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Weekly Environmental Updates
Republican lawmakers are exploring "modernization" of the Endangered Species Act as its regulations present an obstacle to drilling, logging, and mining as well as imposing unwelcome challenges to farming. Those who want to see the act amended are calling for a higher threshold of supporting data and research. Enacted 40 years ago, the act has been successful in bringing 99 percent of listed species back from extinction, including the bald eagle, the peregrine falcon, and the American alligator.
U.S. farmers may be paying the price for the new administration's threats to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it via a tax on Mexican imports. A Mexican senator has stated that he is going to introduce a bill to stop Mexico from buying U.S. corn and buy from Brazil or Argentina instead. Senator Rios Piter made it clear that his intention is to punish the U.S. and "tell them that this hostile relationship has consequences". America sent $2.4 billion of corn to Mexico in 2015.
Shellfish lovers are eating up to 11,000 plastic fragments every year, say scientists at Ghent University in Belgium. Humans absorb fewer than 1 per cent of that amount but plastics still accumulate in the body over time. Microplastics in the ocean come from many sources, including, but not limited to, cosmetics, toothpaste and packaging.
Air pollution masks are making a fashion statement as some of them have become as much of a fashion accessory as a necessity in pollution-ridden cities. Commonly seen in Asia,most masks are still made of simple washable cotton triangles. But designer "urban breathing masks" have been seen on the catwalk during Beijing fashion week and a new Swedish design is now being sold in 50 different countries.
The exploding popularity of organic foods has come back to bite one of its older purveyors, Whole Foods market, as it closes nine stores in the wake of plummeting sales. Americans, who are bought three times more organic food in 2015 than in 2005, are now buying it at less pricey outlets such as Walmart and Target. In response, Whole Foods has launched a new chain featuring their own 365 brand, which offers organic food at more reasonable prices than the traditional Whole Foods stores.
Sweden is running out of trash thanks to 32 waste-to-energy plants that provide heat and electricity to surrounding towns by burning garbage. Swedes have had to resort to importing trash from other countries, which is working out well for them as Sweden pays the countries for the trash.
Roman Hills