Featuring this week’s news roundup are two great news for both humanity and the natural world. These are Brazilian judge’s blockage of President Michel Temer’s attempt to further selling out part of the Amazon, together with Kenya’s firm hand on plastic bags. Lastly, we also touch upon lamentable and delicate scenario brought about by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas.
Brazilian Court Blocks Abolition of Vast Amazon Reserve
Michel Temer’s latest low blow on the Amazon has been hindered by federal judge Rolando Valcir Spanholo. The National Reserve of Copper and Associates (RENCA) has been under protection since 1984 and according to Judge Spanholo only the Congress has the ability to approve any adjustments regarding the protected area (Watts, J., 2017). Although things might change, given that the attorney general has already appealed, this blockage will definitely allow those who disagree with President Temer’s decision to prepare a fit response.
Toxic Waste Sites Flooded in Houston Area
After a flooding in California, Missouri and Arkansas; hailstorms in Minnesota and Colorado, and the extermination of crops due to spring freeze in Georgia and South Carolina (Walters, J., 2017); Hurricane Harvey came as the 10th natural disaster of 2017 to continue filling this year with unfortunate weather and climatic events. So far the harsh hurricane has claimed the lives of at least fifty people (Bosman, J., 2017) and has caused over $1 billion in economic damage (Gould, S. & Bryan, B., 2017). In addition, around one third of Houston’s superfund sites have appeared to be flooded and maybe even damaged; raising worries amongst neighbors, as this highly contaminated areas that already used to pose health threats to both the environment and human beings could have now washed out their pollution to surrounding regions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that 13 of the 41 superfund sites located in Texas have been flooded by the hurricane. More than a dozen of such sites can be found in the Houston metropolitan region; while eight can be found within the city. According to the EPA the eight superfund sites located in Houston consisting of the following:
So far the EPA has inspected two of the thirteen affected sites and has maintained up to now that neither of those two superfunds spots are in need of an urgent cleanup (Reuters, 2017). The remaining 11 sites are yet to be examined, as well as the impacts these may have on neighboring areas.
Kenya Brings In Toughest Plastic Bag Ban: Four Years Jail or $40,000 Fine
Kenya joins the anti-plastic revolution by taking the initial step of banning plastic bags (Reuters, 2017). Surprisingly, it has turned out to be the strictest country in the world, by initially submitting producers and sellers to the sanction of either imprisonment or a fine of up to $40,000. This law has been finally passed on after three failed efforts in the past 10 years.
After having accomplished their purpose as a single-use item, plastic bags take from 20 to 1,000 years to break down, and still then they release toxic additives such as flame retardants, antimicrobials and plasticizers (Wagner, J., 2017). Throughout their prolonged lifecycle plastic bags present a serious threat to the wellbeing of waterways, soils, living creatures and eventually humans themselves. It is estimated, for instance, that an approximate amount of 300 million plastic bags have been washed into the Atlantic Ocean alone (Wagner, J., 2017). As a consequence, marine animals like sea turtles confuse the bags for jelly fish or other creatures that make up their diet; blocking their digestive tract and causing them to ultimately die of starvation. Other animals such as sea birds, fish and marine mammals are also severely affected by this issue.
Call to Action
Both Brazil’s and Kenya’s stories are a perfect example of how positive change can be triggered around the world. Let’s continue to strive for a flourishing planet that remains full of diversity and life, by standing behind individuals and initiatives that promote the sustainable evolution of society and humanity.
Other important stories
How Demand for Sand is Killing Rivers http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-41123284
Evangelicals Aim to Protect the Environment https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2017/09/these-evangelicals-see-environmentalism-as-a-religious-imperative/
Bosman, J. “Human Toll of Harvey Comes Into View as Waters Recede” (2017) U.S. The New York Times, 2 September 2017. Web. 3 September 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/02/us/harvey-victims-death-toll.html
Buzzsumo.com “Environment” (2017) Most shared. Buzzsumo, 3 August 2017. Web. 3 August 2017. https://app.buzzsumo.com/research/most-shared?num_days=7&type=articles&result_type=total&general_article&infographic&video&guest_post&giveaway&interview&q=environment&page=1
Daeren, J. & Biesecker, M. “AP Exclusive: Toxic Waste Sites Flooded in Houston Area” (2017) AP Top News. AP News, 3 September 2017. Web. 3 September 2017. https://apnews.com/27796dd13b9549b0ac76aded58a15122
EPA “Search for Superfund Sites Where You Live” (2017) Learn About Superfund: Site Search. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 23 June 2017. Web. 3 September 2017. https://www.epa.gov/superfund/search-superfund-sites-where-you-live
Gould, S. & Bryan, B. “Hurricane Harvey is the 10th Natural Disaster in 2017 to Cause More than $1 Billion Damage” (2017) Markets. Business Insider, 2 September 2017. Web. 3 September 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/the-us-has-already-been-hit-with-9-other-billion-dollar-natural-disasters-in-2017-so-far-2017-8
Reuters “Harvey Floods or Damages 13 Superfund Sites: EPA” (2017) Environment. Reuters, 2 September 2017. Web. 3 September 2017. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-storm-harvey-superfund/harvey-floods-or-damages-13-texas-superfund-sites-epa-idUSKCN1BD0US
Reuters “Kenya Brings in World’s Toughest Plastic Bag Ban: Four Years Jail or $40,000 Fine” (2017) Environment. The Guardian, 28 August 2017. Web. 3 September 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/28/kenya-brings-in-worlds-toughest-plastic-bag-ban-four-years-jail-or-40000-fine
Wagner, J. “The Effects of Plastic Bags on the Environment” (2017) Environment. Health Guidance, 2017. Web. 3 September 2017. http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/14901/1/The-Effects-of-Plastic-Bags-on-Environment.html
Walters, J. “Hurricane Harvey is a Billion Dollar Disaster – America’s 10th in 2017” (2017) Natural Disasters and Extreme Weather. The Guardian, 1 September 2017. Web. 3 September 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/01/hurricane-harvey-us-billion-dollar-weather-disasters-2017
Watts, J. “Brazilian Court Blocks Abolition of Vast Amazon Reserve” (2017) Environment. The Guardian, 30 August 2017. Web. 3 September 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/30/brazilian-court-blocks-abolition-of-vast-amazon-reserve