Bruce Dickinson -- yes, the Bruce Dickinson -- plans to pilot a hybrid airship called The Airlander across the world. At 302 feet, it's the longest aircraft in the world, and it's 70 percent greener than a cargo plane. It lands on water, ice, or any reasonably flat surface. It can fly for days without refueling, promising more efficiency and carbon savings for freight and shipping industries while also being a boon to disaster recovery efforts.
Wait. Stop. What do you mean "who's Bruce Dickinson?"
Editor's note: This is part 3 of Grist's series on the Sacred Headwaters. Read part 1 here and part 2 here. If one image could inflame the sense memories of almost everyone involved in the Sacred Headwaters battle, it’d be a familiar ketchup-red and mustard-yellow scallop -- the logo of Dutch Royal Shell. It’s an innocuous mollusk on which to paint feelings of despair, hope, pride, frustration, desire, and anger. But tarring Shell as purely a slavering Big Bad undercuts the fact that the Sacred Headwaters owes its temporary safety, in part, to what some might call the villain of the story. …
Our gruff Kiwi pilot lands the chopper at one of the three decommissioned Shell test wells set for removal, just a few ridges over from the headwaters. I’m taken a bit aback at first: Somehow, I thought they’d be taller. Instead, it resembles a fire hydrant propped up a few extra feet, circled by a metal bar fence that reminds me of a city bike rack. A Shell Canada sign is plastered with “Get the Shell Out” and “Save Our Salmon” stickers. Electric pink fireweed creeps down from the snowcapped peaks in the background, intruding on the flattened dirt pad left over from installation. It’s August 2013, and the wells won’t be removed for another two months, but the vegetation seems impatient.
I'm along for the ride with Karen Tam Wu and Melyssa Desilles-Rubino, representatives from ForestEthics, a Vancouver-based NGO that threw its weight behind the Sacred Headwaters in 2007 when they learned of Tahltan and SWCC’s stand against the second largest company in the world. Over five years, they engineered a plan to get the word out and draw international support, mostly with stunts by turns audacious and zany: Buying full-page protest ads in the Financial Times; hounding Royal Dutch Shell CEO Peter Voser across the globe to present him with a dead salmon trophy; hiring Santa to deliver coal to Shell headquarters; stringing 50-foot-long banner of 60,000 signatures (rendered in 10-point font) in opposition at Shell Canada headquarters in Calgary.
I’m helicoptering over a thousand-mile mess of dirt-dusted glaciers, spongy tundra, and bristling forest in the far north of British Columbia. My gut wobbles as we drop past mountain ridges toward our destination: a soupy, pea-green bog dotted with a handful of black ponds. Fed by whitewater trickles draining the peaks around us, it’s a sucking, primordial muck reminiscent of an antiquated dinosaur mural, or a day-glo panel from Swamp Thing’s origin issue. And sure enough, it’s the birthplace of something big, ancient, and slippery: the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine -- three of the largest salmon rivers on the West Coast, all born here or near here in the Sacred Headwaters.
But the Sacred Headwaters doesn’t owe its growing fame to the chinook, coho, and silver salmon races that have been flapping up these rivers since before the Bering Strait opened to pedestrians. For that, we ultimately must thank what lies buried directly 2,000 feet below: 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas trapped inside vast beds of coal.
The reason is simple. To evade detection, growers work indoors -- where lights, ventilation, temperature controls, and presumably industrial-grade lava lamps suck up a lot of juice. From ThinkProgress:
Indy, the nuke-the-fridge incident is all but forgiven: International film star, astonishingly spry geriatric badass (71!), and environmental crusader Harrison Ford allegedly just got all up in the Indonesian government's face about climate change and illegal logging. He was in the country filming an episode for Years of Living Dangerously, a Showtime doc about climate change planned for release in April 2014 (the flick also features Matt Damon and Arnold Schwarzenegger). From The Guardian:
The Hollywood actor Harrison Ford has been accused of "harassing state institutions" in Indonesia and threatened with deportation after allegedly confronting a minister during an interview about illegal logging and climate change.
The forestry minister, Zulkifi Hasan, said he was left shocked by Ford's emotionally charged interview techniques and complained there was no time to go over the questions before filming began, local media reported.
Turns out sea otters do much more than just explain discount rates with aplomb: The adorable little buggers also clean up our oceanic messes. Nitrogen and phosphorous runoff from agricultural pollution creates algal blooms that choke the life out of estuaries -- unless these thoughtful, fuzzy Dysons are around. With sea otter populations expanding into California habitats like Elkhorn Slough, where they haven't been seen for 100 years or more, scientists are watching sea grass and kelp ecosystems return, even though humans are still proverbially shitting the proverbial waterbed.
Love our bike video but finding it a tad too sensical? You're in luck. This Norwegian ad makes no fracking sense (make sure and wait for the M. Night Shyamalan-worthy twist ending):
Thankfully, I majored in conversational Norwegian (thanks, Google Translate!), so I can tell you this is part of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration's Share the Road campaign. I can also tell you that in Norway "fart" means speed, so when I say "this reindeer tastes like fart," I really mean "this reindeer tastes like meth."
Scientific monitors reported that the gas had reached an average daily level that surpassed 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.
The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.