📰 EwA News Digest: Monarch Butterfly Symbol, Red Panda Population, and EPA Proposal

Skip to first unread message

Meghan Cahill

Apr 13, 2023, 10:02:00 AM4/13/23
to earthwi...@googlegroups.com
Hello! It’s Meghan again with this month's News Digest!

Illegal gold mining in Brazil is a huge ongoing threat to the Amazon Rainforest and many other crucial environmental hotspots in the country. However, the Ouro Alvo program has created a gold database with samples from different parts of Brazil to help the Federal Police crack down on this illegal gold mining. Scientists are able to obtain information regarding the gold's molecular composition, atomic structure, and morphological figures of a sample to then put into their database called Ouroteca, which can later be used to cross reference with illegal samples the police obtain. Although this new technology has helped the issue, the country still has a long way to go when it comes to creating stricter regulations regarding the industry to help fight for conservation.

Although endangered, the monarch butterfly has become a positive symbol associated with both biodiversity and human rights on the US/Mexico border. Prostrate milkweed (Asclepias prostrata) is an endangered species in the US whose main location is located along the border, where monarch butterflies tend to make their first stop during their migration back to the US from Mexico in the winter. The Texas state government has been a huge opponent in protecting these plants due to the impact it causes to the border wall construction, and hinders the state’s anti-immigration efforts. Due to these parallels, environmentalists and immigrants rights activists have come together to use the monarch as a symbol for both conservation and migrant justice.

Lehigh Engineering researcher Arup SenGupta has created a way to capture carbon dioxide from the air and then store it in the ‘infinite sink’ in the ocean. The approach uses a copper-containing polymeric filter that converts the CO2 into sodium bicarbonate which can then be harmlessly released into the ocean. The sodium bicarbonate could help to increase the pH of the ocean, improving the health of marine life by reducing acidification. With the average yearly temperature over the next 20 years expected to rise by at least 1.5 degrees Celsius, this new filter could help drastically reduce the amount of the carbon dioxide in the air and in turn, slow down the rate of climate change.

There are plenty of ways to help your local environment, but one way is through cleaning off your clothes and shoes before and after you hike. Many invasive seeds and burrs tend to stick to hikers' clothes, socks, and shoelaces, and can be carried long distances before falling off and establishing themselves in this new environment. Research has shown that many invasive plants thrive on disturbed soil, with recreational trails promoting the introduction of invasive species into the protected areas. As a hiker, it's important to be aware of this issue, and make sure to clean yourself and your animals off before and after your hike to minimize invasive plant introduction.

Damber Bista is a conservation scientist in Nepal studying the country’s red panda (Ailurus fulgens) population. Given that 70% of their habitat falls under unprotected land, habitat fragmentation and human disturbance has caused large disruptions on juvenile red pandas. Damber Bista tracked the movement of 10 different red pandas and found that they don’t like any form of human disturbance, with roads acting as barriers. Due to increasing human activity and the lack of undisturbed land, it is becoming difficult for cubs to find a new home. This research is important to understand the impacts of humans on the endangered species, and why conservation efforts for the red panda are crucial.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a plan to strengthen the U.S. Mercury and Air Toxins Standards to help protect against coal plant mercury pollution. The proposal would strengthen pollution limits and increase monitoring for toxic air pollution by coal-fired power plants. It would also strengthen the limit on mercury, which is a toxic chemical that impairs the brain development of young kids and causes severe cardiovascular problems for adults. In many parts of the country, coal plants burn low rank lignite coal, and for over a decade, have been allowed to emit mercury at several times the level of other coal plants. This proposal would help create cleaner air for locals but also a cleaner atmosphere for the world.

I hope you enjoyed April’s News Digest! See you next month and happy Spring!


Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages