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Friday Finds: An Oceanic-Sized Miracle

Mexican government saves miracle reef
Mexican government saves miracle reef
Cabo Pulmo, an ecological treasure and the jewel of California, recently received a stay of execution after the Mexican government announced its decision to cancel a mega-resort development project near the reef in Baja California Sur, reports the LA Times. The cancelled Cabo Cortes resort development was by far the largest of three proposed development projects near the area (two still remain). The government’s decision comes after the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (which partners closely with Earthjustice) challenged a conditionally approved environmental impact assessment, arguing that the new developments would harm the rich biodiversity of the nearby Cabo Pulmo National Park. Though threats to the reef from other projects and intensive marine resource use remain, the Mexican government’s decision is a big win for defenders of the 20,000 year-old reef, which  has experienced an unprecedented 463-percent increase in biodiversity just 10 years after Mexico established the surrounding the reef as a Marine Protected Area. 

Higher CO2 levels breathe life into body-snatching weeds

Weeds, those pesky invaders that break through sidewalk cracks and blemish perfectly good vegetable beds, are getting a leg up over agriculture crops thanks to increased CO2 emissions, reports ScienceNews. According to recent research, because weeds can adapt more quickly to a changing climate than food crops, they’ve already figured out how to use increased carbon dioxide to their advantage. Food crops, on the other hand, are slow learners by design so that their tastes are not constantly changing, which keeps consumers happy. Though faster growing weeds are a headache in their own right, the more troubling finding of the research is that carbon dioxide makes the weed-like quality in weeds more contagious. As CO2 emissions increase, researchers found that the weedy natural form of rice “increasingly hybridized with the crop plants,” with the result being a diminished value and quality of the cultivated rice. In other words, the crops that breeders have spent decades cultivating into perfect specimens could eventually be transformed into weeds. It seems that when it comes to climate change, you really do reap what you sow.
American Lung Association releases air quality app
Want to know if your neighborhood is filled with toxic air pollution? There’s now an app for that, reports Mother Nature Network. Recently, the American Lung Association released a new phone app that gives you the latest updates on air quality in your neighborhood. The new State of the Air app comes on the heels of the Association’s latest State of the Air report, which analyzes data from state air quality monitors. The new app is free for iPhone and Android users, and its social media applications are designed to get people talking about (and acting on) poor air quality, which is, well, pretty poor in many parts of the U.S. For example, almost 130 million people live in counties that received a big fat ‘F’ for air pollution. Don’t worry, though. If you happen to be one of those people, Earthjustice knows of plenty of ways to fight for clean air. Check them out here.  
BPA may make people anti-social
If you’d prefer to spend your nights alone in front of the TV rather than hanging out with friends, BPA may be to blame, reports Fast Company. A handy chemical for making hard plastics and resin liners, Bisphenol A exposure in humans is widespread in the U.S., which is one reason why researchers have shined a spotlight on it over the past few years, linking it to everything from cancer to obesity. University scientists recently added anti-social behavior to BPA’s rap sheet after observing that a dose of BPA in maternal mouse plasma makes the offspring less socially active with their peers—an effect that continues on for four generations. So why does the social life of mice raise concerns for humans? Because the dose that the scientists used on the mice is “comparable to concentrations found in the blood of most Americans,” reports Fast Company. Squeak!

Pesticide-laden produce called out in updated report
Watermelon, pineapples and corn, oh my! Summer is here and with it brings the juicy and ripe produce of the season. Unfortunately, many fruits and vegetables are doused with loads of toxic pesticides, which is why the new version of the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides is a must have for anyone who can do without a mouthful of pesticides from their favorite piece of produce, reports Grist. The guide identifies which fruits and veggies have the most pesticide residues, and are therefore the most important to buy organic, as well as the produce that’s lowest in pesticides. Though the guide is a great resource for lowering a consumer's pesticide risk, farmworkers are still largely at risk from toxic pesticide exposure. In fact, an average of 57.6 out of every 100,000 agricultural workers experience acute pesticide poisoning, illness or injury each year, the same order of magnitude as the annual incidence rate of breast cancer in the United States. If you think that's just plain ridiculous, learn more about how Earthjustice is working to protect farmworkers from toxic pesticide exposure.