. job opportunities in urban forestry are projected to grow 5-17%, varying by region. Thanks to many new government programs to mitigate the effects of climate change, there’s a historic level of funding and investment in green infrastructure, clean and renewable energy, and nature-based solutions for sustainable development.

Tools of the trade. Photo: Openlands

For example, through the Inflation Reduction Act, $1.5 billion is being invested in urban and community forestry through the U.S. Forest Service, promoting increased tree canopy cover in disinvested communities and the proper maintenance and management of urban forests. This growth demands a diverse workforce equipped to execute these projects and tackle future challenges.

Opportunities for Women

An increased emphasis on providing paid training and educational opportunities means there are now many ways women can enter the industry. Parts of the sector are recognized as skilled trades and utilize apprenticeship or earn-as-you-learn models that provide program participants with the equivalent of college-level education, mentorship, and hands-on learning experiences.

One example is the Openlands’ Arborist Registered Apprenticeship program, which I oversee. This program is the first and only Department of Labor-approved Registered Apprenticeship for Arboriculture in the state of Illinois. Initiatives like these give individuals who feel under-qualified or face barriers to entry the opportunity for professional development. They also connect people with peers who can share knowledge, resources, and support to ensure success.

In response to the unfortunate impacts of climate change, there is a global need for specialized foresters and conservation scientists to protect one of our most vital natural resources: trees. Photo credit Openlands

Even in a male-dominated industry, women have found opportunities to support one another. An example in my field is the Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop, where participants join industry leaders to learn the fundamentals of tree climbing and expand existing skills. The workshop gives the group technical learning opportunities and fosters community and belonging.

Companies and organizations are promoting networking opportunities for women across the industry. Events like the International Society of Arboriculture Annual Conference and the Tree Care Industry Association Annual Expo host programs focused on connecting and empowering female professionals.

Despite these positive examples, there’s more work to be done in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the green sector. Companies and organizations must prioritize DEI initiatives and invest in training and professional development for all individuals, regardless of gender.

As stewards of the environment and advocates for our planet, leaders and workers in green industries have to encourage and empower more women to pursue careers in the field. By breaking down barriers and fostering inclusivity, we can build a greener, more equitable future.

The opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Revelator, the Center for Biological Diversity or their employees.

Previously in The Revelator:

The Solution to Extinction Is You

The post From Glass Ceilings to Green Houses: More Women Are Needed in Green Industry appeared first on The Revelator.

Categories: H. Green News

How Lightly Grazed Lands Can Lock Away Huge Sums of Carbon

Yale Environment 360 - Mon, 03/18/2024 - 05:45

A new study finds that scaling back grazing on most pastureland worldwide would dramatically increase the amount of carbon stored in soils.

Read more on E360 →

Categories: H. Green News

Kitten season is out of control. Are warmer winters to blame?

Grist - Mon, 03/18/2024 - 01:45

It’s almost that magical time of year that the Humane Society of America likens to a “natural disaster.” Kitten season.

“The level of emotions for months on end is so draining, said Ann Dunn, director of Oakland Animal Services, a city-run shelter in the San Francisco Bay Area. “And every year we just know it’s going to get harder.”

Across the United States, summer is the height of “kitten season,” typically defined as the warm-weather months between spring and fall during which a cat becomes most fertile. For over a decade, animal shelters across the country have noted kitten season starting earlier and lasting longer. Some experts say the effects of climate change, such as milder winters and an earlier start to spring, may be to blame for the uptick in feline birth rates.

This past February, Dunn’s shelter held a clinic for spaying and neutering outdoor cats. Although kitten season in Northern California doesn’t typically kick off until May, organizers found that over half of the female cats were already pregnant. “It’s terrifying,” Dunn said. “It just keeps getting earlier and going later.”

Unweaned kittens rest inside terrariums at the Best Friends Animal Society shelter in April 2017 in Mission Hills, California. A chart helps workers keep track of their behavior, weight, and care schedule. Patrick T. Fallon / The Washington Post via Getty Images



Cats reproduce when females begin estrus, more commonly known as “going into heat,” during which hormones and behavior changes signal she’s ready to mate. Cats can go into heat several times a year, with each cycle lasting up to two weeks. But births typically go up between the months of April and October. While it’s well established that lengthening daylight triggers a cat’s estrus, the effect of rising temperatures on kitten season isn’t yet understood. 

One theory is that milder winters may mean cats have the resources to begin mating sooner. “No animal is going to breed unless they can survive,” said Christopher Lepczyk, an ecologist at Auburn University and prominent researcher of free ranging cats. Outdoor cats’ food supply may also be increasing, as some prey, such as small rodents, may have population booms in warmer weather themselves. Kittens may also be more likely to survive as winters become less harsh. “I would argue that temperature really matters,” he said.

Others, like Peter J. Wolf, a senior strategist at the Best Friends Animal Society, think the increase comes down to visibility rather than anything biological. As the weather warms, Wolf said people may be getting out more and noticing kittens earlier in the year than before. Then they bring them into shelters, resulting in rescue groups feeling like kitten season is starting earlier.

Regardless of the exact mechanism, having a large number of feral cats around means trouble for more than just animal shelters. Cats are apex predators who can wreak havoc on local biodiversity. Research shows that outdoor cats on islands have already caused or contributed to the extinction of an estimated 33 species. Wild cats pose an outsized threat to birds, which make up half their diet. On Hawaiʻi, known as a bird extinction capital of the world, cats are the most devastating predators of wildlife. “We know that cats are an invasive, environmental threat,” said Lepczyk who has published papers proposing management policies for outdoor cats.

Stray cats congregate on the grounds of Hawaiian Sugar in Puʻunēnē, Hawaiʻi Bonnie Jo Mount / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Scientists, conservationists, and cat advocates all agree unchecked outdoor cat populations are a problem, but they remain deeply divided on solutions. While some conservationists propose the targeted killing of cats, known as culling, cat populations have been observed to bounce back quickly, and a single female cat and her offspring can produce at least 100 descendants, if not thousands, in just seven years. 

Although sterilization protocols such as “trap, neuter, and release” are favored by many cat rescue organizations, Lepczyk said it’s almost impossible to do it effectively, in part because of how freely the animals roam and how quickly they procreate. Without homes or sanctuaries after sterilization, returning cats outside means they may have a low quality of life, spread disease, and continue to harm wildlife. “No matter what technique you use, if you don’t stop the flow of new cats into the landscape, it’s not gonna matter,” said Lepczyk. 

Rescue shelters, already under strain from resource and veterinary shortages, are scrambling to confront their new reality. While some release materials to help the community identify when outdoor kittens need intervention, others focus on recruiting for foster volunteer programs, which become essential caring for kittens who need around-the-clock-care.

“As the population continues to explode, how do we address all these little lives that need our help?” Dunn said. “We’re giving this everything we have.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Kitten season is out of control. Are warmer winters to blame? on Mar 18, 2024.

Categories: H. Green News

#Metoo in France: An Unfinished Revolution

Green European Journal - Mon, 03/18/2024 - 01:30

Six years on, the movement calling out sexual and gender-based violence has seen progress and pushback. The latest chapter, with cinema centre stage once more, may mark a turning point. But anti-feminism remains widespread.

How many times has France’s #MeToo moment been proclaimed? Revelations by actress Adèle Haenel, writer Vanessa Springora, and lawyer and writer Camille Kouchner; the scandal involving TV journalist and writer Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, and more: with each of these powerful testimonies, we were told that this time, the movement had finally arrived in France. But each time, the backlash has been swift and the door seemingly slammed shut again. “#MeToo is a layer cake. You have to keep adding more layers”, observed Hélène Devynck, a plaintiff in the d’Arvor affair and author of Impunité (“Impunity”). 

The movement’s story in France has been one of back and forth, breakthrough and pushback. The chapter we have just witnessed – with allegations against actors Gérard Depardieu and Philippe Caubère, film directors Benoît Jacquot and Jacques Doillon, and writer Gérard Miller – confirms as much. Some, like actress Laure Calamy or the president of the #MeTooMédias collective, Emmanuelle Dancourt, have heralded “a French #MeToo” or a “a second #MeToo”. 

Yet there has been a prolonged counter-offensive on multiple fronts to limit the fallout from footage broadcast on investigative news programme Complément d’enquête, which rekindled the Depardieu scandal in December: fake news circulated by media outlets of the Bolloré group; an open letter of support for Depardieu signed by 56 celebrities from the arts world, published with the help of crisis PR consultant Anne Hommel; and above all, the backing of French president Emmanuel Macron himself who, disavowing his own minister of culture, denounced a “witch hunt” and declared that the actor “makes France proud”. 

The reaction to scandals involving Jacques Doillon and Benoît Jacquot – both of whom, alongside Philippe Garrel, embody a very French notion of the director as auteur – was swift, castigating a return to puritanism and media stunts by attention-seeking actresses. Ever since the first wave of #MeToo revelations in 2017, there has been strong pushback. At the time, while in the US it was not the principle of #MeToo but its limits that were questioned, in France the debate was simply “for” or “against”. 

At the time, while in the US it was not the principle of #MeToo but its limits that were questioned, in France the debate was simply “for” or “against”.

Far-right journalist-turned-politician Éric Zemmour said that  #BalanceTonPorc (“Denounce your pig”, #MeToo’s French equivalent) was akin to exhortations to “Denounce your Jew” during World War II. As he launched his plan to fight violence against women, Emmanuel Macron said that he did not want “a society of informers”, while his minister for the economy, Bruno Le Maire, explained that he would not report a politician if he knew of sexual harassment allegations against them – before rowing back his position. 

Very French resistance 

Three months later, while Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes – hailing a “new day” for women who “became the story” that year – was going viral in the United States, France woke up to the Deneuve letter, which takes its name from one of the signatories, actress Catherine Deneuve. The letter defends a “freedom to pester” against “puritanism”, and was accompanied by the shocking comments by two signatories: “You can orgasm when being raped” (actress and radio host Brigitte Lahaie); and “My great regret is to have not been raped [to show that] you can get over it” (writer and art critic Catherine Millet). 

Two years later, actress Adèle Haenel walked out of the César awards ceremony in protest at the triumph of film director Roman Polanski, accused of rape by six teenage girls. Then followed more controversy and an op-ed by 100 female lawyers denouncing “the triumph of the court of public opinion” and the “worrying presumption of guilt” that they claim hangs over men accused of wrongdoing. Haenel has since quit the career in cinema that had brought her so much success. 

When chef Taku Sekine, accused of sexual assault by several women, took his own life in September 2020, the #MeToo movement found itself back in the dock. “The snitches have won. […] Tell us: how many bodies do you want?”, raged lawyer Marie Burguburu in an opinion piece slamming “the verdict handed down” by the movement. 

Five months later, an avalanche of media revelations (about TV presenter Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, actor Richard Berry, producer Gérard Louvin, and artist Claude Lévêque) led to another open letter penned by lawyers condemning “a trial by media”. “In the United States, people have been responsive; in France, they have been reactionary”, says French historian Laure Murat. 

In post-#MeToo France, we have seen a minister accused of rape receive a standing ovation in parliament, then get promoted; a star actor charged with rape given the red-carpet treatment by TV shows and never questioned on the matter; a director subject to several accusations of rape honoured by the Cinémathèque and rewarded with a César award; a presenter and producer discuss live on air how they would love to “slap” a feminist activist; a famous actor elicit fits of laughter in the TV studio as he explained how, on trips to museums, he used to whip out his penis in front of stunned fellow visitors.  

And all the while, women speaking up about their experiences of sexual violence have been called “sluts”, “whores”, “liars” and “social climbers” trying to pull off a “publicity stunt”. “Social control has to change. Today, it is exerted not over predators, but their victims”, believes author Hélène Devynck. 

A turning point? 

But some think we’ve reached a turning point. In her autobiographical TV series Icon of French Cinema, actress Judith Godrèche did not name the director who groomed her when she was 14 years old. Godrèche finally revealed him to be Benoît Jacquot after an illuminating 2011 interview with the filmmaker surfaced. 

Meanwhile, the open letter in support of Depardieu was a fiasco, with several signatories backtracking and expressing their subsequent “embarrassment” about the text and its organiser, a close associate of Zemmour. “Yes, my signature was another rape”, apologised actor Jacques Weber. 

Under fierce criticism, Emmanuel Macron dispatched his wife Brigitte to news channel LCI to emphasise the “courage” of women speaking out. Later, Macron himself conceded at a press conference that he should have stressed the importance of “the words of women who are the victims of this violence”. 

Another sign of change: only 56 celebrities signed the Depardieu letter, a far cry from the 700 who supported Roman Polanski upon his arrest in Switzerland in 2009. And no fewer than six counter-letters were published, something hitherto unheard of. 

While some well-known figures close to Depardieu were conspicuous by their absence, many famous actors lent their support to the accusers. “Of course I’m with them, and I wholeheartedly support women speaking out”, was actor Daniel Auteuil’s response when asked about #MeToo on France 5’s talk show C à vous. 

“With Gérard Depardieu, we’re missing the wood for the trees: there’s been fifty years of laissez-faire in the cinema world”, lamented actress Emmanuelle Devos on Arte’s 28 Minutes, before going on to applaud – and in so doing contradicting her comments about Woody Allen in 2018: “The ones who are against all this, they’re old and they’ll be off. […] The ones who abused, they’ll be off. That’s how it is. And I think that’s quite healthy.”  

Author and director Iris Brey, who holds a PhD in film theory, sees this series of events as a “turning point”. “Before, most actresses, if asked when promoting a film, would simply say ‘it’s never happened to me’. Today, actresses who themselves haven’t said #MeToo will explain that they believe the women who have spoken out”, she said. 

It’s a shift which, she thinks, has been made possible by images and stories that provide insight into victims’ viewpoints and mindsets. “Judith Godrèche’s series allows us to see the victim’s point of view, unlike Benoît Jacquot’s film or the Gérard Miller documentary in which he [Jacquot] holds forth. Neige Sinno’s story [Triste Tigre, her account of the repeated rape and abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of her stepfather] represents a new way to feel words, to examine a point of view. The rushes for Complément d’enquête enable Depardieu to be depicted as an abuser.” 

#MeToo and its “counter-narrative” 

But rather than a genuine turning point, historian Laure Murat sees the Depardieu affair as a “jolt”: “Just as the Deneuve letter united some, the Depardieu letter saw disavowal [from many signatories]. Year One of #MeToo (2018-2023), a sort of great reset, is over. But we’re still a long way from Year Two. You can’t change a society’s mores in six years.” A specialist in cultural and literary history who teaches at UCLA, Murat observes that “for the first time” hostility towards #MeToo – expressed by railing against the “morality police” and “mobs”, a deafening silence about victims, and perverting the presumption of innocence – seems to be “on the wane”.   

The story of #MeToo in France has been told through its “counter-narrative”: it is the pushback against this movement – “against cancelling”, “against lynching” – that has determined its pace and progress.

She puts this down to changing public opinion and growing criticism on social media. “What’s new is that the weight of shifting public opinion has suddenly left signatories of the Depardieu letter afraid for their careers and reputations.”  

But the watershed came in the Depardieu affair “because he went after a child [by sexualising her in footage from ‘Complément d’enquête’]”. “In France, people think, rightly, that the real scandal is going after children. But with women, they always have doubts about consent. They can’t get past childhood.” 

In fact, the scandals that have most rocked France have often involved paedophilia, like actress Adèle Haenel’s revelations regarding director and screenwriter Christophe Ruggia, Vanessa Springora’s book (Le Consentement) about writer Gabriel Matzneff, and Camille Kouchner’s account (La Familia Grande) of the incest perpetrated by Olivier Duhamel. And that’s the case with Judith Godrèche’s shocking story. 

According to Murat, the story of #MeToo in France has been told through its “counter-narrative”: it is the pushback against this movement – “against cancelling”, “against lynching” etc. – that has determined its pace and progress. “It is the counter-narrative to #MeToo that keeps #MeToo going in France,” she wrote

An unfinished revolution 

In these swings from breakthrough to setback, sociologist and writer Kaoutar Harchi sees “the rhythm of liberation” in a society where anti-feminism remains “very widespread” and a “hatred of equality” persists

This opposition to fighting sexual and gender-based violence goes hand in hand with the pushback against LGBTQI+ and anti-racist activism, she points out: “This type of discourse comes from what is perceived to be authentic French national identity being built through a process of social and political minoritisation of people regarded as dangerous, of supposedly perverted and perverting women, and of foreigners who are allegedly enemies.” Therefore, she argues, “a normative system that is colonial, masculine and bourgeois” continues to hold sway. 

In periods where women’s rights are championed by powerful feminist movements, reports of gender violence increase significantly.

The risk of backlash lies not just in a theoretical anti-feminism, but an increase in sexual and physical violence against women and children. In periods where women’s rights are championed by powerful feminist movements, reports of gender violence “increase significantly”, explains historian Christelle Taraud, editor of Féminicides, une histoire mondiale (“Femicide: A World History”). “Whenever there’s a moment of feminist euphoria, numbers rise. And whenever women bow down and bend the knee, fewer are killed,” she noted, establishing a correlation “between the #MeToo movement and the femicide pandemic sweeping the world today”. 

#MeToo clearly led to historic breakthroughs. The movement’s massive scale, both online and offline, brought the issue of sexual and gender-based violence into homes. It also enabled huge progress to be made in discourse and in feminist thinking, which was both sharpened and democratised.

Yet it remains an unfinished revolution. “When you ask women about their experiences, horrific stories emerge,” stresses Kaoutar Harchi. “There’s a lot of movement, it’s like feeling the ground shake beneath our feet, but the sky stays pretty much the same.” 

This article was originally published in French by Mediapart. It is republished here with permission.

Translation by Kit Dawson.

Categories: H. Green News

Save dogs, eat pigs?

Ecologist - Mon, 03/18/2024 - 00:00
Save dogs, eat pigs? Channel News Will Gildea 18th March 2024 Teaser Media
Categories: H. Green News

Heat pumps slash emissions even if powered by a dirty grid

Grist - Sun, 03/17/2024 - 06:00

This story was originally published by Canary Media.

You might consider heat pumps to be a tantalizing climate solution (they are) and one you could adopt yourself (plenty have). But perhaps you’ve held off on getting one, wondering how much of a difference they really make if a dirty grid is supplying the electricity you’re using to power them — that is, a grid whose electricity is generated at least in part by fossil gas, coal, or oil.

That’s certainly the case for most U.S. households: While the grid mix is improving, it’s still far from clean. In 2023, renewable energy sources provided just 21 percent of U.S. electricity generation, with carbon-free nuclear energy coming in at 19 percent. The other 60 percent of power came from burning fossil fuels.

So do electric heat pumps really lower emissions if they run on dirty grid power?

The answer is an emphatic yes. Even on a carbon-heavy diet, heat pumps eliminate tons of emissions annually compared to other heating systems.

The latest study to hammer this point home was published in Joule last month by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, or NREL. The team modeled the entire U.S. housing stock and found that, over the appliance’s expected lifetime of 16 years, switching to a heat-pump heater/​AC slashes emissions in every one of the contiguous 48 states.

In fact, heat pumps reduce carbon pollution even if the process of cleaning up the U.S. grid moves slower than experts expect. The NREL team used six different future scenarios for the grid, from aggressive decarbonization (95 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035) to sluggish (only 50 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035, in the event that renewables wind up costing more than their current trajectories forecast). They found that depending on the scenario and level of efficiency, heat pumps lower household annual energy emissions on average by 36 percent to 64 percent — or 2.5 to 4.4 metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year per housing unit.

That’s a staggering amount of emissions. For context, preventing 2.5 metric tons of CO2 emissions is equivalent to not burning 2,800 pounds of coal. Or not driving for half a year. Or switching to a vegan diet for 14 months. And at the high end of the study’s range, 4.4 metric tons of CO2 is almost equivalent to the emissions from a roundtrip flight from New York City to Tokyo (4.6 metric tons).

Eric Wilson, senior research engineer at NREL and lead author of the study, said, ​“I often hear people saying, ​‘Oh, you should wait to put in a heat pump because the grid is still dirty.’” But that’s faulty logic. ​“It’s better to switch now rather than later — and not lock in another 20 years of a gas furnace or boiler.”

Emissions savings tend to be higher in states with colder winters and heaters that run on fuel oil, such as Maine, according to the study. (Maine seems to be one step ahead of the researchers: Heat pumps have proven so popular there that the state already blew past its heat-pump adoption goal two years ahead of schedule.)

A dirty grid, then, doesn’t cancel out a heat pump’s climate benefits. But heat pumps can generate emissions in the same way standard ACs do: by leaking refrigerant, the chemicals that enable these appliances to move around heat. Though it’s being phased down, the HVAC standard refrigerant R-410A is 2,088 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2, so even small leaks have an outsize impact.

Added emissions from heat-pump refrigerant leaks barely make a dent, however, given the emissions heat pumps avoid, the NREL team found. Typical leakage rates of R-410A increase emissions on average by only 0.07 metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year, shaving the overall savings of 2.5 metric tons by just 3 percent, Wilson said.

2023 analysis from climate think tank RMI further backs up heat pumps’ climate bona fides. Across the 48 continental states, RMI found that replacing a gas furnace with an efficient heat pump saves emissions not only cumulatively across the appliance’s lifetime, but also in the very first year it’s installed. RMI estimated that emissions prevented in that first year were 13 percent to 72 percent relative to gas-furnace emissions, depending on the state. (Canary Media is an independent affiliate of RMI.)

Both the RMI and NREL studies focused on air-source heat pumps, which, in cold weather, pull heat from the outdoor air and can be three to four times as efficient as gas furnaces. But ground-source heat pumps can be more than five times as efficient compared to gas furnaces — and thus unlock even greater greenhouse gas reductions, according to RMI.

How much could switching to a heat pump lower your home’s carbon emissions? For a high-level estimate, NREL put out an interactive dashboard. In the ​“states” tab, you can filter down to your state, building type and heating fuel. For instance, based on a scenario of moderate grid decarbonization in my state of Colorado, a single-family home that swaps out a gas furnace for a heat pump could slash emissions by a whopping 6 metric tons of CO2.

You can also get an estimate from Rewiring America’s personal electrification planner, which uses more specific info about your home, or ask an energy auditor or whole-home decarbonization company if they can calculate emissions savings as part of a home energy audit.

One final takeaway Wilson shared: If every American home with gas, oil, or inefficient electric-resistance heating were to swap it right now for heat-pump heating, the emissions of the entire U.S. economy would shrink by 5 percent to 9 percent. That’s how powerful a decarbonizing tool heat pumps are.

toolTips('.classtoolTips2','The process of reducing the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that drive climate change, most often by deprioritizing the use of fossil fuels like oil and gas in favor of renewable sources of energy.');

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Heat pumps slash emissions even if powered by a dirty grid on Mar 17, 2024.

Categories: H. Green News

Rain comes to the Arctic, with a cascade of troubling changes

Grist - Sat, 03/16/2024 - 06:00

This story was originally published by Yale Environment 360 and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

In August 2021, rain fell atop the 10,551-foot summit of the Greenland ice cap, triggering an epic meltdown and a more than 2,000-foot retreat of the snow line. The unprecedented event reminded Joel Harper, a University of Montana glaciologist who works on the Greenland ice sheet, of a strange anomaly in his data, one that suggested that in 2008 it might have rained much later in the season — in the fall, when the region is typically in deep freeze and dark for almost 24 hours a day.

When Harper and his colleagues closely examined the measurements they’d collected from sensors on the ice sheet those many years ago, they were astonished. Not only had it rained, but it had rained for four days as the air temperature rose by 30 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit), close to and above the freezing point. It had warmed the summit’s firn layer — snow that is in transition to becoming ice — by between 11 and 42 degrees F (6 and 23 degrees C). The rainwater and surface melt that followed penetrated the firn by as much as 20 feet before refreezing, creating a barrier that would alter the flow of meltwater the following year.

All that rain is significant because the melting of the Greenland ice sheet — like the melting of other glaciers around the world — is one of the most important drivers of sea level rise. Each time a rain-on-snow event happens, says Harper, the structure of the firn layer is altered, and it becomes a bit more susceptible to impacts from the next melting event. “It suggests that only a minor increase in frequency and intensity of similar rain-on-snow events in the future will have an outsized impact,” he says.

Rain used to be rare in most parts of the Arctic: The polar regions were, and still are, usually too cold and dry for clouds to form and absorb moisture. When precipitation did occur, it most often came as snow.

Twenty years ago, annual precipitation in the Arctic ranged from about 10 inches in southern areas to as few as 2 inches or less in the far north. But as Arctic temperatures continue to warm three times faster than the planet as a whole, melting sea ice and more open water will, according to a recent study, bring up to 60 percent more precipitation in coming decades, with more rain falling than snow in many places.


Such changes will have a profound impact on sea ice, glaciers, and Greenland’s ice cap — which are already melting at record rates, according to Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado. The precipitation will trigger more flooding; an acceleration in permafrost thaw; profound changes to water quality; more landslides and snow avalanches; more misery for Arctic animals, many of which are already in precipitous decline due to the shifting climate; and serious challenges for the Indigenous peoples who depend on those animals.

Changes can already be seen. Thunderstorms are now spawning in places where they have historically been rare. In 2022, the longest thunderstorm in the history of Arctic observation was recorded in Siberia. The storm lasted nearly an hour, twice as long as typical thunderstorms in the south. Just a few days earlier, a series of three thunderstorms had passed through a part of Alaska that rarely experiences them.

Surface crevassing, which allows water to enter into the interior of the icecap, is accelerating, thanks to rapid melting. And slush avalanches, which mobilize large volumes of water-saturated snow, are becoming common: In 2016, a rain-on-snow event triggered 800 slush avalanches in western Greenland.

Rick Thoman, a climate scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, says that rainfall at any time of year has increased 17 percent in the state over the past half century, triggering floods that have closed roads and landslides that, in one case, sent 180 million tons of rock into a narrow fjord, generating a tsunami that reached 633 feet high — one of the highest tsunamis ever recorded worldwide.

But winter rain events are also on the rise. Where Fairbanks used to see rain on snow about two or three times a decade, Thoman says, it now occurs at least once in most winters. That’s a problem for local drivers because, with little solar heating, ice that forms on roads from November rains typically remains until spring.

Caribou walk in the foreground of a glacier on in 2013 in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The science of both rain and rain-on-snow events in the Arctic is in its infancy, and it is complicated by the fact that satellites and automated weather stations have a difficult time differentiating between snow and rain, and because there are not enough scientists on the ground to evaluate firsthand what happens when rain falls on snow, says Serreze.

It was hunters who first reported, in 2003, that an estimated 20,000 muskoxen had starved to death on Banks Island, in Canada’s High Arctic, following an October rain-on-snow event. It happened again in the winters of 2013-2014 and 2020-2021, when tens of thousands of reindeer died on Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula.

In both places, the rain had hardened the snow and, in some places, produced ice, which made it almost impossible for the animals to dig down and reach the lichen, sedges, and other plants they need to survive the long winter.

Kyle Joly, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. National Park Service, views an increase in rain-on-snow events as yet another serious challenge for the world’s 2.4 million caribou, which have been in rapid decline pretty much everywhere over the past three generations. The ebbing numbers are a huge concern for northern Indigenous peoples who rely on caribou for food. Public health experts fear that Indigenous health will be seriously compromised if the animals can no longer be hunted.

Alaska’s western Arctic herd, which has been, at times, the largest in North America, had 490,000 animals in 2003 but just 152,000 in 2023. But at least that herd can still be hunted. In Canada’s central Arctic, the Bathurst herd has plummeted from roughly 470,000 animals in the 1980s to just 6,240 animals today; hunting those caribou in the Northwest Territories is currently banned.

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Caribou are highly adaptable to extreme environmental variability, and their numbers can rise and fall for several reasons, according to Joly. The proliferation of biting flies in a warming climate can sap their energy, as can migration detours forced by the spread of roads and industrial development, and an increase in dumps of deep, soft snow, which are linked to the loss of sea ice. (An ice-free ocean surface increases humidity near the surface, which leads to more moisture in the atmosphere.)

Sharp-edged ice and crusty snow can also lacerate caribous’ legs, and rain on snow has periodically affected some of Alaska’s 32 caribou herds. For example, the day after Christmas in 2021, temperatures rose to more than 60 degrees F (15 degrees C) during a storm that dropped an inch of rain over a large area of the state. Alaska’s Fish and Game Department estimated that 40 percent of the moose, caribou, and sheep in the state’s interior perished that winter because they could not dig through the hard snow and ice.

It’s not just caribou and muskoxen that are being threatened. There is growing evidence that rain falling in parts of the Arctic where precipitation usually arrives as snow is killing peregrine falcon chicks, which have only downy feathers to protect them from the cold. Once water soaks their down, the chicks succumb to hypothermia.

Few scientists have evaluated the hydrological and geochemical impact of rain-on-snow events in polar desert regions, which are underlain by permafrost and receive very little snow in winter. Recent studies published by Queen’s University scientist Melissa Lafrenière and colleagues from several universities in Canada and the United States point to a worrisome picture unfolding at the Cape Bounty Arctic Watershed Observatory on Melville Island, in Canada’s High Arctic, which has been in operation since 2003.

A shift from runoff dominated by snowmelt in spring and summer to runoff from both rain and snowmelt is accelerating permafrost thaw and ground slumping, and it’s filling fish-bearing lakes with sediments. One study found a fiftyfold increase in turbidity in one lake that led to a rise in mercury and a decrease in the health of Arctic char, a fish that the Inuit of the Arctic rely on.

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Lafrenière says that with only 20 years of measurement, it’s difficult to point conclusively to a trend. “But we have been seeing more rain falling in bigger events, in late summer especially. In 2022, we had unusually heavy rain that dropped an average summer’s worth of rain in less than 48 hours.”

To help scientists and decision-makers better understand the impacts of what is happening, Serreze and his colleagues have created a database of all known rain-on-snow events across the Arctic. And increasingly, scientists like Robert Way of Queen’s University in Canada are working with the Inuit and other northern Indigenous peoples to ground-truth what they think the satellites and automated weather stations are telling them and to share the data that they are collecting and evaluating.

Way, who is of Inuit descent, was a young man when he witnessed parts of the George River herd, one of the world’s largest caribou herds, migrate across the ice in central Labrador. “There were thousands and thousands and thousands of them,” he recalls with wonder. The herd contained 750,000 animals in the 1980s; today, it has no more than 20,000. The animals are facing the same climate change challenges that caribou everywhere are facing.

Way is working with Labrador’s Inuit to better understand how these weather events will affect caribou and food security, as well as their own travel on snow and ice. But, he says, “It’s increasingly difficult to do this research in Canada because half of the weather stations have been shut down” due to federal budget cuts. Most of the manually operated stations, Way adds, “are being replaced by automated ones that produce data that makes it hard for scientists to determine whether it is raining or snowing when temperatures hover around the freezing mark.”

To better understand how rain-on-snow events are affecting the Arctic, Serreze says, researchers need to better understand how often and where these events occur, and what impact they have on the land- and seascape. “Satellite data and weather models can reveal some of these events, but these tools are imperfect,” he says. “To validate what is happening at the surface and the impacts of these events on reindeer, caribou, and musk oxen requires people on the ground. And we don’t have enough people on the ground.” Researchers need to work with Indigenous peoples “who are directly dealing with the effects of rain on snow,” he noted.

In 2007, Serreze stated in a University of Colorado Boulder study that the Arctic may have reached a climate change tipping point that could trigger a cascade of events. More rain than snow falling in the Arctic is one such event, and he expects more surprises to come. “We are trying to keep up with what is going on,” he says, “but we keep getting surprised.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Rain comes to the Arctic, with a cascade of troubling changes on Mar 16, 2024.

Categories: H. Green News

Study Shows a Healthy Diet is Linked with a Slower Pace of Aging, Reduced Dementia Risk

Environment News Service - Fri, 03/15/2024 - 18:17

A healthier diet is associated with a reduced dementia risk and slower pace of aging, according to a new study at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and The Robert Butler Columbia Aging Center. 

Categories: H. Green News

Tsetse Fly Fertility Damaged After Just One Heatwave, Study Finds

Environment News Service - Fri, 03/15/2024 - 18:15

The fertility of both female and male tsetse flies is affected by a single burst of hot weather, researchers at the University of Bristol and Stellenbosch University in South Africa have found.

Categories: H. Green News

Illinois Study: Tropical Birds Could Tolerate Warming Better Than Expected

Environment News Service - Fri, 03/15/2024 - 18:14

Consider the globe, spinning silently in space. Its poles and its middle, the equator, remain relatively stable, thermally speaking, for the duration of Earth’s annual circuit around the sun. 

Categories: H. Green News

Antarctic Sea Ice at Near-Historic Lows

Environment News Service - Fri, 03/15/2024 - 18:12

In the waters around Antarctica, ice coverage in 2024 shrank to near-historic lows for the third year in a row. 

Categories: H. Green News


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