Moritz Koch and his team at the University of Tübingen in Germany caused blue-green algae to produce that much PHB (polyhydroxybutyrate) that it made up 80% of the total mass of the cell. PHB has similar properties to polypropylene, but is biodegradable. It is probably used by the cyanobacteria as an energy store. Petroleum-based plastics, on the other hand, do not degrade for a very very long time and are a major problem because they contaminate the oceans, soil and drinking water. With the new research results, PHB could be manufactured on a large scale and replace petroleum-based packaging material. Plastics made from bacteria have been known for a long time, but they are not climate-neutral if they require sugar or fats instead of CO2 as raw materials. Bacterial plastic is 5€ per kilogram, fossil plastic is 2€ per kilogram (SN 2021-07-23).
Conventional polyester can be broken down by an enzyme from bovine stomachs, as was found out in Tulln at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Austria (SN 2021-08-04). This could be another solution to the plastic environmental crisis. While people in Europe are searching for solutions Adani Enterprises in India thinks on how they can pollute more: see for the petition against Platic from Coal, the dirtiest plastic on earth. If they can not burn that much coal they want to make plastics from it.
As decided in 2018, most products made from single-use plastic have been banned in the EU since the beginning of July 2021. The fact that biodegradable materials made from bagasse (sugar cane), wheat fibers, bamboo fibers or palm leaves are now in use is to be deemed generally positive. A major blow, however, is that toxic additives are regulated down to the last detail for plastic, while only a spongy framework applies to its substitutes (SN 2021-08-07). For example, the particularly ostracized PFAS (perfluorinated alkyl substances) are used to make these substances water-repellent. PFAS are extremely harmful to health, non-biodegradable and accumulate from the Arctic to umbilical cord blood. Potentially carcinogenic chloropropanols are also used. High concentrations of pesticides have been measured in substances made from palm leaves. Until there is a viable succession framework, the consumer can only do without fast food and meal delivery services. That would also save huge mountains of rubbish. Even aluminum, if it is absorbed by the body, is harmful, not to mention the red mud environmental mess.
In our opinion, the media, at least here in Austria, reported with comparatively insufficient coverage about the recent devastating flood in Western Germany. The destruction is enormous. Over 1,000 people are missing. The small town of Schuld in the Ahr Valley was badly hit. One family could only save themselves on the roof, other houses have collapsed or torn away, it looks like after a tsunami. The best way to get an impression of the disaster is to look at the pictures: volksfreund.de, daswetter.com. Belgium and the Netherlands were also hit: tagesschau.de. Internet, cellular and telephone were down. Most of the cell phone base stations are now back on power, but many of the fiber optic cables have been torn off, f.i. because they were routed across torn bridges. In some areas there will be no internet until 2022. In many places, electricity and water also have to be built from scratch; that's going to take time.
According to the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor's Office, the lawyer Hanno Berger, wanted as cum-ex architect, was arrested on July 7th in Graubünden, Switzerland. He is currently resisting extradition to Germany. The Augsburger Allgemeine reported on July 27th that he is still in custody of extradition in Switzerland. Cum-Ex is the biggest fraud scandal in German tax history, in which taxes that were never paid were “refunded” on state costs. An important decision also lately had to be made in Karlsruhe: The highest judges ruled that Cum-Ex was criminal and not just illegal and that the criminal offenses are therefore not yet statute-barred (welt.de 07/28/2021).
Jessica Reznicek has been sentenced to eight years in prison, followed by three years probation, and a restitution of over three million dollars paid to Energy Transfer Partners for taking nonviolent direct action to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. It is unbelievable that this is taking place in a democratic state like the US. We have already warned about respective legislation in the message preceding this one. For comparison, people who took place in the recent demonstrations against the Cuban regime were sentenced to one year as long as they did not participate in plunder. NASA Climate Scientist Peter Kalmus echoed the common sentiment saying, “Jessica was sentenced to 8 years for protecting all of us from climate and ecological breakdown. She acted from necessity and from love. She is a hero, not a terrorist.”
Companies from our democratic states are creating surveillance technology and selling it to dictatorships. Muammar al-Gaddafi has been just one known client. The latest leak is about the Israelian firm NSO which created the Pegasus spyware. It was used to target blogger Jamal Khashoggi who was against the radical religiouos Wahhabits and who was then assasinated by the Saudi Arabian government. However the victims of Pegasus now leaked by coincidence do not only reside in dictatorships. A journalist in the democratic EU country Hungary was also targeted putting his sources at risk. The Salzburger Nachrichten from the 22rd of June reported that an Austrian businessman was targeted as well. Intrusive spyware and surveillance technology are antidemocratic in nature and should at best be banned wholly. At least it should be forbidden to sell such software, Edward Snowden says. Besides this it is also well known that companies like Microsoft have sold software for censorship of the internet to China and participated in the PRISM surveillance program to make the NSA access data of non US-citizens hosted by American companies. Google and Apple are not any better in this regard.