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Environment

Environment
Dangerous Liaison: Corporate Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
Colin Todhunter: Food and agriculture across the world is in crisis. Food is becoming denutrified and unhealthy and diets less diverse. There is a loss of biodiversity, which threatens food security, soils are being degraded, water sources polluted and depleted and smallholder farmers, so vital to global food production, are being squeezed off their land and out of farming. ... We may also ask what the effects on rural communities and economies have been; on birds, insects and biodiversity in general; on the climate as a result of new technologies, inputs or changes to farming practices; and what has been the effects of shifting towards globalised production chains, not least in terms of transportation and fossil fuel consumption. ... GMO patented seeds represent the final stranglehold of transnational agribusiness over the control of agriculture and food... Visit Website ]
Jun 14, 2018, 4:20pm

Environment
As California's Largest Lake Dries Up, It Threatens Nearby Communities With Clouds of Toxic Dust
Michael Zelenko: An enormous blue void at the north end of the Imperial Valley, the Salton Sea once attracted more visitors than Yosemite. But California’s largest lake is now mostly forgotten, and those who know of it don’t have flattering things to say ... When these lakes evaporate, they can upend industries and erase surrounding communities. For residents near the Salton Sea, the most pressing problem is the threat of toxic dust. ... with industrial runoff from the surrounding farms: up to 100 tons of dust could blow off the playa daily. ... You only need to spend a few days in the Imperial Valley to see signs of the asthma epidemic. ... No matter what it’s made of, particulate matter poses a hazard to those with respiratory problems. But when it’s laced with a century’s worth of fertilizers and pesticides, as it is on the playa of the Salton Sea, it’s more dangerous. There is simply no way to make this dust safe... Visit Website ]
Jun 11, 2018, 12:08pm

Environment
Study Shows Air Pollution Genetically Changes the Brain
Jason Daley: There’s little question that air pollution is toxic for the human body. Studies have shown that particulate matter in the air can lead to lung disease, heart disease, strokes, and lung cancer. But researchers thought the brain might be protected due to the blood brain barrier—a natural system that filters out foreign substances and certain neurotransmitters before they circulate in the brain. A new study from researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles shows that many heavy metals found in the air may make it into brain tissue, and those pollutants are activating genes that may lead to cancers or neurodegenerative disorders. ... There are still many questions the study can’t answer. For instance, do these heavy metals accumulate throughout a lifetime, or can the body flush them out? And most importantly, can a study on rats translate to humans?... Visit Website ]
Jun 6, 2018, 3:26pm

Environment
Toxic Chemicals – PR Nightmare
Robert Hunziker: A recent unidentified White House staff email referred to a still-pending federal study on chemicals as “a public relations nightmare.” ... “Humans emit more than 250 billion tonnes of chemical substances a year, in a toxic avalanche that is harming people and life everywhere on the planet.” ...The UN report points to the inherent dangers of pesticide chemicals such as (1) damage to water, (2) damage to soil, (3) damage to biodiversity, and (4) spread of acute chronic disease as well as health issues like cancer, neurological and reproductive disorders. ... “It is time to overturn the myth that pesticides are necessary to feed the world and create a global process to transition toward safer and healthier food and agricultural production”... Visit Website ]
Jun 3, 2018, 11:58am

Environment
What Fossil Fuels and Factory Farms Have in Common
Wenonah Hauter: Hint: They’re both issues of environmental injustice. ... In 2008, Cabot Oil and Gas started fracking operations in Dimock, Pennsylvania. It was around that time the community started noticing their water was turning brown and making people and animals sick. One woman’s water well exploded. Fracking had come to town. ... Factory farms are an industrial model for producing animals for food where thousands of cows, pigs, or birds are raised in confinement in a small area. While farms can and do apply manure as a fertilizer to cropland, factory farms produce more manure than nearby fields can absorb, leading to runoff into surface waters and contaminants leaching into groundwater. And storing concentrated quantities of manure releases toxins like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide into the air, threatening nearby communities... Visit Website ]
May 31, 2018, 4:22pm

Environment
Are avocados toast?
Nathanael Johnson: What will we eat in 2050? California farmers are placing bets. It might feel like we’re peering into the distant future when we hear that by 2050, temperatures may very well climb 4 degrees, seas could rise a foot, and droughts and floods will become more common. But for farmers planting trees they hope will bear fruit 25 years from now, that seemingly distant future has to be reckoned with now. ... A lot of the country’s tree crops grow in California, which produces two-thirds of the fruits and nuts for the United States. ... Jay Famiglietti, the senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, goes even further: “It’s a virtual certainty that California will get drier. I don’t think it’s a climate that’s conducive to orchard crops anymore.”... Visit Website ]
May 29, 2018, 11:26am

Environment
Desert Bees Have a Secret: How to Survive a Decade of Drought
Sara Van Note: A cluster of leafcutter bees are foraging for nectar and pollen on an unseasonably hot May morning in Bandelier National Monument, in northern New Mexico. Tiny, with few bright markings, they don’t look like bees at first — more like dark-colored buzzy insects. ... But Olivia Carril is excited to spot them on penstemon plants, whose pale purple flowers have bright magenta stripes that guide the leafcutters down their long tubes to the nectar, past the anthers for a dusting of pollen. She scoops a handful of bees into her net, then quickly transfers them to glass vials. ... Until Carril, an independent scientist and co-author of a field guide to North American bees, began her survey a year ago, it was unknown how many bees were in Bandelier: Just two species had been documented ... But in just a year, she has added at least 46 species to the list... Visit Website ]
May 25, 2018, 4:43pm

Environment
Landmark lawsuit claims Monsanto hid cancer danger of weedkiller for decades
Carey Gillam: In June, a California groundskeeper will make history by taking company to trial on claims it suppressed harm of Roundup ... Last week Judge Curtis Karnow issued an order clearing the way for jurors to consider not just scientific evidence related to what caused Johnson’s cancer, but allegations that Monsanto suppressed evidence of the risks of its weed killing products ... Some 4,000 plaintiffs have sued Monsanto alleging exposure to Roundup caused them, or their loved ones, to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). ... The litigants cite an assortment of research studies indicating that the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicides, a chemical called glyphosate, can lead to NHL and other ailments... Visit Website ]
May 25, 2018, 4:24pm

Environment
Life, the Sea and Big Oil
Kenn Orphan: When I learned about the oil giant BP’s plan to drill off the coast of my home, my heart felt like it dropped out of my chest. As I write this the West Aquarius rig is well on its way to the Nova Scotian Shelf. By the time this is published, it might have already arrived. My thoughts went immediately to those oil sullied shorelines in the Gulf of Mexico, and to the fishermen there whose families and livelihoods were shattered to pieces, and the countless species of fish, mammals and marine birds suffocated in the earth’s primordial blood. BP forever damaged that region and not only in an environmental way. ... The fossil fuel industry is the most profitable business the world has ever known and today it is accountable to virtually no one... Visit Website ]
May 24, 2018, 2:40pm

Environment
Our Mining Laws Are More Than a Century Old - Time to Update Them
Raúl M. Grijalva: The General Mining Act of 1872 still governs all the mining for gold, silver, copper, and other metals that happens on our federal lands—and the law has hardly been touched since President Ulysses S. Grant signed it 146 years ago ... Our antiquated mining laws have left us stuck giving away public assets at rock-bottom prices to profitable companies, many of which are foreign-owned, without providing any direct benefit to the taxpayers. ... For well over a century, companies have been able to mine a site until they didn’t think they could profit from it any longer, then declare bankruptcy and walk away, leaving taxpayers holding the bag for cleaning up. ... Our bill requires polluters to clean up these sites and ends the industry’s walkaway culture by establishing strong new reclamation standards and bonding requirements... Visit Website ]
May 16, 2018, 3:52pm

Environment
Climate Crisis Clobbers Trump Denials
Robert Hunziker: “Top Republican Plans To Use Fossil Fuels To Make Puerto Rico ‘The Energy Hub Of The Entire Caribbean.” How do ya’ like them apples? ... On the other hand, for some sanity, maybe take a look at China’s game plan and Middle Eastern oil sheiks, all major commitments, in fact billions-upon-billions of funding for renewable energy installations, like solar, making the United States look like a creaky old antiquated fossil fuel blackened worn-out antique on a world stage of innovation and slick solar systems with industrial-strength battery storage systems coming on stream. ... At what point in time does the American public wise up, rise up and push back against an incompetent, useless, menacing, devious, pandering Congress, as well as WH administrations, that ignore the pleas of scientists... Visit Website ]
May 14, 2018, 10:55am

Environment
490,000 Pounds of Toxic Pesticides Sprayed on National Wildlife Refuges
The Center for Biological Diversity report, No Refuge, reveals that an estimated 490,000 pounds of pesticides were dumped on commodity crops like corn, soybeans and sorghum grown in national wildlife refuges in 2016, the most recent year for which data are available. The analysis was conducted with records obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity under the Freedom of Information Act. ... "These refuges are supposed to be a safe haven for wildlife, but they're becoming a dumping ground for poisonous pesticides," said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity who authored the analysis. "Americans assume these public lands are protected and I think most people would be appalled that so many pesticides are being used to serve private, intensive agricultural operations."... Visit Website ]
May 11, 2018, 10:34am

Environment
Weedkiller products more toxic than their active ingredient, tests show
Carey Gillam, The Guardian, UK: US government researchers have uncovered evidence that some popular weedkilling products, like Monsanto’s widely-used Roundup, are potentially more toxic to human cells than their active ingredient is by itself. ... These “formulated” weedkillers are commonly used in agriculture, leaving residues in food and water, as well as public spaces such as golf courses, parks and children’s playgrounds. ... The ( US National Toxicology Program) NTP tests were requested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015 classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. The IARC also highlighted concerns about formulations which combine glyphosate with other ingredients to enhance weed killing effectiveness... Visit Website ]
May 9, 2018, 12:22pm

Environment
Report: China Now Has 9 Times as Many Solar Jobs as the US
Megan Jula: The number of people employed in the renewable energy sector worldwide reached a record 10.3 million last year, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency, an organization that supports countries transitioning to sustainable energy. The addition of half a million new renewable energy jobs was a 5.3 percent increase from 2016. ... As in previous years, China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan, and Germany took the lead in renewable energy employment. But the new figures reveal a continued shift toward Asian countries, particularly China, which alone accounted for 43 percent of all renewable energy jobs in 2017. ... The gap between the US and China is likely only to expand due to tariffs on imported solar cells and panels that the Trump administration imposed in January.... Visit Website ]
May 8, 2018, 2:19pm

Environment
The Race Is On to Decarbonize the 50,000-Plus Ships That Carry Our Stuff Around the World
Fred Pearce: International shipping produces as much CO2 as aircraft. ... Earlier this month, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a U.N. agency in charge of shipping, agreed to cut total greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by at least 50 percent by 2050, and to pursue “efforts towards phasing them out entirely.” The race is now on to find technologies that can decarbonize the 50,000-plus tankers, freighters, container vessels and ferries that make up the world’s shipping fleet. Wind power is one of the options being discussed. ... One option - New Ships - the Japanese shipping line NYK boasts that its design for a 350-meter- (1,100-foot-) long container ship, the Super Eco Ship 2030, would use LNG to make hydrogen to run fuel cells. Backed up by solar panels covering the entire ship and 4,000 square meters (40,000 square feet) of sails to catch the wind, the combination could cut emissions by 70 percent... Visit Website ]
May 8, 2018, 2:00pm


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