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eu pesticides, european commission, european union ecology

Obsolete pesticides excavated from landfills.

A shocking report released last month by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe found that over the past nine years there has been a 53% rise in contamination of the most hazardous pesticides in European fresh fruits.

The analysis of more than 97,000 fruit samples found that nearly one-half of all blackberries and one-third of apples had toxic pesticide residue. These pesticides have been linked to serious illnesses such as birth defects, cancer and heart disease.

At the same time, Reuters reports that intensive “farming, forestry and urbanisation are fuelling the degradation of natural habitats” adding that most of Europe’s protected “species have a negative conservation status.”

In an effort to dramatically reduce the volume of pesticides in the bloc’s food supply and rehabilitate its natural habitat, the European Commission has proposed dramatic new environmental targets. The first would reduce the use of chemical pesticides across the EU 50% by 2030. Pesticides would also be banned for use in public parks and protected areas.


The second would require EU countries to restore 20% of the bloc’s land to nature by 2030 and all degraded land by 2050.

In addition, the proposal would restore 15,500 miles of rivers and redirect them to their natural courses. It would also work to increase farmland bird populations.

“The aim is to cover at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 with nature restoration measures, and eventually extend these to all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050,” the commission said, according to The Washington Post.

Frans Timmermans, the commission's first vice president, will help the EU recover its natural habitat at a time when the planet is threatened by climate change.

Fruit plantation near Hamburg, Germany.

via Daniel Lerps/Flickr

“When we restore nature, we allow it to continue providing clean air, water, and food, and we enable it to shield us from the worst of the climate crisis,” Timmermans said according to The Washington Post. “Reducing pesticide use likewise helps nature recover, and protects the humans who work with these chemicals.”

The new proposal would be wonderful for the planet but the fast transition to pesticide alternatives would be a challenge to EU farmers. So the proposal allows farmers to use EU funds to cover the new costs for the first five years.

The proposal will have to be approved by EU member countries and lawmakers to take effect. Some are skeptical of making such drastic changes at a time when the bloc’s food supply has been compromised by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, the European Commission believes if there isn't a switch to new farming techniques, the effect on the bloc could be disastrous as well.

"If we lose soil fertility, if soil erosion and degradation continue, that is going to be a major impact on our agricultural output," the European Commission's Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius told Reuters.

The European Commission’s proposal is a dramatic plan that could fundamentally change the face of Europe by reversing decades of damage caused by farming and urban sprawl. At a time when Europe is being challenged by war and the effects of climate change, returning the land to nature has never seemed like a better idea.

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

True

Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

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Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Marlon Brando on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973.

Marlon Brando made one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in 1972 after playing the iconic role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” The venerable actor's career had been on a decline for years after a series of flops and increasingly unruly behavior on set.

Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist, dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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