Polar bear surrounded by melted ice and snow which is not a good environment for hunting one of the topics discussed in this week's eco friendly news.
Feb 19, 2024
weekly eco news

The Plight of Polar Bears in a Changing World and The True Costs of Lab Diamonds Unveiled - 15th Issue

Pinterest Icon.Instagram icon

Hidden Costs for Lab-Grown Diamonds

Round cut lab diamond displayed against charcoal background

Many Americans are choosing lab-grown diamonds over natural sources for sustainable and ethical reasons. Now, questionable practices and misleading claims have come to light over the artificial stones. 

Diamonds are a beautiful creation of nature, formed over thousands of years under Earth’s surface. To mimic natural conditions, the carbon undergoes intense pressure and heat to form a lab-grown diamond. This requires an enormous amount of energy, mostly from burning fossil fuels. 

Artificial stones are lower in cost. They are identical in composition, yet different in structure, which may impact their longevity and value over time. 

Only a small group of companies are transparent about their environmental impact throughout the supply chain. These are also the producers that highlight their use of renewable energy and carbon capture to offset emissions. Others don’t back up their eco-friendly claims. 

Next time you're in the market for jewelry, consider an heirloom. The greenest diamond is a repurposed stone that can create a new treasure. 

Serious Starvation Threat for Polar Bears

Polar bear surrounded by melted ice and snow which is not a good environment for hunting.

Perched atop ice sheets, polar bears hunt for ringed seals at their main source of food. The bears need the high fat content. They are capable of munching down 45 kilograms of blubber in a single meal. Without the frozen Arctic sea, this hunting method is obsolete.

A new study shows that the iconic species is struggling to adapt to a land environment during the ice-free periods in the summer season.

During their observations, some of the bears foraged for berries and other plants while others attempted to swim in search of snacks. Rest to conserve their energy stores,

"Regardless of which strategy they were trying to use, there was no real benefit to either approach as far as being able to prolong the period that they could survive on land," according to lead author Dr. Anthony Pagano, from the US Geological Survey in Alaska.

In the face of climate change, this work further raised concerns about polar bears being able to survive in an ice-free environment. 

New Policy Required Native Approval for Energy Projects

The Havasupai Waterfalls in the Navajo lands.

Federal officials denied preliminary permits for hydroelectric projects that would suck up limited water resources in the Navajo Nation. All projects now need respective tribal consent. 

Previously, the government granted permits even if issues arose about local impacts.

“This is a federal commission acknowledging tribal sovereignty,” George Hardeen, a spokesman for the Navajo Nation president’s office, said. “If a company wants to do business on the Navajo Nation, it, of course, needs to talk to and get the approval of the Navajo Nation. 

Emerging evidence shows that dams are not an ideal source of renewable energy due to their environmental impacts. Pumped storage is an alternative that uses two reservoirs at different heights. Water is pumped into the higher reservoir at night, then sent back down through turbines to the lower reservoir, producing electricity. Lots of water is required. 

Over a dozen of these projects have been proposed on the Navajo Nation. Combined, the water needed could provide for 5 million Arizona homes. For now, these resources are protected by the local tribes. 

Tracking Your Wardrobe for The Planet

woman going through, tracking, and organizing her closet.

Spring is around the corner! It is time to declutter and refresh your closet. You can hop on a new sustainable solution that involves digital tracking of your closet to make mindful clothing choices. The process notes price, brand, category, and much more. Users can check when the item is worn, too.

With the tagline, ‘Weaving the Fabric of Circular Fashion,’ the Save Your Wardrobe app helps consumers organize their clothes in order to make better choices. 

In a recent survey, consumers expressed frustration that their shopping habits don’t align with their vision of an eco-friendly lifestyle. Digital tracking allows for a moment of reflection on pieces and an opportunity to change their behaviors around clothes. Users described noticeable changes after quantifying items in their wardrobe and found surprising trends in brand, category, and more.

Underused garments take a toll on the environment. Shop for your own wardrobe this season!

NASA Mission To Study Microscopic ‘Things’ From Space

Satellite makes its way past the clouds into space with moon and starry sky in background.

Hundreds of miles above Earth, the new PACE satellite will observe ocean health, air quality, and other climate change impacts. It was launched in early February abroad a SpaceX rocket 

“With this new addition to NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites, PACE will help us learn, like never before, how particles in our atmosphere and our oceans can identify key factors impacting global warming,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

PACE will use the light spectrum to track phytoplankton around the world, which play an important role in the global carbon cycle. Scientists will be able to predict the health of fisheries and watch for harmful algae blooms with these technologies. 

The satellite also carries sunlight sensors that reflect microscopic air particles. The satellite is currently performing as expected.