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California bill to ban single-use plastic by 2030 failed to pass
After China stopped accepting recylables, California was put in a tough place.
- California attempted to ban single use plastics by 2030.
- The bill couldn't pass through the necessary channels and was stopped by industry lobbyists.
- Microplastics and plastic pollution in general are becoming increasingly more detrimental to the environment.
California and the rest of the United States used to have a direct line to China, where the United States was sending 4,000 shipping containers full of recyclable waste to China daily. That all changed at the dawn of 2018.
China used to accept the United States' recycling to process it and sell it in post-consumer materials. But the material sent to China was contaminated and badly separated. This is because Americans use something called "single-stream" recycling. That is, citizens are required to put all recyclable materials into one bin.
These shipments of recyclables became useless because most single-use plastics can't be recycled. China decided that this trade policy was no longer worth it and initiated a "national sword" policy that raised the standards of what constituted a pure bale of plastic. The United States couldn't comply with this anymore.
China stops accepting recycled materials
California was hit hardest by this new policy. The state sends up to 75 percent of its recyclables to China. The recently failed California Assembly Bill 1080 was meant to help mitigate this looming disaster. The bill read, "This shift in China's policy has resulted in the loss of markets for low-value plastic packaging that was previously considered recyclable. That material is now being landfilled or burned."
The United States produces a total of 335 million tons of plastic each year. If the bill had passed, it would have banned the production or sale of any non-recyclable single-use packaging in the state by 2030. Seventy-five percent of all single-use plastic produced or sold in California would need to have been diverted from landfills. One of the bills, AB 792, proposed to have all drink containers to be made from recycled plastic by 2035.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the bills were blocked by industry lobbyists.
Opponents included a number of waste-management companies, manufacturing companies and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Their concern was that the CalRecycle agency would be given too much power with not enough specifics on how they'd enforce the new ban.
The Director of State Government Affairs for the Plastics Industry Association Shannon Crawford told the newspaper, "We remain opposed because we think there are some fundamental flaws in the bill which would prevent it from being implemented."
Oceana plastics campaign director Christy Leavitt said in a press release that it's time for policymakers to take new, bold steps in curbing the production of unnecessary single-use plastics. She lamented in the decision, as she stated, "California had the opportunity to be a national leader in protecting the planet and its inhabitants from the plastic increasingly entering our oceans, soil, air, food and bodies."
Growing environmental problem
Microplastics are popping up in a number of unexpected places. Recently, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) were analyzing Colorado rainwater samples and found something surprising: microplastics, tiny bits of plastic that pollute the environment.
Microplastics have left no part of the environment untouched. Scientists in the United Kingdom tested over ten species of dolphins, whales, and seals, revealing that every single one of them had microplastics inside their bodies.
Humans aren't immune to microplastics either. A small study led by gastroenterologist Philipp Schwabl of the Medical University of Vienna found that all participants had microplastics in their stools. The subjects hailed from all across the world.
Plastic pollution has been around for a number of years. It's a growing problem as it wreaks havoc on the ecosystem and local environments. While California didn't get the bill passed this time, it's only a matter of time before more bills like this start popping up again. They may have a chance to mitigate the dangers of single-use and microplastics all around the world.
- Teen wins Google Science Fair for microplastics removal method ... ›
- New dissolvable, plastic-free bottle could save ocean life - Big Think ›
- A Norwegian Billionaire Is Building A Giant Boat To Collect Plastic ... ›
- Australia cuts plastic bag use by 80% in 3 months - Big Think ›
- Plastic pollution from face masks could devastate the environment - Big Think ›
The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.
- A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
- It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
- The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
Humanity knows surprisingly little about the ocean depths. An often-repeated bit of evidence for this is the fact that humanity has done a better job mapping the surface of Mars than the bottom of the sea. The creatures we find lurking in the watery abyss often surprise even the most dedicated researchers with their unique features and bizarre behavior.
A recent expedition off the coast of Java discovered a new isopod species remarkable for its size and resemblance to Darth Vader.
The ocean depths are home to many creatures that some consider to be unnatural.
According to LiveScience, the Bathynomus genus is sometimes referred to as "Darth Vader of the Seas" because the crustaceans are shaped like the character's menacing helmet. Deemed Bathynomus raksasa ("raksasa" meaning "giant" in Indonesian), this cockroach-like creature can grow to over 30 cm (12 inches). It is one of several known species of giant ocean-going isopod. Like the other members of its order, it has compound eyes, seven body segments, two pairs of antennae, and four sets of jaws.
The incredible size of this species is likely a result of deep-sea gigantism. This is the tendency for creatures that inhabit deeper parts of the ocean to be much larger than closely related species that live in shallower waters. B. raksasa appears to make its home between 950 and 1,260 meters (3,117 and 4,134 ft) below sea level.
Perhaps fittingly for a creature so creepy looking, that is the lower sections of what is commonly called The Twilight Zone, named for the lack of light available at such depths.
It isn't the only giant isopod, far from it. Other species of ocean-going isopod can get up to 50 cm long (20 inches) and also look like they came out of a nightmare. These are the unusual ones, though. Most of the time, isopods stay at much more reasonable sizes.
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During an expedition, there are some animals which you find unexpectedly, while there are others that you hope to find. One of the animal that we hoped to find was a deep sea cockroach affectionately known as Darth Vader Isopod. The staff on our expedition team could not contain their excitement when they finally saw one, holding it triumphantly in the air! #SJADES2018
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What benefit does this find have for science? And is it as evil as it looks?
The discovery of a new species is always a cause for celebration in zoology. That this is the discovery of an animal that inhabits the deeps of the sea, one of the least explored areas humans can get to, is the icing on the cake.
Helen Wong of the National University of Singapore, who co-authored the species' description, explained the importance of the discovery:
"The identification of this new species is an indication of just how little we know about the oceans. There is certainly more for us to explore in terms of biodiversity in the deep sea of our region."
The animal's visual similarity to Darth Vader is a result of its compound eyes and the curious shape of its head. However, given the location of its discovery, the bottom of the remote seas, it may be associated with all manner of horrifically evil Elder Things and Great Old Ones.
Every star we can see, including our sun, was born in one of these violent clouds.
This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.
An international team of astronomers has conducted the biggest survey of stellar nurseries to date, charting more than 100,000 star-birthing regions across our corner of the universe.
Stellar nurseries: Outer space is filled with clouds of dust and gas called nebulae. In some of these nebulae, gravity will pull the dust and gas into clumps that eventually get so big, they collapse on themselves — and a star is born.
These star-birthing nebulae are known as stellar nurseries.
The challenge: Stars are a key part of the universe — they lead to the formation of planets and produce the elements needed to create life as we know it. A better understanding of stars, then, means a better understanding of the universe — but there's still a lot we don't know about star formation.
This is partly because it's hard to see what's going on in stellar nurseries — the clouds of dust obscure optical telescopes' view — and also because there are just so many of them that it's hard to know what the average nursery is like.
The survey: The astronomers conducted their survey of stellar nurseries using the massive ALMA telescope array in Chile. Because ALMA is a radio telescope, it captures the radio waves emanating from celestial objects, rather than the light.
"The new thing ... is that we can use ALMA to take pictures of many galaxies, and these pictures are as sharp and detailed as those taken by optical telescopes," Jiayi Sun, an Ohio State University (OSU) researcher, said in a press release.
"This just hasn't been possible before."
Over the course of the five-year survey, the group was able to chart more than 100,000 stellar nurseries across more than 90 nearby galaxies, expanding the amount of available data on the celestial objects tenfold, according to OSU researcher Adam Leroy.
New insights: The survey is already yielding new insights into stellar nurseries, including the fact that they appear to be more diverse than previously thought.
"For a long time, conventional wisdom among astronomers was that all stellar nurseries looked more or less the same," Sun said. "But with this survey we can see that this is really not the case."
"While there are some similarities, the nature and appearance of these nurseries change within and among galaxies," he continued, "just like cities or trees may vary in important ways as you go from place to place across the world."
Astronomers have also learned from the survey that stellar nurseries aren't particularly efficient at producing stars and tend to live for only 10 to 30 million years, which isn't very long on a universal scale.
Looking ahead: Data from the survey is now publicly available, so expect to see other researchers using it to make their own observations about stellar nurseries in the future.
"We have an incredible dataset here that will continue to be useful," Leroy said. "This is really a new view of galaxies and we expect to be learning from it for years to come."
Tiny specks of space debris can move faster than bullets and cause way more damage. Cleaning it up is imperative.
- NASA estimates that more than 500,000 pieces of space trash larger than a marble are currently in orbit. Estimates exceed 128 million pieces when factoring in smaller pieces from collisions. At 17,500 MPH, even a paint chip can cause serious damage.
- To prevent this untrackable space debris from taking out satellites and putting astronauts in danger, scientists have been working on ways to retrieve large objects before they collide and create more problems.
- The team at Clearspace, in collaboration with the European Space Agency, is on a mission to capture one such object using an autonomous spacecraft with claw-like arms. It's an expensive and very tricky mission, but one that could have a major impact on the future of space exploration.
This is the first episode of Just Might Work, an original series by Freethink, focused on surprising solutions to our biggest problems.
Catch more Just Might Work episodes on their channel: https://www.freethink.com/shows/just-might-work