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100% of Sea Turtles in Global Study Found With Plastics in Their Bellies
By Julia Conley
A new study of sea turtles in three oceans and seas drove home the point, green campaigners said Wednesday, that the world's governments and corporations are not doing enough to reduce plastic pollution—and marine life is suffering as a result.
One hundred and two sea turtles inhabiting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Mediterranean Sea were the subject of the study by the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the United Kingdom—and all 102 of the creatures were found with plastics, microplastics and other synthetics in their digestive systems.
"From our work over the years we have found microplastic in nearly all the species of marine animals we have looked at; from tiny zooplankton at the base of the marine food web to fish larvae, dolphins and now turtles," said Penelope Lindeque, who co-authored the report. "This study provides more evidence that we all need to help reduce the amount of plastic waste released to our seas and maintain clean, healthy and productive oceans for future generations."
A total of about 800 particles less than half a centimeter long were found in the turtles' guts, with scientists finding an average of 150 pieces of plastic in each animal. The Mediterranean was found to be the most polluted body of water the scientists studied, with some turtles' bodies containing 500 plastics.
"How many more studies like this do we need for corporations to take strong action to curb the production of throwaway plastic which is predicted to quadruple by 2050?" said Graham Forbes, global plastic project leader for Greenpeace USA. "This global environmental crisis must be tackled at the source for the sake of marine life, the world's oceans, our health and our communities."
The study provides "a clear sign that we need to act to better govern global waste," study author Brendan Godley told Plastics News. "It really is a great shame that many or even all of the world's sea turtles have now ingested microplastics."
The most common materials found inside the turtles were pieces of tires, marine equipment, cigarettes and clothing. Microbeads used in some cosmetic products, which the UK banned earlier this year following the U.S. ban in 2015, were also found in many of the turtles.
Smaller plastics may not present a choking danger for sea turtles as larger materials do, the study's authors noted, but they can cause other health problems for the animals.
"Future work should focus on whether microplastics may be affecting aquatic organisms more subtly," lead author Dr. Emily Duncan said in a statement. "For example, they may possibly carry contaminants, bacteria or viruses, or they may affect the turtle at a cellular or sub-cellular level. This requires further investigation."
"Our society's addiction to throwaway plastic is fueling a global environmental crisis that must be tackled at source," said Louise Edge, an oceans campaign coordinator at Greenpeace.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.
Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.
Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.
SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.
It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.
Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.
In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.
The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).
"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.
The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.
"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
Ivory Coast's rainforests have been decimated by cocoa production and what is left is put in peril by a new law that will remove legal protections for thousands of square miles of forests, according to The Guardian.
By Karin Kirk
Greenland had quite the summer. It rose from peaceful obscurity to global headliner as ice melted so swiftly and massively that many were left grasping for adjectives. Then, Greenland's profile was further boosted, albeit not to its delight, when President Trump expressed interest in buying it, only to be summarily dismissed by the Danish prime minister.
During that time I happened to be in East Greenland, both as an observer of the stark effects of climate change and as a witness to local dialogue about presidential real estate aspirations, polar bear migrations and Greenland's sudden emergence as a trending topic.
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market. Cirou Frederic / PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / Getty Images
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market, according to new research from the advocacy organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), which bills itself as an alliance of scientists, nonprofit organizations and donors trying to reduce exposures to neurotoxic chemicals during the first three years of development.
By Kerstin Palme
Creepy-crawlies are among the oldest life forms on this planet. Before dinosaurs ever walked the earth, insects were certainly already there. Some estimates date their origins to 400 million years ago. They're also extremely successful. Of the 7 to 8 million species documented on Earth, around three quarters are likely bugs.
But several insect species could disappear for good in the next few decades and that would have serious consequences for humans.
Volvo introduced its first-ever all-electric vehicle this week, kicking off an ambitious plan to slash emissions and phase out solely gas-powered vehicles starting this year.
The report, released Wednesday, found that almost every European who lives in a city is exposed to unhealthy air, Reuters reported.