📰 EwA News Digest: toxic microplastics, new IPCC report takeaways, Germany vs. U.S. fossil fuel dependency

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Kayla Padegimas

Mar 19, 2022, 12:51:39 PM3/19/22
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Hi everyone! Kayla here with my March edition of the News Digest!

A recent study has found that when microplastics are affected by other pollutants, their level of toxicity is increased by a factor of 10, especially when the microplastics have started to age. This study is only scratching the surface of the health and environmental effects of microplastics and their relationships with other pollutants, but spreads awareness about these issues. 175 nations have agreed to draw up a treaty to address plastic pollution and consumption around the world, as we have crossed the planetary boundary for novel entities unleashed into the environment.

In the Amazonian peatlands, a new-to-science species of frog has been discovered; this species has a unique tapir-like profile and smooth chocolate-like skin, and is very tiny (less than 1cm). It was discovered by the Chicago Field Museum during a rapid inventory, looking for evidence to protect this area, as it provides many important ecosystem services to the entire rainforest. This shows the importance of local and indigenous knowledge, as well as the unknown effects of destroying or displacing these ecosystems, as there could be undiscovered species with known ecological value.


As part of their Sustainable Development Goals, the UN pushes to eradicate extreme poverty and bring half of the impoverished populations above the poverty line by 2030. There has been push back against this goal, with some arguing that lifting populations out of poverty will increase their carbon emissions with a higher standard of living. The truth of the matter is that the richest 1% of the population produces higher carbon emissions than the poorest 50%, supporting over consumption and ‘economic growth’ as key contributors to climate change. 

The latest IPCC report documents the changes faced on the planet with the current 1.1°C global warming, and the increased limitations to what we can do to stop it. This article outlines five key takeaways from the new report: the continued magnification of risks if warming remains unchecked, the human and natural systems adaption limits we are reaching, the effects of maladaptation (further increasing inequalities to adapt to changes), how cities will fit into a changing global climate, and the rapidly closing window of opportunity. Check out the full outline of these five points at phys.org

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, American oil and gas companies (and politicians who support them) have started to push for looser regulations in the U.S. to become less dependent on these foreign sources of fossil fuels. Opponents have said that the answer is not to allow the U.S. to reopen shutdown projects or drill in protected areas, but instead to lessen our reliance on fossil fuels all together, shifting to greener energy sources. While the U.S. fights on whether to ramp up its at-home production of fossil fuels, Germany has done the opposite, speeding up the passage of a renewable energy bill that will reduce their reliance on oil and gas this year,  in addition to their plans to already reduce or end usage of coal and nuclear power in the near future. It’s baffling to see how the two countries take such different approaches to rid their reliance on outside sources of fossil fuels: the U.S. pushing to ramp up at-home fossil fuel production and Germany pushing greener energy to rid reliance all together. 

That’s all for this month everyone! Look out around mid-April for my next edition of the digest!

- Kayla

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