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Even Polar Bear Cubs Can’t Escape Plastic Pollution
By Allison Guy
Plastic bags are often stamped with an all-caps warning: This bag is not a toy. Unfortunately, polar bear moms don't have much control over their kids' playthings.
British wildlife photographer Kevin Morgans recently spotted this polar bear and her boisterous cubs while sailing through Liefdefjorden, a fjord in Norway's Svalbard archipelago. The furry twins played tug-of-war with a black plastic bag, chewing it to bits. For Morgans it was a "bittersweet moment," with the thrill of observing bears up-close tempered by the ugly intrusion of trash.
Morgan's sighting was a glimpse into a deepening crisis. Roughly 8 million metric tons of plastic junk wind up in the ocean each year. Much of it, like the plastic bag the cubs had found, is designed to be used just once and thrown away. Plastic is thought to persist for centuries in the environment, breaking down into ever-smaller pieces instead of biodegrading.
These tiny scraps, beads and fibers might pose an even more pernicious threat than the plastic we can easily see, like bags and bottles. Plankton and filter-feeding fish often mistake so-called "microplastics" for food. Once swallowed, plastics can release industrial chemicals into the critters' bodies. Fat-soluble poisons accumulate with each step up in the food chain, eventually posing grave dangers to long-lived predators like polar bears and orcas.
Scientists are still in the early stages of understanding the full scope of the ocean plastic crisis. But one thing's for certain: As the Svalbard cubs' world melts around them, the last thing they need is a sea—and prey—full of trash.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Claire O'Connor
Agriculture is on the front lines of climate change. Whether it's the a seven-year drought drying up fields in California, the devastating Midwest flooding in 2019, or hurricane after hurricane hitting the Eastern Shore, agriculture and rural communities are already feeling the effects of a changing climate. Scientists expect climate change to make these extreme weather events both more frequent and more intense in coming years.
In Long Beach, California, some electric buses can charge along their route without cords or wires.
When a bus reaches the Pine Avenue station, it parks over a special charging pad. While passengers get on and off, the charger transfers energy to a receiver on the bottom of the bus.
EPA Watchdog: White House Blocked Part of Truck Pollution Investigation, Caused Lack of Public Information
The Trump administration pushed through an exemption to clean air rules, effectively freeing heavy polluting, super-cargo trucks from following clean air rules. It rushed the rule without conducting a federally mandated study on how it would impact public health, especially children, said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General Charles J. Sheehan in a report released yesterday, as the AP reported.