11-1: Tasty plastic; Unprecedented EPA changes
Pervasive plastic is tricking sea life; The dismantling of the EPA
Top news for Wednesday, 11-1: Corals are confused; Pruitt opens the door, puts out nice dishes, and lets industry sit at the head of the table
1. Today's top reads: Sea change; Tasty plastic confusing corals
Biographic's, Sea Change, focuses on how the Arctic Ocean is increasingly behaving like the Atlantic and how this shift threatens to "upend an entire food web built on frigid waters."
"The ice used to be 3 feet thick in the winter. It hasn't frozen for seven years—the whole bloody thing," Kim Holmén, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, told Biographic.
See the full story and stunning photos: Sea Change
In marine science news, scientists for years assumed that most ocean wildlife accidentally ate plastic—but a new study adds to evidence that suggests plastics in the seas may actually be appetizing. "Plastics may be inherently tasty," Austin Allen, a Duke marine science doctoral student, told the Washington Post.
Allen and colleagues found that corals respond to microplastics as they would with food.
Corals eat plastic because we've made it tasty, study suggests (Washington Post)
2. More muzzling
Scott Pruitt's move to ban scientists who receive funding from the EPA from serving on its scientific advisory boards is a big deal—as it seems that it will clear the way for industry to advise the EPA.
Veteran environmental reporter and enterprise editor for HuffPost Kate Sheppard tweeted: "Hard to overstate how truly damaging Pruitt new science advisory board rule is. And it suggests that industry funding is totally fine, more objective, not a problem. Which is ... bonkers. BONKERS I TELL YOU."
More on the agency change: Scott Pruitt just cleared the way for industry control of EPA's Science Advisory Boards(HuffPost)
Pruitt's not alone in his anti-scientist moves. The excellent Sharon Lerner from Intercept on another agency head:
- TCEQ toxicologist, who has questioned ozone risks, appointed to EPA advisory board (Texas Tribune)
- EPA: Water at Puerto Rico Superfund site is fit for consumption (CNN)
- Govt. scientist blocked from talking about climate and fire (Climate Wire)
- There's a shady Puerto Rico contract you didn't hear about (The Intercept)
- World set to bust global warming goal, but UN cool on threat from Trump (Reuters)
3. Good news & solutions
In an era of consistent regulatory rollbacks, it may have been easy to miss last month's move by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to outlaw many household uses of flame retardants.
E&E News has the story of how coalition of scientists, doctors and advocates for children's health notched the "big victory last month."
More good news/solutions:
- Virginia reaches major ozone benchmark, environmental agency says (Richmond-Times Dispatch)
- The streets of Paris are heaped with tiny living jewels (Anthropocene Magazine)
4. Toxics roundup.
- State putting Flint back in drivers seat for lead in water testing (MLive)
- Where do 50 million tons a year of toxic e-waste go? (Toward Freedom)
- Grant will put boots on ground to combat South Bend's lead problem (South Bend Tribune)
- Chemical Valley and the threat to Michigan's drinking water (Bridge Magazine)
5. Figuring out food
These Colorado preschoolers learn hands-on farming to prevent childhood obesity
As childhood obesity soars among low-income communities with limited access to fresh produce, some educators in Colorado are combating the problem by joining the farm-to-preschool movement. (PBS)
Maine's new food sovereignty law gets a last-minute overhaul
Changes to the state's pioneering 'Food Freedom' law, which goes into effect today, aim to both appease federal regulators and address concerns of over-regulation. (Civil Eats)
The woman behind Oakland's mobile food scene
Emilia Otero fought to legalize the mobile food industry for immigrants in Fruitvale, but as Oakland expands its permits across the city, some fear the new regulations may put many out of business. (East Bay Express)
Biotech startup Vestaron is making environmentally friendly pesticides from spider venom
It's also working on genetically modifying crops so that the plants produce their own insect-killing chemicals. (Quartz)
Documentary shines new light on GMO's
Food Evolution is a documentary working to reset the conversation around GMO's. (Utah Public Radio)