Watch Bulldozers Plow Protected Cacti for Trump's Border Wall
There is an outcry in Arizona after footage captured border wall construction bulldozers plowing over iconic cacti that are protected in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument — a monument created to protect Organ Pipe and Saguaro cacti, as Newsweek reported.
The video depicts the bulldozers running roughshod over the national monument and clearing saguaros in a rush to build a costly and unnecessary wall on the U.S. southern border.
VIDEO: Saguaros are being bulldozed for the #BorderWall in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Trump's reckless bo… https://t.co/n8NkLSGfUj— Laiken Jordahl (@Laiken Jordahl)1570218026.0
"Saguaros are being bulldozed for the #BorderWall in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument," wrote Laiken Jordahl, Border Lands Campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity, on Twitter with a video of the destruction. "Trump's reckless border hysteria is destroying our environment and killing the very species this national monument was designated to protect."
Kevin Dahl who works at the National Parks Conservation Association shot the video. He told Newsweek that he was heartbroken and outraged by what he witnessed.
"At that point, what they were doing was destruction, not construction," he said.
The actions Dahl witnessed stand in sharp contrast to a video posted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that shows an appropriate relocation process, where a cactus is carefully removed with designated extraction tools, as opposed to a bulldozer plowing it over, according to Newsweek.
"We're watching the destruction of Arizona's most iconic species to make way for a useless border wall that most Arizonans oppose," Jordahl wrote to EcoWatch.
Dahl watched the crews level saguaros and several other desert plants and then pile them up into slash piles. The destruction he witnessed was on the west side of the park where a 78-mile strip of Trump's wall is slated to stand.
However, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which runs up against the border with Mexico already has a significant amount of fencing. As the Earther blog at Gizmodo reported, that includes five miles of fence to keep pedestrians out and another 25 miles of posts that act as vehicle barriers. Earther classified the actions as "wanton destruction."
"The Department of Homeland Security says they're relocating cacti, but the videos we shot at the construction site tell a very different story: one of flattened earth and total devastation," Jordahl wrote to EcoWatch. "Even if they do relocate some specimens, any remediation will pale in comparison to the severe and lasting damage done by the wall, stadium lights and enforcement zone."
While the current fencing respects the wildlife and the migratory patterns of native desert animals, Trump's border wall does not.
"So the wall that's currently under construction is 30 feet tall it's made up of a 6 foot wide steel bollards and they're drilling 10 feet into the ground in order to set the foundation for this wall and…will stretch for almost 50 miles," Jordahl said, as NBC Tucson reported. "So that means any migrating wildlife will be completely unable to make it around this barrier."
The National Park Service and Customs and Border Patrol offered a statement to Newsweek that ran counter to what Jordahl said, stating that they have ensured there will be "locations for small wildlife passages within the new border barrier that would allow for the continued passage of small mammals."
However, that seems like a dubious claim to environmentalists who have seen the Trump administration trounce over environmental regulations and manipulate environmental impact statements.
Running roughshod over the fauna in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument presents another set of problems since the site is both a U.S. National Monument and a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The park is also sacred land to Indigenous groups like the Tohono O'odham Nation, as Dahl told Newsweek.
"The Tohomo O'odham [Nation], in their taxonomy of life saguaros are very close to humans," Dahl told Earther. "And you know, they have a majestic presence, they are the iconic symbol of this part of the world. You know you're someplace different when you're in a saguaro forest."
Jordahl summed it up succinctly on Twitter.
"Trump's #BorderWall is under construction through the most pristine Sonoran Desert ecosystem anywhere on the planet — Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument," he wrote. "Endangered species, Indigenous sacred sites & wilderness lands are being destroyed before our eyes."
Trump’s #BorderWall is under construction through the most pristine Sonoran Desert ecosystem anywhere on the planet… https://t.co/VS9lld2B7g— Laiken Jordahl (@Laiken Jordahl)1569606812.0
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By Jason Bruck
Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.
Researchers work with trained dolphins to learn more about their sensory abilities, seen here testing a dolphin's hearing. Jason Bruck / CC BY-ND
A Lot to Learn From Hormones<p>When sampling the blow, we are looking for hormones in mucus as these can be used to gauge psychological and physiological health. We are specifically interested in <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0114062" target="_blank">hormones like cortisol</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.04.003" target="_blank">progesterone</a>, which indicate stress levels and reproductive ability respectively, but can also help determine overall health.</p><p>Additionally, blow samples can detect <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1128%2FmSystems.00119-17" target="_blank">respiratory pathogens</a> in the lungs or nasal passages - blowholes evolved from noses after all.</p><p>This health analysis is especially important in areas with oil spills as the chemicals can cause hormonal problems that harm <a href="https://www.carmmha.org/investigating-how-oil-spills-affect-dolphins-and-whales/" target="_blank">development, metabolism and reproduction</a> in dolphins.</p><p>Hormone samples can provide scientists with valuable data, but collecting them from intelligent and unpredictable animals is challenging.</p>
Cetacean Collaborators<p>To build a drone that can stealthily collect spray from moving dolphins, we needed more data on their eyesight and hearing, and this is data that couldn't be collected in the wild nor simulated in a lab.</p><p>We worked with dolphins at facilities like Dolphin Quest in Bermuda, which provides guests opportunities to learn about dolphins while allowing <a href="https://dolphinquest.com/about-us/our-story/" target="_blank">scientists access to animals for noninvasive research</a>. Here the dolphins can swim away if they choose not to work with us, so we had to design the study like a game; the way a kindergarten teacher entertains a class. If the dolphins aren't interested, we don't get to do the science.</p><p>Over the course of hundreds of sessions, we sought to answer two questions: What can dolphins hear and what can they see around their heads?</p><p>To test dolphin hearing, we set up microphones and cameras to record dolphin behavior as we played drone noise in the air. We analyzed the responses to each noise – such as how many dolphins looked at the speaker – and used these as a proxy for their ability to hear the sounds.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5f31daf07a652b8d64a093b993ee4e96"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UjmQeH3vXHI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Robodolphin doesn't look like a real dolphin, but it doesn't need to in order to train our drone pilots. C.J. Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND<p>To build robodolphin, we worked with dolphins trained to "chuff" or sneeze on command to measure spray characteristics. We used high-speed photography to see the dolphins' breath as it moved through the air. Then we conducted high resolution CT scans of a dolphin head and 3D-printed a replica of a nasal passage.</p><p>Now, we have a complete robodolphin and are tweaking its sprays to be nearly identical to the real thing. This will allow us to determine how close we need to get to collect the samples, and therefore, how quiet our drone needs to be.</p>
The replica dolphin blowhole was designed from a scan of a real blowhole passage, and the spray it produces closely matches the real thing. Alvin Ngo, Mitch Ford and CJ Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND
A Bit of Practice, Then Into the Wild<p>In the next few months, we will test flights over robodolphin with existing drones to determine the timing and strategy for collection. From there, we will fabricate a low-noise drone that can fly fast enough and with sufficient maneuverability to capture samples from wild dolphins. Like a video game, we will use the visual field data to develop approach trajectories to stay in the visual blindspots.</p><p>We plan to test our drones on a truck-mounted robodolphin moving down a runway, then using a boat to simulate realistic conditions. The next steps will involve ocean testing with dolphins trained for open ocean swimming. These tests will determine if our devices can catch and hold the hormones as the drone flies back to a researcher's boat.</p><p>Finally, we will deploy the system to collect data on wild dolphins. Our first goal is to test resident dolphins – animals that live on the coasts and deal directly with boat and oil industry noise – which will allow us to learn more about stress resulting from human impacts.</p><p>Those samples are a way off, but if all goes well we will have a specially built drone capable of flying long distances and capturing samples undetected in a few years. The samples collected will allow researchers to do better science with impact on the animals they study.</p>
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Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.
Environmental and Health Hazard<p>Experts say e-waste, which is now the world's fastest-growing domestic waste stream, poses serious environmental and health risks.</p><p>Simply throwing away electronic items without ensuring they get properly recycled leads to the loss of key materials such as iron, copper and gold, which can otherwise be recovered and used as primary raw materials to make new equipment, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions from extraction and refinement of raw materials.</p><p>Refrigerants found in electronic equipment such as fridge and air conditioners also contribute to global warming. A total of 98 Mt of CO2-equivalents, or about 0.3% of global energy-related emissions, were released into the atmosphere in 2019 from discarded refrigerators and ACs that were not recycled properly, the report said.</p><p>E-waste contains several toxic additives or hazardous substances, such as mercury and brominated flame retardants (BFR), and simply burning it or throwing it away could lead to serious health issues. Several studies have linked unregulated recycling of e-waste to adverse birth outcomes like stillbirth and premature birth, damages to the human brain or nervous system and in some cases hearing loss and heart troubles.</p><p>"Informal and improper e-waste recycling is a major emerging hazard silently affecting our health and that of future generations. One in four children are dying from avoidable environmental exposures," said Maria Neira, director of the Environment, Climate Change and Health Department at the World Health Organization. "One in four children could be saved, if we take action to protect their health and ensure a safe environment."</p>
Europe Leads the Way<p>While most of the e-waste was generated in Asia (24.9 Mt) in 2019, Europe led the charts on a per person basis with 16.2 kg per capita, the report said.</p><p>But the continent also recorded the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/the-eu-declares-war-on-e-waste/a-51108790" target="_blank">highest documented formal e-waste collection and recycling</a> rate at 42.5%, still below its target of 65%. Europe was well ahead of the others on this front. Asia ranked second with 11.7%.</p><p>The authors said while more that 70% of the world's population was covered by some form of e-waste policy or laws, not much was being done toward implementation and enforcement of the regulations to encourage the take-up of a collection and recycling infrastructure due to lack of investment and political motivation.</p><p>"You have to think about new economic systems," said Kühr.</p><p>One approach could be that consumers no longer buy the products, but only the service they offer. The device would remain the property of the maker, who would then have an interest in offering his customers the best service and the necessary equipment. The maker would also be interested in designing his products in such a way that they are easier to repair and easier to recycle, Kühr said.</p>
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