The Biggest Villain You've Never Heard Of
- The industrial machine has shifted its greedy eyes to a new frontier — the bottom of the ocean. Although still in its early stages, the deep sea mining industry is poised to unleash an array of bulldozers and drilling equipment to the ocean floor to mine for rare metals and minerals. A new Greenpeace report sheds light on the dangers.
- The International Seabed Authority currently regulates the industry, and has issued exploration licenses to every company that has requested one, even in ecologically sensitive areas and UNESCO World Heritage sites. The group has consistently placed profit above protection. Governments and corporations have quietly divvied up over a million square kilometers of the sea floor for mining exploration, as the public remains largely unaware.
- We know more about the surface of Mars and the moon than the deep ocean, a unique ecosystem that harbors incredible biodiversity (the stoplight loosejaw and vampire squid are only the tip of the iceberg). Deep sea mining would cause profound and likely irreversible damage to an ecosystem that already faces a number of threats (i.e. industrial fishing, climate change, and plastic pollution).
- By disrupting natural carbon-storing processes, deep sea mining could make climate change worse by releasing the carbon sequestered in the sediment of the ocean floor.
- Governments are currently negotiating a Global Ocean Treaty at the UN, which could create a global network of ocean sanctuaries protected from extractive industries. As usual, they face extreme pressure from corporations to keep the oceans deregulated.
- Greenpeace got their hands on the minutes of a deep sea mining industry meeting where "All agreed that environmental concerns are the biggest blocker to progress." Be prepared for a misinformation campaign similar to that mounted by the oil industry to keep people confused about climate change.
You Get Rat Poison, And You Get Rat Poison!
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to dump 3000 pounds of rat poison on the Farallon Islands. The islands are situated off the California coast directly west of San Francisco and are home to many types of seabirds and other wildlife. Oh, and a higher density of mice than pretty much any other island in the world (~500 per acre).
- The mice were introduced 200 years ago along with rabbits and cats — the population exploded and they've since wreaked havoc on the ecosystem. Aside from outcompeting endemic wildlife, they spread invasive plant species and have been known to dine on baby seabirds during breeding season. They also attracted burrowing owls to the island, who prefer to eat mice but will also prey on the rare and native ashy-storm petrels if mice aren't available.
- The Fish and Wildlife Service claims that eradicating the mice will help restore native birds, amphibians and plants. They also acknowledge the poison could negatively impact water quality and the marine ecosystem if it drifts into the ocean, but say it "wouldn't have long-term effects."
- Many conservationists fear that other animals could get caught in the crossfire, and that this strategy could cause more problems than it solves. Richard Charter of the Ocean Foundation believes that "this is a case of using a shotgun to go after an ant."
- There is a hearing set for next week to determine the course of action for the project.
Keeping It In The Ground In Brazil
- The Brazilian state of Paraná contains the largest shale reserve in the Southern Hemisphere — roughly three times as large as the Marcellus shale (one of the largest in the US, stretching from New York to West Virginia).
- This month Paraná passed a permanent ban on fracking the shale, guaranteeing that 12.5 million people will not be affected by the harms of fracking.
- The Brazilian Coalition Against Fracking, founded by local environmentalists, has been working hard in conjunction with community members, politicians, faith groups, and farmers to pass this ban for the last six years.
- Parana is the first state in Brazil to ban fracking forever and is a leader in environmental policy.
- Agriculture is the state's main source of income and Parana was fighting to protect their way of life. The author of the bill, Evandro Araujo, highlights that "during the whole process of presenting the bill, we showed that fracking does not meet the State’s vocation and that its use could cause irreparable damage to the environment and agricultural production, because where it was done in the world, it went wrong."
Childhood Brain Damage? Legalize It!
- On Thursday, the EPA decided not to ban the controversial pesticide chlorpyrifos, stating that the data against it is "not sufficiently valid, complete or reliable to meet petitioners’ burden to present evidence demonstrating that the tolerances are not safe."
- However, large studies from Columbia University, UC Davis, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine have all found that low doses of the pesticide slow brain development in children (including in the womb), and cause lower IQs and higher rates of autism. Studies have also discovered chlorpyrifos in the urine of children living close to sprayed farmland.
- Chlorpyrifos is an endocrine disrupter and used widely on golf courses as well as crops like soybeans, corn, and fruits. In 2000, the EPA banned it from household use, saying it posed a risk to children.
- So why support the profits of chemical companies over the health and safety of children and the environment? For starters, Dow Chemical (who manufactures the pesticide) contributed $1 million to Trump's first presidential campaign. Trump has also named the CEO of Dow Chemical and other execs to high posts within his administration.
- California, New York and Hawaii are all working to phase out the use of chlorpyrifos on farmland. Environmental and public health groups are demanding that Congress take action and are planning to challenge the EPA's decision in court.
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