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The Sea Dragon vs. the Garbage Patch: All Female Crew Takes on Ocean Plastic
"I then found them inside me as well," she told BBC News, according to a story published Tuesday.
The chemicals, which mimic the sex hormone oestradiol, can impact fertility in animals and humans that ingest the tiny pieces of plastic that contain them. Plastics also absorb toxins from the ocean that make their way up the marine food web and into human stomachs as they accumulate in the tissue of predators.
"During pregnancy, it's critical that you don't have these hormone disruptors inside you; we can pass them on to our children through childbirth and breastfeeding," Penn said.
The test results led her to realize that plastic pollution is a women's health issue.
"It was that journey for me, that got me on the women's track because I realised it was a very women-focused issue because of the toxic nature of what we were facing," she said.
In response, Penn is putting together an all-women team to investigate ocean plastics. Together, she and her crew will sail to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the gyre of plastic in the Northern Pacific Ocean twice the size of Texas, and test the air, water and sediments they encounter, sharing the data with universities.
"We'll be looking at sediments for the plastics that have sunk to the bottom and we'll be looking at the air and the microfibres that are present in the air that we are breathing—we are taking the science to the next level," she said.
Penn is currently in Hawaii, where she will begin her journey in a 72 foot research vessel called the Sea Dragon. The ship will make a two-legged journey, first from Hawaii to Vancouver and then from Vancouver to Seattle. Ten women from around the world will sail with Penn for each leg of the journey.
The team will use a manta trawl to gather plastics and will also observe wildlife.
"We'll be looking at the chemicals on the surface of the plastics, and particularly in areas where turtles are living," Penn said.
This isn't the first action Penn has taken to protect the environment. She organized the largest grassroots cleanup of the island of Tonga and sailed around the world on a boat run on biodiesel.
Penn also hoped her journey would spread awareness about the scope of the plastic pollution problem."When you put a fine mesh net into the water and pull up 1,000 almost invisible microplastic pieces, and then you realise we have 5 trillion fragments on the surface of our oceans and we can't go out there and clean it up, because it's the same size as the algae and the zooplankton," Penn said.
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Climate change is having a grizzly effect on Mount Everest as melting snow and glaciers reveal some of the bodies of climbers who died trying to scale the world's highest peak.
The Navajo Nation have decided to stop pursuing the acquisition of a beleaguered coal-fired power plant in Arizona, locking in the plant to be taken offline and its associated coal mine to close later this year.
A Navajo Nation Council committee voted 11-9 last week to stop pursuing the purchase of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station, which with the Kayenta coal mine provides more than 800 jobs to primarily Navajo and Hopi workers as well as tribal royalties.
A coalition of utilities that own the plant said in 2017 it would cease operations due to increased economic pressure, and the plant's future has proved a flash point for national and regional energy policy and raised larger questions on how Native communities will handle ties to fossil fuel industries as the economy changes.
For a deeper dive:
By Jeff Turrentine
Is it just us?
Other countries don't seem to have a problem getting their high-speed rail systems on track. This superfast, fuel-efficient form of mass transit is wildly popular throughout Asia and the European Union. Japan's sleek Shinkansen line, the busiest high-speed rail system in the world, carries an estimated 420,000 riders every weekday. In China, the new Fuxing Hao bullet train now hurries more than 100 million passengers a year between Beijing and Shanghai at a top speed of 218 miles an hour, allowing its riders to make the trip of 775 miles — roughly the distance from New York City to Chicago — in about four and a half hours. Spain, Germany and France together have more than 4,500 miles of track dedicated to high-speed rail, over which more than 150 million passengers travel annually.
By Coda Christopherson (11) and Lea Eiders (15)
Growing up in a plastic-free home, I was sheltered from the plastic waste crisis. I (Coda) went to a very progressive school that had vegan lunch items, farm animals and ran on solar power. My mom produces zero-waste events and my dad is a sailor, so we're very passionate about the ocean. When I was nine years old, we moved back to Manhattan Beach, California and I started 3rd grade in a public school. This was the first time I really understood that plastic-free living is not the norm; single-use plastics were everywhere, especially in the cafeteria. Once I recognized this problem, I knew I had to make a difference.
Henry Avocado issued the recall Saturday after a routine government inspection at its California packing facility turned up positive test results for the bacteria on "environmental samples," the company said in a statement. No illnesses have been reported.
Oil executives gathered for a conference laughed about their "unprecedented" access to Trump administration officials, according to a recording obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
In the recording, taken at a June 2017 meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) at a Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, members expressed excitement about one official in particular: David Bernhardt, who had been nominated that April to be deputy secretary at the Department of Interior (DOI). Bernhardt would be confirmed the following month.
"We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues," IPAA political director Dan Naatz said in the recording.