Twelve-Year-Old Spearheads Movement to Ban Plastic Bags in Illinois
More than 150,000 people have joined a growing campaign on Change.org calling on Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) to stop big plastic from thwarting the efforts of a 12-year-old girl who is working to pass a plastic bag ban in her community.
Abby Goldberg, a student from Grayslake, Ill., was working on an effort to ban single-use plastic bags in her community as part of a school project. After beginning to mobilize many in her community to support the effort, lobbyists with the plastics industry put pressure on statewide legislators to prevent local communities in Illinois from banning plastic bags.
“My friends and I were beginning to make great progress, until the oil and chemical industry pulled a dirty trick to kill my campaign,” said Abby Goldberg. “These lobbyists passed a bill that would make it illegal for towns across Illinois to create plastic bag bans.”
The bill, SB 3442, passed both the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate, and is waiting to land on Gov. Quinn’s desk. Gov. Quinn has not indicated whether he plans to sign the bill, which is why Abby is mobilizing support to urge him to veto the measure. Abby will deliver the 150,000 signatures on her petition to Gov. Quinn’s Chicago office on Tuesday, July 3, 2012, at 10 a.m. CST.
“Kids and adults like me are standing up to big oil and big plastic, creating bans everywhere, including in Los Angeles, Hawaii, Seattle, Austin and more. Communities should be able to decide for themselves whether or not to ban single-use plastic bags, including here in Illinois,” said Goldberg. “I’m not afraid of big plastic, and I’m going to take all these signatures on my petition and present them to Governor Quinn in hopes that he’ll listen to tens of thousands of Illinois residents who want to protect the environment without fear of being bullied by big plastic.”
Supporters of SB 3442 have said that they hope this can be model legislation for other states, which could effectively limit the ability of communities nationwide to pass bans on plastic bags.
“Young people like Abby Goldberg are using Change.org to level the playing field against big companies and big lobbyists,” said Mike Jones, deputy campaign director at Change.org. "But because 150,000 people are standing with Abby Goldberg against this bill, she may just achieve her goal to ban plastic bags in her community.”
For live signature totals from Abby Goldberg’s campaign, click here.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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