Is your sunscreen killing the sea?

Sunscreen is essential to protect skin against cancer, and with many pandemic-related travel restrictions around the world starting to lift, sales are expected to rocket. Estimates vary about how much sunscreen makes it into our oceans each year. Researchers estimated that 20,000 tonnes is washed off tourists every year in the northern Mediterranean alone. between 6,000 and 14,000 tonnes are released annually in coral reef areas each year. The focus has been on two chemicals, the ultraviolet filters oxybenzone and octinoxate, though there are other troubling ingredients. Hawaii banned those UV filters from January this year, and in 2018 Palau announced broader restrictions on sunscreens containing a number of chemicals. Other regions have similar bans.

— source theguardian.com | 6 Aug 2021

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Lawyer Who Sued Chevron over Amazon Oil Spills, Marks 2 Years Under House Arrest

Protests across the United States are calling for the immediate release of environmental and human rights lawyer Steven Donziger, who has been held under house arrest in New York for two years after being targeted by the oil giant Chevron. Donziger sued the oil giant in Ecuador on behalf of 30,000 Amazonian Indigenous people for dumping 16 billion gallons of oil into their ancestral lands. Ecuador’s Supreme Court ordered Chevron to pay $18 billion a decade ago, a major victory for the environment and corporate accountability. But Chevron refused to pay or clean up the land, and instead launched a legal attack targeting Donziger in the United States. A federal judge in July found Donziger guilty of six counts of criminal contempt of court after he refused to turn over his computer and cellphone. In an unusual legal twist, the judge appointed a private law firm with ties to Chevron to prosecute Donziger, after federal prosecutors declined to bring charges. “This is a broader threat to our society,” says Donziger. “We cannot allow in any rule-of-law country, or any country, private prosecutions run by corporations.”

You know, it wasn’t a trial as trials are commonly understood. There was no jury. The judge, who had already locked me up pretrial — I’m the only lawyer in American history ever locked up pretrial on a misdemeanor. I want to emphasize: This is a misdemeanor case, a petty crime case. And I assert my innocence, but even if I were guilty, it’s a very minor case. No one’s ever been locked up pretrial but me. So the same judge who locked me up now for two years — I haven’t, you know, been sentenced to anything — is the judge who denied me a jury and alone decided my supposed guilt or innocence.

It was intended, really, to be sort of a show trial, where a decision that had previously been made by the Chevron prosecutor — the judge, Judge Preska, allowed a private law firm, Seward & Kissel, which has Chevron as a client, to prosecute me, after the government refused to prosecute me. It was all just precooked. And you kind of felt it watching it in the courtroom. During the trial, Judge Preska was reading the newspaper during witness testimony. All the main witnesses were Chevron lawyers. They testified that Chevron

— source democracynow.org | Aug 06, 2021

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Rethink the Future of Dams

The tide has shifted on dams. Once a monument to our engineering prowess, there’s now widespread acknowledgment that dam-building comes with a long list of harms. Some of those can be reversed, as shown by the 1,200 dam removals in the past 20 years.

But the future of our existing dams, including 2,500 hydroelectric facilities, is a complicated issue in the age of climate change. Dams have altered river flows, changed aquatic habitat, decimated fish populations, and curtailed cultural and treaty resources for tribes. But does the low-carbon power dams produce have a role in our energy transition?

That’s a question some environmental groups and the hydropower industry have been discussing for the past few years, and it’s resulted in a joint effort to work together on increasing the renewable energy potential of existing dams while helping to minimize their environmental harm.

It’s just one effort to rethink the future of dams. Here’s what else to keep in mind:


The removal of Marmot Dam. (Photo by Portland General Electric, CC BY-ND 2.0)

— source therevelator.org | Tara Lohan | Oct 28, 2020

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War on Science Persists Within Biden EPA

Staffers Allege Chemical Reports Altered

Four scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency are alleging that the “war on science” is continuing under the Biden administration, with managers at the agency altering reports about the risks posed by chemicals and retaliating against employees who report the misconduct. The government watchdog Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a formal complaint Friday on behalf of the scientists with the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General, calling for an investigation into reports that high-level employees routinely delete crucial information from chemical risk assessments or change the documents’ conclusions to give the impression that the chemicals in question are not toxic.

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the agency is responsible for evaluating the risks of existing chemicals as well as those slated to be manufactured in or imported to the United States. The four employees said in the complaint that they’ve observed “numerous instances” in which significant changes were made to their own assessments, including:

The removal of language identifying possible adverse effects of chemicals, including developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, mutagenicity, and/or carcinogenicity;

Changes to report conclusions to indicate that there are no signs of toxicity “despite significant data to the contrary”; and
Risk assessments being reassigned to inexperienced employees “to secure their agreement to remove issues whose inclusion would be protective of human health.”

In one case, managers increased the dose considered safe for consumption for a certain chemical by nearly 10,000-fold, according to The Hill. According to PEER, staff scientists at EPA have spent months raising concerns internally and filing a formal complaint on their own—only to face “harassment from managers named in the complaints.”

— source commondreams.org | Jul 7, 2021

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Roads can’t be built at cost of environment

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slammed the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and its contractors for environmental violations in the ongoing four-laning project of National Highway 44 from Udhampur to Banihal in Jammu and Kashmir. The court noted that nothing tangible had been done by the NHAI in the last four years to prevent the illegal and unscientific dumping and disposal of debris at the site. This was despite the NGT giving a number of orders on the same. Debris was making its way into the Chenab river and other water bodies due to the dumping. The order was passed June 28, 2021 by a bench comprising NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justices Sudhir Agarwal, M Sathyanarayanan and Brijesh Sethi.

— source downtoearth.org.in | 01 Jul 2021

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Net zero is a fraud

I think we have to recognize that we are playing catch-up, that in fact because of foot dragging, particularly on the part of the United States, not only with Trump, but even with previous administrations, we have ended up with the situation that we are basically sort of one minute to midnight in terms of the climate crisis. So we have to be very clear that when we judge the summit, this summit must meet this criteria: Does what comes out of the summit reflect this reality, that the decade that we are in is the most urgent and most consequential decade in humanity’s history, and the changes that we make in this decade will determine what future we have or whether we have a future at all?

So, what we need to be looking at from this summit to judge whether it has understood the urgency sufficiently is whether in fact we get baby steps in the right direction or rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, or whether we get a real commitment of understanding that we need structural and systemic change with regard to our economic system, our energy system, our food system, our transport system and so on. Bottom line is, given the scale of the crisis right now, the only thing that is going to get us out of it is not baby steps in the right direction; it’s going to be big, bold, courageous, structural and systemic change to every aspect of society. And

— source democracynow.org | Apr 23, 2021

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Decolonization or Extinction

The Red Deal is essentially a people’s program to prevent extinction. You know, we talk a lot in The Red Deal about, like, the plan is really clear. The stakes are really clear. It’s decolonization or extinction. And the reason why we use the language of decolonization is because we draw centrally from Indigenous movements over the last couple of decades for decolonization. You know, Indigenous people have been on the frontlines of the struggle for climate justice since 1492, but, more recently, as the call for climate justice has been reverberating across the globe to address kind of this 30 — well, we’re actually at a 29-year — right? — clock towards climate disaster. You know, Indigenous people, whether it’s at Standing Rock, the clip you just showed, Apache people fighting Resolution Copper, or Uahikea’s people fighting the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii, Indigenous people have really been on the frontlines of the struggle to advance the climate justice movement. And so we draw really centrally from that, and that’s why we say “decolonization or extinction.”

And we can really trust Indigenous movements historically. So, Indigenous people make up 5% of the world’s population, but we protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity, which, of course, is incredibly important when we’re thinking about climate change and curbing climate change. And also something The Red Deal does, because we do claim that you can trust Indigenous movements because we’ve been on the frontlines and we’ve been fighting this battle for so long, you know, is that we draw really centrally from Indigenous knowledge. And the way that we talk about Indigenous knowledge in relationship to climate justice is not the same way that we’re often sort of cast or stereotyped in the mainstream environmental movement, which is often sort of a spiritual or a cultural window

— source democracynow.org, democracynow.org | 2021/4/22

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