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Plastic bags in landfills can be carried by wind and caught in trees. European Parliament / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Martin LaMonica

From its arrival decades ago, plastic has transformed modern life. But in 2018, the alarm over the plastic pollution crisis sounded louder than ever. On Earth Day, the United Nations issued its first State of Plastics report, calling for more recycling and better ways to manufacture and manage the material in its many forms.

At The Conversation, we took a broad view of plastic, working with scholars to explain not only the environmental and health effects but also its cultural contribution and the industries that handle plastic goods—and waste.

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The controversial pipeline tunnel approved Wednesday would drill in the bedrock under the Straits of Mackinac connecting Lakes Huron and Michigan. Visions of America / UIG / Getty Images

A controversial plan to dig a tunnel under the Great Lakes in order to replace aging oil and natural gas pipelines was given the final go-ahead Wednesday, Crain's Detroit reported.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Dan Sedran

By Corey Mintz

There's nothing in the fridge at Akiwenzie's Fish & More processing facility. The 918-square-foot building, adjacent to Natasha and Andrew Akiwenzie's house on the shores of Georgian Bay, Ontario, sits empty and dark. Out-front, gill nets lie on the ground, unused for months.

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Mackinac Bridge from Straits of Mackinac. Gregory Varnum / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan's outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation on Wednesday that creates a new government authority to oversee a proposed oil tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac to effectively allow Canadian oil to keep flowing through the Great Lakes.

The controversial tunnel will encase a replacement segment for Enbridge Energy's aging Line 5 pipelines that run along the bottom of the Straits, a narrow waterway that connects Lakes Huron and Michigan.

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Mackinaw Bridge, Michigan. Deb Nystrom / CC BY 2.0

By Douglas Bessette

A deal involving an aging oil pipeline in Michigan reflects the complex decisions communities across the country need to make to balance the needs for energy and safety with efforts to deal with climate change.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Enbridge, a Canadian company, have reached an agreement over a leak-prone pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, the four-mile-long waterway that divides Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

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Straits of Mackinac, Mackinac Island. Jeff Lefevre / NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

Two environmental groups have filed suit against the U.S. Coast Guard in a Detroit federal district court, arguing that their plan to respond in the case of a Great Lakes pipeline oil spill is inadequate, The Detroit News reported on Aug. 22.

The suit is part of a larger push to shut down Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac between Lakes Huron and Michigan and comes as indigenous activists have set up camps protesting the line that could damage 400 miles of shoreline in a spill.

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DWalker44 / Getty Images

By Matthew J. Hoffman

Awareness is rising worldwide about the scourge of ocean plastic pollution, from Earth Day 2018 events to the cover of National Geographic magazine. But few people realize that similar concentrations of plastic pollution are accumulating in lakes and rivers. One recent study found microplastic particles—fragments measuring less then five millimeters—in globally sourced tap water and beer brewed with water from the Great Lakes.

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Oru Kayak / Instagram

By Conor Mihell

After nearly 20 years of venturing in canoes and kayaks down wild rivers and along all three of North America's seacoasts, plus guiding multiday tours on the Great Lakes, I have distilled my expectations for paddle-sports gear into three nonnegotiables: simplicity, versatility and durability. Based on those criteria, here are some favorites.

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Across the U.S., a growing epidemic of toxic algal blooms is polluting lakes and other waterways, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group.

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Western tanager. Dennis Morrison

By Jane Kirchner

Right now, more than a 150 species of birds are on their way northward from tropical wintering grounds to take advantage of emerging insects, budding plants and an abundance of nesting locations. While larger birds tend to travel during daylight hours, songbirds and smaller species fly at night and will stop off and stick around for a day to eat and build up fat stores before continuing their journey. The best time to see and hear them in your yard is the first two hours after the sun rises!

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A massive dead zone forms in the Gulf of Mexico every year, fed by farm runoff that washes down the Mississippi River. EPA

By Donald Scavia

Scientists have identified a dead zone as large as Florida in the Gulf of Oman, which connects the Arabian Sea to the Persian Gulf. Around the world there are more than 400 current dead zones in oceans and lakes, where water contains so little oxygen that aquatic life can't survive.

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