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Erik Hoffner's Posts

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New green zone spreads in Iraq

Abandoned boat in Iraq.Photos: Stephen Foote. Photos courtesy of PBS Nature's "Braving Iraq." A new green zone is sprouting in Iraq, but it's not the kind you think. It's a grassroots one pushed by a new culture of conservationists whose currency is reeds. The recent environmental history of Iraq is a tale of two men. Saddam Hussein had a horrific impact on the ecology of the country, principally by ordering the draining of the Mesopotamian Marshes in the 1990s in order to collectively punish communities where resistance to his regime persisted. The incredible cultural and biological loss of the marshes …

Read more: Uncategorized

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How to queer ecology and the environmental movement

Alex Johnson exploring riotous, unpredictable Nature.Missoula-based writer Alex Johnson believes we need to queer the concept of ecology, and I'm inclined to agree. After enjoying his feature "How to Queer Ecology: One Goose at a Time" in the current issue of Orion magazine, I asked him to expand on some of his ideas. Q. You propose the queering of ecology. What does that mean to you? A. Queering ecology means hosing out the pigeonholes. The queer movement bravely claims that humans are inherently capable of a much wider range of behaviors than the powers-that-be give us credit for. Queer ecology …

Read more: Animals, Living, Politics, Sex

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Montanans rally against mega-loads to the tar sands

Activists in Montana and Idaho are fighting back against these monstrosities.Iconic authors and outdoorsmen David James Duncan and Rick Bass have an important new book that they wrote in response to the notorious "haul" this month of gargantuan machines ("mega-loads") to Alberta, Canada, constructed in South Korea for use in the tar sands. Besides the tar sands being a debacle and climate justice issue, Bass and Duncan and activists are opposing this effort all along the route from a public safety and aesthetics angle too: The equipment threatens to buckle taxpayer-built roads and bridges, and if swept into the wild …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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The ‘greenest Olympics’ actually an environmental catastrophe

If the Sochi Olympics are green, then this logo is compelling to look at.Like a downhill skier that crashes right out of the gate, the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to earn a gold medal for "the greenest Olympics." World Wildlife Fund Russia and Greenpeace Russia resigned from the Games' advisory committee last year and recently boycotted a visit of U.N. Environment Program officials who were to inspect the progress, saying, "We do not want to be part of a green PR for the Olympic projects." What are these NGOs …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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New Agtivist: Chris Chaisson wants to root around in your cellar

In our New Agtivist interviews, we talk to people who are working to change this country's f'ed-up food system in inspiring ways.  Basement player: Chris Chaisson outside a house being retrofitted with a root cellar.Photo: Erik Hoffner Gourd yourself: Storage bins in a root cellarPhoto: Whole Farm ServicesImagine if trucks full of food stopped driving into your town or city every night. Or if the electricity grid went down for a while during the winter. What would you eat? Even those of us who grow lots of our own food might have to resort to factory-filled cans, victims of supermarket …

Read more: Food, Living

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Acclaimed author Terry Tempest Williams reflects on BP's oil disaster

Terry Tempest Williams.Orion magazine recently asked acclaimed author Terry Tempest Williams to travel the length of the Gulf of Mexico and see with her own eyes the fallout from BP's Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. She came home with a nearly 15,000 word account of her oil odyssey, "The Gulf Between Us." Orion asked her to reflect on her Gulf experience as President Obama's commission on the disaster gets underway this week. Q. How has covering this story changed you? A. I have been fundamentally changed by the scale of what I saw at the Maconda Well blowout: Oil. Oil for …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Goldman Prize winner says sharks still in trouble

Randall ArauzPhoto: PretomaDue to its location on the Pacific, Costa Rica has a huge number of sharks, and has been a leading exporter of shark fins for the fin soup trade. Fighting this practice is Randall Arauz, founder of the grassroots conservation group Pretoma which works to bring the country's reputation for marine conservation in line with its high pedigree for terrestrial conservation. Randall exposed the extent and barbarity of finning in Costa Rica which led to changes in its laws such that all sharks must be brought to land with fins attached and foreign vessels cannot land their catch …

Read more: Politics

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Co-op capitalizes renewable energy businesses

The very happy members of Co-op Power.Photo: Erik Hoffner Co-op Power, a renewable energy cooperative, broke ground on its newest green business, Northeast Biodiesel, last week. This multi-million dollar project in Greenfield, Mass. is majority-owned by the co-op and its 375 members, so that the benefits and profits stay local. Note the smiles and thumbs in the air saying yeah, we own it! The plant will make roughly 3.5 million gallons of liquid fuel a year from recycled oil for use in buses, tractors, cars, and in home heating systems. Such biodiesel is way better for the planet and climate …

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Moscow forest battle boils over

It's a punishing summer in Moscow with record highs and poor air quality. The last place you want to be is crammed into a jail cell, passing out repeatedly from the heat and lack of water, but that's exactly where the leader of the grassroots movement to prevent the destruction of the 2,600 acre Khimki Forest in Moscow found herself today. Evgenia Chirikova, 33, a mother of two and an engineer by trade, was rounded up with a number of her colleauges camped out on logging equipment late on Wednesday following a violent demonstration in town. Around 100 anarchists unassociated …

Read more: Politics

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Ambitious plans afoot to save turtles in the Gulf

The Gulf spill threatens loggerhead turtles, who are nesting along the Florida coast right now.Photo courtesy Crazy Creatures via FlickrSea Turtle Conservancy Director David Godfrey took a minute to update me on what is being done to safeguard sea turtles swimming and nesting along Gulf shores this summer. He described transporting 70,000 loggerhead turtle eggs, turtles being burned alive, and what people can do to help. ----- Q. David, how true are the reports of sea turtles being burned alive in the Gulf? A. Yes, sea turtles rounded up by oil skimmers were burned alive by contractors working for BP. …

Read more: Climate & Energy