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A mountain of unsold clothing from fast-fashion retailers is piling up in the Chilean desert

A mountain of unsold clothing from fast-fashion retailers is piling up in the Chilean desert

A huge heap of unworn clothing is piling up in Chile’s Atacama desert.

An estimated 39,000 tons of clothes that can’t be sold in the US or Europe end up in Chile yearly.

The clothes occupy a large stretch of the desert, blanketing dunes in a layer of discarded textiles.

Heaps of unworn clothes are being discarded in the Chilean desert, adding to a swiftly swelling graveyard of fast-fashion lines past.

According to a report from Agence France-Presse, the massive mound of clothes consists of garments made in China and Bangladesh that make their way to stores in the US, Europe, and Asia. When the garments are not purchased, they are brought to Chile’s Iquique port to be resold to other Latin American countries.

AFP found that about 59,000 tons of clothing end up at the port in Chile every year. Of that, at least 39,000 tons are moved into landfills in the desert.

Alex Carreno, a former employee at the Iquique port’s import section, told AFP the clothing “arrives from all over the world.” Carreno added that most of the clothes are later disposed of when the shipments can’t be resold across Latin America.

The used clothes brought to the desert heaps for disposal now blanket an entire swathe of land in the Atacama desert in Alto Hospicio, Chile.

aerial view used clothes fast fashion atacama desert chile
Aerial view of used clothes discarded in the Atacama desert in Chile. 

“The problem is that the clothing is not biodegradable and has chemical products, so it is not accepted in the municipal landfills,” said Franklin Zepeda, founder of EcoFibra, a company that is trying to make use of the discarded clothing by making insulation panels out of it.

Zepeda, whose firm has been using textile waste to create its thermal and acoustic building insulators since 2018, told the AFP that he wanted to “stop being the problem and start being the solution.”

Fast fashion, while affordable, is extremely harmful to the environment

For one, the fashion industry accounts for 8 to 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, according to the United Nations. In 2018, the fashion industry was also found to consume more energy than the aviation and shipping industries combined. Researchers estimate that the equivalent of a garbage truck of clothes is burned and sent to a landfill every second

And the rate at which consumers buy clothing does not appear to have slowed down in the 21st century. According to statistics from the Ellen McArthur Foundation, a UK-based think-tank and circular-economy charity, clothing production doubled during the 15 years from 2004 to 2019. McKinsey also estimated that the average consumer purchased 60% more clothes in 2014 than they did in 2000.


Cheryl Teh at Insider

In World First, Top Beef Supplier Approves Methane-Busting Feed Additive That Reduces Gas by 55%

In World First, Top Beef Supplier Approves Methane-Busting Feed Additive That Reduces Gas by 55%

A surprisingly high amount of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock: specifically, from the methane in the burps and other gases, they release as part of their digestive process.

It can add up to nearly three gigatons of carbon dioxide per year, a significant amount that puts it on a scale with heavy manufacturing industries and other more obvious polluters.

In light of this, some have advocated that we change our eating habits to consume less meat and dairy. Another way to approach the problem is to change what the cows and other livestock are eating. Bovaer is a food additive that safely and immediately suppresses digestive methane production in cows, reducing emissions by up to 30%.

Given that a single cow can produce three tons of carbon dioxide each year, the widespread use of Bovaer could have an enormous impact on livestock-based methane emissions.

Regulators in Brazil and Chile have granted full market authorization for Royal DSM’s Bovaer to be given to cows as well as sheep and goats, the company said recently in a statement.

The methane-reducing additive obtained this first approval after a 10-year collaboration called Project Clean Cow, and its success in 48 scientific trials on farms in 13 countries across 4 continents—peer-reviewed studies (such as this one in 2020 at UC Davis) that were published in scientific journals

“A beef trial with Bovaer at Sao Paolo State University (UNESP) in Brazil conducted in 2016-2017, showed enteric methane emission reductions up to 55%, which highlights the potential for radically more sustainable cattle farming in Latin America to further lower their carbon footprint,” said Mauricio Adade, president DSM Latin America.

And the additive comes “without adverse effects on performance”, says São Paulo State University Professor Ricardo Reis.

”The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) stated that a rapid reduction of methane emissions could reduce the spread of global warming in the near term and have a positive effect on air quality,” said DSM’s Mark van Nieuwland. “We know the agricultural and livestock sectors recognize this opportunity for change and are eager to act.”

Just a quarter teaspoon of Bovaer per cow per day consistently reduces burped methane emission by approximately 30% for dairy cows and even higher percentages (up till 90%) for beef cows. After suppressing methane production in the stomach, it is broken down into compounds already naturally present in the cow’s stomach.


Good News Network


‘Southern Blob’ of hot ocean is causing a megadrought thousands of miles away in Chile

‘Southern Blob’ of hot ocean is causing a megadrought thousands of miles away in Chile

In the southwest Pacific Ocean, there’s a huge region of unusually warm water covering an area about the size of Australia, known as “the Southern Blob.

“Several thousand miles away, the South American nation of Chile has been experiencing a megadrought for more than a decade, with dwindling rain and water supplies.

On the surface, these two events have nothing to do with each other — but, a new study found, they are linked by invisible forces of global atmospheric pressure and circulation.

The Southern Blob, located east of Australia and New Zealand, emerged about four decades ago, likely caused by a naturally-occurring decline in rainfall over the central tropical Pacific. But over time, climate change has made the Blob bigger and hotter, according to the study.

The drop in rainfall affected atmospheric circulation in the region, creating wind patterns that changed how warm and cold currents flow in the ocean — guiding more warm water to the Blob while pushing cold water deeper down.The warm surface water that makes up the Blob then heats the air above it — and as the atmosphere warms, it expands into a “big, broad area of high pressure,” known as a high pressure ridge, said Kyle Clem, co-author of the study and lecturer in climate science at the Victoria University of Wellington.

A dried area of the Penuelas Lake in Valparaiso, Chile, on January 22, 2020.

This ridge, which stretches across the South Pacific, changes the path that storms usually take as they move across oceans, known as “storm tracks.” Because of the ridge, storm systems shifted south toward Antarctica and away from the west coast of South America.

South America’s coastal region — including central Chile, Argentina and parts of the Andes mountains — relies on those winter storms to replenish freshwater supplies before the summer dry season. With the storms now redirected to Antarctica, Chile has been plunged into serious drought conditions since 2010, with widespread damage to the environment and people’s livelihoods.

The study, published Thursday in the Journal of Climate, marks the first time researchers have made a direct connection between the Blob and the megadrought.

This is Chile’s longest drought on meteorological record, according to NASA. The last megadrought of this scale probably took place in the region more than 1,000 years ago, according to René D. Garreaud, a scientist at the University of Chile and one of the study co-authors.

The El Colorado ski resort with mostly melted snow, in the middle of its 2021 winter season, in Santiago, Chile.

South America had previously seen an overall decline in rainfall going back decades, coinciding with the emergence of the Blob. But it was sporadic — sometimes there would be drought years, and other times plentiful rain.

But global warming has caused the Blob to expand and grow much hotter over the past decade — and the drought has become one continuous, unending stretch. During the winter season in the southern hemisphere, the Blob warms about three times faster than the global average in other parts of the ocean, Clem said.

“So this thing started in the central tropical Pacific, get some warming, the pattern continues for 40 years — then you just have added heat being pumped into it from increasing greenhouse gases,” Clem said. “That’s what has allowed the Blob to reach such extreme rates of warming … which is why we’re seeing a drought that is so unprecedented.

“The prolonged drought has devastated farms throughout Chile, with crop failures and mass deaths of livestock. Reservoirs are at critically low levels, and residents in some rural areas now rely on water deliveries from tanker trucks.

The Blob’s knock-on effects have also been felt elsewhere. Because the shift causes warmer air to move toward the Antarctic, it has caused a reduction in Antarctic sea ice — which in turn threatens the region’s delicate ecosystems, and could have far-reaching consequences in altering global weather patterns.

It’s not clear when or if the Blob will dissipate, which is what Clem and the team plan to study next. The decline in rainfall is expected to taper off at some point — but researchers don’t know whether that will be enough to break apart the Blob, or if it will be sustained by human-caused heat alone.

“One of the most fascinating things about this is, we have this anthropogenic (human-caused) signal in the climate system, which is the Blob, sitting out there in the middle of nowhere,” Clem said. “But because of the way the ocean’s circulations are configured, it has the ability to influence regional climates where huge amounts of people live, tens of thousands of kilometers away.”

“What our study shows is that, with human-induced climate change, what happens in one place does not necessarily stay there.”


Jessie Yeung at CNN

On the Web This Week, 7 November

On the Web This Week, 7 November

On the web this week, indoor farming takes a step forward, a volcanic eruption creates a new island, and Chile’s last circus elephant retires.

Picture credit: Bowery

If you live in the U.S., the last time you ate a salad, the lettuce inside it almost certainly came from California or Arizona. But the geography of leafy greens is very slowly starting to change as the trend of indoor farming—growing greens in large warehouses using artificial light and automated technology—expands. The latest farm to open is in Baltimore. It’s the largest, so far, from the New York-based, tech-heavy startup Bowery.

Picture credit: GeoNet

An undersea volcanic eruption in the Tongan archipelago has sunk one island and created another one that is three times larger, according to a report by geologists released on Thursday.

Taaniela Kula, of the Tonga Geological Service, said the new island is estimated to be about 100 metres wide and 400 metres long, and is situated about 120 metres west of its now-submerged predecessor, Lateiki island.

Companies seeking to cut plastic use are tapping a vast source of raw materials: ocean garbage.

Coca-Cola Co. recently unveiled a bottle made in part of recycled marine litter. Interface Inc., the world’s biggest maker of carpet tiles, is weaving rugs with yarns produced from discarded fishing nets. Startups are raising funds to fish for plastics and make new products.

Picture credit: Julian Stratenschulte / Getty Images

Electrifying transportation is one of the biggest keys to solving the looming climate crisis. With more electric vehicles on the road and fewer gas-guzzlers, drivers burn less fossil fuels and put out fewer planet-heating gases into the atmosphere. But as electric vehicles become more popular, they’re posing another environmental challenge: what to do with their batteries once they’re off the road.

Picture credit: Donald Miralle/Getty Images

This week in Los Angeles, 15,000 people will be attending one of the biggest creativity conferences in the world, Adobe MAX. It’s not the kind of event that is normally associated with conservation, but this year is different. The creative community is getting involved in coral reef conservation and it might just help save an entire ecosystem.

Picture credit: Gregory Zamell/Shutterstock

Ramba the elephant spent 50 years all alone in a circus. The Asian elephant was first forced into circus life in Argentina and later in Chile. In 1997, she was “confiscated” from a circus called Los Tachuelas because she was suffering abuse and neglect.

Despite being “confiscated,” she actually had to stay with the circus, just wasn’t able to perform anymore. After many years of hard work on behalf of Chilean NGO Ecopolis and elephant experts Scott Blais and Kat Blais, Ramba was rescued and it marks the official end of performing circus elephants in Chile.

Picture credit: Apple TV Plus

Two movies this year feature prolonged scenes in which a dung beetle pushes a piece of poop in the middle of the African savannah. One of them is an emotional journey about a leader coming to terms with the full cycle of birth, life, and death, which ends with a poignant moment in the rain. The other is the live-action Lion King.

Apple TV Plus’ nature documentary The Elephant Queen does what Disney couldn’t: imbue emotional depth to its animal subjects and crafting a sweeping narrative across the African plains.

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