Earth Day news, so far in 2019

planet earth

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The good: The first phase of an ordinance which bans restaurants in the city of Los Angeles from automatically offering their customers disposable plastic straws unless they specifically request them takes effect today. (CBS-LA)

The bad: The prospect of extinction may seem unduly pessimistic to some, but the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach announced recently that it had acquired 1,200 delta smelt from a UC Davis research hatchery. (Los Angeles Times)

The ugly: Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach could soon be underwater, as rising sea levels caused by climate change overtake its white sand beaches and bustling streets, AP reports:

  • Honolulu will start experiencing frequent flooding within the next 15 to 20 years, officials predict.
  • State lawmakers are considering spending millions for a coastline protection program aimed at defending the city from regular tidal inundations. (Axios)

 

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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Single-use plastic straws may join plastic bags in LA

An estimated 18 billion pounds of plastic waste pollutes the world’s oceans each year. (Courtesy Panorama Magazine)

In 2010, after falling in love with the LA River, I got worked up about plastic bags and was mostly happy to start carrying my own to the grocery store. There was a howl of protest as the plastic consumer noose tightened, first with California cities creating a patchwork of regulation, then counties, and finally voters approved a statewide ban in 2016. Now, if you want a bag at the store, it will cost you 10 cents. 

Back then, I wrote: 
As a fly fisherman, you know you’re sick and tired of seeing trash in the Glendale Narrows, especially after a storm. So it should be worth it to either take your friggin’ bags with you on grocery runs, or pony up the dime that grocery stores will be able to charge for green bags.

Next up, single-use plastic straws. Yesterday, the LA City Council voted 12-0 to move forward to ban them by 2021. Reversing the earlier governmental patchwork plastic bag trend, the city council action comes before a statewide ban goes into effect Jan. 1, one in which you’ll have to ask for that straw. In what could be a game changer, and will incur the wrath of the fast-food industry, the Los Angeles ban could include fast food outlets, which, incredibly, are currently exempted by the upcoming state law

Responding to pressure from a proposed European Union ban, McDonald’s has already tested paper straws in Great Britain and Belgium, according to the Business Insider.

Single-use plastic straws may be banned in LA. (Photo illustration courtesy of Panorama Magazine)

Then there’s the microplastics issue, in which fish digest small amounts of plastic that then never leave their bodies, causing a host of problems, including organ damage and reproduction. And, if you eat fish, you may also be eating plastics.

As a fly fisher who has walked our river in hope of a better future, I know we can do better.

See you on the river, Jim Burns