By Jessica Corbett
Public health experts and labor rights advocates celebrated Wednesday after the Biden administration announced that it "will stop the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on all food to better protect human health, particularly that of children and farmworkers," following decades of demands for government intervention spurred by safety concerns.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final rule on chlorpyrifos days before a court-ordered deadline stemming from legal action by advocacy groups that have long sought a ban on the pesticide, which is tied to permanent brain damage in children.
"We welcome EPA's long overdue decision to cancel this neurotoxic insecticide," said Bill Freese, science director at the Center for Food Safety, in a statement. "Since farmworkers, pregnant people, and young children are especially vulnerable to harm from exposure to chlorpyrifos, a cancellation of this dangerous product was the only choice."
Pesticide Action Network executive director Kristin Schafer said that the agency "has released a plan that aligns with what scientists have known for decades: Chlorpyrifos is much too dangerous to be using, and its continued use has put children, farmworkers, and rural communities at risk."
Teresa Romero, president of United Farm Workers, also welcomed the news.
"Today, we celebrate this huge victory alongside the men and women who harvest our food, who have waited too long for a ban on this pesticide," Romero said. "We are relieved that farmworkers and their families will no longer have to worry about the myriad of ways this pesticide could impact their lives."
Although fears of the harms to children led the EPA to end household use of chlorpyrifos two decades ago, as a recent report from the public interest law firm Earthjustice showed, the pesticide and other organophosphates are still widely applied to crops across the United States.
As The New York Times reports:
In an unusual move, the new chlorpyrifos policy will not be put in place via the standard regulatory process, under which the EPA first publishes a draft rule, then takes public comment before publishing a final rule. Rather, in compliance with the court order, which noted that the science linking chlorpyrifos to brain damage is over a decade old, the rule will be published in final form, without a draft or public comment period.
Michal Freedhoff, the EPA assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention, told the Times that the "very unusual" court directive "speaks to the impatience and the frustration that the courts and environmental groups and farmworkers have with the agency."
"The court basically said, 'Enough is enough'" Freedhoff said. "Either tell us that it's safe, and show your work, and if you can't, then revoke all tolerances."
Science has (finally) prevailed! This is a big win for children, farmworkers, and the rest of us…#chlorpyrifos https://t.co/B4Gr61HLme— Union of Concerned Scientists (@Union of Concerned Scientists)1629320289.0
"Today EPA is taking an overdue step to protect public health. Ending the use of chlorpyrifos on food will help to ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected from the potentially dangerous consequences of this pesticide," Regan said. "After the delays and denials of the prior administration, EPA will follow the science and put health and safety first."
The agency's statement acknowledged the rule aligns with moves by other policymakers, noting that "a number of other countries, including the European Union and Canada, and some states including California, Hawaii, New York, Maryland, and Oregon have taken similar action to restrict the use of this pesticide on food."
Finally, kids will be protected from this dangerous toxic pesticide in their food. This is a triumph of science and… https://t.co/B0rtG6T2C3— NRDC 🌎🏡 (@NRDC 🌎🏡)1629318262.0
While applauding the EPA rule, advocates also emphasized decades of delays.
"We are relieved that the EPA has finally put an end to the use of chlorpyrifos. Years of backtracking put the health of countless children and farmworkers at risk by negligently and intentionally overlooking the harms of a terrible pesticide," said Anne Katten, Pesticide and Work Safety Project director at the CRLA Foundation. "Finally, our fields are made safer for farmworkers and our fruits and vegetables are safer for our children."
Advocates of outlawing chlorpyrifos also urged the EPA to take action on additional uses of this pesticide as well as other harmful organophosphate pesticides.
Under President Joe Biden, the agency "is finally reversing one of many horrific Trump administration actions that prioritized pesticide industry profits over our health and environment," said Jason Davidson, senior food and agriculture campaigner with Friends of the Earth. "But the EPA must now finish the job and follow sound science by banning all uses of chlorpyrifos."
Chlorpyrifos is finally banned on food crops! Congrats to all who fought so hard for this win. But the fight contin… https://t.co/dMB5eLuAQX— Lori Ann Burd (@Lori Ann Burd)1629315343.0
Patti Goldman, the Earthjustice attorney who has been leading the chlorpyrifos litigation, declared that "it took far too long, but children will no longer be eating food tainted with a pesticide that causes intellectual learning disabilities."
"Chlorpyrifos will finally be out of our fruits and vegetables," she said. "But chlorpyrifos is just one of dozens of organophosphate pesticides in our fields that can harm children's development. EPA must ban all organophosphates from food."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- Trump's EPA Dismisses Agency's Own Findings That Chlorpyrifos ... ›
- A Pesticide Linked to Brain Damage in Children Could Finally Be ... ›
If you're a fan of experimenting in the kitchen but are conscious of the amount of food waste you produce, it may be worth looking into purchasing an indoor compost bin. Purchasing one of the best compost bins is a great way to reduce food waste, even in small spaces.
In this article, we'll go over what at-home composting is, how to do it and the best compost bins to aid you in the process.
How Home Composting Works
Compost is organic material that is added to soil to aid plant growth. Thirty percent of the waste we create comes from food scraps and yard waste, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If these materials were composted, less waste would end up in landfills — where food scraps sit, take up space and release methane into the atmosphere — each year.
To create compost, just three elements are needed.
- Browns: This is the base of the compost and it includes organic waste like dead leaves, branches, dirt and twigs.
- Greens: These are the items that mostly come from your kitchen, like fruit and vegetable scraps or coffee grounds, but it also includes grass clippings.
- Water: Adding the correct amount of water to your compost will help it to develop.
The general rule is your compost should have equal parts browns and greens. The brown elements add carbon, and the green materials add nitrogen. The water helps by providing moisture and breaking down the organic matter.
How to Compost in Your Home
If you're interested in composting but don't want a large heap of kitchen waste and other compost materials in your yard, you're not out of luck. There are a variety of ways to compost at home without having a compost pile sitting in your yard.
The best way to approach composting will depend on how much, how often and how sophisticated you want your compost to be. For example, if you have a sizable garden, you may consider a compost tumbler or a worm composting bin with a large capacity. If you're in an apartment or don't have enough outdoor space, a countertop compost bin may be a better choice.
Listed below are several top-rated countertop composters, and further down, we explain a few different compost methods. This information can help you create the right compost style for your home.
Best Indoor Composting Bins
Now that you have an overview of the process and methods of in-home composting, we have compiled a list of the best compost bins for indoor use.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Best Overall: EPICA Stainless Steel Compost Bin
The EPICA Stainless Steel compost bin is easily cleaned and conveniently sized, as it's small enough to be kept indoors but big enough to hold several days' worth of kitchen scraps. The odors are concealed within the bin naturally, as it uses a replaceable activated charcoal filter. This makes it safe to keep on your kitchen counter without worrying about bad smells. It's also been featured in Forbes and Bon Appetit.
Customer Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars with over 12,400 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The bin is made from non-rusting stainless steel. It's designed to be leak-free and the 1.3-gallon capacity is a perfect size for any home or apartment.
Most Sustainable: Bamboozle Food Compost Bin
If you're looking for a kitchen compost bin that's made from more sustainable materials, you may be interested in the Bamboozle Food Compost Bin. This minimalist, dishwasher-safe bin is made with durable yet eco-friendly bamboo fiber that's harvested without damaging the natural landscape. This composter can hold over 1 gallon of food waste and has a charcoal filter in the lid that traps odors.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 1,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Bamboozle's modern-looking compost bin is an item you can be proud to display on your countertop. It's made with biodegradable bamboo fibers that are coated in a nontoxic cornstarch-and-melamine resin that breaks down in about 22 years.
Most Aesthetically Pleasing: Chef'n EcoCrock Compost Bin
The Chef'n EcoCrock long-lasting compost bin is odor-free and adorable, featuring a light green plant sprout on the lid. This bin can hold up to 0.75 gallons of waste and the lid is vented, allowing air to flow to the food scraps while locking in any foul odors with a charcoal filter. It has a dual bucket design, with a removable bucket for easy cleaning when the bin becomes full. The inner bucket is dishwasher safe on the top rack.
Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 2,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The size of this bin, and its style, makes it a great fit for apartments or smaller kitchens. The non-stick material of the inner bin makes the scraps easily slide out without a mess. This bin includes two disposable charcoal filters.
Best Bokashi Bin: All Seasons Indoor Composter
The All Seasons Bokashi bin is easy to use because it incorporates a spigot to easily access "compost tea" that can be immediately used as a powerful plant fertilizer. The bucket itself is made from high-quality BPA-free plastic, and the inner compost bin is made from 75% recycled plastic bottles. This bokashi composting kit can recycle all kinds of kitchen scraps — including dairy, meat, small bones and paper.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 450 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This 5-gallon bin can recycle more kinds of food scraps so that almost none of your kitchen waste will end up in the landfill. The microbes that ferment the compost help contain any smell and keep away pests. Plus, the recycled and BPA-free plastic ensures that no harmful chemicals will seep into the compost.
Best Food Cycler: Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50
A food cycler is an elevated kitchen compost bin — it takes your food scraps and turns them into usable fertilizer within a few hours. The Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50 breaks down food into a tenth of its original size, allowing you to mix it into your soil for a nutrient-rich fertilizer. The cycler is suitable for indoors because of its carbon filtration system.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with over 700 Amazon Ratings
Why Buy: The product, with a three-year warranty, processes your food scraps within four to eight hours. It has a 0.53-gallon capacity and can be stored and used anywhere there's a nearby power source. The cycler not only takes traditional compostable scraps, but it can also process bones. The cycler is simple and easy to use and can be cleaned in the dishwasher with the removal of the inner bucket.
Best Options for Indoor Composting
There are many compost bins to choose from if you don't have a lot of space or are looking for apartment-friendly composting. Here are three approaches that are great for indoor composting.
The simplest way to compost is with a compost bin. You can choose from many shapes and sizes depending on what your home can accommodate and the style of your home. Compost bins are made for storing food waste, which you can then put outside in a larger compost area. Your city or neighborhood may even have a community compost site. Worried about smells or fruit flies indoors? Don't be — compost bins are designed to seal tight and trap odors. Having a countertop compost bin allows you to toss food scraps right there in the kitchen rather than having to venture outside each time you need to compost something.
A food cycler takes your kitchen scraps and breaks them down to create a soil amendment. Many cycle for just a few hours and break down food almost entirely. You plug food cyclers into the wall, and the electric energy rapidly provides you with usable finished compost.
Food cyclers differ from traditional compost bins because they use electricity to speed the process of creating usable fertilizer, while traditional composting takes time, aeration and water to break down naturally. The food cycler's process of filtration, cooling, grinding and drying gives you easy access to a nutrient-rich soil amendment.
Bokashi, a Japanese word meaning "fermented organic matter," is a type of composting system that uses inoculated bran to help recycle kitchen scraps of all kinds — even meat, fish and eggshells.
Here's the process you'll need to follow if you opt for Bokashi composting:
- Mix food scraps and inoculated bran
- Press mixture into a Bokashi bucket
- Cover with another layer of bran
- Every other day, for 10 days, draw off leachate, or "compost tea," a liquid byproduct of anaerobic composting material
This is the only care needed throughout the Bokashi composting process. A Bokashi bucket includes a spigot where the leachate can come out.
Final Thoughts: Kitchen Compost Bins
Whether you invest in an indoor compost bin or have your own DIY system, finding ways to keep food scraps out of our landfills will help the environment and lead you to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Any of these indoor compost bins is a step in the right direction and will help make composting your food scraps seamless and easy.
Medically reviewed by Anna H. Chacon, M.D.
From eating foods for healthy skin to switching up your morning and routines, taking care of the largest organ in the body can get overwhelming. Recently, vitamin C has grown in popularity in the skincare world — but do the best vitamin C serums live up to the hype?
Vitamin C is not only an essential supplement for your immune system and overall health, but it's also a great skincare ingredient that can help limit inflammation, brighten skin, dull fine lines and wrinkles, fight free radicals, and reduce discoloration and dark spots.
Adding vitamin C to your skincare routine seems like a no-brainer, but before you start shopping for a serum, it's important to be aware that vitamin C is an unstable ingredient. Dermatologists say it's important to find legit and properly formulated vitamin C serums to capitalize on the benefits of the antioxidant. In this article, we'll help you find the right dermatologist-approved vitamin C serum to add to your routine.
Our Picks for the Best Vitamin C Serums of 2021
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall: ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Paula's Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
- Best Budget-Friendly Serum: CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
- Best Cruelty-Free Serum: Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Plus E Ferulic Acid Serum
- Best Anti-Aging Serum: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment
- Best Brightening Serum: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
Skincare Benefits of Vitamin C
Also known as ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an antioxidant that is present in the formation of collagen and that protects against aging, according to Dr. Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist with MyPsoriasisTeam. A vitamin C serum may be a solid addition to your skincare routine because it has a great safety profile, and it's safe for most skin types.
"Vitamin C serum restores and neutralizes environmental stressors that accelerate signs of aging and can be used morning and evening," Dr. Chacon says. However, she warns, "it does not come with sun protection, so additional use of sunscreen is recommended."
As an antioxidant, vitamin C protects skin cells from being damaged by free radicals from things like UV exposure, vehicle exhaust and cigarette smoke. It also hampers melanin production, which can help to lighten hyperpigmentation and brown spots and even out your skin tone.
6 Best Vitamin C Serums
Based on dermatologist recommendations and our market research, the following products are the best vitamin C serums available today.
Best Overall: ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating
Our overall recommendation for the best vitamin C serum is the ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating serum. The product contains 10% vitamin C, which has anti-aging properties and minimizes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sunspots by promoting collagen production. "I have this in my bathroom," Dr. Chacon says. "It is gentle and non-irritating, and it leaves your skin radiant afterward."
Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with under 100 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Along with L-ascorbic acid, this serum includes ingredients like Coenzyme Q10 for multi-layer antioxidant protection and plant-derived squalane for added hydration. ZO Skin Health's products are all cruelty-free.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Paula's Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
Made with plant- and vitamin-derived antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E, peptides and CoQ10, Paula's Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum will help rejuvenate your skin. The formula fights dullness, enhances firmness and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with about 300 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This product is paraben-free, fragrance-free and cruelty-free, as it's not tested on animals. The container is 100% recyclable through TerraCycle, and it's formulated and manufactured in the U.S.
Best Budget-Friendly Serum: CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid offers high value at a reasonable price. It is a hydrating vitamin C serum that's fragrance-free, paraben-free, non-comedogenic and budget-friendly to boot. The formula uses 10% pure vitamin C to prevent free radical damage as well as soothing vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid to make the skin look smooth and create a moisture barrier for your skin.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 20,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Chacon calls CeraVe "a trusted, dermatologist-oriented brand" that comes at drugstore prices, so it's a great choice if you want to try out a budget-friendly vitamin C serum.
Best Cruelty-Free Serum: Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Plus E Ferulic Acid Serum
Timeless Skin Care's vitamin C serum promotes healthy cell turnover to help minimize the effects of hyperpigmentation and even out your skin tone. According to Dr. Chacon, "vitamin C, E and ferulic acid are all key ingredients that help to brighten skin, building up collagen and evening out tone." This product's formula is non-greasy and lightweight, so it absorbs quickly and clearly into the skin.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 1,700 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The Timeless Skin Care formula is paraben-free, synthetic dye-free, fragrance-free and polyethylene glycol-free. The company doesn't test on animals, and the product is made in the U.S. from natural ingredients. It's also part of the TerraCycle recycling program.
Best Anti-Aging Serum: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment
Using dermatologist-approved ingredients, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment is lightweight and helps to firm, smooth, and brighten the skin for a more youthful look. The formula utilizes 15% pure vitamin C as well as vitamin E and ferulic acid to protect against environmental damage from things like sunlight, ozone pollution and diesel engine exhaust. Plus, it helps firm the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Customer Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars with over 200 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment is one of the best vitamin C serums for anti-aging purposes. It has an oil-like formulation that goes on smoothly and works effectively without clogging pores.
Best Brightening Serum: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% is a topical form of vitamin C that's rich in antioxidants to target aging and brighten the skin. It uses a high concentration of L-ascorbic acid as well as hyaluronic acid spheres for skin hydration. The brightening serum helps enhance skin smoothness and radiance without being too harsh. However, to test skin sensitivity, it is always recommended to perform a patch test before a full application.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 4,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This vitamin C brightening serum is cruelty-free and vegan and does not contain alcohol, phthalates, gluten, fragrance, nuts, oil, silicone, parabens or sulfates. The moisturizing serum is good for all skin types, including acne-prone skin and dry skin.
FAQ: Best Vitamin C Serums
What vitamin C serum is the most effective?
Our top recommended vitamin C serum is the ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating serum. It is a dermatologist-approved antioxidant powerhouse, yet it is gentle, non-irritating and leaves you with glowing skin.
Should you use vitamin C serum every day?
Dermatologists recommend using vitamin C serum either every day or every other day. After you cleanse and tone your face, use your vitamin c product before applying moisturizer and reef-safe sunscreen with at least SPF 30.
Does vitamin C serum really work?
According to dermatologists, the best vitamin C serums work to protect against skin aging. However, if you do not purchase a doctor-recommended product, you run the risk of wasting your money on a low-concentration serum that won't give you any benefits.
What are the drawbacks of vitamin C serums?
Many vitamin C serums on the market, especially cheaper products, have nearly immeasurable concentrations of antioxidants, which makes them ineffective. Additionally, as with any skincare product, some individuals may have reactions to vitamin C serums including itchiness and redness.
Anna H. Chacon, M.D. is a dermatologist and author originally from Miami, Florida. She has authored over a dozen peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and has been published in JAAD, Archives of Dermatology, British Journal of Dermatology, Cosmetic Dermatology and Cutis.
By Jennifer Collins
Forty years of conflict have left many Afghans on the edge of survival — and highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change. Not only is the landlocked country already becoming drier and drier, but it's also just been thrown into more political uncertainty by the Taliban takeover. Experts say it's a recipe for disaster.
"You have a country that is one of the most vulnerable to climate change and any implications as a result of that and without the needed capacities, you're looking at a human catastrophe," said Basir Feda, head of the Afghanistan unit at the Berlin-based Berghof Foundation, an NGO that promotes peacebuilding.
The arid state has seen a mean rise in temperature of 1.8 degrees Celsius (3.24 Fahrenheit) since the middle of the 20th century, compared to a global average of 0.82°C. Droughts, already more frequent, are likely to become an annual occurrence by 2030.
According to the United Nations, a severe drought caused more internal displacement between 2017 and 2018 than conflict. And now the country is in the midst of another prolonged dry period, which the UN's World Food Programme has warned could leave millions of Afghans at risk of starvation.
The agency said it needs $200 million (€170 million) a year to continue working in Afghanistan — its staff members are allowed to continue humanitarian operations in the wake of the Taliban's takeover.
Oli Brown, an associate fellow at London-based policy think tank Chatham House, told DW that food must get to Afghanistan's mountainous areas before winter weather makes some places unreachable.
"The big challenge in the short term is feeding people in Afghanistan," said Brown. Nearly half of the country's 30 million people live below the poverty line and a third is dealing with severe food insecurity.
"Obviously, the ability of the international community to do that now is reliant on decisions that the Taliban government takes — are they going to create the conditions in which people can eat?"
Climate Change, Poverty and Conflict Intertwined
Creating those conditions will require the Taliban to address climate change in the long term, according to Brown.
"If you look at some of the predictions for Afghanistan in the future, this (climate change) is going to be something that will be a constraint ... A Taliban government is going to have to deal with it if they want to see a more peaceful and a more secure Afghanistan, which can feed its people," he said.
Even under one of the UN's more optimistic scenarios for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Afghanistan will likely continue to warm by at least a further 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. That level of warming would still further decrease the amount of snow available to feeds rivers, making water even scarcer.
While drought will be even likelier, so too will extreme rainfall over short periods, increasing the chances of deadly landslides in the mountainous country. And years of war have robbed Afghanistan of the ability to build capacity to adapt and protect its population.
"War is development in reverse," said Brown. That means that 40 years of conflict have, for instance, also meant a chronic underinvestment in water infrastructure like dams and irrigation.
Farmers used to rely on ancient irrigation systems known as "karez," which avoided evaporation by transporting water underground from the mountains. Maintained by villages, some are still functional, but the vast majority were destroyed or fell into disrepair during the decades of war.
More than 80% of the population is involved in agriculture and because so many are reliant on rain-fed farming and livestock raising, they are particularly vulnerable to climate shocks, added Brown. That, in turn, makes people more likely to fall into severe poverty, which increases the likelihood of displacement, according to Action Aid, an international NGO working on poverty.
Afghanistan already has nearly 4 million internally displaced people. And a recent Action Aid analysis on climate change and gender found a further 5 million could be forced to migrate due to climate disasters by 2050 even if governments around the world act to significantly cut emissions.
Climate change sets the stage for increased conflict over ever-decreasing resources like land and water. Evidence suggests it's pushing more farmers to ditch food crops like wheat in favor of drought-resistant poppies used in the opium trade. Afghanistan is the world's biggest producer in the opium industry, worth between $4.1 billion and $6.6 billion in 2017. Revenues from the trade are used to finance the Taliban and other armed groups.
"The whole question is how do you deal with poverty which comes as a result of climate change?" said Basir Feda of the Berghof Foundation. "There's a direct link that exists between conflict and poverty. And climate change can really function as a catalyst there — and a pretty significant one at that."
Working With the Taliban?
Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a member of the Taliban's Cultural Commission, told U.S. magazine Newsweek it was seeking global recognition of what it is calling an Islamic Emirate, and said climate change is a challenge that can only be overcome with the collective efforts of all.
Thus far only a few countries are willing to engage with the Taliban. The question for the international community is how much they should engage with the group.
"They will not be able to run the country without assistance, they must know this," said Jost Pachaly, who heads the Asia division at the Heinrich Böll Foundation, a policy reform think tank based in Germany. "It's a very critical question for the international community: how to deal with the situation — not to support the Taliban but also not let the Afghan people suffer... This is a humanitarian disaster."
Women, whose rights are already being curbed under Taliban rule, will likely face an even more uncertain future in the context of climate change. Internationally women are hardest hit by the impacts of global heating, as they are often responsible for collecting water and providing meals.
In Afghanistan, particularly in rural parts of the country, women are further constrained, because they are expected to confine their social and economic lives to the home, or as close to it as possible and are totally financially dependent on men to work and support their families, said Basir Feda.
"This puts women in a far more vulnerable situation, because not only do they play an important role in putting food on the table, they also do it in an environment where their capabilities are severely limited."
While organizations like the World Bank have suspended aid to the country as they wait to see what the Taliban does, international aid and humanitarian organizations want to continue working in the country.
Feda said it is on the "Taliban's shoulders" to keeps its promises and create an inclusive government acceptable to all Afghans so the country can work towards peace and create climate resiliency. "I will never believe that all is lost in Afghanistan."
Reposted with permission from DW.
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Plastic Free July lands smack in the middle of vacation season, and this year, my summer plans included leaving North Carolina and driving through four cities in Florida to spend some time in the humidity sun. The challenge was: Could I really carry out a plastic-free road trip?
With a lot of planning and even more improvising, I was able to significantly cut down my waste and successfully avoid single-use plastic throughout the entire journey. Here, I'll share the best tips I learned and a few items to pack if you're embarking on your own plastic-free road trip.
Disclaimer: If you want to take it a step further and have a zero-waste road trip, you may need to adjust some of the following tips.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Plastic-Free Road Trip Food and Drinks
Road trips usually mean a lot of eating en route. Here are a few ways to have plastic-free food and drinks while traveling by car:
Snacks are an essential part of any road trip, but there are few gas-station finds that aren't wrapped in single-use plastic. One of the best ways to avoid this waste is to stock up before you hit the road. Fill up reusable containers with fruits, veggies and dry goods. If you run low, see if the cities you're driving to (or through) have zero-waste shops, farmers markets or stores with bulk bins to refill your containers.
In my experience, you can usually bring your own cup inside a gas station or inside quick-service restaurants for sodas and water. Just tell the cashier how many ounces your cup holds (or offer to pay for the largest-size cup they carry). You can also fill up your reusable water bottle at rest-stop water fountains.
If you need something to help you stay alert on a long drive, many gas stations and convenience stores sell caffeinated sodas, energy drinks and coffees in cans. Don't forget you can bring your own cup to Starbucks as well. If you're striving for even less waste, you can make and bottle your own coffee or cold brew ahead of time and pack it in your cooler.
For meals, dine in at a quick-service restaurant that uses real tableware, like Panera. (Or, to get back on the road right away, order your food for dine-in and carry it out in your own reusable to-go container). You could also opt for a place like Chipotle, which packages many items in foil and other plastic-free containers. Just remember to bring your own silverware and cup or water bottle.
In a pinch, many fast-food chains wrap items like burgers and tacos in biodegradable paper. Subway wrappers, for example, even say "please compost" on them. If you go this route, just ask for no sauce packets/cups, silverware and other small sources of plastic.
If you're packing a cooler, you'll need to keep it cold without buying plastic bags of ice. If you're staying at a hotel, use the ice machine to replenish your supply. If you're staying somewhere else that has a freezer, bring re-freezable ice packs or pack ice trays and freeze them overnight. If you're camping or don't have freezer access, freeze a tub of water and pack strategically, keeping your most perishable items nearest to the tub. A large block of ice will melt much slower than individual cubes.
Avoiding Plastic While Lodging
If you aren't driving through the night, you'll likely be staying at a hotel, campsite or rental home. Use these tips to avoid plastic in each scenario:
One of the biggest culprits of waste in hotels is in-room amenities. From ice bin liners to mini toiletries to coffee bar items, there are a lot of single-use plastics that can be easily avoided. If you leave these items untouched, it's likely the housekeeping staff will keep them out for the next guest. When checking out, make sure to return your key card so it can be passed on as well.
If your hotel has a continental breakfast or other type of buffet, you may be able to find some plastic-free fare. However, the utensils and plates may be disposable. Be sure to bring your own tableware and a cup for coffee or juice.
Food and drinks are often the biggest sources of plastic waste while camping. Sure, a dehydrated backpacking meal is convenient and quick, but you'll be hard-pressed to find one that doesn't come in plastic packaging.
Here are a few alternatives:
- Cook your own meals at home and dehydrate them before the trip, then rehydrate them at camp.
- Cook your own meals at home and freeze them, allowing them to thaw a bit in your cooler before you heat them at camp.
- Plan, pack ingredients and prepare plastic-free meals at camp.
- Stop for a meal before heading to camp for the night.
Staying at an Airbnb or other rental home is the easiest way to cook your own food, as many have kitchen setups and all of the cooking and dining dishes you may need. Some homes may have single-use plastic items like coffee pods or mini toiletries, so make sure you avoid these.
Plastic-Free Packing: Toiletries
From shampoo bars to cardboard-cased deodorant, more and more sustainable toiletry items are becoming widely available. (In fact, I found both of these plastic-free items at Target.) However, toiletries can still be a big source of waste while traveling. Here are a few ideas to avoid the unnecessary plastic:
When packing for a road trip, you'll have at least a trunk's worth of space. While it can be tempting to throw everything from your shower into the car, it's often a better idea to just bring what you need.
For liquids like cleansers, shampoo and conditioner, I used Cadence's leakproof capsules, and they worked like a charm. If you're using other containers and are worried about spillage, instead of using a Ziploc, pop them into a reusable storage pouch like a Stasher bag.
Dental Hygiene Products
If you're like me and refuse the plastic-filled goody bag of travel toothpastes, toothbrushes and flosses at the dentist, you may not have any totable dental hygiene products lying around. This is where bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste tablets and refillable floss containers come into play.
Feminine Hygiene Products
Traveling on your period? There's no better time to make the switch to plastic-free menstrual products. A menstrual cup is one way to go, as it can be worn for up to 12 hours. However, they do require regular washing, which can be difficult in a public restroom. Another option is to pack a few pairs of leakproof period underwear from a company like Proof. Proof undies can hold up to five regular tampons and have leak-lock edges, so you can wear them all day and still stay dry. These can be washed by hand (which, again, can be difficult in a public bathroom) and hung to dry overnight.
Must-Have Items That Made My Plastic-Free Road Trip Easier
Planning is the key to a successful plastic-free road trip. As you make your packing list, here are a few things I recommend bringing along. Many of these items turned out to be useful in more ways than one, and having each of them in tow, I was more easily able to avoid single-use plastics.
|Item||Why Pack It on Your Plastic-Free Road Trip?||Product I Used|
|Reusable bags||Having a stash of reusable grocery bags can come in handy for everything from restocking your food supply to organizing your vehicle.||BAGGU Reusable Shopping Bag|
|Reusable water bottle||Rather than buying dozens of plastic water bottles, bring your own eco-friendly water bottle and fill it up wherever there is a soda fountain or water fountain.||Hydro Flask Water Bottle|
|Reusable cup||Plastic cups for soft drinks and Styrofoam coffee cups can easily be avoided if you BYOC.||YETI Rambler 20-Ounce Tumbler|
|Reusable cutlery||Whether you prefer metal or bamboo utensils, bringing a fork, knife and spoon (or all-in-one tool) will let you skip single-use plastic cutlery.||Light My Fire Titanium Spork|
|Reusable plates||From food prep to serving, you'll get plenty of use out of the plates you pack.||MSR Alpine Plate|
|Reusable straws||Straws can make it much easier to drink out of a cup while driving. Pack your own reusable straws so you can avoid single-use plastic ones.||Klean Kanteen Steel Straws|
|Reusable containers||Along with using them for packing, bring a few empty reusable plastic or glass containers for storing leftovers or miscellaneous items in your car.||Ball Mason Jars with Lids|
|Car trash bin||It doesn't have to be fancy, but making sure you have a dedicated trash receptacle in your vehicle will help keep your car fresh. Bonus points if you have separate recycling and compost bins as well.||HOTOR Car Trash Can|
|Heavy-duty cooler||When you aren't buying as many items on the go, you'll need to pack more perishables. A well-insulated cooler that can keep ice frozen for days is a saving grace.||RTIC Hard Cooler|
Final Thoughts: Plastic-Free Road Trip
Although a plastic-free road trip is no small feat, it can be done with a little effort. When traveling by car, you're already creating a large amount of pollution through vehicle emissions. Cutting out single-use plastics is a good way to make your vacation a little more eco-friendly.
In its latest environmental commitment, New Zealand has announced a ban on the majority of single-use plastics by 2025.
The new measure builds on the country's 2019 decision to phase-out plastic bags and includes everything from disposable cutlery to ear buds and fruit labels, The Guardian reported.
"These types of plastics often end up as waste in landfills and cause pollution in our soils, waterways and the ocean. Reducing plastic waste will improve our environment and ensure we live up to our clean, green reputation," Environment Minister David Parker said in a statement reported by TVNZ on Sunday.
New Zealand has made a name for itself as an environmentally-conscious country in recent years. It has banned new oil and gas exploration off its coast and passed a bill pledging to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. However, when it comes to waste, the country still has work to do. It is within the top ten worldwide for the amount of landfill waste it produces per capita, according to The Guardian.
"Every day, New Zealanders throw away an estimated 159g of plastic waste per person, making us some of the highest waste generators in the world," Parker said, as The Guardian reported.
The new ban will come in three phases between late 2022 and July of 2025, according to Stuff. The plastics targeted by the ban include polystyrene and PVC food and drink packaging that is difficult to recycle. Items like food stirrers, plastic straws, cotton buds and plastic plates and cutlery will also be phased out.
Plastic cups, wet wipes and certain types of polystyrene used to transport cold goods will not be included in the ban for now, but the government will study possible replacements and announce a decision on these items by 2022.
In addition, Parker announced a $50 million Plastics Innovation Fund to find new ways to deal with plastic throughout its lifecycle, from production to disposal.
"The fund will help tap into our collective ingenuity to find ways to use less plastic, and make what we do use recyclable for the benefit of the environment – while also boosting jobs and supporting the economic recovery," Parker said, as TVNZ reported.
The phaseout is part of a campaign promise on the part of New Zealand's Labour Party, Stuff noted, and also part of its cooperation agreement with the Green Party following Labour's 2020 election victory. However, while the Green Party leader was pleased with the new ban, she also thought it did not go far enough.
"Phasing out expanded polystyrene takeaway containers and single use items such as plastic produce bags, cutlery, and tableware by October 2022 is good for people and planet. It helps reduce plastic waste and pollution," Green Party waste spokeswoman Eugenie Sage told Stuff. "But it is disappointing the Government had delayed a decision until mid-2022 on whether to phase-out expanded polystyrene used in packaging for large items and chill boxes, and has not yet acted to phase out so-called 'flushable' wet wipes containing plastic."
Meanwhile, associate professor Terri-Ann Berry, the director of Environmental Solutions Research Centre at Unitec, said one weakness in the measure was that it focused more on consumer than industrial plastic waste. While the former is important, waste from construction and demolition accounts for as much as 50 percent of the waste sent to landfills in New Zealand.
"it's very easy to forget that some of our more commercial sectors are also big plastic users," she told The Guardian.
By Jake Johnson
Moving to reverse one of the Trump administration's many corporate-friendly deregulatory actions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday announced plans to revive a rule aimed at establishing specific animal welfare standards that food producers must meet to qualify for the USDA's organic seal.
Finalized in the waning days of the Obama administration, the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule would have required organic food producers to ensure adequate indoor and outdoor space for farm animals, spelling an end to the widespread industry practice of cramming thousands of hens and chickens into windowless barns. The rule also would have clarified previously murky standards for the humane treatment of poultry and livestock.
The rule was applauded by small farmers and activists as a key step toward preventing big corporations from attaining the "organic" label for their products despite raising animals in over-crowded and cruel conditions. But soon after taking power, the Trump administration stopped the rule from taking effect and withdrew it entirely in 2018 — a boon for factory farms.
On Thursday, the Biden USDA said in a statement that it intends to "reconsider the prior administration's interpretation that the Organic Foods Production Act does not authorize USDA to regulate the practices that were the subject of the 2017 Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule."
"I have directed the National Organic Program to begin a rulemaking to address this statutory interpretation and to include a proposal to disallow the use of porches as outdoor space in organic production over time and on other topics that were the subject of the OLPP final rule," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We anticipate sending the proposed rule to OMB within six to nine months from the date of the remand."
Amy van Saun, senior attorney at Center for Food Safety (CFS) — a group that sued the Trump administration over its withdrawal of the OLPP rule — said that the USDA's announcement is "a major victory for all those who care about a meaningful organic label."
"After four years of hard-fought litigation, the Biden administration is recognizing that the Trump withdrawal decision was inconsistent with organic standards and principles," van Saun continued. "Finally, USDA will close the loophole allowing factory farms to produce 'organic' eggs and chicken, and level the playing field for real organic farmers already providing high welfare to their animals."
The National Organic Coalition's Abby Youngblood similarly applauded the USDA's move as "a huge victory in securing the trust of consumers and farmers alike who expect meaningful and consistent standards for animal welfare under the organic label."
"Consumer trust in the USDA Certified Organic label is vital and assures the success of the organic seal in the marketplace," Youngblood added.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
By Victoria Masterson
- English soccer club Manchester City is trialing an edible coffee cup made from leak-proof wafer.
- Another English team, Forest Green Rovers, has tried sustainable shirts made from recycled coffee beans and plastic bottles on for size.
- FIFA is aiming for Qatar 2022 to be the first carbon-neutral World Cup.
The pitches may be green – but how sustainable is soccer?
Next year, we are being promised the world's first carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup. Pulling this off will be no mean feat – from construction to travel and accommodation, Qatar 2022 is expected to produce up to 3.6 million tonnes of CO2.
The event plans to tackle its emissions through a variety of measures including offsetting, reusing construction waste, and building a stadium from recycled shipping containers.
And across the sport, there are many other examples of small changes that could have a big impact if widely adopted. Here are some of them.
Coffee Cups You Can Eat
In England's Premier League, Manchester City Football Club is trialing a sustainable coffee cup that you can eat.
Manchester City Football Club is trialing edible coffee cups. BioBite
If successful, they could provide a solution to a sizeable problem: an estimated 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are used in the UK every year – the majority of which are not recycled, according to a House of Commons report.
Forest Green Rovers, a football club based in Gloucestershire, England, is trialling a sustainable soccer kit made from recycled coffee bean waste.
Each shirt is made from three cups of used beans and five plastic bottles. And they are not the only way Forest Green is living up to its name.
The team, dubbed "the world's greenest football club", became the first to be certified carbon neutral by the United Nations in 2017. It is owned by Dale Vince, the founder of green energy company Ecotricity.
Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam, the home of Dutch football club Ajax, claims to be one of the most sustainable stadiums in the world.
Its approach ranges from big investments in green energy to creative ways to use waste. The stadium is powered by 4,200 solar panels on the roof and a wind turbine. Grass mown from the pitch, meanwhile, is taken to a local farm to feed goats whose milk is turned into cheese – which is then sold in the stadium.
Reposted with permission from the World Economic Forum.
All of us know what it's like to be in an energy slump, and most of us tend to address low energy levels with caffeine. Whether that's in the form of coffee or one of those little energy-shot drinks, there are plenty of caffeinated options. While caffeine has its place, excessive consumption of caffeine can contribute to some unwanted side effects including headaches, insomnia, heart palpitations, and beyond. Plus, many energy drinks are full of sugar and calories.
Fortunately, there are healthier alternatives available. These healthy energy drinks and supplements can help you with a lack of energy without the jitters and unwanted side effects. Keep reading to learn more about the best energy supplements and vitamin subscriptions available today.
Our Picks for the Best Energy Supplements
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
- Best for B-Vitamins - Care/of B Complex
- Best for Athletes - Onnit Active B Complete
- Best Magnesium Supplement - Sunwarrior Liquid Magnesium
- Best for Energy Production - Bulletproof Forbose Energy
- Best Liquid Vitamin - Nested Naturals B Complex
- Best Vitamin Bites - GEM Daily Essentials
- Best Organic Option - Global Healing Vitamin B12
- Best Gummy for Energy - Goli Nutrition ACV Gummies
- Best for Mental Energy - Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered Superfood Honey
What are the Best Vitamins for Energy?
One way you can minimize caffeine dependence while boosting your natural energy levels is to make sure your body has the vitamins and nutrients it needs to support energy production at the cellular level. A few of the best vitamins for energy and overall wellness include:
You probably know that vitamin B12 is necessary for building red blood cells, which help to transport oxygen throughout the body. And that oxygen, in turn, helps the cells to produce energy. A vitamin B12 deficiency is often linked with fatigue.
One of the most abundant of bodily minerals, magnesium supports over 300 different functions, including energy production. It also helps promote restful sleep, which allows you to wake up feeling recharged and ready for the day.
Like vitamin B12, iron is essential for transporting oxygen throughout the body, supplying cells with the resources they need to produce energy. Iron deficiency, meanwhile, is linked with anemia, which can leave you with chronic fatigue and can impact your mental energy.
This Indian herb belongs on any list of the best supplements to boost energy. It helps fortify your body against mental or physical stressors, allowing you to conserve and increase energy levels.
A naturally occurring hormone, melatonin helps regulate healthy sleep cycles, allowing your body to replenish its energy reserves. The best melatonin supplements can help you get the rest you need to be vigorous and productive during the day. Getting enough sleep is also associated with health benefits like boosting your immune system.
The 9 Best Vitamin Supplements for Energy
What are the best multivitamins and dietary supplements for energy? Here are nine of the top options you can buy online.
Best for B-Vitamins: Care/Of B Complex
- Includes large servings of vitamin B12, vitamin B6, Niacin, Riboflavin, and Thiamin.
- Made with rice hulls, acacia, and sunflower oil.
- Non-GMO, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
Best for Athletes: Onnit Active B Complete
- Supplements your level of thiamin as well as vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B6.
- Includes small portions of rice hulls and sunflower oil.
- Gluten-free, soy-free, and caffeine-free.
Best Magnesium Supplement: Sunwarrior Magnesium Liquid
- Liquid magnesium fortified with chloride, sulfite, and boron.
- Soy-free, zero added sugars, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.
Why buy: Magnesium can help you with everything from sleep to muscle recovery, making this an all-around great option for anyone who wants to increase their physical energy and stamina. This supplement is an affordable and convenient way to boost brain function, fight fatigue, muscle cramps, and more.
Best for Energy Production: Bulletproof Forbose Energy Production
- Contains three ingredients that promote energy production and recovery: ribose, Coleus forskohlii root extract, and magnesium.
- Includes rice extract blend.
- Vegan and vegetarian.
Best Liquid Vitamin: Nested Naturals B Complex
- Provides a full range of the essential, energy-producing B-vitamins.
- Includes rice flour.
- Vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free.
Best Vitamin Bites: GEM Daily Essentials
- Each Daily Essentials supplement includes a different lineup of vitamins and minerals, including ashwagandha.
- Made with ingredients such as chickpeas, chia seed, curry leaves, quinoa, and other real food sources.
Best Organic Option: Global Healing Vitamin B12
- Includes a big boost of vitamin B12.
- USDA organic and vegan friendly.
- Supports energy, metabolism, and sleep.
Why buy: This is a simple, no-nonsense vitamin B12 supplement that can help you enjoy greater levels of energy and better metabolism, as well as more restful sleep. Also take note of the incredible value, including a year-long money-back guarantee. This is a great all-natural energy booster.
Best Gummy for Energy: Goli Nutrition Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies
- Includes apple cider vinegar as well as beetroot, citric acid, pomegranate, B vitamins, and pectin.
- Gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO.
- Promotes healthy digestion, energy, and detox.
Best for Mental Energy: Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered Superfood Honey
- Made with royal jelly, propolis, and bee pollen.
- Made without dairy or gluten.
- Caffeine-free, paleo-friendly, all-natural.
Why buy: Royal jelly offers incredible, natural compounds that help boost cognitive ability. This superfood honey is a great option to choose if you're seeking a natural supplement to help you power through brain fog or tiredness without added sugars or caffeine. This raw honey with bee pollen also contains amino acids and antioxidants.
Find the Top Supplements to Boost Energy
We all need a pick-me-up sometimes. Rather than reaching for that third cup of coffee for a short-term jolt, consider fortifying your diet with the essential, energy-boosting vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Use this guide to the best energy supplements as you consider healthy, holistic ways to increase your natural energy.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
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By Brett Wilkins
A new report published Wednesday by a trio of progressive advocacy groups lifts the veil on so-called "net zero" climate pledges, which are often touted by corporations and governments as solutions to the climate emergency, but which the paper's authors argue are merely a dangerous form of greenwashing that should be eschewed in favor of Real Zero policies based on meaningful, near-term commitments to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
The report, The Big Con: How Big Polluters Are Advancing a "Net Zero" Climate Agenda to Delay, Deceive, and Deny, was published by Corporate Accountability, the Global Forest Coalition, and Friends of the Earth International, and is endorsed by more than 60 environmental organizations. The paper comes ahead of this November's United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland and amid proliferating pledges from polluting corporations and governments to achieve what they claim is carbon neutrality — increasingly via dubious offsets — by some distant date, often the year 2050.
However, the report asserts that "instead of offering meaningful real solutions to justly address the crisis they knowingly created and owning up to their responsibility to act beginning with drastically reducing emissions at source, polluting corporations and governments are advancing 'net zero' plans that require little or nothing in the way of real solutions or real effective emissions cuts."
"Furthermore... they see the potential for a 'net zero' global pathway to provide new business opportunities for them, rather than curtailing production and consumption of their polluting products," it says.
According to the report:
After decades of inaction, corporations are suddenly racing to pledge to achieve "net zero" emissions. These include fossil fuel giants like BP, Shell, and Total; tech giants like Microsoft and Apple; retailers like Amazon and Walmart; financers like HSBC, Bank of America, and BlackRock; airlines like United and Delta; and food, livestock, and meat producing and agriculture corporations like JBS, Nestlé, and Cargill. Polluting corporations are in a race to be the loudest and proudest to pledge "net zero" emissions by 2050 or some other date in the distant future. Over recent years, more than 1,500 corporations have made "net zero" commitments, an accomplishment applauded by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the U.N. Secretary General.
"Increasingly, the concept of 'net zero' is being misconstrued in political spaces as well as by individual actors to evade action and avoid responsibility," the report states. "The idea behind big polluters' use of 'net zero' is that an entity can continue to pollute as usual — or even increase its emissions — and seek to compensate for those emissions in a number of ways. Emissions are nothing more than a math equation in these plans; they can be added one place and subtracted from another place."
Behind #NetZero pledges is the reality that #BigPolluters can keep: 💵 Buying carbon #offsets instead of cutting e… https://t.co/Y3YmUYJ8Ft— Global Forest Coalition (GFC) (@Global Forest Coalition (GFC))1623227415.0
"This equation is simple in theory but deeply flawed in reality," the paper asserts. "These schemes are being used to mask inaction, foist the burden of emissions cuts and pollution avoidance on historically exploited communities, and bet our collective future through ensuring long-term, destructive impact on land and forests, oceans, and through advancing geoengineering technologies. These technologies are hugely risky, do not exist at the scale supposedly needed, and are likely to cause enormous, and likely irreversible, damage."
Among the key findings of the report:
- Big polluters, including the fossil fuel and aviation industries, lobbied heavily to ensure passage of Q45, a tax credit subsidizing carbon capture and storage. A 2020 report from the U.S. Treasury Department's inspector general found that fossil fuel companies improperly claimed nearly $1 billion in Q45 credits.
- The International Emissions Trading Association — described by the report's authors as "perhaps the largest global lobbyist on market and offsets, both pillars of polluters 'net zero' climate plans" — has leveraged its considerable power to push its greenwashing agenda at international climate talks.
- Major polluters have contributed generously to universities including the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, Princeton University, Stanford University, and Imperial College London in an effort to influence "net zero"-related research. At Stanford's Global Climate and Energy Project, ExxonMobil retained the right to formally review research before completion and was allowed to place corporate staff members on development teams.
"The best, most proven approach to justly addressing the climate crisis is to significantly reduce emissions now in an equitable manner, bringing them close to Real Zero by 2030 at the latest," the report states, referring to a situation in which no carbon emissions are produced by a good or service without the use of offsets. "The cross-sectoral solutions we need already exist, are proven, and are scalable now... All that is missing is the political will to advance them, in spite of industry obstruction and deflection."
"People around the globe have already made their demands clear," the report says. "Meaningful solutions that can be implemented now are already detailed in platforms like the People's Demands for Climate Justice, the Liability Roadmap, the Energy Manifesto, and many other resources that encompass the wisdom of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis."
Sara Shaw, climate justice and energy program co-coordinator at Friends of the Earth International and one of the paper's authors, said that "this report shows that 'net zero' plans from big polluters are nothing more than a big con. The reality is that corporations like Shell have no interest in genuinely acting to solve the climate crisis by reducing their emissions from fossil fuels. They instead plan to continue business as usual while greenwashing their image with tree planting and offsetting schemes that can never ever make up for digging up and burning fossil fuels."
"We must wake up fast to the fact that we are falling for a trick," Shaw added. "'Net zero' risks obscuring a lack of action until it is too late."
Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development — which endorsed the report — warned that "proclamations of 'net zero' targets are dangerous deceptions. 'Net zero' sounds ambitious and visionary but it actually allows big polluters and rich governments to continue emitting [greenhouse gases] which they claim will be erased through unproven and dangerous technologies, carbon trading, and offsets that shift the burden of climate action to the Global South."
"Big polluters and rich governments should not only reduce emissions to Real Zero, they must pay reparations for the huge climate debt owed to the Global South," added Nacpil.
In conclusion, the report says world leaders must "listen to the people and once and for all prioritize people's lives and the planet over engines of profit and destruction."
"To avoid social and planetary collapse," it states, "they must heed the calls of millions of people around the globe and pursue policies that justly, equitably transition our economies off of fossil fuels, and advance real solutions that prioritize life — now."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
Antidepressants are designed to make humans feel better, but they can have a surprising impact on non-human animals when they enter the environment.
That's the take-away of a study published in Ecosphere Tuesday, which tested the impact of antidepressants on crayfish, important players in freshwater ecosystems, and found that they altered the animals' behavior in ways that could threaten their survival.
"Our study is the first to look at how crayfish respond when exposed to antidepressants at levels typically found in the streams and ponds where they live," lead author and University of Florida assistant professor A.J. Reisinger said in a press release.
Antidepressants in the environment change crayfish behavior
To test the impact of common antidepressants on crayfish behavior, the researchers mimicked natural conditions in a lab. In one artificial stream, the water was not treated with any medication. In the other stream, the crayfish were exposed to 500 nanograms per liter of citalopram, a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), as National Geographic reported. The scientists observed the two groups over a two-week period and took notes on their behavior.
What they found was that the crayfish exposed to the antidepressants stuck their heads out of their built-in shelters twice as quickly when they smelled food, emerged altogether almost one minute earlier and spent 400 percent more time in the food section of their environment. For crayfish in the wild, such actions could be dangerous.
"This change in behavior could put them at greater risk of being eaten by a predator," study co-author and University of Florida assistant professor Lindsey Reisinger said in the press release.
The antidepressants also changed crayfish behavior in ways that could impact their environment. The exposed crayfish actually increased the amount of algae present in their artificial streams, The Guardian reported.
"We think that's because they are both stirring up a little bit of sediment on the bottom but also they are excreting when they feed on stuff on the bottom of the stream," A. J. Reisinger told The Guardian. "So crayfish are changing kind of where and how many different microbial components of the ecosystem are located."
However, the researchers found that exposing the crayfish to antidepressants did not alter the overall rates of photosynthesis or energy consumption in their ecosystem, potentially because the study period was so short.
The research is not the first to indicate that human medication might alter animal behavior. These medications can end up in waterways by various means, as National Geographic explained. Humans excrete them as urine, wastewater plants aren't designed to filter them and sometimes individuals or companies will pollute the environment directly by washing them down the sink or other improper disposal methods. Once there, SSRIs can decrease anxiety-like behaviors in aquatic animals or make them more aggressive or mobile.
None of this, of course, is an argument against taking necessary medications.
"The answer is not for people to stop using medications prescribed by their doctor. One big way consumers can prevent pharmaceuticals from entering our water bodies is to dispose of medications properly," A.J. Reisinger said in the press release.
This means never flushing them down the drain, taking them to drug take-back events if possible and disposing of them safely in a trash can if not. To do so, remove the medication from its packaging; put it in a sealed container with coffee grounds, cat litter or some other undesirable substance; remove your personal information from the medicine container and put both the empty container and the medicine in the trash.
By Gero Rueter
Fabian Karthaus grew up with solar energy.
"My father built the first photovoltaic system on the barn roof and you could see that it worked," he says.
Today, the farmer is 33 and owns two large solar power systems himself. Berries now grow underneath one of them. Five years ago, Karthaus took over his father's farm near the western German town of Paderborn and runs it on the side.
The trained electrical engineer works during the day as a product manager for agricultural electronics because: "I can't feed a family with the earnings from growing 80 hectares of field beans, grain, rapeseed, and corn crops."
Fabian Karthaus grows berries beneath solar panels and is looking to expand in the future.
Heat and drought have also caused a significant drop in yield over recent years.
"My wife and I started thinking about how we could continue to operate the farm in a meaningful way," Karthaus says. That's how the idea of growing berries under a solar roof with translucent modules was born.
"We thought about which kind of berry goes with what sort of light and shade. Blueberries and raspberries are woodland plants, so that works really well," he says.
The first harvest from the seedlings last year was good. Usually, the plants are grown outdoors or in foil tunnels.
But Karthaus suspects the shade under the modules could increase yields. Extremely hot summers are now an increasing problem for plants, even in Germany. As Karthaus explains, roofs made of solar modules reduce evaporation and thus, save water.
"We once measured it here. The evaporation is about a quarter compared to plants in the open field," he explains.
The panels are put together to allow a certain amount of light through.
Power Above, Berries Below
Of course the modules also provide electricity. With 750 kilowatts of power, the system generates about 640,000 kilowatt hours a year, which is equivalent to the electricity needs of 160 households.
Karthaus receives just under €0.06 ($0.07) per kWh for feeding it into the grid. He wants to use part of the solar power himself to operate his own refrigeration and freeze-drying systems. If he had to buy the electricity from the energy supplier, that would cost him around €0.25 per kWh.
"It's a win-win situation for everyone. It means that we can generate green power locally, decentralized, where the energy is consumed," says Karthaus.
In Germany, this method of cultivation works well for soft fruits, apples, cherries, potatoes, and produce such as tomatoes and cucumbers. In other regions of the world, differing plants and module designs might be more suitable.
Huge Potential Worldwide
What exactly grows where, is something interested parties from all over the world can learn from Max Trommelsdorff, an expert in agrivoltaics at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in the southern German town of Freiburg. Agrivoltaics is the exciting approach of using agricultural areas to simultaneously produce food and generate photovoltaic electricity. Trommsdorff and his colleagues advise governments worldwide and recently organized an international conference on solar energy and farming.
Depending on the location, one has to estimate the optimal light conditions for the plants as well as local demand for electricity, says Trommelsdorff.
"There are big regional differences: It depends on what is being grown, what the climate zones are, what the rural structures are."
The big challenge, he says, is mutual understanding: "What can photovoltaics do? What does agriculture need for successful integration?"
Trommsdorff and his colleagues see huge potential for agrivoltaics worldwide. There are already some agrivoltaic plants in Europe, Mali, Gambia and Chile; but the vast majority so far are in Asia.
The world's largest plant, with a capacity of around 1,000 megawatts and covering 20 square kilometers (about 8 square miles), is located on the edge of the Gobi Desert in China. The cultivation of goji berries under the module roofs is intended to make the dry earth fertile again.
And in Japan, farmers are already harvesting from more than 2,000 agrivoltaics systems.
"The aim here is to support structural change, stop the rural exodus, and create prospects for the rural population," says Trommsdorff.
In Europe, France is a pioneer, especially in winegrowing. There, government subsidies for modular roofs are intended to protect vines.
"Many grape varieties get too much sun and heat due to climate change," Trommsdorff explains. "Shade can bring some benefits here."
New Prospects for Agriculture
Fabian Karthaus is planning on expanding his solar field in the future. At the moment, his berries grow under 0.4 hectares (about 1 acre) of solar panels. "I would like to expand this to an area of 8 or 10 hectares, then it will really be worthwhile."
However, Karthaus will have to be patient. So far, he says, the expansion is still cumbersome for farmers in Germany.
But he hopes that will change soon. And he is already advising other farmers to "definitely start dealing with the topic," even if it still takes a while to implement in their own fields.
This article was adapted from German.
Reposted with permission from DW.
In Today's Eco Update
- Keystone XL is dead.
- Revived Siberian microorganism.
- The Big Con.
- Record CO2 emissions.
- Dr. Bronner's chocolate.
– summaries below written by Angely Mercado
"The Company will continue to coordinate with regulators, stakeholders and Indigenous groups to meet its environmental and regulatory commitments and ensure a safe termination of and exit from the Project," the company wrote.
The news was met with jubilation from environmental and Indigenous groups who had spent years battling the project over concerns it would worsen the climate crisis and harm the ecosystems and communities along its route.
24,000-Year-Old Microorganism Revived From Permafrost
Scientists in Russia have revived a bdelloid rotifer — a multicellular microorganism found in wet environments — after the invertebrate spent 24,000 years frozen 11 feet beneath the Siberian permafrost.
According to a study published in Current Biology, research has suggested these tiny creatures can slow their metabolisms down to almost stagnant and survive frozen for up to 10 years. Scientists from the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science found that rotifers can survive for much longer. The 24,000-year-old rotifer was able to reproduce and feed after being thawed.
Report Details Fossil Fuel Industry's Deceptive 'Net Zero' Strategy
A new report published by a trio of progressive advocacy groups unveiled the so called "net zero" climate pledges, which are often touted by corporations and governments as solutions to the climate emergency. The report's authors argued that it's simply a form of greenwashing that should be eschewed in favor of Real Zero policies based on meaningful, near-term commitments to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
The report, The Big Con: How Big Polluters Are Advancing a "Net Zero" Climate Agenda to Delay, Deceive, and Deny, was published by Corporate Accountability, the Global Forest Coalition, and Friends of the Earth International, and is endorsed by more than 60 environmental organizations.
CO2 Reaches Its Highest Level in Human History
Last month, EcoWatch reported that atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels this year were expected to climb to beyond 2019 levels, despite falling during the pandemic. Two reports released earlier this week detailed that CO2 levels have indeed spiked, and that the annual peak reached 419 parts per million (PPM) in May, the highest level in human history.
Researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who published the reports, have tracked atmospheric CO2 for more than 60 years. But using other data, researchers were able to estimate that CO2 levels haven't been this high on Earth in more than 4 million years.
Dr. Bronner's to Launch Vegan, Organic Chocolate Bars
Dr. Bronner's, a popular natural soap brand, is releasing Dr. Bronner's Magic All-One Chocolate this Aug. 1 and will sell its product online by the fall. The dairy-free chocolate will come in six different flavors: roasted whole hazelnuts, crunchy hazelnut butter, salted whole almonds, salted almond butter, salted dark chocolate and smooth coconut praline. The bars will be made from cocoa grown through regenerative organic practices, and are made with lower-glycemic coconut sugar.
The push to produce chocolate began when Dr. Bronner's learned that the Ghanian farmers who supply its Regenerative Organic Certified Serendipalm also grow cocoa and decided to expand the partnership. The company's farming partners use dynamic agroforestry, a farming method used by Indigenous peoples of Latin America. Dynamic agroforestry creates "forest-like systems with high biomass production," according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.