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Kenya adjusts to life without plastic bags

No more plastic bags means a return to old-fashioned ways of packaging and carrying goods — not necessarily a bad thing! […]

Ikea saves $1M by tackling food waste

The initiative has only been going since December. But it plans to halve food waste by 2020. […]

Major TV networks spent just 50 minutes on climate change — combined — last year.

Nanette Barragán is used to facing off against polluters. Elected in 2013 to the city council of Hermosa Beach, California, she took on E&B Natural Resources, an oil and gas company looking to drill wells on the beach. Barragán, an attorney before going into politics, learned of the potential project and began campaigning for residents to vote against it. The project was eventually squashed. In November, she won a congressional seat in California’s 44th district.

To Barragán, making sure President Trump’s environmental rollbacks don’t affect communities is a matter of life or death. The district she represents, the same in which she grew up, encompasses heavily polluted parts of Los Angeles County — areas crisscrossed with freeways and dotted with oil and gas wells. Barragan says she grew up close to a major highway and suffered from allergies. “I now go back and wonder if it was related to living that close,” she says.

Exide Technologies, a battery manufacturer that has polluted parts of southeast Los Angeles County with arsenic, lead, and other chemicals for years, sits just outside her district’s borders. Barragán’s district is also 69 percent Latino and 15 percent black. She has become acutely aware of the environmental injustices of the pollution plaguing the region. “People who are suffering are in communities of color,” she says.

Now in the nation’s capital, Barragán is chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s newly formed environmental task force and a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which considers legislation on topics like energy and public lands and is chaired by climate denier Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican. She knows the next four years will be tough but says she’s up for the challenge. “I think it’s going to be, I hate to say it, a lot of defense.”

Meet all the fixers on this year’s Grist 50.


Turning household waste into hot water, new tech is a micro power plant for homes

The bin-sized device would turn household waste into fuel for heating hot water. […]

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased by a whopping 29 percent this year — but there’s a way to slow it.

According to satellite imagery, loggers depleted 3,000 square miles of the Amazon from August 2015 to July 2016.

That may be partially attributable to funding cuts that have hamstrung the government agency responsible for monitoring illegal logging. In 2004, Brazil created policies to decrease deforestation that seemed to be working until about two years ago, when, according to Greenpeace, lax enforcement of fines and abandoned protected areas from 2012 to 2015 led to a surge in logging.

Fortunately there’s a solution — one that indigenous people have advocated for in years of U.N. climate talks. An October analysis from the World Resources Institute shows that lands managed by indigenous groups had deforestation rates 2 to 3 times lower than other areas in Brazil, Colombia, and Bolivia. The same report listed over $523 billion in economic benefits that could come from securing indigenous land rights.

But land rights for indigenous groups, though set out in Brazil’s 1988 constitution, are often not respected — not unlike the situation surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline in the U.S.

For now, deforestation accounts for 69 percent of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing that percentage is essential for Brazil to meet its Paris Agreement commitments.


Army Questions Discharge of Green Beret

After The Daily Beast’s story. […]

Nordic approach can reduce US water scarcity

This piece is co-authored by Max Halkjær, Global Service Line Leader Water Resources, Ramboll Water. We can measure where collecting surface water is cost-effective and help to lower the threat to national security. Droughts have always plagued California as so compellingly depicted in works like John Steinbeck’s book Grapes of Wrath or Roman Polanski’s film Chinatown […]