Today in “time to move into my underground bunker,” BPA-free plastic -- touted as the safer, gentler, less cancer-y plastic -- is less benign than we were promised.
The Center for Environmental Health studied 18 BPA-free plastic sippy cups and found that more than a quarter had estrogen-like chemicals. Too much estrogen has been tied to breast cancer, and a childhood imbalance can mess up the brain and other organs. And studies have indicated correlation between BPA and ailments from ADHD to heart disease to cancer. (A recent FDA study suggests BPA is safe in low doses, but there are some concerns about its validity.)
Did you know that witches help make Two-Buck Chuck? Sadly no one from The Craft is involved, but water witches are increasingly in demand in California as the state’s epic drought continues. John Franzia of the Bronco Wine Company, which makes Two-Buck Chuck and a slew of other wines, regularly uses diviners to find water underneath his California vineyards. As he told the AP:
I've used witchers for probably the last 15 to 20 years. Seems like the witchers do the better job than the guys with all the electrical equipment. I believe in them.
Well, this is a new one: “Frostpaw the Polar Bear” has a message for Obama, and it rhymes. The Center for Biological Diversity’s furry spokesanimal is in a new video that gives a quick rundown of Keystone’s potential ills, with a plea for the president to reject the pipeline once and for all. Did we mention that it’s a rap? Watch:
The rap praises solar, wind, and mass transit as alternatives to oil, and it actually isn't that bad. Here are some sample lyrics:
Is tying your shoes the best part of your day? Then this news will make your LIFETIME! When you buy a customizable pair of Sseko sandals, not only are you helping Ugandan women go to college, but you have a bazillion possible ways to tie your shoes. I mean, look at this:
Basically, you cough up $55-60 for a pair of ethically sourced leather soles and organic cotton ribbons in your choice of colors. The footbeds have five different loops, so you could theoretically spend the rest of your natural life tying the ribbons in different ways. (Gladiator! T-strap! Flip-flop!) Not only does this hopefully quell some of your thirst for new shoes, smashing mindless consumption, but the fair-trade sandals give East African women better access to higher education.
Contracting the West Nile virus is too damn hard. You have to go somewhere hot like Texas and practically BEG an infected mosquito to suck on you. Save your airline miles, friends, because climate change will raise temperatures so residents of California and even southern Canada will have a better shot at the virus.
Time reports that a warming world will see higher rates of West Nile, because the virus is tied to higher temperatures and lower precipitation. A new study in Global Change Biology projects just where the virus will spread:
Is there anything more fun than sexism in marketing? (See: Bic Pens for Her. And yes, everything short of toenail removal is more fun.) Its latest coup: tarnishing the enthusiasm we might have otherwise felt for Sustain Condoms. Created by the founder of Seventh Generation and his daughter (um, AWKWARD), the condoms are made from non-toxic, fair-trade rubber from an Indian plantation that pays workers a fair wage.
Sustain thinks fair-trade condoms will primarily appeal to us ladies with our squishy bunny hearts, rather than men, who hate sustainability and only buy brands that sound like monster trucks. (Trojan Magnum Destructo! OK, maybe Destructo would be a poor choice for a condom brand.) Explains Jeffrey Hollender:
Part of the challenge we are facing is the huge discomfort women feel buying condoms. If a man buys them, he's having sex and he's cool. Women have a negative attitude.
New York City produces over 14 million tons of trash every year with most of it trucked long-haul to out-of-state landfills. In a typical year, we spend more than $300 million dollars on trash transport while incurring a hefty environmental bill along the way.
Kinda hard to believe, but the Exxon Valdez oil spill was 25 years ago. “Yeah, sheesh,” says the sea otter population that has spent this entire time struggling to recover from the spill's effects.
Back in 1989, the 10.8 million gallons of crude oil that leaked into Prince William Sound killed otters and 20 other species. Roughly 1,000 otters died from the spill right away, and lingering oil in clams (otter food) and in otters’ fur slowly killed 1,000 to 2,000 more otters later.
Thankfully, a new study indicates the number of sea otters off Alaska’s southern coast is finally back to normal -- although it sure took long enough. Explains Reuters:
The report's findings underscore the lengthy recovery times for many species affected by oil spills, U.S. Geological Survey research biologist Brenda Ballachey said in a statement.
"Although recovery timelines varied widely among species, our work shows that recovery of species vulnerable to long-term effects of oil spills can take decades," said Ballachey, the study's lead author.
I’m glad to see that 12 Years a Slave won a few well-deserved Oscars Sunday night, including best picture and best adapted screenplay. Those who’ve been following me know that I used this film as one of the starting points for my blog, and as a lens for examining the intersection between environmentalism and social justice. I’ve been curious if there were others who saw in the movie the same crimes against nature I saw, along with the crimes against black people.
The film includes scenes of enslaved Africans hacking away at dense fields of sugarcane stalks, and chopping away trees in the plush forests of Louisiana, all at whip- and gunpoint, and all in efforts to expand the plantation state. This, to me, made it clear that director Steve McQueen was trying to show not only how slavery exploited and devastated African Americans, but also how it did the same to the American environment. He said as much when describing his cinematic vision: “The story is about the environment, and how individuals have to make sense of it, how we locate the self in events.”
McQueen drew his inspiration from the book on which the film was based: The memoir of Solomon Northup, an African American born free but sold into slavery. And as it turns out, there were many people during Northup’s time who were making the same observations about how slavery was wrecking the nation racially, physically, and biologically. Among them was Henry David Thoreau, the 19th-century naturalist and political philosopher.
Dog shit doesn’t do(o) much for green space. Sidewalks, public parks -- pretty much everywhere is better off without it. And yet some people insist on pulling a Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and leaving their pup’s poop for the rest of us to step in.
Naples, for one, has stinky shoes, and the Italian city isn’t taking any more of your canine irresponsibility. The city plans to DNA-test abandoned dog doo-doo, find the guilty party, and slap you with a $685 fee for being a shitty pet owner/human being. Explains the New York Times:
The idea is that every dog in the city will be given a blood test for DNA profiling in order to create a database of dogs and owners. When an offending pile is discovered, it will be scraped up and subjected to DNA testing. If a match is made in the database, the owner will face a fine of up to 500 euros, or about $685.