FERN’s Friday Feed: The collapse of Big Oil’s ‘Renew Oceans’ project

Welcome to FERN’s Friday Feed (#FFF), where we share the stories from this week that made us stop and think.

What happened to Big Oil’s flagship effort to solve ocean plastic?


“A wheelbarrow and a handful of metal grids for capturing litter … sit rusting outside an empty, padlocked office in the Indian city of Varanasi, a short walk from the Ganges,” write Joe Brock, John Geddie and Saurabh Sharma. “It is all that is left of a programme, funded by some of the world’s biggest oil and chemical companies, that they said could solve a runaway ocean plastic waste crisis which is killing marine life … and clogging tropical beaches and coral reefs. The closure of Renew Oceans … is a sign that an industry whose financial future is tied to the growth of plastic production is falling short of its targets to curb the resulting increase in waste.”

‘We belong here.’ Transgender alpaca ranchers stake their claim in Colorado.

High Country News

When “[t]he Tenacious Unicorn Ranch, a community of gun-loving, transgender, anti-fascist alpaca ranchers,” coalesced in March in Custer County, Colorado … “they already knew the financial, physical, and emotional challenges of operating a successful ranch,” writes Eric Siegel. But “they had no idea that the Wet Mountain Valley had become a cauldron of right-wing conservatism — home to militias, vigilantes, Three Percenters — anathema to the ranch’s gender-inclusive, anti-racist, ecological politics.”

Climate change is drying out the Colorado River headwaters

Arizona Republic

“Over the past two decades, rising temperatures have intensified the dry years across the Colorado River Basin,” writes Ian James. “Warmer conditions are eroding the flows of the tributary streams as vegetation draws more water and as more moisture evaporates off the landscape. Over the past year, the relentless hot, dry months from the spring to the first snows left the soil parched. The amount of runoff into streams and the river dropped far below average. With reservoirs sinking toward new lows, the risks of shortages are growing.”

The egg thief


“For decades Jeffrey Lendrum helicoptered up and rappelled down to aeries on cliff faces from Patagonia to Quebec, snatching unhatched raptors and selling them, investigators believe, to wealthy Middle Eastern falconers. This week in London, one of the most bizarre criminals in modern history goes on trial for the fourth time. Here is his story.”

‘The case for cannibalism’


“Eating human flesh hasn’t always been so distasteful. At least socially. Archeologists have found butchered human bones far too frequently for it to have been a sporadic, starvation-only practice. And before Western culture washed over the globe, ritualistic cannibalism was not uncommon,” writes Cody Cassidy. “In other words, the revulsion to cannibalism is not innate. It’s a societal taboo without a Darwinian explanation (such as incest). What sets it apart from other social taboos is its remarkable power. The Donner Party might be infamous for its cannibalism, but more than a dozen members of the party starved to death rather than eat the already dead.”