It seems like a fanciful idea -- a bridge or a tunnel linking Russia and the United States. And people have been tossing the concept around, without actually doing anything about it, for a long long time. Czar Nicholas II, for instance, thought it was a good idea … in 1905.
But there's a slim chance it could happen this time.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is so progressive on climate change that it is currently responsible for the entirety of U.S. climate policy. The agency is moving forward with regulations on new and existing coal-fired power plants, by far the largest source of CO2 emissions in the country, and has already locked in historic vehicle mileage standards. The current EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, is both a climate warrior and a down-to-earth person, who fully understands the climate challenge and intends to use EPA authority to fix it. In short, the EPA is amazing, and may even save civilization through its …
There are two ways of looking at this story. One is as a triumph of new technology: Using high-resolution satellites, scientists can identify and track whales without disturbing them in any way. The other is as a tale of space voyeurism: Scientists are spying on whales from the sky. And not just spying on whales -- spying on whales while there was a good chance the whales were doing it.
The traditional way to track whale populations is standing on a bridge of a ship and looking out into the ocean, or gliding over the water in an airplane….
For this study, Fretwell and his colleagues purchased a single, massive image taken in September 2012 by the WorldView2 satellite. The image covers 70 square miles including Golfo Nuevo, a circular gulf off the Argentine coast and an area where southern right whales are known to breed and raise their young from July through November.
Early on Tuesday morning, a Chevron-owned natural gas well in Greene County, Pa., burst into flames – and more than 72 hours later, it’s still burning. One contractor for Chevron is missing and presumed dead, and another was injured in the explosion.
When the State Department issued its environmental impact statement on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline two weeks ago, the media's main takeaway was that State had found the project would not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions. But as environmental advocates have dug deeper into the report in the days since, they have concluded that State made several flawed assumptions and decisions. Moreover, even its own findings show potential contributions to global warming if the pipeline moves forward.
To save you the trouble of reading an epic amount of bureaucratese (the report itself runs 11 volumes, and then there are all the critiques), here are environmentalists’ three major complaints:
1.The questionable assumption that tar-sands development is inevitable
We told you recently that wind turbines kept the heaters working in Texas during a cold snap that shut down several natural-gas power plants. And now we have similar superhero news from that other great renewable energy source -- the sun.
Tourists admire the beauty of the region, but life is hard as hell on the plantations. Undernourished workers, including children and the elderly, toil from dawn until dusk for pittances, often spraying industrial pesticides with little protection and enduring unsanitary conditions. They retire at night to overcrowded homes.
It is suffering such as this, which was chronicled a year ago in a complaint filed by three Indian nonprofits, that now has the World Bank investigating a company called APPL, which supplies tea to Tetley and other brands. APPL operates 24 tea plantations and is 41 percent owned by Tetley parent Tata Global Beverages, with the World Bank’s main lending body and some other shareholders also holding stakes.
"We want the company to comply with the labor laws and upgrade the working and living conditions," Jayshree Satpute, an official with Nazdeek, a nonprofit that helped draft last year's complaint, told Grist. "This investment of [the World Bank] was done also to benefit the workers -- but there have been no real positive changes."
The coal power industry has dumped a lot of toxic crap into yet another river. This latest incident is not to be confused with the spill of toxic coal-cleaning chemicals that poisoned a West Virginia river last month and left 300,000 people without drinking water. Nor is it to be confused with a huge coal-ash spill from a retired power plant in North Carolina earlier this month.
No, this is a whole new spill.
Patriot Coal accidentally let more than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry loose from a coal processing facility in West Virginia. Six miles of Fields Creek, which flows into the Kanawha River, was blackened by the slurry spill. The slurry contained fine particles of processed coal, which includes heavy metals, and coal-cleaning chemicals.
"When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out," said Randy Huffman, head of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). "This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River." But officials say drinking water has not been affected, at least not yet.
“I’m in my outside office,” he said. “I’m standing here looking out over this: It’s just idyllic, there’s hoop houses, there’s chickens. They make apple cider, there’s an orchard, and a field, and there's trumpeter swans on the field.”
I’d wanted talk to Crosby because he’s interested in growing regional food systems. In this series, I’m looking for pragmatic steps that can make regional agriculture more sustainable. Crosby does much the same thing: He searches for farmers who could grow or improve their businesses if they just had the financing; then he connects them with foundations, banks, or investors.
Q.I wrote recently about a project to improve rangeland with compost, which seems to help, both environmentally and financially. But it costs a lot of money initially to bring the compost in. Do you find that there are farmers who could be better stewards of the land if they were able to invest with an eye to the next 100 years, rather than just scraping by for the next year?
A. The embedded notion is that farmers are not good stewards of the land. I would say that farmers are the closest to the stewards of the land we have -- they just can’t make money doing it in our economic system. But if they lose their soil, they lose their livelihood, and they know that better than anyone.
Our market-driven, capitalistic structure insures that the lowest price wins. When the market says you have to lower the price per unit -- as happened in the 1970s, the terminology was “get big or get out” -- guess what, you’re going to have to grow. You’re going to have problems if you try to internalize the environmental costs and take care of the soil. It’s going to be more expensive, and you can’t sell your products as easily.
But it’s the right thing to do, and farmers will do it. It’s becoming more attractive as the cost of fossil fuels goes up. And farmers are coming to me saying, we need to try something else. Now they see a chance to make money doing the right thing, where they couldn’t before. And they would like to be able to do that. The question is, in the end, can they pay their bills?
A recent string of oil-train disasters across North America has Washington state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle feeling nervous. Oil-by-rail traffic in the state is poised to soar as crude from the Bakken formation in North Dakota heads to refineries and ports on the coast.
Republicans who control the state Senate and Democrats who control the House have both drafted legislation to try to reduce the risk of accidents and explosions. The Republican bill calls for a variety of studies and would help local agencies develop emergency plans. The Democratic one would go further, requiring greater public notification about the movement of oil through the state and increasing penalties for oil spills.