Articles about the environment and climate change. Click the title to read the full article.
As the threat to the planet earth continues to escalate due to climate change and other environmental concerns, activists continue to resist fossil fuel, fracking, oil pipelines, the demise of bees, just to name a few concerns. Responsible journalists are continuing to track the information about climate change.
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EcoWatch wrote, “In a move that would put every American coastal community at risk, Trump proposed Thursday to hand over vast reaches of waters currently protected from drilling—in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans—to the oil and gas industry.”
Oceans are already at great risk and have been degraded. This new proposal threatens the oceans surrounding the United States further.
Popular Resistance Newsletter January 7, 2017
The connection between a melting Arctic and frigid temperatures on the East Coast.
How cold is it? Cold enough to freeze an iguana in Palm Beach. Officials have warned residents of South Florida to look out for cold-stunned lizards falling from trees.
Meanwhile, 6,000 kilometers to the north, the Arctic has less sea ice than at any time in the 37 years that satellites have been measuring ice coverage. And while most of eastern North America is expected to be even colder by Friday, with temperatures set to plunge, Juneau, Alaska, will be a relatively balmy 6℃ (42℉).
What about climate change? The fact that it is cold today in Palm Springs and warm in Juneau is weather. Climate is long-term trends—years—of weather. And one of those trends is increased extreme weather, including winters too warm to ski and winters too cold to go outside.
Every winter, an extremely cold pool of air forms over the Arctic and is normally trapped in the polar vortex, a gigantic circular weather pattern around the North Pole. But the vortex is weakening, allowing the Arctic air pool to escape south when conditions are right. Researchers now believe it is the combination of a warmer Arctic and the loss of sea ice, along with a strong west-coast ridge of high pressure, that allows the polar vortex jailbreak.
Climate change is heating up the Arctic far faster than anywhere else in the world. The ice covering the Arctic Ocean has shrunk rapidly—50 percent of the summer ice extent disappeared in just the last 20 years. Without its ice cover, the Arctic Ocean is warming, especially under 24 hours of sunlight in summer. Warmer water means there is less ice even in winter, when there is 24 hours of darkness.
While it was record-breakingly cold on New Year’s Eve in parts of eastern North America, the Arctic Ocean broke a different record, with a whopping 1.35 million square kilometers less sea ice—an area the size of Texas, California, and Minnesota combined—than the 1981 to 2010 median.
The explosive compound that helped make America a superpower is now a domestic threat.
ProPublica months ago began investigating the scope of the environmental problems caused by the US military on domestic soil. What they found was arresting. The Pentagon has catalogued more than 40,000 contaminated sites across US states and territories, and so far has spent more than $40 billion attempting to clean them up. They’ve found no other single entity — corporation, government agency, or individual — responsible for so much environmental degradation.
Faced with these liabilities, the Pentagon has routinely sought to minimize its responsibility for fixing its environmental problems. It burns hazardous waste and explosives because it’s the cheapest way to dispose of them, even though the burning process has been outlawed for most American industries since the 1980s. It employs contractors to dispose of hazardous waste and clean up toxic sites, then claims it is not responsible when some of those contractors commit fraud, improperly handle toxic material, or cut corners on cleanups.
Brazil’s government this week announced a major shift away from its policy of building mega-dams in the Brazilian Amazon — a strategy born during the country’s military dictatorship and vigorously carried forward down to the present day. While environmentalists and Indigenous groups will likely celebrate, experts warn that many threats remain. Read more…
By Sue Branford, Mongabay | Report Truthout January 3, 2018
As California experienced one of its largest wildfires ever, future projections of global temperature increase and sea level rise are again exceeding previous worst-case scenarios. We are stepping into a world where water wars will be the new oil wars, and where major coastal cities will flood one after another. Read more…
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report January 2, 2018
Much news about the environment in 2017 focused on controversies over Trump administration actions, such as proposals to promote more use of coal and budget cuts at relevant federal agencies. At the same time, however, many scholars across the United States are pursuing innovations that could help create a more sustainable world. Here we spotlight five examples from our 2017 archives.
1. Restoring the Rio Grande
2. Making jet fuel from sugarcane
3. A legal right to a clean environment
4. Stemming world hunger with marine microalgae
5. Understanding biodiversity in cities
By Jennifer Weeks The Conversation December 21, 2017
By Kristophe Green & Dacher Keltner
Yes! Magazine December 2017
It was a tempestuous year – politically and literally.
Donald Trump’s June announcement of an exit from the Paris climate accord confirmed the fears around the world of scientists and politicians about the US’s repositioning on climate change. From Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency, meanwhile, various air and water protections faced being razed in the name of industry first.
Protected land was also in the sights of the administration as it sought to weaken bans around industry activity, like drilling and mining in areas designated national monuments.
Then there were the hurricanes.
Irma battered the Caribbean and southern US in August, especially southern Florida, quickly followed by Hurricane Harvey, which caused some $200bn worth of damage, especially to the sprawling city of Houston.
Then in September, Hurricane Maria caused the worst natural disaster on record in Puerto Rico and Dominica; other islands were also affected.
As the year came to an end, California has faced some of the worst wildfires in its history.
By Mark Oliver in New York The Guardian December 28, 2017
DATE: 2017-06-04 | LENGTH: 17:27
Prof. Subhankar Banerjee, Editor of “Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point,” talks about the effect President Trump’s climate policies will have on the Arctic and on the rest of the planet
The Real News Network June 4, 2017
As part of his ongoing struggle against fracking, Cromwell was back in court this week observing a hearing regarding the fate of the controversial Competitive Power Ventures power plant in Orange County, N.Y.
Tax credits for solar, wind and EVs fare differently in the House and Senate bills. The industry says some changes would be devastating, but the fight isn’t over.
The Senate voted early Saturday to approve a major overhaul of the U.S. tax code that critics say would decimate clean energy investments while continuing to hand out tax breaks to the oil and gas industries.
The sweeping tax system overhaul bill—which represents the biggest corporate tax cut in the country’s history and would reach into many areas of American lives—also contains language that would open the door for oil and gas companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
While the Senate proposal preserves tax credits that have spurred huge growth in the wind and solar industries, it contains an obscure provision that could undercut investment in renewables.
By Georgina Gustin, insideclimatenews.org Popular Resistance December 7, 2017
Special Report from the Occupied Forest: Meet Activists Fighting Europe’s Largest Open-Pit Coal Mine
Kumi Naidoo: United Nations Shouldn’t “Pander to Madness That Comes Out of the Trump Administration”
Democracy Now! November 14 and 15, 2017
“We would line up all of our inhalers in a row on the benches before we would go run, just in case,” recounts Kristen Ethridge; an Indiana resident near some of the most polluting power plants in the country. Asthma rates are so bad from the toxic emissions that many students cannot make it through gym class without their inhalers. Cancer and infant mortality rates in the area are through the roof. These plants are owned by some of the biggest names in the utility business including groups like Duke Energy and AEP. Gibson Power Plant, the worst of them all, emits 2.9 million pounds of toxic compounds and 16.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year. What’s more, most of the energy generated in these plants is transported out of state, leaving Indiana with all the emissions and very little gain. Indiana’s power plants provide a window into how our current electrical system works. It is a system dominated by a small number of large powerful companies, called investor-owned utilities. Their centralized fossil fuel plants are at the heart of our aging electricity grid—a core contributor to rapidly-accelerating climate change. The carbon emissions associated with these power providers are but one symptom of larger systemic issues in the sector. Investor-owned utilities are traditionally profit-oriented corporations whose structures are based on an paradigm of extraction. -more-
By Johanna Bozuwa for The Next System Project Popular Resistance November 8, 2017
“Even as this report sounds the alarm, Trump’s team of climate deniers are twisting themselves into pretzels to justify blocking national and international climate action.”
The 477-page report said it is ‘extremely likely’ that global warming is manmade. Photograph: Michael N/Pacific/BarcroftImages
A comprehensive review by 13 US federal agencies concludes that evidence of global warming is stronger than ever and that more than 90% of it has been caused by humans.
The conclusion contradicts a favorite talking point of senior members of the Trump administration.
Associated Press The Guardian November 3, 2017
Until now, global efforts such as the Paris climate agreement have tried to limit global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels. However, with latest projections pointing to an increase of 3.2C by 2100, these goals seem to be slipping out of reach.
The Guardian November 3, 2017
Shocking New Investigation Links Berta Cáceres’s Assassination to Executives at Honduran Dam Company
We look at shocking revelations released Tuesday that link the assassination of renowned Honduran indigenous environmental leader Berta Cáceres to the highest levels of the company whose hydroelectric dam project she and her indigenous Lenca community were protesting. We speak with New York Times reporter Elisabeth Malkin, who has read the new report by a team of five international lawyers who found evidence that the plot to kill Cáceres went up to the top of the Honduran energy company behind the dam, Desarrollos Energéticos, known as ”DESA.” The lawyers were selected by Cáceres’s daughter Bertha Zúniga and are independent of the Honduran government’s ongoing official investigation. They examined some 40,000 pages of text messages. The investigation also revealed DESAexercised control over security forces in the area, issuing directives and paying for police units’ room, board and equipment.
Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez Democracy Now! November 1, 2017
This comes as no surprise. Trump himself has frequently made clear he opposes the CPP. And EPA’s chief, Scott Pruitt, was a key actor as attorney general of Oklahoma in launching the 27-state lawsuit filed against the plan while Obama was still in office. That case is still working its way through the courts.
WSJ’s glib snark over Harvey completes its Fox News-ification
A recent survey by progressive watchdog Public Citizen (9/12/17) on the media’s coverage of hurricanes Harvey and Irma confirms what’s long been known: Corporate media are indifferent to the causal relationship between climate change and extreme weather, and by far the worst offenders are the Rupert Murdoch–owned Fox News, Wall Street Journal and New York Post.
The survey covered 18 outlets hurricane coverage for the week of August 25–September 1: ten major newspapers, three weekly news magazines, and ABC,CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News. Out of 2,000 media items, there were only 136 mentions of climate change, many denialist in content.
By Adam Johnson FAIR September 15, 2017
By Zoe Loftus-Farren for Earth Island Journal – According to a new report by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, the drinking water of more than a quarter of Americans — some 90 million people — tested positive for a likely carcinogen known as 1,4-dioxane between 2010 and 2015. And public water systems serving more than 7 million people in 27 states have average 1,4-dioxane concentrations that exceed the level US Environmental Protection Agency has said can increase the risk of cancer. According to a new report, a likely carcinogen was detected in the public water systems serving nearly 90 million Americans. 1,4-dioxane water contamination is linked to several sources, not least of which is the use of the chemical as an industrial solvents to dissolve oily substances. It is also a byproduct of plastic production and manufacturing of other chemicals, and can contaminate drinking water through wastewater discharge from industrial facilities, as well as due to leaching from Superfund and hazardous waste sites. In addition to being a likely carcinogen (in California, the chemical is listed as a known carcinogen), 1,4-dioxane exposure has also been linked to liver and kidney damage, lung problems, and eye and skin irritation. -more-
Popular Resistance September 10, 2017
By Jade Begay and Yolonda Blue Horse. Dallas, TX — Today, hundreds of activists rallied and stood in solidarity with communities who have been impacted by Energy Transfer Partners’ pipelines. Despite unprecedented protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and being charged for many violations during the construction of DAPL, Energy Transfer Partners continues to expand its operations across the United States. From North Dakota to Pennsylvania, from Ohio to Louisiana, from Michigan to Texas, ETP violates Indigenous sovereignty, human and environmental rights. “Enough is enough. Across the country, Energy Transfer Partners steals land, poisons air and water, and trashes the climate,” said Yolonda Blue Horse, Society of Native Nations. -more-
Popular Resistance September 10, 2017
By Sue Sturgis for Facing South – The U.S. South is at the epicenter of the nationwide push to build new onshore natural gas pipelines, which carry serious environmental and economic risks. Of the 56 projects that have applied for permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) since 2013, 31 run through Southern states. But the building campaign is meeting resistance in the region, with anti-pipeline organizers holding a series of protests and other events this month targeting both state and federal regulators. In North Carolina, activists with the Alliance to Protect Our People and the Places We Live launched a vigil outside the state Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) headquarters in Raleigh this week as the agency considers whether to grant water quality permits needed for construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a project being built by Dominion, Duke Energy and Southern Company Gas that’s proposed to run from West Virginia through Virginia to North Car olina. Some of the activists are taking part in a water-only fast as part of the action, which is being billed as a “fast to support DEQ.” -more-
Popular Resistance September 10, 2017
By Katherine Paul and Ronnie Cummins of Organic Consumers Association – First Harvey, now Irma. As a reporter at Rolling Stone put it, “Mother Nature is coming for us.” Here in the OCA offices, we’re watching and worrying along with the rest of the world. First and foremost, our thoughts are with those most deeply affected by these storms—not just those affected by Harvey and Irma, but also those in Sierra Leone and South Asia, and Los Cabos, Mexico, where flooding has also recently destroyed homes and taken lives. For us, these climate-related tragedies also heighten the sense of urgency around the work we do. They remind us that the time to transform the world’s degenerative industrial food and farming system to a regenerative alternative, one that can both reverse global warming and feed more people, is now. Industrial agriculture overall contributes more to global warming than any other industry. Regenerative agriculture has the power to reverse global warming. Yet most of our politicians and business leaders, and many well-intentioned NGOs, still focus with tunnel vision on reducing fossil fuel emissions as the only solution to global warming. Yes, we absolutely must reduce fossil fuel emissions. But that strategy alone won’t save us. -more-
Popular Resistance September 10, 2017
Tokyo Electric Power Company is releasing thousands of tons of radioactive water straight into the Pacific Ocean, as the nuclear crisis continues with no end in sight. TEPCO claims tritium is harmless, but a leading environmental toxicologist tells Truthout that tritium can cause “tumors, cancer, genetic defects, developmental abnormalities and adverse reproductive effects.”
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report August 18, 2017
Clean-air crusader Mustafa Ali spent more than two decades and most of his adult life as an environmental justice adviser with the Environmental Protection Agency before his abrupt departure under President Donald Trump. He helped found the EPA’s environmental justice office early on and labored to reduce water and air pollution in countless underserved (and over-polluted) minority communities across the nation. For most of his tenure, Ali managed to avoid getting pigeonholed into party politics and worked well with administrations that grew increasingly partisan. That is, until the arrival of the current president. Today, he is the senior vice president of Hip Hop Caucus, a social advocacy nonprofit that began working to build power in disadvantaged communities in 2004.
Adam Lynch: Was your resignation from the EPA after November just a matter of protocol, or was there another motivation behind it?
Mustafa Ali: I was hoping that (my resignation) would be an educational moment for the new administration. In my letter I tried to highlight the challenges that exist inside our communities, but also the opportunities that exist. I shared with them various resources that they were proposing cutting and some of the other things that they were talking about getting rid of and how that would be detrimental to our communities. … So it wasn’t just protocol. I was trying to highlight [some priorities] for them, because when administrator [Scott] Pruitt was going through his Senate confirmation, he said he didn’t know a whole lot about environmental justice, so I thought I would take it as an opportunity to share with him the realities and opportunities.
By Adam Lynch, YES! Magazine | Interview August 16, 2017
Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report. The Carbon Majors Report (pdf) “pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions,” says Pedro Faria, technical director at environmental non-profit CDP, which published the report in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute. Traditionally, large scale greenhouse gas emissions data is collected at a national level but this report focuses on fossil fuel producers. Compiled from a database of publicly available emissions figures, it is intended as the first in a series of publications to highlight the role companies and their investors could play in tackling climate change. The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established – can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988. -more-
By Tess Riley for The Guardian Popular Resistance July 18, 2017
Laboratory testing of 10 varieties of macaroni and cheese products has revealed toxic industrial chemicals (known as phthalates) in the cheese powders of all of the tested items, according to the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging, a national alliance of leading public health and food safety groups. In recognition of National Macaroni and Cheese Day, the coalition has issued a call to The Kraft Heinz Company—the dominant seller of boxed macaroni and cheese, with 76 percent of market share—to drive industry-wide change by eliminating any sources of phthalates (THAL-eights) that may end up in its cheese products. Detailed information and a public petition are available at http://www.KleanUpKraft.org. “Serving up one of America’s favorite comfort foods shouldn’t mean exposing your children and family to harmful chemicals,” said Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, a coalition member. “Our test result s underscore the need for industry to comprehensively test their products for phthalates and determine the steps needed to eliminate them.” Two million boxes of macaroni and cheese are sold every day in the U.S. -more-
By Staff of Earth Justice Popular Resistance July 18, 2017
Well over a quarter of a million people and 500 organizations submitted comments yesterday rejecting the commercialization of ArborGen Inc.’s genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees, which, if approved, would be the first-ever GE forest tree approved in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed approval in April 2017, releasing a draft Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS) for public comment. This comment period ended on 5 July. The GE eucalyptus trees are engineered to tolerate freezing temperatures in order to greatly expand their growing range. The approval of these GE trees could set a precedent for future approval of GE forest trees such as poplar and pine. In the dEIS, USDA downplayed or ignored the significant risks posed by these novel GE trees. The agency conservatively predicts commercial GE eucalyptus plantations would cover over one million acres across seven southern states—from coastal South Carolina to ea stern Texas. This would have devastating consequences across this region, which is home to a number of the poorest counties in the country, as well as some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. The region is already precariously threatened by climate change and sprawl. -more-
By Staff of GJEP – Washington, DC — Popular Resistance July 12, 2017
Research analysts at Morgan Stanley believe that renewable energy like solar and wind power are hurtling towards a level of ubiquity where not even politics can hinder them. Renewable energy is simply becoming the cheapest option, fast. Basic economics, the analysts say, suggest that the US will exceed its commitments in the Paris agreement regardless of whether or not president Donald Trump withdraws, as he’s stated he will. “We project that by 2020, renewables will be the cheapest form of new-power generation across the globe,” with the exception of a few countries in Southeast Asia, the Morgan Stanley analysts said in a report published Thursday. “By our forecasts, in most cases favorable renewables economics rather than government policy will be the primary driver of changes to utilities’ carbon emissions levels,” they wrote. “For example, notwithstanding president Trump’s stated intention to withdraw the US from the Paris climate ac cord, we expect the US to exceed the Paris commitment of a 26-28% reduction in its 2005-level carbon emissions by 2020.” Globally, the price of solar panels has fallen 50% between 2016 and 2017, they write. And in countries with favorable wind conditions, the costs associated with wind power “can be as low as one-half to one-third that of coal- or natural gas-fired power plants.” -more-
By Zoë Schlanger for Quartz – Popular Resistance July 12, 2017
Solar farms planted on an abandoned nuclear plant site or powering a coal museum or atop a strip mine offer stark images of the ascendance of renewables. But forget metaphorical images — utility-scale renewable electricity generation in March and April actually surpassed nuclear for the first time since July 1984. (Ronald Reagan was president, and “When Doves Cry” was the No. 1 hit on the radio.) Recent months have seen record generation from wind and solar, as well as increases in hydroelectric power because of 2017’s wet winter (note that these numbers, from the Energy Information Administration, do not include distributed solar). Most of the time, conventional hydroelectric generation is still the primary source of renewable electricity. But one of the takeaways from this data set is the emergence of wind in the last decade as a material slice of the energy mix. The U.S. wind industry installed more than 8 gigawatts in 2015 and did it again in 2016. The c ountry now has over 84 gigawatts of installed wind capacity. Another takeaway is the relatively diminutive contribution from solar, which falls between geothermal and biomass in its annual contribution. The U.S. installed 14.5 gigawatts of solar last year, up 95 percent over 2015. -more-
By Eric Wesoff for GTM – Popular Resistance July 12, 2017
Trump Follows Previous US Presidents Who Have Undermined Climate Action: The Only Path to Climate Justice is People Power
President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement follows the path of previous presidents who have undermined international climate agreements. We disagree with Trump but it is important to understand his actions in the context of the history of the United States regarding previous climate agreements. Once again, the political problems in the US are bigger than Trump. His action brings greater clarity to the inability of the US government to confront the climate crisis and clarifies the tasks of people seeking smart climate policy.
The US Has Always Prevented Effective International Climate Agreements
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, www.PopularResistance.org
June 3rd, 2017
FREMONT COUNTY, Wyo. — In a gas field here in Wyoming’s struggling energy corridor, nearly 2,000 miles from Washington, the Trump administration’s regulatory reversal is crowning an early champion.
Devon Energy, which runs the windswept site, had been prepared to install a sophisticated system to detect and reduce leaks of dangerous gases. It had also discussed paying a six-figure penalty to settle claims by the Obama administration that it was illegally emitting 80 tons each year of hazardous chemicals, like benzene, a known carcinogen.
MAY 20, 2017
EPA dismisses half of its scientific advisers on key board, citing ‘clean break’ with Obama administration
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke “is committed to restoring trust in the Department’s decision-making,” a spokeswoman said.
A lot has happened since countries met in Paris in 2015 and agreed on an accord to combat climate change. So far, more than 140 countries have ratified or otherwise joined the Paris agreement, representing more than 80 percent of global emissions. Several major economies, including Canada, Germany and Mexico, have also developed long-term plans to decarbonize their economies.
By Johannes Friedrich, Mengpin Ge and Andrew Pickens EcoWatch April 14, 2017
Radioactive waste is leaking into groundwater less than 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the famous Champagne region in France. Want to help? Visit http://www.greenpeace.org
Before getting into the study, a little background. The jet stream(s) are high-speed rivers of air that flow in the upper atmosphere. There’s more than one jet stream; they blow west to east and they mark the separation of zones of different temperatures. A good primer on jet streams is available here.
John Abraham The Guardian 7 April 2017
NOAA has found that emissions from our relentless consumption of fossil fuels “have remained at historically high levels since 2011 and are the primary reason atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing at a dramatic rate, Tans said. This high growth rate of CO2 is also being observed at some 40 other sites in NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.”
The recent slew of administration attacks on protections for clean water, clean air, and food and worker safety could send America back to a time of unchecked pollution.READ MORE
By Peter Lehner | Earth Protectors March 08, 2017
Is there anything people can do about climate change in the Trump era? The new American president has asserted that global warming is a fraud perpetrated by the Chinese to steal American jobs; threatened to ignore or even withdraw from the Paris climate agreement; and pledged unlimited burning of fossil fuels. Whatever the details, Trump’s agenda will escalate global warming far beyond its already catastrophic trajectory. As we learn that 2016 was the hottest year on record, it sounds like a formula for doom. On October 11 2016, with the presidential campaign still raging, five climate protectors traveled to five secluded locations in North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, and Washington state and turned the shut-off valves on the five pipelines that carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada into the United States. Their action – dubbed “Shut It Down” – blocked 15% of US crude oil imports for nearly a day. -more-
By Jeremy Brecher for Common Dreams Popular Resistance March 13, 2017
We’ve got to use our wits, and by grace re-knit and find our way into some solidarity with one another. Facing the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced, with climate change and the threat of nuclear war, which I think is very real.
People dare to be comfortable with uncertainty if they are in solidarity with each other.
By Dahr Jamail Truthout | Interview February 13, 2017 Rise Up Times February 22, 2017
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Two days after the election of Donald Trump, 21 plaintiffs aged 9-20 won a court ruling that may be just as important as that election in determining our future. As the world hurtles into climate catastrophe, the decision by Judge Ann Aiken in the federal district court in Oregon sets the stage for a momentous trial of our right to a stable climate – and the constitutional obligation of the United States government to protect that right.
Now President Donald Trump has been named lead defendant in the suit. Trump has not only denied the reality of climate change, he has also defied the authority of the courts to enforce other rights of persons – witness his claim in court that his travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries is “unreviewable.” The “climate kids’” case Juliana v. United States is shaping up to be not only a historic trial of the culpability of the U.S. government for destruction of the earth’s climate, but of the power of courts to protect our rights.
Counterpunch February 24, 2017
The Trump administration and a Republican-held Congress appear poised to unravel the nation’s bedrock environmental laws and programs, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA is one of our most effective environmental laws, proven to be vital to protecting species such as the iconic grizzly bear.
Counterpunch February 24, 2017
According to the federal database, there were 295 chemical spills from trains into the Mississippi River in 2015 alone, or nearly one every day. That total is actually down somewhat from recent years. Although many of the reported spills were small, the database failed to list the amount spilled in 188 incidents, or more than 60 percent of the spills.
President Donald Trump claims to be focused on providing “jobs for all Americans,” but — in another example of his reliance on “alternative facts” — he has emphasized the fossil-fuel sector as the likeliest site to create those jobs. He is clearly not paying attention to the recently released figures from the US Department of Energy that show soaring jobs growth in the US renewable energy sector. Read more…
By Linda Pentz Gunter, Truthout | Op-Ed February 5, 2017
Good popular science writing matters more than ever at a time when, as satirist Andy Borowitz has observed, “Earth is threatened by a new, fact-resistant strain of humans.”
As a contributor to The New Yorker’s science and technology blog Elements, I believe that there are ways to make readers fact-receptive again. In general, people really do want to make sense of the world – to have an internally consistent framework for understanding reality. However, for those without scientific training, media accounts of scientific findings can seem ad hoc and arcane – piecemeal progress toward answering questions they never even thought of asking.
The key to effective communication of a scientific idea is to find a balance between the Big Picture and what can seem to outsiders like baby-steps toward greater understanding. In other words, the first task is to provide adequate context for a new or unfamiliar idea, and the second to give a substantive — but not excessively technical — account of its essential content. Strategies for both tasks include:
Incorporating references to phenomena likely to be known by the audience: For example, people familiar with snow will already understand the ideas of surface albedo and its positive feedback effects on temperature, even if they don’t know the scientific terms for these. The high reflectivity of light-colored surfaces can be conveyed by mentioning how even an overcast winter day can seem bright if snow is on the ground.
Using vivid, jargon-free language that creates tangible images in the mind: Breaking out of the straitjacket of scientific prose can be difficult because we may feel we are being disloyal to our clans in using language that is not officially approved. But it is worse for those clans if we fail completely to communicate with the public. So release your inner poet. Let yourself call M<2 earthquakes seismic ‘whispers’ (barely detectable) and M>7 events ‘shouts’ (violent and upsetting). It’s OK to say that stable isotopes of a certain element are different ‘flavors,’ or that over-pressured salt layers ‘squirt’ in slow motion toward the surface.
Employing aptly chosen analogies: Good analogies can provide temporary frameworks for understanding that allow readers to carry basic concepts to a more sophisticated level. For example, before talking about the behavior of parts of the Earth’s deep interior, it is essential to develop a sense of scale in the reader’s mind. One could simply enumerate the depth ranges of Earth’s crust, mantle and core, but it would be far more effective to note that these scale quite closely in relative thickness to those of the skin, pulp and pit of a peach (and that the fuzz even approximates the height of the atmosphere). Analogies shouldn’t be stretched beyond their natural limits however; the peach would have to be replaced with a lava lamp or boiling pot of soup to explain mantle convection.
Developing a narrative line, with protagonists and a plot: Humans are storytellers, and we – scientists and non-scientists alike — are far more likely to remember events when they are connected by a narrative thread. A recent paper has even documented that scientific articles with more attributes of narrative prose tend to get cited more frequently. There is certainly plenty of drama to tap into in the story of Earth systems past and present. An account of the Proterozoic ‘Great Oxidation Event,’ for example, could cast cyanobacteria as biogeochemical revolutionaries that turned the Earth red. Even more importantly, scientific narrative can be an effective tool for dismantling anti-scientific attitudes. The geosciences in particular lend themselves to all of these approaches, which invite non-specialists to share in the creative excitement of the scientific process.
While it is easy to fall into a particularly dangerous type of metaphorical wetland – the slough of despond — in these anti-science times, the good news is that there are more venues than ever through which to reach readers and listeners in the general public: blog posts, podcasts, op-eds, online videos, TED-style talks, science cafes, call-in radio shows, library lectures, presentations to Kiwanis Clubs and religious groups and Girl Scout troops. Together, we can build a bigger, more robust scientific ecosystem that is less vulnerable to rogue pathogens.
– Marcia Bjornerud is Professor of Geology at Lawrence University and author of Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth.
By Marcia Bjornerud AGU January 5, 2017
No biggie, the New York Times assures us.
Donald Trump’s orders to “revive” the Keystone and Dakota Access pipeline projects, whose progress had been slowed by the Obama administration, are much ado about nothing, the New York Times (1/24/17) reported: “The pipelines were more about symbol than substance but generated enormous passion on both sides of the debate,” wrote the Times‘ Peter Baker and Coral Davenport.
Please write to the New York Times and ask them to stop using oil industry consultants as experts on whether Donald Trump’s pro-oil industry moves will be bad for the environment.
Fair January 25, 2017