EPA Suspends Enforcement of Environmental Laws

Source: The Hill: EPA suspends enforcement of environmental laws amid coronavirus

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a sweeping suspension of its enforcement of environmental laws Thursday, telling companies they would not need to meet environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak.

The temporary policy, for which the EPA has set no end date, would allow any number of industries to skirt environmental laws, with the agency saying it will not “seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations.”

Cynthia Giles, who headed the EPA’s Office of Enforcement during the Obama administration, called it a moratorium on enforcing the nation’s environmental laws and an abdication of the agency’s duty.

The coronavirus has made many routine activities impossible, or nearly impossible.

Thus it’s understandable that enforcement of environmental laws is difficult if not possible during the crisis.

But is the suspension of EPA enforcement an inevitable outcome of the virus, or an attempt to take advantage of the situation for industry to skirt what are often costly environmental laws? Laws that limit emissions of toxins into air, water and on land, or exposure to toxins by employees or the public, or the destruction of wetlands, waterways and other environmental features?

Part of the goal of the #OWUENVS project is to make sure that, amid the virus crisis (visis?), we don’t open the door to unnecessary environmental destruction.

Our Monoculture Food Supply Is A Potential Coronavirus Calamity

Our Monoculture Food Supply Is A Potential Coronavirus Calamity (The American Conservative)

As I’ve talked to farmers and local food advocates over the years, there’s always been an argument out there that local-food sovereignty and diversity are not just important for our health, for the environment, or for the soil—but that they are also important to national security. Diverse, strong, and local food sources are integral to the support of the communities that live there, in case global (or even national) crises threaten the normal food distribution systems that so many rely on. The thousands of miles that lie between cities and their food supply represent a danger we need to reckon with.


Less Office Paper (due to COVID19) = Less for Recycling into Commercial Toilet Paper

…this is the special TP you find in offices, stores, and on campus. Missing it, now that you are home?

Not all TP created equal, but all is in short supply because of coronavirus (Columbus Dispatch)

With more employees working from home, the supply of scrap office paper could soon dry up. The problem? It’s used to make commercial-grade toilet paper, and less supply means less TP.

With hordes of shoppers snatching up toilet paper at retailers across the country, tissue mills continue to run nonstop to produce more.

One link in that supply chain is Royal Paper Stock, a Columbus company that buys recycled material, such as scrap office paper, in bulk and sells it to tissue mills to make toilet paper and paper towels for commercial users such as hospitals.

This isn’t the quilted, lush paper that people buy for their homes; that is made from tree pulp. The thinner, utilitarian paper that most businesses and government agencies use is made from recycled paper, which Royal Paper provides.

Source: Not all TP created equal, but all is in short supply because of coronavirus (Columbus Dispatch)



Research: Connectedness to Nature: Its Impact on Sustainable Behaviors and Happiness in Children

Previous research on adults suggests, in an isolated manner, the relationship between connectedness to nature, the development of behaviors in favor of the environment, and positive results derived from them, such as happiness and well-being. In the present research, connectedness to nature was considered as a determinant of sustainable behaviors, and happiness was considered as a positive consequence of the latter. This research aimed to demonstrate the relationship between these variables in children. Two hundred and ninety-six children with an average age of 10.42 years old participated in the study, in which they responded to a research instrument that measured connectedness to nature, sustainable behaviors (pro-ecological behavior, frugality, altruism, and equity), and happiness. To analyze the relationships between these variables, a model of structural equations was specified and tested. The results revealed a significant relationship between connectedness to nature and sustainable behaviors, which, in turn, impact happiness. This suggests that children who perceive themselves as more connected to nature tend to perform more sustainable behaviors; also, the more pro-ecological, frugal, altruistic, and equitable the children are, the greater their perceived happiness will be. The implications for studying and promoting sustainable behaviors are discussed within the framework of positive psychology.

Source: Connectedness to Nature: Its Impact on Sustainable Behaviors and Happiness in Children

The Coronavirus Could Finally Kill the Wild Animal Trade

“I think there will be a period of one or two years where the wildlife trade gets suppressed because of [coronavirus], because people are concerned about it, they don’t know whether it’s legal or not—and the risk of disease,” said Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance. “But it will come back, because some of these meals are just so deep in the culture.”

In other words, conservationists have only a small window of time while these fears are still fresh in people’s minds to emphasize the link between the risk of a pandemic and buying and consuming rare wildlife.

Source: The Coronavirus Could Finally Kill the Wild Animal Trade

Report argues most plastics falsely labeled as recyclable


A new Greenpeace USA report argues U.S. companies are incorrectly labeling many plastic products as recyclable. The report, “Circular Claims Fall Flat”, states only PET #1 and HDPE #2 bottles and jugs are truly recyclable, and that full-body shrink sleeves on those items can also limit their recyclability.

What about no longer accepting any plastic for recycling on campus? Paper makes up the majority of stuff in our recycling audit. Metal and glass are easy. Plastic is not – too many kinds, most are not recyclable (article) and plastic is often the material contaminated by food.

Source: Report argues most plastics, especially #3-7s, falsely labeled as recyclable

Coronavirus has temporarily reduced China’s CO2 emissions by a quarter


Electricity demand and industrial output remain far below their usual levels across a range of indicators, many of which are at their lowest two-week average in several years. These include:

  • Coal use at power stations reporting daily data at a four-year low.
  • Oil refinery operating rates in Shandong province at the lowest level since 2015.
  • Output of key steel product lines at the lowest level for five years.
  • Levels of NO2 air pollution over China down 36% on the same period last year.
  • Domestic flights are down up to 70% compared to last month.

All told, the measures to contain coronavirus have resulted in reductions of 15% to 40% in output across key industrial sectors. This is likely to have wiped out a quarter or more of the country’s CO2 emissions over the past two weeks, the period when activity would normally have resumed after the Chinese new-year holiday. (See methodology below.)

Source: Coronavirus has temporarily reduced China’s CO2 emissions by a quarter: Carbon Brief

A Bibliography of Trash Animals

Gulls. Pigeons. Rats. Lice. These supposed ‘trash animals’ live alongside waste, filth, disease, ruination and decay. Because of their affiliation with discards, ‘trash animals’ are often framed as dirty and subjected to vilification, violence and even killing (Nagy and Johnson II 2014). Attitudes, behaviour and built infrastructure aimed at dealing with ‘trash animals’ tell us a lot about systems and practices of discarding, from ideas of purification, to urban-nature divides, to societal taboos.

Source: Discard Studies A Bibliography of Trash Animals

The Bibliography

Atkins, Peter. (Ed.). (2016). Animal cities: Beastly urban histories. New York, Routledge.

Beisel, Uli., Kelly, Ann H., & Tousignant, Noémi. (eds.) (2013). Knowing insects. Special issue of Science as Culture, 22(1).

Biehler, D. D. (2013). Pests in the city: flies, bedbugs, cockroaches, and rats. University of Washington Press.

Brown, Kate. (2019). Learning to read the great Chernobyl acceleration: literacy in the more-than-human landscapes. Current Anthropology, 60(S20), S198-S208.

Bubandt, Nils., & Tsing, Anna. (eds.) (2018). Feral Dynamics of Post-Industrial Ruin: An Introduction. Journal of Ethnobiology, 38(1),

Chang, Chia-Ju. (2016). Wasted Humans and Garbage Animals: Deadly Transcorporeality and Documentary Activism. In Ecodocumentaries (pp. 95-114). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Clark, Jonathan L. (2015). Uncharismatic invasives. Environmental Humanities, 6(1), 29-52.

Clark, Jonathan L. (2017). Consider the Vulture: An Ethical Approach to Roadkill. Discard Studies.

Clark, Nigel. H., & Hird, Myra. (2014). Deep shit. O-Zone: A Journal of Object-Oriented Studies, 1(1), 44-52.

Corman, Lauren. (2011). Getting their hands dirty: Raccoons, freegans, and urban ‘trash’. Journal for Critical Animal Studies, 9(3), 28-61.

Davie, Neil. (2017). ‘An unbidden guest at your table’: Purity, danger and the house-fly in the middle-class home, c. 1870-1910. Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens, (85 Printemps).

Doherty, Jacob. (2019). Filthy flourishing: para-sites, animal infrastructure, and the waste frontier in Kampala. Current Anthropology, 60 (S20).

Dutkiewicz, Jan. (2015). Important Cows and Possum Pests: New Zealand’s Biodiversity Strategy and (Bio) Political Taxonomies of Introduced Species. Society & Animals, 23(4), 379-399.

Gong, Haomin. (2019). Place, Animals, and Human Beings: The Case of Wang Jiuliang’s Beijing Besieged by Waste. In Chinese Environmental Humanities (pp. 167-188). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Histoire Urbaine (2015). Animaux dans la ville 1 . 44(3).

Histoire Urbaine (2016). Animaux dans la ville 2 . 47(3).

Hoag, Colin., Bertoni, Fillip., & Bubandt, Niels. (2018). Wasteland ecologies: Undomestication and multispecies gains on an Anthropocene dumping ground. Journal of ethnobiology, 38(1), 88-105.

Holmberg, Tora. (2015). Urban animals: Crowding in zoocities. New York: Routledge.

Holmberg, Tora. (2016). “Wastable” urban animals. lo Squaderno, 42, 9-11.

Holmberg, Tora. (2017). ‘Moving quietly in the shadows’: On feral feeding in Kolkata. In Animal Places (pp. 33-50). Routledge.

Holmberg, Tora. (2019). Animal waste work. The case of urban sewage management in Sweden. Contemporary Social Science, 1-15.

Houston, Donna. (2019). Planning in the shadow of extinction: Carnaby’s Black cockatoos and urban development in Perth, Australia. Contemporary Social Science, 1-14.

Instone, Lesley. (2014). Unruly grasses: Affective attunements in the ecological restoration of urban native grasslands in Australia. Emotion, Space and Society, 10, 79-86.

Instone, Lesley., & Sweeney, Jill. (2014). Dog Waste, Wasted Dogs: The Contribution of Human–Dog Relations to the Political Ecology of Australian Urban Space. Geographical Research, 52(4), 355-364.

Instone, Lesley., & Sweeney, Jill. (2014). The trouble with dogs: ‘animaling’ public space in the Australian city. Continuum, 28(6), 774-786.

Jerolmack, Colin. (2008). How pigeons became rats: The cultural-spatial logic of problem animals. Social problems, 55(1), 72-94.

Jerolmack, Colin. (2013). The Global Pigeon. University of Chicago Press.

Jerolmack, Colin., & Green, Kyle. (2014). Deep Play and Flying Rats. The Society Pages, June 20th.

Kheraj, Sean. (2015). Urban environments and the animal nuisance: domestic livestock regulation in nineteenth-century Canadian cities. Urban History Review/Revue d’histoire urbaine, 44(1-2), 37-55.

Lloro-Bidart, Teresa. (2017). When ‘Angelino’ squirrels don’t eat nuts: A feminist posthumanist politics of consumption across southern California. Gender, Place & Culture, 24(6), 753-773.

Lupino-Smith, Estraven (2018). Morality Cuts: Uncovering Queer Urban Ecologies. Guts (9).

Mavhunga, Clapperton Chakanetsa (2018). The Mobile Workshop: The Tsetse Fly and African Knowledge Production. MIT Press.

Mavhunga, Clapperton Chakanetsa (2011). Vermin Beings: On Pestiferous Animals and Human Game. Social Text, 29 (1(106)), 151-176.

McKiernan, Shaun., & Instone, Lesley. (2016). From pest to partner: Rethinking the Australian White Ibis in the more-than-human city. cultural geographies, 23(3), 475-494.

Mehrabi, Tora., & Åsberg, Cecilia. (2017). Model territories: Choreographies of laboratory flies. In Animal Places. New York: Routledge. pp. 162-181.

Moloney, Chris., & Unnithan, N. Prabha. (2019). Reacting to Invasive Species: The Construction of a Moral Panic over Burmese Pythons. Sociological Inquiry.

Nagy, Kelsi., & Phillip David Johnson II. (Eds.). (2013). Trash animals: How we live with nature’s filthy, feral, invasive, and unwanted species. University of Minnesota Press.

Nast, Heidi. J. (2018). For the love of life: Coal mining and pit bull fighting in early 19th-century Britain. In Historical Animal Geographies (pp. 149-167). Routledge.

Pacini-Ketchabaw, Veronica., & Nxumalo, Fikile. (2016). Unruly raccoons and troubled educators: Nature/culture divides in a childcare centre. Environmental Humanities, 7(1), 151-168.

Paxson, Heather. (2019). “Don’t pack a pest”: parts, wholes, and the porosity of food borders.Food, Culture & Society, 22(5), 657-673.

Paxton, Gillian Louise (2017). Wild urban companions: living with everyday native animals in Brisbane. PhD Dissertation: University of Queensland.

Pitas, John- Henry R. (2016). Birds of a feather? Exploring pigeons in Baltimore, Maryland. MA Thesis: University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Phillips, Catherine. (2013). Living without fruit flies: biosecuring horticulture and its markets. Environment and Planning A, 45(7), 1679-1694.

Raffles, Hugh. (2007). Jews, lice, and history. Public Culture, 19(3), 521-566.

Reinert, Hugo. (2019). Requiem for a Junk-Bird: Violence, Purity and the Wild. Cultural Studies Review, 25(1), 29-40.

Rutherford, Stephanie. (2018). The Anthropocene’s animal? Coywolves as feral cotravelers. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 1(1-2), 206-223.

Sedell, J. K. (2019). No fly zone? Spatializing regimes of perceptibility, uncertainty, and the ontological fight over quarantine pests in California. Geoforum.

Srinivasan, Krithika. (2019). Remaking more‐than‐human society: Thought experiments on street dogs as “nature”. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 44(2), 376-391.

Ticktin, Miriam. (2017). Invasive others: Toward a contaminated world. Social Research: An International Quarterly, 84(1), xxi-xxxiv.

Todd, Zoe. (2017). Fish, kin and hope: Tending to water violations in Amiskwaciwâskahikan and Treaty Six Territory. Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry, 43(1), 102-107

Winston, Mark. L. (1999). Nature wars: People vs. pests. Harvard University Press.

White, Louise. (1995). Tsetse visions: narratives of blood and bugs in colonial Northern Rhodesia, 1931–9. The Journal of African History, 36(2), 219-245.

Wolch, Jennifer., Brownlow, Alec., & Lassiter, Unna. (2000). Constructing the animal worlds of inner-city Los Angeles. Animal spaces, beastly places, 71-97.

Zahara, Alex. & Hird, Myra (2016). Raven, dog, human: Inhuman colonialism and unsettling cosmologies. Environmental Humanities, 7(1), 169-190.


Galapagos, Radiolab, 17 July 2014

Stranger in Paradise, Radiolab, 27 January 2017

Unseen City: Wonders of Urban Wilderness, 99% Invisible, 26 April 2016

Uptown Squirrel, 99% Invisible, 30 April 2019

Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior

Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study 3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.

First of all, be careful about broad generalizations – stories with morals! – based on a relatively small number of studies.

Second, given that imbalances in wealth and power are core issues in many of our big “Approaches” we are reviewing this semester (population, markets, institutions… so far) what does this imply for ethical decisionmaking when it comes to the environment? In other words, fewer, richer, more powerful people are in control of environmental decisionmaking…

Third, it’s fun to pick on rich people.

Source: Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior (PNAS)

Program to pay Minnesota homeowners to let their lawn go to the bees

The state of Minnesota will help homeowners turn their lawns into bee-friendly habitat under a spending plan approved by the Legislature and sent this week to Gov. Tim Walz.

The state will set aside $900,000 over one year to assist homeowners by covering much of the cost of converting traditional lawns by planting wildflowers, clover and native grasses in an effort to slow the collapse of the state’s bee population. The plan was trimmed down from the original House and Senate proposals, which would have provided funding for three years.

The plan could help replenish food sources for pollinators of all kinds, but will specifically aim at saving the rusty patched bumblebee, a fat and fuzzy species on the brink of extinction that seems to be making its final stand in the cities of the Upper Midwest.

Source: Program to pay Minnesota homeowners to let their lawn go to the bees