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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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