Science report: US should make less plastic to save oceans

America needs to rethink and reduce the way it generates plastics because so much of the material is littering the oceans and other waters, the National Academy of Sciences says in a new report. The United States, the world’s top plastics waste producer, generates more than 46 million tons a year, and about 2.2 billion pounds ends up in the world’s oceans, according to the academy's report. If the current rise in plastics pollution continues, the world by 2030 will be putting 58.4 million tons into the oceans each year, or about half the weight of the fish caught in seas, the report said.

NYC OKs safe sites for drug use, aiming to curb overdoses

The first officially authorized safe havens for people to use heroin and other narcotics have been cleared to open in New York City in hopes of curbing deadly overdoses, officials said Tuesday. The privately run “overdose prevention centers” provide a monitored place for drug users to partake. Also known as supervised injection sites or safer consumption spaces, they exist in Canada, Australia and Europe and have been discussed for years in New York and some other U.S. cities and states. A few unofficial facilities have operated for some time. Proponents see the facilities as pragmatic, life-saving tools for stopping overdoses, which are claiming a record number of lives in the U.S. and its most populous city. “I’m proud to show cities in this country that after decades of failure, a smarter approach is possible,” Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said in a statement. Opponents, however, see the sites as moral failures that essentially sanction people harming themselves and create hubs of drug use. Further, federal law bans operating a place for taking illegal drugs, and the government successfully sued in recent years to block a supervised consumption space in Philadelphia.

Christmas tree buyers face reduced supplies, higher prices

Even Christmas trees aren’t immune to the pandemic-induced shortages and inflation plaguing the economy. Extreme weather and supply chain disruptions have reduced supplies of both real and artificial trees this season. American shoppers should expect to have fewer choices and pay up to 30% more for both types this Christmas, industry officials said. “It’s a double whammy — weather and supply chain problems are really hampering the industry,” said Jami Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association, an industry trade group. “Growers have been hard hit by floods, fires, smoke, drought, extreme weather conditions.” Record-breaking heat and wildfires in late June took a heavy toll on Christmas tree farms in Oregon and Washington, two of the nation’s largest growers. Warner could not provide an estimate of how many fewer trees there will be this year but because it takes up to 10 years to grow, the crop loss will be felt for many seasons to come.

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