A young white rhino was killed after being shot in the head three times by poachers who broke into the Thoiry Zoo in Paris Monday night. Poachers de-horned the 4-year-old rhino, named Vince, and left alive two other white rhinos, 37-year-old Gracie and 5-year-old Bruno. They left part of Vince's second horn, leading local police to believe they were ill-equipped or interrupted. The poachers are still at large.
"It is extremely shocking what just happened," Zoo Director Thierry Duguet said. "An act of such violence, never before seen in Europe."
White rhinos at the Parc Zoologique de Thoiry.Parc Zoologique de Thoiry / Facebook
Vince was discovered by his caretaker Tuesday morning. According to reports, the poachers forced open a gate and two doors to enter the rhinoceros building. They likely used a chainsaw to remove Vince's horns.
A trend of rhino horn thefts from private collections and museums in the past several years has led to increased concern among conservationists for captive rhinos, The Washington Post explained. These bold new attacks are a sign that "zoological facilities need to take serious measures to keep their rhinos safe," said Susie Ellis, executive director of International Rhino Foundation.
Crawford Allan, Senior Director of TRAFFIC North America, encourages zoos to immediately assess and increase their security and specifically recommended thermal imaging cameras and an increase in the number of security guards.
In other disturbing news, armed poachers in February 2017 attacked the staff of the Thula Rhino Orphanage in South Africa and killed two baby rhinos for their horns.
Rhinos at the Thula Thula Rhino OrphanageThula Thula Rhino Orphanage / Facebook
In 2016, 1,054 rhino killings were reported in South Africa. While this represents a modest decline from 1,175 in 2015, it is the fourth year in a row that more than 1,000 rhinos have been poached in South Africa.
The LEAF was given to the Pope in late February by German asset manager and mathematician Jochen Wermuth. The Pope's Nissan LEAF can travel up to 107 miles with a 30 kilowatt-hour battery. Wermuth tried to give the Pope a Tesla Model S electric limousine but the Pope preferred a smaller vehicle. The two men took a small test drive through the Vatican. Wermuth drove and the Pope sat next to him in the front seat.
The Pope sits in his Nissan Leaf.Wermuth Asset Management / Driwe
Pope Francis is "the last superstar of mankind," Wermuth said. He also described the Pope as an example for other heads of state as well as every man on Earth.
Pope Francis: Indigenous People Should Have Final Say About Their Land https://t.co/YJMNM5Sha5 (@EcoWatch) #NoDAPL— Sierra Club (@Sierra Club)1487554202.0
Wermuth's connection with the Vatican extends beyond this eco-friendly gift. Wermuth's asset management firm is working with the Vatican to update the Holy See's investment strategy in line with the Pope's climate views. They are using his 2015 encyclical, Laudato si': On Care for Our Common Home, as a guide.
"Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it," the Pope said in his encyclical.
Pope Francis: 'Politics Has Become Submissive ... Seeking Profit Above All Else' https://t.co/mBTbY211kU @Greens @TheGreenParty— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1480474210.0
Wermuth is known for giving the largest donation ever to the Greens, Germany's environmental party. The 47-year-old Protestant supported the Greens' election campaigns in Berlin, Baden-Württemberg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, donating around $630,000. Wermuth worked for Deutsche Bank in Russia in the 90s and is now a proponent of divesting from fossil fuels, Spiegel Online reported.
Solar panels allow you to harness the sun's clean, renewable energy, potentially cutting your electric bills as well as your environmental footprint. But do solar panels work on cloudy days, or during seasons of less-than-optimal sun exposure? For homeowners who live outside of the Sun Belt, this is a critical question to consider before moving ahead with solar panel installation.
In this article, we'll go over how solar panels work on cloudy days, whether solar panels work at night, and how to ensure you always have accessible power — even when your panels aren't producing solar energy.
How Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days
Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels can use both direct and indirect sunlight to generate electrical power. This means they can still be productive even when there is cloud coverage. With that said, solar panels are most efficient and productive when they are soaking up direct sunlight on sunny days.
While solar panels still work even when the light is reflected or partially obstructed by clouds, their energy production capacity will be diminished. On average, solar panels will generate 10 to 25% of their normal power output on days with heavy cloud coverage.
With clouds usually comes rain, and here's a fact that might surprise you: Rain actually helps solar panels work more effectively. That's because rain washes away any dirt or dust that has gathered on your panels so that they can more efficiently absorb sunlight.
Do Solar Panels Work at Night?
While solar panels can still function on cloudy days, they cannot work at night. The reason for this is simple: Solar panels work because of a scientific principle called the photovoltaic effect, wherein solar cells are activated by sunlight, generating electrical current. Without light, the photovoltaic effect cannot be triggered, and no electric power can be generated.
One way to tell if your panels are still producing energy is to look at public lights. As a general rule of thumb, if street lamps or other lights are turned off — whether on cloudy days or in the evening — your solar panels will be producing energy. If they're illuminated, it's likely too dark out for your solar panel system to work.
Storing Solar Energy to Use on Cloudy Days and at Night
During hours of peak sunlight, your solar panels may actually generate more power than you need. This surplus power can be used to provide extra electricity on cloudy days or at night.
But how do you store this energy for future use? There are a couple of options to consider:
You can store surplus energy in a solar battery.
When you add a solar battery to your residential solar installation, any excess electricity can be collected and used during hours of suboptimal sun exposure, including nighttime hours and during exceptionally cloudy weather.
Batteries may allow you to run your solar PV system all day long, though there are some drawbacks of battery storage to be aware of:
- It's one more thing you need to install.
- It adds to the total cost of your solar system.
- Batteries will take up a bit of space.
- You will likely need multiple batteries if you want electricity for more than a handful of hours. For example, Tesla solar installations require two Powerwall batteries if your system is over 13 kilowatts.
You can use a net metering program.
Net metering programs enable you to transmit any excess power your system produces into your municipal electric grid, receiving credits from your utility company. Those credits can be cashed in to offset any electrical costs you incur on overcast days or at night when you cannot power your home with solar energy alone.
Net metering can ultimately be a cost-effective option and can significantly lower your electricity bills, but there are a few drawbacks to consider, including:
- You may not always break even.
- In some cases, you may still owe some money to your utility provider.
- Net metering programs are not offered in all areas and by all utility companies.
Is Residential Solar Right for You?
Now that you know solar panels can work even when the sun isn't directly shining and that there are ways to store your energy for times your panels aren't producing electricity, you may be more interested in installing your own system.
You can get started with a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company in your area by filling out the 30-second form below.
FAQ: Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?
How efficient are solar panels on cloudy days?
It depends on the panels, but as a rule of thumb, you can expect your solar panels to work at 10 to 25% efficiency on cloudy days.
How do solar panels work when there is no sun?
If there is literally no sunlight (e.g., at night), then solar panels do not work. This is because the photovoltaic effect, which is the process through which panels convert sunlight into energy, requires there to be some light available to convert.
However, you can potentially use surplus solar power that you've stored in a battery. Also note that solar panels can work with indirect light, meaning they can function even when the sun is obscured by cloud coverage.
Do solar panels work on snowy days?
If there is cloud coverage and diminished sunlight, then solar panels will not work at their maximum efficiency level on snowy days. With that said, the snow itself is usually not a problem, particularly because a dusting of snow is easily whisked away by the wind.
Snow will only impede your solar panels if the snowfall is so extreme that the panels become completely buried, or if the weight of the snow compromises the integrity of your solar panel structures.
Will my solar panels generate electricity during cloudy, rainy or snowy days?
Cloudy days may limit your solar panel's efficiency, but you'll still be able to generate some electricity. Rainy days can actually help clean your panels, making them even more effective. And snowy days are only a problem if the snow is so extreme that the panels are totally submerged, without any part of them exposed to the sun.
Denmark generated 97 gigawatt-hours (GWh) from wind energy Feb. 22, enough to meet the entire country's electricity needs. According to Wind Europe, 70 GWh came from onshore wind and 27 GWh came from offshore wind, which is enough to power "the equivalent of 10 million average EU households."
WindEurope's daily wind tool shows that on the same day, 18.8 percent of European electricity demand was met by wind power. Germany was second behind Denmark, meeting 52 percent of its electricity demand from wind.
2015 was an extremely successful year for Denmark's wind power generation. Denmark produced 42 percent of its electricity from wind, breaking the world record and the country's 2014 record.
Also, during a particularly windy period in the summer of 2015, Denmark produced 140 percent of its country's electricity needs from wind power.
In related news, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind unveiled a new 9-Megawatt (MW) turbine in January. When the prototype was tested at the Østerild Wind Turbine Test Field off the coast of Denmark in December 2016, it produced 215,999.1 kilowatt-hours and broke the 24-hour energy generation record for a commercially available offshore wind turbine.
With the continuing success and growth of its wind industry, Denmark may well meet its goal to generate 50 percent of its power with renewable energy by 2020.
A spill that originated in the Tijuana River in Mexico flowed north of the border, releasing 143 million gallons of sewage for 17 days. The spill was caused when a sewage pipe under rehabilitation ruptured at the juncture of Mexico's Tijuana and Alamar rivers. While three-quarters of the Tijuana River watershed is located in Mexico, it drains into the Pacific Ocean near Imperial Beach, California.
"It's horrible. Everybody is complaining about it. People are really upset with the smell," Imperial Beach resident Lidya Morales told FOX 5.
"This is the worst spill we've had in over a decade," Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina exclaimed.
After receiving complaints about the odor, Dedina sent a written inquiry to the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC). The agency then provided him a report regarding the spill.
"It's a major communication failure. It's obviously something they knew for a very long time," Dedina said. "Border authorities charged with managing sewage infrastructure and reporting these spills must do better and be held accountable for this act," the mayor said as he called for the resignation of IBWC chief Edward Drusina for his poor management of cross-border wastewater issues.
"It's outrageous that we have sewage spills of this magnitude occurring under the watch of the IBWC, and it's equally outrageous there aren't proper procedures in place to notify the public when sewage releases occur," Matt O'Malley of the San Diego Coastkeeper told EcoWatch.
"This is not just an environmental failure—it's a failure to protect the public health of those who live, work and recreate along the Tijuana River, Imperial Beach and beyond. The circumstances surrounding this spill and the failure to timely release information related to it should be investigated and prevented from happening again. Officials on both sides of the border must make sewage infrastructure in the region a top priority."
Coincidentally, local South Bay beaches were already closed due to sewage run-off from the recent rainstorms. A 2012 sewage spill caused by a similar Tijuana pipe breakage, which spewed almost 3 million gallons of sewage into the Pacific, had closed Imperial Beach for several days.
A portion of the Tijuana River near the San Diego-Mexico border, full of trash and debris. Susan Murphy, KPBS
This highly polluted river has many sources and is a persistent issue, which has cost the U.S. and Mexico hundreds of millions of dollars. Since the 1990s, the U.S. and Mexico have created programs to cooperatively address the issue, including the Minute 320 accord, which established a "general framework for binational cooperation" between the countries "on transboundary issues in the Tijuana River Basin."
Some areas in Mexico, including Tijuana, currently lack sufficient sewage infrastructure and garbage collection, and some residences do not have any form of plumbing. Along with population growth, this "has resulted in large amounts of human and industrial sewage, plastics and other forms of garbage accumulating in the river," Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment explained. Factories in the Mexican state of Baja California also contribute to pollution in the Tijuana River, KCET reported.
The river is bisected by the current U.S.-Mexico border wall, which President Trump plans to expand. The 2008 reinforcement of this wall "razed entire mountaintops and used the earth to fill in gulches and canyons," increasing erosion and contamination issues, KCET said.
Trump’s Wall 'Would End Any Chance of Recovery for Endangered Jaguars' https://t.co/FLsdp8LJcP @EnvAm @earthisland— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1485563412.0
"Significant improvements in the arena of wastewater treatment in recent years have improved water quality on both sides of the border," the Surfrider Foundation said. Unfortunately, storm water still brings substantial amounts of pollution into the Tijuana River Watershed. Their "No Border Sewage Campaign," which started in 2008, seeks to address this issue through outreach, networking and education.
The Takagoyama Nature Zoo in the city of Futtsu, Japan euthanized 57 snow monkeys who were found to have hybrid genetic make-ups. The zoo mistakenly believed all 164 of its resident primates were pure Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata), which are endemic to Japan. When the zoo discovered through DNA testing that 57 of them were actually of a hybrid breed, rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), which is common throughout Southeast Asia, they culled the hybrid monkeys.
Macaques photographed in Japan.mari_sixx / Instagram
In 2013, Japan's environmental laws were revised to make holding or transporting invasive species including hybrids illegal, in an attempt to protect the indigenous environment and native species. Culling of rhesus macaque is allowed under this law, which designates them as an "invasive alien species."
An Office for Alien Species Management official said the culling was unavoidable because the hybrid species might escape and reproduce in the wild, BBC reported.
The monkeys were culled through lethal injection over the course of about a month, ending in early February. The zoo operator then held a memorial service for the hybrid monkeys at a local Buddhist temple.
Questions remain as to whether other steps could have been taken such as sterilization, IFL Science pointed out. Transplanting the common hybrids into another region may have also been a possibility; they are native to Burma, India, Thailand, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and China.
"There are many zoos in the country, which rear animals that became classified as invasive species after the law was created," an Environment Ministry official said, according to Phys.org. Zoos can apply for exceptions to keep the hybrid species.
"Preventing exposures to foreign animals is very important," said Tomoko Shimura of the Nature Conservation Society of Japan. The Chiba prefecture where the zoo is located has been culling the hybrids since 2005.
Japanese macaques are brown with white faces and are the only indigenous primate in Japan and most northern living nonhuman primate on Earth. They are also known as snow monkeys and have developed a hot tub culture by warming themselves in hot springs. The area around the zoo is designated as their wild habitat.
In the U.S., concerns over protecting native species' genes have arisen in relation to genetically engineered (GE) salmon produced by AquaBounty, Inc. and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2015.
Judge to #FDA: Agency Must Pull Aside Curtain on GE Salmon https://t.co/ytkPCHCNi2 @Earthjustice @foodandwater @NonGMOProject @nongmoreport— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1486835707.0
Fears relating to GE salmon include the possibility they will mate with native species, introduce new diseases and/or compete for resources and habitat.
Free Spirit Spheres resort in British Columbia knows there's nothing quite like being in an orb in a tree canopy. They invite you to experience an enchanted rainforest vacation in a spherical suspended treehouse. The year-round, adult-only resort on Vancouver Island features three hanging handmade orbs, which you can rent for $175 per night.
The Eve sphere in winter. Free Spirit Spheres
"Normal buildings that we're in are all about separation ... when you step into a sphere there is no separation. There's only one wall," owner Tom Chudleigh told Arbutus RV Island Adventures. Chudleigh has a background in engineering and spends three years personally building each sphere.
The three rentable orbs are called Eve, Eryn and Melody and each is accessed by a spiraling staircase. Chudleigh also has his own office sphere, called Gwyn. The orbs weigh about 1,100 pounds and are each tied to three separate trees. A strong breeze or the movement of an inhabitant causes them to sway.
The sphere interiors hold drop-beds, workspaces, sinks and round windows, Curbed explained. Each has its own electric composting toilet outhouse and a shared bathhouse with a sauna. There are several restaurants within three to 15 miles from the resort.
Eve was the prototype and is 9 feet in diameter. Next came Eryn and then Melody, with 10.5-foot-diameters. Melody has scales from Beethoven's Ode to Joy painted on it. Eve is best suited for one occupant and Eryn and Melody can accommodate two adults.
"There's a magic about these spheres," that comes in part "from the love and intention Tom puts into each one," says Kait Burgan of Arbutus RV Island Adventures. Free Spirit Spheres is about 35 miles north of the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, between Qualicum Beach and what is locally known as "lighthouse country."
Free Spirit Sphere's hopes this floating oasis in the canopy of the coastal forest will "provide a venue for people to enjoy exceptional experiences while dwelling in a natural forest environment." Chudleigh also wants to build new spheres and is seeking new spaces and potential partners that can enable him to do so.
On the morning of Feb. 12, wind power provided 52.1 percent of the electricity for the 14-state grid known as the Southwest Power Pool (SPP). This is a significant milestone for wind, which has never before provided a majority of power for any U.S. grid, according to SPP.
#Wind Power Becomes America's Largest Renewable Resource https://t.co/yGpS78RPqU @AWEA @mzjacobson @ClimateNexus @ClimateReality @NRDC @350— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1486740143.0
SPP is responsible for 60,000 miles of power lines running from North Dakota and Montana to Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana. Wind generates about 15 percent of the electricity in the SPP region and is third behind coal and natural gas.
The February 52.1 percent wind-penetration beat the April 2016 record of 49.2 percent. Wind-penetration is a measure of the grid's electrical total load served by wind.
"Ten years ago, we thought hitting even a 25 percent wind-penetration level would be extremely challenging and any more than that would pose serious threats to reliability," Vice President of Operations Bruce Rew said in an SPP statement. Rew explained SPP can now reliably manage more than 50 percent wind-penetration and that they have not yet reached their "ceiling."
American Wind Energy Association's Greg Alvarez celebrated the news in a blog post. "Records like these resonate, because they demonstrate wind energy can play a key role in an affordable, reliable, diversified energy mix," he said. "That creates a stronger system, and helps keep more money in the pockets of families and businesses."
In the early 2000s, SPP wind power provided less than 400 megawatts (MW) and now provides 16,000 MW. A single MW is usually able to power around 1,000 homes, Climate Central explained.
Obama: Renewable Energy Revolution Is 'Irreversible', Will Outlast Trump https://t.co/nJe3pbyGVf @NRDC @ClimateReality @billmckibben @350— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1484061794.0
SPP has achieved this wind power milestone because of its enormous power generation footprint, which covers nearly 550,000 square miles. If the upper Great Plains is not windy one day, SPP "can deploy resources waiting in the Midwest and Southwest to make up any sudden deficits," Rew said.
Since 2007, SPP has spent more than $10 billion on high-voltage transmission infrastructure with a focus on connecting "rural, isolated wind farms to population centers hundreds of miles away," the organization said.
In 2015, 39 states harnessed electricity from utility-scale wind projects, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas and California produced the most wind energy and about 50 percent of the total for U.S. wind production.
In 2016, wind power was the largest U.S. source of renewable electric capacity and is now the country's fourth-largest energy source.
Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier lost another large chunk of ice at the end of January. The section of ice that broke off the glacier on the western coast of Antarctica was roughly the size of Manhattan. It was 10 times smaller than the piece the same glacier sloughed in July 2015.
After the enormous piece of ice broke off The Pine Island Glacier in 2015, cracks were spotted during a late 2016 flyover, Climate Central reported. The recent smaller, though still substantial, ice breakage is considered an "after-shock" event, Ohio State glaciologist Ian Howat told NASA. NASA's Operational Land Imager captured a series of images documenting the ice loss.
The Pine Island Glacier is known as a fast stream glacier because it moves quickly and commonly sheds ice. It is already responsible for 25 percent of Antarctica's ice loss, according to Digital Journal.
The phenomenon of rapid glacial calving or ice loss "fits into the larger picture of basal crevasses in the center of the ice shelf being eroded by warm ocean water, causing the ice shelf to break from the inside out," Howatt said. Basal crevasses are cracks that extend upward from the base of the body of ice.
Sometimes, basal ice cracks are not visible. Small rifts of this nature exist about six miles into the Pine Island Glacier and are expected to result in further calving.
Also in Antarctica, a crack longer than 80 miles in the Larsen C ice shelf is currently being monitored. As the rift grows, the shelf gets closer to shedding a more than 3,000 square mile iceberg.
Shocking Crack in Ice Shelf Grows Another 11 Miles https://t.co/Kqf8TnKxXo @TheCCoalition @climateinstitut— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1483792220.0
In March 2016, a study, Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise, in the journal Nature explained how ocean warming was driving rising sea levels and the collapse of the Western Antarctic ice sheet.
"Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a meter of sea-level rise by 2100 and more than 15 meters by 2500, if emissions continue unabated. In this case atmospheric warming will soon become the dominant driver of ice loss, but prolonged ocean warming will delay its recovery for thousands of years," the study states.
The city of Oslo, Norway is offering grants to help its citizens partially pay for electric cargo bikes through its Climate and Energy Fund. Each grant covers up to $1,200 or 25 percent of an electric cargo bike purchase, which can cost from $2,400 to $6,000.
Pedal-Assisted E-Bike Makes Commuting Fun and Easy https://t.co/abav7cXU6x @BicyclingMag @peopleforbikes— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1485658505.0
The funds could potentially put "500 to 1,000 electric cargo bikes onto Oslo's streets" for individuals, businesses and organizations, City Lab reported.
"Unfortunately, subsidy for private individuals" is no longer available, but "it is still possible to apply for funding for pilot projects under the auspices of condominiums, cooperatives, organizations or companies," the Oslo Council bike grant application page states.
Oslo offers this grant partly because of the city's growing issues with air pollution, which also prompted a January ban on diesel vehicles. Similarly, in late 2016, Paris imposed driving restrictions and provided free public transportation.
"Despite considerable improvements in past decades, air pollution is still responsible for more than 400,000 premature deaths in Europe each year," according to The European Environment Agency, which described air pollution as a persistent problem throughout Europe.
This Wheel Turned My $50 Bicycle Into an Electric Bike https://t.co/IBvBurA9zF @evelobikes #OmniWheel #ebikes— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1473355479.0
In 2016, Oslo carried out a similar initiative to partially pay for up to 20 percent of the cost of an electric bike. These funds were used in full. This program received criticism when it was discovered that some of the electric bike recipients were among Oslo's wealthiest citizens or were living outside of Oslo.
Oslo's numerous hills and harsh weather conditions have also been called deterrents to electric bike programs, yet the city appears to continue to pursue green solutions at every front. In 2015, Oslo became the first capital city to ban investments in fossil fuels. Additionally, electric cars outsell conventional vehicles in Oslo and the city has dedicated $1 billion to a bike infrastructure fund, reported City Lab.
Chinese farmer Wang Enlin and his neighbors sued Qihua Group, a mineral processing and chemical production company, for polluting their homes and farmland. Wang, who spent 16 years studying law to pursue this goal, and residents of the Yushutun village won an initial judgment against the multi-billion dollar state-run company, the Daily Mail reported.
Wang discusses wastewater pollution.Xie Xinyuan
Wang, who is in his 60s, began to pursue this case after his home and the surrounding farmland were flooded with toxic waste from Qihua in 2001. The 2001 Qiqihar Angang River District Council minutes reveal a mayoral determination that the polluted land could not be used for a "long time," the People's Daily said.
The Qihua plant created a "71-acre wasteland with calcium carbide residue and a 478-acre pond with its liquid waste," according to the Daily Mail. It released 15,000 to 20,000 tons of annual waste.
"I knew I was in the right, but I did not know what law the other party had broken or whether or not there was evidence," Wang said.
Though Wang had only three years of formal education, he began to read law books with the help of a dictionary. He spent 16 years hand-copying notes out of books he could not afford to buy in a bookstore. He traded the store owner corn for allowing him to use the books. As he learned about Chinese land management law and environmental protection law, Wang began to educate his neighbors on their legal rights as well.
In 2007, the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims of the China University of Political Science and Law came to the aid of Wang and his neighbors. Liu Jinmei and other lawyers from the center agreed to help the villagers file their suit against Qihua and the case finally began to be processed in 2015.
Wang and the other residents of the Yushutun village won an initial judgement against Qihua in the Angangxi District Court of Qiqihar. This court awarded the victims financial compensation amounting to about $119,000 and Qihua is appealing the ruling.
“We will certainly win. Even if we lose, we will continue to battle," said Wang, according to the People's Daily, which described him as having white hair, “mud-covered rubber shoes" and a faded “old cotton-padded jacket."
China's rapid industrialization over several decades has led to widespread land and air pollution issues that the court system has struggled to manage, China Dialogue explained. Very few of the victims the legal aid center helps choose to pursue legal action or persevere for as long as Wang, Liu told the People's Daily.
Pope Francis defended the rights of indigenous tribes at the Indigenous Peoples Forum in Rome Wednesday. As part of a UN International Fund for Agricultural Development meeting, he spoke in Spanish with 40 representatives of the 300 largest indigenous groups in the world.
“The particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories," must be protected, Francis said, according to Reuters. He stated this was especially true "when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth." He also promoted the full participation of indigenous peoples in local and national government.
"The right to prior and informed consent should always prevail, as foreseen in Article 32 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," he added, according to US News. "Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict."
The 2007 UN Declaration the Pope referenced was opposed by the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Pope Francis has a record of defending the environment. His 2015 encyclical on the environment and human ecology shared a prayer for the earth: "Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction."
While he didn't specifically mention the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), many news outlets picked up on his suggestive and timely focus on indigenous land rights and reported the connection. Reuters described his actions as backing "Native Americans seeking to halt part of the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying indigenous cultures have a right to defend 'their ancestral relationship to the earth.'"
Dakota Access Pipeline 'Could Be Operational Within 30 Days' https://t.co/LVGuunbOcu (@ecowatch @priceofoil) #NoDAPL— Sierra Club (@Sierra Club)1487102408.0
"Evidently, he's informed of the numerous problems that affect indigenous peoples, but there's no element in his words that would give us a clue to know if he was talking about any specific cases," Paloma Garcia Ovejero, a Vatican representative, told the Catholic News outlet, Crux.
On Jan. 24, President Trump signed two executive orders calling for the approval of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. On Feb. 13, a federal judge denied a temporary injunction against DAPL construction, requested by the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes. The judge plans to reconsider this case Feb. 27.
English researchers have discovered an alarming amount of toxic pollution in the bodies of amphipods living in the deep sea trenches of the Pacific Ocean. The research team from Newcastle University, the James Hutton Institute and the University of Aberdeen caught and tested small crustaceans in the Mariana and Kermadec trenches, which reach about 30,000 feet deep.
Map of the Mariana TrenchFree World Maps
Dr. Alan Jamieson led the team and is lead author of the study, Bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants in the deepest ocean fauna, which was published online in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution in February.
"Here we identify extraordinary levels of persistent organic pollutants in the endemic amphipod fauna from two of the deepest ocean trenches … " the study abstract states. The study also explains that the creatures tested contained more pollutants than similar crustaceans from some of the earth's most polluted waters, including China's Liaohe River and Japan's Suruga Bay.
The amphipods held "10 times the level of industrial pollution than the average earthworm," a Newcastle press release stated.
The researchers employed remotely-operated vehicles to trap the amphipods.
"We still think of the deep ocean as being this remote and pristine realm, safe from human impact, but our research shows that, sadly, this could not be further from the truth," Jamieson said. The study "really brings home the long term, devastating impact that mankind is having on the planet," he added.
Some of the chemicals found have been banned since the 1970s, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PBDEs were used as flame retardants and PCBs as electrical insulators and unfortunately, more than one million tons were produced before the ban.
These chemicals are known as Persistent Organic Pollutants and are highly resistant to natural deterioration. The research team speculates that the creatures tested may have eaten plastic debris or polluted animal carcasses that sunk into the trenches.
The team plans to explore what these findings mean for the wider ecosystem and determine how, if possible, to avoid further damage to this deep-sea habitat.