The creation of the enzyme came by accident when the team, led by Professor John McGeehan at the University of Portsmouth, UK, tweaked a bacterium they had discovered in a waste dump in Japan in 2016. The bacterium had naturally evolved to eat plastic, and the scientists inadvertently made it even better at breaking down polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, the plastic used for drink bottles. The break-down process starts in a matter of days, not the centuries it can take in the ocean.
As an Oklahoma politician, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt received $181,000 in political contributions from donors who lobbied the EPA last year, according to a MapLight review.
The donors include lobbyist J. Steven Hart and his wife, who have attracted attention for renting a townhouse to Pruitt, even as Hart’s firm, Williams & Jensen, has lobbied to relax the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas regulations. Hart and his wife donated $4,366 to Pruitt’s campaigns for Oklahoma attorney general and his federal leadership political action committee.
A handful of companies lobbying Pruitt’s EPA have also been major donors to the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which Pruitt chaired for two years as Oklahoma attorney general. At least one organization that lobbied the EPA last year donated to RAGA’s nonprofit policy arm, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, while Pruitt served on its board of directors.
…As Oklahoma’s chief law enforcement officer from 2011 to 2017, Pruitt earned a reputation for working hand-in-hand with energy industry donors to challenge Obama-era EPA rules. Now, previous donors are benefiting from Pruitt’s new position.
…A total of 49 organizations that contributed to Pruitt’s campaigns or PACs from 2010 to 2016 reported lobbying the EPA last year, according to campaign finance and lobbying records.
…Koch Industries, the global conglomerate run by billionaire libertarian brothers Charles and David Koch, donated $10,000 to Pruitt’s attorney general campaigns, and gave $525,000 to RAGA from 2014 to 2016. Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a secretive “dark-money” organization that receives funds from the Koch brothers, contributed $175,000 to RAGA’s nonprofit arm in 2014.
An affiliate of Koch Industries, Koch Companies Public Sector, lobbied the Pruitt-led EPA and Congress on the Clean Power Plan, and the family’s billionaire donor network recently praised the EPA’s plan to repeal the plan, according to a document obtained by the Intercept.
The pollutants spread by planes are a major issue. They make a significant contribution to global warming, yet they are excluded from international negotiations, such as the conference taking place in Paris. As a result, aviation’s expansion is unchecked by concerns about climate change.
…This exclusion is ridiculous, not least because aircraft emissions have a particular role in heating the planet, due to the height at which they are released, and the multiplying impacts of the water vapour and other gases the planes produce. Gases that sometimes form contrails in the sky.
…The most vocal people protesting against aviation emissions have no interest in their contribution to global warming. Quite the opposite. Many of those now denouncing the pollution of the skies see climate science as part of the problem: a conspiracy by corporations, military planners and other nefarious interests to control the skies.
…So on one hand we have a real threat, measurable and attestable, that is caused by an identifiable industry and persists as a result of the indifference and short-termism of the world’s governments. On the other, we have a conspiracy, attributed to forces unknown and interests unspecified, so powerful and pervasive that it extends from Mark Zuckerberg to the Paris terrorists. Why does it seem to be harder to generate interest in the real issue than the improbable one?
The real issue – global warming caused by aircraft emissions – calls on us to act. Reducing our impacts means flying less; something that few people are prepared to do. It involves an exhausting battle against a powerful industry and unresponsive governments. It means reading boring papers, attending boring meetings and engaging with a level of political and technical complexity that many people find repulsive. There’s plenty of grind and precious little glory.
…onspiracy theories. They make sense of what can sometimes feel like a senseless world. They tell you that you are among the elect: aware of a grand scheme that other people (or sheeple or sleeple as the conspiracy sites often like to call them) are unable or unwilling to see. It tells you that you are a lonely crusader fighting evil of the kind that’s otherwise encountered only in films about superheroes.
And if hardly anyone reads your website, it only goes to prove how important you are: why else would the authorities go to such lengths to limit your followers?
It also absolves you of the responsibility to act. Sure, you might feel moved to create a website, take some photos, perhaps sign the odd petition or even attend one or two noisy demonstrations. But you don’t have to change anything, because somewhere, buried deep in the forebrain, is the knowledge that there’s not really anything to change. You get the glory without the grind.
Perhaps such movements are also a response to a sense of helplessness. In a world so complex, chaotic and badly governed that its most dangerous predicaments often seem intractable, it is paradoxically comforting to believe that godlike powers are in control, even if those powers are malign.
It has been reported that a major merchant ship goes down somewhere in the world every two or three days; most are ships sailing under flags of convenience, with underpaid crews and poor safety records.
…Captain Lawrence? Captain Davidson. Thursday morning, 0700. We have a navigational incident. I’ll keep it short. A scuttle popped open on two-deck and we were having some free communication of water go down the three-hold. Have a pretty good list. I want to just touch—contact you verbally here. Everybody’s safe, but I want to talk to you.
…“I have a marine emergency and I would like to speak to a Q.I.[Qualified Individual] We had a hull breach—a scuttle blew open during a storm. We have water down in three-hold with a heavy list. We’ve lost the main propulsion unit. The engineers cannot get it going. Can I speak to a Q.I., please?”
…[Ship’s Captain Davidson] did not know the wind speeds because the ship’s anemometer was in disrepair and had been for weeks; it is now believed that the winds were sustained at 115 m.p.h., with higher gusts. As for the waves, Davidson appears to have underreported them, perhaps as a matter of professional style. El Faro was in fact struggling to endure steep breaking waves 30 to 40 feet high, and was occasionally encountering waves still higher. These monsters were smashing over the ship, knocking containers overboard, and boiling across a lower second deck that by design was watertight below but open to the sea. That second deck was the location of the scuttle that had been opened. Three-hold was a cavernous two-deck space below it, just aft of midship.
Lawrence asked for a measure of the list. Davidson said, “Betcha it’s all of 15—15 degrees.” Fifteen degrees is steep.
…The ship was found resting upright on a sandy plain 15,400 feet beneath the surface, and the recorder—a circuit board barely 2.5 inches long—was eventually retrieved. It contained the final 26 hours of conversations among nine doomed people on the bridge. The audio quality was poor, but a technical team was able to extract most of the spoken words and produce a 496-page transcript, by far the longest in the N.T.S.B.’s history. The transcript is a remarkable document—an unadorned record of nothing more than the sounds on the bridge. The people involved are identified in the transcript only by their shipboard ranks, but the names of the officers are part of the public record, and in the time since the tragedy other names have been revealed. It is now possible to know with reasonable certainty what occurred.
…[Captain Davidson] was a by-the-book mariner with a reputation for being unusually competent and organized. By training and temperament he was a safety-first man.
…At the time, TOTE was busy blaming Davidson by insisting that all routing and weather decisions were his alone to make, but here Davidson appeared to be asking permission for the Old Bahama Channel run. To make matters worse, it was answered by one of the cc’d managers, the director of ship management, Jim Fisker-Andersen, who was in San Francisco at the time. Fisker-Andersen wrote, “Captain Mike, diversion request heads up through Old Bahama Channel understood and authorized. Thank you for the heads up. Kind regards.”
…As is usually the case, the catastrophe was unfolding because of a combination of factors that had aligned, which included: Davidson’s caution with the home office; his decision to take a straight-line course; the subtle pressures to stick to the schedule; the systematic failure of the forecasts; the persuasiveness of the B.V.S. graphics; the lack of a functioning anemometer; the failure by some to challenge Davidson’s thinking more vigorously; the initial attribution of the ship’s list entirely to the winds; and finally a certain mental inertia that had overcome all of them. This is the stuff of tragedy that can never be completely explained.
A major goal of coral restoration is to revive populations of stony corals that provide structure and habitat for the rest of the coral reef community, including soft corals, urchins, lobsters and fish. However, as restoration efforts expand around the globe, it is becoming increasingly clear it is not enough just to outplant corals. Healthy coral reefs are diverse communities with many intricate relationships between species that live on and around them.
…Fish also help corals grow by excreting nitrogen, an important nutrient for the symbiotic algae that live inside corals. This allows the algae to give more energy back to corals and make them grow faster. Planting coral at restoration sites in dense aggregations may help attract more fishes, which will fertilize the corals, help them grow and attract more fish.
However, planting corals too densely can hasten disease transmission and competition between them – factors that can drastically impede the success of restoration. Finding the sweet spot, where corals are grouped densely enough to promote growth and attract fish but not so densely that they spread diseases and complete with each other, should be incorporated into restoration design.
…There are many more processes that restoration practitioners can harness to help facilitate repopulating reefs with corals. The future of coral restoration lies in combining experience in growing corals for transplantation with accumulated ecological knowledge about how reefs function. Until now, those two camps generally have operated in separate spaces. With corals in crisis worldwide, it is time to bring them together.
National Park Service officials have deleted every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report on sea level rise and storm surge, contradicting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s vow to Congress that his department is not censoring science.
The research for the first time projects the risks from rising seas and flooding at 118 coastal national park sites, including the National Mall, the original Jamestown settlement and the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
…In changes dated Feb. 6, a park service official crossed out the word “anthropogenic,” the term for people’s impact on nature, in five places. Three references to “human activities” causing climate change also were removed.
The 87-page report, which was written by a University of Colorado Boulder scientist, has been held up for at least 10 months, according to documents obtained by Reveal. The delay has prevented park managers from having access to the best data in situations such as reacting to hurricane forecasts, safeguarding artifacts from floodwaters or deciding where to locate new buildings.
…Columbia University’s Silencing Science Tracker documents more than 100 instances of government trying to restrict research or public information about climate change. Among them are reports on climate change that have been stripped from government websites. Climate change was removed from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s strategic plan. Environmental Protection Agency employees were issued talking points that promote an inaccurate message about gaps in climate science and downplay the role of human activities in global warming.
The edited national parks report “is probably the biggest scientific integrity violation at the Department of Interior, by far … because this is an actual scientific report.”
…The introduction also was substantially altered in February. These two sentences were deleted: “While sea levels have been gradually rising since the last glacial maximum approximately 21,000 years ago, anthropogenic climate change has significantly increased the rate of global sea level rise. Human activities continue to release carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, causing the Earth’s atmosphere to warm.”
…The National Park Service’s scientific integrity policy prohibits managers from engaging in “dishonesty, fraud, misrepresentation, coercive manipulation, censorship, or other misconduct that alters the content, veracity, or meaning or that may affect the planning, conduct, reporting, or application of scientific and scholarly activities.” It also requires employees to differentiate between their opinions or assumptions and solid science.
Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences, said “the edits are glaringly in violation” of the science cited in the report and “such alterations violate” the policy.
“The individual who edited the document is making a personal opinion/assumption that runs counter to the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions responsible for sea level rise are of anthropogenic origin and that the threat to the National Park Service assets arises primarily from human activities,” said McNutt, who led the U.S. Geological Survey, the Interior Department’s main scientific agency, from 2009 to 2013.