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Environment

Environment
Planned US Oil Storage Boom Faces New Scrutiny After Tank-Farm Fire
Collin Eaton: A three-day petrochemical fire that spread a cancer-causing chemical and thick smoke over Houston suburbs this week has spurred calls for tougher safety regulations that could affect a nearly dozen crude-export terminals proposed for the U.S. Gulf Coast. ... Federal, state and local officials have begun investigating whether Mitsui & Co’s Intercontinental Terminals Co (ITC) met safety and environmental regulations after the fire in Deer Park, Texas, spread quickly among rows of giant tanks that hold up to 3.3 million gallons of fuel each. ... The blaze released toxic benzene which led five school systems with more than 108,000 students to shut for two days, and prompted two cities to tell residents to stay indoors. ... It burned for three days and destroyed 11 tanks holding fuels used to make gasoline and plastics that sat along the nation’s busiest petrochemical port and among nine oil refineries... Visit Website ]
Mar 25, 2019, 12:22pm

Environment
On World Water Day – forests are the answer
Whoever you are, wherever you are, water is your human right. That’s the theme of World Water Day 2019. It’s a day made official by the United Nations General Assembly that takes place every year on March 22. Did you know that regardless of who, or where you are, your water likely comes from a forest? According to the UN, forests provide 75 percent of the world’s freshwater. In addition, forests provide more than just water storage; trees help regulate rainfall through transpiration and filter out contaminants.... Visit Website ]
Mar 22, 2019, 12:28pm

Environment
Rivers gain legal protection from misuse
Alex Kirby: So Old Man River is getting a day in court: a growing international initiative is seeing to it that rivers gain legal protection against pollution and other forms of exploitation, in a move which insists that they have rights just as people do. ... “Accepting a non-human part of nature as a legal entity requires a conceptual shift away from placing humanity at the centre of everything. This understanding could generate other legal changes handing power to other parts of our natural world.” ... The New Zealand example spread fast. On the day in March 2017 when it recognised the rights of the Whanganui river, the Ganges and Yamuna river system in India was also given the legal status of persons after a battle to stop it being polluted. ... Another influence on the spread of the idea of rights for nature is likely to be the concept of critical biodiversity, which argues that species diversity is needed for a healthy ecosystem to thrive... Visit Website ]
Mar 21, 2019, 4:51pm

Environment
Google, Amazon Help Big Oil Heat Up Planet
Vanessa Nason: While a generation prepares for an impending climate catastrophe, our nation’s billionaires are profiting from its advancement. ... tech giants in Silicon Valley are allowed to leverage new technologies that aid oil extraction procedures, hiding behind a veneer of philanthropy but reaping as much profit as possible while directly contributing to ecological collapse. ... Amazon web services (AWS), which provides AI, machine learning, and cloud computing tools to businesses, has a dedicated Oil & Gas division. ... Google, too, has thrown its hat into the ring, creating Google Cloud Oil, Gas, and Energy. ... “Without political direction through laws, incentives and sanctions, there is no reason that companies will act autonomically towards the common good, such as transformation towards a decarbonized society”... Visit Website ]
Mar 20, 2019, 4:11pm

Environment
Is This the End of Recycling?
Alana Semuels: After decades of earnest public-information campaigns, Americans are finally recycling. Airports, malls, schools, and office buildings across the country have bins for plastic bottles and aluminum cans and newspapers. In some cities, you can be fined if inspectors discover that you haven’t recycled appropriately. ... But now much of that carefully sorted recycling is ending up in the trash. ... For decades, we were sending the bulk of our recycling to China—tons and tons of it, sent over on ships to be made into goods such as shoes and bags and new plastic products. But last year, the country restricted imports of certain recyclables, including mixed paper—magazines, office paper, junk mail—and most plastics. ... Waste-management companies across the country are telling towns, cities, and counties that there is no longer a market for their recycling... Visit Website ]
Mar 19, 2019, 11:52am

Environment
A Future Without Fossil Fuels?
Bill McKibben: At what point does a new technology cause an existing industry to start losing significant value? ... This may turn out to be the most important economic and political question of the first half of this century, and the answer might tell us much about our chances of getting through the climate crisis without completely destroying the planet. Based on earlier technological transitions—horses to cars, sails to steam, land lines to cell phones—it seems possible that the fossil fuel industry may begin to weaken much sooner than you’d think. ... in the 2020s—probably the early 2020s—the demand for fossil fuels will stop growing. ... “In 2017, the price in India of wind and solar power dropped 50 percent to $35–40 a megawatt hour,” ... The cost of power from a newly built coal plant using Indian coal is, by comparison, about $60 a megawatt hour... Visit Website ]
Mar 15, 2019, 4:27pm

Environment
Iconic Forests Reaching Climate Tipping Points in American West, Study Finds
Phil McKenna: Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forests are struggling to regrow after wildfires in parts of the West as temperatures rise and the air and soil become drier. ... As temperatures rise, the hotter, drier air and drier soil conditions are increasingly unsuitable for young Douglas firs and ponderosa pines to take root and thrive in some of the region's low-elevation forests, scientists write in a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Wildfires in these areas could lead to abrupt ecosystem changes, from forest to non-forest, that would otherwise take decades to centuries, the study says. ... Protecting forests is important for slowing climate change because of their ability to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store the carbon in their trunks, branches and roots... Visit Website ]
Mar 14, 2019, 12:51pm

Environment
A Climate Change Solution No One’s Talking About: Better Land Use
Daniel Ross: It was a nightmarish Iowa blizzard in 1998 that made Seth Watkins rethink the way he farmed. ... In the 20 years since, Watkins has shepherded in a number of major changes—such as prairie strips, cover crops and rotational grazing—that prevent soil erosion, curb toxic nitrate and phosphorus runoff into nearby waterways, stimulate the biodiversity of the local ecosystems, and improve soil moisture and nutrient content, all the while increasing profits, he said. ... These regenerative farming practices also achieve one other key outcome — they improve the soil’s ability to sequester carbon. This is something that brings practical impacts at the local economic level. But soil carbon sequestration also has the potential to tackle one of the single greatest threats to humanity: anthropogenic climate change. ... “Carbon really does belong in the soil where it sustains us.”... Visit Website ]
Mar 9, 2019, 11:26am

Environment
Mushrooms Clean Up Toxic Mess, Including Plastic. So Why Aren’t They Used More?
Renée Alexander: ... In the aftermath of the fires, federal and state workers removed much of the toxic debris. But then, in Sonoma County, a coalition of fire remediation experts, local businesses, and ecological activists mobilized to cleanse the foundations of burned-out buildings with … mushrooms. The Fire Remediation Action Coalition placed more than 40 miles of wattles—straw-filled, snakelike tubes designed to prevent erosion—inoculated with oyster mushrooms around parking lots, along roads, and across hillsides. ... Their plan? The tubes would provide makeshift channels, diverting runoff from sensitive waterways. The mushrooms would do the rest. ... Research suggests mushrooms can convert pesticides and herbicides to more innocuous compounds, remove heavy metals from brownfield sites, and break down plastic... Visit Website ]
Mar 6, 2019, 3:30pm

Environment
Miami bans the use of glyphosate in a step to improve water quality
Ashley Curtin: Miami, Florida voted unanimously to ban the use of glyphosate by city departments and contractors. The controversial herbicide is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s – now Bayer after an acquisition took place over a year ago – popular weed-killer, Roundup. ... Miami Commissioner Ken Russell started the investigation into the city’s use of glyphosate after officials believed the runoff from the herbicide “might have contributed to the recent blue-green algae bloom and red tide that impacted the state last year,” EcoWatch reported. ... Miami Director of Resiliency and Public Works Alan Dodd determined that Miami was responsible for using 4,800 gallons of glyphosate a year on the streets and sidewalks to kill weeds... Visit Website ]
Mar 6, 2019, 3:17pm

Environment
Heatwaves Are Sweeping Across the Oceans “Like Wildfires That Take out Huge Areas of Forest”
Damian Carrington: Researchers found extreme temperatures destroy kelp, seagrass, corals, and could be terrible for humanity. ... Global warming is gradually increasing the average temperature of the oceans, but the new research is the first systematic global analysis of ocean heatwaves, when temperatures reach extremes for five days or more. ... As heatwaves have increased, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs have been lost. These foundation species are critical to life in the ocean. They provide shelter and food to many others, but have been hit on coasts from California to Australia to Spain... Visit Website ]
Mar 5, 2019, 10:45am

Environment
Energy democracy: taking back power
Johanna Bozuwa: Electric utility (re)municipalization is gaining popularity as a strategy to shift away from a reliance on fossil fuel extraction in the context of combating climate change. Across the world—from Berlin to Boulder—communities have initiated campaigns to take back their power from investor-owned (private) utilities and create publicly owned and operated utilities. Moreover, such efforts are increasingly taking on the perspective and language of energy democracy. ... Energy democracy seeks not only to solve climate change, but to also address entrenched systemic inequalities. It is a vision to restructure the energy future based on inclusive engagement, where genuine participation in democratic processes provides community control and renewable energy generates local, equitably distributed wealth... Visit Website ]
Mar 4, 2019, 2:28pm

Environment
Poisoning the Public: Toxic Agrochemicals and Regulators’ Collusion with Industry
Colin Todhunter: Many people around the world had struggled to understand how and why the US EPA and the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) concluded that glyphosate is not genotoxic (damaging to DNA) or carcinogenic, whereas the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency, the IARC, came to the opposite conclusion. ... The IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) stated that the evidence for glyphosate’s genotoxic potential is “strong” and that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. While IARC referenced only peer-reviewed studies and reports available in the public literature, the EPA relied heavily on unpublished regulatory studies commissioned by pesticide manufacturers. ... Issue: The European pesticide regulatory authorities and the European Ombudsman is colluding with industry, resulting in the poisoning of humans and the environment... Visit Website ]
Mar 1, 2019, 3:43pm

Environment
Climate change stokes mayhem in several ways
Tim Radford: Climate change accompanied by natural disaster such as flood or drought could lead to harvest failure and food and water shortages for which people must compete. ... The steady rise in global temperatures could also help incubate the conditions for global terrorism. ... “An inadequate food supply and economic disparity make it difficult to raise healthy and productive citizens, which is one way to reduce long-term violence. We also need to plan for and devote resources to aid eco-migrants in their relocation to new lands and countries.” ... “The view that citizens of wealthy countries often have about refugees needs to change,” Professor Anderson said, “from seeing them as a threat to a view that emphasises humanitarian values and the benefits refugees bring when they are welcomed into the community.”... Visit Website ]
Feb 25, 2019, 3:18pm

Environment
How Removing Asphalt Is Softening Our Cities
Lynn Freehill-Maye: The kids wanted something different for the Inukai Family Boys and Girls Club’s 5,000 square feet of alleyside space. They talked about a soccer field or a traditional playground—but surprised Schutz by choosing a nature park. They imagined dirt, logs, and boulders to climb on, raised beds to grow flowers and veggies, and hundreds of trees and plants throughout. ... Schutz just had to figure out how to remove the pavement. ... Doing so introduced her to a soften-our-cities movement in which cities such as Nashville, Tennessee, Montreal, and Detroit are rethinking all that cement. Alleys and alleysides in particular are being effectively reimagined as people-friendly pathways, parks, and lushly planted urban habitat ... as climate change brings record rains, pavement is contributing to toxic stormwater runoff and dangerous flooding... Visit Website ]
Feb 22, 2019, 3:34pm


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