2018 versus 2019: Florida’s water crisis idle, but not over

Image source: Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation Memorandum, Caloosahatchee & Estuary Condition Report released June 11, 2019

Here we are, living out a beautiful Florida summer—one that’s defined by our iconic vibrant water, reports of incredible fishing, and the return of visitors to our beaches.

Thoughts of last year’s “lost summer” are but a distant memory. We breathe a sigh of relief, but clean water now doesn’t mean the problems have been resolved and the same threats that destroyed our water still remain.

Why is our water quality vastly different this year? What’s being done to prevent future disasters? In this post, we’ll look back at a few of the factors that contributed to the 2018 water crisis, how things were different in 2019, and future prevention efforts.

Disclaimer: This information is intended to illustrate that 1) Florida’s water quality issues are multi-faceted, 2) the sequence of variables that affect water quality is ever-changing, and 3) there is a solution.

There is not a singular cause of our water quality issues. In 2018, Florida experienced a chain of worst-case events, circumstances, and actions, that led to a disasterous situation for estuaries around the state. Some factors are within control, some are uncontrollable, and some are consequential, but combined, they all impact our water quality. The better you understand this relational concept, the better-suited you are to form your own opinions and perspectives on future issues.

A Look Back

In July 2018, we were neck-deep in the worst water crisis Florida has arguably ever experienced. Record rainfall, massive discharges of polluted fresh water, and a questionably-motivated water management district, all combined to help fuel this widespread water quality disaster.

Toxic blue-green sludge suffocated our waterways and red tide lingered for months, leaving dead marine life scattered along 300 miles of Florida coastline. Businesses suffered, vacations were cut short and cancelled, residents feared for their health, and Florida made national headlines—and not in a good way.

Just to name a few. While there are still many issues impacting water quality around the state, the magnitude to which our waters improved in a year is astounding. To better understand the 2018 water crisis versus a year of relatively good water, here is a chart highlighting a few key factors that collectively impacted our water quality.

2018 and 2019 Key Factors Impacting Water Quality

South Florida Water Management District

  • The powerful, tax-levying agency responsible for protecting and managing our water resources.

2018

Governing board serving special interests.

The previous governing board made decisions that favored special interests over the public, such as renewing a lease with Florida Crystals for land slated for the EAA Reservoir.

Public outrage prompted a spotlight on their actions and the demand for their resignations.

2019

Governing board serving the public.

A new board was appointed as a result of public demand and is now made up of individuals who share our concerns, making significant strides to protect our water quality.

Rainfall Levels
Fort Myers levels shown as sample

  • Rainfall directly affects the water level in Lake Okeechobee.
  • Florida rainy season is May through October.

2018

Above average rainfall.

12.77 ” in May (normal 2.64″)

Lake levels jumped 6 feet in 2017, largely due to Hurricane Irma, followed by heavy rainfall in May 2018.

Source: USclimatedata.com

2019

Average rainfall.

5.57” in May

Brought no significant or unexpected water level changes.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Water management strategy

  • Attempts to keep Lake Okeechobee level between 12.5 to 15.5 feet.
  • Currently manages lake level by discharging “excess” water to the coast via Caloosahatchee & St. Lucie Rivers.
  • Water is discharged at a rate measured in cubic feet per second (cfs).
  • 500 to 1,000 cfs = desired flow for Caloosahatchee River, needed to balance salinity.
  • 0 cfs = desired flow for St. Lucie River.

2018

Began high-volume discharges June 1, continued through summer.

3,000 to 7,800 cfs to Caloosahatchee
Up to 1,800 cfs to St. Lucie

Heavy rainfall and high lake levels, combined with a fear of more rain, led to massive discharges throughout the summer.

2,800 cfs is the high-flow “ecological harm threshold” established by water managers for the Caloosahatchee.

USACOE later admits to knowingly releasing water from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers containing toxic cyanobacteria and harmful algal blooms.

2019

Began low-volume discharges in February, minimized need for high-volume discharges during rainy season.

1,500 to 1,800 cfs to Caloosahatchee
250 to 500 cfs to St. Lucie

Low rainfall and low lake levels maintained by low-volume releases, mitigated need for high-volume summer discharges.

Blue-green algal blooms visible on Lake Okeechobee, but no visible cyanobacteria at sample testing sites. The lower rate of discharges has helped prevent toxic algae from reaching the coastal estuaries.

Red Tide
Known as Karenia brevis (K. brevis)

  • A naturally-occuring algal bloom that originates offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Depletes oxygen in the water and releases toxins that kill marine life and may cause illness to humans.
  • Sustained by nutrients from pollution sources.

2018

Significant presence of red tide.

Originated in October 2017 and persisted for 17 months.

Devastated marine life, killing thousands of tons of baitfish, game fish, sea turtles, manatees, dolphins, even a whale shark.

Red tide bloom was possibly intensified and sustained by nutrients from toxic blue-green algal blooms.

2019

No presence of red tide.

As of February 2019, the presence of red tide has been non-existent at sample testing sites.

Lake Okeechobee Water Levels

Below is a graphic representation of the Lake Okeechobee water levels from July 2017 to July 2019. This illustrates the significant water level spike after Hurricane Irma in October 2017, followed by the heavy rainfall event in May 2018 that led to the high-volume, devastating discharges.

Captains For Clean Water - Lake O Levels

The Water Crisis Brings Progress in 2019

  • Florida received the largest amount of funding for Everglades restoration in state history. This means there’s a significant spotlight on water quality issues and efforts; from media to conservation groups to the informed public eye, this creates an arena where elected officials and government agencies are held accountable.
  • New Lake Okeechobee management manual coming soon. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has shown willingness to change their operations procedures in order to avoid harmful, large-scale discharges and is in the process of developing the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). “The purpose of this effort is to reevaluate and define operations for the Lake Okeechobee regulation schedule that take into account additional infrastructure that will soon be operational.” Expected completion of the manual is September 2022.
  • Key priority projects. There are more than two dozen projects that must be accelerated and completed in order to provide improvements to water quality, water quantity, and water supply for Florida. Collectively, these will help achieve the greatest benefit for Everglades restoration. The projects are detailed on SFWMD’s website.

The Big Picture: We Must Send Clean Water South

Infrastructure projects, operating manuals, record budget, various agencies and stakeholders, policy and procedures, bureaucratic complexity, outward opposition, emails, paperwork, approvals, denials, meetings upon meetings; the path to progress is littered with red tape. For every step forward, it took countless people and calculated actions to get there.

It’s not realistic to think that the southward flow of water can be restored overnight, but every project completed gets us incrementally closer. Progress is a process. It requires a vigilant public who speaks up and takes action which drives political will that turns to policy, which becomes new law which eventually leads to the benefits that we all want to see: clean water and healthy estuaries at all times.

Changing operations alone won’t fix the problems. We need critical infrastructure projects completed in order to store, treat, and convey more water south. The EAA Reservoir is predicted to cut Lake Okeechobee discharges by over 50%. The Tamiami Trail project will remove significant barriers to flow, allowing more water to reach the Everglades and Florida Bay where it’s desperately needed. We can’t simply cross our fingers and hope the rain won’t come.

Closing Thoughts

It begins to sound redundant, almost, to keep repeating this message. The truth is—for decades, scientists have said the solution is to send water south. So why weren’t we seeing progress at the highest level? The difference between now and then is awareness.

A lack of public awareness has historically allowed special interests and corrupt politics to dictate where our water goes—or doesn’t go. The 2016 and 2018 water crises may have sparked national attention, but it’s because we’ve refused to “shut up” that we’ve been able to keep the focus on water quality and move the needle.

This progress is only possible because of you. Without your efforts to get involved, get educated, and spread the word, the smoke and mirrors would continue, and the greater public would remain oblivious to the injustice happening in our backyards.

Thank you for seeing the bigger picture. For understanding the process. And for spreading the word about Everglades restoration—even when the water is beautiful and the fishing is good.

Meet the Veteran Finalists: The 2019 National Fly Casting Competition

We are pleased to announce the finalists in our Second Annual Fly Casting Competition hosted in-conjunction with Fly Fishers International (FFI).  Through the fly casting competition and the strategic partnership between PHWFF and FFI, we aim to bring fly fishing and it’s proven therapeutic elements to more disabled veterans who can benefit from it.

The competition was open to disabled veterans and disabled military service personnel actively participating with PHWFF Programs and was facilitated by our volunteer-run programs around the country.  PHWFF programs are divided up into geographic regions comprising over 200 programs nationwide that serve disabled veterans in their local communities.  The Fly Casting Competition began at the local program level where disabled veteran participants learn the skills and nuances of the fly cast from experienced volunteer anglers during regular program meetings.  For the competition, each PHWFF program selected a casting champion who proceeded to compete in their respective Regional Finals against fellow program champions. The winners and runner-ups of the Regional Competitions advance to compete in the PHWFF Casting Competition Finals during the Fly Fishers International Expo in Bozeman, Montana July 24 – 27, 2019.

A total of 27 PHWFF veteran participants will compete in the National Fly Casting Competition finals on July 24 – 27, 2019 and we are thrilled to introduce them to you below by Region:

ALASKA Rick Knight – Wasilla, AK Program | David Widby – Anchorage, AK Program

THE HEARTLAND Michael Davis – Kansas City, MO Program | David Landon – Omaha, NE Program

FLORIDA Lonnie Devore – Viera, FL Program

NEW ENGLAND Mark Michaud – Saugus, MA Program | Walter Morse – Togus, ME Program

NORTH CAROLINA Vincent Taylor – Winston-Salem, NC Program | Gregorio Robles-Velez – Fayetteville, NC Program

PENNSYLVANIA Darryl Mosher – Erie, PA Program | Ed Transue – Kunkletown, PA Program

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NORTHEAST Kenneth Hickok – Casper, WY Program

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NORTHWEST Harley Harrison – Bozeman, MT Program | Travis Wilson – Boise, ID Program

ROCKY MOUNTAIN SOUTH Bradley Kalblinger – Grand Junction, CO Program | Valentine Roberts – Denver, CO Program

SOUTH CENTRAL Christian Fritz – San Marcos, TX Program | Jason Farrar – Conroe, TX Program

SOUTHEAST Allan Sweat – Atlanta, GA Program | Heyward Wall – Charleston, SC Program

SOUTHWEST Lawrence Diggins – Long Beach, CA Program | Joe Hiney – San Francisco, CA Program

TENNESSEE VALLEY Henry Stockman – Chattanooga, TN Program | Joshua Berry – Johnson City, TN Program

VIRGINIA Aric Moss – Charlottesville, VA Program

WEST VIRGINIA Stu Mynes – Wheeling, WV Program | Michael Elliott – Clarksburg, WV Program

The National Fly Casting Competition Finals will be judged by an esteemed panel of fly casting experts;

  • Larry Allen – PHWFF volunteer, Master Casting Instructor, recipient of Mel Krieger Fly Casting Instructor Award, and winner of two golds, a silver and a bronze at the World Fly Casting Championships in the Veteran Men’s Division.
  • Ted Bounds – PHWFF volunteer, Casting Instructor and tournament caster.
  • Bruce Richards – Master Casting Instructor, line designer for Scientific Anglers, author of Modern Flylines, and recipient of the Lifetime Achievement in Fly Casting Instructor Award.
  • Molly Semenik – Master Casting Instructor and author of 25 Best Off-the-Beaten Path Montana Fly Fishing Streams.
  • Mark Tsunawaki – Head Judge, PHWFF volunteer, and ACA National Tournament Senior Division Champion.

Following the competition, the disabled veteran participants will enjoy a special fly-casting demonstration from World Champion fly caster Maxine McCormick and her father, World Championship Bronze Medalist, Glenn McCormick.  At the age of 12, Maxine became the youngest adult division World Champion in sports history, outscoring every woman and man in Trout Accuracy.   In 2018, at the World Championships in England, she earned two gold medals and one silver.

The Fly Fishers International Expo will also offer a bevy of activities for all the competitors during their time in Bozeman, MT.  From seminars, activities, demonstrations, authors and entertainment the Fair will serve as fun and educational opportunity for our participants to further their growth in the sport of fly fishing.

Join us in wishing all the veteran competitors the best of luck at the Finals!

By Daniel Morgan per Project Healing Waters

Garden and Gun: How Fishing Captains are Saving the Everglades

Meet Captains for Clean Water, the non-profit that’s charting a new course for South Florida’s ecosystem—and the fisheries it supports

by T. Edward Nickens October/November 2018

Garden & Gun: How Fishing Captains are Saving the Everglades | Captains for Clean Water National Coverage

Chris Wittman, a cofounder of Captains for Clean Water, navigates Florida’s mangrove backcountry. | Phot Credit: Pete Barrett

“This is what’s at risk,” Captain Chris Wittman tells me. “This is what we are fighting for.” He doesn’t need to point to what he’s referring to. Open waters and islands dense with mangroves unfurl in every direction. We’ve run a Hell’s Bay poling skiff through skinny water outside Everglades City, Florida, for a morning of hunting tarpon. This is primal country, without the blemish of a single human-built structure. Untouched, or so it seems.

Two years ago, Wittman, who lives in Fort Myers, would spend three days on the water for every one on land, guiding anglers to tarpon, permit, and redfish along the Gulf of Mexico. He still watches plenty of sunrises from a poling platform, but these days he finds himself under fluorescent lighting more than he’d like: on the phone, in meetings, in legislative offices in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

As a founding director of Captains for Clean Water, a nonprofit that advocates for the restoration of Florida’s estuaries and the Everglades, Wittman is helping channel into action a rising tide of anger over the state’s catastrophic water pollution. He and another Fort Myers charter captain, Daniel Andrews, formed the group in February 2016, after contaminated water from Lake Okeechobee flowed into the Caloosahatchee River and then into the fish-rich estuary where they have guided for decades. The toxic sludge wiped out grass beds and oyster reefs. Fish and horse conchs fled the contamination to die on white-sand beaches. The stench drove tourists out of their hotels. Fishing bookings, Wittman said, fell by 80 percent.

Wittman on his eighteen-foot Hell’s Bay fishing skiff. | Phot Credit: Pete Barrett

Captains in the area had seen this before. Florida’s waterways have been re-plumbed over the last century, and water no longer flows where nature intended. Instead of filtering slowly from Okeechobee through the Everglades, water polluted by municipal and agricultural sources shunts from the lake through a system of locks and canals into the St. Lucie River on the east coast and the Caloosahatchee to the west.

Wet years had brought high flows of tainted freshwater, but
the winter deluge in 2016 was the worst ever. “The straw that broke the camel’s
back,” Andrews says. The two captains coined a name for their grassroots effort, put up a Facebook page calling for a meeting at the Fort Myers Bass Pro Shops, and wondered if they could get a few dozen irate captains to show.

They did—along with about three hundred others. “The crowd was out the door,” Wittman recalls, and included saltwater and freshwater fishing guides and anglers, commercial fishermen, tackle-shop owners, and journalists. “We realized we had a chance to do something to fix this. To influence our policy makers.”

Garden & Gun: How Fishing Captains are Saving the Everglades | Captains for Clean Water National Coverage

Phot Credit: Pete Barrett

Fixing the Everglades has been a rallying cry since the invention of orange juice, but there is hope that a window of opportunity has opened. After years of study, plans are now under way to build a 17,000-acre, $1.6 billion reservoir ringed with massive constructed wetlands south of Lake Okeechobee. The lake will capture and hold polluted runoff, filter it through the marshes, and release it slowly south into the Everglades, which have been cut off from adequate water flows for decades.

The Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir, as it is known, was originally proposed as a 60,000-acre project, and some worry that the current design won’t be large enough to result in the “optimal” benefit that the authorizing legislation requires. “But it’s a big step forward,” says Thomas Van Lent, director of science and policy for the Everglades Foundation. “If it doesn’t provide the promised water quality, the state is on the hook to fix it.” After Congress green-lights Florida’s plan, it also has to come up with $800 million in matching funding. Van Lent is optimistic the needed legislation will pass this session, and that construction will begin soon after.

For now, the captains—and the more than 2,500 other members of Captains for Clean Water—are applying pressure to state legislators, federal officials, and anyone who will listen about the chance to do something meaningful for South Florida’s ecosystem, and the famed fisheries it supports.

The Everglades are dying. I’ve heard that since I was a kid,” Wittman says. “And there are quite a few places where this effort can still fall off the tracks. But this is the best chance we’ve had for significant conservation of the ’Glades in my lifetime. We can’t squander this opportunity.” 

—Source: GardenandGun.com

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT: 

Garden & Gun

GardenandGun.com

Vermont adopts the most comprehensive plastics ban in U.S.

Vermont adopts the most comprehensive plastics ban in U.S.

Single-use plastics—from straws to retail bags—will be illegal in Vermont by summer 2020.

Vermont has joined the growing list of states swearing off single-use plasticsby adopting the nation’s broadest restrictions yet on shopping bags, straws, drink stirrers, and foam food packaging.

The new law, which takes effect in July 2020, prohibits retailers and restaurants from providing customers with single-use carryout bags, plastic stirrers, or cups, takeout, or other food containers made from expanded polystyrene. Straws may be provided to customers on request. People requiring straws for medical conditions are exempted from the law.

The bag ban applies only to bags at point-of-sale and not to bags sold as household trash bags or bags used in grocery stores to contain loose produce.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed the bill into law without comment Monday. Earlier he had expressed doubts about the new ten-cent-per-bag charge retailers and restaurants are required to collect for paper bags. Small paper bags are exempted from the ten-cent charge.

“Throughout the session, he did say that given the overwhelming bipartisan support in the legislature and having not heard opposition from the retailers who will be impacted, he expected to sign it,” says Rebecca Kelley, Scott’s communications director.

Multiple states have banned one or more of these plastics. But Vermont is the first to ban all four products in a single bill.

 

“Vermont has now established a national precedent of tackling three of the worst examples of plastic packaging in one sweeping state law,” says Judith Enck, a former EPA regional administrator who heads a plastics pollution initiative at Bennington College, in a statement.

Not all bags created equal

Hawaii, California, Maine, and New York have banned disposable plastic bags. Supporters of Vermont’s bill say lawmakers took extra steps to promote bag reuse and discourage bag makers from skirting bag bans by making them thicker. As a result, the Vermont ban outlaws plastic carryout bags that do not have stitched handles.

Jen Duggan, director of the Vermont Conservation Law Foundation, says cities and counties that have passed bag bans often defined prohibited bags by their thickness or applied measurements requiring that it carry a certain weight a certain distance.

“What happened was the bag makers flooded the markets with thicker bags,” she says.

The requirement for stitched handles, she says, was simply an easier solution. Because of the cost of stitching handles, it effectively ensures that carryout bags will be made from cloth or reusable polypropylene, encouraging reuse‒one of the goals of the law.

Matt Seaholm, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, an industry lobbying group, in an interview in April cautioned that bag bans result in the importation of thicker bags manufactured in China. He added that plastic retail bags in the United States are regulated by more ordinances than any other plastic product, and suggested a better solution for sustainability is for bags to be returned by customers to retailers, where they can be sent back to the factory and remade into new bags.

Vermont’s action builds on a growing movement across the world to ban single-use plastics. Plastic bags have been taxed or banned in 127 nations, according to a United Nations count. The European Union banned the top plastic items found on European beaches earlier this spring.

Earlier this year, Vermont’s most famous business, Ben and Jerry’s, announced plans to eliminate the use of plastic straws and other single-use plastics in its 600 ice cream shops worldwide.

This story is part of Planet or Plastic?—our multiyear effort to raise awareness about the global plastic waste crisis. Learn what you can do to reduce your own single-use plastics, and take your pledge.

Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/06/vermont-adopts-most-comprehensive-single-use-plastics-ban/

By: Laura Parker

1% for the Planet Breweries Team-Up On “Brut for the Planet IPA”

Brut For The Planet
Brut India Pale Ale
7.2% Alcohol by Volume

SAN DIEGO, CA — Pure Project Brewing teamed up with fellow California 1% for the Planet Members, Topa Topa Brewing Co. and Smog City Brewing Co. to brew “Brut for the Planet IPA.”

This Brut IPA is intended to resemble a West Coast IPA melded with the dryness of a Brut Champagne. A clean and crisp IPA, with a nice smooth lingering bitterness. Mellow hoppy aroma up front, with a subtle light body, and a fantastically dry finish.

The beer aims to raise awareness about the need for environmental action, and how breweries that are a part of the 1% for the Planet movement are taking action.

“Beer is an agricultural product and if we do not take care of the land that sustains our agriculture, there will eventually be nothing left to brew with,” said Winslow Sawyer of Pure Project Brewing.

 

Since the breweries teamed up, fellow California brewery, Alvarado Street Brewing also just announced their 1% For The Planet membership.

“Good beer can reflect the health of our planet,” said Kate Williams, 1% for the Planet’s CEO. “We are thrilled to continue to add to the robust list of breweries around the world that are taking action on the environment.”

1% for the Planet has provided these breweries with a unique opportunity to give back to their local communities as well as help to grow their business.

“All in all our partnership with 1% has been a wonderful addition to our brand here at Topa Topa,” said Jack Dyer of Topa Topa Brewing Co. “The relationships we have established in the community have helped propel our growth as a company.”

For more on 1% for the Planet’s craft beer membership, please visit: http://www.onepercentfortheplanet.org/what-we-do/our-stories/14-our-stories/228-our-craft-beer-members

About Pure Project Brewing

San Diego based Pure Project is focused on creating an impact both in our business, locally and around the world. At their brewery, Pure Project aims to reduce and reuse as much waste as possible including encouraging customers to bring coolers and bags instead of us using plastic snap packs. They reuse old grain bags for trash and giant rubber bands instead of shrink wrap to name a few. They are committed to sourcing locally and recently start using California grown and malted organic grain which has been a huge step forward towards sustainability.

Currently to meet their 1% for the Planet annual giving. They donate 1% of all revenue to San Diego Surfrider, San Diego Coastkeeper, Outdoor Outreach and the Conservation Alliance.

About Topa Topa Brewing Co.

Ventura based Topa Topa Brewing Co. utilizes their partnership with 1% for the Planet by focusing on a local 1% for the planet approved nonprofit each quarter. Not only does that nonprofit get the benefit of receiving 1% of sales that quarter, but the partner is also offered the opportunity to engage with our community directly in our taproom. They do this by holding at least 3 events during the quarter at our taproom(s).

About 1% for the Planet

1% for the Planet is a global organization that connects dollars and doers to accelerate
smart environmental giving. Through our business and individual membership, 1% for the Planet inspires people to support environmental organizations through annual membership and everyday actions. Started in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, our members have given more than $175 million to environmental nonprofits to date. Today, 1% for the Planet is a network of more than 1,500 member businesses, a new and expanding core of hundreds of individual members, and thousands of nonprofit partners in more than 60 countries.

Posted:

Source: http://pfpitches.com/1-for-the-planet/brut-for-the-planet/

The plastic industry is on track to produce as many emissions as 600 coal-fired power plants

When you think about plastic, what comes to mind? Microplastics at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, whales dying with truckloads of garbage in their bellies, that zero-waste Instagram influencer you follow?

A new report shows it’s high time to think more about the fossil fuels that go into making those plastic products. The global plastic industry is on track to produce enough emissions to put the world on track for a catastrophic warming scenario, according to the Center for International Environmental Law analysis. In other words, straws aren’t just bad for unsuspecting turtles; plastic is a major contributor to climate change.

If the plastic industry is allowed to expand production unimpeded, here’s what we’re looking at: By 2030, global emissions from that sector could produce the emissions equivalent of more than 295 (500-megawatt) coal plants. By 2050, emissions could exceed the equivalent of 615 coal plants.

That year, the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions from production of single-use plastics like bags and straws could compose between 10 and 13 percent of the whole remainder of our carbon budget. That is, the amount of CO2 we’re allowed to emit if we want to keep emissions below the threshold scientists say is necessary to ensure a liveable planet. By 2100, even conservative estimates pin emissions from plastics composing more than half of the carbon budget.

So, congrats on ordering that metal straw from Amazon! But the report shows that the plastics industry is still planning on a major expansion in production.

Here are a few more takeaways from the report, which looked at the emissions produced by the plastics industry starting in 2015 and projected what emissions from that sector could look like through the end of the century:

  • Of the three ways to get rid of plastics — recycling, landfilling, or incinerating — incinerating is the most energy intensive. In 2015, emissions from incinerating plastic in the United States were estimated to be around 5.9 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
  • This year, production and incineration of plastic products will make as many emissions as 189 coal power plants — 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases.
  • Plastics that wind up in the ocean could even fuck with the ocean’s ability to do what it has historically done a superb job at: sequestering carbon. That’s because the phytoplankton and lil ocean critters that help capture the CO2 at the surface of the ocean and drag it under are being compromised by — you guessed it — microplastic.

But it doesn’t look like the industry is going to slow its roll on refining oil for plastics anytime soon. In 2015, 24 ethylene facilities in the U.S. produced the emissions equivalent of 3.8 million cars. There are 300 more petrochemical facilities underway in the U.S. Two of those, one being built by ExxonMobil and another by Shell, could produce emissions equivalent to 800,000 new cars on the road per year.

So if you’re gonna boycott single-use plastics, keep in mind that you’re not just doing it for the turtles — you’re doing it for us.

Source: https://grist.org/article/the-plastic-industry-is-on-track-to-produce-as-many-emissions-as-600-coal-fired-power-plants/?utm_content=buffer98a48&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer&fbclid=IwAR0SllSaExFuO1A20oPRJHEewQBmYNrmI3jCXO_nm7hi0dSpCNhcxmNbuXE

Costa Rica Set To Become The Worlds First Plastic-Free And Carbon-Free Country By 2021

Costa Rica is in the top 5 of countries that are leading the way into renewable resources. It might seem small but it has a really big environmental impact. Since 2014 the country’s energy has been coming from 99% renewable sources, and it has been running on 100% renewable energy for over two months twice in the last two years. Then, since June 2017 they have been set on eradicating single-use plastic by 2021. The first be the first country in the world to do this. And most recently, in the summer of 2018, the country announced its aims to become completely carbon-neutral by the year 2021 – The first completely carbon-free country in the whole world.

“Basing [electricity] generation on renewable resources allows the country to achieve one of the lowest ratios of greenhouse gas emissions to electrical consumption on the planet,” the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) indicated in a statement.

Over the past 4 years, Costa Rica has generated all but 1 percent of its electricity from renewable sources such as its rivers, volcanoes, wind and solar power. The hydroelectric plant on the Reventazón River, on the Caribbean slope, began operations in 2016. It’s the largest plant of its kind in Central America. They also have seven wind turbine plants, six hydroelectric plants and a solar plant. A statement from ICE indicated that ¾ of renewable energy came from hydroelectric plants using river water; the rest was geothermal and wind power, with biomass then solar power constituting the smallest percentage.

A dam in Costa RicaSince the 1980s, the government recognized that nature is Costa Rica’s strongest asset and has therefore made every effort to protect it: including, among other things, zoo closures, reforestation, and establishing protected areas (25% of the total surface area of the country).

“With its rich biodiversity, Costa Rica has also demonstrated far-sighted environmental leadership by pursuing reforestation, designating a third of the country protected natural reserves, and deriving almost all of its electricity from clean hydro power.” – Joseph Stiglitz

Costa Rica frog

The plastic dilemma came next. So, last year on World Environment Day the country announced its new national plan to eradicate all single-use plastics by 2021. From that day on, plastic has to be replaced by alternatives that are 100% recyclable or biodegradable and not petroleum-based. The country has the technical and financial support of the United Nations Development Program to help them accomplish this.

Economist Mónica Araya, a Costa Rican sustainability expert and director of Costa Rica Limpia,  which promotes renewable energy and electric transport, said:

“Getting rid of fossil fuels is a big idea coming from a small country. This is an idea that’s starting to gain international support with the rise of new technologies. In a country already rapidly weaning itself off fossil fuels, focusing on transport – one of the last major challenges – could send a powerful message to the world.”

Wind Turbines in Costa RicaEarlier this year, Carlos Alvarado Quesada was elected as Costa Rica’s new president. His first act in the office was to take a giant leap forward into reducing carbonization. During his inauguration as a world leader he announced his initiative to ban fossil fuels and become the world’s first decarbonized society. He says to an excited crowd:

“Decarbonization is the great task of our generation and Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish it, if not the first.”

And he does admit that to create the first carbon-free society will be an extremely massive task, but an extraordinary one that he is confident they will achieve. He is very hopeful and excited to get rid of the fossil fuels created by their transportation system by 2021 – all just in time to celebrate the nation’s 200th anniversary of achieving its independence.

He said: “When we reach 200 years of independent life we will take Costa Rica forward and celebrate… that we’ve removed gasoline and diesel from our transportation.”

Keel billed Toucan

The future-minded small country of Costa Rica has made a giant impact in environmentalism. And it is also conscious of the well-being of its citizens. It is part of the Wellbeing Economies Alliance—a coalition that includes Scotland, New Zealand, and Slovenia—which instead of emphasizing countries’ GDP, “seeks to ensure that public policy advances citizens’ wellbeing in the broadest sense, by promoting democracy, sustainability, and inclusive growth,” according to a recent column by economist Joseph Stiglitz.

In the following video interview Democracy Now! speaks with Mónica Araya. They talk about many things, such as how it will be the first country in the world to decarbonize its economy and how wonderful the country is of course. It is very inspiring and well worth your time to watch it!

Source: https://www.intelligentliving.co/costa-rica-plastic-carbon-free-2021/

How Pro Skier David Wise Does Climate Action

Talking to your elected officials about climate change

We know from research that one of the biggest actions you can take to fight climate change is talking to your elected officials. We also know it’s one of the more nerve-wracking steps to take (no, unfortunately, we cannot solve the climate crisis on reusable coffee cups and water bottles alone––but boy that would make life a lot simpler if we could).

Two-time Olympic gold medalist and Alliance member David Wise took the plunge this week and testified before the Nevada Senate Growth and Infrastructure Committee to talk about increasing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Sound complicated? We’ll break it down for you. We’ve got a video of the thing so you can see just how easy it is to talk to your elected officials about climate change. Click the link to see the video: https://protectourwinters.org/how-pro-skier-david-wise-does-climate-action/

Ready to take action? Start by introducing yourself to your member of Congress (we even gave you a draft to start with)!

“This past year, I launched what I’d call a passion project, called ‘Wise Off The Grid.’ Through social media, it gives followers the chance to learn more about my family’s work to reduce our carbon footprint, from growing our food to harvesting our meat to powering our home with solar energy. Our family’s goal is to live completely off the grid.

But unfortunately, we live in a world where individual change isn’t going to be enough to achieve a stable climate. We need our lawmakers– we need you– to help us in passing systemic policy change to drive down carbon emissions at a much larger scale. We need you to help us ensure the everyday choices we make as individuals and families are good for the climate.”

David Wise is a two time Olympic Gold Medalist in halfpipe skiing and is a Protect Our Winters Alliance member. He lives in Verdi with his wife and two children.

Credit: https://protectourwinters.org/how-pro-skier-david-wise-does-climate-action/

Whales likely impacted by Great Pacific Garbage Patch

A scientific note we published on April 09, 2019 reports the records of whales within the world’s largest accumulation of floating ocean plastic: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Over the past few weeks, two whales beached with large amounts of plastic in their stomachs making news headlines, one in the Phillippinesand the other in Italy. On April 9, 2019, we published a note in the journal Marine Biodiversity describing sightings of whales within the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) – the largest accumulation zone for plastics in the world’s open ocean about halfway between Hawaii and California. This work was first presented at the Society for Marine Mammals biennial conference in December 2017 in Halifax, Canada providing evidence of cetaceans being exposed to high concentrations of plastic.

During our Aerial Expedition in October 2016, whales were spotted by our observers aboard our Hercules C-130 aircraft. During our flights over this very remote area, we observed at least 14 whales, including four sperm whales, three beaked whales, and two baleen whales. We recorded a sperm whale mother with a calf, providing evidence that the GPGP is being used by these magnificent animals at various life stages. Whale population structures and movement patterns in this area are not well known and it is unclear whether they migrate through the GPGP, are always present or both.

As part of the main objective of this expedition, we also registered 1280 surface drifting plastics, such as fishing nets, ropes, floats, and fragmented debris. This equates to a ratio of about 90 objects per whale sighted. Plastic items were occasionally seen in close proximity (i.e. a few meters) to the observed animals, thereby clearly posing entanglement and ingestion risks.

Cetacean sightings of our study.

In the map, the background colors represent plastic pollution levels (red = highest, blue = lowest), gray lines show the two ~665km survey transects of this study, and black dots are locations where cetaceans were sighted. Photographs above the map show some of the animals observed: sperm whales (sighting 2 and 3) and beaked whales (sighting 6 and 7). Red circles in sighting 3 indicate locations with floating debris. Photographs in the right side of the figure show examples of debris sighted.

One of the findings from our 2018 paper on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch showed 46% of the plastic found in the patch are fishing nets. Often referred to as ‘ghostnets’, these are lost and discarded fishing nets that can continuously trap marine wildlife in a process known as ‘ghost fishing’. The durability and strength of entangled fishing nets can cause chronic injury, starvation and general debilitation of entangled animals, often resulting in death. Fishing gear can also be heavy, often drowning exhausted animals including whales, seals, and sea turtles.

Whales, particularly, are known to ingest plastics, mistaking them for food and /or consuming them incidentally while feeding on prey aggregated with synthetic particles. The size of the plastic items ingested depends on the feeding behavior of the species. Filter-feeding baleen whales are particularly susceptible to accidently consuming small plastic particles known as ‘microplastics’ (< 5 mm) that are a health hazard to them. Sperm and beaked whales on the other hand, can ingest large plastic objects such as plastic bags and fishing nets (as was mentioned at the start of this article).

Sperm whale mother and calf. Observed on System 001’s first mission.

Ingesting large quantities of plastic can lead to an animal’s death due to gastric rupture and/or obstruction. Jacobsen et al. (2010) examined two sperm whales stranded along the California coast and extracted 24.2kg and 73.6 kg of plastic debris from their stomachs. Ingested items included fishing nets and ropes made of floating material. The researchers suggested that the ingestion of these objects occurred within the North Pacific subtropical gyre, which is made plausible by our observations.

Our scientific note demonstrates the potential exposure of multiple cetacean species to the high levels of plastic pollution within oceanic ‘garbage patches’.

In addition to the sightings during The Ocean Cleanup’s Aerial Expedition (the subject of these notes), 38 whale[1] sightings were documented during System 001’s first mission deployment in the GPGP from October – December 2019 (results yet to be published), confirming the risk of these species being exposed to increased plastic concentrations.

Sperm whales observed on System 001’s first mission.

These sightings are a reminder of why we do what we do and further research evaluating the effects of ocean garbage patches on the world’s cetacean populations is needed. Looking ahead, The Ocean Cleanup will continue environmental monitoring while in the GPGP and will share new information to build upon our understanding of this complex problem.


[1] Environmental monitoring during deployment of The Ocean Cleanup’s System 001 was performed by 3rd party protected species observers. Visual monitoring for protected species was conducted for 1012 hours 45 minutes over the course of the 141 days of System 001’s deployment. Of the 24 species of whales and dolphins observed, four are listed as endangered on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including blue, fin, sei and sperm whales.

Source: https://www.theoceancleanup.com/updates/whales-likely-impacted-by-great-pacific-garbage-patch/

Gearing up for Spring Gobblers: Turkey Vest Checklist

It’s almost here. Well, for some, it’s already here! Whether your state opened in March or you’ve got to wait until April 1st, let’s make sure we’re all prepared for turkey season. If you’re among those die-hard turkey hunters who eat, sleep, and eat turkey hunting in the springtime or who would like to, then you’d better get your gear ready. While a turkey hunting vest isn’t mandatory, it’s highly recommended and should be mandatory. There are many makes and models of turkey hunting vests on the market today. First, you need to go try on some brands and see how they fit and how versatile they are. I like one with adjustable shoulder straps that includes a chest strap to reduce weight on your back and shoulders. Also, the adjustable shoulder straps are priceless when hauling out a tom. This keeps the vest from hitting my legs as I walk and keeps the vest from shifting when walking steep terrain. It also reduces the amount of noise I make in the field during a spot and stalk hunt or shifting around a tree when gobblers come in from other directions. Most importantly, your turkey vest is like your own mobile office.

A good vest will keep you in the woods longer

Turkey hunting is the manipulation of communication. The pursuit of gobblers can be maddening one day and easy the next. We scout, hike, and call for those fractions of a second a gobble cracks the silence. If you’ve never had a gobbler fall silent after a fiery morning on the roost, then you have not hunted gobblers long enough. Getting ghosted by a big gobbler after fly-down is one of the most frustrating aspects of hunting spring gobblers; yet, if you can stay positioned and not spook any birds, you are still in the game. That big tom responded to you off the roost, understand he acknowledged your presence in his roundhouse. Secondly, he remembers where you were. In the late morning or early afternoon (depending on your state regulations), return to where you had last heard him gobble and make your setup. During this time of the day, especially as the spring rolls on, hens leave the tom to tend their nests, leaving toms vulnerable to calls mid-morning and throughout the day. This tactic can require some patience but has long been a card in the proverbial deck of seasoned turkey hunters. A good turkey vest will keep you in that position longer for the opportunity at that big gobbler. Here are some turkey vest essentials that will make your spring gobbler hunt more enjoyable and ultimately more successful.

Where and when you chase gobblers has a lot to do with the amount and type of gear you need. Photo by NWTF

 

                                                   Turkey Vest Checklist

  • box call/chalk
  • slate and glass call with extra strikers
  • diaphragm calls
  • a piece of sandpaper to keep striker tips and friction surfaces abrasive
  • locator calls: crow and owl
  • headlamp
  • face mask
  • hat and gloves
  • shears for cutting shooting lanes
  • decoys
  • camera
  • pop-up blind with a chair
  • shooting Stick
  • binoculars and a rangefinder
  • water bottle/snacks or a lunch
  • athletic Mobility boots or knee-high boots in swampy areas
  • mossy Oak camouflage shirt, pants, jacket, and rain suit
  • backpack depending on the length of hunt
  • knife
  • extra-large Ziploc bags to keep strikers and chalk dry
  • zip ties and pen to fill out tags
  • bug spray and/or a https://www.thermacell.com/
  • trail camera to drop in when you won’t be there for a few days to see when gobblers are using strut zones.

Want to share your turkey vest tips? Leave us a comment. We’d like to hear what turkey hunting gear techniques have been helpful to you.

 

Credit: https://www.thehuntingpage.com/gearing-spring-gobblersspring-turkey-vest-checklist/?fbclid=IwAR1Dg4UfMiMCFIKoTcAzhvecRolQ3MI3WYaF4yN5B2FnnjJfvyfKN5u37ho