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EL ESPECTADOR

Water Pollution And The World's Plastic Bottle Conundrum

From Flint, Michigan to Shanghai, China, bottled water is a luxury many people can't afford to do without.

Plastic art exhibit in London
Plastic art exhibit in London
Martin Greenacre

PARIS —The global war on plastic continues. With several U.S. cities, the UK and the European Union all proposing to ban plastic straws, people are now turning their attention to bottled water, asking whether that, too, should be banned. Writing in the Guardian, Sonia Sodha argues that, "There's no consumer good we have less need of than bottled water."

But while that statement is mostly true for the UK, recent examples from around the world show that not everyone can be so confident about the quality of their water supply.

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Ideas

Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Image of the small satellite NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite deployed into space by the ISS

Thomas Lewton

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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