Kenya this week made it official: Anyone manufacturing, importing, selling or even using plastic bags faces thousands of dollars in fines or up to four years in jail. It’s not just shopping bags; garbage bags also count. The ban could help reduce the hundreds of millions of plastic bags used in Kenya each year, but it’s also controversial, as many Kenyans rely on plastic bags to carry charcoal for heating and cooking, or even for sanitation. Still, the BBC reports that people are already adapting by wrapping goods in old newspapers or carrying them in their hands.
The Trump administration this weekend announced it has disbanded the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, the 15-person panel responsible for long-term climate-change planning. The committee’s responsibilities include the National Climate Assessment, next due for publication in 2018. NOAA told the Washington Post on Saturday that the updated assessment would not be affected by the committee’s dismissal, although the report has already been a hot-button topic inside the administration.
Toxic algae can threaten our drinking water, but a new study also reveals that it causes economic harm. According to The Toledo Blade, research from Ohio State University reveals that algal blooms in two of the state’s lakes over the past six years have cost homeowners an amazing $152 million in property values. The blooms have also had an impact on recreational fishing, affecting not just the fishing industry but nearby businesses that rely on the tourism. A summer-long bloom could cause more than $5 million in economic harm to the angling industry, according to the researchers.
Lady Liuwa, the lonely lioness who spent more than a decade as the last of her kind in Zimbabwe’s Liuwa Plain National Park, has died of natural causes on the eve of World Lion Day. A survivor of poaching and illegal trophy hunting, Lady Liuwa wandered the park by herself from the late 1990s until 2010, when the first of several companions were successfully transported to Liuwa. Alas, the story since then remained full of near-constant tragedies, but also some hope. Lady Liuwa never bred, but her impact continues with efforts to restore the once-ravaged park. African Parks has the history and a tribute to this resilient big cat.
The federal Court of Appeals this week reinstated Endangered Species Act protection for the gray wolf populations in the Great Lakes region, vacating a previous decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The court ruling says the previous decision did not take into account the potential impact on other wolf populations, a decision which could have implications for other species sub-populations or “distinct population segments” which have similarly lost protections.