The state of Hawaii has become a lot like the island of Dr. Moreau. Except that instead of Dr. Moreau -- the mad scientist in H.G. Wells's 1896 novel who vivisected animals into beast-people -- Hawaii is ruled by the GMO industry.
Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer, and BASF use the Pacific archipelago as open-air testing grounds for their experimental genetically modified crops, and they spray those crops with herbicides and other chemicals to test how they respond.
But now many residents, including lawmakers, are saying they have had enough of this science-fictionesque madness.
Oil refiner Tesoro and terminal operator Savage are trying to secure permits to build the region's biggest crude oil shipping terminal at the Port of Vancouver, along the Washington state side of the Columbia River.
KPLU reports that the proposed terminal would receive crude by rail from oil fields in North Dakota and transfer it onto oceangoing tankers for delivery to refineries along the West Coast. And that's just one of many plans to boost shipments of oil through the region to coastal ports. Environmentalists are not pleased, fearing oil spills among other problems.
Bees and other insects can breathe a little easier in Oregon -- for now. The state has responded to the recent bumbleocalypse in a Target parking lot by temporarily banning use of the type of pesticide responsible for the high-profile pollinator die-off.
Oregon's ban comes after more than 50,000 bumblebees and other pollinators were killed when Safari was sprayed over blooming linden trees to control aphids in a Wilsonville, Ore., parking lot. A similar incident in Hillsboro, Ore., was also cited by the state's agriculture department as a reason for the ban.
Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba said in a statement [PDF] that she has directed her agency to impose the ban to help prevent further such "bee deaths connected to pesticide products with this active ingredient until such time as our investigation is completed. Conclusions from the investigation will help us and our partners evaluate whether additional steps need to be considered.”
President Obama said on Monday that it's "unacceptable" that more than two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africans don't have access to electricity, and he has a plan to help solve the problem. On Sunday, he unveiled a new Power Africa initiative intended to double electricity access in the region.
The initiative calls for more than $7 billion in U.S. funding over five years to help build new power plants in six African countries and bring electricity to more than 20 million households and businesses. It's also intended to help American companies get a foothold in Africa.
Now we’re going to talk about power — Power Africa — a new initiative that will double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa. Double it. We’re going to start by investing $7 billion in U.S. government resources. We’re going to partner with the private sector, who themselves have committed more than $9 billion in investment. And in partnership with African nations, we’re going to develop new sources of energy. We’ll reach more households not just in cities, but in villages and on farms. We’ll expand access for those who live currently off the power grid. And we’ll support clean energy to protect our planet and combat climate change.
One of China’s biggest wind turbine manufacturers is accused of stealing software from an American firm, then using the ill-gotten trade secrets in turbines in the victim's own backyard of Massachusetts.
Massachusetts-based AMSC, which makes software and equipment that regulates the flow of electricity from wind turbines to the electrical grid, was allegedly betrayed by an employee of one of its subsidiaries. The U.S. Justice Department charges that the employee stole the software by downloading it to a computer in Austria, then sold it to Chinese company Sinovel, which had formerly been an AMSC customer. Justice has indicted Sinovel, two Sinovel executives, and the rogue AMSC employee.
The theft led to the loss of 500 jobs and $800 million, AMSC says. U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil says it was "nothing short of attempted corporate homicide."
For all the harm that the oil and gas industry inflicts on wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, it does offer the marine ecosystem at least one big benefit. Offshore oil-drilling rigs serve as artificial reefs, providing shelter for animals and an anchor for plants, coral, and barnacles. Yet once a well is tapped, the federal government has required the drilling company to uproot its rig to help clear clutter that could obstruct shipping.
Following complaints from fishermen and conservationists, however, the Obama administration is easing those rules. It announced this week that it is making it easier for states to designate abandoned drilling infrastructure as special artificial reef sites.
The move is a win-win. Fish, turtles, and other wildlife get to keep their underwater metropolises -- and drilling companies can save on the costs of rig removal. From Fuel Fix:
The World Bank plans to restrict its financing of coal-fired power plants to “rare circumstances,” according to a draft strategy that reflects the lender’s increased focus on mitigating the effects of climate change.
The Washington-based lender will help countries find alternatives to coal, according to the draft obtained by Bloomberg News which lays out the bank’s policy on lending to its member countries. The paper, which is subject to revision, describes universal access to energy as a priority for the World Bank’s mission to help end poverty.
The bank “will cease providing financial support for greenfield coal power generation projects, except in rare circumstances where there are no feasible alternatives available to meet basic energy needs and other sources of financing are absent,” according to the report. Greenfield is a term for a new facility. ...
Americans are less concerned about this climate change thing than other people around the world.
The Pew Research Group this week released the results of a worldwide survey of 37,653 residents of 39 countries, revealing that just 40 percent of Americans view global warming as a major threat to their country.
Across all countries surveyed, by comparison, 54 percent view global warming as a major threat. Concern was highest in Latin America and lowest in the U.S., with concern among Middle East residents nearly as low as those in America.
Concern about global climate change is particularly prevalent in Latin America, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Asian/Pacific region, but majorities in Lebanon, Tunisia and Canada also say climate change is a major threat to their countries. In contrast, Americans are relatively unconcerned about global climate change. Four-in-ten say this poses a major threat to their nation, making Americans among the least concerned about this issue of the 39 publics surveyed, along with people in China, Czech Republic, Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Pakistan.
In terms of climate policy, Australians face a choice between fairly good and downright evil in an upcoming federal election.
The face of evil belongs to climate skeptic Tony Abbott, leader of the opposition Liberal Party (which, in topsy-turvy Down Under fashion, is in fact conservative).
And the face of relative good is ... in some disarray at the moment. Power brokers in the Labor Party, which narrowly holds power in the country, this week stripped the prime ministership away from Julia Gillard and handed it back to former leader Kevin Rudd. They believe this move will help them win the election, which is tentatively scheduled for September.
The stakes are high. Australia is among the world’s worst per-person contributors to climate change. The country is a huge producer of coal, exporting a lot and consuming a good bit itself. And it's been suffering heavily from climate change in recent years, enduring epic heat, drought, wildfires, and floods.
But Labor's been flailing in the polls and weighed down by infighting. Rudd had been agitating for the top job for months, destabilizing the party. Now, after he was sworn in as prime minister on Thursday, Labor’s members of parliament are vying against each other for positions in his new cabinet, instead of focusing on their reelection campaigns.