Tag Archives: ecology

FOIA Presents Travel Voucher Idea for Owners of PFAS Contaminated Wells in East Bay Township | Local News | Instant News

TRAVERSE CITY – Travel vouchers to offset costs associated with public water connections for affected residents have been launched as part of discussions around an investigation into PFAS water contamination in the Township of East Bay. Grand Traverse County Board Chairman Rob Hentschel suggested in an email to Cherry Capital According to information released to Record-Eagle under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, Hentschel mentioned the concept before local leaders get grant funds to pay. the 18 public connections required for the affected homes still use well water; the idea was that if the grant funds could not be acquired, perhaps the travel vouchers could be a compromise – an authorized use of restricted airport dollars. Some of the affected residents and environmental experts criticized the suggestion as being irresponsible in the face of revelations about contaminated drinking water and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Local officials, however, said it was the result of brainstorming and was never intended for the public. Clean Water, Travel Vouchers The email in question with the line of subject line “$ 3,900 PFAS Travel Voucher” was sent Nov 9 from Hentschel to airport manager Keven Klein and read: “Random thought … sitting at the East Bay twp meeting … If we don’t can’t pay for the capping of neighboring wells and municipal water hooks … can we run a promotion with the airlines for the travel vouchers in You’ll be happy to know they haven’t thrown the airport under the bus. Not a single mention of the airport … – Rob “Some residents and concerned environmental experts have said that such a travel voucher idea is reprehensible.” It would have been an insult, “said Joyce Lundberg, whose well water for her home along Indian Trail Boulevard was among those contaminated with PFAS chemicals.” What would we do with travel vouchers in the midst of a pandemic ? We wanted clean water. ”Liz Kirkwood, executive director of the nonprofit For Love Of Water, said she was initially“ a little speechless ”when she learned the suggestion of travel vouchers for those with contaminated wells FLOW is a Traverse City-based organization that advocates for groundwater protection and will host a webinar on March 10 on threats to Michigan’s groundwater resources. communities by PFAS said the emerging family of chemical contaminants holds untold potential for problems of environmental injustice – especially given its long-term and widespread use at d he industrial, aeronautical and commercial purposes and the way pollutants are increasingly present in drinking water. way to have a drink of your refreshing well water and know if it’s contaminated with PFAS, ”said Alissa Cordner, as a sociological professor of sociology at Whitman College in Washington and co-director of the PFAS Project Lab with researchers at Northeastern University in Boston, she said that often communities subject to PFAS contamination have historically experienced other types of pollution and tend not to be wealthy. Pine Grove mirrors this trend with its blue collar workers and history of a TCE plume, which prompted public water to flow through the neighborhood decades ago, but not all connected homes back then. not always in a financial position to do much about it, indicating the need for broader systemic changes in the way toxic chemicals are produced and used. people affected by pollution, she said an offer of “It seems clear to me that a small travel voucher and continued contamination of drinking water is not up to the mark,” Cordner said. Hentschel said his email to the airport manager should be considered in perspective; it was a private email not intended for public presentation, he said. “There is no evidence that it came from the airport, but we wanted to do something,” Hentschel said. Because airport funds are limited to airport operations and promotion, he said the suggestion was right that he was looking for ways to help affected residents. “These are raw ideas,” Hentschel said, later adding that the idea “was not to ride. For the public, but to think outside the box.” Klein also said Hentschel’s idea was an attempt to come up with a solution through brainstorming. But it wouldn’t have been appropriate to make that offer to affected residents, he said. “I think what he was trying to say was that ‘is “we have to be more creative” “said the airport manager. said they might have actually taken advantage of such a travel voucher, if subsidies had not been found to pay for their public water hookups. But that wouldn’t fly for everyone. “I appreciate Rob’s efforts for sure,” said Hillerie Rettelle, who lives on Avenue B and whose well has returned a collective. of more than 840 pieces per trillion of PFAS chemicals – as many as 35 times that of the state. Rettelle said Hentschel has worked Hard to get public water connections as quickly as possible for affected residents and tried to help them get back the money they spent preparing for public water connections when they were not satisfied to wait for government action. As much as she could appreciate a travel voucher, Rettelle said she knew not all affected residents were able to use it. Some would not have connected to public water if the subsidies had not been secured, she said. “If you can’t afford to connect to clean drinking water, you can’t afford to go on vacation,” Rettelle said, adding that during a pandemic people are even less likely to want to travel. “In November, if they had asked me if I wanted a travel voucher or clean water, it would have been 100% clean water,” she said. of affected residents, said she was not offended by Hentschel’s suggestion. She said she even joked that the airport paid for their family’s travel in perpetuity, if identified as the source of contamination. “I joked that if it ended up being the airport’s fault, the air miles could be greatly appreciated.” Contractors at Matt’s Underground Construction in Kalkaska spent the last week connecting homes with PFAS-contaminated water wells to municipal water supplies, first along Avenue B and then down the avenue C. its well was among the highest concentrations in the neighborhood. She hadn’t showered at home because her surgeon had told her that a healing wound from shoulder surgery should not be exposed to pollution. State and local health warned her not to drink or cook with water in October, she said. Rettelle took a shower in her own bathroom Tuesday night for the first time in over four months and described it in one word: “Amazing”. Others are eager to see their connections coming. Lundberg’s well failed last summer and she spent $ 3,000 to repair it after high water levels pushed sand into the pump. It was three months later when she learned of the groundwater contamination, she said. “It was a shock,” Lundberg said. The longtime neighborhood resident, 94, said she was grateful that state, county and township dollars collectively paid for her water. connection to the system, especially after spending so much on his well last July. She chose this out of an offer of $ 25,000 to connect to the water system at the time, Lundberg said. “You know, that’s life. If I had spent the $ 25,000, I was really pissed off, ”she says. .

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COVID offers Pakistan an opportunity to focus on ecotourism | Asia | An in-depth view of news from around the continent | DW | Instant News

Pakistan has emerged as one of the most sought after tourist destinations over the past few years. The South Asian country has topped several international travel lists such as Forbes’ “10 coolest places to visit in 2019” and “Best vacation destinations of 2020” from Conde Nast.

The Pakistani government and citizens hope the development will attract more investment in tourism-related businesses and help create better paying jobs.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government announced plans to develop and promote tourism and relax visa restrictions for foreign travelers.

But the onset of a global health emergency and the limitations it causes trips around the world have thwarted government plans.

“Due to COVID, we were unable to implement the government’s tourism strategy over the past year,” Babar Javaid, communications manager at the Pakistan Tourism Development Company (PTDC), told DW.

“Tourism is the government’s priority area,” he said, pointing to the sector’s significant contribution to economic activity, direct investment and poverty alleviation.

High global interest in traveling to Pakistan

In recent years, travel bloggers have flocked to Pakistan, attracted by the country’s high peaks, lush valleys and rich heritage.

The content they produce and post on social media is contributing to a surge in global interest.

Their promotion of Pakistan as a travel destination offers entertainment to ever-living residents decades of military crackdown, terrorist violence and political instability.

Eva Zu Beck, a British-Polish traveler and content creator, is arguably the most famous vlogger promoting travel to Pakistan. He even believes that his country can become the world’s top tourist destination.

Zu Beck has more than 551,000 followers on Instagram and more than 905,000 channel subscribers on YouTube. Some of his videos about Pakistan have been viewed millions of times.

Tourism has negative side effects

“With Pakistani tourism, there is this feeling of goldrush, where everyone is excited about the economic possibilities without really thinking about the bigger picture of how sustainable tourism can be supported in the country,” he told DW.

He pointed to the country’s fragile ecosystem, in particular in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, and stressed the need for sustainability.

Zu Beck notes that during his trip to Pakistan, he noticed shifts and the newly constructed gray concrete structures juxtaposed with traditional architecture and the beauty of the valley.

World-renowned travel bloggers believe that COVID provides an opportunity for the Pakistani government to promote sustainable tourism.

“This is actually a very important opportunity for the Pakistani government to take advantage of the ‘gap’ in tourism and develop infrastructure for the benefit of travelers, local communities and the environment,” said Zu Beck. “Then the country will be able to better handle the influx of tourists in the future too.”

The nation’s fragile ecosystem means there must be an increasing emphasis on sustainability, say experts

Climate change and threats to ecosystems

Experts and NGOs are increasingly warning that uncontrolled tourism could exacerbating climate change and threatening fragile ecosystems.

They are calling for promotion of ecotourism. “Ecotourism is about managing the negative impacts of tourism by actively engaging communities and transferring benefits to them,” Ali Nawaz, director of the Snow Leopard Foundation, told DW.

“They are the keepers of these ecosystems and only they can really protect them,” he added, underlining that ecotourism helps ensure economic development while protecting the ecology.

Nawaz also pointed out that during the COVID-19 crisis, there had been an increase in wildlife sightings and activity in their project area. “Wildlife is dynamic and influenced by human activity. We are seeing more brown bear activity on the Deosai Plains due to fewer cars. The pandemic has shown the world how nature can develop if humans have more respect.”

Regarding ecotourism, PTDC Javaid said Prime Minister Imran Khan would launch a plan this year to tackle the problem of negative side effects from increased tourism.

Residents are harmed by tourism

Shamim Bano, 45, a mother of four, has worked at Korgah, a small carpet making company run by women since 1998.

She said she used to earn around € 200 ($ 242) a month, money mostly going towards the education of her children.

But the pandemic has temporarily halted the entry of foreign tourists, stopping Korgah’s business by robbing most of its customers.

“Now slowly, the travelers are coming back and things are improving. But we don’t know when this health crisis will end, so the future still seems uncertain,” Bano told DW.

“For poor people like us, we have come to rely on tourism, so we don’t want to lockdown anymore but we need help,” said Bano.

Mehnaz Parveen, CEO of the Karakoram Area Development Organization, told DW that about 70% of the population in the Hunza valley area of ​​Gilgit-Baltistan directly or indirectly depends on tourism for their livelihoods.

“That’s why we started an online platform to promote e-commerce and the sale of handicrafts online,” said Parveen, adding: “We have to invest in our beautiful places if we want to stay in them.”


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In Brazil For 30 Years, This Indian Lawyer Has Dedicated His Life To Save The Amazon Forest | Instant News

Shaji Thomas, a Keralite who landed in Brazil in 1989 on a scholarship, is now a football-mad citizen. In Brazil, he took a doctorate and completed three postdoctoral studies. He also has a law degree and is the only practicing lawyer from India in the South American country. He has become a major environmental activist and even lives in a houseboat on the Amazon river.

Here are some excerpts from an exclusive interview with IANS:

You have been a citizen of Brazil for 30 years now. What do you think about this country?

I came to Sao Paulo at the end of 1989 under an overseas training program. When I came here, the country was shaken by high inflation (more than 5,000 percent per year). Although the country is extraordinarily rich, the level of corruption is also high. The right-wing government, which has ruled for years, favors the rich class. Brazil is three times the size of India and contains nearly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest. The gap between the rich and the poor is very clear in Brazil.

The political situation here changed in 2004, when the Left government under Luiz Inacio Lula was elected president of the country. In fact, under his rule, the country witnessed many changes and millions of people emerged from poverty. Social movements also strengthened under his rule. But at the same time, political alliances with the right pushed the country back into poverty and then the government changed. After Lula, the Left government was weak and the right-wing movement gained momentum. This led to the impeachment of Left President Dilma Roussef and criminal conviction of former President Lula.

In 2018, a far-right government was elected under the leadership of Bolsanaro, a former soldier. Poverty increased under his rule.

The Amazon forest is the main reason for the global environmental balance. You have been active in protecting the Amazon and its forests. Tell us about this movement.

As soon as I came to Brazil, I had a wonderful social experience with landless / homeless people living here and seeing other social movements here. I also visited the Amazon in 1990 for the first time and had the opportunity to live with the traditional tribal people there. Amazon’s vast forests and natural resources have attracted large numbers of people from all over the world. Apart from squatters and logging companies, there are large mining companies and drug dealers on the Amazon.

The pressure of Amazon economic exploration and forest protection always creates conflict and a number of social and environmental activists have lost their lives in the conflict. There are more than 3,000 tribal communities (red Indians) and communities of African origin in the forest and these people are very dependent on forest resources. Also, there are hundreds of towns and cities on the banks of the Amazon River and its tributaries. Since 1950, there has been a massive shift to the Amazon organized by the military government that has opened up forest roads.

After the 1988 military rule, there was a change in the conception of the Amazon forest, but conflicts still occur between many groups. When the Left government came to power, the Amazon was under strong protection but in the new regime, illegal occupation increased.

After reaching Brazil, you have struggled because of the language barrier. How do you handle it?

I didn’t know about Brazilian Portuguese when I arrived in Brazil. The Brazilian greeted me with “Bom dia” (good morning) after I reached Sao Paulo. I don’t know about the language and culture.

A Japanese teacher gave me initial Portuguese classes but most of the language I learned was through my daily interactions with local people here. After two years of my local experience, I have now succeeded in understanding and writing Portuguese and I am starting my graduation in theology at a university in Sao Paulo.

The current president of Brazil is not taking Covid seriously, he has also permitted the cutting of trees in the Amazon. Has this country turned itself into a banana republic?

President Bolsonaro is deeply influenced by the ideology of former American president Trump. With extreme right ideology and support of fascist ideas, he became a negationist in science. He is promoting Cloroquine treatment for Covid-19 and he has been very inactive in supporting the Brazilian vaccine for Covid.

With his administration, most environmental laws were changed, and Amazon monitoring was at its lowest level. The burning of the Amazon forest has increased and in the last year we lost about 15,000 square km of the Amazon forest due to mining, timber traffic, agro-industrial use. Less than 5 percent of environmental fines are paid in his government. The real Minister of the Environment is supported exclusively by landlords and big companies who are very interested in exploring the Amazon. During lockdown and pandemic situations, Amazon’s damage increases. The government is also trying to weaken social and environmental movements in the Amazon region by cutting economic and political support. Most of the funding for research work on the Amazon has also been withdrawn by the government.

You have been involved in environmental conservation since childhood, then who is your inspiration?

I was born to a farming family who owns a lot of land and lives in the middle of a village in Ramapuram, Palai in the Kottayam district. My uncle lived a high distance and I used to go to that area during my childhood. My father is a local politician and social worker with a passion for environmental protection. He is a great inspiration to me. But when I graduated at Mysore university, I developed a great interest in the Amazon jungle and always dreamed of visiting there. As soon as I reached Brazil, I visited Amazon. My first visit to the Amazon was very inspiring because I was able to live with the tribal and river communities in the Amazon. So, as soon as I finished my studies in Sao Paulo, I chose to work for Amazon.

What are the chances of the current Brazilian government retaining power?

The government is losing support due to its inaction over the Covid-19 pandemic, despite enjoying 35 percent support. The death toll has reached more than two lakhs and is one of the few countries that started vaccinations recently. The economic situation is also not in favor of the government with a high inflation rate. The lack of public policies for environmental and health issues has drained public support for the government. Many ministers are associated with military personnel. In addition, changes in government in the US have a clear effect on the country’s upcoming elections. People are disillusioned by the current government and its disastrous social, environmental and economic policies.

What is your main activity in Brazil?

Until 2008, I frequently visited tribal and local communities in Para state, in the Amazon, while working with social justice. During these years, I traveled hundreds of kilometers in the Amazon by road and river and even lived in houseboats on the Amazon river for many years.

Since 2008, I started studying law and in 2013 passed the bar exam in Brazil. I am the only person from India who is a lawyer in Brazil. At the same time, while studying law, I earned a Masters in the Environment and a PhD in sustainable development. I also started research on natural resource governance and local community participation.

In the last six years, I conducted three post-doctoral studies on the effects of climate change and its impact on natural resource governance in the Amazon. My five books on climate change, natural resource governance, environmental law, etc. Also published. Apart from my research, I also provide judicial assistance to local communities on land and environmental issues. I also participate in the biodiversity community in Guiana Shield which includes eight countries that share the Amazon.

I have been part of seminars on social and environmental issues at universities in South America and other countries. This month, I moved to a city in the heart of the Amazon jungle and the banks of the Amazon River. I chose this to be close to the local people and support their fight for their rights. There are many land and environmental conflicts in the Amazon and local and indigenous communities are suffering from this. On the one hand, we have accelerated the destruction of the Amazon forest due to mining, land grabbing, timber exports, soybean plantations, livestock grazing, etc. And on the other hand, we experience the social destruction of the tribal people whose land and resources are used. by the invaders.

As an activist, academic, and lawyer, what do you think about the unpleasant problems that arise with environmental protection?

As an environmental activist and scientist, I believe that humanity can only be saved by saving our nature. I did extensive climate research and I can affirm that the adverse effects of climate change and the destruction of our planet are man-made and if we don’t change our attitudes and actions we are digging our own graves. We cannot save our nature without the effective participation of local communities and we need more pro-environment public policies. Fascist governments only side with capitalists and we don’t have a balance between destruction and resilience. The Amazon forest’s auto resilience capacity is at the edge and we need urgent intervention to protect the forest and its inhabitants.

Will the new democratic government in the US help the global environment?

We need a new democratic government where people can have effective participation in decision making. We need investment in innovation and technology with the participation of local wisdom of traditional communities. Despite efforts to address environmental concerns globally, a lack of initiative in countries such as Brazil and the US has undermined these efforts.

As an environmental and social activist, I’ve decided to dedicate my life to the Amazon and its local people, generating knowledge and sharing it. I know I had to face a lot of challenges while doing it, but my belief that we need Amazon is much stronger than any challenge.


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Micronesia Climate Change Alliance seeking 9 weavers for fellowship for a year | Guam News | Instant News

The Micronesia Climate Change Alliance is seeking nine weavers from the US-affiliated Pacific islands to help find ways to reduce costs and pollution.

Members will come from Palau, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Yap, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, Hawaii, American Samoa, and the Marshall Islands. The group will receive a monthly salary for their involvement in online meetings and training throughout the year, according to a press release.

“This is a unique one-year opportunity for the 9 US-affiliated communities of weavers from across the Pacific islands to learn more about the Just Transition, build networks, develop skills and link climate justice efforts across our waters,” said the release.

MCCA is a member of the Climate Justice Alliance national network, which aims to enhance the efforts of front-line grassroots organizations by creating a regional community, Our Power Communities.

The goal of the OPC is to create real-world examples of how communities can put people to work changing their locality, while reducing costs and pollution burdens for present and future generations, said the release. It brings people together within the framework of a “Just Transition” which gives life to strategies for building a more regenerative way of life.

Among his duties and responsibilities are attending monthly meetings; help develop a narrative strategy process and build consensus on an environmental justice story for Pacific islands; organizing projects focused on capacity building; and creating educational resources for Pacific islands.

Applications are due on 21 December. Selected applicants will be interviewed in mid-January and short-listed applicants will start their positions on February 4, 2021, for a one-year scholarship.

Who should apply: People who have been employed by or are active members of organizations working for cultural preservation, climate justice, equality, indigenous sovereignty, food sovereignty, energy democracy, native media creation, environmental conservation, and youth work. Preference will be given to applicants with existing campaigns or projects.

Qualifications required:

• Current residents of one of the islands listed

• Reliable access to technology at least twice a month

• High school graduate

• Strong English skills

• PayPal or Bank of Guam account

• Must be employed by or an active member of an established grassroots organization.

Preferred but not required qualifications:

• Experience in community organizing

• Bilingual or multilingual

• Strong interest in climate change or equity issues

• Storytelling skills

• Cultural and environmental knowledge of their island home


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From disease to wildfires, Australia’s iconic koala faces a bleak future | Wider Image | Instant News

At work, Morgan Philpott (pictured below) looks after sick children. During her recess hours, the Australian pediatrician turns her attention to an equally defenseless group: the unhealthy koalas.

. Kurrajong, Australia. Reuters / Loren Elliott

Philpott collects leaves to give to koalas in rehabilitation.

“They are really at risk of extinction in our lifetime,” Philpott said of the New South Wales koala population at a veterinary hospital on the outskirts of Sydney while helping vets treat rescued koalas infected with the bacterial chlamydia disease.

. Sydney, Australia. Reuters / Loren Elliott

A sick koala named Wally, rescued by WIRES, is being treated at the University of Sydney Animal Education Hospital.

Widespread infection among koalas, raging forest fires, drought, deforestation and encroachment of urban habitats are some of the many destructive forces that continue to threaten their survival. This power, a government report warned in June, could make Australia’s symbolic animal extinct in New South Wales – the country’s most populous state – by 2050.

“If the areas that did not burn last year burnt this year, it will be catastrophic,” said Philpott, who joins the country’s largest animal rescue agency, Information Services, Rescue and Wildlife Education, or WIRES, at his urging. her daughter.

“Future fires could mean the end of them.”

. Jenolan, AUSTRALIA. Reuters / Loren Elliott

Burnt tree bark is seen in forested areas, in habitat for koalas damaged in forest fires, in Kanangra-Boyd National Park, in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

The country’s worst summer wildfires in a generation scorched more than 11.2 million hectares (27.7 million acres), nearly half the size of Great Britain, pushing a tree-hugging gray marsupial into the center of national conversation and political issues. a warm one.

In New South Wales, at least 5,000 koalas died in fires that burned 80% of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and 24% of koala habitat on public land, said a June government report.

As the summer comes, koalas face the threat of more wildfires, although forecasters expect months to be wetter and cooler than the previous year.

. Jenolan, Australia. Reuters / Loren Elliott

Research scientist Dr. Victoria Inman and Dr. Kellie Leigh, releasing the koalas named Pele and Joey back into their natural habitat, after a team from Science for Wildlife, caught them briefly to do Pele’s radio collar maintenance and assess him and Joey’s health.

A new state law seeks to limit farmers’ ability to clear land deemed important for koala habitat, sparking political clashes between urban conservationists and forest people who want to manage their own property.

“The rate of tree cutting and habitat loss is behind all the other factors threatening them in developing areas which includes domestic dog attacks and vehicle attacks,” said Kellie Leigh, head of Science for Wildlife, a non-profit conservation organization, before releasing mother koalas and joey. to a charred tree growing in a green ditch in Kanangra-Boyd National Park, about 200 km (124 miles) west of Sydney.

The release is part of his research, the Blue Mountains Koala Project, on koala recovery in areas ravaged by forest fires.

. Kurrajong Heights, Australia. Reuters / Loren Elliott

The houses stand near the foothills of the Blue Mountains on the outskirts of Sydney, an area where koalas are threatened by land clearing and urban expansion, visible from Kurrajong Heights.

Koala conservationists, who blame climate change for the majority of wildfires, are also focusing on cities as population growth in a metropolitan city like Sydney drives demand to clear forests and make way for homes. Traffic safety signs have appeared now on the outskirts of the developed city warning of the risk of koalas crossing the road.

. Wedderburn, Australia. Reuters / Loren Elliott

Tracey cares for koala twins Joey, who have been diagnosed with underweight, and their mother, Gladys, who was rescued from an area where urban development is disturbing koala habitat, in a rehabilitation pen next to her home.

“There needs to be a balance to ensure that these species survive,” said Tracey, a WIRES volunteer, who asked not to give her last name, as she fed mother and twins joeys eucalyptus leaves in a rehabilitation pen next to her home.



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