Remember how voters in South Portland, Maine, narrowly rejected a ballot measure last month that would have prevented the city's port from piping in tar-sands oil? Here's the thing about that election result: It's looking like it might not matter. The city council is now taking up the anti-tar-sands campaign anyway.
With a 6-1 vote Monday night, the council put in place a six-month moratorium on shipping tar-sands oil through its port. From the Portland Press Herald:
It may be difficult to grasp as holiday chills and snowy weather set in across North America, but last month was the globe's hottest November on record. It was the 37th consecutive November of above-average temperatures.
They're not pirates. They're not hooligans. The Arctic 30, an international group of Greenpeace activists and journalists arrested in September at an offshore oil platform in Russia's Arctic waters, are no longer accused criminals.
Charges against all members of the group are being dropped by Russia, and the 26 non-Russians among them will be free to return to their homelands.
Sand, ho! Things are looking up for Vista Sand, a Texan sand-mining company that wants to excavate frac sand from hundreds of acres of farming land just outside the Wisconsin town of Glenwood City. And things are looking down for residents who don't want their town turned into a mining mess to help out the fracking industry.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has started to provide the first wave of emergency seeds supplies to residents living in some of the hardest hit rural communities across the Philippines.
It's a new type of neonicotinoid insecticide that was approved by the EPA in May for use on a long list of crops -- despite its toxic effects on honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
Plants love carbon dioxide. It's their oxygen. That's why forests, meadows, and the like are called carbon sinks -- they help draw a fraction of our CO2 emissions back out of the atmosphere and into the soil.
But we can't expect plants to clean up after us forever.
After running computer simulations, European and Japanese scientists concluded that plants that haven't been bulldozed, poisoned, burnt up, or attacked by invasive pests will continue to absorb more carbon as atmospheric carbon levels rise. But they found that rising temperatures could eventually prevent vegetation from absorbing any more of our CO2 pollution.
Here's a conundrum for you: Would it be better to protect Australia's Great Barrier Reef, which is visible from space, attracts more than a million visitors every year, and is home to thousands of species of fish, sharks, and other marine animals? Or would it be better to build one of the world's largest coal ports near the reef, dredge the area around the port, dump millions of tons of dredged mud and sand into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and then create a coal-shipping superhighway through the reef so thousands of ships each year can ferry coal from Australia to Asia?
The answer is clearly the latter, according to Australia's conservative government and the coal industry. The government, now under the control of climate-denying Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has just given the coal industry the go-ahead for its proposed project, despite warnings from environmentalists that the coal port and shipping plans threaten the very future of the reef. From The Guardian:
Nasty chemicals capable of wreaking havoc with our hormonal systems have been discovered lurking in the Colorado River, which is a source of drinking water for 30 million people. And scientists suspect that the fracking industry is the culprit.
Frackers are allowed to keep a lot of the chemicals that they pump into the earth a secret, but scientists figure they use more than 750 chemicals and components -- including upwards of 100 known or suspected endocrine disruptors. The endocrine system is the network of organs that produce and regulate levels of hormones, such as estrogen in women and androgen in men. Disruption of an endocrine system can lead to cancer, infertility, and birth defects.
Scientists from the University of Missouri and Columbia Environmental Research Center sampled water around hydraulic-fracturing sites in heavily fracked Garfield County, Colo. They found elevated levels of endocrine disruptors linked to fracking. Some of the samples were taken from sites where frackers were known to have spilled chemicals.
Unless you're a wealthy white man, you probably don't play golf. So a home overlooking a water-hogging, pesticide-doused golf course from which players might accidentally strike tiny, hard balls in your direction is probably not your cup of tea.
But since you read Grist, chances are you care about food and like to eat local.