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These 5 Countries Account for 60% of Plastic Pollution in Oceans
Roughly 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the world's oceans every year, and according to a new study, the majority of this waste comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Why are these parts of Asia leaking so much plastic? Well, as the study suggests, these emerging countries are experiencing rapid economic growth, reduced poverty and improved quality of life. This development is, of course, fantastic. However, as these economies grow, so does the consumer use of plastic and plastic-intensive goods.
The caveat of this increased plastic demand is that these countries do not yet have waste-management infrastructures that can tackle the accompanying excess waste.
It makes sense then, as Fast Company observed from the study, that global ocean plastic clean-up efforts should initially be concentrated in these areas.
"Specifically, interventions in these five countries could reduce global plastic-waste leakage by approximately 45 percent over the next ten years," the report says.
The study's authors came up with the five best approaches (out of 21) to address plastic waste, customized for each country: collection services, closing leakage points in collection facilities, gasification (converting waste into fuel) and MRF-recylcing (diverting plastic from the waste stream).
"This study outlines a path that can generate considerable benefits to communities, preserve the bio-productivity of the ocean, and reduce risks for industry," the report says. "Concerted action in the form of a $5 billion annual ramp-up in waste-management spending could create a vibrant secondary resource market, trigger investment in packaging and recovery systems, and let the ocean thrive."
"Of course, extending these interventions to other countries could have even more impact on this global issue," the report points out.
Plastic waste in the Philippines, for instance, is having "drastic consequences on the livelihoods and health of the people of Dagupan," said city mayor Belen Fernandez in a press release for the study.
“Our town has had a dump site on our beach for over 50 years," he continued about the coastal Philippine city. "We're working hard to close the dump, and increase the capacity of waste management in Dagupan. Addressing the problem of ocean plastic will have real benefits for not just the environment, but for our citizens—by improving their quality of life. I hope our city and our work will become a model for what's possible around the world."
Andreas Merkl, CEO of Ocean Conservancy, said in a statement that the study is the first to outline a specific path forward for the reduction and ultimate elimination of plastic waste in the oceans.
“The report's findings confirm what many have long thought—that ocean plastic solutions actually begin on land. It will take a coordinated effort of industry, NGOs and government to solve this growing economic and environmental problem," he said.
Check out some of the Ocean Conservancy's infographics on the issue below:
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.