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Toxic Cocktail of Man-Made Chemicals Found in Great Barrier Reef Turtles

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Toxic Cocktail of Man-Made Chemicals Found in Great Barrier Reef Turtles

Green Sea Turtles in Australia's Great Barrier Reef are some of the world's most majestic creatures. They have a lifespan of up to 50 years, but after recent results from blood tests on the marine animals, their health might be in jeopardy.


Man-made substances and chemicals are contaminating the ocean and, consequently, sea turtles. After testing Green Turtles' bloodstream in various locations along the 1,400 mile stretch of the reef, researchers from the University of Queensland found that the turtles had a wild cocktail of common drugs like milrinone for heart problems and allopurinol for gout, household cleaning products, cosmetics and hundreds of thousands of other industrial chemicals like pesticides and herbicides in their systems.

"The worrying thing is there are more chemicals we could not identify than chemicals we could," said Amy Heffernan, co-author of the study. "There is one new chemical registered for use every six seconds, so the libraries and the databases that we use to identify these chemicals just can't keep up."

Some of the more obvious signs of harm to the turtles' health were inflammation and liver dysfunction. But, the extent of the impact remains unknown.

"Humans are putting a lot of chemicals into the environment and we don't always know what they are and what effect they are having," said Heffernan. "What you put down your sink, spray on your farms or release from industries ends up in the marine environment and in turtles in the Great Barrier Reef."

What is known, however, is that the reef has been under quite a bit of pressure in recent decades due to climate change. With overfishing, waste dumping and increased pH levels leading to massive coral bleaching and die off, the turtles' habitat is at major risk of total extinction. A heavy dose of foreign substances is just the cherry on top.

The research is just one element of a larger study funded by the World Wildlife Fund who will be working with farmers to find better management practices for the turtles and all wildlife in the reefs.

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A large patch of leaked oil and the vessel MV Wakashio near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of southeast Mauritius on Aug. 6, 2020. AFP via Getty Images

The environmental disaster that Mauritius is facing is starting to appear as its pristine waters turn black, its fish wash up dead, and its sea birds are unable to take flight, as they are limp under the weight of the fuel covering them. For all the damage to the centuries-old coral that surrounds the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean, scientists are realizing that the damage could have been much worse and there are broad lessons for the shipping industry, according to Al Jazeera.

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Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.

For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.

"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."

To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.

"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."

So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

The frozen meat section at a supermarket in Hong Kong, China, in February. Chukrut Budrul / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Imported frozen food in three Chinese cities has tested positive for the new coronavirus, but public health experts say you still shouldn't worry too much about catching the virus from food or packaging.

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By Mark Mancini

If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.

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An "explosive" wildfire ignited in Los Angeles county Wednesday, growing to 10,000 acres in a little less than three hours.

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By Jeff Berardelli

Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020

If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.

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Thailand has a total population of 5,000 elephants. But of that number, 3,000 live in captivity, carrying tourists on their backs and offering photo opportunities made for social media.

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