Bristlecone pines have survived various catastrophes over the millennia, and they may survive humanity.
In an Australian first, a 400-litre bag of algae has been installed at a Sydney brewery to reduce carbon emissions and produce food, pharmaceuticals and even bio-plastic.
It was 1957. I was born. Elizabeth had been queen for four years. Elvis had been king for one, give or take.
At an August 1985 meeting in Prague, atmospheric scientist Pawan Bhartia presented this satellite-based image that revealed for the first time the size and magnitude of the Antarctic ozone hole. (NASA)<p>With science in the unfamiliar role of trumping exploitation on the continent, more Antarctic research led to an alarming discovery: Manmade chemicals, notably chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) used as refrigerants and propellants, were eating holes in the stratospheric ozone layer that protects the Earth from the sun's more harmful rays.</p><p>An expanding ozone "hole" over the South Pole, and a smaller one in the Arctic, threatened to impact plant and animal life by allowing ultraviolet solar radiation to reach the earth. Three scientists who were key to connecting the dots – <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/mar/12/ozone-layer-scientist-dies" target="_blank">Sherwood Rowland</a>, Mario Molina and Paul Crutzen – began studying the effects of CFC's in 1973, and later shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work.</p><p>Concern grew throughout the 1980's as more research confirmed that the ozone holes were growing, and the ozone layer over temperate parts of the planet was thinning. Scientists, environmental advocates and industry all played their familiar roles, sounding the alarm, or drawing heavily on the doubt and denial playbooks.</p><p>But three world leaders defied assumptions and stereotypes, playing key roles in forging a global agreement to protect the ozone layer: Ronald Reagan, whose government normally fought environmental regulation; his conservative soulmate, UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; and Canadian PM Brian Mulroney, who lobbied to become the host nation for a crucial meeting.</p><p>In 1987, the <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/conservatives-ozone-montreal-protocol-1.4409482" target="_blank">Montreal Protocol</a> was signed, phasing out CFC's and other ozone depleting chemicals. It's now ratified by 197 nations and the EU. By the mid-2000's, scientists confirmed a <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/good-news-about-ozone-hole-even-better-you-think-ncna835971" target="_blank">gradual closing of the ozone holes</a>, with a return to normal levels by 2100.</p><p>It's hard to imagine the contemporary conservative heirs of <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/conservatives-ozone-montreal-protocol-1.4409482" target="_blank">Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney</a> showing similar leadership. Trump's anti-regulatory rampage included a departure from the Paris climate accord; the UK's Brexit quagmire was partially inspired by disdain for European Union environmental policy; and <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/second-opinion-scientists-muzzled-1.4588913" target="_blank">Stephen Harper,</a> the most recent Canadian conservative PM, directed a thorough purge of government environmental science.</p><p>But the urgent need for action on climate change, biodiversity, the nearly-unthinkable collection of plastic in our oceans, and other challenges may someday turn the corner for Tea Partiers and Brexiteers. </p><p>The Antarctic Treaty and the Montreal Protocol are real-life examples of how it can be done. </p>
ELLICOTT CITY, Md.—Under the waters of the Patapsco River in Maryland, new life is forming.
Credit: Monte A. McGregor<p>To bring back mussels to the Patapsco, members of the Department of Natural Resources translocated mussels from rivers in Harford County. Next year, the mussels will be joined by ones currently being cultivated in Charles County, Maryland.</p><p>The mussels currently planted into the river bottom are low risk, Matt Ashton, a natural resource biologist with the DNR, told EHN. It's a demonstration project to see how the mussels do. If they do well, the Department of Natural Resources might try restoring a mussel facing extinction.</p><p>Freshwater mussels are native to Maryland's Patapsco River, but they haven't been in the river for decades, according to the Maryland DNR.</p><p>One reason was due to dams along the river, Ashton said. But some of the dams have come down and another is currently being torn down. A remaining dam has a fish ladder in place, which allows fish and eels to swim through the dam.</p><p>And Maryland isn't alone — due to human interference and climate change, mussels around the world have died off. McGregor said there are about 297 species of mussels in North America --- approximately 88 of them are threatened or endangered. </p><p>"They're declining at a rate higher than any other group [of species in Kentucky]. And why's that? We're not sure, but we think it's related to water pollution and change in habitat in the river and streams," he said. </p><p>Adding in mussels that are under special consideration, approximately 75 percent of the mussel species need help, Brian Watson, statewide mussel biologist for Virginia's Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, told EHN.</p><p>Pollution might come from industrial dumping or even personal use of pesticides and herbicides. Dams can also cause mussels to die off due to change in habitat and less access to fish, Watson said. Climate change leading to more rain is also causing a problem, Kreeger said. </p><p>With more rain, there is more flooding. It can also lead to more stormwater runoff, which along with flooding, can disrupt the river bottoms, displacing and possibly killing the mussels, Kreeger said. Climate change is also leading to sea level rise, which brings saltwater into the freshwater, and the mussels cannot survive in the brackish water, Kreeger added.</p>
Credit: Maryland DNR<p>Without fish or eels, many mussel species, including the ones found in the central Maryland river, cannot repopulate.</p><p>Mussel larvae are born as hitchhikers, and they attach to an eel or fish because they can move upstream. Once the larvae matures to a juvenile mussel and finds a nice place to call home, they drop off the fish and plant themselves. They'll remain in that area for the remainder of their lives. </p><p>Which can be a long time, as many mussel species live 50 to 70 years, with some living as long as 100, Kreeger said. And freshwater mussels aren't rooted in the same spot forever, she said. They can crawl, just not very far, which is why fish are needed to allow mussels to move their population up the river. </p><p>With the dams in Maryland coming down, there's hope the fish will be able to help mussels increase their populations in the Patapsco. But that might take five years, Ashton said. </p><p>Right now, the 300 mussels in the Patapsco are adults that were planted like seeds into the river. They were planted near Sykesville, Maryland, which is about 15 miles north of Ellicott City, where they will be safe from possible flooding and the dam removal, Ashton said. </p><p>Maryland residents won't likely see the mussels in the river because they bury themselves.</p><p>"They're out of sight and out of mind," Ashton said. </p>
Credit: Monte A. McGregor<p>Despite the various efforts to restore mussels, McGregor didn't think any mussel species had been removed from the endangered or threatened list. </p><p>"It took some 30 years for the bald eagle, so I expect it'll take that long for the mussel," he said. </p><p>His Center for Mollusk Conservation takes in mussels from outside of Kentucky, including Pennsylvania. The organization brought in 20,000 mussels from the Allegheny River and translocated them to the Licking River in Kentucky. </p><p>It also worked to release a mussel species known as purple cat's paw into rivers in Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee, as well as Kentucky.</p><p>One of the reasons other states come to the Kentucky group is their ability to raise mussels via petri dish instead of fish. They have had success with about 70 species of mussels, McGregor said.</p><p>In Delaware, efforts to revamp mussel populations have been hampered by lack of funding, Kreeger said. The group has had success in about 1 percent of the river basin, but the organization needs more resources to be able to address the many rivers in the Delaware River watershed, she said. </p><p>Efforts are also underway in Virginia. There are two fish hatcheries, one in the eastern part of the state and one in the southwestern part, where mussels are produced and released. Between the two facilities, more than 15 million mussels have been produced, with more than 300,000 released, Watson said.</p><p>There is a significant discrepancy between the numbers because it may take years before a mussel is at a size where it can best survive in the river, Watson said. And because the facilities are working with various species, some more threatened than others, some of the mussels produced don't survive. </p><p>Mussel conservation and restoration is also worked on by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, who have multiple projects, where fish biologist Tyler Hern works. Unlike the state efforts, the fishery Hern works out of usually assists other groups with smaller project.</p><p>And while Hern told EHN that it will be sometime before the mussels are restored to historic populations, he thinks that progress has been made.</p><p>"With the work the Fish and Wildlife service is doing with its partners I think in the last two decades we've moved the needle a tremendous amount on a number of species," Hern said. "And as we go we're identifying better ways to give these species the best chance they're going to have."</p>
Food waste is increasing viewed as unethical in a world of rising hunger and environmentally destructive, dumped in landfills where it rots, releasing greenhouse gases, while fuel, water, and energy needed to grow, store and carry it is wasted.
The Sri Lankan capital's remaining wetland areas are being revived as parks that soak up floodwaters and offer leisure activities.
Carbon neutral produce has become the buzz term in the Central American nation of 5 million people as countries look to slash greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture while feeding growing populations.
The consequences of today's destruction of nature will mainly affect future generations. This is the premise behind the Colombian supreme court's recent historic environmental decision: to accept the ideas presented by a group of Colombian children and other young people who say that the deforestation of the Amazon puts their livelihood at risk.
Washington, D.C., has been recognized by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Cities as a model for sustainability.
Four of the fellows who participated in the program this year will discuss their ongoing research, activism, and experiences with publishing their ideas in the public sphere.
With job loss and stifled development in the renewable energy sector, economists, politicians, and advocates say policy action is necessary to stay on track.
The pandemic has put public health officials in a perilous place—caught between the common good and the often-toxic American drive for personal freedom.