A pair of ducks walking along the rice fields located in red yarigatake japan during as they help with sustainable pest control which is a topic that is discussed in this weeks issue of Eco-Friendly News.
Jan 15, 2024
weekly eco news

From Oil to Rice Fields: Unveiling the News Impacting Alaska's Drilling Debate, and Sustainable Farming Practices - 10th issue

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Ducks: The Newest Farmhands

A pair of ducks walking along the rice fields located in red yarigatake japan during as they help with sustainable pest control which is a topic that is discussed in this weeks issue of Eco-Friendly News.

Flocks of ducks waddle and wade through rice fields, keeping a watchful eye out for any unwanted visitors of the plant and insect varieties. Farmers now employ these eager waterfowl to maintain their crops. 

Stemming from ancient Asian practices, this technique known as the “aigamo method” releases an army of ducks into rice fields to act as a natural weed and pest control and provide the essential fertilization to the crop. 

Unrestricted, weeds proliferate before the rice seedlings even have an opportunity for resources, especially in cold climates like Vermont. Ducks will munch down on weeds for weeks. Their small, nimble bodies don’t impact the growth of the vulnerable rice seedlings. When there are grains on the rice plant, the flocks are removed for the remaining cycle. While the ducks aren’t interested in the abrasive leaves, the grains are a tasty snack for them.

This environment is also home to many beneficial aquatic species that are impacted by the use of chemicals. These waterfowl workers are a popular pesticide alternative for vineyards, too. 

Learn more about this reemerging sustainable practice for pest control at Mongabay News

Our Planet or Big Oil: Considerable Climate Gaps in New Proposal for Alaskan Reserve

Oil drilling rig in Alaska during sunset with receded vegetation on the left.

Beneath Alaska's fragile arctic environment lies a significant amount of crude oil in the National Petroleum Reserve. In December, the Biden Administration developed new drilling rules for the region. With ‘big gaps’ between climate commitments and the ongoing oil development, there is much uncertainty surrounding the enforcement of these new laws.

Ultimately, the BLM’s interpretation of the new language will hold the fate of the region, particularly the definition of ‘maximum protection’ for the surface environment in areas of potential oil and gas development. 

Drillers call this an infringement on their development rights, while environmental advocates push for the reserve to shift away from its stockpile origins. 

Set aside for oil emergencies in 1923, Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve is a 23-million-acre area on the state’s North Slope. As the largest contiguous block of land in the nation, it is a critical wildlife refuge with caribou herds, migratory birds, beluga whales and other marine life, as well as a wild landscape, rich in scientific and cultural sites. 

Currently, more than half of the reserve is a conservation easement; however, the BLM proposes to expand and/or change these boundaries every five years. The biggest test for the new rules will be the wetlands around Teshekpuk Lake, with large amounts of crude oil beneath critical habitats. 

Let’s hope that lawmakers, developers, and concerned parties can find a balanced approach to protect the Arctic and its fragile environment!

Read more about these contradictory rules for the National Petroleum Reserve on the Energy Wire.

Nonprofit Identifies 900 Cancer-Causing Chemicals

A woman comparing products in a supermarket isle.

A new study revealed that there are more than 900 chemicals linked to breast cancer in women hidden in numerous common products. The list includes parabens and phthalates in skin, hair, and makeup products, as well as pesticides used on foods and other household items

Researchers at the Silent Springs Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to the prevention of this disease, used a new method that searched for chemicals that change estrogen or progesterone. Both of these are important hormones that, when disrupted, can cause cancer cells.  

“What's unique about our approach is that we recognized that breast carcinogens tend to increase hormonal activity,” Jennifer Kay, a research scientist at Silent Spring Institute, explained. “So for this study, we looked at whether chemicals increase certain hormonal activities that are known to increase breast cancer risk.”

This is important because of the increased rates of breast cancer among younger generations. 

The Institute explains that with the absence of meaningful regulations by the EPA, it is up to nonprofits to educate consumers and other scientists alike about the risks of specific chemicals. 

Read more about the Institute’s findings and ways to protect yourself from cancer-causing chemicals at Environmental Health News. 

Nature Could Soon Have Rights in Ireland

A Green colored map of Ireland.

More than two-thirds of European countries recognize the universal human right to a healthy environment. Yet, to make this a reality for future generations, the environment also needs to be safeguarded – legally. 

Ireland is setting a precedent in Europe by amending its constitution to preserve nature. This landmark move will make Ireland the first on the continent to recognize the legal rights of ecosystems. This is a massive narrative shift from the view that nature is an object to be exploited by humans, not its own entity to be protected. 

Some background: Ireland declared a national biodiversity emergency in 2019. Then, in 2023, the idea for this referendum blossomed during the Citizens Assembly for Biodiversity Loss, which aimed to discuss the mass extinction of plants and animals.  

Though these rights would not ban human use of the environment, the series of measures will implement protections to maintain habitats and their natural systems for future generations. This could change the management of resources. 

Some critics have labeled certain laws as "anti-human," believing that they will discourage investment in mining and other extractive ventures. Proponents of the movement, inspired by Indigenous cultures, argue that humans are interconnected with the natural world and all other living beings. This awareness can shift current mainstream systems towards sustainable practices.

Six other countries have joined the global rights of nature movement, including New Zealand and Panama. 

Learn more about this monumental movement and other developments at InsideClimate News

Chinese Commitment to Research in Pristine Antarctic Ocean

An Antarctic mountain range during sunset.

China established its fifth research base in the Antarctic to study the Ross Sea — one of the last pristine marine environments on Earth. 

Spanning more than million square kilometers, this Ross Sea region contains the planet’s largest marine protected area. This new station joins seven others in the area, operated by six countries, including the U.S. and Russia. 

“The Ross Sea is a large bay in the South Pacific Ocean that penetrates deep into Antarctica,” station designer Zhu He. “It is ideal for the study of energy and material exchange in the Earth’s systems, marine life, and global climate change.”

This station can hold up to 80 scientists in the summer and 30 in the winter months on Inexpressible Island. Holding rare and ancient species, the main purpose of this new outpost is to study the unique ecology of this cold ecosystem. 

Dive deeper into the international commitment to the study and protect this pristine sea on the  Southern China Morning Post