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A group of inmate firefighter watch as the El Dorado Fire burns a hillside near homes in Mountain Home Village, California, inside the San Bernardino National Forest, Sept. 9, 2020. Kyle Grillot for The Washington Post / Getty Images

A California couple's gender reveal party went wrong when they set off a pyrotechnic device that ignited the 2020 lethal El Dorado fire, which killed a firefighter and set blaze to more than 22,000 acres of land. They've been charged with 30 crimes, including involuntary manslaughter, local authorities announced on Tuesday.

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Image of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) on a Montastrea cavernosa, common name: Great Star Coral. This is the virulent coral disease that continues to spread down the reef tract and has been persisting in the Miami-Dade region since 2014. FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A deadly coral disease took over Florida's reef tract in 2014 and now is rapidly spreading around the Caribbean; the infection may be a result of ballast water from ships, according to new research.

The infection, called stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) has the potential to be the most deadly coral disease because of how rapidly it spreads and its high death rate for more than 30 susceptible coral species, according to The Guardian.

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Elenathewise / iStock / Getty Images

Embracing solar power means reducing both your reliance on traditional utility companies and your environmental footprint, but the high upfront cost of solar panels can be a big deterrent for some homeowners.

If you're considering solar, you may have questions like: How much does it cost to install a solar energy system? What are some of the factors that can impact pricing? What else should home- and business owners know about going solar? In this article, we'll touch on each of these important topics, with the goal of helping you make a fully informed, financially responsible decision about solar energy.

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Grace Cary / Moment / Getty Images

A new study found that men's consumerism, particularly related to cars and meat-eating, creates 16% more carbon emissions than women's.

The study, published on July 19 in the Journal for Industrial Ecology, found that despite the sum of money spent on goods between men and women being similar, men contribute more emissions, according to The Guardian. Men's spending on fuel was the biggest difference.

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The culling of male chicks will be outlawed next year in France. danchooalex / iStock / Getty Images Plus
The culling of male chicks will be outlawed next year in France, Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie announced on Sunday.
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Goats are seen running during the second-ever Running of the Goats at Riverside Park on July 14, 2021 in New York City. Arturo Holmes / Getty Images for Riverside Park Conservancy

Two dozen goats were brought into a New York City park for the second annual "Running of the Goats," an event where the animals help remove invasive plant species by grazing.

The project is organized by Riverside Park Conservancy and began in 2019, according to Green Matters. The goats were brought to Riverside Park in the Upper West Side to eat whatever they want, including pesky plant species, keeping the goats and the park goers happy.

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A lifeguard puts out a sign warning that swimming is not advised at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey as a result of 17 million gallons of untreated sewage spilling into the ocean. Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Around 17 million gallons of untreated sewage entered Santa Monica Bay on Sunday, causing several Los Angeles beaches to close. After three days of closures, Los Angeles County Public Health officials allowed beaches to reopen late on July 14.

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fotostorm / E+ / Getty Images

Lemon water has become a bit of a fad in the health and fitness realm with claims of helping to aid weight loss and digestion, and providing vitamin C to your diet.

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Abnormally large goldfish have been found in a Minnesota lake. Lakeland PBS/ YouTube

Authorities in Minnesota have instructed residents and goldfish owners to stop dumping goldfish into the state's waterways after abnormally large goldfish were found in a local lake.

The city of Burnsville tweeted photographs of the huge goldfish with the caption, "Please don't release your pet goldfish into ponds and lakes!"

Groups of large goldfish, which can grow to be the size of a football, were found in local waters. The City of Burnsville said that when the fish grow bigger they "contribute to poor water quality by mucking up the bottom sediments and uprooting plants."

The act of releasing unwanted fish is called "illegal fish stocking," and it's happening all over Minnesota, disrupting the balance of the natural ecosystems and fish communities, according to NPR.

The city is working with Carp Solutions, a start-up company that develops new technologies to control carp, according to ABC News.

This is not the first time the state has dealt with this issue. In November, officials removed around 50,000 goldfish from local waters. Paul Moline, Carver County's water management manager, said goldfish are an "understudied species" with "a high potential to negatively impact the water quality of lakes," according to The Guardian.

An adaptable fish of the carp family, goldfish can survive low levels of oxygen and easily reproduce, according to The Guardian.

"The most likely scenario is that somebody or a couple people released goldfish, and they're exceedingly hardy fish," Madeline Seveland, a spokesperson with the Carver County Water Management Organization said to MPR News.

Minnesota isn't the only region dealing with this problem. Researchers in Boulder, Colorado found between 3,000 and 4,000 goldfish, and large ones were also found in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, as reported by National Geographic.

Goldfish haven't garnered a ton of attention as an invasive fish, but the species is also causing issues in parts of Europe, Canada and Australia, according to MPR News.

"It just hasn't reached a high level of awareness," Peter Sorensen, a biologist at the University of Minnesota said to MPR News. "They don't jump and knock people out of boats and break bones. But it's a global issue."

Dumping goldfish is illegal in many states, including Minnesota, NPR reported.

For pet owners who no longer wish to commit to their pet goldfish, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends putting the pet up for adoption. Additionally, pet owners can contact a local veterinarian or pet retailer to learn how to humanely dispose of the goldfish while eliminating potential harm to native fish species, according to NPR.

Audrey Nakagawa is the content creator intern at EcoWatch. She is a senior at James Madison University studying Media, Art, and Design, with a concentration in journalism. She's a reporter for The Breeze in the culture section and writes features on Harrisonburg artists, album reviews, and topics related to mental health and the environment. She was also a contributor for Virginia Reports where she reported on the impact that COVID-19 had on college students.

A tourist swims with a manatee in the Crystal River Preserve State Park in Crystal River, Florida on Jan. 7, 2020. Paul Rovere / Getty Images

A record number of manatees have died in Florida this year due to food scarcity in the Indian River Lagoon, officials said.

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roman023 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

In the United Kingdom boiling lobsters, crabs and other crustaceans alive may soon be illegal.

This initiative comes as animal welfare activists are pushing for legislation to pass in the House of Lords that recognizes lobsters, crabs, squids, octopus, mussels and other invertebrates as sentient beings that can feel pain, according to The Hill and The Times.

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A new study links human activity to intensifying rainfall. oobqoo / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A new UCLA study links human activity to intensifying rainfall.

The study, published in Nature Communications, shows the human influence in events like floods, landslides, crop damage, soil erosion, issues related to water resource management and agricultural damage, according to NBC Los Angeles and Nature.com.

"These findings further elevate the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent even larger impacts down the road," said Alex Hall, senior author of the study and director of the UCLA Center for Climate Science, to NBC Los Angeles. "We can now say that extreme precipitation is increasing globally due to human-induced climate change."

Just recently, on June 26, Detroitians experienced extreme precipitation firsthand, enduring floods that took a "devastating toll" on some households, according to Michigan Radio.

The researchers evaluated global climate records to examine the potential anthropogenic influence on extreme precipitation, according to The Guardian. Multiple data sets were studied, and the researchers were able to determine the human impact on extreme precipitation on a global scale.

"It is vital to identify the changes [to precipitation patterns] caused by human action, compared to the changes caused by natural climate variability," said Gavin Madakumbura, lead researcher of the study. "It allows us to manage water resources and plan adaption measures to changes driven by climate change."

This is the first study to work in this field globally, as it was restricted to specific countries prior, according to The Guardian.

"Previous attempts to detect human influence on extreme precipitation have not incorporated model uncertainty, and have been limited to specific regions and observational datasets," the study's abstract noted.

Decades prior to the release of this study, climate models developed in previous studies had already predicted that anthropogenic climate change would cause more vigorous precipitation events, according to NBC Los Angeles. Using new methods, the UCLA researchers were able to find evidence.

Utilizing machine learning, they compared 11 global land precipitation records from 1982 to 2015. The researchers found distinguishable anthropogenic signals in all of the records, Madakumbura told NBC Los Angeles.

"The dominant mechanism [driving extreme precipitation] for most regions around the world is that warmer air can hold more water vapour," Madakumbura said to The Guardian. "This fuels storms."

While more extreme precipitation isn't homogenous — some regions are becoming drier — Met Office data indicates that generally, rainfall is increasing globally, according to The Guardian. Rainfall extremes, like the increasing number of days with heavy rainfall, can lead to flash floods with potential consequences on infrastructure and the environment, according to The Guardian.

"We are already observing a 1.2 degrees Celsius [34.16 degrees Fahrenheit] warming compared to pre-industrial levels," said Dr. Sihan Li, a senior research associate at the University of Oxford, who wasn't involved in the study, to The Guardian. "If warming continues to increase, we will get more intense episodes of extreme precipitation, but also extreme drought events as well."

Li pointed out that the innovative machine learning used in the study can't currently allow for singling out individual factors that may influence extreme precipitation, like aerosols, land-use change, or volcanic eruptions, as the machine learning method only learned from data, according to The Guardian.

"We can aid this learning by imposing climate physics in the algorithm, so it will not only learn whether the extreme precipitation has changed, but also the mechanisms, why it has changed," Madakumbura said to The Guardian. "That's the next step."

Out for Sustainability / Facebook

Originally based in Seattle, WA, queer environmental organization Out for Sustainability aims to shed a light on how environmental issues affect the LGBTQIA+ community.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is in a bit of a transformation. When it was founded in 2008, there were ten board members who came from a variety of professional backgrounds, from sustainability to tech industries. It's now a board of four who are working to reimagine Out for Sustainability's role in the queer and environmental movements.

"The pandemic allowed us to think about what we really wanted to do and how we really wanted to reset," said Lindi von Mutius, a board member of Out for Sustainability, director of Board Operations and Strategies at the Trust for Public Land, and adjunct Harvard professor. "We really like took a step back and reflected on what was happening at the moment, in the pandemic, and we recognize that where all of us really wanted to work was in supporting organizations that were helping the queer community with COVID relief."

The organization sent out a blast email to their 8,000 newsletter recipients and made their social media followers aware of the initiative. They raised $5,000 that went equally to 12 different organizations that provided financial relief for queer people affected by COVID-19.

Before the pandemic, Out for Sustainability was active in bringing together queer people to talk about environmental issues with LGBTQIA+ issues.

"It's not an either or, you know, ecology or social justice," said Vanessa Raditz, a board member of Out for Sustainability and Ph.D. student in geography at the University of Georgia. "They are intimately tied together."

Vicki Carberry, board member and emergency manager, said where the two movements intersect follows along with Dr. Martin Luther King's quote, "No one is free until we are all free."

"The LGBTQ community is a vulnerable community," Von Mutius said. "And like all vulnerable communities in this country, it's a community that suffers environmental injustice and harm as a result of its inherent vulnerability."

Carberry pointed to the impending destruction from natural disasters due to climate change.

"I obviously believe in climate change and things are just going to continue to worsen," Carberry said. "People are going to be disproportionately impacted."

Her opinion is that the most pressing environmental issue is climate change, and she worries about the impact it will have on marginalized communities.

"I was in the Peace Corps for three years out of undergrad and I was there during… the largest ever recorded typhoon in history to make landfall," Carberry said. "I'll just never forget that — it was such a marker of my time there."

She was referring to the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Super Typhoon Yolanda that affected the Philippines, Palau, Vietnam and China in the fall of 2013. The worst-hit region was the Philippines where thousands were killed. Many consider it to be the country's worst natural disaster.

Carberry isn't the only board member who has experienced a natural disaster. Raditz is in the midst of creating a film Fire and Flood based on their experience with the Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County in the fall of 2017.

Raditz said they are no strangers to fire, living in California. But when they were attending a permaculture convergence in 2017, they experienced the destructiveness of wildfires firsthand.

"I woke up in the middle of Hopland to the news of 13 fires surrounding us and three of the four evacuation routes were shut down," Raditz said. "They [the firefighters] had only cleared enough of the fire to hold open this highway for evacuees, as we were driving through we could see the fire on either side of the road."

The film will also touch on Hurricane Maria which took place in Puerto Rico the same year as the Tubbs fire. It explores the devastation of both natural disasters, but also the relationship between resource extraction and the creation of the gender binary.

"[The film] shows how in these moments of disaster, queer and trans communities are enacting resilience practices that are not just trying to get through the fire and flood at the moment," Raditz said. "It's a resilience that imagines a 500-year bounce back to a time when queer and trans people were celebrated and held in sacred roles and community, and in which the Earth itself, that we are as humans a part of, was held in that similar reverence and sacredness."

The film's sponsor is Out for Sustainability and it's raising funds for the completion of the project. Von Mutius said that half of the donated money goes toward completing the film, and the second half goes to organizations that are doing disaster relief work for queer communities.

"We've been very intentional about trying to use our organization as a mouthpiece, a loudspeaker and an amplifier in helping to relocate capital to places where it's needed," she said.

Out for Sustainability sponsors a conference called "Fab Planet." It's a "conference to intersect and discuss the unique role of the LGBTQ+ community in social and environmental justice and sustainability," according to its website.

Von Mutius was first introduced to the organization in 2016 when she was invited to speak. For her, speaking at a conference for queer environmental professionals was her coming out to her colleagues.

"It really was Fab Planet, that made me sort of like come out to my colleagues, and start to come out to the world a little more," Von Mutius said. "I would say I'm very fully out… I talk and write about it, and I'm not shy about it… it's something that feels really good for me."

She said that she's "privileged" to be accepted by her friends and her boss and she wanted to "pay that forward."

"It always felt like I have a responsibility to be visible because there aren't enough of us — and those of us who are, are hiding or hidden or invisible in these organizations and in the environmental movement," Von Mutius said.

Another initiative of Out for Sustainability is Greener Pride. The project aims to address sustainable practices within LGBTQIA+ businesses and events. Greener Pride aims to encourage the queer community to move toward zero waste and carbon neutral pride events across the globe.

"Not to rain on anyone's Pride Parade… we kind of say, we'd love it if you could celebrate responsibly and sustainably," Von Mutius said.

Some businesses capitalize on pride month, creating rainbow products and relaying claims of support to the gay community mostly during June. Interestingly, a slew of businesses promoting gay rights during the month of June has contrarily donated to anti-trans lawmakers, according to VICE.

"Another piece of Pride Month is like all the rainbow capitalism, which is so problematic for so many reasons," Carberry said. "It feels like every big corporation is capitalizing off of the month of June and beyond; I think if we're not having conversations about sustainability and capitalism, I don't really know what it is we're doing."

Carberry's fellow board member expressed similar sentiments on the corporatization of Pride.

"I think that Marsha and Sylvia would be appalled that we have police and banks, and major pharmaceutical companies, marching in the name of pride when Stonewall Riots were an uprising against state-sanctioned violence, and the violence of capitalism," Raditz said. "I think that for me, that's the heart of greener pride… there are some… easier messages for some folks which is just, there's no pride on a dead planet, people."

Carberry said that at any large event it's easiest to use convenient and disposable products. She said that a part of the greener pride initiative is "helping folks to understand that there are things out there… little things that can be done in terms of lessening waste, especially during big events that… can be cost-effective."

Carberry said if she could change pride, she would want to see "BIPOC Black Indigenous people of color to the front." She said that as a white woman, she is "incredibly privileged" and that creating a space for people with intersecting identities is important not only in the month of June but all the time.

"I think celebrating… history is definitely important, but also remembering who led those movements and lifting up particularly Black trans women," Carberry said. "I think often things get so whitewashed, and I would like to see the community doing more of that work, dismantling, or looking at systemic racism."

Sophia Paul, board secretary for Out for Sustainability, said that during Pride month, the organization has focused on getting queer people outside to enjoy nature.

"The outdoors can be a really empowering place for a lot of queer and trans folks but it can also sometimes feel uniquely intimidating or stressful," Paul said. "You can be out there alone and you don't necessarily know who else is out there or depending on your background, you might not feel a lot of fluency."

She said that Out for Sustainability has been able to see the community claim a space in the outdoors for queer and trans folks through social media.

"With the pandemic, I have been getting outdoors more and really just feeling very grateful for the green spaces that I have access to," Paul said.

Another national initiative supported by Out for Sustainability is Earth Gay, a play on Earth Day, for the LGBTQIA+ community. It started in the Seattle area where queer people and allies would clean parks or help with Seattle Parks and Rec work, Von Mutius said.

Now, Earth Gay is a national program that supports volunteerism throughout the year.

As vaccines roll out, and people are able to gather again, Out for Sustainability is revving up to reimagine its mission and role in the environmental and LGBTQIA+ communities as an organization. What remains true for the organization is that it continues to highlight where and how environmental and queer issues intersect.

"I always say environmental issues are queer issues, and vice versa," Von Mutius said. "We can't really fix the environmental injustices in this country without fixing the systems that cause disparities in health, in wealth, in education, in the first place."

Audrey Nakagawa is the content creator intern at EcoWatch. She is a senior at James Madison University studying Media, Art, and Design, with a concentration in journalism. She's a reporter for The Breeze in the culture section and writes features on Harrisonburg artists, album reviews, and topics related to mental health and the environment. She was also a contributor for Virginia Reports where she reported on the impact that COVID-19 had on college students.