The eruption sent lava shooting into the air, along with a huge cloud of ash and steam. Hawaiian officials urged residents to stay indoors shortly after the eruption.
"Trade winds will push any embedded ash toward the Southwest. Fallout is likely in the Kau District in Wood Valley, Pahala, Naalehu and Ocean View. Stay indoors," an official from Civil Defense Agency tweeted, according to CNN.
However, the lava posed little risk to residents due to the eruption's location on Halemaumau within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the AP reported.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, (HVO) which monitors activity at Kilauea and its sister volcano Mauna Kea, issued a red aviation code alert after the initial eruption, but has since lowered it to an orange alert, meaning another significant eruption may still be possible.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) also reported a 4.4 magnitude earthquake that struck about an hour after the initial eruption. The USGS received more than 500 reports from people who felt the earthquake, but no major damage has been reported, according to the AP.
Kilauea last erupted in May 2018. That event involved a period of earthquakes and eruptions lasting for four months, creating lava flows that destroyed more than 700 homes, the AP reported.
The 2018 activity also caused Halemaumau's longtime lava lake to drain, according to the AP. In 2019, a new body of water was discovered in Kilauea's crater, leading to speculation about future eruptions, the New York Times found.
Jessica Ferracane, a Hawaii Volcanoes National Park spokeswoman, told the AP that curious park spectators should take precautions. "There are high amounts of hazardous sulfur dioxide gas and particulates and those are billowing out of the crater right now and those present a danger to everyone, especially people with heart or respiratory problems, infants, young children and pregnant women."
HVO confirmed that Kilauea summit eruptions can last more than a decade, based on 200 years of tracking.
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2021 is forecasted to be slightly colder worldwide than years previous, according to meteorologists at the United Kingdom Meteorological Office, but will still be one the hottest on record due to greenhouse gas effects.
A La Niña weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean will cause strong winds to blow warm surface water around the equator westward, making the ocean temperature a few degrees colder. The variance in ocean temperature during a La Niña winter can cause temperature changes worldwide. It will likely increase rainfall in Australia, Indonesia, and eastern Asia, while drier conditions will likely occur in the southwestern U.S.
Forecasters calculate the hottest years by comparing temperatures before and after the industrial era of 1850-1900, when greenhouse gases became mostly human-made from automobiles, factories, and large-scale agriculture.
"The global temperature for 2021 is unlikely to be a record year due to the influence of the current La Niña, but it will be far warmer than other past La Niña years such as 2011 and 2000 due to global warming," Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office, told the BBC.
But next year is predicted to be still above 1 degree Celsius preindustrial levels — empirical proof greenhouse gases cause hotter temperatures and climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated a 0.2°C increase in global temperature every decade since the industrial era, due to human activities.
Around the U.S., the Old Farmer's Almanac is predicting a milder winter, with average to "warmer-than-normal" temperatures for most of the country, while New England, the desert Southwest, and the Pacific Southwest will be a bit chillier than normal in the winter.
According to the BBC, 2016 remains the warmest year on record. 2020 and 2019 are both contenders for second place.
- Five Climate Change Lessons From 2020 - EcoWatch ›
- Gov. Jay Inslee on Climate Crisis: 'We Cannot Give in to Defeat ... ›
- UN Climate Change Conference COP26 Delayed to November 2021 ›
With a growing market for vegan makeup and cruelty-free cosmetics, more and more beauty brands are ditching animal ingredients and animal testing. While many luxe animal-friendly companies have high prices, there are a number of cruelty-free makeup brands producing affordable personal care products as well.
In this article, we'll recommend 11 essential beauty products that have drugstore price tags and cruelty-free certifications. An easy switch to make in your day-to-day makeup and skincare routine is to invest in cruelty-free cosmetics that work to protect the most vulnerable among us — animals.
Our Picks for Best Cruelty-free Makeup Products
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
- Best Foundation: Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Liquid Foundation
- Best Concealer: NYX HD Studio Photogenic Concealer
- Best Pressed Powder: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Finishing Powder
- Best Blush: Milani Baked Blush
- Best Highlighter: Pacifica Beauty Ice Baby Hydrating Highlighter
- Best Eyeshadow Palette: e.l.f. Mad for Matte Eyeshadow Palette
- Best Eyeliner: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner Pencil
- Best Cruelty-Free Mascara: Essence Cosmetics Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
- Best Vegan Lip Balm: Eco Lips Mongo Kiss
- Best Lipstick: IT Cosmetics Pillow Lips Lipstick
- Best Setting Spray: Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray
What to Know About Cruelty-Free Makeup
While vegan products are great for the environment, they aren't always cruelty-free — nor are cruelty-free products always vegan. "Vegan" means that the product's formula doesn't contain any animal-derived ingredients, while "cruelty-free" means that it was developed without animal testing.
No product we recommend in this article is tested on animals at any point during the production process. They come from ethical, cruelty-free makeup brands, which can be hard to find in the massive beauty industry.
Full Reviews of Our Top Picks
Best Foundation: Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Liquid Foundation
The Milani Conceal + Perfect Foundation comes in over 40 shades, so there is a color for just about every complexion. The appeal of this foundation is that it combines a liquid foundation with the power of concealer to create smooth, even, flawless-looking skin in one step. The waterproof foundation has a natural-looking satin matte finish for all-day wear.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with about 15,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Milani Cosmetics is both Leaping Bunny Certified and a PETA Beauty Without Bunnies brand. The company's focus on inclusivity and affordability makes it one of the best cruelty-free makeup brands for any shopper.
Best Concealer: NYX HD Studio Photogenic Concealer
This medium-coverage concealer goes on smoothly to help cover blemishes, skin discoloration and under-eye circles. NYX's concealer wand comes in 23 shades including color-correcting green, yellow and lavender.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 30,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: NYX Professional Makeup products are certified cruelty-free by PETA. This product is also vegan and doesn't contain any gluten, soy or parabens.
Best Pressed Powder: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Finishing Powder
This translucent pressed setting powder is good for any skin tone, and its formula helps to blur the appearance of pores and imperfections. The Bye Bye Pores pressed powder can be useful for touch-ups throughout the day. It can also double as a blotting powder.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 2,100 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This formulation was developed with insights from plastic surgeons and dermatologists and uses an anti-aging mix of peptides, silk, hydrolyzed collagen and antioxidants that may help skin look more youthful. IT Cosmetics is PETA Beauty Without Bunnies certified. This product is also free of parabens and propylene glycol.
Best Blush: Milani Baked Blush
Milani's Baked Blush is available in 16 different shades, adding a pop of color to any complexion. The color range includes rose and peach tones with satin or shimmery finishes. Each high-quality Milani blush is sunbaked on Italian terracotta tiles to ensure it gives your skin a warm glow.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 21,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This Milani product is certified cruelty-free by both Leaping Bunny and PETA Beauty Without Bunnies standards. It is vegan and is made without paraben preservatives.
Best Highlighter: Pacifica Beauty Ice Baby Hydrating Highlighter
Made with coconut water and exuding a cool pink tint, Pacifica's Ice Baby Hydrating Highlighter may be a good choice for those looking for a lush, glowy look. The formula creates a velvety powder that's easy to apply to the cheekbones, nose, upper lip or anywhere else you want to shine.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 200 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The formula for this highlighter is 100% vegan and cruelty-free to the standards of PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies program. The formula does not include parabens or phthalates.
Best Eyeshadow Palette: e.l.f. Mad for Matte Eyeshadow Palette
This e.l.f. Cosmetics palette includes 10 matte shadows that are great for shading, highlighting and defining the eyes. The palette's diversity allows you to mix and match colors to achieve both natural and more bold looks.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with over 350 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: All e.l.f. Cosmetics products are vegan and endorsed by PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies program. This eyeshadow palette is also paraben-free and doesn't use phthalates, nonylphenol, ethoxylates, triclosan, triclocarban or hydroquinone.
Best Eyeliner: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner Pencil
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner Pencil is designed to make application a breeze. It has a long-lasting, creamy formula that makes drawing beautiful, precise lines simple and smooth. Or, it can be smudged out for a smokey-eye look.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 3,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Urban Decay's 24/7 eyeliner pencil utilizes moisturizing and hydrating ingredients such as vitamin E, jojoba oil and cottonseed oil. Like all of Urban Decay's products, this eyeliner is certified cruelty-free by PETA. It also doesn't contain any fragrances, parabens, gluten or soy.
Best Cruelty-Free Mascara: Essence Cosmetics Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
This mascara utilizes a cone-shaped fiber brush that helps to separate and coat each lash, creating a voluminous look without clumping. Essence's Lash Princess mascara formula helps to prevent flaking and fading, so it's good for all-day wear.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 202,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Essence is a PETA Beauty Without Bunnies cruelty-free makeup brand, so you can be sure it never tests on animals. The formula doesn't include gluten, parabens, soy, propylene glycol or other harsh irritants.
Best Vegan Lip Balm: Eco Lips Mongo Kiss Lip Balm
This USDA certified organic product uses ingredients like mongongo oil and cocoa butter that help soothe and moisturize dry, cracked and chapped lips. It can be used as a base for lipstick or lip liner.
Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 3,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Eco Lips vegan beauty products are earth-friendly and cruelty-free. The lip balm container is made from over 40% post-consumer recycled material. The formula doesn't include any parabens, lanolin, gluten, soy, propylene glycol, corn, chemicals, petroleum, dyes or irritants. It is certified non-GMO, Fair Trade, Leaping Bunny and PETA Beauty Without Bunnies.
Best Lipstick: IT Cosmetics Pillow Lips Lipstick
This IT Cosmetics lipstick comes in a variety of shades with both cream and matte finishes, so there is something for everyone. The lipstick includes collagen to help create a plumping effect, making lips look fuller. Its high-impact color and pigment can be applied in a single swipe.
Customer Rating: 4 out of 5 stars with about 150 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Along with collagen, this lipstick's PETA-certified cruelty-free formula includes hyaluronic filling spheres, shea butter and beeswax. The ingredients are helpful in minimizing the look of lip wrinkles.
Best Setting Spray: Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray
Urban Decay's award-winning setting spray uses temperature control technology to help makeup stay on for up to 16 hours. It is oil-free and suitable for all skin types, including oily, normal and dry skin.
Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 5,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The All Nighter Setting Spray is one of Urban Decay's vegan beauty products. It's also certified cruelty-free to PETA Beauty Without Bunnies standards. The formula includes no parabens gluten, dye, soy or oil.
FAQ: Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands
Is L'Oréal cruelty-free?
L'Oréal is not cruelty-free. Its products are sold in China, where the government requires animal testing for foreign cosmetics.
Is Maybelline cruelty-free?
Like its parent company L'Oréal, Maybelline is not cruelty-free. Its products are sold in China, where the government requires animal testing for foreign cosmetics.
Is Kylie Cosmetics cruelty-free?
Kylie Cosmetics products are not tested on animals, but the brand's parent company,Coty, Inc, is not cruelty-free.
What makeup doesn't test on animals?
There are plenty of makeup brands that don't test on animals. When looking for products, keep an eye out for cruelty-free signals such as Leaping Bunny Certified or PETA Beauty Without Bunnies logos.
Is "cruelty-free" makeup really cruelty-free?
The term "cruelty-free" is currently not regulated by the U.S. government, so you can't trust every product or company that advertises this. Some brands contract other companies to do their animal testing but claim to "not test on animals" because they are not doing the testing themselves. The best way to be certain a company or product is actually cruelty-free is to look for certifications such as Leaping Bunny or PETA Beauty Without Bunnies.
The Trump administration said Tuesday that federal protection for monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act is still a few years away. The reason? The administration cited 161 vulnerable species that are already waiting in line ahead of monarchs.
Monarchs will likely have to wait until 2023 to be added by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Reuters reported. The federal agency oversees listing endangered species.
"Protection for monarchs is needed — and warranted — now," said George Kimbrell, legal director at the Center for Food Safety, Reuters reported.
Monarch butterfly populations have exponentially decreased in the past decade, mostly due to habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change. For example, North America's Eastern monarch butterflies traditionally migrate up to 3,000 miles every year from the eastern U.S. to Mexico to spend the winter, but migration numbers are falling.
Overall, the Western monarch population declined by more than 97 percent to fewer than 30,000 between 1997 and 2019, Reuters reported, while the Eastern U.S. population declined 84 percent during the same period.
"We conducted an intensive, thorough review using a rigorous, transparent science-based process and found that the monarch meets listing criteria under the Endangered Species Act," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith told CBS News. "However, before we can propose listing, we must focus resources on our higher-priority listing actions."
Monarch butterflies may not have the time to wait.
"Forty-seven species have gone extinct waiting for their protection to be finalized," Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, told CBS News. "This decision continues the delay in implementing a national recovery plan which monarchs desperately need."
A decline in milkweed plants partly explains the falling monarch numbers. Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed, but the plants are being killed off thanks to farmers spraying Roundup, a common herbicide, on their crops, The New York Times reported. Milkweed generally grows in between crops and cannot survive Roundup. It doesn't help that affected farmland is also prime monarch breeding ground.
In the meantime, there are numerous environmental groups and citizen efforts working to protect the species, including farmers paid by the federal government to maintain pollinator habitats. As adults, monarch butterflies pollinate many types of wild flowers. However, monarchs will have to wait for federal protection before herbicide use is regulated in their habitats. This is key to saving monarchs from extinction.
"One, we restore a lot of habitat," Chip Taylor, founder and director of Monarch Watch, told the New York Times.
"And two, we try to convince our fellow citizens and particularly our politicians that we have to do something about greenhouse gases."
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President-elect Joe Biden is currently considering the former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under former President Barack Obama to be the domestic "climate czar," Reuters reported.
The appointment of Gina McCarthy would put her in charge of federal policy on climate across agencies. Biden has made the climate crisis a main focus for his upcoming administration, tapping former Obama secretary of state John Kerry to be its special presidential envoy on climate, as a cabinet-level official who will sit on the National Security Council.
McCarthy currently serves as the president of the Natural Resources Defense Counsel, an environmental advocacy organization with broad reach. She would be Kerry's counterpart, where she would run domestic policy, with Kerry in charge of international diplomacy with regard to climate.
In an interview with NPR in November, McCarthy said Biden's climate strategy consisted of re-entering the Paris agreement immediately, and moving to clean energy by 2035. She mentioned how under President Trump the administration was stacked with fossil fuel executives, which stalled policy on clean energy to move forward. It also stalled on the job front, as clean energy jobs are more likely to produce more employment through creating infrastructure.
She said in the interview that if people who may be skeptical about climate change, or rely on the fossil fuel industry for employment understood the potential of the job market in renewable energy — and the jobs would be more secure — then it could be massive step forward in combating climate change in the U.S.
And Michael Regan, the current secretary of North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality, is a top contender to head the upcoming administration's EPA office, according to Bloomberg News. One of his largest achievements while in office was in January, where he held Duke Energy Corp accountable for its pollution production, forcing the company to agree to the largest coal cleanup in the U.S.
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The investigation, Deep Trouble: The murky world of the deep sea mining industry, decries the increasing use of the ocean floor by large corporations, such as U.S. arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin, to mine metals and minerals. Only several private sector companies with shell-organizations, or "operating through complex and opaque structures of sub-contractors, partnerships or subsidiaries," received 30 contracts to mine from the International Seabed Authority, a consortium with no environmental or assessment process that acts as the overseeing organization on seabed mining contracts. The ISA has never rejected a bid for mining.
For every contract the ISA issues, it receives $500,000. Greenpeace finds the setup to be a potential conflict of interest that undermines environmental regulation at the state and national level. It also unfairly allocates the natural resources of the ocean, to the point where some corporations partner with small island states such as the Micronesian country of Nauru, but the companies reap the benefits of extraction, while the nation-states are left with all the liability.
In 2019 deep sea mining and shipping firm Nautilus went bankrupt, leaving its partner state, Papua New Guinea on the hook for cleanup expenses. Now, according to The Guardian, Papua New Guinea is one of many nations calling for a moratorium on deep sea mining.
And the potential for environmental destruction is evident, says Greenpeace.
"Deep sea mining will cause serious and irreversible damage to the ocean biome, risks driving biodiversity loss and could potentially damage an important carbon sink: the deep ocean," the executive summary of the report notes. Dumbo octopuses, deep-sea corals, and the endangered scaly-foot snail are all potentially at risk of extinction.
In some areas the ocean floor contains poly-metallic nodules, which contain within them manganese peroxide, a substance used in bleaching powder, and cobalt, nickel, copper, titanium — metals commonly used in smartphones.
Just like a rocky garden, the life around the nodules is more abundant. And deep sea mining leaves tracks on the ocean floor that stay in place for decades, disrupting the area's natural processes, and are harmful to the few species of life that survive on the abyssal plain.
DeepGreen Metals Inc., one of the companies with an ISA approved mining contract, told The Guardian in a response to Greenpeace that deep sea mining could supply "critical minerals for the global transition off fossil fuels at a fraction of environmental and social costs associated with metal production from conventional land ores."
Greenpeace is calling for an international ocean treaty, where nations reuse and recycle the existing supply of minerals and metals, instead of opening the ocean floor to extraction.
"We think the deep sea ocean should be off limits because it is not possible to have good enough environmental rules," Louisa Cannon, lead author of the report told The Guardian.
"Scientists are warning of irreversible harm and potential extinctions. The ISA is supposed to be protecting the oceans and it's not doing its job."
- What if We Treated Our Oceans as if They Matter? - EcoWatch ›
- Did Life on Earth Begin in the Deep Sea? - EcoWatch ›
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The study, published in Ecological Economics, focused on European residents, and determined that happiness correlated with a specific number of bird species.
"According to our findings, the happiest Europeans are those who can experience numerous different bird species in their daily life, or who live in near-natural surroundings that are home to many species," says lead author Joel Methorst, a doctoral researcher at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center, the iDiv and the Goethe University in Frankfurt.
The authors calculated that being around fourteen additional bird species provided as much satisfaction as earning an additional $150 a month.
For the study, researchers used data from the 2012 "European Quality of Life Survey" to explore the connection between species diversity around homes, towns and cites, and how it relates to satisfaction. More than 26,000 adults from 26 European countries were surveyed.
According to the study authors, birds are some of the best indicators of biological diversity in any given area because they are usually seen or heard in their environments, especially in urban areas. However, more bird species were found near natural green spaces, forested areas and bodies of water.
In the U.S., birding has become a more common and accessible hobby during the pandemic.
Although not new, thousands of amateurs and expert birders participate in Audubon's long-running annual Christmas Bird Count, a three-week activity to count birds in a specific area for the group's data compilation.
"Nature conservation therefore not only ensures our material basis of life, but it also constitutes an investment in the well-being of us all," says Methorst.
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A new report about Australia's wildlife loss following the 2019-2020 wildfires reveals a staggering number. The sobering findings, calculated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Australia, determined that 143 million native mammals were likely killed, including more than 61,000 koalas.
Ten scientists and researchers worked on the labor-intensive report, factoring in limitations for concluding total numbers. However, an estimated three billion animals were affected by the fires, including 2.46 billion reptiles.
In the report's forward, WWF-Australia Chief Executive Dermot O'Gorman declared that the fires were "one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history."
Of the 143 million mammals, it's estimated that the wildfires killed about one million wombats, five million kangaroos and wallabies, five million bats, 39 million possums and gliders and 50 million native mice and rats, The Guardian reported.
The loss of Australia's endemic mammals is particularly stark since the country is the only place where they're naturally found.
Also lost were about five-and-a-half million lesser-known but equally important Australian mammals such as bettongs (or rat kangaroos), bandicoots, quokkas and potoroos.
The koala toll has been especially difficult. O'Gorman wrote in the report, "That is a devastating number for a species that was already sliding towards extinction in eastern Australia. We cannot afford to lose koalas on our watch."
Last month Australian Environment Minister Sussan Ley decried "a serious lack of data about where [koala] populations actually are," and called for a national census of the marsupial.
In New South Wales, a parliamentary inquiry found that koalas would be extinct by 2050 without intervention to save their habitat.
Proposed solutions to increase koala numbers involve protecting koala corridors and banning logging in old-growth forests, but the severity of recent fires and the threat of future disasters due to climate change impede saving the species. However, a countrywide koala census is scheduled for next year.
Researchers intend to use koala droppings, drones and detector dogs to count the species. The last koala census in 2016 estimated there were more than 300,000 in Australia.
The report included recommendations to address future wildfire threats, such as establishing rapid response teams and improving fire prevention.
"It's really a call to arms to try and do something because under climate change these fires will happen again," University of Sydney Ecologist Chris Dickman, who worked on the project, told the Guardian.
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The world's largest sand island has been on fire for the past six weeks due to a campfire, and Australia's firefighters have yet to prevent flames from destroying the fragile ecosystem.
The wildfires on Fraser Island, also called by its Indigenous name K'gari, have burned almost 200,000 acres of its unique habitat, including large sand dunes, swamps and rainforests. Fraser Island is near Brisbane on the northeastern coast, where dingos, swamp wallabies, sugar gliders and more than 60 reptile species call the island home. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992.
Several tourists visiting the island had to be evacuated as conditions worsened, Reuters reported.
"I think it's frustrating for everybody, the fact that a campfire has started this fire. Having the impact that it has had, it started in a very, very remote part of the island… really difficult to access," Queensland Fire and Emergency Services deputy commissioner Mike Wassing told CNN affiliate Nine News, according to Reuters.
Since Saturday fire crews have dropped more than 200,000 gallons of water and flame retardant on the island, Reuters added.
The Guardian reported that crews are mainly addressing the problem from above, focusing on key ecological areas and sites that are important to the Butchulla Aboriginal people, who have called the island home for thousands of years.
However, fighting sand fires is difficult, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services assistant commissioner Gary McCormack told The Guardian. He explained how water quickly drained from the sand floor, even when dropped from above. Ground conditions weren't any better due to a lack of firebreaks.
"Unfortunately the current conditions are not conducive to extinguishment," McCormack said.
The fires are approaching the Valley of Giants, a tourist attraction known for its 1,000-year-old trees.
Researcher Dr. Gabriel Conroy, a conservation biologist at the University of the Sunshine Coast whose work focuses on Fraser Island, took a student group there last week.
"A northerly wind had kicked in and it was other-worldly with ash falling down on the students," he told The Guardian. "There's a sense of panic on the island."
Conroy explained that traditional fire practices by the Butchulla people were suppressed more than a century ago, and European loggers altered the island's ecology. Prior to this, the Butchulla had burned smaller fires on the island for thousands of years in order to prevent more widespread ones.
"This is a very large and very hot fire for this island. It's a big fire and it's the wrong kind of fire," Conroy said. He added, "It's a catastrophe. Even ecosystems that are meant to burn don't bounce back from widespread hot fires. It can be beyond their capacity to bounce back."
According to CNN, Queensland's Bureau of Meteorology warned that an extreme heat wave and strong winds, forecast for the next couple of days, would likely worsen the fires.
The current fires may be the start of a harsh and long fire season, and are already drawing comparison to the devastating wildfires Australia experienced in early 2020, where more than 37 million acres were destroyed, three billion animals killed, and 33 people died.
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The Ganges River is a quagmire of raw sewage, toxic waste and overfishing from the crowded cities along its waterway. It is also home to the endangered Ganges river dolphin and the critically endangered three-striped roofed turtle, along with other threatened marine species.
As part of the National Geographic Society's "Sea to Source: Ganges" expedition, a study was conducted to understand how much plastic pollution or "ghost" fishing threatens the native wildlife. Fishing nets are common in the river, and entanglements frequently occur.
According to interviews conducted with the local fishing community as part of the study, nets and equipment are commonly left in the river. Researchers at the University of Exeter, who gathered data for the study, found disposal systems in short supply.
"The Ganges River supports some of the world's largest inland fisheries, but no research has been done to assess plastic pollution from this industry, and its impacts on wildlife," said Dr. Sarah Nelms, a postdoctoral associate at the Center for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter, and an author of the study.
"Ingesting plastic can harm wildlife, but our threat assessment focused on entanglement, which is known to injure and kill a wide range of marine species."
Professor Heather Koldewey, of the Zoological Society of London and the University of Exeter, and a National Geographic Fellow believes the "circular economy" – the reuse of products and equipment that have monetary value – can play a role in keeping nets out of the river, especially when nets are made of durable nylon material which can be reused to make carpet or clothing.
"Collection and recycling of nylon 6 has strong potential as a solution because it would cut plastic pollution and provide an income," she said.
Plastic pollution in marine and freshwater ecosystems continues on an increasing scale to cause wildlife death. But Koldewey believes behavior changes through this new research could have positive effects.
"This is a complex problem that will require multiple solutions – all of which must work for both local communities and wildlife."
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A large volcano in Indonesia erupted Sunday, sending a plume of smoke and ash miles into the air and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate the region.
Mount Ili Lewotolok's eruption in Lembata, East Nusa Tenggara caused the local airport to shut down and created panic among locals. East Nusa Tenggara province is located in a remote section about 1,615 miles east of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, Al Jazeera reported.
Raditya Jati, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency, said no deaths or injuries have been reported, but about 2,780 residents from 26 villages have sought refuge, according to Al Jazeera.
Local Muhammad Ilham, a 17 year old who captured video of the eruption, told Reuters people were "panicked and they're still looking for refuge and in need of money right now."
Reuters reported that Indonesia has raised its threat level to the second-highest on a four-tier alert system. Three other volcanoes in Indonesia are currently at the second-highest level as well.
Indonesia's Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) website warned that "hot clouds, lava stream, lava avalanche and poisonous gas" would impact the immediate area around the volcano, Al Jazeera reported.
There are approximately 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, Reuters reported, the most in the world. According to the CVGHM, 79 have erupted in the last 400 years.
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In yet another attack on the environment before leaving office, the Trump administration is seeking to transfer ownership of San Carlos Apache holy ground in Oak Flat, Arizona, to a copper mining company.
The administration pushed to finish the environmental review process, a necessary step to transfer ownership to copper mining company Resolution Copper, and its two parent companies Rio Tinto and BHP, to December 2020, almost a full year ahead of the planned completion.
"The Trump administration is cutting corners and doing a rushed job just to take care of Rio Tinto," Democratic Arizona representative Raúl Grijalva told The Guardian. Grijalva has been outspoken in his opposition to the mine plans.
"And the fact they are doing it during Covid makes it even more disgusting. Trump and Rio Tinto know the tribes' reaction would be very strong and public under normal circumstances but the tribes are trying to save their people right now," Grijalva said.
Oak Flat is a high desert wonderland full of rock spires, choppy hills, ancient oaks, medicinal plants and long stretches of desert flatland. It contains many Indigenous archaeological sites dating back 1,500 years, and is near Tonto National Forest, the largest of six national forests in Arizona. For centuries, the Apache have considered the site holy, using the area for ceremonies. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
However, what is estimated to be one of the world's largest copper deposits resides 7,000 feet underneath the site. If mining proceeds, more than 11 miles of Indigenous sacred sites, burial grounds and petroglyphs would be destroyed, The Guardian reported. Not only that, but Resolution Copper intends to extract 1.4 metric tons of ore, which would create a crater stretching almost two miles wide and 1,000 feet deep.
Rio Tinto, the world's second largest mining company, is no stranger to controversy. The Anglo-Australian company was recently involved in destroying a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal site in order to mine iron ore, against the wishes of the land's traditional owners, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people.
In 2014, a proposal called the Southeastern Arizona Land Exchange was tacked onto the end of a spending bill to exchange federal land for privately owned land for Resolution Copper. Several Arizona legislators supported it, despite opposition from regional Arizona tribes.
Currently there is no federal law that allows control of ancestral lands outside of Native reservation boundaries.
After the environmental review process is complete, the transfer must occur within 60 days, potentially before President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.
The move marks one of many attempts by the outgoing administration to keep pushing for environmental rollbacks as it leaves office, including opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling and weakening migratory bird protections.
"We are looking at the destruction of some of the Apache's most significant cultural and historic sites with this project," Kathryn Leonard, an Arizona state historic preservation officer, told The Guardian.
"Our preservation laws are not set up to prevent this level of loss. It weighs heavily on me."
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More than half the bacteria in the human gut microbiome are sensitive to glyphosate, the mostly commonly used herbicide in the world, reported scientists this month in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.
Researchers from the University of Turku in Finland recently developed a novel bioinformatics tool to predict if beneficial bacteria in the human gut are affected by exposure to glyphosate.
They found that the herbicide could disturb the natural cycles of microbiome life, and potentially harm human health, through weakening the system and causing greater susceptibility to diseases.
"Glyphosate targets an enzyme ... [that] is crucial to synthesizing three essential amino acids," said Pere Puigbò, who co-developed the bioinformatics tool.
Glyphosate is regularly in the news, viewed as a potential threat to health and well-being because of its widespread use on crops including corn, soy and canola. It is also a household weed killer, particularly the Monsanto/Bayer-owned brand Roundup.
The herbicide is currently banned from many countries including Germany, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, and is heavily restricted in others. Cities and states across the U.S. are starting to reduce use or pushing for a ban, due to mounting health concerns. Other cities, such as Los Angeles and Miami, have already banned use.
"We need experimental research to study the effects of glyphosate on microbial communities in variable environments," said researcher Marjo Helander in a statement about the findings.
"This groundbreaking study provides tools for further studies to determine the actual impact of glyphosate on human and animal gut microbiota and thus to their health."
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