A major spill of toxic oil waste has wiped out trees and vegetation across a 104-acre swath of Alberta, Canada. The apparent cause of the spill: The rupture of a five-year-old pipeline that was designed to last at least 30 years.
The pipeline spilled 2.5 million gallons of a waste mixture of oil and water, which the company responsible, Houston-based Apache Corp., downplayed as "salty water" with "trace amounts of oil."
Residents of Lafayette, Colo., which has a population of 25,000, are collecting signatures in an effort to place a charter amendment on an upcoming ballot that would ban all new oil and gas extraction and establish a far-reaching community bill of rights.
Among other things, the bill of rights would proclaim that residents "possess a right to a sustainable, healthy energy future" and the "right to be free from involuntary chemical trespass including toxins, carcinogens, particulates, nucleotides, hydrocarbons and other substances." It would also declare that ecosystems "possess unalienable and fundamental rights to exist and flourish within the City of Lafayette."
That isn’t what most people would think. (Especially the cotton bit. And especially the GMO bit.)
But a growing number of pests appear to share this sentiment. They've developed immunity to corn and cotton crops genetically engineered to contain the pesticide Bt, so they're now munching away with impunity.
Hellish wildfires are ravaging parts of Colorado. Thousands of people have been evacuated and at least 360 homes have been destroyed by the Black Forest Fire, currently burning northeast of Colorado Springs. It's just one of many blazes being battled by firefighters in the state and across the West.
Is Chevron more clued in to the dangers of fracking than the federal government?
It would seem so. The company's CEO said this week that the industry needs to do a better job of resolving concerns about the safety of the practice. From Bloomberg:
Energy producers must deal with the “legitimate concerns” that gas development associated with hydraulic fracturing is unsafe by adopting tougher standards, Chevron Corp. Chief Executive Officer John Watson said. ...
Even as bees drop dead around the world after sucking down pesticide-laced nectar, pesticide makers are touting their investments in bee research.
Nearly a third of commercial honeybee colonies in U.S. were wiped out last year, for a complicated array of reasons, scientists say: disease, stress, poor nutrition, mite infestations, and — yes — pesticides. Neonicotinoid pesticides seem to be particularly damaging to bees, so much so that the European Union is moving to ban them (but the U.S. is not).
If you're going to prank the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, you'd better brace yourself for a long legal battle.
It's been almost four years since the Yes Men conned reporters into thinking the chamber was finally warming up to the dangers of climate change. The tricksters put up a fake website and sent out a fake press release under the chamber's name, fooling a number of mainstream news outlets into believing that the business group had reversed course and decided to support climate legislation. The Yes Men also held a fake news conference, which went on for a number of minutes before an actual chamber spokesman barged in and busted it up (video is below).
Laughs were had, feelings were hurt, confusion reigned for the better part of five minutes, and then, of course, the stodgy old men in ties talked to their lawyers and filed the inevitable lawsuit.
On Friday, with court proceedings in the stalled case finally set to get underway, the stodgy old men in ties backed down. From The Wall Street Journal:
The days of agricultural plenty are over and it's going to keep getting harder for everybody to afford enough food to eat.
That's the somber conclusion of a new international report, which warns that low food prices "seem now a feature of a bygone era." Blame climate change, degraded land, growing populations, and increasing energy costs.
"[W]ith energy prices high and rising and production growth declining across the board, strong demand for food, feed, fibre and industrial uses of agricultural products is leading to structurally higher prices and with significant upside price risks," states the 10-year agricultural outlook [PDF] published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization.
The report notes that “increasing environmental pressures” — which include climate change-fueled storms, drought and flooding — will be one of the main factors slowing the growth of food production around the world. In China in particular — a country the report focused on, with a fifth of the world’s population and steadily rising income levels — water shortages will be one of the key problems facing food production as rainfall becomes more variable. And there will be other risks for China as well. As the report notes: “Food availability will be impacted by changes in temperature, water availability, extreme weather events, soil condition, and pest and disease patterns.”
BP's oil-spill cleanup operations have formally wrapped up in three of the four states that were polluted following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in 2010.
After more than three years of cleanup, that sounds like an occasion to party and then relax. But it isn't. Not only has the Gulf Coast not recovered from the oil spill, but the hard work of environmental restoration has barely even begun. From the Associated Press:
The London-based oil giant said the Coast Guard has concluded “active cleanup operations” in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, but the work continues along 84 miles of Louisiana’s shoreline. ...
The world is driving itself into a future of climate hell, but experts say it's not too late to take the off-ramp.
Despite declining greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and other developed nations, global emissions broke a new record last year. They were pushed 1.4 percent higher than the year before by rapid growth in China and India, and by Japan turning to fossil fuels instead of nuclear power.
During U.N. climate negotiations held in Copenhagen in 2009, most of the world agreed to aim for a post-Industrial Revolution temperature rise of no more than 2 degrees Celsius. But if the world keeps traveling along its current path, the International Energy Agency warns in a new report that long-term average temperature increases of between 3.6 and 5.3 degrees C are more likely.
Climate negotiations are underway to agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which could help stem the tide of rising emissions. But no new agreement is expected to come into force until 2020 -- and who knows if it would even be strong enough to make a difference.
So it would be easy to conclude that we're royally fucked.
But in its new report, the IEA outlines four strategies that countries could pursue during the next seven years to help spare us the "royally fucked" scenario of skyrocketing temperatures -- all at zero net economic cost.