The negotiation of a global ocean treaty to protect 30% of marine areas for recovery of wildlife is at stake but has lately been delayed by Covid. It will be necessary to save our oceans as source of food because of overfishing and to protect animals like sea turtles. Our oceans produce half of the Earth’s oxygen and are our planet’s largest reservoir of stored carbon thus essential for climate protection (see Greenpeace Aotearoa). The loss of a species like shark can cause other predators to increase thus leaving less food fish for us. Plastic littering is one of the critical problems for our oceans. Animals confuse plastic bags with food and the great pacific garbage patch has four times the size of Germany. A global treaty to stop plastic pollution would be a huge step since rulings just valid in the EU can achieve alone only little: tell South Africa to join the treaty.
Sign the European Citizen Initiative to protect our bees: 300.000 signatures are still missing for the required million. Since the recent reform of the CAP has been insufficient this is even more an opportunity. We would have the technology to reduce pesticide use and ban pesticides like Glyphosphat for good (weeding robots, biological plant protection, crop rotation, crop coproduction & more).
“Because now is such a day, you don't change politics.” replied Armin Laschet (CDU) when a reporter asked him after the century flood whether he wanted to change his climate policy. And he counted as his party's climate policy successes, things the environmental protection movement had wrested from him with difficulty (links at heise.de). When it was not initially certain that the politicians would provide immediate aid, several German bands and Metallica collected donations for the flood victims (SN). The top candidates, both Annalena Baerböck (Greens) and Armin Laschet, are blamed of misconduct, namely for a prettification of her curriculum vitae and for incorrectly citing sources (that is, copied) in Armin Laschet's book “The upward climber republic”. Germany is used to a strong leadership figure and so people have resented these. But we must not forget that in the end it is the party that makes politics. Armin Laschet, the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, the area in which some of the worst-affected flood regions are, would perhaps also like to do different politics himself, which his very first statements would also have suggested. We believe that anyone who is uncompromising for more climate protection must also vote for a party that is, too. On klimawahlcheck.org you can see the positions of the parties and so neither the CDU/CSU want an earlier coal exit than the much too late 2038, nor is the SPD enthusiastic about it. For electricity only from renewables and also for 25% organic agriculture, both parties cannot warm up. But if you want to put a stop to climate change, the emissions have to go to zero at some point and better sooner than later, otherwise warming will keep on going. Question about Cum-Ex to Olaf Scholz: “I cannot understand why you do not remember several official one-on-one meetings in your office, which involved many, many millions of euros. Are you lying to us?” (on abgeordnetenwatch.de), so far without an answer.
A long imagined dream is just turning reality: Weeding robots that can automatically detect weeds destroying them with a laser. Some of these robots still use pesticides, however reducing their use for 90%. Some pests like aphids (plant lice) can not be treated otherwise. Such robots have the size of a car and are already successfully in use.
In the USA the EPA (environmental protection agency) has banned all food uses of Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide causing learning disabilites, IQ loss and development delays with children. Other uses like against mosquitos or at golf courses are still allowed. In deed other related chemicals in the organophosphate family should also be forbidden. In the EU Chlorpyrifos is forbidden since longer.
Moritz Koch and his team at the University of Tübingen in Germany caused blue-green algae to produce that much PHB (polyhydroxybutyrate) that it made up 80% of the total mass of the cell. PHB has similar properties to polypropylene, but is biodegradable. It is probably used by the cyanobacteria as an energy store. Petroleum-based plastics, on the other hand, do not degrade for a very very long time and are a major problem because they contaminate the oceans, soil and drinking water. With the new research results, PHB could be manufactured on a large scale and replace petroleum-based packaging material. Plastics made from bacteria have been known for a long time, but they are not climate-neutral if they require sugar or fats instead of CO2 as raw materials. Bacterial plastic is 5€ per kilogram, fossil plastic is 2€ per kilogram (SN 2021-07-23).
Conventional polyester can be broken down by an enzyme from bovine stomachs, as was found out in Tulln at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Austria (SN 2021-08-04). This could be another solution to the plastic environmental crisis. While people in Europe are searching for solutions Adani Enterprises in India thinks on how they can pollute more: see for the petition against Platic from Coal, the dirtiest plastic on earth. If they can not burn that much coal they want to make plastics from it.
As decided in 2018, most products made from single-use plastic have been banned in the EU since the beginning of July 2021. The fact that biodegradable materials made from bagasse (sugar cane), wheat fibers, bamboo fibers or palm leaves are now in use is to be deemed generally positive. A major blow, however, is that toxic additives are regulated down to the last detail for plastic, while only a spongy framework applies to its substitutes (SN 2021-08-07). For example, the particularly ostracized PFAS (perfluorinated alkyl substances) are used to make these substances water-repellent. PFAS are extremely harmful to health, non-biodegradable and accumulate from the Arctic to umbilical cord blood. Potentially carcinogenic chloropropanols are also used. High concentrations of pesticides have been measured in substances made from palm leaves. Until there is a viable succession framework, the consumer can only do without fast food and meal delivery services. That would also save huge mountains of rubbish. Even aluminum, if it is absorbed by the body, is harmful, not to mention the red mud environmental mess.
In our opinion, the media, at least here in Austria, reported with comparatively insufficient coverage about the recent devastating flood in Western Germany. The destruction is enormous. Over 1,000 people are missing. The small town of Schuld in the Ahr Valley was badly hit. One family could only save themselves on the roof, other houses have collapsed or torn away, it looks like after a tsunami. The best way to get an impression of the disaster is to look at the pictures: volksfreund.de, daswetter.com. Belgium and the Netherlands were also hit: tagesschau.de. Internet, cellular and telephone were down. Most of the cell phone base stations are now back on power, but many of the fiber optic cables have been torn off, f.i. because they were routed across torn bridges. In some areas there will be no internet until 2022. In many places, electricity and water also have to be built from scratch; that's going to take time.