Beach Pollution in Mexico & the Top 5 Happy Eco News Stories for October 11, 2021

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Yesterday (October 10) was World Mental Health day. Coincidently, it was also Canadian Thanksgiving – two days that have important significance in my life. I am a strong advocate of mental health, after having struggled with my own for many years. I know I speak for many people when I say that the pandemic held a huge weight on our mental health and a lot of people struggled (and are still struggling). Fortunately, I was able to find a bright side to it all which helped me keep my mental health in check; I dove into projects and activities and was able to discover things that made me really happy (puzzling, reading, baking, etc) despite everything going on in the world.

I’m seeing the same kind of thing with the climate crisis, which again has a huge influence on our mental health. It’s easy to get lost in the bad and negative, especially when that’s all we see. But I’ve found that taking individual action, no matter how big or small, leaves me feeling happy and makes me feel like I am making a difference. It’s a tough, unpredictable world out there, no doubt about it, but remember it’s important to take care of yourself and find things that bring you joy. Because when we’ve got our mental health in check, we can achieve great things!

Photo credit: Jamie D’Souza, Content Manager. Taking walks and being in nature is one of the things that brings me so much joy. It allows me to disconnect from the real world and really be present. It’s so simple, but it works.

This week we have a blog post by Champi Alvarez (you may remember her first post about restoring and conserving Mexico’s ecosystems). In her newest post, she talks about the innovative solutions the people of Mexico have found to deal with the increase in sargassum blooms. We also have stories about the benefits of putting solar panels on airports, the end of large-scale old-growth logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the UK’s strategy to make the food industry more sustainable, the recovery of D.C.’s Anacostia River thanks to community action, and California’s transition to electric houses.

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Initiatives to tackle the problem on Mexico’s beautiful Caribbean beaches polluted with the Sargassum blooms

Guest blog by: Champi Alvarez

Mexico’s beautiful Caribbean beaches with their turquoise waters and endless white sand have been experiencing a phenomenon that started last decade which pollutes many beaches around the Riviera: the sargassum blooms.

Sargassum is a brown marine macroalgae of the genus Sargassum and can be seen floating on the surface of the ocean. In marine areas, sargassum forms essential ecosystems for the health of the oceans and provides environmental goods and services for human activities. However, when these algae reach coastal areas they have negative effects on nature and the environment, communities and sectors such as fishing and tourism.

The warming of the oceans increases the presence of this algae on the beaches of the Riviera Maya, affecting many industries that depend on these destinations and ecosystems. When on the beach, sargassum forms brown spots up to 150 linear meters and gives off an unpleasant rotten smell, strong enough to keep tourists away…[read more].

The Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5

  1. If We Put Solar Panels on Top of Airports, We Could Power Entire Cities

Scientists in Australia have determined that solar grids—installed on top of the country’s government-owned airports—could annually supply 136,000 homes with power. Because commercial roofs are flat, they’re more efficient for solar arrays than angled residential roofs. Australia is a sunny country with great solar potential, but it’s possible that the same concept could take off in the U.S., too. Airports aren’t surrounded by trees—they’re (mostly) surrounded by wide-open spaces, replete with sunlight. Now imagine those airports’ rooftops, bejeweled with solar panel arrays. This isn’t a fantasy vision of a green tech future, but the subject of new research at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University). There, scientists have incorporated real-world data into a software program. The results , published in the Journal of Building Engineering, show that if Australia installed solar panels on top of all 21 of its government-owned airports, the country could produce an estimated 466 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of electrical energy each year. That’s enough to power about 136,000 homes per year. “Australia is facing an energy crisis, yet our solar energy resources—such as airport rooftops—are being wasted,” Chayn Sun, senior lecturer at RMIT, and one of the scientists involved in the new research…[read more].

  1. ‘America’s Climate Forest’ Now Safe From Major Old-Growth Logging

In a huge victory for the climate, the Biden administration is ending large-scale old-growth logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. For years, Earthjustice has fought to defend this temperate rainforest’s massive trees and meandering streams. Read on to learn why this win matters for wildlife, local Indigenous communities, and every human on Earth. This is a victory for public lands that has been decades in the making. A federal law called the Roadless Rule protects about a third of our national forests — including 9 million acres of the Tongass — from damaging new roads and clear-cuts. Earthjustice has been successfully defending this law in court since 2001. In 2020, the Trump administration exempted the Tongass from the Roadless Rule’s protection, opening areas to logging, including centuries-old stands of old-growth trees. Earthjustice filed a federal lawsuit challenging the rollback of protections on behalf of five Alaska Native Tribes, Southeast Alaska small businesses, and conservation organizations. The Biden administration’s actions go beyond restoring protections stripped away by Trump. On July 15, the U.S. Forest Service announced it will undo the Trump-era rollback of the Roadless Rule. The agency also added new protections for the Tongass’ ancient trees, eliminating large-scale old… [read more].

  1. The Plant-Based Transition

The National Food Strategy is a huge opportunity to transform England’s food system. England took a major step towards healthier and more sustainable food and farming with the publication in July of the National Food Strategy Part Two, the result of an independent review of the nation’s food system. But will this mark the beginning of the urgently needed transition to plant-based food and farming? The strategy draws on a huge amount of evidence on the environmental impact of animal farming. Ultra-processed It singles out beef as the most significant driver of global deforestation and dairy as the leading cause of serious pollution incidents in the UK. It highlights farming, hunting and fishing as the principal causes of species decline across Europe and identifies livestock farming as a major cause of zoonotic disease. Crucially, it identifies agricultural land use as a central issue driving both species extinction and the climate crisis. It states: “Overall, around 70 percent of UK land, and an area about this size overseas, is used to grow our food. Of this whole area, only 15 percent is used to grow the grains, fruit and vegetables we directly consume.” It also does an… [read more].

  1. An Infamously Dirty River Is Coming Back to Life Thanks to Community Activism

Due to sustained community pressure and Earthjustice litigation, D.C.’s Anacostia River is finally recovering from decades of pollution. Dennis Chestnut teaches his grandson, Horus Plaza, how to test the water quality of the Watts Branch of the Anacostia River in Marvin Gaye Park in Washington, D.C. in May 2021. In the 1800s, when quarreling men in D.C. needed to settle an argument, they often challenged each other to duels. The practice was illegal, so the men would often hop across the state line to Maryland to stand off along the Anacostia River in a spot known as “Blood Run.” Dueling along the Anacostia has long fallen out of favor. But in the 1970s, a different kind of fight began brewing in D.C. and around the country as people saw polluted waterways catch fire and birds drop dead from pesticide poisoning. The public outrage eventually led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and passage of bedrock environmental laws. These actions were historic and the benefits widespread, except in communities of color and low-income areas that bore the brunt of industrial pollution. One community, who lived next to D.C.’s Anacostia River, was tired of seeing the decline of the… [read more].

  1. California Takes a Massive Step Toward All-Electric Homes

Residential houses line a street in Mission near Delores Park as typical San Francisco summer fog rolls in. The race to electrify every house in the U.S. just got a jolt courtesy of California. The most populous state in the country has passed new energy codes that incentivize electric appliances and efficient heating and cooling systems, a move that could wind down the use of fossil fuels in buildings. The codes approved by the California Energy Commission will affect all new residential construction and some businesses, including motels, medical offices, retail and grocery stores, and restaurants among others. The energy codes are updated on three-year cycles. When we last checked in on them in 2018, they were updated with a mandate to include rooftop solar on all new construction (albeit a mandate that was most likely to benefit rich folks). The new codes are focused on bringing energy-efficient appliances and phasing out gas hookups for homes in the Golden State. “This is the first statewide building code across the country that strongly incentivizes all-electric construction,” said Denise Grab, the manager of the Rocky Mountain Institute’s carbon-free building team. “In fact, in the last code there were actually some … [read more].

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