Environment, Pollution & Health: You’re Probably Breathing Polluted Air, Study Finds #sdgs #globalgoals #pollution

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A new study found that more than 95% of the world’s population breathes dangerous air.

Dirty air is one of the world’s leading risk factors for death, and threatens the immediate health of billions globally.

In fact, a new interactive report by the Health Effects Institute found that 95% of the world’s population is breathing dangerously polluted air, with low and middle-income countries suffering the most.

Air pollution, which can negatively impact everything from the heart and lungs to the immune system, isn’t just caused by smog from factories. It is also created by cars, stoves, and other smaller-scale sources. And contaminants resulting from both large-scale industry and individual activities in the home can linger in the air both outdoors and indoors.
The report broke air pollution into three main categories: fine particulate matter, ozone, and household air pollution.
Fine particulate matter is what most people think of when they think of air pollution — the tiny particles in smoke, smog, and other by-products of large-scale fossil fuel-burning that can be inhaled into one’s lungs and cause health problems. The report estimates that 95% of people around the world live in areas where concentrations of fine particle matter exceed World Health Organization guidelines, and 60% live in areas where concentrations exceed the WHO’s “least stringent” targets.

Ozone is a greenhouse gas formed by pollutants in the atmosphere reacting with each other. It can irritate sensitive tissue in the airways and lungs, causing health issues. According to the report, ozone contributed to an estimated 234,000 deaths from chronic lung disease around the world in 2016.

Household air pollution arises from the burning of wood, dung, and other “biomass” in order to cook or heat homes without proper ventilation, a practice most common in sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 2.6 million deaths worldwide in 2016 can be attributed to household air pollution, the report found.

The health risks of air pollution are not equally felt around the world.

Many developed countries are able to channel resources into limiting air pollution while developing countries often skip those efforts in favor of economic growth, according to Bob O’Keefe, vice president of the Health Effects Institute. O’Keefe told The Guardian that there is now an 11-fold gap between the most polluted and least polluted areas of the world. In 1990, the gap was just over half as wide.

According to the report’s interactive data, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, and the Central African Republic had the highest rates of death attributable to air pollution in 2016. Meanwhile, 1.61 million deaths in India and 1.58 million deaths in China were attributable to air pollution.

Despite massive global exposure to dirty air, there are reasons for optimism, O’Keefe told The Guardian, especially since governments in countries with the largest amounts of air pollution are taking big steps to mitigate it.

“China seems to be now moving pretty aggressively, for instance in cutting coal and on stronger controls. India has really begun to step up on indoor air pollution,” O’Keefe said.

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Responsible Production & Consumption: These Three Massive Companies Just Committed to Reduce Plastic Waste #reduce #reuse #recycle #sdgs #globalgoals #2030now #plastic #pollution

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Nestle, Waitrose, and KPMG have all pledged to reduce their plastic use to help save the planet.

LONDON, April 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – British supermarket Waitrose, food giant Nestle and accounting firm KPMG on Tuesday became the latest brands to announce plans to cut down on plastics wreaking havoc on the environment.

Waitrose, an upmarket grocer that treats loyal shoppers with free tea or coffee at its stores, said it will stop using disposable cups – which are very hard to recycle – this year.

Customers will continue to get their free coffee fix if they bring their own reusable cup, the company said in a statement.

“We believe removing all takeaway disposable cups is the right thing to do for our business and are confident the majority of customers will support the environmental benefits,” Tor Harris, the supermarket’s head of sustainability, said.

The shift by some of the biggest high-street names answers widespread consumer disquiet over pollution, accelerated after popular British naturalist David Attenborough urged consumers to stop using plastic bottles in his “Blue Planet II” TV series.

In January, privately-owned Iceland pledged to eliminate plastic packaging from its own-brand products by the end of 2023 – a first by a major British grocer.

KPMG said it would phase out the use of plastic water cups and cutlery at its 22 offices around Britain by the end of the year, after a successful trial in Manchester where employees were given metal water bottles to use instead.

The global accounting firm said it uses about 3 million plastic cups every year, costing 60,000 pounds ($85,000).

“Even with supplying each of our 15,000 employees with a free metal water bottle, the scheme is projected to pay for itself within 18 months,” KPMG’s environment manager Sarah Lindsay said in a statement.

Separately, Nestle, which owns more than 2,000 brands worldwide from chocolate snacks like KitKat and Smarties to Perrier bottled water, announced it aims to make all of its packaging recyclable or re-usable by 2025.

“Plastic waste is one of the biggest sustainability issues the world is facing today,” Nestle chief executive Mark Schneider, said in a statement.

United Nations figures show 8 million tonnes of plastic – bottles, packaging and other waste – enter the ocean each year, degrading precious habitats, killing marine life and entering the human food chain.

Scientists have urged tougher restrictions on plastic waste. In December, almost 200 nations agreed to limit plastic pollution of the oceans, warning it could outweigh fish by 2030.

($1 = 0.7064 pounds)

Life Below Water: Ocean Heat Waves Are Devastating Marine Life — And It’s Only Going To Get Worse #sdgs #2030now #globalgoals #heatwave

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Marine heat waves are happening more often and lasting longer.

In the middle of a heat wave, nothing feels better than jumping into cool water. But it turns out heat waves don’t just happen on land, they’re also happening under the sea.

A recent study found that the number of marine heat wave days that occur each year has increased by more than 50% over the past nine decades. But it’s not just the number of marine heat wave days that scientists are concerned about.

Marine heat waves are also happening more frequently and lasting longer, according to the study. Researchers responsible for the report predict that things will only get worse, unless climate change is stopped.

“We can expect further increases in marine heat wave days under continued global warming,” the study says.

Though the effects of land heat waves can be devastating, marine heat waves can have a much longer lasting impact.

According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency, sea temperatures around the world have risen substantially over the last 100 years. Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told the Washington Post that ocean temperatures hit a record high in 2017.

Many scientists have attributed the rise in temperature to the effects of man-made climate change and global warming. With sea temperatures already higher than usual, marine heat waves can further exacerbate the situation, harming underwater creatures and eco-systems.

Marine life that can’t stand the heat can’t simply “get out of the kitchen” — they’re stuck and they’re suffering.

The heating up of the Pacific Ocean has caused the mortality rate of whales, sea lions, and marine birds to rise, experts have said. Warming seas are also destroying coral reefs, which take years of dedicated resources and meticulous care to restore.

Without a concerted effort to combat climate change and reverse global warming, the researchers predict that sea temperatures will keep rising and oceans will continue to be hit by marine heat waves with increasing frequency.

Partnerships For the Goals: Gates, Jolie, the Obamas: These Are the Most Admired People of 2018 #sdgs #2030now #globalgoals

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Gates and Jolie beat out former presidents, royals and Oprah to claim the top spots.

YouGov recently released their annual study highlighting public figures people look up to the most. The list includes celebrities, activists as well as former and current world leaders.

The survey queried 37,000 people from more than 35 countries to determine who are the women and men our world hails as most admirable.

Entertainers rounded out most of the top 20 for women, while businessmen, politicians and athletes dominated the top 20 for men. Many of these men and women work to tackle global issues and have left a lasting impact on the world.

The World’s Most Admired Women

Angelina Jolie

Angelina-Jolie.jpgAngelina Jolie poses for photographers upon arrival at the BAFTA Film Awards, in London, Feb. 18, 2018.
Image: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

While famous for her work as an actress, Jolie has also committed her life to humanitarian efforts. As a Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, she focuses on preventing and punishing sexual violence.

Michelle Obama

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The former first lady’s transformative work includes the launch of Let Girls Learn , an initiative that helps educate girls around the world.

Oprah Winfrey

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Aside from being a general beacon for empowerment of everyone, everywhere, Oprah stole the show at the Golden Globes with her powerful speech on the #MeToo movement.

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen-Elizabeth-Social-Share.jpgBritain’s Queen Elizabeth II waves to the crowd in Ascot, England, June 22, 2017.
Image: Alastair Grant/AP

The Queen recently waged a war on plastic in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of royal households.

Hillary Clinton

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As a former secretary of state and presidential candidate, Clinton has spent her life breaking glass ceilings and advocating for the rights of women both domestically and abroad.

Emma Watson

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Watson is a dedicated advocate for the UN’s HeforShe campaign working to promote gender equality.

Malala Yousafazi

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As the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala is staunch advocate of education as a basic human right and uses her own organization and voice to empower girls around the world.

Read More: 15 Times That Malala Nailed It

Priyanka Chopra

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Chopra advocates for girls’ causes and education as an ambassador for both Girls Up and Girls Rising and through her own foundation.

Madonna

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When not pushing musical boundaries, pop icon Madonna works to end extreme poverty among orphans in Malawi.

Gal Gadot

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Gal Gadot is a Wonder Woman both on and off screen: She uses her platform to raise funds to build schools and take a stance on the importance of education.

Angela Merkel

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Merkel made headlines with her open door refugee policy that took in millions fleeing conflict in the Middle East.

The World’s Most Admired Men

Bill Gates

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As the founder of both Microsoft and the world’s largest private charity, Gates promotes global development and tackles issues in health and education.

Barack Obama

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Having ranked first in 19 of the countries surveyed, the former president continues his legacy as a leader of global change

Jackie Chan

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Considered one of Asia’s premier philanthropists, Chan has founded multiple charities focused on expanding educational opportunities for children.

Dalai Lama

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The spiritual leader and activist is renowned for his peaceful approaches to global relations and attempts to end human rights violations.

Warren Buffet

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While he donates billions to charity, philanthropist Warren Buffet also uses his status to advocate for ending global poverty.

David Beckham

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Michael Jordan

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Jordan actively contributes to charities that target and help at-risk youth.

Pope Francis

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Image: Rodrigo Abd/AP

Pope Francis has brought ending poverty and eradicating injustices to the forefront of his mission as head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City.

Lionel Messi

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Messi’s charitable work includes building classrooms in Syria so more than 1,600 displaced children can return to school.

Imran Khan

The Pakistani politician’s foundation works to engage and mobilize local communities through better access to basic services.

Narendra Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at ratification of Paris Agreement on Climate Change with the UNImage: AP Photo/Manish Swarup

Modi has made humanitarian efforts central to his role as Prime Minister of India by making improvements to health and education a priority.

Environment & Climate Change: This Florida Teen Just Planted 400 Trees to Save Florida’s Coastline #sdgs #globalgoals #treeplanting

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And he did it by reusing yogurt containers.

When Hurricane Irma struck South Florida last fall, it uprooted countless native mangrove trees that help prevent coastline erosion.

But thanks to one local teen, a few yogurt containers, and a makeshift rooftop garden, more than 400 trees have now been saved and replanted.

Theo Quenee, an 18-year-old Miami native, first spotted the uprooted mangrove seedlings scattered throughout his neighborhood after the storm.

“The debris was going to be picked up by the city and immediately it just struck me, all of these mangroves are going to die [during the cleanup process],” Queenee told Weather.com.

So the Florida International University freshman gathered as many seedlings as he could in his backpack and, after multiple trips, brought more than 500 plantings to his mother’s home.

“Florida’s estimated 469,000 acres of mangrove forests contribute to the overall health of the state’s southern coastal zone,” according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, providing “protected nursery areas for fishes, crustaceans and shellfish. They also provide food for a multitude of marine species such as snook, snapper, tarpon, jack, sheepshead, red drum, oyster and shrimp.”

Read More: Hurricane Irma Left 2 Manatees Stranded. Then 5 Floridians Came to the Rescue

Using skills he had learned in marine science classes in high school, Quenee created a makeshift greenhouse out of recycled yogurt containers he tended on the roof of his mother’s home.

“I live in an area with a lot of trees,” Quenee explained to MNN.com, “so the roof of my house was the only place that got the sunlight… I knew that they grew best with humidity, so I designed a simple greenhouse with a big platter and a five-gallon bucket.”

Fast forward seven months of constant watering and care, 400 mangroves remained and were at last strong enough to be planted.

Following the advice of NOAA scientists he had contacted for help, Quenee chose a new location for the trees to continue growing that is rich in soil nutrients, according to Weather.com. Along with a group of friends, he constructed a PVC pipe grid and replanted the trees in a handful of days.

Time will tell how many are able to survive on their own in their new home.

“The area I planted them in is pretty rich in nutrients,” Quenee told weather.com. “It has good muddy soil and a good amount of water so I think they’ll be doing well where they’re at.”

Life On Land: Colombia Just Protected More Than 30,000 Square Miles of the Amazon Rainforest #sdgs #2030Now #globalgoals

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“It is unprecedented — it has not happened anywhere else, any other place at least that I know.”

BOGOTA, April 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Indigenous communities that depend on Colombia’s Amazon rainforest for their survival will have more say over their ancestral lands, as Colombia adds 8 million hectares to its protected areas in an effort to stem forest loss.

The new measures announced by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday aim to create a buffer zone for the country’s southern Amazon region.

Farmers are pushing deeper into forests, cutting down more trees to clear land for cattle-grazing and agriculture.

Santos said the protected areas will be marked off in the next two weeks, meaning that “once and for all, we (will) know where we can farm, produce – and from what boundary we will protect all the forests and the entire Amazon”.

This brings the total area of protected forests in Colombia to nearly 40 million hectares, Santos said in a speech in the Amazon town of Leticia, flanked by indigenous tribes and Norway’s prime minister and environment minister.

Norway, a key financial backer of Colombia’s forest conservation efforts, said the new buffer zone was important to meet Colombia’s goals of zero net deforestation by 2020, and halting the loss of all natural forest by 2030.

“It is unprecedented – it has not happened anywhere else, any other place at least that I know,” Ola Elvestuen, Norway’s new minister of climate and environment, said on this week’s visit.

Reducing deforestation is crucial in the fight against climate change, Elvestuen added.

When forests are degraded or destroyed, the carbon stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere, with deforestation accounting for 10 to 15 percent of carbon emissions worldwide.

Under a decree signed by President Santos, Colombia’s Amazon tribes will be able to decide through their own community councils how to spend government development funds in three provinces.

“Indigenous people have traditionally shown themselves to be the best keepers of rainforests,” Elvestuen told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.

Norway said it would extend an agreement with Colombia by five years to 2025 under which Colombia gets payouts for meeting verified targets to reduce emissions by slowing deforestation.

Colombia will receive up to $50 million a year through 2025 under the deal, which could run until 2030, the minister said.

The payments are usually distributed to farmers, as well as community and indigenous groups and local environment authorities working on forest protection.

Colombia is home to rainforest roughly the size of Germany and England but is struggling to protect it. Deforestation rates in its Amazon region increased by 44 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Elvestuen said they could rise again in 2017 and 2018.

Swathes of forests are being felled in areas vacated by rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), as part of a 2016 peace deal signed with the government.

As the government tries to regain control of former FARC strongholds, farmers, illegal loggers and organised crime groups involved in drug trafficking and illegal mining are tapping into new places, including in the Amazon, Elvestuen said.

Colombia’s top court earlier this month told the government to come up with plans within four months to combat rising deforestation in the Amazon.

Women & Girls: This Woman’s Crafty Invention Is Keeping Menstruating Girls in School #sdgs #globalgoals #menstruation #2030now #education

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Periods will always be a drag. But they should never impact a young woman’s ability to succeed in school.

Unfortunately, due to inadequate hygiene education and limited access to personal products, girls in rural areas around the world often rely on found items ranging from scraps of clothing to mud, leaves or animal skins to manage their menstrual flow — often forcing them to stay home from school due to social stigma and embarrassment.

Having experienced this issue first-hand growing up, Nigerian philanthropist and entrepreneur Folasade Bamisaye recently launched a start-up to help prevent young women in her country from missing classes due to lack of proper hygiene products: MYperiodKIT.

“I missed a lot of classes, a lot of lectures, and it interfered with my academic performance,” Bamisaye told Mashable. “Visiting schools as part of my job brought me back into the community and … I met people going through the same situation as me over 20 years ago. I thought: ‘I need to do something.'”

MYperiodKIT provides girls with menstrual hygiene kits, including sanitary pads, tissue wipes, pantyliners, and disposable bags — all at an affordable cost — with the goal of keeping young girls in school. For those living in regions with limited access to running water, MYperiodKIT has even developed a sustainable, disposable sanitary pad made from banana and plantain stem fibre called “GreenPads.”

Profits from sales of the MYperiodKITs and GreenPads are reinvested in the program so that disadvantaged females who cannot afford the materials may also receive them “no matter your economic situation,” Bamisaye explained to Mashable.

“The justification for having MYperiodKIT is that girls and women residing in under-served areas around Nigeria are faced with huge challenge of coping with their menstrual period hygienically,” Bamisaye told She Leads Africa.

“Women and girls’ capacity to manage their periods is affected by factors including limited access to affordable hygienic sanitary materials and disposal options. This has led many girls and women to manage their periods ineffectively, uncomfortably and unhygienically.”

But by arming young women with these essential tools, she believes all of that can soon change.

Empowering youth is a recurring theme throughout Bamisaye’s career: In addition to launching MYperiodKIT, she is the the founder of Young Women Arise, an organization that educates young girls about Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and she is the curator of Ablaze Ladies Camp, which provides participants with the needed skills for them to make informed decision about their SRHR, according to She Leads Africa.

Her latest work creating MYperiodKIT is already receiving praise, and Bamisaye was recently selected as a finalist to represent Nigeria in the $1 million global startup competition Chivas Venture.

But such recognition would only serve her greater goal, she said, telling Mashable, “The startup means to me that we will have girls who will no longer have to drop out of school just because they cannot afford a necessity as basic as menstrual hygiene.”

Responsible Production/Consumption: The British Government Just Pledged £61 Million to Fight Plastic in Our Oceans #sdgs #globalgoals #2030Now

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Prime Minister Theresa May is asking leaders from around the world to join her initiative.

More than 8 million tons of plastic waste enters the world’s oceans every year and there are nearly 500 times more plastic microparticles in our oceans than there are stars in our galaxy.

Plastic in the oceans is a huge — and growing — problem. Thankfully, some governments are stepping up to do something about it.

Yesterday, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the British government is earmarking £61.4 million (nearly $88 million) for a program dedicated to tackling the ever-increasing amount of plastic in the earth’s oceans. She also called on other leaders within the British Commonwealth to join her in taking on this pressing environmental issue.

The fund will be split into three categories, according to The Independent.

About £25 million will help fund research into the causes and effects of marine plastic, while another £20 million will be designated to preventing pollution from manufacturing in developing countries from entering oceans. “Two billion people around the world lack access to effective waste collection, so much of the plastic they use ends up in our oceans,” Tanya Steele, chief executive of the World Wildlife Fund, said at the program’s announcement. The remaining £16.4 million will be dedicated to improving waste management in the United Kingdom.

“As one of the most significant environmental challenges facing the world today, it is vital that we tackle this issue, so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it,” May said at the announcement.

“The UK public has shown passion and energy in the fight against plastic waste, and I believe the Commonwealth is uniquely placed to further this transformative action.”

Four Commonwealth countries — New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu, and Ghana — have already signed up for the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance. May’s announcement comes ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London next week, where she is expected to asked all 52 nations to join the pact.

Plastic waste has been a cause of public outcry in the UK, particularly after the airing of the BBC series Blue Planet II highlighted the problem, according to The Guardian and The Independent.

In January, May vowed to eliminate plastic waste in the UK by 2042 — a target environmental groups criticized as not ambitious enough — and British supermarket chain Iceland has led the way on the issue in the private sector by promising to be plastic free by 2023.

Clean Water & Sanitation: 5 Ways You’re Wasting Water Without Even Knowing It #sdgs #globalgoals

These are really common activities.

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Most of us perform several simple water-saving tasks every single day.

We turn off the faucet when we brush our teeth. We take daily showers instead of luxurious bubble baths. We even keep water cool in the refrigerator instead of running the tap until the water gets cold.

Most of us learned about these water conservation techniques way back in elementary school. And while we may consider ourselves responsible water consumers, there are still many hidden ways we waste or misuse water every day. Often without realizing it.

Water waste and misuse contribute to water scarcity and unequal access for millions of people worldwide, particularly those living in regions affected by poverty, conflict, and climate change-related catastrophes. Around the world, roughly 2.1 billion people lack reliable access to clean drinking water, according to the World Health Organization

You can also consider five common ways we indirectly consume water through our purchases, energy use, and complacence.

1// Buying Bottled Water

When it comes to bottled water, the plastic containers’ impact on the environment tends to garner the most attention.

But the origin of the water itself is a massive problem that affects some of the most drought-plagued regions of the US and the world.

At least 45% of bottled water in the US is just filtered tap water — often the very same stuff that comes out of your faucet at home. And while communities throughout Michigan contend with municipal water crises fuelled by government cost-cutting and neglect, bottlers have tried to set up shop in the state in order to sell water back to residents.

As Cape Town careens toward a complete water shutdown, advocacy organizations like the Water Crisis Coalition, have railed against the impact of bottling. Coca Cola and other conglomerates have slurped much-needed water from the city’s reservoir during a devastating drought.

“That amounts to abuse of the crisis rather than positively contributing to measures that will make the water last a little longer,” Shaheed Mohamed, a member of the Water Crisis Coalition told Quartz Africa. “The water they have access to should be made available to the communities where water has been limited unfairly.”

2// Leaving the Lights On

Turning on the lights or raising the thermostat may seem like surprising ways to waste water. But if your heat or electricity come from natural gas then you indirectly contribute to water waste and misuse.

That’s because natural gas fracking uses nearly 10 million gallons of water per well and depletes agriculture and drinking water sources in drought-stricken regions like Texas and other parts of the Southwest, according to research by the US Geological Survey.

Fracking — the common term for the process of hydraulic fracturing — blasts huge amounts of water, sand, and chemicals into the ground to release methane gas, which is then captured and used as a fossil fuel.

Though a fraction of the fracking water does get recycled, the vast majority is removed from the water cycle and often plunged deep underground because it’s so heavily contaminated with the toxic substances used to frack, Scientific American reports.

3// Ignoring Our Faulty Faucets

It may seem like just a teeny puddle pooling in the cabinet under your kitchen sink or on the floor of your shower, but all that water adds up.

In fact, the amount of water drip-drip-dripping from leaky taps and pipes could fill 40 million swimming pools. Or 24 billion bathtubs. Or the entire expanse of Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s largest body of water.

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency released a report as part of Fix A Leak Week that detailed the 1 trillion gallons of household water trickling through faulty faucets, punctured pipes, or perpetually running toilets every year in the US.

The solution? Grab a wrench and tighten the tap. Or call a plumber.

4// Logging In to Facebook

Seriously.

In the process of preserving and powering internet technology, massive data centers generate a tremendous amount of heat. So to keep the facility cool and stop the servers from frying, data centers depend on water — lots of it.

Just one data center operated by the National Security Administration in Utah uses 1.7 million gallons of water a day to stay cool.

In 2016, Facebook consumed about 315 million gallons of water, with about three-quarters of that total diverted to its data centers. Meanwhile, vast cryptocurrency mining operations for Bitcoin and imitators constitute the next frontier for data center cooling and threaten to drain water supplies.

Companies have begun implementing less water-intensive cooling solutions, but they are a long way from becoming the norm.

5// Buying New Clothes

The dye used to color our clothing requires a vast amount of water, which means every new t-shirt we purchase takes a toll on the water supply.

According to The Guardian, dying facilities in India and China burden local water supplies in two ways. First, they suck a large amount of water from rivers, lakes, and streams and then they dump contaminated wastewater back into those water sources.

Just one pair of jeans can take up to 8,000 gallons of water to produce, from the cotton field through the dying process.

Some companies, like Patagonia, have begun switching to non water-based dyes. Patagonia uses half the average water consumption at its dye houses and has even experimented with bug poop as a source of environmentally friendly dye.

“The textile industry is one of the most chemically intensive industries on earth, second only to agriculture, and the world’s largest polluter of increasingly scarce freshwater,” wrote Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard in his book  The Responsible Company. “The World Bank estimates nearly 20 percent of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment.”

Climate Change & Life Below Water: As Oceans Heat Up, Sea Creatures Are Crossing New Boundaries #sdgs #globalgoals

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Climate change and warming waters are causing certain species’ territories to shift.

There isn’t anything obviously different about the waters north or south of 44.61 degrees north latitude off Nova Scotia’s coast. No new land mass emerges as you cross the parallel. No new ocean currents sweep in.

Yet within 100km (62 miles) of this line is the boundary between north and south for at least five very different types of marine animals, marking a dividing line between the genetically distinct populations of the species.

This multispecies boundary, however, is likely to move farther north as waters warm due to climate change, bringing the populations of commercially valuable species with it, according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

The paper reveals this new “biogeographic boundary” separating the northern and southern populations of American lobster, Atlantic cod, European green crab, northern shrimp and sea scallops. Despite their differences, all those species share that breakpoint: Below it are genetically distinct southern populations of the various species; above it, genetically distinct northern populations.

“What’s more remarkable is how tightly aligned this breakpoint is to climate,” said Ryan Stanley, lead author of the study and a researcher based in Nova Scotia at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, a government agency.

Typically, when analyzing responses to climate change, he said, researchers will look at a single species, but the similarities they discovered across such different creatures allowed them to examine them together.

The researchers took the discovery of this new multispecies boundary and tried to see what it could tell them about the future of these species, all hugely commercially important, with the exception of green crab, which is invasive.

They predict that by 2075 the line between northern and southern populations will move north: around 300km for northern shrimp, around 275km for lobster, around 225km for green crab, just under 200km for cod and just under 100km for scallops, by far the least mobile of the five species.

Both the northern and southern populations of all five species would also shift north as ocean temperatures rise. The northern population of lobster would see the biggest shift, with the center of its range moving north by 400km – about the distance by sea from Boston to the Canadian border.

For lobster, that shift would largely be the result of expanded habitat, meaning it wouldn’t be a shift so much as an increase in territory. But other species would move north while losing habitat to the south. Cod, in particular, would see both its northern and southern populations shift north by 150–200km, but it would lose about 10–15 percent of both its northern and southern habitat. Northern shrimp would gain a fraction of habitat for its southern population but lose around 30 percent of its northern habitat. Warmer waters have already contributed to declining catches and fishery closures for some segments of the northern shrimp industry in recent years.

These changes echo shifts already being seen on the other side of the Atlantic. In the North Sea, for example, all but one species of fish had shifted its distribution northward by 2005.

And the predictions lend further support to similar ones about shifts off the U.S. East Coast. A study published last year, for instance, predicted a “northward shift of the thermal habitat for the majority of species” there. In the Gulf of Maine, which it noted is warming faster than 99 percent of the rest of the global ocean, habitat loss could mean, “that species currently inhabiting this region may not remain in these waters under continued warming.”

It’s a phenomenon Tom Nies is already seeing.

“We’re definitely seeing changes in distribution here,” said Nies, executive director of the New England Fishery Management Council in Newburyport, Massachusetts, which manages cod and sea scallop fisheries. He notes, though, that those shifts aren’t all northward.

Nies cites cod in the Gulf of Maine as an example. “At present, we’re seeing cod locating into colder, deeper waters there, not necessarily to the north,” he said.

But while cod see their range shrink, other species, such as fluke, are seeing theirs grow – though that’s only part of the story of how climate change is impacting fisheries, he said, noting it also affects how fast fish grow and how successfully they reproduce. That North Sea study, for example, found that the species that had shifted to the north had shorter lifespans and were smaller in size.

The impacts in the northwestern Atlantic are still a little unclear, Nies said, and are complicated by the fact that there are many other possible factors for struggling stocks, such as northern shrimp. “These stocks have been heavily exploited for years, so sometimes trying to differentiate between the impacts of fishing and climate change is difficult,” he said, “but climate change is definitely having an impact.”

The new study raises another complicated question, but one that might give hope to adapting fisheries. If five very different species share the same boundary, as the study suggests, perhaps other species do as well – maybe they’re similar enough to be able to thrive in new environments as they move northward into the waters vacated by cod or shrimp.

Stanley said it “could stand to reason” that, potentially, the similarities extend beyond these five species. He said he plans to test whether other species also diverge along the biogeographic boundary they found.

Jake Kritzer, director of diagnostics and design at the Environmental Defense Fund’s Fishery Solutions Center in Boston, sees this as a big unanswered question. “Would the same pattern hold for species that are currently not found in large numbers in the New England region but might become more abundant there?” he wondered.

To him, the new study suggests for the first time that populations moving north from the U.S.’s mid-Atlantic region might have similar underlying genetic makeups as those already to the north.

“The fact that things like black sea bass, squid, blue crab are showing up in the Gulf of Maine doesn’t mean that they’re actually going to form economically stable, viable populations there, but it’s giving some hope that as some species move out of the region others might be able to take their place in fishermen’s portfolios,” Kritzer said. “But the jury is still out.”

“We need to know how much fish we are going to be able to catch,” Nies said. “I don’t know that we really have the ability to quantify what these changes mean, to the point where you can say, ‘OK, you’re going to be able to catch X amount of fish long term.’”

The paper suggests the northern lobster population could gain more than 25 percent additional habitat by 2075. But what that will mean for managers is still impossible to say right now. “Will yields go up 25 percent? That’s the type of information that’s hard to develop and hard to come by because there’s so many variables involved,” Nies said. “It’s difficult to take these things that say change is coming and say, ‘This is what it means.’”

The biggest remaining questions for fishery experts are the policy implications.

This article originally appeared on Oceans Deeply. You can find the original here.