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New Mexico suing to block horse slaughter

A horse with its tongue out

Just as a New Mexico slaughterhouse prepares to kill 20 horses, the state has filed a lawsuit that aims to prevent the killings.

Roswell-based Valley Meat Company plans to begin slaughtering horses in the new year thanks to changes in federal rules. It eventually aims to be capable of slaughtering 120 horses a day, with the meat sold as animal feed and to human consumers in Europe and Asia.

The debut slaughter had initially been scheduled for early August but was delayed after the company was targeted by lawsuits and suspected arsonists. A federal appeals court in Colorado last week ruled against environmentalists who had sued to prevent the slaughter of horses in America.

Now New Mexico's Democratic attorney general, an aspiring gubernatorial candidate, is joining in the pile-on. He described such a slaughter as "completely at odds with our traditions and our values as New Mexicans." Here's more about the lawsuit from KOB Eyewitness News 4:

Read more: Food


China launches world’s second-biggest carbon-trading market

Chinese currency and a seedling

If you find yourself passing through the Chinese city of Guangzhou with 61 renminbi burning a hole in your pocket, you could drop by the world's newest and bound-to-be-second-largest carbon-trading market and pick up a carbon credit as a souvenir.

The first day of trading at China's fourth carbon-trading market was described as brisk on Thursday. A cement company kicked things off, buying 20,000 carbon permits from an energy company in early trading at the equivalent of about $10 a pop. Reuters reports:


Why do Virginians want to drill off their own coast?

Virginia coastline
Jimmy Emerson
Insert drilling rig here?

You might think that anyone with a television set would oppose offshore oil drilling, at least anywhere near her home. Watching the devastation wreaked on the Gulf Coast by the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill would not make drilling in your state's waters look very appealing. (In case you’ve forgotten, the toll of that disaster included 11 deaths, 4.9 million barrels of oil released into the ocean, dead and damaged wetlands and marine life, and economic losses that are literally incalculable but reach into the tens of billions by any estimate.)

But look at Virginia, a swing state that has recently elected two Democratic senators and a Democratic governor, and been carried twice by President Obama. Most Virginians believe in anthropogenic climate change, want to address it, and prefer candidates who share those values.

And yet, paradoxically, they support offshore oil drilling right off their own coastline. An October poll conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute found 67 percent of Virginians support offshore oil drilling. The headlines it generated, however, are a bit misleading. The poll questions were phrased to guide the respondent to the oil industry’s position. (For example: Do you agree with this statement: “Increased production of domestic oil and natural gas resources could help strengthen America’s energy security”?) And the poll does not specify offshore drilling along Virginia’s coast, just in the U.S. generally.


Environmental justice leaders to Obama: There’s a gap in your climate plan

mind the gap
Steve Bowbrick

When President Obama introduced his Climate Action Plan in a speech at Georgetown University in June, he offered a soothing and meaningful vision at a time when many thought his administration had lost its way on the environment. But for those concerned about how climate change hurts the most vulnerable and marginalized in society, there wasn’t much to get hyped about. In the plan itself, environmental justice is mentioned just once. There is no mention of Executive Order 12898, signed by President Bill Clinton instructing all federal agencies to consider impacts on people of color, the elderly, and those of low-income when crafting new policies and rules.

Now, an alliance of 33 battle-proven environmental justice organizations from around the nation is asking Obama to do more. The Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change has started a petition campaign calling on the president to “close the environmental justice gap” in his climate plan. They are seeking 100,000 signatures and also for supporters to send a letter to Obama that reads, in part:

While your plan contained many necessary elements to start our nation on a path to addressing the climate crisis, [I/WE] feel that your plans have not sufficiently amplified the serious vulnerabilities and disparate exposures that many low income communities and communities of color have experienced and continue to experience as extreme weather continues to hit our nation with more intensity and frequency.


Elephants may be extinct in a decade, thanks to an ivory trade that helps fund terrorism

Derek Keats

Know what’s cool about elephants? Them being alive, them having trunks, them eating with what looks like a finger at the end of a long penis, them being afraid of mice, them being alive. Did we mention ELEPHANTS BEING ALIVE? We're trying to really appreciate that part. Because in 10 years, if we don't change things, they could be gone.

Since the 1960s, more than 90 percent of Africa’s elephants have died. According to the Independent, more died in 2011 than any year EVER (not counting 2012 and 2013, because those numbers aren’t known yet). All for ivory hair combs, ivory chopsticks -- stupid stuff. But this isn’t just depressing on an environmental level, the Independent adds; it’s connected with terrorism:

Read more: Living


Tax meat to cut methane emissions, say scientists

black angus cows

Meat should be taxed to encourage people to eat less of it, thus reducing the production of global warming gases from sheep, cattle, and goats, according to a group of scientists.

Several high-profile figures, from the chief of the U.N.'s climate science panel to the economist Lord Stern, have previously advocated eating less meat to tackle global warming.

The scientists' analysis, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, takes the contentious step of suggesting methane emissions be cut by pushing up the price of meat through a tax or emissions trading scheme.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food


Before he died, a 27-year-old left a message in a bottle, and it can teach us something about climate change

In 1959, 27-year-old Paul Walker -- no relation to the Fast and the Furious guy, silly -- left a message in a bottle. Six months later, he was dead.

The note wasn’t cast into the ocean, and Walker wasn’t sendin’ out an SOS to a long-lost love. He was a geologist, and he left the bottle under some rocks 168 feet away from a glacier in the Arctic. The note asks whoever finds it to measure how far away the glacier is now -- to see how much it shrank from the warming climate -- and report back to Walker. Sadly, he had a brain seizure a month after writing the note and died in a hospital months later. He never got to learn what became of his message:

Denis Sarrazin, CEN/ArcticNet
Click to embiggen.
Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Northern Gateway tar-sands pipeline gets crucial government blessing

BC forest
Miguel Vieira
The pipeline would be built through British Columbian forests like these.

A key Canadian ruling Thursday could eventually lead to sticky tar-sands oil being shipped west via a new pipeline laid through spectacular forests and pristine streams.

Enbridge Inc. got a positive recommendation from a national review panel for its proposed $US6.1 billion Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would carry oil 730 miles from the tar sands of Alberta to a new terminal on the west coast of Canada, where it would be loaded onto about 220 ships a year, primarily bound for Asia. About a third of pipeline project would cross as-yet undisturbed land, and the oil-laden ships would travel through prime fishing areas.

Click to embiggen.
Northern Gateway
Click to embiggen.

But it's not a done deal yet. The federal government now has 180 days in which to make a final decision, and opposition in British Columbia and from First Nations (aka Native) groups could still trip up the process.

 The Vancouver Sun reports:


Iceland’s cars could soon run on volcano power


Iceland is sitting atop a bubbling pool of geothermal energy -- they use it to heat the entire country, basically. But now one company -- which, according to FastCoExist, is sitting right next to an actual volcano in Iceland -- has figured out a way to run the country's cars on volcano power, too.

The volcano makes the incredible amount of energy in the Earth's core accessible from the planet's surface. A power company's already using it to make electricity, but the process emits a fair bit of pretty concentrated carbon dioxide. Here's where the new innovation comes in: This company, Carbon Recycling International, takes that CO2 and turns it into methanol, a fuel that can power cars but which lacks the nasty carcinogenic byproducts of gasoline.


The week in GIFs: Love Actually edition

Love Actually: Hate to love or love to hate? Either way, happy Festivus. (Last week: the incomparable Jennifer Lawrence.)

The FDA is standing up for small, local farmers:

Read more: Living