Wellington, July 1 (Xinhua/UNB)-- Single-use plastic bags were officially banned for all New Zealand retailers from Monday.
As stipulated by the Waste Minimisation (Plastic Shopping Bags) Regulations 2018, which came into force on Monday, New Zealand retailers including stores, supermarkets and restaurants will no longer be able to sell or distribute any single-use plastic shopping bags.
Single-use plastic shopping bags are defined as any plastic bag which has handles and is less than 70 microns thick. Plastic shopping bags in the fruit and vegetable section and other areas of supermarkets are the only exemption.
New Zealand Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said that the ban on single-use plastic shopping bags is a step towards healthier oceans and giving nature a hand.
“New Zealanders are proud of our country’s clean, green reputation and want to help ensure we live up to it. The plastic shopping bag ban is one step to tackle New Zealand’s waste issues. We also need to recharge our materials recovery and recycling systems and shift to a circular economy,” Sage said.
Mainstream supermarkets have already made the change away from single-use plastic shopping bags. Businesses were given six months ahead of the ban to phase-out single-use plastic bags.
Anchorage, Jul 1 (AP/UNB) — Sea ice along northern Alaska disappeared far earlier than normal this spring, alarming coastal residents who rely on wildlife and fish.
Ice melted as a result of exceptionally warm ocean temperatures, the Anchorage Daily News reported .
The early melting has been "crazy," said Janet Mitchell of Kivalina. Hunters from her family in early June traveled more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) by boat to find bearded seals on sea ice. Bearded seals in the past could be hunted just outside the village but sea ice had receded far to the north.
"We didn't know if we'd have our winter food," she said. "That was scary."
The hunters ran out of gas after harvesting eight seals and a walrus. They were able to call other residents to deliver fuel, Mitchell said.
Rick Thoman, a climatologist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment & Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, posted on social media last week that the northern Bering and southern Chukchi seas are "baking."
Sea surface temperatures last week were as high as 9 degrees (5 Celsius) above the 1981-2010 average, reaching into the lower 60s, he said, with effects on the climate system, food web, communities and commerce. Kotzebue and Norton sounds were warmest but the heat extended far out into the ocean.
The warmth is weeks ahead of schedule and part of a "positive feedback loop" compounded by climate change. Rising ocean temperatures have led to less sea ice, which leads to warmer ocean temperatures, he said.
The last five years have produced the warmest sea-surface temperatures on record in the region, contributing to record low sea-ice levels.
"The waters are warmer than last year at this time, and that was an extremely warm year," Thoman said.
Lisa Sheffield Guy of the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States oversees an online platform that allows Alaska Native walrus hunters to share tips on sea ice, weather and hunting. The need for reporting ended May 31 because coastal sea ice had melted.
"When we started in 2010, we would go until the last week of June," she said.
Guy is a seabird biologist who studied birds on St. Lawrence Island south of the Bering Strait. She's worried that warmer temperatures will make it harder for seabirds to find the tiny seafood they eat, she said. The heat might push their prey deeper or away from the area.
Warmer ocean temperatures come as hunters report large numbers of dead seals off Alaska's western and northern coasts, Thoman said. An unusually large number of dead gray whales have also been found off Alaska's southern coasts, where sea surface temperatures are also unusually high, Thoman said. It's not known whether the warm water has contributed, Thoman said.
"Certainly it's all happening at the same time," he said.
In March, the high temperatures were blamed for a large ice shelf breaking from the coast near Nome in March, dragging tethered crab pots. Nick Treinen lost two crab pots and others lost more.
"It was unprecedented for March," he said.
The ice also swept away gold mining equipment, forcing a helicopter rescue for three miners who unsuccessfully tried to save it.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will conduct an unusually extensive fish survey in the Bering Strait this summer, Thoman said. It could provide clues for possible impacts to Bering Sea fisheries, he said.
New York, Jun 30 (AP/UNB) — New York is throwing a massive LGBTQ Pride march as other cities including San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle also host parades commemorating the 50th anniversary of the clash between police and gay bar patrons that sparked the modern gay rights movement.
New York's Pride march kicks off at noon Sunday with 677 contingents including community groups, major corporations and cast members from FX's "Pose." Organizers say they expect 150,000 people to march, with hundreds of thousands more lining the streets to watch.
A smaller Queer Liberation March is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. at the Stonewall Inn, the bar where patrons resisted a police raid in 1969, and will head to Central Park for a rally. The organizers of the queer march say the larger Pride event has become too commercialized and too heavily policed.
The Pride march concludes a month of Stonewall commemorations in New York that included rallies, parties, film showings and a human rights conference. The celebration coincides with WorldPride, an international LGBTQ event that started in Rome in 2000 and was held in New York this past week.
Other Pride events will take place Sunday around the U.S. and the world.
In San Francisco, a contingent of Google employees petitioned the Pride parade's board of directors to revoke Google's sponsorship over what they called harassment and hate speech directed at LGBTQ people on YouTube and other Google platforms.
San Francisco Pride declined to revoke Google's sponsorship or remove the company from the parade, but Pride officials said the Google critics could protest the company's policies as part of the parade's "Resistance Contingent."
In Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, the city's first openly gay mayor, will be one of seven grand marshals.
Dhaka, Jun 30 (UNB)- The ice around Alaska is not just melting. It's gotten so low that the situation is endangering some residents' food and jobs, reports CNN.
"The seas are extraordinarily warm. It is impacting the ability for Americans in the region to put food on the table right now," said University of Alaska climate specialist Rick Thoman.
Ocean temperatures in the Chukchi and North Bering seas are nearly 10 degrees Fahrenheit (five degrees Celsius) above normal, satellite data shows.
"The northern Bering & southern Chukchi Seas are baking," Thoman wrote this week in a tweet.
There are immediate local and commercial impacts along the state's western and northern coastlines, Thoman told CNN. Birds and marine animals are showing up dead, he said, and sea temperatures are warm enough to support algal blooms, which can make the waters toxic to wildlife.
It's a mounting crisis for many coastal Alaska towns that depend on fishing to support their economy and feed people who live here.
"Much of what the people eat there over the course of the year comes from food they harvest themselves," said climatologist Brian Brettschneider at the International Arctic Research Center. "If people can't get out on the ice to hunt seals or whales, that affects their food security. It is a human crisis of survivability."
Events like this -- when weather patterns align to generate extreme consequences -- are also evidence of the growing climate crisis, scientists say.
A perfect storm for warming waters
Ice cover around Alaska normally lasts through the end of May. This year, it disappeared in March, as side-by-side maps showing the same date in March 2013 (left) and 2019 demonstrate, according to the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy.
The unprecedented warming has been driven by southerly winds in the Bering Sea, with warm air from the south melting the ice at an alarming rate. Ocean temperatures in the region also have never been as warm during the peak of summer, based on seasonal averages. And communities in northern and western Alaska have seen temperatures close to their all-time June records.
In short, everything that could have "gone wrong" this year for the ice around Alaska has gone wrong, Brettschneider said.
This is a signal of global warming
The warming is a sure signal of a warming planet and part of the trend of increasing global temperatures, Brettschneider said.
"This event is unquestionably a reflection of our changing climate," he said. "The sea temperatures and sea ice deficits have not happened before as a random event. The mathematics just do not work out."
"These extraordinary warm waters will take awhile to cool off as winter approaches," Thoman said, adding that a later and thinner ice formation is expected in the coming winter.
Meantime, if some conditions change, that won't negate the global warming trend.
"Next year, the winds could turn northerly. That tends to mask a warming signal," Brettschneider said, referring to the long-term warming trend of the planet. "It is just like in the lower 48 (states), where you can have major Arctic outbreaks if the winds are set up in the right direction. That masks an overall warming.
"What is happening in coastal Alaska is what is coming in one sense for everybody else," he told CNN. "Most people are feeling the effects of climate change even if they don't know it. Changes are happening, and changes will be magnified."
Santa Fe, Jun 29 (AP/UNB) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is launching a new effort to craft legislation that could legalize recreational marijuana sales next year.
The first-year Democratic governor announced Friday her recruitment of health, legal and fiscal policy experts to serve in a new discussion group that provides recommendations on state legalization.
Members of the group include Democratic and Republican legislators who sponsored unsuccessful legislation this year to authorize and tax recreational marijuana sales at state run stores. That proposal passed a House vote but stalled in the state Senate.
Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis is leading the so-called cannabis legalization task force.
Other participants represent a labor union, sheriff’s department, health care business, Native American tribe, medical cannabis business, county government association, commercial bank and hospital company.