Andrew Wheeler Loves Animals??
- The EPA has plans to dramatically reduce research testing on mammals — planning a 30% cut by 2025 and completely eliminating the practice by 2035. They also plan to invest $4.25 million into research on alternative methods of testing chemicals that don't involve animals.
- The EPA previously required animal testing for chemicals to determine their toxicity before allowing their use in human products.
- While animal rights groups are celebrating the decision, many scientists take a more cynical view of the EPA's motives, seeing it as another move in the "deregulate everything" agenda. They claim that alternative testing methods are not effective enough to determine toxicity and that the new regulation will allow chemical manufacturers to railroad harmful chemicals through to the market.
- Jennifer Sass, NRDC senior scientist, called the deadlines "arbitrary", and says the chemical testing industry is "a rigged system that gets rid of scientific evidence and relies on quick and dirty tests."
- EPA head Andrew Wheeler said, "This has been a long-standing belief of mine on animal testing. My older sister is a zoologist, my younger sister is a veterinarian, so I come from this family that cares deeply about animals and the protection of animals." Perhaps his sisters need to educate Wheeler on the implications of dismantling the Endangered Species Act, allowing oil and gas drilling in imperiled wildlife habitats, and deregulating the fishing industry... (check out this list of 85 environmental protections the EPA has rolled back recently).
Batman and Microplastics Kid
- Microplastics have infiltrated virtually every ecosystem on Earth. After plankton scarf them down, they wind their way through the food chain — the average American consumes upwards of 50,000 plastic particles per day (plus a lot more for bottled water drinkers).
- Fionn Ferreira has taken matters into his own hands. The 18 year-old Irish teenager recently won the 2019 Google Science Fair by devising a novel way of removing plastics from the ocean — his method extracts 88% of microplastics.
- Ferreira's process involves adding ferrofluids to water — the ferrofluids attract and stick to the microplastics, after which the whole mix can be scooped up by a magnet. His epiphany came after noticing pieces of plastic stuck to an oil-covered rock in his hometown of West Cork.
- Effective and scalable methods of removing microplastics from the ocean had eluded scientists up to this point.
- Ferreira seems to be as wise as he is clever, refusing to claim his project is the ultimate fix. "The solution is that we stop using plastic altogether."
We Took Hot Girl Summer Too Far...
- Last Friday, millions of people in over 150 countries walked out of work and school to demand action on climate change. This represents the largest global climate strike in history — check out these inspiring photos from the strike.
- The youth-led global climate strike was inspired by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg and organized by youth around the world. Thunberg's Fridays for Future group was joined by adult activist groups, tech workers from companies like Google and Amazon, indigenous groups, religious groups, parents, and others.
- The climate strike was organized to coincide with the opening of the United Nations General Assembly and the Climate Action Summit on September 23.
- More protests will be taking place around the world this week through Friday, September 27th. If you missed the chance last Friday, check out opportunities to participate in your area here.
- Bill McKibben says it best: "Strike because young people have asked us to. In a well-ordered society, when kids make a reasonable request their elders should say yes – in this case with real pride and hope that the next generations are standing up for what matters."
- Best sign? A toss up between "We took hot girl summer too far," "Leonardo Dicaprio's girlfriends deserve a future," and "So bad even an introvert is here!"
UC's Ditch Fossil Fuels
- The University of California system announced last week that it plans to divest from fossil fuels completely by the end of September — meaning their $70 billion pension fund and $13.4 billion endowment will no longer hold stake in any company involved with extracting natural gas, oil, or coal.
- The move puts pressure on other institutions to do the same — the ivy leagues and Harvard in particular have been at the center of protests and demands by activists to divest from fossil fuels.
- Interestingly enough, the managers of UC funds have gone to great lengths to emphasize that divestment was not a moral decision. They wrote that their reasoning for divesting "was the reason we sell other assets: they posed a long-term risk to generating strong returns for UC’s diversified portfolios."
- They also say, "While our rationale may not be the moral imperative that many activists embrace, our investment decision-making process leads us to the same result... We have been looking years, decades and centuries ahead as we place our bets that clean energy will fuel the world’s future. That means we believe there is money to be made. We have chosen to invest for a better planet, and reap the financial rewards for UC, rather than simply divest for a headline."
- This past summer the UC system also committed to a system-wide goal of going carbon neutral of 2025. Read more about the role of universities in environmental policy here.
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