Good news: Some toxic insecticides are vanishing from the atmosphere

Read the full story at Environmental Health News.

Some once-common insecticides linked to harmful human health impacts are disappearing from the air in the Great Lakes region, though others still persist, according to new research.

Some widely used insecticides are persistent in the environment, meaning they don’t break down quickly and can build up, causing problems for human and environmental health. Many insecticides used in agriculture or pest control in buildings are considered persistent and remain in the atmosphere, water and soil for years or even decades. But new research shows that in the Great Lakes region, at least three persistent insecticides are nearly eliminated, mostly as a result of regulatory action taken decades ago. Scientists say the results show the importance of swift action to ban the use of new persistent chemicals.

The myth of ‘LEED equivalent’

Read the full story at Food Engineering.

It goes my many names:

…Built to LEED standards.
…LEED equivalent.

I will offer one more: a ruse.

Full disclosure, I am writing to you as a LEED Fellow. I have helped lead projects teams that have accounted for millions of LEED certified square footage. Like many of us, the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGC) LEED rating system has benefitted me and my business. However, it has also transformed the building sector toward greater sustainability. 

As imperfect of a system as LEED may be, it continues to improve, and the building design and construction industry has never before seen a tool that has been more effective in shifting the building sector toward better, healthier, more responsible outcomes. LEED buildings and communities exist in more than 180 countries and equate to around 2.2 million square feet being certified daily. Clearly, the international market knows how to deliver high-performance, low-carbon, environmentally responsible buildings. Perhaps we don’t need LEED to guide us how to create and manage green buildings and communities. 

But the caution I raise against so-called “LEED Equivalent” buildings has nothing to do with the LEED rating system or the LEED brand itself. Rather, it has everything to do with ensuring accountability mechanisms on building projects in the face of the limited resource capitals of time and money. 

EPA unveils cybersecurity oversight for public drinking water systems

Read the full story at Smart Cities Dive.

The Environmental Protection Agency will require states to assess the cybersecurity practices of public water systems, marking the first new critical infrastructure initiative since the White House unveiled the Biden administration’s national cyber strategy Thursday.

As part of the EPA memorandum, states are to include cybersecurity as part of sanitary surveys, the periodic audits of water systems. 

Invasive rusty crayfish appear to be dying off and it’s not clear why

Read the full story in Newsweek.

Populations of rusty crayfish, an invasive species in the lakes of Minnesota and Wisconsin, have seen a steady decline in some regions—and, for once, humans aren’t responsible.

A study published in the journal Ecological Applications on February 11 found that over a 33-year period, the rusty crayfish population in several northern Wisconsin lakes had decreased naturally without human input, dropping to nearly zero in four of the lakes.

The climate-conscious college

Read the full story in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Faculty members across disciplines are updating curricular in ways that inspire action, not just fear.

ESG in the wine industry: Navigating challenges for sustainable growth

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

In the wine industry, the integration of sustainability into business goals and achieving sustainable growth is now being driven by the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy. Sustainable vineyards are gaining popularity due to the rise of environmentally friendly wine-growing practices. In order to ensure the well-being of the soil, communities, and industry, wineries and vineyards are adopting socially and environmentally responsible practices. Sustainable viticulture is being fostered by an emphasis on water efficiency, pest management, energy efficiency, waste management, and supply chain.

Caltech tests space-based solar power

Read the full story at IEEE Spectrum.

For about as long as engineers have talked about beaming solar power to Earth from space, they’ve had to caution that it was an idea unlikely to become real anytime soon. Elaborate designs for orbiting solar farms have circulated for decades—but since photovoltaic cells were inefficient, any arrays would need to be the size of cities. The plans got no closer to space than the upper shelves of libraries.

That’s beginning to change. Right now, in a sun-synchronous orbit about 525 kilometers overhead, there is a small experimental satellite called the Space Solar Power Demonstrator One (SSPD-1 for short). It was designed and built by a team at the California Institute of Technology, funded by donations from the California real estate developer Donald Bren, and launched on 3 January—among 113 other small payloads—on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Upcycled food helps brands, consumers combat waste

Read the full story at Smart Brief.

When examining how to improve the food industry’s sustainability, many companies are focused on cutting down on single-use plastic and other packaging-related efforts. However, more and more brands are concentrating their attention on curbing food waste across the supply chain. As consumers have become more aware of these issues, they are increasingly looking for ways to support solutions, such as upcycled food products.

Microplastics Occurrence, Health Effects, and Mitigation Policies: An Evidence Review for the California State Legislature

Download the report.

This report responds to a joint request from the California Senate Committee on Environmental Quality and the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources for evidence concerning human health effects of microplastics and public policies related to microplastics prevention and mitigation. Research was conducted by the California State Policy Evidence Consortium (CalSPEC), an independent program administered through the University of California Center Sacramento (UCCS) and composed of faculty, staff, and graduate student researchers across UC campuses who evaluate evidence to inform public policy deliberations. This report addresses three overarching questions:

  1. What are microplastics and how abundant are they in the environment?
  2. What are the human health effects from microplastics exposure?
  3. What government actions have addressed microplastics, and to what extent have the policies succeeded in reducing microplastics in the environment?

More than 190 countries agree on treaty to protect marine life

Read the full story at The Hill.

More than 190 countries over the weekend agreed to a United Nations treaty to protect marine biodiversity after two weeks of work on a draft and nearly two decades of talks.

The countries on Saturday night approved the “High Seas Treaty,” which will, among other measures, establish marine protected areas in international waters, the U.N. announced.