‘Reckless’ plan to search for oil and gas will put one of world’s healthiest reefs at risk, conservationists say

Seismic testing is planned for an 8,000km sq area on the doorstep of two marine parks that are home to almost 100 protected species

From Record Warmth to Rare Snowfall, the U.S. Is in for an Extreme Weather Christmas

For many parts of the U.S., it looks like it’s going to be a Christmas of extreme weather.

While cities in the Pacific Northwest could see a rare white Christmas, parts of the south-central U.S. could break heat records.


“Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, all stand to match or top the record high for Dec. 25. this Saturday,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.

White Christmas?

The potential snow is thanks to an atmospheric river event predicted to drench the U.S. West this week, which could bring rain, snow and wind to parts of the Pacific Coast from Canada to Mexico, as CNN reported. A first storm Wednesday and Thursday was predicted to be warmer and bring snow only to the mountains, while a colder storm over the weekend could bring snow to cities like Portland and Seattle, which typically have a one to three percent chance of a white Christmas.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Seattle said that low-lying elevations in Washington were most likely to see snow between Saturday and Sunday night.

Portland could see 1.7 to 4.4 inches of snow, also from Saturday to Sunday, NWS Seattle reported.

Otherwise, most of the snow this year will be in the mountains, with the Rockies, the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada all expected to get more powder, 5 News reported.

Heat Wave

Other parts of the country will be in for the opposite extreme.

“In contrast to the West, those dreaming of a White Christmas throughout much of the South and East Central U.S. have to settle for spring-like temperatures this Christmas,” NWS said. “Daytime highs Christmas Eve from the Middle Mississippi Valley to West Texas are forecast to reach the 70s and 80s with some locations not only breaking daily record highs, but potentially challenging December record highs.”

Temperatures in the 70s and 80s are more typical of early-to-mid October in the south-central U.S., AccuWeather said.

For many of these states, a record-breaking Christmas could cap off a record-breaking December. In fact, this December could be the warmest-ever for Chicago; St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; Oklahoma City; Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa, Denver, Austin and San Antonio, Texas; and New Orleans and Shreveport, Louisiana.

This warm December weather is down to a bulge in the jet stream blocking cold air from Canada, as well as low soil moisture. However, the climate crisis has brought consistently warmer than average temperatures to the south-central U.S., The Independent reported.

New Orleans, Houston, and Atlanta last broke Christmas temperature records in 2015, while Dallas, Nashville and Oklahoma broke them in 2016. In general, Christmas snowfall has decreased across the U.S. since the 1980s.

Nations Shorten Recommended Quarantine Times

Some officials reduced isolation recommendations for those who contract Covid-19, with New York saying a range of workers, including teachers and grocery employees, could return to their jobs after as little as five days.

Posted in Uncategorized

Latin America Should Not be the ‘Backyard’ Where U.S. Plastic Waste Gets Dumped, Campaigners Say

Latin America does not want the U.S.’s plastic waste.


As data shows that U.S. plastic exports to some countries in the region more than doubled during 2020, more than 70 organizations from around the world called for an end to this trade, and for the U.S. to manage its own waste.

“Crossborder plastic waste trade is perhaps one of the most nefarious expressions of the commercialization of common goods and the colonial occupation of territories of the geopolitical south to turn them into sacrifice zones,” Fernanda Soliz, health area director at Simón Bolívar University, Ecuador, said in the letter. “Latin America and the Caribbean are not the backyards of the United States. We are sovereign territories, and we demand the respect of the rights of Nature and our peoples.”

The data, published by members of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) in Latin America from Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile, was based on the U.S. International free trade database, USA Trade Online. It revealed that, between January and August of 2020, the U.S. exported 44,173 tonnes of plastic waste to 15 Latin American countries. That amounts to at least 35 containers of plastic waste arriving in the region daily.

The countries that imported the most waste during the first eight months of 2020 were Mexico with 32,650 tonnes, El Salvador with 4,054 tonnes and Ecuador with 3,665 tonnes. Further, the waste is not classified in detail when it is imported, making it hard to trace.

There has been greater international attention on the fate of plastic waste shipped abroad since China banned exports in 2018, as the letter pointed out.

“Globally, there is growing concern about the shipment of plastic waste from significant powerhouses such as the United States, the largest exporter of plastic waste, to nations with weak legislation and controls,” the signatories wrote.

While it is the largest exporter of plastic waste, the U.S. has not signed the Plastics Amendment to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal. In this agreement, reached in May 2019, countries promised to reduce the flow of plastic waste from wealthier countries to less developed countries that don’t have the infrastructure to properly dispose of it, The Guardian reported.

The amendment gives local governments the right to say yes or no to any waste shipped from developed countries to private companies in the developing world. That means that governments in Latin America also have a role to play in refusing U.S. waste.

“Regional governments fail in two aspects: the first is inspections at customs because we don’t really know what enters the country under the guise of recycling, and they also fail in their commitments with international agreements such as the Basel Convention,” GAIA spokesperson Camila Aguilera told The Guardian.

The letter signers are making the following demands:

    1. Latin American and Caribbean countries should pass legislation to implement the Plastic Amendment of the Basel Convention.
    2. Authorities should make the import of plastic more transparent and better regulated.
    3. Customs registries should detail the type and status of plastic waste entering Latin America.
    4. Free trade and other agreements should prioritize protecting communities and territories.

    Volunteers Work to Keep Climate Deniers off of Wikipedia

    If you’ve ever written a report for school, you’ve probably been told not to use Wikipedia as a reliable source. While there’s a fountain of information on this website, Wikipedia itself notes that it isn’t a reliable source because it’s made up of user-generated content. That means just about anyone can go in and write falsehoods, which can live on until a volunteer editor makes a correction. That’s why a team of volunteers is working hard to keep climate-deniers off of Wikipedia.


    English Wikipedia has over 9 billion page views every month, leaving a lot of opportunities for climate-deniers to write falsehoods and for viewers to receive that information and take it as hard truths.

    Many troublesome comments have been written on climate-related pages. According to the BBC, one person wrote that climate scientists work together in a secret, Communist organization, and another person turned an entire page’s text about climate change into a hyperlink leading to a website about hoaxes.

    Volunteers such as David Tetta, a former employee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for over 30 years, work diligently to stop the spread of misinformation on Wikipedia. While people can still try to put out the misinformation, Tetta says that editors typically catch these errors within a few minutes or an hour most. Tetta himself puts hundreds of hours into Wikipedia.

    “I’ll send [the deniers] a note on their personal page on Wikipedia saying, ‘This is vandalism, this could have consequences,'” Tetta told the BBC. “Sometimes these people get kicked off Wikipedia.”

    Although climate-deniers do infiltrate Wikipedia from time to time, there are many editors and contributors putting a lot of volunteer efforts into writing thorough, well-researched articles about climate change. Wikipedia also has a requirement that statements are accompanied by legitimate sources, making it easier for editors to quickly spot and remove inaccuracies.

    “Wikipedia is just an uncomfortable place to be if you want to promote a point of view that goes against science,” volunteer editor Su-Laine Brodsky, a technology writer, says. “It’s much easier to be on social media, where you can say whatever you want, and not really be held to task for it.”

    Alex Stinson, of the Wikimedia Foundation, notes that about 97% of misinformation is caught quickly. In addition to the large amounts of volunteers who work on the website, there are also automated bots programmed to prevent vandalism. Some highly visited pages, like the climate change page, also require those who try to edit the page to have extensive Wikipedia editing experience before they can make changes.

    Overall, Wikipedia is ramping up protection to keep the information on its website as accurate as possible, but viewers should still proceed with caution.

    “Because, as a user-generated source, it can be edited by anyone at any time, any information it contains at a particular time could be vandalism, a work in progress, or just plain wrong,” Wikipedia itself states.

    From Record Warmth to Rare Snowfall, the U.S. Is in for an Extreme Weather Christmas

    For many parts of the U.S., it looks like it’s going to be a Christmas of extreme weather.

    While cities in the Pacific Northwest could see a rare white Christmas, parts of the south-central U.S. could break heat records.


    “Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, all stand to match or top the record high for Dec. 25. this Saturday,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.

    White Christmas?

    The potential snow is thanks to an atmospheric river event predicted to drench the U.S. West this week, which could bring rain, snow and wind to parts of the Pacific Coast from Canada to Mexico, as CNN reported. A first storm Wednesday and Thursday was predicted to be warmer and bring snow only to the mountains, while a colder storm over the weekend could bring snow to cities like Portland and Seattle, which typically have a one to three percent chance of a white Christmas.

    The National Weather Service (NWS) in Seattle said that low-lying elevations in Washington were most likely to see snow between Saturday and Sunday night.

    Portland could see 1.7 to 4.4 inches of snow, also from Saturday to Sunday, NWS Seattle reported.

    Otherwise, most of the snow this year will be in the mountains, with the Rockies, the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada all expected to get more powder, 5 News reported.

    Heat Wave

    Other parts of the country will be in for the opposite extreme.

    “In contrast to the West, those dreaming of a White Christmas throughout much of the South and East Central U.S. have to settle for spring-like temperatures this Christmas,” NWS said. “Daytime highs Christmas Eve from the Middle Mississippi Valley to West Texas are forecast to reach the 70s and 80s with some locations not only breaking daily record highs, but potentially challenging December record highs.”

    Temperatures in the 70s and 80s are more typical of early-to-mid October in the south-central U.S., AccuWeather said.

    For many of these states, a record-breaking Christmas could cap off a record-breaking December. In fact, this December could be the warmest-ever for Chicago; St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; Oklahoma City; Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa, Denver, Austin and San Antonio, Texas; and New Orleans and Shreveport, Louisiana.

    This warm December weather is down to a bulge in the jet stream blocking cold air from Canada, as well as low soil moisture. However, the climate crisis has brought consistently warmer than average temperatures to the south-central U.S., The Independent reported.

    New Orleans, Houston, and Atlanta last broke Christmas temperature records in 2015, while Dallas, Nashville and Oklahoma broke them in 2016. In general, Christmas snowfall has decreased across the U.S. since the 1980s.

    AstraZeneca’s Vaccine Helps Fill Gaping Global Need

    The Covid-19 shot, beset by early production problems and rare side effects, has been a workhorse for lower-income countries.

    Posted in Uncategorized

    Italy Votes to Ban Fur Farming and Shut Down Mink Farms

    The Italian Senate has voted to approve an amendment to the budget law that will close the remaining ten mink farms in Italy within six months and ban fur farming throughout the country.


    The decision came about after talks with Humane Society International/Europe, which offered practical strategies in its report Mink breeding in Italy: Mapping and future perspectives for closing fur farms and converting them into businesses that are humane and sustainable. Following approval of the resolution by Parliament, Italy will become the 16th European country to ban fur farming.

    “There are very clear economic, environmental, public health and of course animal welfare reasons to close and ban fur farms,” said the director of Humane Society International in Italy, Martina Pluda, Humane Society International reported. “Today’s vote recognizes that allowing the mass breeding of wild animals for frivolous fur fashion represents a risk to both animals and people that can’t be justified by the limited economic benefits it offers to a small minority of people involved in this cruel industry.”

    The amendment requires all active fur farms in Italy be closed by June 30, 2022. It also includes an immediate ban on the breeding of mink, foxes, raccoon dogs and chinchillas, according to Humane Society International. To help ease the transition, fur farmers will be compensated €3 million by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2022, reported VegNews.

    Fur has been falling out of favor in the fashion world, with major brands like GUCCI, Prada, Valentino and Versace banning the use of fur in their collections, and large retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s no longer selling it.

    “With so many designers, retailers, and consumers going fur-free, conversion of fur farms offers people a sustainable future that the fur trade simply cannot provide,” Pluda said, VegNews reported.

    Fur farming also presents COVID-19 risks, as many mink farms in Europe discovered the presence of the virus early in the pandemic. COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported at 465 mink fur farms in 12 countries, including Italy, the U.S. and Canada.

    “In thirty years of animal rights battle this is the best victory. Finally, a parliamentary vote sanctions the end of unspeakable suffering inflicted on animals only in the name of profit and vanity,” remarked Hon. Michela Vittoria Brambilla, president of the Parliamentary Intergroup for Animal Rights in Italy, according to the Greek Reporter.

    “It is a great achievement, which finally all those who love and respect animals rejoice!” Brambilla added, as Humane Society International reported.

    Latin America Should Not be the ‘Backyard’ Where U.S. Plastic Waste Gets Dumped, Campaigners Say

    Latin America does not want the U.S.’s plastic waste.


    As data shows that U.S. plastic exports to some countries in the region more than doubled during 2020, more than 70 organizations from around the world called for an end to this trade, and for the U.S. to manage its own waste.

    “Crossborder plastic waste trade is perhaps one of the most nefarious expressions of the commercialization of common goods and the colonial occupation of territories of the geopolitical south to turn them into sacrifice zones,” Fernanda Soliz, health area director at Simón Bolívar University, Ecuador, said in the letter. “Latin America and the Caribbean are not the backyards of the United States. We are sovereign territories, and we demand the respect of the rights of Nature and our peoples.”

    The data, published by members of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) in Latin America from Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile, was based on the U.S. International free trade database, USA Trade Online. It revealed that, between January and August of 2020, the U.S. exported 44,173 tonnes of plastic waste to 15 Latin American countries. That amounts to at least 35 containers of plastic waste arriving in the region daily.

    The countries that imported the most waste during the first eight months of 2020 were Mexico with 32,650 tonnes, El Salvador with 4,054 tonnes and Ecuador with 3,665 tonnes. Further, the waste is not classified in detail when it is imported, making it hard to trace.

    There has been greater international attention on the fate of plastic waste shipped abroad since China banned exports in 2018, as the letter pointed out.

    “Globally, there is growing concern about the shipment of plastic waste from significant powerhouses such as the United States, the largest exporter of plastic waste, to nations with weak legislation and controls,” the signatories wrote.

    While it is the largest exporter of plastic waste, the U.S. has not signed the Plastics Amendment to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal. In this agreement, reached in May 2019, countries promised to reduce the flow of plastic waste from wealthier countries to less developed countries that don’t have the infrastructure to properly dispose of it, The Guardian reported.

    The amendment gives local governments the right to say yes or no to any waste shipped from developed countries to private companies in the developing world. That means that governments in Latin America also have a role to play in refusing U.S. waste.

    “Regional governments fail in two aspects: the first is inspections at customs because we don’t really know what enters the country under the guise of recycling, and they also fail in their commitments with international agreements such as the Basel Convention,” GAIA spokesperson Camila Aguilera told The Guardian.

    The letter signers are making the following demands:

      1. Latin American and Caribbean countries should pass legislation to implement the Plastic Amendment of the Basel Convention.
      2. Authorities should make the import of plastic more transparent and better regulated.
      3. Customs registries should detail the type and status of plastic waste entering Latin America.
      4. Free trade and other agreements should prioritize protecting communities and territories.

      Jack Ma’s Ant Boosts Consumer-Finance Unit With $3.5 Billion Fundraising

      The biggest chunk of outside funding comes from a powerful state-owned institution, Cinda, which is taking a 20% stake in the consumer-finance business.

      Posted in Uncategorized