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July 2018

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Questioning the status quo with Plastic Free July

So “Plastic Free July” is almost over. How did I work beyond the 4 basic rejections they want newbies to do – reject single use shopping bags, straws, coffee cups and take-away containers?

Vaal River suffocates under filthy wave of raw effluent

For more than a month raw sewage has been flowing directly into the Vaal because of mismanagement by the Emfuleni and Ngwathe local authorities.

Allow nuclear waste disposal under national parks, say MPs

Highly radioactive nuclear waste could be permanently buried under national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, under UK government plans.

Climate-induced societal collapse is now inevitable

A research paper concluding that climate-induced collapse is now inevitable, was recently released, with hopes of promoting discussion of the necessary deep adaptation to climate chaos.

SA’s ocean creatures drowning in single use plastics

Seaside communities whose recreational activities and tourism economy are vested in the attractiveness of our coast are increasingly concerned about the negative impacts of plastic pollution.

New UN report highlights crimes that have serious environmental impacts

This global multi-country report identifies current knowledge on environmental crimes and analyses approaches and practices to combat the phenomenon.

How much sugar is in South Africa’s honey?

There is a high likelihood that South Africans may be unwittingly eating ‘natural honey’ that in fact has been mixed with syrup, says Agbiz agricultural economist, Wandile Sihlobo.

Africa’s silent giraffe extinction: the long and short of it

It’s hard to comprehend that giraffe numbers have plummeted by almost 40% in just three decades. They are now among the most threatened species on the planet, with only approximately 98,445 remaining across Africa!

SA desert runner to tackle Australia’s Big Red Run to raise water awareness

David will race for 6 days through Australia’s Simpson Desert, in hopes of raising funds and contributing to increased public understanding of water-related issues around the world.

Tell SA’s biggest investment funds to help us divest from coal

To build a just, sustainable, and healthy future for all South Africans, we need ethical savings and investments in our economy that support long-term social development and a healthy environment.

Africa’s first zero solid waste eco-industrial park launched in SA

Africa’s first zero solid waste eco-industrial park was launched in Johannesburg recently. It is expected to attract over R10 billion in initial investments.

Trump administration asks supreme court to halt kids’ climate case

The federal government has asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the landmark youth climate lawsuit Juliana v. United States that is scheduled for trial in October.

Climate change bill ‘must lead to action’

South Africa’s long-awaited draft National Climate Change Bill sends a good signal, but the devil is in the details.

Greenpeace slams China over R33.7bn Kusile loan

Environmental activist group Greenpeace is at odds with China after their R33.7 billion loan towards completion of the coal-fired Kusile Power Station near Witbank in Mpumalanga.

Small recycling businesses in Boksburg receive welcome boost

Recycling SMMEs received support from the PET recycling sector earlier this month in the form of equipment that will enable their effective participation in Ekurhuleni's recently launched mandatory recycling programme.

Mandela Day clean-up of polluted local rivers

The Moretele and Hennops rivers rivers were selected for a clean-up by the Department of Water and Sanitation for the 67 Minutes for Mandela Day campaign last week.

The rise of battery storage and its implications for the renewables sector

The upward trend of renewables has grabbed headlines over the last few years, particularly due to the falling costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) power and countries increasing their renewable commitments in the wake of the Paris Agreement reached at COP21.

Climate change to blame for Europe’s heatwave

“The current hot and dry spell in the UK is partly due a combination of North Atlantic ocean temperatures, climate change and the weather,” said Len Shaffrey, a professor of climate science at the University of Reading.

Cities for our Future regional shortlists announced

A community-funded affordable housing scheme for Cape Town has been named on a shortlist of five entries for Africa in a global competition run by RICS (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) to find solutions to problems facing the world’s cities.

Deforestation is affecting global water cycles and causing drought

Continuing destruction of tropical forests is disrupting atmospheric water movement, causing major shifts in precipitation that could lead to drought in key agricultural areas.

Drinking water contaminated with micro plastic pollution in Gauteng

According to a new study, drinking water in Johannesburg and Tshwane is polluted with microplastic.

Is the Marine Living Resources Act being enforced in South Africa?

“We are very concerned about the national state of fisheries management and over exploitation. This is a disturbing global trend which we see manifesting itself locally as well to the detriment of livelihoods and ecosystem functioning.”

Renewables jobs at risk unless emissions reduction target ramped up

Activist groups are intensifying efforts to persuade Australia’s states and territories to demand the 26% emissions reduction target in the national energy guarantee be ramped up.

This African city is turning a mountain of trash into energy

An Ethiopian entrepreneur is tackling Africa's pollution problem with Africa’s first waste-to-energy plant, which reduces noxious and dangerous landfill while powering urban homes.

NSPCA removes 69 horses from the SANDF

Following major welfare concerns of the horses belonging to the South African Army in April 2018, the National Council of SPCAs was finally granted the ownership of 69 horses.

Fishing nets account for 46% of all ocean plastic

Using surface samples and aerial surveys, ocean plastic reduction group Ocean Cleaunup recently worked out that 46 percent of the plastic in the garbage patch by weight comes from a single product: fishing nets.

Life, the Sea and Big Oil

When I learned about the oil giant BP’s plan to drill off the coast of my home, my heart felt like it dropped out of my chest. My thoughts went immediately to those oil sullied shorelines in the Gulf of Mexico, where countless marine animals suffocated in the earth’s primordial blood.

Rising tide of rubbish threatens Dominican Republic’s golden shores

Troops in the Dominican Republic have been drafted in to help tackle a tide of plastic waste blighting the Caribbean shores of the holiday hotspot.

Plastic packaging contains thousands of chemicals, including hazardous substances

Plastic packaging is associated with more than 4,000 different chemicals, including at least 148 highly hazardous substances, as new results from an ongoing scientific research project show.

The socioeconomic benefits of a low carbon economy

How do we ensure that changes have a minimal impact on the economy, in particular jobs and the lives of the poor?

Turning the tide on plastic waste

Cheap and versatile, plastic is used for everything. The problem is, it’s also indestructible. As a result, it piles up in landfills where it leeches toxic chemicals into soil and groundwater, or ends up in the ocean affecting wildlife and getting into food chains.

NEWF congress inspires conservation storytelling

The Nature, Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers Congress (NEWF) took place in Durban’s Botanic Gardens last week.

Nine activists defending the Earth from violent assault

Individually, they are stories of courage and tragedy. Together, they tell a tale of a natural world under ever more violent assault.

Lewis Pugh swimming the English Channel to promote ocean conservation

World-renowned endurance swimmer, Lewis Pugh, is pushing the boundaries and stretching the human body and mind yet again, this time to swim the entire length of the English Channel.

Urgent conservation action required to protect the Heuningnes Redfin

Located on the southern tip of Africa, the Heuningnes River system includes numerous critically endangered terrestrial ecosystems such as Overberg Sandstone Fynbos, Elim Ferricrete Fynbos as well as Western and Central Rûens Shale Renosterveld.

How planting wildflowers could reduce the need for pesticides

Scientists, working with farmers, have discovered a technique that uses tailored sections of wildflowers to attract pest-eating insects, reducing the need to use pesticides to protect crops.

Eight ‘must-haves’ for SA’s new climate bill

In its current form, the the long-awaited Climate Change Bill won’t get us where we need to be: a climate-resilient country that complies with international climate commitments, with near zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.

U.N. pact offers hope to world’s climate migrants

Be it by flood, drought or hurricane, communities at risk of climate displacement have won vital protection after their plight was for the first time recognised in a global pact on migration, campaigners say.

Battle over mining in one of SA’s key watersheds far from over

For several years, Malan, the chairperson of the Mabola Protected Environment Landowners Association, has opposed the a proposed Yzermyn underground coal mine near Wakkerstroom in the sensitive Mabola district.

A new generation picks up the struggle against coal in the Czech Republic

Lying along a stream on the foothills of the majestic ore mountains that separate Czech Bohemia from German Saxony, the village of Libkovice used to be a very pleasant place to live.

Monsanto ‘bullied scientists’ and hid weedkiller cancer risk, lawyer tells court

Attorney Brent Wisner presented internal emails that showed how the agrochemical company rejected critical research and expert warnings over the years.

Japanese government stops testing pesticides on dogs

The Japanese government has announced that it will no longer conduct year-long poisoning tests for pesticides on dogs.

Illegal seashell trafficking is killing protected marine life

At least 50,000 mollusk species inhabit the Earth. Whereas some shells are harvested for their meat, others—like the chambered nautilus, known for its beautiful, coiled multi-colored protective casings—are collected solely for decorative purposes.

Massive elephant relocation a win-win for conservation in Africa

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park recently donated 30 of its uMkhuze elephant population to Zinave National Park situated in the Mozambique component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area.

Mining interests ‘stalling’ SA plans to protect more of the ocean

A global ocean protection group has expressed concern that plans to fast-track the expansion of Marine Protected Areas off the South African coast appear to have stalled.

Environmental NGO slams DEA’s decision to export 1500 lion skeletons

Exporting lion bones is killing South Africa’s brand, according to Michele Pickover, director of environmental non-profit organisation EMS Foundation.

Fight against controversial Queensland coal project intensifies

The Adani Carmichael Coal and Rail project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin has proven controversial, facing a series of legal challenges by environment groups and Traditional Owners every step of the way, as well as campaigns by activists.

1.1 billion at risk from lack of cooling

Over 1.1 billion people are said to face immediate risks from lack of access to cooling.

New partnership aims to improve nutrition for SA children

Stunting or impaired growth remains prevalent amongst the poorest South African children. This can result in increased episodes of illness, poor cognitive function and poor educational attainment.

The pros and cons of plastic alternatives

Throughout the month of Plastic Free July, consumers were encouraged to #beatplasticspollution and join the challenge to “choose to refuse” single-use plastics.

Krill fishing firms back Antarctic ocean sanctuary

The creation of the world’s biggest ocean sanctuary, protecting a huge tract of remote seas around Antarctica, has come a step closer after major fishing companies came out in favour of the plan.

Microplastics are polluting SA rivers

Microplastics are found almost everywhere on Earth, from deep ocean sediments, to remote mountain lakes and in atmospheric fallout.

South African toilets are a waste of precious fresh water

Human faeces remains a global environment pollutant and changing the way we manage this waste can blaze a trail for a new way forward for sanitation in South Africa and the world, according to Jayant Bhagwan from the Water Research Commission.

How Ethiopia and Kenya have put a world heritage site in danger

Lake Turkana is the world’s largest desert lake, and its vast aquatic ecology supports a host of local and migratory bird and wildlife populations.

The link between overpopulation and the environment

As we prepare to mark World Population Day, 11 July, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), champion of conservation in Africa, draws attention to the link between human population and the environment.

SA law failing wildlife held in captivity

Nicci Wright sees the kind of places “that will make your hair stand on end”. Yet every year these same “horrific” facilities receive permits from environmental officials to keep wild animals.

Inside the effort to save the world’s most endangered marine mammal, the vaquita

As the sun crept above the horizon, CBS News’ Don Dahler headed out in the Gulf of California with a disparate group of volunteers, veterinarians and marine biologists on a difficult – some would say impossible – mission to track the rarest of marine mammals: the vaquita, a species of porpoise. It’s a mission two years in the making.

Time to add giraffes to the Endangered Species List

An American hunter’s tasteless display is causing outrage across Africa – because giraffes are being hunted to extinction.

Pangolin protection plans in trafficking-prone South Africa

Monitored by a conservationist, a young pangolin slurped ants with a long tongue near a veterinary hospital that became a temporary home after the animal was found near the body of its mother, killed by a jolt from an electric fence.

Be part of SA’s national food drive this #MandelaDay

The goal: Collect 250 tonnes of food over three days to provide over a million meals. This is the task ahead for the second consecutive Mandela Day Food Drive, and South Africans encouraged to unite together to reach this goal.

Kenya’s plastic bag ban: Nairobi clean-up highs and lows

Kenya’s ban comes with the world’s stiffest fines and some businesses are struggling to find affordable alternatives, but in Nairobi’s shanty towns the clean-up is changing lives.

Chile joins worldwide push to ban plastic bags

The fight to ban the use of plastic bags outright in commercial purchases has finally come to the Americas.

The environmental impacts of plastic bags

When they’re not piling up in landfills, plastic bags are blocking storm drains, littering streets, getting stuck in trees, and contaminating oceans, where fish, seabirds, and other marine animals eat or get tangled up in them.
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