ocean cleanup plastic

And now, everything the country is not talking about ...

And here's at least one thing to do about it all.

It's hard to argue that COVID-19 and the U.S. elections shouldn't be dominating the headlines, but let's not forget all the festering problems we're currently forgetting.


Most activists need no reminding on these, but maybe journalists, policymakers, and teachers do.

Plastics

Watching the river flow after a heavy rain often involves watching the parade of trash wend its way to the ocean. What's now being counted are bits of plastic by the quadrillion. In the U.S., a threatened oil and gas industry is re-trenching by building sprawling new plastics plants in our midsts.

Well, maybe all those ocean-borne plastics will be eaten by all that extra acid, just sayin'...

Chemicals

We're still addressing how widespread the perfluorinated "forever chemicals" are. Or the 70 million pounds of atrazine used on U.S. fields alone.

Exception to the rule: One toxic chemical that has broken through the silence is glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. But not just in news coverage. After a few billion-dollar jury awards, the all-purpose weedkiller is a sudden favorite for late-night whiplash lawyers.

Amazon

No, not the van double-parked outside your door right now. The other Amazon, the one that's rapidly disappearing. The latest news? The Pantanal is a Nebraska-sized tropical wetland in the southern Amazon. It's doing something different right now—burning.

Water

To me, there's no more enduring story of willful ecocide than that of the Aral Sea. Josef Stalin's brutality extended beyond his Soviet citizens. The former fourth largest freshwater lake in the world is a wisp of its former self. Today, draining aquifers, damming rivers, and melting glaciers are looming threats.

Environmental Injustice

It's been on the waiting list for 30 years. Poor, usually minority, communities overrun by polluting industry. Fearless indigenous activists picked off without consequence.

Climate and beyond

In September, 2018, the U.N. put climate change on the clock, giving us all 12 years to get the world on track to avoid the worst possible climate impacts. Putting a drop-dead date on climate change is never such a good idea, IMHO, but we're now down to nine years, 10 months on the Doomsday Sundial. Wildfires. Flooded streets. Hurricane Zeta.

If all this seems a bit depressing, think of that one small gain wrapped inside the monstrous disaster of COVID. Anti-science belligerence and face-palming denial have dragged themselves out into the open for all to see.

Pro-science advocates (should we really need to say pro-science?) have an opportunity to cast the deniers into the same lot. Anti-vaxxers, climate deniers, mask-haters, coal rollers, flat-Earthers, snake handlers and others may have different motives. Some may simply want to defend their kids or families the only way they know how; some may be bull-goose loony. But it's all ignorance.

However things turn out on November 3, let's replace some of that ignorance with education.

Peter Dykstra is our weekend editor and columnist and can be reached at pdykstra@ehn.org or @pdykstra.

His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate or publisher, Environmental Health Sciences.

Banner photo: California Costal Clean Up Day in 2018. (Credit: Dave R/flickr)

LNG gulf coast
Leo Dyson, a retired commercial fisherman. (Credit: Courtney O'Banion for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade)

LNG production comes with a price, Gulf Coast communities warn

US takes the global lead on liquid natural gas production and export, as economic promises and environmental worries collide.

This 2-part series was co-produced by Environmental Health News and the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. See part 2 here.Este ensayo también está disponible en español
Keep reading...Show less
Senator Whitehouse & climate change

Senator Whitehouse puts climate change on budget committee’s agenda

For more than a decade, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave daily warnings about the mounting threat of climate change. Now he has a powerful new perch.
Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way
Coast Guard inspects Cameron LNG Facility in preparation for first LNG export in 2019. (Credit: Coast Guard News)

Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way

This 2-part series was co-produced by Environmental Health News and the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. See part 1 here.Este ensayo también está disponible en español
Keep reading...Show less
Plastics industry's recycling deception
Credit: MPCA Photos/Flickr

Plastics industry's recycling deception exposed

A new report uncovers decades of misleading claims by plastic producers about the viability of recycling, revealing it as a flawed solution for waste management.

Dharna Noor reports for The Guardian.

Keep reading...Show less
highway expansion climate concerns
Credit: Storm Crypt/Flickr

Rethinking highway expansion in the face of climate concerns

As the U.S. grapples with climate change, activists are challenging the traditional expansion of highways, highlighting the environmental and community impacts.

Shannon Osaka reports for The Washington Post.

Keep reading...Show less

Youth activists demand climate action at Biden's campaign headquarters

Young climate activists from the Sunrise Movement confront Biden's campaign team, demanding decisive climate action and a ceasefire in Gaza.

Keerti Gopal for Inside Climate News.

Keep reading...Show less
Plastics industry misinformation campaign
Credit: Louis Vest/Flickr

Plastics and education: a critical conversation unfolds in schools

Petrochemical conglomerates take to the classroom in a concerted effort to focus responsibility for plastic waste on the consumer while absolving industry.

Evan Halper reports for The Washington Post.

Keep reading...Show less

Rally for safer work conditions in Queensland

In Brisbane, thousands of construction workers demand improved safety measures following a colleague's tragic death.

Michael Rennie and Antonia O'Flaherty report for ABC News.

Keep reading...Show less
From our Newsroom
petrochemical shell pennsylvania plastic

Tracking petrochemical accidents across the US

A new database monitors fires, flares, spills and other accidents at petrochemical plants.

petrochemical houston gulf coast

Lives “devastated’ by petrochemical industry pollution in Texas: Report

New analysis illustrates the climate, environmental, and human rights tolls linked to petrochemical production surrounding the Houston Ship Channel region.

LNG gulf coast

La producción de gas natural licuado tiene un precio, advierten las comunidades la Costa del Golfo

Entre promesas económicas y preocupaciones ambientales, Estados Unidos lidera la producción y exportación de gas natural licuado.

Ante la expansión del GNL en la costa del Golfo, la comunidad espera erigirse como un muro de contención

Ante la expansión del GNL en la costa del Golfo, la comunidad espera erigirse como un muro de contención

“La gente no sabe qué haríamos sin el petróleo y el gas. Esto nos sale muy caro”.

extreme heat

Op-ed: We are undercounting heat-related deaths in the US

Knowing how many people die or get sick from heat-related causes is essential for the policy arguments to equitably adapt to and mitigate climate change.

environmental justice

LISTEN: Idalmis Vaquero on turning community priorities into policies

“I wanted to find a way to connect the things I was learning in my classroom with the things I was seeing in my community.”

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.