Since we had plenty of news last Friday and I was heading out of town, I decided to leave our weekly roundup of global weirding and environmental/wildlife news (that we didn’t already cover) to Monday. Here’s the environmental/wildlife portion.
I have written before about the Marcellus Shale Debate and water issues surrounding hydraulic fracturing. But a recent report from David B. Caruso of the Associated Press drawing attention to the weak regulation in Pennsylvania surrounding wastewater disposal produced by natural gas drilling really opened my eyes to some of the dangers facing Pennsylvania’s waterways. Caruso reports that most states require drillers to get rid of wastewater by injecting it down shafts thousands of feet deep. However, Pennsylvania has been the only state allowing waterways to serve as the primary disposal place for the huge amounts of wastewater produced by fracking. How did Pennsylvania fare in wastewater disposal in 2010 and are there hopes for better results in 2011?…
Last month, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) finally concluded its study on the proposed status of the Ringed Seal under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which was originally instigated by a petition through the Center for Biological Diversity in 2008.
After more than a year, pages upon pages of research, and a court mandate to finalize the findings, due to a lawsuit, also by the Center for Biological Diversity, the definitive answer is in: These seals are threatened by climate change. But it’s not that easy, and, unfortunately, the ringed seals aren’t being listed just yet….
Celebrity chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is turning his attention to fish. The Big Fish Fight, which starts Tuesday 11 January on Channel 4, will see TV chefs investigating the devastating effects of the fishing industry on marine life and the ocean….
How often do you think about forests?
If your answer is not very much, you’re probably much like the rest of the world. Although forests are some of the world’s most important ecosystems (housing amazing biodiversity, stabilizing weather systems and keeping climate change-causing carbon out of the atmosphere) they tend to be more of a backdrop to campaigns centered on people or charismatic animals like owls, wolves or bears.
This year, the U.N. is hoping to make people think about forests just a little bit more, by declaring 2011 theInternational Year of Forests. Participating countries around the world will hold events – conferences, exhibitions, tree planting competitions and film festivals – all calling attention to the value of forests to their country and to the globe….
The Presidential panel investigating the BP oil spill released its final report today, striking a raw cord in the nerve of the environmental community.
It’s not because groups weren’t satisfied with the findings: In large part, many of the conclusions and recommendations were in line with exactly what advocates have been saying all along. More, it’s because so little has been done yet to act on this issue—both to prevent a similar disaster from reoccurring and to make sure the Gulf coast is fully restored to its former splendor….
As you read this blog on the internet, which connects us all around the globe, many of us are still blind to the fact that half of our electricity in our country still comes from a technology that was introduced in the nineteenth century: coal.
Last night, I saw a film called Dirty Business: “Clean Coal” and the Battle for Our Energy Future, consulted and narrated by Rolling Stone reporter Jeff Goodell, which asks these crucial questions: “Can coal ever really be made “clean”? If we were to try to wean ourselves off coal, how would we keep the lights on? Is renewable energy ready for prime time? Is Carbon Capture and Storage really a viable option financially and environmentally?…
It was a fateful day last February when Nathan and Brenda Toone called in Bergman Pest and Lawn Inc. to deal with a rodent problem in their yard.
Three days later, both their children, Rebecca, 4, and Rachel, 15 months, were dead….
The worst man-made environmental disaster in the history of America began on April 20, 2010. The Deepwater Horizon, a modern drilling rig exploring for oil and gas more than 3 miles below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, exploded and sank two days later. • Eleven men were killed and 16 injured. Almost half a billion barrels of oil spilled into the gulf, causing incalculable damage to sea life and human life. More than $2 billion has already been spent in the effort to contain and mitigate the direct damage of the spill, and economic losses to gulf fishermen and tourism are still being calculated. It could be a decade or more before the long-term effects on the health of coastal residents and sea life can be assessed.
America’s confidence in the private sector oil and gas industry was shaken. America’s confidence in the capability of government to oversee an inherently risky use of public lands took another hit.
What caused this disaster?…
[Written by Bob Graham. “Bob Graham is the co-chair of the Presidential Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. He was governor of Florida from 1979-1987 and represented the state as a U.S. senator from 1987-2005.”]
The most important new message contained in the final report of the presidential commission investigating the gulf oil spill is aimed squarely at Congress: If lawmakers hope to win popular support for ramped-up oil drilling in America’s coastal waters then they must make sure that every possible precaution is taken to reduce the chances of another catastrophe like the spill.
The question is whether the newly constituted Congress is in a mood to listen….
Listen to how we discuss clean energy in this country, and you’ll note that the conversation is exactly upside down. To hear the mainstream discourse tell it, clean energy may be a nice idea but it’s prohibitively expensive. Going green, it’s said, will cost jobs and strangle growth at a time when America must do whatever it takes to get our economy and people working again. Environmentalists are going to raise everyone’s energy bills. We’re the “job killers.”
This framing of the issue runs 180 degrees counter to the actual facts of life in the year 2011. Clean energy transformation is the best—perhaps the only—path to economic and job growth, including rebuilding our industrial base and competitiveness. As British economist Nicholas Stern has said of clean energy, “These investments will play the role of the railways, electricity, the motor car and information technology in earlier periods of economic history.”…
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is calling on his fellow lawmakers to pass legislation to invest billions of dollars in transportation and energy technology.
“Now is the moment for America to reach for the brass energy ring — to go for the moon here on earth by building our new energy future,” Kerry said in remarks at the Center for American Progress Tuesday. “This shouldn’t be a partisan issue; but instead of coming together to meet the defining test of a new energy economy and our future, we’re now leaving a political season in which too many candidates promised not to work with the other party.”…
People from 50 cities in 24 countries stripped down to their skivvies on Sunday to participate in the tenth annual No Pants Subway Ride, a serious feat considering how cold it’s been in recent weeks. The subway event originated in New York City by a group called Improv Everywhere. The chaotic and silly act has gained popularity over the past couple of years, drawing attention to public transit. Here are a few highlights from the event….
Businesses could soon find that they can quickly recoup the higher up-front cost of high-tech lighting….
In nearly four decades since the Clean Water Act was passed, the Environmental Protection Agency has never vetoed any mining permit retroactively. That changed this morning.
Word is just coming down via Coal Tattoo that the Obama administration EPA has just vetoed the largest single mountaintop removal permit in West Virginia history. The permit was initially awarded during the previous very fossil-friendly Bush administration, after a fractious decades-long court battle….
Today the Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, wrote on his blog: “I don’t think anyone who reads this blog doubts my enthusiasm for increasing Americans’ transportation options.”…
Following the signatures of 5000 WWF supporters on a WWF online petition to stop illegal logging of precious woods in Madagascar, WWF urges Andry Rajoelina, the president of the transitional government of Madagascar to deliver what he promised and stop illegal logging once and for all….
It seems only yesterday that those who chose to embark on a vegan diet found themselves on the periphery of society. A fringe, more militant version of vegetarianism, they were forced to stay at home and cook every meal with little respite from the kitchen. Not anymore. Today, thanks to celebrity converts and more restaurant and food choices, veganism has made its way to the mainstream, at least according to a recent article in theWashington Post. My eyes were first opened to the diet in 2005 when I read the Skinny Bitch and it turns out I wasn’t the only one. It seems books like this are what turned the tide for the movement….
I spent the year-end holidays in a surprising way: helping friends set up a nursery. They are expecting a baby in March, but when troubling signs of a premature delivery threatened, the mother was rushed into the hospital and put on bed rest. She’s one of the busiest, most active people I know, so the next few months (touch wood) aren’t going to be easy for her. But she will do whatever it takes to protect her infant….
Though images of oiled pelicans and greasy slicks tens of miles long have now faded from the nightly news, the Gulf of Mexico continues to reel from last year’s massive oil spill.
Meanwhile, legislation remains largely stuck in Congress, with little guarantee that money is making its way to those in need. But BP’s efforts to quietly dodge fines and slip out of the spill spotlight received a blow this week when they were awarded the “2010 Accidental Earth Experiment” Prize by TheGreenGrok….
HANNITY: There’s two things I said. I say why isn’t Iraq paying us back with oil, and paying every American family and their soldiers that lost loved ones or have injured soldiers — and why didn’t they pay for their own liberation? For the Kuwait oil minister — how short his memory is. You know, we have every right to go in there and frankly take all their oil and make them pay for the liberation, as these sheiks, etcetera etcetera, you know were living in hotels in London and New York, as Trump pointed out, and now they’re gouging us and saying ‘oh of course we can withstand [these prices].’”…
Sakhalin Energy Investment Company – part owned by Shell – has announced plans to build a major oil platform near crucial feeding habitat of the Western North Pacific gray whale population….
We know that BP was to blame for the Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe. So too were Transocean and Halliburton. So too was the failed regulatory regime, which was tasked with maximizing revenues for drilling at the same time it was responsible for oversight of the operations. You can’t do both, and that is the reason that former regulator, the Minerals Management Service, has been changed into the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement — which has no responsibility for revenue collection.
But the industry lobby group, the American Petroleum Institute (API), is as “compromised” as the MMS was, according to the official Oil Spill Commission, whose report was published yesterday. As well as being a lobby group pushing to promote offshore drilling, API also runs technical committees that write safety standards for the offshore industry….
Glacier melt hasn’t caused a national crisis in Peru, yet. But high in the Andes, rising temperatures and changes in water supply over the last 40 years have decimated crops, killed fish stocks and forced villages to question how they will survive for another generation.
Without international help to build reservoirs and dams and improve irrigation, the South American nation could become a case study in how climate change can destabilize a strategically important region, according to Peruvian, U.S. and other officials.
As shale gas is found in Lancashire, report says drilling should be banned until potential environmental damage is understood….
Dirty Business, the new documentary from the Centre for Investigative Journalism, began its nationwide screening tour last night in Berkeley, California, with the aim of debunking the myth of “clean coal” and kick-starting a debate on the future of energy in the US.
The film shows scarred mountains, abandoned family homes on remote hillsides, water courses toxic with sludge, respiratory fatalities and children whose growth has been stunted by pollution as some of the side effects of coal extraction and the power stations that burn it. And, of course, it shows the effect of coal combustion on global temperatures.
The film is narrated by Jeff Goodell, Big Coal author and contributing editor of Rolling Stone magazine, who compares the first time he saw an open-top mine in West Virginia like the “first time you look into an abattoir after a lifetime of eating animals”….
In a move that threatens the glacial stability of the Arctic shelf, BP and Russian state-controlled oil company, Rosneft, will be drilling deep into the polar region from floating removable platforms. The Schtokman oil field is a $10 billion deal in the Barents Sea and is one of six unique oil fields believed to contain 100 billion tons of oil equivalents.
According to the Barents Observer, the Russian region of the continental shelf has been tapped to reveal 51 deposits and will soon be alight with Polar productivity….
It’s a frigid 35 degrees in central Texas (that’s cold for Texas), and I’m going to visit Harvey Hayek, a former pecan farmer in the small town of Ellinger.
I say “former” pecan farmer because his livelihood has been nearly wiped out due to sulfur dioxide pollution from the Fayette coal plant, only a couple miles away, which provides a third of the city of Austin’s power….