Mike here, with a late May news digest for you before our summer interns Kate and Olivia take over the duty for the season.
First off, we have some news in the world of plastic pollution: the U.N.’s Basel Convention, which regulates the transport and storage of hazardous waste, was amended earlier this year to include plastic waste as hazardous. Unfortunately, the U.S. is the only major country that has not yet fully adopted the treaty. Read about it at Mongabay.
In better news, a pair of common cranes (Grus grus) has nested in Ireland for what is believed to be the first time in 300 years. The huge, iconic birds are important in Irish folklore, and this return is a welcome win for conservationists and naturalists. Read more at the BBC.
Back in the U.S., president Joe Biden has called for the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps, or CCC, to combat the many environmental problems facing the U.S. The idea harkens back to the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, which employed around 3 million Americans to complete conservation projects around the country under President Franklin Roosevelt. Read a more in-depth overview of the idea at NPR.
Climate activists have called on the Biden administration to revoke the permit for a proposed petrochemical complex in a region of Louisiana which is already home to over 150 plants and refineries. The pollution of this region, colloquially known as Cancer Alley, has been pointed to as a symptom of environmental racism, a phenomenon in which minority communities are subjected to increased levels of hazardous waste and pollution. Read about it at The Guardian.
You might remember the 2018 eruption of the Kilauea volcano, which was the volcano’s largest eruption in hundreds of years. Studying the dynamics of this event has taught scientists about how volcanic eruptions might intensify. A new study finds that the collapse of Kilauea’s summit crater, or caldera, was the chief intensifier of the historically intense eruption. Read a summary from NASA here.
Finally, the climate pressure being placed on arctic megafauna is starting to affect the population dynamics of polar bears and grizzly bears, with a new hybrid of the two being observed with increasing frequency. Climate pressures are driving the two bears’ ranges closer together and resulted in some “opportunistic mating”. Eight of these individuals, known as “pizzly bears”, have been observed, and all eight have been traced back to a single female polar bear. Read more about it at Earther.
That’s it for this week. Keep your eyes peeled for Kate and Olivia’s almanacs in June!