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Koch’ed up: Petcoke’s political pollution

If there is a statistical correlation between dirty oil and dirty politics, we have yet to fully quantify it – but you can add this to the growing pile of anecdotal evidence that the dirtiest political players are responsible for some of the dirtiest energy on the planet. William Koch – the “other” Koch brother along with David and Charles – was recently sued by a former senior executive at his Oxbow Carbon & Minerals Inc. for false imprisonment.  The allegations are that Koch lured the former executive to his Colorado ranch and then held him against his will to intimidate him.  …

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By the Numbers – Data Highlights from Full Planet, Empty Plates

More than 150 data sets accompany Lester R. Brown’s latest book, Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity. These tables and graphs help to explain the precarious situation in which humanity finds itself, as the world leaves an era of food surpluses and enters one of food scarcity. Here are some highlights from the collection. Food Prices Rising Between 2007 and mid-2008, world grain and soybean prices more than doubled. Record food price inflation led to food-related riots and unrest in some 60 countries. Prices eased somewhat due to the Great Recession, but even then remained well …

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How the New Politics May Be Hazardous to Your Health

After the 2000 census, many states used politics and innovative mapping technology to gerrymander new electoral districts to lock in gains for one party or the other. California politicians, for example, drew new “safe” seats and the result was hyper-partisanship and politicians who didn’t need to pay attention to anyone that wasn’t singing from their sheet music. Unfortunately, the results may also be dirtier air and a less sustainable future. Alarmed by the partisanship and its resulting gridlock, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger led an effort to reform the system and convinced voters to put re-districting in the hands of a non-partisan …

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Newly discovered super-advanced biocarbon device: anchovy poop!

(At the Northwest Biocarbon Initiative we are constantly on the hunt for ways to improve the carbon storage capacity of natural systems.   One of my partners in the project, Rhys Roth, came across this new scientific study on the importance of fish poop.  One way to help remove the carbon load in the Earth's atmosphere!  Patrick Mazza) Filed under: NBI, biocarbon, solutions, carbon, natural systems   By Rhys Roth I love pizza, but the anchovies?  Not so much.  Little did I know that by skipping the anchovies I may actually be helping protect https://grist.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpEarth’s  natural CO2 cleansing system.  Anchovy poop, …

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Uniting Against Coal Exports in the Pacific Northwest

A coal train in the Pacific Northwest. Photo by Paul K. Anderson. There's been a lot of buzz about coal exports lately, but if I was a betting woman, I'd say the smart money is on these coal industry pipe dreams never becoming a reality. That's because local communities that would receive the brunt of the pollution from transporting all that coal are standing up and saying no, one after another. Communities across the Pacific Northwest continue to band together in opposition to coal export terminals and the massive increase in rail traffic that would come with it. Especially breath-taking …

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Arctic Sea Ice in Free Fall

By Emily E. Adams and Janet Larsen The North Pole is losing its ice cap. Comparing recent melt seasons with historical records spanning more than 1,400 years shows summer Arctic sea ice in free fall.  Many scientists believe that the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in the summertime within the next decade or two, and some say that this could occur as early as 2016.  The last time the Arctic was completely free of ice may have been 125,000 years ago. Between March 20 and September 16, 2012, the Arctic lost ice covering 11.8 million square kilometers—an area larger than …

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Thoughts on economic growth and energy slaves

I've lately become intrigued by the idea of "energy slaves" a deliberately unsettling way to highlight how unusual the last 200 years have been in terms of energy and economic growth. Suppose you were a wealthy white farmer in the antebellum South and owned 10 slaves. Assume you have no other access to energy beyond their muscle power. If you monopolize the fruits of their collective labor, you get a 10x force multiplier: the output of 11 men, harnessed to the sole benefit of one. That means you churn butter ten times as fast, harvest cotton ten times as fast, …

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Powerful New Series Reveals the True Cost of Coal

The first time I watched this is powerful new video, it stopped me in my tracks. It's the debut video for our latest project, a photo series from Sierra magazine called "The Cost of Coal." I think you'll agree -- the stories and images of these families who are facing the loss of their homes, loved ones, and lives to coal pollution are unforgettable. And while I was especially moved by the images from my home state of West Virginia, the real tragedy is that stories like these are being repeated across our nation. The Cost of Coal is new …

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Big Coal Wins Latest Battle to Blast Historic Blair Mountain

Is nothing sacred to coal companies in Appalachia? In a jaw-dropping display of contempt and disregard for the communities and landscapes where they mine coal, three coal companies back in 2009 challenged the listing of West Virginia's Blair Mountain on the National Register of Historic Places. The companies, including mining behemoths Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, opposed the listing of Blair Mountain as a historic site because it could interfere with their plans to conduct mountaintop removal mining operations on the Spruce Fork Ridge battlefield, site of the "largest organized armed uprising in American labor history," and the most …

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Will Obama’s Poll Decline Finally Break the Silence on Climate?

Four years ago, when Barack Obama was running against John McCain for the Presidency and when the climate crisis was not as severe as it has become, both Obama and McCain were in agreement that 1) it existed and 2) action should be taken on it. As importantly, they both spoke about this issue throughout the campaign. Obama’s program back then, put forward in early August 2008, projected 1 million plug-in hybrid cars by 2015, a commitment to energy efficiency, investing in an upgrade of the national utility grid, weatherizing one million homes annually, a 100% auction—with no freebies for …

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