Archives de catégorie : Environment

GMOs: Why no labeling in the United States?

http://www.emagazine.com/blog/gmos-why-no-labeling-in-the-united-states1

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By Victoria Vonancken
Conceivably, you would think you know what you are eating everyday. You had some cereal, a Subway sandwich, and then pizza for dinner. But nowadays food is so much more than you would think. What are you actually putting into your body? With the use of genetically modified organisms there could be all sorts of different things deep inside your food that you would never think could be there. The worst part is that in the United States, we are not able to identify if our food has been modified because GMO labeling is not mandated.
Technically, genetically modified organisms or “GMOs” are organisms that are injected with foreign DNA from different animals, bacteria, viruses and plants. The genetic material of these species is completely altered. It is an unnatural process, which is why places like the European Union, Japan, and Australia have already adopted policies mandating the labeling of genetically modified organisms, unlike the United States.
The effects of these GMO foods are questionable. There have been allegations that they are toxic, degrading to the environment and even can increase a person’s risk for cancer.
Possibly Toxic:  “Twelve dairy cows died on a farm in Hesse Germany, after being fed a diet with significant amounts of the GM corn variety, Bt 176.” Other cows in the herd developed a mysterious illness and had to be killed.
Risk for Cancer:
Research conducted by Dr. Pusztai revealed information showing graphic pictures of rats with deforming tumors from the genetically modified potatoes they were given with the hormone rBGH. Due to this study, the government of Canada banned rBGH in 1999. In the United States, rBGH is still injected into ten percent of all dairy cows. Europe has banned it since 1994.
Food allergies: Have you been hearing more and more talk recently about gluten? I am sure that you know at least one person with the allergy. Recently, it’s become so common that it’s almost as trendy as Brooklyn itself. Well, this increased allergy among people could possibly be because of GMOs. The Bt toxin in genetically modified foods can pass through human digestion but has been found that it can puncture holes in our cell walls, just as it does to the insects they are trying to weed away. This in turn can cause intestinal problems in humans, possibly exacerbating the gluten allergy. The trend of gluten allergies and intolerance increasing along with the increased use of GMOs may not be a coincidence.

At least 21 countries and the European Union have established some form of mandatory labeling. In Europe, if any ingredient in a food has .9% or higher of genetically modified organisms, it must be labeled. This gives the people of Europe a choice on whether or not to take part in genetically modified food. The U.S still has no labeling policy.
As the years go on, more information seems to be sneaking out about the truth of genetically engineered foods and their possible adverse effects. Genetically modified organisms are still relatively new and even with these small doses of evidence, there is still so much unknown about GMOS.
For more info:
Just Label It Campaign
Everything you need to know about GMOs
Shock Findings in New GMO Study: Rats Fed Lifetime of GM Corn Grow Horrifying Tumors, 70% of Females Die Early
Should Use Of Genetically Modified Organisms Be Labeled?
Genetically Modified Crops Have Led To Pesticide Increase, Study Finds

France Fracking Ban Upheld After Challenge From Energy Giant

France Fracking Ban Upheld After Challenge From Energy Giant

Reuters  |  Posted: 10/11/2013 5:57 am EDT

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By Emile Picy and Michel Rose

PARIS, Oct 11 (Reuters) – France’s constitutional council rejected on Friday a challenge to a law banning hydraulic fracturing for exploration and production of the country’s shale gas and oil.

The ruling is a boost for President Francois Hollande, who has opposed the technology alongside ecologist Greens in his ruling coalition – to the dismay of some allies who believe France is sacrificing access to a cheap source of energy.

U.S-based firm Schuepbach Energy had challenged on four counts a ban introduced in 2011 due to potential risks to the environment, which led to two of its exploration permits being cancelled in southern France.

« The constitutional council threw out these four complaints and ruled that the disputed components of the July 13, 2011 law comply with the constitution, » the court said in a statement.

The Constitutional Council, made up of judges and former French presidents, has the power to annul laws if they are deemed to be unconstitutional.

France’s Energy Minister Philippe Martin said the ruling meant the law banning fracking, in which pressurised water, chemicals and sand are pumped underground to release gas trapped in shale formations, was now safe from other legal challenges.

« It’s a legal victory, but also an environmental and political one, » Martin said at a news briefing.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates shale gas reserves worth five trillion cubic meters could lie in French soil, mainly in the Paris basin and the Rhone valley – equivalent to 90 years of current French gas consumption.

However, it had not been possible to confirm those estimates because of the ban on hydro-fracking. Other countries such as Poland saw its hopes for shale gas fade after three international firms quit after disappointing drilling results.

So-called fracking was banned in France under former President Nicolas Sarkozy on concerns it could pollute groundwater and trigger earthquakes, bringing to a halt the nascent shale oil and gas industry in France.

Jean-Louis Schilansky, head of France’s oil industry lobby UFIP said it was key for the government to fully implement the law, which includes an article asking for a commission to assess the progress of fracking technologies.

After France put the ban in place, Schuepbach Energy said it had no alternative way to carry out the exploration, which led to the suspension of its two permits in the south of France.

French oil major Total is still awaiting a ruling after it separately appealed at the end of 2011 the government’s decision to ban its own exploration permit by the southeastern town of Montelimar.

Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg stirred debate earlier this year when he suggested creating a state-backed company to examine alternative exploration techniques. (Additional reporting by Marion Douet; writing by Muriel Boselli; editing by Mark John and James Jukwey)

France Fracking Ban Upheld After Challenge From Energy Giant
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/11/france-fracking-ban_n_4083418.html?utm_hp_ref=green

The Forest Man of India | EMagazine.com

The Forest Man of India
May 6, 2013 | Lindsey Blomberg | forests, india, jadav payeng

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    Jadav Payeng who planted a 1,360-acre forest.
    In 1979, Jadav Payeng embarked on what would ultimately become a successful 30-year project to single-handedly plant a 1,360-acre forest. Payeng’s tree-planting mission began at age 16, when flooding wiped away a large portion of forest along the Brahmaputra river sandbar in Assam, India. Wildlife were left without adequate shade, and Payeng watched helpless creatures begin to die off from the heat. Deeply saddened, Payeng realized his true calling, to “grow trees all my life.”
    “After the floodwaters receded, the temperatures soared. The snakes died in the heat without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage,” Payeng told the Times of India. “I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me. Nobody was interested.”
    Payeng started his forest by watering bamboo saplings morning and evening. He even brought red ants from his home village to the sandbar to help improve the soil. When his bamboo trees grew, Payeng decided to slowly introduce other species of trees into the island.
    “I then decided to grow proper trees. I collected and planted them,” Payeng told the Times of India. “I also transported red ants from my village and was stung many times. Red ants change the soil’s properties. That was an experience.”
    Through his individual, unprecedented act of conservationism, Payeng transformed the barren sandbar once prone to flooding into a lush, green forest that now shelters numerous birds, deer, rhinos, tigers and elephants. Payeng’s forest went largely unnoticed until 2008, when a team of Assam state officials came upon it in search of a herd of wild elephants that had run amok in a neighboring village.
    “We were surprised to find such a dense forest on the sandbar,” Gunin Saikia, Assam’s Assistant Conservator of Forests, told the Times of India. “We’re amazed at Payeng. He has been at it for 30 years.”
    Now, at 52, Payeng makes a living with his family in the forest he planted by rearing cows and selling milk, and he has his sights set on planting a second forest on yet another 1,300-acre sandbar.
    “It may take another 30 years, but I am optimistic about it,” Payeng told the Times of India. “I feel sad when I see people felling trees. We have to save the nature or else we all will perish. I may live a very lowly life but I feel satisfied that I have been able to stir up a lot of people who love nature.”

    The Forest Man of India | EMagazine.com
    http://www.emagazine.com/daily-news/the-forest-man-of-india/

Le poisson c’est maximum deux fois par semaine – Orange – Ile de la Réunion

Le poisson c’est maximum deux fois par semaine

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Jeudi 10 Novembre 2011Pêche de daurades coryphène
Dans un avis rendu public ce vendredi 5 juillet 2013, l’Anses (Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail) recommande de consommer au maximum deux portions de poisson par semaine. Il s’agit, selon l’Agence, d’établir un équilibre entre les besoins nutritifs et les risques de contamination au mercure ou aux PCB (Polychlorobiphényle, des polluants organiques persistants, classés « cancérogènes probables »). L’Agence émet également des mises en garde sur la consommation de plusieurs espèces de poissons d’eau douce et de certaines autres espèces, en particulier chez les femmes enceintes ou les jeunes enfants.
« Le poisson et les produits de la pêche possèdent des qualités nutritionnelles précieuses qui en font des aliments particulièrement intéressants au plan nutritionnel », indique l’Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’Alimentation, citée par destinationsante.com. « Cependant, du fait qu’ils vivent en contact permanent avec l’environnement, les aliments qui en sont issus sont susceptibles d’être contaminés par des substances chimiques (méthylmercure) mais également par des micro-organismes (bactéries, parasites) » remarque l’ANSES.

L’ANSES recommande donc de consommer du poisson au maximum deux fois par semaine dont un poisson gras, à forte teneur en oméga 3. Par exemple du saumon, de la sardine, du maquereau, du hareng. L’Agence souligne par ailleurs qu’il est important « de limiter à 2 fois par mois la consommation de poissons d’eau douce, fortement bio-accumulateurs » note destinationsante.com. Cette recommandation et valable pour la population générale, mais à une fois tous les deux mois pour les femmes en âge de procréer, enceintes ou allaitantes ainsi que les enfants de moins de trois ans, les fillettes et les adolescentes.

Les femmes enceintes ou allaitantes ainsi que les jeunes enfants sont également invités à limiter leur consommation de poissons prédateurs sauvages (lotte, loup ou bar, bonite, anguille, grenadier, flétan, brochet, dorade, raie, sabre, thon) et même à éviter celle d’espadon, marlin, siki, « en raison du risque lié au mercure », indique 20minutes.fr.

Cet avis de l’ANSES, écrit destinationsante.com, est également l’occasion de rappeler des conseils précieux aux consommateurs. Les adeptes du poisson cru doivent par exemple vider rapidement le poisson après l’achat ou demander au poissonnier de le faire. Avant de le consommer, il est impératif de le congeler pendant au moins 7 jours. Concernant les coquillages, il faut toujours s’assurer qu’ils proviennent d’une zone d’élevage autorisée et contrôlée. L’Anses souligne que la consommation de ces produits est spécifiquement déconseillée aux populations « sensibles » (femmes enceintes, jeunes enfants, personnes âgées, ou immunodéprimées ou souffrant de pathologies comme le cancer ou le diabète) tout comme celle de crustacés décortiqués vendus cuits souligne 20minutes.fr.

Saisie il y a un an par les autorités pour faire le point, l’Anses indique avoir « étudié différents scénarios » en tenant compte à la fois des « effets bénéfiques sur la santé » de la consommation des acides gras oméga 3 qu’on trouve principalement dans les poissons gras et du niveau de contamination des poissons en dioxine, MeHg (mercure organique) et PCB (polychlorobiphényles, isolant utilisé dans l’industrie) « dont l’action toxique est particulièrement importante pendant la période périnatale » cite 20minutes.fr.

Les effets positifs des oméga 3 ont fait l’objet de nombreuses études scientifiques ces dernières années, qu’il s’agisse de leur effet protecteur face à certains cancers, comme celui du sein, ou de leur intérêt pour le coeur. Ils pourraient également jouer un rôle dans le fonctionnement cérébral.

Mais un nombre croissant d’experts s’inquiètent de l’aggravation de la pollution des eaux de mer et de rivières par des produits toxiques allant des hydrocarbures aux métaux lourds : selon une étude publiée en janvier dernier juste avant l’adoption d’une Convention internationale sur le mercure, la déforestation dans le monde s’est traduite par un déversement dans les lacs et rivières de quelque 260 tonnes de mercure auparavant retenues dans les sols, tandis que les quantités de mercure présentes dans les 100 premiers mètres de profondeurs des océans ont doublé en 100 ans, indique l’Agence France Presse (AFP).

Le poisson c’est maximum deux fois par semaine – Orange – Ile de la Réunion
http://reunion.orange.fr/news/reunion/le-poisson-c-est-maximum-deux-fois-par-semaine,661972.html

Étang St-Paul-Septembre 2012

Un grand merci aux contributrices dont Pilou, Françoise, … pour leurs photos.
C’est un groupe encore élargi qui se retrouve au portail de l’entrée de la Réserve Nationale Naturelle, dont on pourra se faire une idée en consultant ce document  et en cliquant  ici.
Fabrice l’éco-garde est arrivé très tôt et part organiser la sortie. Puis arrive Nicolas et les kayaks qui rejoint Fabrice tandis que l’on attend les derniers arrivants.
Le groupe s’engage alors dans la magnifique allée conduisant au bord de l’étang : c’est toute la magie des anciens domaines de Bourbon qu’évoquent ces grands arbres alignés.
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Allée cocos Photo de Pilou

Arrivés à l’embarcadère, nous aidons à installer kayaks, gilets et pagaies puis Nicolas nous fait les recommandations nécessaires à la navigation. Fabrice présente ce milieu naturel protégé selon le principe maintenant répandu d’une périphérie ouverte au public et d’un cœur totalement protégé en théorie. La création de la Réserve remonte à 2008 à une époque où les eaux de l’étang avaient un niveau plus élevé que maintenant. L’embouchure ayant été dégagée à l’occasion d’un épisode très pluvieux les eaux ont baissé et les anciens occupants des terrains dégagés ont demandé à les récupérer. On retrouve ici le problème récurrent du cadastre et des questions qu’il soulève.
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Commencent alors les travaux d’embarquement où chacun se positionne en fonction de son expérience nautique ou de ses appréhensions aquatiques.
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Photo de Pilou
La flottille s’éparpille le long du canal et finit par se regrouper. Les explications botaniques se perdent un peu dans l’euphorie communicative de la découverte d’un exceptionnel milieu naturel par des moyens non conventionnels : nous ne cesserons de remercier Christine qui a tout orchestré sans oublier Nicole qui a assuré.
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Photo de Françoise Lemblin 
Nous retiendrons à ce stade la présence de laitues (28 Pistia stratiotes Laitue d’eau ARACEE pantropicale) et de jacinthes (9 Eichhornia crassipe Jacinthe d’eau PONTEDERIACEE Amérique du Sud) déjà observées à l’embouchure de l’Étang, au ras de l’eau, derrière lesquelles se dressent les persicaires (25 Persicaria poiretii Persicaire POLYGONACEE endémique M), puis les houppes des papyrus (8 Cyperus papyrus Papyrus CYPERACEE Afrique, Madagascar), où parfois se hissent les lianes de sept ans (Ipomoea cairica Liane de sept ans CONVOLVULACEE paléotropicale) dont les fleurs mauves évoquent le liseron. Partout les songes noirs (4 Colocasia esculenta Songe ARACEE Pacifique ?). Et en cherchant bien au milieu des laitues, on finit par trouver de minuscules feuilles de lentille d’eau (19 Lemna aequinoctialis Lentille d’eau ARACEE cosmopolite).
La flottille retrouve un groupe de manœuvres partis dégager le canal des envahissantes jacinthes. Nous les saluons au passage. Mais plus loin après avoir rejoint un autre canal de l’étang, la végétation flottante arrêtera définitivement notre progression. Retour.
Ayant retrouvé la terre ferme, nous aidons à ranger le matériel avant de reprendre nos explorations botaniques. Un superbe Talipot “Le Guelte” d’une dizaine d’années nous attend. Lorsqu’il fleurira, son tronc sera formé et son aspect aura changé. ??? L’arbre pour l’instant nous sert d’arrière-plan pour de nombreuses photos du groupe.
Dans la végatation dense nous retrouvons de jeunes et difficilement reconnaissables Totos Margot. Dans les herbes alentour sont repérés des Zerbes tombées (rouges, à ne pas confondre avec l’herbe tombée des services malbars), des Zerbes à bouc (froissées, les feuilles dégagent une forte odeur de bouc), des Zerbes de l’eau (Commelina diffusa (Petite) herbe de l’eau COMMELINACEE Afrique), et un Héliotrope scorpoïde ??? .
Au-dessus de nous un Ylang-ylang en fleurs et plus loin un Latanier ou Palmier fontaine (Livingstonia je présume, mais je présume mal puisqu’il s’agit du Livistona chinensis (Jacq.) R. Br. ex Mart.) côtoient des Movas ou Ibiscus de bord’mer.
Un Thevetia peruviana permet quelques rappels anatomiques et vernaculaires.
Un pied de Bois malgache est l’occasion de rappeler que cet arbre servait à la confection de manches d’outils.
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Voune
Nous retournons par l’allée des cocotiers flanquée de chaque côté d’un petit canal où nous découvrons de nouvelles plantes et plantules. À côté des omniprésentes tiges de Voune (18 Juncus effusus Jonc JUNCACEE indigène ?) qui servent à l’empaillage des chaises du Gol, il y a là de la Canne maïs qui elle sert à l’alimentation du bétail, ainsi que de hautes tiges de Fataque millet, et des spécimens d’Indigo café.

Dans la profusion végétale alentour sont repérés des exemplaires d’herbe tam tam (13 Hydrocotylebonariensis Herbe tam-tam ARALIACEE paléotropicale) alias Ombilic de Vénus, des fougères de l’eau, de grimpantes Lianes de sept ans (15 Ipomoea cairica Liane de sept ans CONVOLVULACEE paléotropicale) et leurs fleurs pareilles au liseron, mais de couleur mauve, et des Lianes zano (Thunbergia xxx ???) dont la graine ??? permet de faire une boucle d’oreille végétale.
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Sur l’eau ou à ses abords, des fougères flotantes (32 Salvinia molesta SAVINACEE Amérique tropicale Fougère flottante IMG 0030) (ci-dessus) dont nous retrouverons les congénères dans un autre canal aux abords du stade où nous allons pique-niquer, face à la maison du « colom » (commandeur et non colon), belle bâtisse de basalte qui devait autrefois présider aux destinées d’un domaine mais dont les fenêtres et autres ouvertures sont désormais murées.
En fait, le document proposé en consultation au début de ce compte-rendu en haut de page précise que :
La Grande Maison de Savanna a été construite vers la deuxième moitié du XIX ème siècle.
Cette maison qui se trouve à l’arrière de l’usine servait à l’origine de logement à son directeur. C’est une grande bâtisse à un étage dont la toiture, d’abord en bardeaux, a été remplacée par des feuilles de tôle après le cyclone de 1948. Depuis cette date, la Grande Maison a servi d’entrepôt de stockage du sucre, la plupart des fenêtres ont été murées et l’ensemble n’est plus entretenu.
Un parc et 3 viviers jouxtaient la maison. Les poissons comestibles qui étaient élevés dans ces viviers permettaient de nourrir les propriétaires et le personnel de l’usine.
Ainsi de l’autre côté de l’allée, nous pouvons distinguer trois grandes dépressions. Ces dépressions correspondent à l’emplacement des anciens viviers. Les viviers contenaient des espèces souvent déjà présentes dans l’Etang de Saint-Paul. Cependant certaines espèces provenant d’autres îles ont été élevées ici comme les gouramiers (Osphronemus goramy), une variété assez rare de poissons de rivière.
En nous rendant du parking à l’ère de pique-nique, nous avons trouvé trois magnifiques spécimens, l’un de kapokier, l’autre de Bois noir et enfin un arbre à chewing gum (???) dont le nom scientifique pose problème. Quelques Pongames etMalayes sont espacés le long du chemin. Le Malaye (Morinda citrifolia Malaye RUBIACEE Exotique) alias nono est une plante qui a connu un certain succès quand le chikungunya a frappé l’île car le jus que l’on en tire est censé avoir des vertus curatives  (Photo M.S.). Les fruits dégagent une puanteur abominable. Les tortues en raffolent.
Fabrice qui a toujours répondu avec une extrême amabilité à nos questions nous fait part des aléas de la réserve. Un épisode cyclonique a permis aux écrevisses d’Australie de l’élevage voisin de ganger l’étang où elles font des ravages. Il nous raconte qu’un jour alors qu’avec ses collègues ils ramenaient un filet pris aux braconniers dont une partie traînait dans l’eau, ils ont constaté une fois à terre que les poissons pris dans le filet avaient été cisaillés par les pinces des crustacés. Fabrice nous parle encore de sa mission d’éducation auprès des scolaires et des progrès dans la sensibilisation du public et des populations vivants aux abords de l’étang aux menaces qui pèsent sur un milieu naturel exceptionnel par sa richesse et chargé d’histoire. Nous saluons son implication et son dévouement.

CBNM

La forêt semi-sèche de l’Ouest reconstituée

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Nous allons bientôt monter les marches qui mènent à l’ancien domaine de Chateauvieux qui surplombe la Baie de Saint-Leu. Ce long escalier se gravit toujours avec délectation à l’ombre fraîche des hauts arbres qui le bordent, figures tutélaires gardiens de ces lieux d’histoire dans la claire lumière d’un matin d’hiver austral : entre les frondaisons, un ciel d’un bleu intense, immaculé : « de l’éternel azur la sereine ironie ».
L’objet de cette sortie est de retrouver reconstituée autant que faire se peut la forêt semi-sèche originelle, désormais disparue, qui autrefois s’étalait entre la côte et sa forêt sèche elle aussi disparue, et les Hauts. Ce que nous allons explorer est une forêt reconstituée et entretenue par le Conservatoire Botanique National de Mascarin.
Nicole CRESTEY mentionne aussi d’autres efforts allant dans le même sens, ceux de l’APN de Raymond Lucas, l’auteur de Cent plantes endémiques et indigènes de la Réunion – Azalées éditions :
http://www.lansiv-kreol.net/environ_ruiziacordata.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHxcGQTyywA 
On notera que certains Lataniers rouges, endémiques, commandés pour la Route des Tamarins pour là encore suivre une politique de sauvetage, ayant attendu trop longtemps et devenus trop gros sont envoyés à la décharge.
À titre anecdotique, mentionnons encore qu’un certain pied de Bois de chandelle d’une certaine commune du Sud a coûté sept cent mille nouveaux Francs en son temps pour être déplacé et sauvé. Il est maintenant rongé par les maladies et autres prédateurs.
Il demeure que la Réunion est un site exceptionnel : grâce à sont relief tourmenté et montagneux, elle a pu préserver 40 % de sa végétation originelle.
Les marches furent donc gravies et au cours de l’ascension un arrêt au bassin des Laitues d’eau a permis de mieux les observer (photo ci-dessus) : cette Aracée a des poils hydrophobes et se retourne quand on la retourne sur l’eau.

Le long des marches, le Muguet péï, qui a déjà fleuri.
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Le Bauhemia d’Afrique du Sud (ci-dessus)  a quatre pétales identiques.
Le « Benjoin » local aurait des vertus médicinales et a été victimes des tisaneurs et autres personnes à la recherche des bénéfices de ses vertus.
Toujours aux abords des marches montant au domaine, un Palmiste poison (ou Palmiste cochon, Hyophorbe indica) donne la gratte au cochon dont la gorge douloureuse le conduit à manger toujours plus pour soulager sa gêne : il engraisse.
Une fois contourné le superbe bâtiment qui abrita la famille de Chateauvieux nous suivons une allée bordée de Ti ouète, dont les boules contiennent une ouate qui vole au vent.
Sur un emplacement qui reconstitue la végétation de bord de mer, un tapis de (1) Patate cochon qui a le même habitat que la Patate à Durand, et un peu son aspect. On trouve ici le Veloutier du bord de mer et la Saliette qui exsude le sel par ses feuilles.
Puis le long du sentier qui parcourt la forêt semi-sèche reconstituée, sont observés :
[Les numéros entre parenthèses sont ceux de la liste]
wpid-14_2_clerodendron_heterophy_med-2-2013-07-5-18-28.jpeg

(14) Bois de chenille, ci-dessus, hétérophylle

wpid-10_aloe_macra_mazambron_med_med-2013-07-5-18-28.jpeg

(10) Mazambron marron (ci-dessus) , seul aloès de la Réunion. Médicinal.

wpid-19_2_polyscias_cutispongia__med-2013-07-5-18-28.jpeg

(2) (19) Le Bois d’éponge (ci-dessus)
(25) Bois de Demoiselle
(27) Bois de sinte a de petites feuilles
() Carissa spinarum est une espèce d’arbuste épineux protégé de la famille des Apocynaceae qui a aussi de petites feuilles pour résister à la sécheresse.
(15) Ti bois de senteur
wpid-26_2_ruizia_cordata_bois_de_med-2-2013-07-5-18-28.jpeg

(26) Bois de senteur (ci-dessus)
(16) Le Bois d’huile était utilisé pour les torches.
(18) Bois puant
(17) Le Bois de balai est une Rubiacée aux feuilles opposées.
wpid-28_1_stillingia_lineata_med_med-2013-07-5-18-28.jpeg

(28) Le Tanguin péï (ci-dessus) au fruit tricoque caractéristique est une Euphorbiacée.
(20) La liane savon aux pilosités de velours mousse quand agitée dans l’eau.
(9) La Mauve dont les fleurs offrent leur nectar loin du pollen ne favorise pas la pollinisation par les abeilles. Butiner lAbutilon exstipulare n’est sans doute pas une stipulation au contrat naturel.
(41) Psiadia dentata est une plante endémique qui a son wiki .
wpid-55_pleurostylia_pachyphloea_med-2-2013-07-5-18-28.jpeg

(55) Le Bois d’olive grosse peau (ci-dessus) hétérophylle, a des feuilles pointues, émargées ??? puis arrondies.
(40) Le Bois blanc rouge est le Zévi marron.
() Le Bois de cabri possède d’énormes domaties.
(59) Le Bois d’ortie attire le papillon Salamis augustina.

wpid-39_2_polyscias_rivalsii_med_med-2013-07-5-18-28.jpeg

(39) Le Bois de papaye (ci-dessus) offre de belles cicatrices.
() Change écorce
() Grand natte
(61) Bois de pintade
(46) Le Bois de prune a des feuilles comme celles du houx quand il est jeune.
(60) Le Bois de fièvre combat … la fièvre. Est-il dioïque ? Voir ici. De di- (« deux ») et du grec ancien οἷκος, oïkos (« maison ») : ces plantes ont les fleurs mâles et les fleurs femelles sur des pieds différents.
(47) Bois dur
(66) La Liane d’olive est une Apocynacée au latex blanc.

wpid-53_3_indigofera_amoxylum_me_med-2013-07-5-18-28.jpeg

(53) Bois de sable (ci-dessus)
(43) Bois noir des hauts
À noter que nombre de ces arbustes et arbres bénéficient d’un environnement propice et se développent pleinement ce qui en modifie l’aspect habituel. Par ailleurs, nombre de ces plantes et arbustes ne se trouvent plus dans la nature, leur habitat ayant été envahi par les activités anthropiques.
La visite se termine à la cafeteria dont les produits sont très appréciés.

Epistle to the Ecotopians | The Nation

wpid-14ecotopia-600-e1336414918738-2013-07-4-13-40.jpg
source: http://wildhunt.org/2012/05/quick-notes-cady-mcclains-goddess-the-doctrine-of-discovery-and-ernest-callenbachs-final-statement.html

 

Epistle to the Ecotopians

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com. 
  
[This document was found on the computer of Ecotopia author Ernest Callenbach (1929–2012) after his death.]
  
To all brothers and sisters who hold the dream in their hearts of a future world in which humans and all other beings live in harmony and mutual support—a world of sustainability, stability, and confidence. A world something like the one I described, so long ago, in Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging.

About the Author
Ernest Callenbach

Ernest Callenbach, author of the classic environmental novel Ecotopia among other works, founded and edited the…

As I survey my life, which is coming near its end, I want to set down a few thoughts that might be useful to those coming after. It will soon be time for me to give back to Gaia the nutrients that I have used during a long, busy and happy life. I am not bitter or resentful at the approaching end; I have been one of the extraordinarily lucky ones. So it behooves me here to gather together some thoughts and attitudes that may prove useful in the dark times we are facing: a century or more of exceedingly difficult times.

How will those who survive manage it? What can we teach our friends, our children, our communities? Although we may not be capable of changing history, how can we equip ourselves to survive it?

I contemplate these questions in the full consciousness of my own mortality. Being offered an actual number of likely months to live, even though the estimate is uncertain, mightily focuses the mind. On personal things, of course, on loved ones and even loved things, but also on the Big Picture.

But let us begin with last things first, for a change. The analysis will come later, for those who wish it.

Hope. Children exude hope, even under the most terrible conditions, and that must inspire us as our conditions get worse. Hopeful patients recover better. Hopeful test candidates score better. Hopeful builders construct better buildings. Hopeful parents produce secure and resilient children. In groups, an atmosphere of hope is essential to shared successful effort: “Yes, we can!” is not an empty slogan, but a mantra for people who intend to do something together—whether it is rescuing victims of hurricanes, rebuilding flood-damaged buildings on higher ground, helping wounded people through first aid, or inventing new social structures (perhaps one in which only people are “persons,” not corporations). We cannot know what threats we will face. But ingenuity against adversity is one of our species’ built-in resources. We cope, and faith in our coping capacity is perhaps our biggest resource of all.

Mutual support. The people who do best at basic survival tasks (we know this experimentally, as well as intuitively) are cooperative, good at teamwork, often altruistic, mindful of the common good. In drastic emergencies like hurricanes or earthquakes, people surprise us by their sacrifices—of food, of shelter, even sometimes of life itself. Those who survive social or economic collapse, or wars, or pandemics, or starvation, will be those who manage scarce resources fairly; hoarders and dominators win only in the short run, and end up dead, exiled or friendless. So, in every way we can we need to help each other, and our children, learn to be cooperative rather than competitive; to be helpful rather than hurtful; to look out for the communities of which we are a part, and on which we ultimately depend.

Practical skills. With the movement into cities of the US population, and much of the rest of the world’s people, we have had a massive de-skilling in how to do practical tasks. When I was a boy in the country, all of us knew how to build a tree house, or construct a small hut, or raise chickens, or grow beans, or screw pipes together to deliver water. It was a sexist world, of course, so when some of my chums in eighth grade said we wanted to learn girls’ “home ec” skills like making bread or boiling eggs, the teachers were shocked, but we got to do it. There was widespread competence in fixing things—impossible with most modern contrivances, of course, but still reasonable for the basic tools of survival: pots and pans, bicycles, quilts, tents, storage boxes.

We all need to learn, or relearn, how we would keep the rudiments of life going if there were no paid specialists around, or means to pay them. Every child should learn elementary carpentry, from layout and sawing to driving nails. Everybody should know how to chop wood safely, and build a fire. Everybody should know what to do if dangers appear from fire, flood, downed electric wires and the like. Taking care of one another is one practical step at a time, most of them requiring help from at least one other person; survival is a team sport.

Organize. Much of the American ideology, our shared and usually unspoken assumptions, is hyper-individualistic. We like to imagine that heroes are solitary, have superpowers and glory in violence, and that if our work lives and business lives seem tamer, underneath they are still struggles red in blood and claw. We have sought solitude on the prairies, as cowboys on the range, in our dependence on media (rather than real people), and even in our cars, armored cabins of solitude. We have an uneasy and doubting attitude about government, as if we all reserve the right to be outlaws. But of course human society, like ecological webs, is a complex dance of mutual support and restraint, and if we are lucky it operates by laws openly arrived at and approved by the populace.

If the teetering structure of corporate domination, with its monetary control of Congress and our other institutions, should collapse of its own greed, and the government be unable to rescue it, we will have to reorganize a government that suits the people. We will have to know how to organize groups, how to compromise with other groups, how to argue in public for our positions. It turns out that “brainstorming,” a totally noncritical process in which people just throw out ideas wildly, doesn’t produce workable ideas. In particular, it doesn’t work as well as groups in which ideas are proposed, critiqued, improved, debated. But like any group process, this must be protected from domination by powerful people and also over-talkative people. When the group recognizes its group power, it can limit these distortions. Thinking together is enormously creative; it has huge survival value.

Learn to live with contradictions. These are dark times, these are bright times. We are implacably making the planet less habitable. Every time a new oil field is discovered, the press cheers: “Hooray, there is more fuel for the self-destroying machines!” We are turning more land into deserts and parking lots. We are wiping out innumerable species that are not only wondrous and beautiful, but might be useful to us. We are multiplying to the point where our needs and our wastes outweigh the capacities of the biosphere to produce and absorb them. And yet, despite the bloody headlines and the rocketing military budgets, we are also, unbelievably, killing fewer of each other proportionately than in earlier centuries. We have mobilized enormous global intelligence and mutual curiosity, through the Internet and outside it. We have even evolved, spottily, a global understanding that democracy is better than tyranny, that love and tolerance are better than hate, that hope is better than rage and despair, that we are prone, especially in catastrophes, to be astonishingly helpful and cooperative.

We may even have begun to share an understanding that while the dark times may continue for generations, in time new growth and regeneration will begin. In the biological process called “succession,” a desolate, disturbed area is gradually, by a predictable sequence of returning plants, restored to ecological continuity and durability. When old institutions and habits break down or consume themselves, new experimental shoots begin to appear, and people explore and test and share new and better ways to survive together.

It is never easy or simple. But already we see, under the crumbling surface of the conventional world, promising developments: new ways of organizing economic activity (cooperatives, worker-owned companies, nonprofits, trusts), new ways of using low-impact technology to capture solar energy, to sequester carbon dioxide, new ways of building compact, congenial cities that are low (or even self-sufficient) in energy use, low in waste production, high in recycling of almost everything. A vision of sustainability that sometimes shockingly resembles Ecotopia is tremulously coming into existence at the hands of people who never heard of the book.

Now in principle, the Big Picture seems simple enough, though devilishly complex in the details. We live in the declining years of what is still the biggest economy in the world, where a looter elite has fastened itself upon the decaying carcass of the empire. It is intent on speedily and relentlessly extracting the maximum wealth from that carcass, impoverishing our former working middle class. But this maggot class does not invest its profits here. By law and by stock-market pressures, corporations must seek their highest possible profits, no matter the social or national consequences—which means moving capital and resources abroad, wherever profit potential is larger. As Karl Marx darkly remarked, “Capital has no country,” and in the conditions of globalization his meaning has come clear.

The looter elite systematically exports jobs, skills, knowledge, technology, retaining at home chiefly financial manipulation expertise: highly profitable, but not of actual productive value. Through “productivity gains” and speedups, it extracts maximum profit from domestic employees; then, firing the surplus, it claims surprise that the great mass of people lack purchasing power to buy up what the economy can still produce (or import).

Here again Marx had a telling phrase: “Crisis of under-consumption.” When you maximize unemployment and depress wages, people have to cut back. When they cut back, businesses they formerly supported have to shrink or fail, adding their own employees to the ranks of the jobless, and depressing wages still further. End result: something like Mexico, where a small, filthy rich plutocracy rules over an impoverished mass of desperate, uneducated, and hopeless people.

Barring unprecedented revolutionary pressures, this is the actual future we face in the United States, too. As we know from history, such societies can stand a long time, supported by police and military control, manipulation of media, surveillance and dirty tricks of all kinds. It seems likely that a few parts of the world (Germany, with its worker-council variant of capitalism, New Zealand with its relative equality, Japan with its social solidarity, and some others) will remain fairly democratic.

The United States, which has a long history of violent plutocratic rule unknown to the textbook-fed, will stand out as the best-armed Third World country, its population ill-fed, ill-housed, ill-educated, ill-cared for in health, and increasingly poverty-stricken: even Social Security may be whittled down, impoverishing tens of millions of the elderly.

As empires decline, their leaders become increasingly incompetent—petulant, ignorant, gifted only with PR skills of posturing and spinning, and prone to the appointment of loyal idiots to important government positions. Comedy thrives; indeed, writers are hardly needed to invent outrageous events.

We live, then, in a dark time here on our tiny precious planet. Ecological devastation, political and economic collapse, irreconcilable ideological and religious conflict, poverty, famine: the end of the overshoot of cheap-oil-based consumer capitalist expansionism.

If you don’t know where you’ve been, you have small chance of understanding where you might be headed. So let me offer a capsule history for those who, like most of us, got little help from textbook history.

At 82, my life has included a surprisingly substantial slice of American history. In the century or so up until my boyhood in Appalachian central Pennsylvania, the vast majority of Americans subsisted as farmers on the land. Most, like people elsewhere in the world, were poor, barely literate, ill-informed, short-lived. Millions had been slaves. Meanwhile in the cities, vast immigrant armies were mobilized by ruthless and often violent “robber baron” capitalists to build vast industries that made things: steel, railroads, ships, cars, skyscrapers.

Then, when I was in grade school, came World War II. America built the greatest armaments industry the world had ever seen, and when the war ended with most other industrial countries in ruins, we had a run of unprecedented productivity and prosperity. Thanks to strong unions and a sympathetic government, this prosperity was widely shared: a huge working middle class evolved—tens of millions of people could afford (on one wage) a modest house, a car, perhaps sending a child to college. This era peaked around 1973, when wages stagnated, the Vietnam War took a terrible toll in blood and money, and the country began sliding rightward.

In the next epoch, which we are still in and which may be our last as a great nation, capitalists who grew rich and powerful by making things gave way to a new breed: financiers who grasped that you could make even more money by manipulating money. (And by persuading Congress to subsidize them—the system should have been called Subsidism, not Capitalism.) They had no concern for the productivity of the nation or the welfare of its people; with religious fervor, they believed in maximizing profit as the absolute economic goal. They recognized that, by capturing the government through the election finance system and removing government regulation, they could turn the financial system into a giant casino.

Little by little, they hollowed the country out, until it was helplessly dependent on other nations for almost all its necessities. We had to import significant steel components from China or Japan. We came to pay for our oil imports by exporting food (i.e., our soil). Our media and our educational system withered. Our wars became chronic and endless and stupefyingly expensive. Our diets became suicidal, and our medical system faltered; life expectancies began to fall.

And so we have returned, in a sort of terrible circle, to something like my boyhood years, when President Roosevelt spoke in anger of “one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-fed, ill-clothed.” A large and militant contingent of white, mostly elderly, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant right-wingers, mortally threatened by their impending minority status and pretending to be liberty-lovers, desperately seek to return us still further back.

Americans like to think of ours as an exceptional country, immune through geographical isolation and some kind of special virtue to the tides of history. Through the distorted lens of our corporate media, we possess only a distorted view of what the country is really like now. In the next decades, we shall see whether we indeed possess the intelligence, the strength and the mutual courage to break through to another positive era.

No futurist can foresee the possibilities. As empires decay, their civilian leaderships become increasingly crazed, corrupt and incompetent, and often the military (which is after all a parasite of the whole nation, and has no independent financial base like the looter class) takes over. Another possible scenario is that if the theocratic red center of the country prevails in Washington, the relatively progressive and prosperous coastal areas will secede in self-defense.

Ecotopia is a novel, and secession was its dominant metaphor: How would a relatively rational part of the country save itself ecologically if it was on its own? As Ecotopia Emerging puts it, Ecotopia aspired to be a beacon for the rest of the world. And so it may prove, in the very, very long run, because the general outlines of Ecotopia are those of any possible future sustainable society.

The “ecology in one country” argument was an echo of an actual early Soviet argument, as to whether “socialism in one country” was possible. In both cases, it now seems to me, the answer must be no. We are now fatally interconnected, in climate change, ocean impoverishment, agricultural soil loss, etc., etc., etc. International consumer capitalism is a self-destroying machine, and as long as it remains the dominant social form, we are headed for catastrophe; indeed, like rafters first entering the “tongue” of a great rapid, we are already embarked on it.

When disasters strike and institutions falter, as at the end of empires, it does not mean that the buildings all fall down and everybody dies. Life goes on, and in particular, the remaining people fashion new institutions that they hope will better ensure their survival.

So I look to a long-term process of “succession,” as the biological concept has it, where “disturbances” kill off an ecosystem, but little by little new plants colonize the devastated area, prepare the soil for larger and more complex plants (and the other beings who depend on them), and finally the process achieves a flourishing, resilient, complex state—not necessarily what was there before, but durable and richly productive. In a similar way, experiments under way now, all over the world, are exploring how sustainability can in fact be achieved locally. Technically, socially, economically—since it is quite true, as ecologists know, that everything is connected to everything else, and you can never just do one thing by itself.

Since I wrote Ecotopia, I have become less confident of humans’ political ability to act on commonsense, shared values. Our era has become one of spectacular polarization, with folly multiplying on every hand. That is the way empires crumble: they are taken over by looter elites, who sooner or later cause collapse. But then new games become possible, and with luck Ecotopia might be among them.

Humans tend to try to manage things: land, structures, even rivers. We spend enormous amounts of time, energy and treasure in imposing our will on nature, on pre-existing or inherited structures, dreaming of permanent solutions, monuments to our ambitions and dreams. But in periods of slack, decline, or collapse, our abilities no longer suffice for all this management. We have to let things go.

All things “go” somewhere: they evolve, with or without us, into new forms. So as the decades pass, we should try not always to futilely fight these transformations. As the Japanese know, there is much unnoticed beauty in wabi-sabi—the old, the worn, the tumble-down, those things beginning their transformation into something else. We can embrace this process of devolution: embellish it when strength avails, learn to love it.

There is beauty in weathered and unpainted wood, in orchards overgrown, even in abandoned cars being incorporated into the earth. Let us learn, like the Forest Service sometimes does, to put unwise or unneeded roads “to bed,” help a little in the healing of the natural contours, the re-vegetation by native plants. Let us embrace decay, for it is the source of all new life and growth.

Epistle to the Ecotopians | The Nation

http://www.thenation.com/article/167738/epistle-ecotopians#axzz2Y4HulaXi

Let’s Not Braise the Planet – NYTimes.com

Let’s Not Braise the Planet

Let’s Not Braise the Planet – NYTimes.com

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/01/lets-not-braise-the-planet/?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130702&_r=0

According to a report released by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last month, we are not running out of fossil fuels anytime soon. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution we’ve used around 1.2 trillion barrels of oil; the report estimates that with current technology we can produce roughly five times that much. With future technologies, it may well be that the suffering sky is the limit.

This reduces the issue of conversion to clean energy to one of ethics and intent. Our ability to turn around the rate of carbon emissions and slow the engine that can conflagrate the world is certain. But do we have the will?

The chief economist at the International Energy Agency recommends leaving two-thirds of all fossil fuels in the ground. Makes sense to me, but if you’re an oil executive scarcely being charged for the global damage your industry causes (an effective annual subsidy, says the International Monetary Fund, of nearly $2 trillion, money that would be better spent subsidizing nonpolluting energy sources), responsible to your shareholders and making a fortune, would you start erecting windmills?

Here’s the answer: According to Rolling Stone, just this spring, BP put its $3.1 billion United States wind farm operation up for sale. Last year, ConocoPhillips divested itself of its alternative-energy activities. Shell, with its “Let’s Go” campaign to “broaden the world’s energy mix,” spends less than 2 percent of its expenditures on “alternatives.”Mining oil, gas and coal is making some people rich while braising the planet for all of us. It’s difficult to think ahead, especially with climate change deniers sowing doubt and unfounded fears of unemployment, but we owe quick and decisive action on greenhouse gas reduction not only to ourselves but to billions of people not yet born. “People give less weight to the future, but that’s a brain bug,” the philosopher Peter Singer told me. “We should have equal concern for everyone wherever and whenever they live.”

There’s reason for optimism thanks to renewable energy standards in most states, California’s groundbreaking cap-and-trade law and President Obama’s directive to the Environmental Protection Agency last week. But this isn’t nearly enough, and you have to hope that the president is now fully engaged in progressive energy policy and isn’t merely preparing us for disappointment should he approve of Keystone XL.

Three things worth noting: Most politicians prefer adaptation to mitigation — that is, they’d rather build houses on stilts than reduce emissions; energy independence is in no way synonymous with “clean” energy; and the oft-stated notion that “since gas burns cleaner than coal and oil, we should be moving toward gas” puts us on the highway to hell.

Make no mistake: when it comes to climate change gas isn’t “clean,” because undetermined amounts of methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — leak into the atmosphere from natural gas production.

The answer is zero emission energy. Even moderate changes can help, but cuts in the use of fossil fuels must be much deeper than the president is directing, and this may not happen unless we rid Congress of friends of Big Energy. (By one count the House’s 125 climate-change deniers have taken $30 million in contributions from energy companies.)

Investments in zero-carbon energy are relatively inexpensive and good for the economy, and the cost of business as usual is higher than the cost of even expensive carbon pricing. But it’s tough — pointless? — to make these arguments to the energy companies and their Congressional lackeys, who will fight as they have been effectively paid to do.

Unless we quickly put a steep and real price on all carbon emissions, our inaction will doom our not-too-distant descendants. “Really,” says Dan Lashof, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate and clean air program, “we need a comprehensive approach to reduce carbon pollution from all sources. What form that takes — caps, taxes, or standards — is far less important than how soon we get it in place.”

Americans and Western Europeans have been the primary beneficiaries of the lifestyle that accelerated climate change, and, of course are among the primary emitters of greenhouse gases. For the first 200-plus years of the fossil fuel age, we could claim ignorance of its lasting harm; we cannot do that now.

With knowledge comes responsibility, and with that responsibility must come action. As the earth’s stewards, our individual changes are important, but this is a bigger deal than replacing light bulbs or riding a bike. Let’s make working to turn emissions around a litmus test for every politician who asks for our vote.

Imagine a democracy across space, time and class, where legislative bodies represented not only those living in the world’s low-lying areas but their great-grandchildren — and ours. Or imagine that our elected representatives were proxies for those people. Imagine those representatives determining our current energy policy. Is there any doubt that things would change more rapidly?

A version of this article appeared in print on 07/02/2013, on page A25 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Let’s Not Braise The Planet.

Toxic Debris Delivers Triple Whammy | EMagazine.com

Toxic Debris Delivers Triple Whammy

March 11, 2013 | Sarah Mosko | plastic, oceans, plastic waste, PET plastic, ocean pollution

wpid-B_OceanDebris-250x200-2013-06-27-07-22.jpg

Plastic ocean debris.

While plastic refuse on land is a familiar eyesore as litter and a burden on landfills, in the marine environment it can be lethal to sea creatures by way of ingestion or entanglement. Now, a new study highlights how ocean plastic debris is also a threat to humans because plastics are vehicles for introducing toxic chemicals of three sources into the ocean food web.

Background

Two of the sources are manufactured into plastics and have been described in previous studies. The first is the very building blocks of plastic polymers, called monomers, which are linked during polymerization. However, polymerization is never complete, always leaving some monomers unattached and free to migrate out into whatever the plastic comes in contact, like foods/beverages or the guts of a sea creature. Some monomers are known toxins, like the carcinogen vinyl chloride that makes up polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, or the endocrine disruptor bisphenol-A (BPA) that makes up polycarbonate plastics.

The second source is the brew of additives that manufacturers mix in to impart plastics with desired properties. Additives can have toxic properties of their own (like some softening agents and flame retardants), and they are also free to leach out. Manufacturers generally consider their blends of additives as proprietary and secret.

The study, published in December in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, addresses a third but external source of toxic chemicals – oily pollutants commonly found in seawater that glom onto the surface of plastic debris. Because plastics are oily substances, they attract other oily chemicals floating about. This was first described in 2001 where plastic preproduction pellets (the raw materials of plastic manufacturing) collected from coastal Japanese waters had accumulated toxins at concentrations up to a million times that found in the surrounding seawater. That study was limited to polypropylene (PP) pellets exposed for just six days and tested for two types of persistent toxins still common in seawater though banned internationally in 2001: DDE (a breakdown product of the insecticide DDT credited with the near extinction of the bald eagle) and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls, chemicals with widespread electrical applications).

The study described here from San Diego State University compared how readily the five most common mass-produced plastic polymers accumulate hazardous chemicals from local seawater. The findings are alarming given that trawls of the five oceanic gyres around the world (slow-swirling, Texas-sized whirlpools where refuse gathers) are documenting buildup of disturbingly high densities of plastic debris. Plastics are amassing even in areas as remote as the Arctic seafloor.

What Did They Do?


Researchers deposited preproduction pellets (2-3 millimeters in size) of five plastic polymers at locations in San Diego Bay, Calif. At intervals of 6 to 12 months, samples were recovered for analysis of two families of persistent toxins: PCBs and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – byproducts of burning fossil fuels or forest fires).

What Did They Find?


All five polymers accumulated increasing amounts over time of both PCBs and PAHs. However, three types (HDPE, LDPE and PP) soaked up the pollutants at concentrations an order of magnitude higher than the other two (PVC and PET). After 12 months, for example, there was a 34-fold difference in average PCBs adhered to LDPE compared to PET at one location.

Though seawater concentrations of PCBs and PAHs varied somewhat over time and between bay locations, PVC and PET pellets generally reached equilibrium concentrations of the pollutants within six months, whereas the other polymers had not always reached equilibrium by even 12 months. This is longer than has been predicted in laboratory simulations where polymers are not subject to weathering which produces surface pitting, increasing the surface area to which toxins can stick.

Implications

Ingestion of marine plastic debris is commonplace at all levels of the food web, whether passively by filter feeders, like krill and many fish, or actively when mistaken for food by animals as diverse as sea birds, turtles and whales. All such creatures represent entry points into the ocean food web for toxins either manufactured into plastics or accumulated later from seawater. This study highlights that mass-produced plastics are all potential vehicles for transporting hazardous chemicals found in seawater, so it will be hard to argue that any one is harmless as an ocean pollutant. As example, PP is often considered less toxic than PVC because vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen, yet PP soaks up more PCBs and PAHs from seawater.

Another disturbing implication is that plastic debris can become progressively more chemically hazardous as weathering increases the surface area available for gathering pollutants. Analogously, larger plastics debris breaks apart over time into smaller bits, also increasing total surface area. The smaller the plastic debris, the greater likelihood it can be ingested by even tiny creatures at the bottom of the food web. Adding to this concern are studies suggesting that “microplastics” (smaller than one mm, e.g.) might be more common in marine environments than readily visible debris, and no one knows how concentrated ocean pollutants might be on such miniscule, even microscopic, bits.

This study also serves to draw fire to the notion that developing marine biodegradable plastics will automatically eliminate chemical threats stemming from conventional plastics which are non-biodegradable. The sole standard established for biodegradation of plastics in the marine environment allows that, at six months, plastic fragments up to two mm can remain and only 30% of the original material needs have undergone biodegradation (ASTM D7081). This standard would allow biodegradable debris ample opportunity to deliver its triple chemical threat into the ocean food chain and maybe even onto our dinner plates.

Toxic Debris Delivers Triple Whammy | EMagazine.com

http://www.emagazine.com/blog/toxic-debris-delivers-triple-whammy/