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Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 @ 7:41 AM
Updated: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 @ 7:41 AM
The world’s oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050 if current business practices are continued, according to a report released by the World Economic Forum Tuesday.
A collaboration between the World Economic Forum, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and business consulting company McKinsey & Company, the report suggested the numbers stress the need to build a strong after-use plastics economy.
“The best research currently available estimates that there are over 150 million tons of plastics in the ocean today,” the study, titled “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics,” said. “In a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean is expected to contain 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight).”
According to the report, 8 million tons of plastics leak into the ocean each year – “equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute.
“If no action is taken, this is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050,” said the report.
A majority of the leakage comes from plastic packaging. The study’s authors found most plastic packaging is only used once before it’s discarded.
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:51 PM
CENTERVILLE — A company building a 360-unit housing development in Centerville has cleared about 20 acres of trees for the project, work it needed to finish this month because of rules regarding a bat.
Hallmark Campus Communities is developer of the Gateway Lofts – a multi-family development along East Alex-Bell Road near Chardonnay Drive.
It cleared approximately 20 acres of forest between East Alex Bell Road and I-675, with about 15 acres of woodlands included in that, according to Maureen Hodgson, community resources coordinator for the city of Centerville.
Hallmark officials said the tree clearing on the planned apartment complex needed to be completed by early April due to requirements by the Army Corps of Engineers to mitigate the impact on the Indiana bat and Northern long-eared bat populations that are present in the development area. The bats traditionally settle into the area after April for mating, so trees could not be cut down after then.
According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Northern long-eared bat and Indiana bat are federally listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
A spokesman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said the bats made the endangered species list due to white-nose syndrome, which is a fatal fungus that wakes up bats during winter, when there are no insects to consume.
Will Kirk, who is the project manager for the development, said the plan for Gateway includes 14 walk-up apartment buildings that will include 256 one-bedroom units and 104 two-bedroom units.
Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 11:59 AM
— With climate change predictions coming from scientists on a regular basis, many people are increasingly concerned about their personal impact on the environment.
At the same time, who isn't concerned about their health and well-being? While it's a no-brainer that severe pollution and ominous natural disasters can be detrimental to humanity, there are small things we do daily that negatively impact our health as well as the environment.
1. Ditch the car and walk more often
Are you close enough to the office to start walking to work each day? If so, you'll get the benefits of extra exercise, while also reducing your carbon footprint and fighting pollution.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, "transportation contributed more than half of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons emitted into our air," in 2013. This isn't just bad for the environment, it's a public health problem as well.
If everyone made an effort to ditch their vehicles and walk more often, it would go a long way to address the issue.
Even if your commute is too far to go by foot, what about bike? Public transportation? Is car pooling an option?
And whether or not you start walking to work, you can definitely find ways to avoid driving and walk more. Perhaps those evening car trips to the grocery store down the street could be done on foot.
2. Get a reusable water bottle
Drinking an adequate amount of water is important for our health. It keeps us hydrated and may even fight aging.
Water makes skin smoother, helps reduce fatigue, makes the immune system function more efficiently and helps with weight management. But if you increase your water intake by regularly purchasing plastic bottles of it, you're not doing the environment or yourself any favors.
Some types of plastic water bottles contain chemicals that may leach into the drinking water, causing potential health hazards. On top of that, it's well-known that plastic is detrimental to the environment. Reducing your use of plastics is a great eco-friendly step.
So, drink more water but ditch the plastic. Find a good reusable option, such as a stainless-steel canteen-like bottle.
3. Eat more locally grown, organic produce
Adding more vegetables and fruits to your diet is always a healthy choice. If you can ensure that extra produce is locally grown and organic, you're taking a step to help the environment as well.
When produce is shipped across the country, or even across oceans, the transportation involved leaves a significant carbon footprint behind. At the same time, the pesticides used on non-organically grown produce are bad for the environment, while also being a potential health hazard.
Do yourself a favor, eat more produce but ensure it's the healthiest option for the environment and for you.
4. Reduce your meat consumption
The factory farming of animals is one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. According to research led by scientists at Oxford Martin School, widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet would bring down emissions by 63 percent. If everyone would cut animal products all together, emissions would decrease by about 70 percent.
At the same time, the researchers behind the study pointed out that excessive meat consumption is behind many health problems.
"Imbalanced diets, such as diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in red and processed meat, are responsible for the greatest health burden globally and in most regions," Dr. Marco Springmann, lead author of the study, told The Guardian. "At the same time, the food system is responsible [currently] for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore a major driver of climate change."
Even if you don't want to go completely vegetarian, consider reducing your consumption of meat to once or twice a week.
5. Make your home a little greener
Plants literally create the air we breathe. They transform CO2 in the atmosphere into oxygen that we need each moment of our lives. Plants also remove toxins from the air at a rapid rate.
Research by NASA has shown that indoor plants can remove up to 87 per cent of air toxin within just 24 hours.
So, to improve the air quality of your home, buy some houseplants! If you have a yard, plant a tree or a full garden.
Adding more plants to your life also does more than make the air around you fresher. They actually make humans happier, increase productivity and lower stress levels, according to a report by NBC News.
Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 5:30 PM
— You're in Washington D.C. on a freezing cold morning, ice frosting your vehicles windows. Not wanting a cold drive to the office, you ask your partner to start the car for you as they leave.
Sounds perfectly reasonable right? Well, beware because if you leave that vehicle running for more than 3 minutes, you may have to pay a whopping $5,000 fine! It's not exactly common knowledge, but many states actually have laws against letting your car idle, even in the cold when you just want a warm drive to work.
Some states or cities even have laws against using automatic car starters, according to Lifewire. Such laws are an outgrowth of existing laws against leaving your car running while you're not inside.
In Atlanta, the law states: "No person shall stop or stand any truck or bus on any street or public place and idle for more than 15 minutes," according to a compilation of idling laws on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) website. Violators face a minimum fine of $500, but there is also a clause that allows for up to 25 minutes when the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
While you may think Washington D.C.'s and Atlanta's regulations are a bit extreme, Ohio has a zero tolerance policy for idling, according to Men's Health. But the citation is also significantly less, set at $50. The Buckeye state isn't the only place in the country taking a hard line stance against idling either. The city of Auburn in California also promises $50 fines to anyone caught running their parked vehicle.
Another example is Colorado, where idling is forbidden, unless the temperatures dip below 20 degrees. Many other cities and states have similar regulations, setting rules based on temperatures and/or time limits.
Of course, there's logic behind putting such laws on the books. With scientists around the world regularly warning humanity about the dire and ballooning effects of climate change, cutting down on vehicle emissions is an important, albeit seemingly small, step to address the issue.
Just last months, a new scientific study revealed that the worst-case predictions regarding climate change are likely the most accurate. The results followed the November publication of an open letter to humanity from more than 15,000 international scientists urging society to address major environmental concerns before it's "too late."
As scientists continue to sound the alarm bells, it certainly pays to be cautious. Even if a few minutes of idling doesn't seem like a big cost to the environment, we have to think on a mass scale. If tens of millions of Americans run their cars for several extra minutes each day, the emissions skyrocket.
At the same time, there has to be a middle ground. In the bitter cold winter temperatures, sometimes preheating your car is the only option. Fortunately, places – such as Atlanta – have added some common sense to their regulation, allowing drivers ample time to heat up their vehicles in low temperatures without risking a fine.
Here's a list of states that have laws against idling, according to the EPA.
Some of the regulations are city specific, while others are state-wide. If you're now concerned that you might have been regularly or occasionally breaking the law, you can check your area's regulations via the EPA's roundup.
Remember, stay warm out there! But also be conscious of the environment and avoid unnecessary fines.
Published: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 @ 8:46 AM
— Winter solstice is sneaking up on us just as quickly as stuffed turkeys and Christmas trees. This year's solstice will take place on Thursday, Dec. 21.
The astronomical phenomenon happens as the earth orbits the sun (see this helpful animation). During the winter, one hemisphere (this applies to North and South) is tilted away from the sun and receives sunlight at a more oblique angle, causing a drop in temperature.
The winter solstice is the point of earth’s orbit when this trend stops and that hemisphere begins to receive more and more sunlight at a steep angle. This causes temperatures to rise and days to grow longer.
The winter solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year and is culturally considered the first day of winter. Since ancient times it's been celebrated as a holiday and has helped shape many cultural traditions.
Winter solstice traces back to ancient history.
Ancient humans noticed the shortening of the days and were terrified that one day there would be no more daylight left. With time, people realized that after this day each year, the sun began moving towards them, again. They began to observe the day in various ways and created traditions to entice the sun to come back, known as solstice celebrations. Some of those traditions included offering gifts of imitation fruit (symbols of fertility) and the lighting of yule logs, a special log that is burned through the night of the winter solstice to help bring light to the darkest night of the year and to help reignite the sun.
It's no coincidence Christmas Day coincides with the winter solstice.
In modern times, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day. Many believe that celebrating the birth of Jesus was set to sync with the December solstice because from that point on, the days begin to have more daylight in the Northern Hemisphere. However, according to historian David Gwynn, Christmas was set on Dec. 25 to offset pagan celebrations of Sol Invictus (the unconquered sun), a Roman holiday.
Another connection to Christmas is the term Yule, derived from the Norse word jól, which refers to the pre-Christian winter solstice festival.
Ginger has been a longstanding favorite of the winter solstice.
Making gingerbread houses and cookies around Christmas time is a tradition for many people that brings warmth and happiness to their homes. But did you know that this special herb was unknown to Europeans until it was brought back by returning crusaders in the early 1100s? It was a big hit and became a holiday favorite, used in gingerbread and teas.
Winter solstice bonfires started the tradition of feasts during the holiday season.
Heavy meals, also known as feasts, were very common at solstice bonfires. Much of the food we eat today at feasts, including pork (reminiscent of wild boar hunts common in northern Europe) and other meats. At this time of the year, farmers harvested their herds to avoid having to feed them over winter, and the wives harvested all the herbs.
Soltices are different from equinoxes.
Solstices are easily confused with equinoxes but are not the same thing. Like solstices, equinoxes happen twice a year, occurring in the spring and fall instead of the winter and summer. And while solstices occur during the time when the sun is farthest from the equatorial plane, equinoxes occur at the time when the sun spends the same amount of time at the equatorial plane, giving equal lengths to day and night.
It's one of the few times a year you can get up close to the rocks at Stonehenge.