Should Joshua Trees Be Designated Endangered in California?

Should Joshua Trees Be Designated Endangered in California?

The state of California is considering whether to formally designate southern California’s iconic Joshua Tree as an endangered species, and it seems that local developers and businesses, including the renewable power industry are pushing back and expressing concerns.  The California Fish and Game Commission put off a decision last week on whether to study whether the famed tree is endangered, saying they needed more time look at the issue.

Why This Matters:  Clashes like this between conservationists and the renewable energy industry are bound to increase. We will need to find ways to reconcile these competing environmental interests.  Our future depends on it.

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Is America Foisting Its Plastic Problem On Africa?

Is America Foisting Its Plastic Problem On Africa?

By Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer The New York Times reported this week that an industry group “representing the world’s largest chemical makers and fossil fuel companies” is attempting, as part of a trade deal being negotiated now, to get Kenya to “reverse its strict limits on plastics,” as well as to get the country […]

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Chicago Announces Plan to Replace Lead Pipes, Michigan to Pay $600M To Flint Victims

Chicago Announces Plan to Replace Lead Pipes, Michigan to Pay $600M To Flint Victims

The New York Times late last night broke the story that the State of Michigan has agreed to pay close to $600 million to victims of the Flint water crisis, in a settlement that will be announced later this week.

Why This Matters:  Children with elevated levels of lead in their blood are more likely to have learning disabilities and increased behavioral difficulties — it causes irreversible damage to children’s development, according to the reportLead is unsafe at any level. It’s time to get the lead out of our environment.

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New Study Finds Reef Shark Populations Declining More Globally Than Previously Known

New Study Finds Reef Shark Populations Declining More Globally Than Previously Known

Last month, a new study published in the journal Nature showed that shark populations are decreasing in many regions throughout the world at much greater rates than previously thought. As CBS Los Angeles reported, this is the “most comprehensive study done on the world’s shark population.” The study found that 20% of the areas they studied — across 58 countries — had no sharks at all.

Why This Matters: As Philip Matich, a marine biologist at Texas A&M-Galveston says, “Sharks have important roles in marine ecosystems, but disturbance can alter this role.” This, in turn, can impact the ecosystem, since as one of the top predators in the water sharks regulate prey populations. But, as the study notes, not all hope is lost.

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One Cool Thing: Rewriting the Stars In the Name of Equity and Justice

One Cool Thing: Rewriting the Stars In the Name of Equity and Justice

NASA announced this week that it would be changing the nicknames of any celestial bodies that are inappropriate such as “Eskimo Nebula” and “Siamese Twins Galaxy,” for example.  CNN reported on the decision by the agency to re-examine its use of phrases for planets, galaxies, and other cosmic objects “as part of its commitment to […]

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Now NOAA Predicts So Many Hurricanes This Year They May Run Out of Names – YIKES

Now NOAA Predicts So Many Hurricanes This Year They May Run Out of Names – YIKES

Late last week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its annual update on this year’s outlook for tropical hurricanes and they are now predicting the conditions are ripe for a huge season, with 19-25 named storms with sustained winds over  39 mph or greater, and even worse, 7 to 11 are expected to become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or greater.

Why This Matters:  Hurricane season really gets serious only now, so the worst is still ahead of us. And the revised forecast is a big increase over what had been forecast at the beginning of the season when NOAA said it there was a 70% chance of 13 to 19 named storms.

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