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Susie Cagle's Posts


Protest theater troupe flash-mobs British Petroleum

Wherefore art thou destructive drilling?

BP or Not to BP

On Sunday, this rabble-rousing crew flash-mobbed on the Great Court of London's British Museum, which is currently hosting a Shakespeare exhibition sponsored by British Petroleum. It was the ninth and final performance for the approximately 200 members of the Reclaim Shakespeare Company, who treated the museum to an adorably literary chant of, “Double, double, oil is trouble, tar sands burn as greenwash bubbles.”

From the group's site, BP or Not to BP:

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


University gives ‘frackademics’ the boot

SUNY Buffalo has shuttered its Shale Resources and Society Institute, aka a pro-fracking, on-campus think tank with big energy connections and a record of shilling for junk science.

CREDO Policy Summit

The closure comes as a direct result of the center's misleading and error-filled May 15 report touting a warmer, fuzzier, safer fracking industry.

University of Buffalo President Satish Tripathi announced the closure.

Given our geographic situation as well as our extensive faculty expertise in issues related to energy, water, and the environment, the University at Buffalo is positioned to play a leading research role in these areas. Understanding and addressing these issues effectively therefore requires a program of sufficient scale to encompass the scope and complexities of this topic ... The university upholds academic freedom as a core principle of our institutional mission. With that being said, academic freedom carries with it inherent responsibilities. The Shale Resources and Society Institute's May 15, 2012, report, "Environmental Impacts during Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling: Causes, Impacts, and Remedies," led to allegations questioning whether historical financial interests influenced the authors' conclusions. The fundamental source of controversy revolves around clarity and substantiation of conclusions ... Because of these collective concerns, I have decided to close the Shale Resources and Society Institute.


A sluggish start for California carbon auctions?

In perhaps the most lackluster initial public offering since Facebook, California officials today released the results of last week's landmark cap-and-trade carbon auction, in which a ton of carbon sold for $10.09. That's one nickel and four pennies above the minimum the state had established.


The Sacramento Bee reports:

Mary Nichols, chair of the board, called the auction "a success" because it showed that California can reduce greenhouse gas emissions at an affordable cost. She said fears that the cost of carbon would "go out of sight" proved unjustified.


Buy or die: The survivalist approach to climate doom

Climate change is coming! Quick, buy more stuff!!

American Red Cross

That's the advice from the New York Times Magazine feature "How to Survive Societal Collapse in Suburbia." Wait, don't laugh yet -- we'll get to that.

First, meet Ron Douglas, a champion of survivalist consumer culture as a solution to our impending human-made doom. Douglas, his wife, and their six children live in the Denver exurbs with a "modified" vehicle that holds a lot of gas, which is apparently super "self-reliant." Douglas founded "one of the largest preparedness expos in the country," where companies try to sell people on disaster hoarding. But, like, sustainably!

Douglas talked about emergency preparedness, sustainable living and financial security — what he called the three pillars of self-reliance. He detailed the importance of solar panels, gardens, water storage and food stockpiles. People shouldn’t just have 72-hour emergency kits for when the power grid goes down; they should learn how to live on their own. It’s a message that Douglas is trying to move from the fringe to the mainstream.

By mainstream here they mean, to the middle and the left. For too long we've allowed political conservatives to dominate the survivalist market with their camoflauge and shotguns -- obviously if those things were organic, they could gain more market share!

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Climate change will be ‘devastating’ to world’s poor, World Bank says

It's not just America's poor who will pay the most for climate collapse.

The World Bank's new "Turn Down the Heat" report projects a 4 degree C (7.2 degree F) rise in global temperatures by 2100, a change that would have especially catastrophic consequences in the developing countries the World Bank is ostensibly attempting to aid. Yes, the climate class gap is global.

Dan Johanson

"We will never end poverty if we don't tackle climate change. It is one of the single biggest challenges to social justice today," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim told the media Friday.

From the report [PDF]:

The projected impacts on water availability, ecosystems, agriculture, and human health could lead to large-scale displacement of populations and have adverse consequences for human security and economic and trade systems. The full scope of damages in a 4°C world has not been assessed to date.

Read more: Climate & Energy


Abusive slaughterhouse fined $500 million in massive meat-recall case

More than four years after the biggest meat recall in U.S. history, a settlement has been reached in the Humane Society's lawsuit against Hallmark Meat. The California slaughterhouse not only abused sick cows but then sent their meat into the food system, putting American eaters across the country at risk. A federal court has handed down a $500 million judgment in the case, but as Hallmark is bankrupt, it'll be a symbolic end to this grisly story.

From the Associated Press:

The case marked the first time federal fraud statutes were used in an animal abuse case, the HSUS said. As a supplier of meats for the national school lunch program, the company had signed federal contracts certifying that it would provide humane treatment of animals sent to the company for slaughter.

The widely circulated video shot by an undercover operative in 2007 showed "downer cows" — those too weak or sick to walk — being dragged by chains, rammed by forklifts and sprayed with high-pressure water by employees who wanted them to stand and walk to slaughter.


Green progress in California could help the poor

It’s been a big month for progressive political wins in California, and some commentators are apparently still riding high from last Tuesday’s election.

Robert Scheer writes at Truthdig about the "progressive bellwether" that is California now: "The Land of Milk and Honey Once More."

It is refreshing to discover that not every super wealthy person need be a shortsighted pig. That is one lesson from California voters, and it should burnish the Golden State’s reputation as an inspiration for the nation. It helps that the cutting edge industries in the state, ranging from the older world of entertainment to the newest of information technology, are apparently more inclined to a progressive outlook than the entrenched economic interests in some other states. Texas comes to mind.

Andrew Leonard has also been infected with Golden State optimism. "As goes California, so goes the nation?" he asks at Salon.

Not so fast there, friends.

Jon Palos

Yes, funding for green industry and jobs, cap-and-trade auctions, and big progressive wins in the state legislature are all pretty awesome. And yes, that's a very nice picture you've got there, Robert Scheer, of a rainbow landing in a field of wind turbines in (extremely unsustainable) Palm Springs. And yes, California may well tip the scales further in favor of clean energy in America. Woo, yay, etc.

But the land of milk and honey this is not: California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, according to a new federal standard that takes into account food, housing, and utility costs, with 23.5 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Luckily, some of the millions raised through cap-and-trade auctions will now be funneled toward needy communities (as well as green innovations), thanks to legislation passed in September.


‘The climate gap': Extreme weather hurts poor the most

Over the last three weeks, we've seen the fallout from Hurricane Sandy hit the working poor and middle class the hardest. Droughts, heat waves, and wildfires also afflict the lower classes far more than the wealthy, according to a Center for American Progress analysis of extreme weather events in 2011 and 2012.

Damage in Alabama from a 2011 tornado.

Most of these extreme weather events typically harmed counties with household incomes below the U.S. median annual household income of $51,914:

  • Floods damaged households in affected counties with average household incomes of $44,547 annually -- 14 percent less than the U.S. median income
  • Drought and heat waves affected counties with households that earned an average of $49,340 annually -- roughly 5 percent less than the U.S. median income
  • Wildfires, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms devastated areas with households that earned an average of $50,352 annually --- 3 percent less than the U.S. median income

In fact, tropical storms and hurricanes were the only types of extreme weather events that affected more-well-off areas, on average, since January 2011.

The full report is here [PDF], with details on some of the poorest, hardest-hit states -- states that, as it happens, tend toward the politically conservative, such as Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Arkansas.

Read more: Climate & Energy


Best bed-bug poison may be Merck meds for humans

From hotel beds to movie theater seats, it seems bed bugs are absolutely everywhere these days (and if they're not, oh god, they might be, so you'll drive yourself insane investigating every little speck you spot). Standard methods for trying to get rid of the bugs are long, arduous, and heavy on the pesticides. Now, though, preliminary research suggests that one answer could be a little pill from drug giant Merck.

Armed Forces Pest Management Board

While no one seems to agree on the cause, the bed-bug population is spiking, especially in big cities. In September, New York's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which advises people on how to deal with bed-bug infestations, had to fumigate itselfSan Francisco is instituting a bed bug Census. This week, Cleveland held a bed bug summit. Bed bugs have become a mainstay of contemporary urban living, an inconvenience we're forced to accept along with crowded buses (where, oh god, you might catch them).

Now comes new research suggesting that the Merck drug Stromectol kills bed bugs within a few hours -- of them, uh, feeding on you after you take the stuff. From Bloomberg:

Read more: Cities, Living


Occupy’s ‘Rolling Jubilee’ is a model for cooperative purchasing power

Today, Occupy Wall Street launches the "Rolling Jubilee," something the group is calling a "People's Bailout." Basically: People pony up cash that Occupy will use to buy bundles of individual people's toxic debt for pennies on the dollar on the dirty market where previously only big evil bastard companies were allowed to do business. Then Occupy cancels the debt. They've already raised enough cash to, as of this post, knock out more than $4.5 million worth.

Read more: Living, Politics