Vermont adopts the most comprehensive plastics ban in U.S.

Vermont adopts the most comprehensive plastics ban in U.S.

Single-use plastics—from straws to retail bags—will be illegal in Vermont by summer 2020.

Vermont has joined the growing list of states swearing off single-use plasticsby adopting the nation’s broadest restrictions yet on shopping bags, straws, drink stirrers, and foam food packaging.

The new law, which takes effect in July 2020, prohibits retailers and restaurants from providing customers with single-use carryout bags, plastic stirrers, or cups, takeout, or other food containers made from expanded polystyrene. Straws may be provided to customers on request. People requiring straws for medical conditions are exempted from the law.

The bag ban applies only to bags at point-of-sale and not to bags sold as household trash bags or bags used in grocery stores to contain loose produce.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed the bill into law without comment Monday. Earlier he had expressed doubts about the new ten-cent-per-bag charge retailers and restaurants are required to collect for paper bags. Small paper bags are exempted from the ten-cent charge.

“Throughout the session, he did say that given the overwhelming bipartisan support in the legislature and having not heard opposition from the retailers who will be impacted, he expected to sign it,” says Rebecca Kelley, Scott’s communications director.

Multiple states have banned one or more of these plastics. But Vermont is the first to ban all four products in a single bill.

 

“Vermont has now established a national precedent of tackling three of the worst examples of plastic packaging in one sweeping state law,” says Judith Enck, a former EPA regional administrator who heads a plastics pollution initiative at Bennington College, in a statement.

Not all bags created equal

Hawaii, California, Maine, and New York have banned disposable plastic bags. Supporters of Vermont’s bill say lawmakers took extra steps to promote bag reuse and discourage bag makers from skirting bag bans by making them thicker. As a result, the Vermont ban outlaws plastic carryout bags that do not have stitched handles.

Jen Duggan, director of the Vermont Conservation Law Foundation, says cities and counties that have passed bag bans often defined prohibited bags by their thickness or applied measurements requiring that it carry a certain weight a certain distance.

“What happened was the bag makers flooded the markets with thicker bags,” she says.

The requirement for stitched handles, she says, was simply an easier solution. Because of the cost of stitching handles, it effectively ensures that carryout bags will be made from cloth or reusable polypropylene, encouraging reuse‒one of the goals of the law.

Matt Seaholm, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, an industry lobbying group, in an interview in April cautioned that bag bans result in the importation of thicker bags manufactured in China. He added that plastic retail bags in the United States are regulated by more ordinances than any other plastic product, and suggested a better solution for sustainability is for bags to be returned by customers to retailers, where they can be sent back to the factory and remade into new bags.

Vermont’s action builds on a growing movement across the world to ban single-use plastics. Plastic bags have been taxed or banned in 127 nations, according to a United Nations count. The European Union banned the top plastic items found on European beaches earlier this spring.

Earlier this year, Vermont’s most famous business, Ben and Jerry’s, announced plans to eliminate the use of plastic straws and other single-use plastics in its 600 ice cream shops worldwide.

This story is part of Planet or Plastic?—our multiyear effort to raise awareness about the global plastic waste crisis. Learn what you can do to reduce your own single-use plastics, and take your pledge.

Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/06/vermont-adopts-most-comprehensive-single-use-plastics-ban/

By: Laura Parker

The plastic industry is on track to produce as many emissions as 600 coal-fired power plants

When you think about plastic, what comes to mind? Microplastics at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, whales dying with truckloads of garbage in their bellies, that zero-waste Instagram influencer you follow?

A new report shows it’s high time to think more about the fossil fuels that go into making those plastic products. The global plastic industry is on track to produce enough emissions to put the world on track for a catastrophic warming scenario, according to the Center for International Environmental Law analysis. In other words, straws aren’t just bad for unsuspecting turtles; plastic is a major contributor to climate change.

If the plastic industry is allowed to expand production unimpeded, here’s what we’re looking at: By 2030, global emissions from that sector could produce the emissions equivalent of more than 295 (500-megawatt) coal plants. By 2050, emissions could exceed the equivalent of 615 coal plants.

That year, the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions from production of single-use plastics like bags and straws could compose between 10 and 13 percent of the whole remainder of our carbon budget. That is, the amount of CO2 we’re allowed to emit if we want to keep emissions below the threshold scientists say is necessary to ensure a liveable planet. By 2100, even conservative estimates pin emissions from plastics composing more than half of the carbon budget.

So, congrats on ordering that metal straw from Amazon! But the report shows that the plastics industry is still planning on a major expansion in production.

Here are a few more takeaways from the report, which looked at the emissions produced by the plastics industry starting in 2015 and projected what emissions from that sector could look like through the end of the century:

  • Of the three ways to get rid of plastics — recycling, landfilling, or incinerating — incinerating is the most energy intensive. In 2015, emissions from incinerating plastic in the United States were estimated to be around 5.9 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
  • This year, production and incineration of plastic products will make as many emissions as 189 coal power plants — 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases.
  • Plastics that wind up in the ocean could even fuck with the ocean’s ability to do what it has historically done a superb job at: sequestering carbon. That’s because the phytoplankton and lil ocean critters that help capture the CO2 at the surface of the ocean and drag it under are being compromised by — you guessed it — microplastic.

But it doesn’t look like the industry is going to slow its roll on refining oil for plastics anytime soon. In 2015, 24 ethylene facilities in the U.S. produced the emissions equivalent of 3.8 million cars. There are 300 more petrochemical facilities underway in the U.S. Two of those, one being built by ExxonMobil and another by Shell, could produce emissions equivalent to 800,000 new cars on the road per year.

So if you’re gonna boycott single-use plastics, keep in mind that you’re not just doing it for the turtles — you’re doing it for us.

Source: https://grist.org/article/the-plastic-industry-is-on-track-to-produce-as-many-emissions-as-600-coal-fired-power-plants/?utm_content=buffer98a48&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer&fbclid=IwAR0SllSaExFuO1A20oPRJHEewQBmYNrmI3jCXO_nm7hi0dSpCNhcxmNbuXE

Costa Rica Set To Become The Worlds First Plastic-Free And Carbon-Free Country By 2021

Costa Rica is in the top 5 of countries that are leading the way into renewable resources. It might seem small but it has a really big environmental impact. Since 2014 the country’s energy has been coming from 99% renewable sources, and it has been running on 100% renewable energy for over two months twice in the last two years. Then, since June 2017 they have been set on eradicating single-use plastic by 2021. The first be the first country in the world to do this. And most recently, in the summer of 2018, the country announced its aims to become completely carbon-neutral by the year 2021 – The first completely carbon-free country in the whole world.

“Basing [electricity] generation on renewable resources allows the country to achieve one of the lowest ratios of greenhouse gas emissions to electrical consumption on the planet,” the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) indicated in a statement.

Over the past 4 years, Costa Rica has generated all but 1 percent of its electricity from renewable sources such as its rivers, volcanoes, wind and solar power. The hydroelectric plant on the Reventazón River, on the Caribbean slope, began operations in 2016. It’s the largest plant of its kind in Central America. They also have seven wind turbine plants, six hydroelectric plants and a solar plant. A statement from ICE indicated that ¾ of renewable energy came from hydroelectric plants using river water; the rest was geothermal and wind power, with biomass then solar power constituting the smallest percentage.

A dam in Costa RicaSince the 1980s, the government recognized that nature is Costa Rica’s strongest asset and has therefore made every effort to protect it: including, among other things, zoo closures, reforestation, and establishing protected areas (25% of the total surface area of the country).

“With its rich biodiversity, Costa Rica has also demonstrated far-sighted environmental leadership by pursuing reforestation, designating a third of the country protected natural reserves, and deriving almost all of its electricity from clean hydro power.” – Joseph Stiglitz

Costa Rica frog

The plastic dilemma came next. So, last year on World Environment Day the country announced its new national plan to eradicate all single-use plastics by 2021. From that day on, plastic has to be replaced by alternatives that are 100% recyclable or biodegradable and not petroleum-based. The country has the technical and financial support of the United Nations Development Program to help them accomplish this.

Economist Mónica Araya, a Costa Rican sustainability expert and director of Costa Rica Limpia,  which promotes renewable energy and electric transport, said:

“Getting rid of fossil fuels is a big idea coming from a small country. This is an idea that’s starting to gain international support with the rise of new technologies. In a country already rapidly weaning itself off fossil fuels, focusing on transport – one of the last major challenges – could send a powerful message to the world.”

Wind Turbines in Costa RicaEarlier this year, Carlos Alvarado Quesada was elected as Costa Rica’s new president. His first act in the office was to take a giant leap forward into reducing carbonization. During his inauguration as a world leader he announced his initiative to ban fossil fuels and become the world’s first decarbonized society. He says to an excited crowd:

“Decarbonization is the great task of our generation and Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish it, if not the first.”

And he does admit that to create the first carbon-free society will be an extremely massive task, but an extraordinary one that he is confident they will achieve. He is very hopeful and excited to get rid of the fossil fuels created by their transportation system by 2021 – all just in time to celebrate the nation’s 200th anniversary of achieving its independence.

He said: “When we reach 200 years of independent life we will take Costa Rica forward and celebrate… that we’ve removed gasoline and diesel from our transportation.”

Keel billed Toucan

The future-minded small country of Costa Rica has made a giant impact in environmentalism. And it is also conscious of the well-being of its citizens. It is part of the Wellbeing Economies Alliance—a coalition that includes Scotland, New Zealand, and Slovenia—which instead of emphasizing countries’ GDP, “seeks to ensure that public policy advances citizens’ wellbeing in the broadest sense, by promoting democracy, sustainability, and inclusive growth,” according to a recent column by economist Joseph Stiglitz.

In the following video interview Democracy Now! speaks with Mónica Araya. They talk about many things, such as how it will be the first country in the world to decarbonize its economy and how wonderful the country is of course. It is very inspiring and well worth your time to watch it!

Source: https://www.intelligentliving.co/costa-rica-plastic-carbon-free-2021/

How Pro Skier David Wise Does Climate Action

Talking to your elected officials about climate change

We know from research that one of the biggest actions you can take to fight climate change is talking to your elected officials. We also know it’s one of the more nerve-wracking steps to take (no, unfortunately, we cannot solve the climate crisis on reusable coffee cups and water bottles alone––but boy that would make life a lot simpler if we could).

Two-time Olympic gold medalist and Alliance member David Wise took the plunge this week and testified before the Nevada Senate Growth and Infrastructure Committee to talk about increasing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Sound complicated? We’ll break it down for you. We’ve got a video of the thing so you can see just how easy it is to talk to your elected officials about climate change. Click the link to see the video: https://protectourwinters.org/how-pro-skier-david-wise-does-climate-action/

Ready to take action? Start by introducing yourself to your member of Congress (we even gave you a draft to start with)!

“This past year, I launched what I’d call a passion project, called ‘Wise Off The Grid.’ Through social media, it gives followers the chance to learn more about my family’s work to reduce our carbon footprint, from growing our food to harvesting our meat to powering our home with solar energy. Our family’s goal is to live completely off the grid.

But unfortunately, we live in a world where individual change isn’t going to be enough to achieve a stable climate. We need our lawmakers– we need you– to help us in passing systemic policy change to drive down carbon emissions at a much larger scale. We need you to help us ensure the everyday choices we make as individuals and families are good for the climate.”

David Wise is a two time Olympic Gold Medalist in halfpipe skiing and is a Protect Our Winters Alliance member. He lives in Verdi with his wife and two children.

Credit: https://protectourwinters.org/how-pro-skier-david-wise-does-climate-action/

Whales likely impacted by Great Pacific Garbage Patch

A scientific note we published on April 09, 2019 reports the records of whales within the world’s largest accumulation of floating ocean plastic: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Over the past few weeks, two whales beached with large amounts of plastic in their stomachs making news headlines, one in the Phillippinesand the other in Italy. On April 9, 2019, we published a note in the journal Marine Biodiversity describing sightings of whales within the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) – the largest accumulation zone for plastics in the world’s open ocean about halfway between Hawaii and California. This work was first presented at the Society for Marine Mammals biennial conference in December 2017 in Halifax, Canada providing evidence of cetaceans being exposed to high concentrations of plastic.

During our Aerial Expedition in October 2016, whales were spotted by our observers aboard our Hercules C-130 aircraft. During our flights over this very remote area, we observed at least 14 whales, including four sperm whales, three beaked whales, and two baleen whales. We recorded a sperm whale mother with a calf, providing evidence that the GPGP is being used by these magnificent animals at various life stages. Whale population structures and movement patterns in this area are not well known and it is unclear whether they migrate through the GPGP, are always present or both.

As part of the main objective of this expedition, we also registered 1280 surface drifting plastics, such as fishing nets, ropes, floats, and fragmented debris. This equates to a ratio of about 90 objects per whale sighted. Plastic items were occasionally seen in close proximity (i.e. a few meters) to the observed animals, thereby clearly posing entanglement and ingestion risks.

Cetacean sightings of our study.

In the map, the background colors represent plastic pollution levels (red = highest, blue = lowest), gray lines show the two ~665km survey transects of this study, and black dots are locations where cetaceans were sighted. Photographs above the map show some of the animals observed: sperm whales (sighting 2 and 3) and beaked whales (sighting 6 and 7). Red circles in sighting 3 indicate locations with floating debris. Photographs in the right side of the figure show examples of debris sighted.

One of the findings from our 2018 paper on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch showed 46% of the plastic found in the patch are fishing nets. Often referred to as ‘ghostnets’, these are lost and discarded fishing nets that can continuously trap marine wildlife in a process known as ‘ghost fishing’. The durability and strength of entangled fishing nets can cause chronic injury, starvation and general debilitation of entangled animals, often resulting in death. Fishing gear can also be heavy, often drowning exhausted animals including whales, seals, and sea turtles.

Whales, particularly, are known to ingest plastics, mistaking them for food and /or consuming them incidentally while feeding on prey aggregated with synthetic particles. The size of the plastic items ingested depends on the feeding behavior of the species. Filter-feeding baleen whales are particularly susceptible to accidently consuming small plastic particles known as ‘microplastics’ (< 5 mm) that are a health hazard to them. Sperm and beaked whales on the other hand, can ingest large plastic objects such as plastic bags and fishing nets (as was mentioned at the start of this article).

Sperm whale mother and calf. Observed on System 001’s first mission.

Ingesting large quantities of plastic can lead to an animal’s death due to gastric rupture and/or obstruction. Jacobsen et al. (2010) examined two sperm whales stranded along the California coast and extracted 24.2kg and 73.6 kg of plastic debris from their stomachs. Ingested items included fishing nets and ropes made of floating material. The researchers suggested that the ingestion of these objects occurred within the North Pacific subtropical gyre, which is made plausible by our observations.

Our scientific note demonstrates the potential exposure of multiple cetacean species to the high levels of plastic pollution within oceanic ‘garbage patches’.

In addition to the sightings during The Ocean Cleanup’s Aerial Expedition (the subject of these notes), 38 whale[1] sightings were documented during System 001’s first mission deployment in the GPGP from October – December 2019 (results yet to be published), confirming the risk of these species being exposed to increased plastic concentrations.

Sperm whales observed on System 001’s first mission.

These sightings are a reminder of why we do what we do and further research evaluating the effects of ocean garbage patches on the world’s cetacean populations is needed. Looking ahead, The Ocean Cleanup will continue environmental monitoring while in the GPGP and will share new information to build upon our understanding of this complex problem.


[1] Environmental monitoring during deployment of The Ocean Cleanup’s System 001 was performed by 3rd party protected species observers. Visual monitoring for protected species was conducted for 1012 hours 45 minutes over the course of the 141 days of System 001’s deployment. Of the 24 species of whales and dolphins observed, four are listed as endangered on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including blue, fin, sei and sperm whales.

Source: https://www.theoceancleanup.com/updates/whales-likely-impacted-by-great-pacific-garbage-patch/

Gearing up for Spring Gobblers: Turkey Vest Checklist

It’s almost here. Well, for some, it’s already here! Whether your state opened in March or you’ve got to wait until April 1st, let’s make sure we’re all prepared for turkey season. If you’re among those die-hard turkey hunters who eat, sleep, and eat turkey hunting in the springtime or who would like to, then you’d better get your gear ready. While a turkey hunting vest isn’t mandatory, it’s highly recommended and should be mandatory. There are many makes and models of turkey hunting vests on the market today. First, you need to go try on some brands and see how they fit and how versatile they are. I like one with adjustable shoulder straps that includes a chest strap to reduce weight on your back and shoulders. Also, the adjustable shoulder straps are priceless when hauling out a tom. This keeps the vest from hitting my legs as I walk and keeps the vest from shifting when walking steep terrain. It also reduces the amount of noise I make in the field during a spot and stalk hunt or shifting around a tree when gobblers come in from other directions. Most importantly, your turkey vest is like your own mobile office.

A good vest will keep you in the woods longer

Turkey hunting is the manipulation of communication. The pursuit of gobblers can be maddening one day and easy the next. We scout, hike, and call for those fractions of a second a gobble cracks the silence. If you’ve never had a gobbler fall silent after a fiery morning on the roost, then you have not hunted gobblers long enough. Getting ghosted by a big gobbler after fly-down is one of the most frustrating aspects of hunting spring gobblers; yet, if you can stay positioned and not spook any birds, you are still in the game. That big tom responded to you off the roost, understand he acknowledged your presence in his roundhouse. Secondly, he remembers where you were. In the late morning or early afternoon (depending on your state regulations), return to where you had last heard him gobble and make your setup. During this time of the day, especially as the spring rolls on, hens leave the tom to tend their nests, leaving toms vulnerable to calls mid-morning and throughout the day. This tactic can require some patience but has long been a card in the proverbial deck of seasoned turkey hunters. A good turkey vest will keep you in that position longer for the opportunity at that big gobbler. Here are some turkey vest essentials that will make your spring gobbler hunt more enjoyable and ultimately more successful.

Where and when you chase gobblers has a lot to do with the amount and type of gear you need. Photo by NWTF

 

                                                   Turkey Vest Checklist

  • box call/chalk
  • slate and glass call with extra strikers
  • diaphragm calls
  • a piece of sandpaper to keep striker tips and friction surfaces abrasive
  • locator calls: crow and owl
  • headlamp
  • face mask
  • hat and gloves
  • shears for cutting shooting lanes
  • decoys
  • camera
  • pop-up blind with a chair
  • shooting Stick
  • binoculars and a rangefinder
  • water bottle/snacks or a lunch
  • athletic Mobility boots or knee-high boots in swampy areas
  • mossy Oak camouflage shirt, pants, jacket, and rain suit
  • backpack depending on the length of hunt
  • knife
  • extra-large Ziploc bags to keep strikers and chalk dry
  • zip ties and pen to fill out tags
  • bug spray and/or a https://www.thermacell.com/
  • trail camera to drop in when you won’t be there for a few days to see when gobblers are using strut zones.

Want to share your turkey vest tips? Leave us a comment. We’d like to hear what turkey hunting gear techniques have been helpful to you.

 

Credit: https://www.thehuntingpage.com/gearing-spring-gobblersspring-turkey-vest-checklist/?fbclid=IwAR1Dg4UfMiMCFIKoTcAzhvecRolQ3MI3WYaF4yN5B2FnnjJfvyfKN5u37ho

The fight for Florida Bay: Why our southernmost estuary is suffering and how we can fix it

The fight for Florida Bay: Why our southernmost estuary is suffering and how we can fix it

Hypersalinity. Sediment destabilization. Nutrient release. To the general population, these words are “science speak.” Without context or real-world examples, they are meaningless.  

To water bodies like Florida Bay, these words are actually ecological occurrences that are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem. They are a byproduct of the way water is mismanaged in Florida, creating a harmful chain reaction that could take years for the ecosystem to recover from.

About Florida Bay

Florida Bay is the southernmost estuary of the Everglades ecosystem, located at the tip of the mainland and cradled by the Florida Keys to the south. Spanning nearly 1,000 square miles and dotted with numerous basins and mangrove islands, it is one of the world’s largest estuaries and seagrass communities.

Florida Bay is also one of the most valuable and unique fisheries in the world. Highly-regarded game fish such as tarpon, permit, bonefish, snook, redfish, and trout, migrate to its pristine flats and luscious mangroves. It’s a nursery, nesting site, and feeding grounds for wading birds, crocodiles, manatees, dolphins, crustaceans, and sea turtles, who all partly depend on the healthy seagrass.

Lack of fresh water, too much saltwater

When we talk about Florida’s water crisis, the impacts to Florida Bay aren’t as easily seen.

Historically, fresh water flowed south from Lake Okeechobee, through the River of Grass and into the bay, naturally balancing its fragile ecosystem. Today, when water levels in the lake reach a certain threshold, water managers send it to tide via the St. Lucie River to the east and the Caloosahatchee to the west.

As a result, Florida Bay receives only one-sixth of the freshwater flow it once did and the ecosystem is imploding. In the summer of 2015, roughly 40,000 acres of seagrass died in Florida Bay due to lack of freshwater flow and unnaturally high salinities. Aquifers in South Florida are experiencing saltwater intrusion as a result of decreased sheet flow in the Everglades, threatening the drinking water supply for 8 million Floridians.

How do we fix it?

We must build the reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Because of water quality regulations aimed at protecting the Everglades ecosystem, the polluted water from Lake Okeechobee must first be cleaned in man-made wetlands before being sent south. This will require additional storage and stormwater treatment areas (STAs) south of the lake, where aquatic vegetation will remove nitrogen and phosphorous from the water as it slowly flows towards the Everglades.

Benefits of the reservoir:

  • Re-directs the flow of water to the south, providing water managers with another option
  • Reduces discharges to St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee by 55%
  • Stores and cleans water to send south to the Everglades and Florida Bay where it’s desperately needed

Awareness is key

In 2018, we joined a gathering of key agencies to spend a day on Florida Bay with fishing guides and learn about the health and challenges its facing. In February 2019, the Everglades Foundation hosted a similar event, inviting media contacts from across the country to set out on the bay and learn about these issues from scientists and conservationists.

This spring, a new conservation-based TV series called Florida Sportsman Watermen will premier, hosted by Florida Bay fishing guide, Captain Benny Blanco. This show was created to bring awareness to water issues around the state from toxic algae blooms and seagrass die-offs to degradation of springs and spreading coral disease. Woven together, of course, with fishing.

We must continue to advocate for Everglades restoration as a whole connected system. Understanding the impacts allows us all to stay vigilant, have informed conversations with others who are affected, and press for science-based solutions that will benefit the entire system—starting with the EAA Reservoir.

Source: https://captainsforcleanwater.org/the-fight-for-florida-bay/

Patagonia Is Cracking Down on the Wall Street Uniform

The outdoor gear maker won’t create the products for just anyone through its corporate sales program. Recently, Patagonia has shifted its focus to “mission-driven companies that prioritize the planet,” the company said in a statement late Tuesday. It has made gear for all kinds of companies in the past, from big banks to nonprofit organizations.

Patagonia said it wants to add more companies that have the B Corp designation to its client list — businesses that meet certain environmental, social and transparency standards and are certified by a private organization. Patagonia itself is a B Corp and some financial and technology firms also have that status.

The company declined to share exactly when the changes were enacted, but current customers shouldn’t fret. Existing corporate customers will remain in the program and still be able to order more branded items from Patagonia.

Fleece and puffer vests or jackets from Patagonia with a company logo have gained a reputation as a go-to corporate uniform in the finance and tech worlds, an odd turn for an outdoor brand that sells everything from wetsuits to sleeping bags.

Word of the change spread when Binna Kim, president of the coincidentally-named communications agency Vested, shared on social media Monday an email from a third-party supplier of Patagonia’s corporate garments after it tried to order items for a client and said it was rejected.

According to the email from the unidentified supplier cited by Kim, Patagonia was reluctant to sell co-branded gear with companies they consider “ecologically damaging,” such as the oil and mining industries. It also singled out religious groups, political-affiliated organizations and financial institutions.

Late last year, Patagonia updated its mission statement, saying, “We’re in business to save our home planet.”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-03/sorry-wall-streeters-you-now-need-to-earn-your-patagonia-vests

5 U.S. Presidents with Ties to the Outdoors

Take a second to read about 5 U.S. Presidents who have made their mark on the world of outdoor recreation.

Theodore Roosevelt: The Cowboy Conservationist

Teddy-Roosevelt-Was-the-Toughest-Person-Ever

No discussion of outdoor-loving presidents would be complete without mention of Teddy Roosevelt. This guy’s penchant for rugged outdoor activity was truly remarkable. He first meandered onto the western landscape in his younger days, with hopes of hunting bison, and eventually found himself running a small cattle ranching operation in North Dakota.

Unlike many of his peers, who traveled West only to exploit the land for their own financial gain, Roosevelt saw the inherent value it had to offer a nation that was rapidly growing but still in its infancy. His early years out West were dominated by hunting trips and cattle drives, but once he saw the havoc that unregulated hunting and ranching was wreaking on the landscape, his thirst for adventure gave way to a desire to help preserve the beauty of the West forever.

To this day, few presidents can claim a conservation legacy as profound as the one left by Theodore Roosevelt. In addition to creating the U.S. Forest Service and designating 150 national forests, the Roosevelt administration produced 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks and 18 national monuments.

To this day, Roosevelt is considered the father of the modern conservation movement.

Gerald Ford: Yellowstone Park Ranger

ford

Long before Gerald R. Ford was keeping American entertained with an epic highlight reel of presidential bloopers, he was holding it down as a park ranger in the Canyon Ranger District of Yellowstone National Park.

Still the only POTUS to have actively served as an NPS ranger, Ford enjoyed the distinguished title of ‘armed guard’ on one of Canyon’s bear feeding trucks.

In addition to contributing to the dangerous habituation of Yellowstone grizzlies, Ford handled meet and greets for important park visitors. Years later he would call his brief stint as an NPS ranger one of the greatest summers of his life.

Jimmy Carter: Paddler, Fly Fisherman and Environmental Stalwart

 

According to a New York Times article from 1994, former Georgia peanut farmer Jimmy Carter was far and away the most skilled fly fisherman to ever occupy the Oval Office.

“Since taking up the sport in the early 1970’s on Georgia’s Chattahoochee River, Carter has passed the big tests of casting a clean line,” the article reads, “taking heavy trout on fine tippets, and tying flies that can stand close inspection.”

Carter didn’t stop at fly fishing. He also enjoyed paddling the many whitewater tributaries of the North Georgia mountains, famously braving the class IV rapids of the Chattooga while lobbying for the river’s protection as a wild and scenic waterway during his tenure as governor.

During his single term as president Carter kept a steady eye on environmental issues, implementing the Soil and Water Conservation Act, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, the Antarctic Conservation Act, and the Endangered American Wilderness Act.

Herbert Hoover: Master of the Rapidan

Herbert Hoover is probably best known for presiding over the worst financial collapse in the history of the civilized world, but man could he cast a mean dry fly.

It’s said that Hoover, who honed his fly fishing skills on Virginia’s Rapidan River, turned to fishing as a respite from the demanding rigors of life in the public eye.

Hoover himself famously claimed that “there are only two occasions when Americans respect privacy, especially in Presidents. Those are prayer and fishing.”

He was what we call in today’s terms a “fly fishing purist” or “trout snob”, whichever you prefer.

In an interview with the National Park Service, Pete Hoover, the grandson of the 31st President, recalled Hoover saying “that really there’s only one kind of fishing and that’s trout fishing in streams.”

Hoover

Barack Obama: Bear Grylls-trained Survivalist and Environmental Conservationist 

Okay, that’s not a recognized certification of any kind, and our 44th President isn’t really known for his outdoor prowess. But hey, he dined on half-eaten salmon with Bear Grylls in Seward, Alaska. How could I leave him off the list?

He also preserved 260 million acres of land for future generations, more than any of his predecessors, by designating 19 national monuments.

Credit: TRAVIS HALL, GO OUTSIDE

5 U.S. Presidents With Ties to the Outdoors

Elephants and economics: how to ensure we value wildlife properly

Ensuring the economic health of nations is one of the biggest tasks expected of governments. The elephant in the room has long been the health of the environment, on which the health of the economy (and everything else) ultimately depends.

Most countries still rely on gross domestic product as the lead measure of their economic health. But this does not account for the loss of environmental condition. There is a growing recognition of the environmental damage that human activity causes, our dependence on a functioning environment, and the need for new approaches to measure and manage the world.

We hope this new idea can be advanced internationally at the two-week meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which began this week in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.


Read more: Why we need environmental accounts alongside national accounts


Integrating the environment into national accounts has long been suggested as a way to improve information and has been tried in several countries.

In Botswana, where elephants are included in the nation’s environmental accounts, spending on wildlife conservation is now seen as an investment, rather than a cost. This example shows how integrating environmental assets into economic data can help provide a new policy framing for conservation. But worldwide, this type of “expanded accounting” has had limited impact on policy decisions so far.

On target

The Convention on Biological Diversity includes what are known as the Aichi Targets. Target 2 states:

By 2020, at the latest, biodiversity values have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes and are being incorporated into national accounting, as appropriate, and reporting systems. (emphasis added)

This provides a clear starting point for conservationists and economists to work together. So far, little has been done on the valuation of biodiversity, and the work that has been done so far has not progressed very far on the question of how to integrate environmental and economic values into national accounting.

On one hand, putting monetary values on biodiversity has been decried as the commodification of nature. But we argue that without using appropriately defined monetary values, the environment will always be vulnerable to economic forces. If Aichi Target 2 is to be met by 2020, we clearly need an agreed concept of biodiversity value, and a shared approach to recognising it.


Read more: It pays to invest in biodiversity


Crucially, as well as calculating the environment’s contribution to the economy, we also need to assess the requirements for maintaining and enhancing biodiversity. To return to the example of Botswana’s elephants, this means recognising that elephants need land and water (Botswana’s wildlife consumes 10% of all its water, with elephants accounting for most use). As tourism-related industries generated roughly US$2 billion in 2013 (Botswana’s second-largest sector by revenue, with mining the first), the allocation of water and land to wildlife is clearly a prudent investment decision.

This approach can also reveal the impacts and trade-offs resulting from different land uses on environmental values. In Victoria’s Central Highlands, for example, the cessation of native logging would reduce revenue from timber production, but would also help support a range of rare and endangered species, including Leadbeater’s Possum. It would also benefit a range of other industries like agriculture, as well as the people in cities like Melbourne.


Read more: Logging must stop in Melbourne’s biggest water supply catchment


Keeping the books up to date

Like any accounting system, these estimates of the economic value of the environment would need to be updated, ideally annually, if they are to remain relevant in underpinning governments’ decisions. This would also entail regular data collection on the species and ecosystems themselves.

Unfortunately, however, consistent long-term nationwide monitoring of biodiversity at the species or ecosystem level is rarely done. And while remote-sensing offers some promise for landscape-scale monitoring of major ecosystem types (such as tropical savannahs, temperate forests, wetlands), there is generally no substitute for boots on the ground.

This month’s summit in Egypt offers an opportunity for countries to reaffirm their recognition of the benefits that biodiversity provides to people and the economy. It also provides a chance to go further, to agree that integrated accounting will help us understand and appreciate the trade-offs between the environment and economy.

Recognizing and accounting for the elephant in the room would be a great achievement – not to mention a sound investment in the future.

 

Credit:

The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Heather Keith to this article.

https://theconversation.com/elephants-and-economics-how-to-ensure-we-value-wildlife-properly-107184