Residents of a rural northern Texas area were awoken early on Thanksgiving by not one but two earthquakes. Such quakes have become alarmingly normal during the past month, and fracking practices could be to blame.
North Texas has been feeling a string of earthquakes — more than a dozen — over the past few weeks. Most have been centered around Azle, with the most recent [previous] one being on Tuesday morning. All of those quakes have registered between 2.0 and 3.6 in magnitude. Those who live in the small town have grown concerned.
Azle leaders have called on state officials to have geologists investigate the cause of these quakes. “The citizens are concerned,” said Azle Assistant City Manager Lawrence Bryant at a city council meeting. “They should be.”
“If it’s a man-made cause, it would be nice to know,” Bryant added.
The monarch butterfly is a prime example of charismatic minifauna. Charismatic megafauna -- bears, sharks, wolves -- evoke feelings of awe, but there’s a subtle contradiction in sheltering species that sometime eat us. With charismatic minifauna, however, that contradiction disappears. It may be harder to empathize with insects, but nurturing them comes a bit more naturally.
People like Debbie Jackson, a conservation specialist with Monarch Watch, have been nurturing the insects for decades.
“I started this as a little girl the cornfields of the Midwest, just enjoying them,” she said. “Feeding the caterpillars on milkweed and watching them grow.”
Now monarchs are in trouble -- in part because there’s not much milkweed left in the cornfields of the Midwest.
“The numbers are astronomically horrible,” Jackson said. The monarch overwintering spot in the mountains of Mexico once hosted a billion butterflies. But just 3 million have shown up so far this year, she said.
There is one Thanksgiving that I will never forget. It took place at my Mother’s apartment on New York’s Upper Westside. It was the last Thanksgiving dinner that she hosted, and I was her only guest.
By then, permanently bedridden and unable to cook, mom ordered sliced turkey with all the fixings from a gourmet market. The catered meal was tasty, but lacked the home-cooked character of past feasts. What made this Thanksgiving memorable was not the food, but what happened after dinner.
During the elevator ride back down to the lobby, it suddenly occurred to me that there were people in the city who wouldn’t be celebrating Thanksgiving that night. I was gripped by a strange (for me) impulse to feed somebody like that -- a quixotic desire for a lifelong bachelor who is barely capable of feeding himself.
You can imagine my amazement when I was met at the door of my mother’s upscale condo by a disheveled woman and her young daughter. “Give us a chicken dinner,” she demanded, as if sent there by divine central casting. In a state of mild shock, I shepherded the two of them to the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken and ordered the fast-food version of a Thanksgiving feast. What surprised me was not their joy at this modest meal, so much as my own in providing it.
Q.I wash dishes all the time, and those yellow and green sponges will only last a few weeks at most. I don't know what they're made of, so I don't know in which bin to throw them or how to reuse them. Can I make a recycled mattress or couch with a thousand used sponges? Is there any charity or artist that collects old sponges? Is there a good, affordable, practical, and eco-friendly alternative?
A. Dearest Arne,
Sponges truly are the multitaskers of the cleaning crew. Not only are they scrubbing our dishes, they’re also busy wiping counters, washing cars, applying makeup, brightening windows, and exfoliating our skin in the shower – and this week, likely pulling overtime sudsing the stuffing off your company platters. It doesn’t seem right to reward such service with a one-way ticket to the trash, but unfortunately, that’s exactly where many sponges are bound.
Your typical grocery-store kitchen sponge is made from polyurethane, a petroleum-based material that can’t be recycled or composted. Even worse, some sponges billing themselves as antibacterial are soaked with triclosan, that ever-plaguing chemical linked with liver and thyroid issues and toxic to aquatic life.
Republican caricatures of Al Gore notwithstanding, the former vice president was never a stereotypical woolly environmentalist. A practicing Southern Baptist, Gore attended divinity school and, though he opposed the Vietnam War, he enlisted in the military rather than protesting it. Gore rose in the 1980s as a moderate “New Democrat,” who was friendly to business, hawkish on foreign policy and, yes, excited about the possibilities of technological innovation. As vice president, he set about the earnest work of “reinventing government” to make it more efficient.
And so it is actually quite remarkable that, as Forbesreported in this week’s issue and The Washington Postconfirmed with a source close to Gore on Monday, he has gone vegan. Forbes merely tossed in a throwaway line referring to Gore as “newly vegan,” in a story about investors looking at ways of replacing eggs with plant-based formulas. The Post was unable to get any further details beyond confirmation from an unnamed Gore associate.
Perhaps, as the Post’s Juliet Eilperin suggests, Gore was worried about his health. Former President Bill Clinton, who was famously fond of McDonald’s, became a vegan in 2011. (He had a quadruple bypass in 2004.) Gore, as conservatives never tire of pointing out, put on a few pounds after leaving office.
But it seems likely that concerns about the environment, especially his top cause of climate change, played a role in Gore’s thinking.
Pipeline accidents in China during the past week have killed more than 50 people, led to the arrests of nine officials, caused two large oil spills, and triggered evacuations. Both of the ruptured pipelines were owned by China's largest oil refiner, China Petroleum, also known as Sinopec. Here are the basics:
Residents of Chicago's southeast side aren't going to sit idly by as their city, state and federal governments try to protect them from byproducts of tar-sands oil refining -- the black dust that's been blowing over their homes from nearby petcoke piles. The residents have called in a team of lawyers, and they are going after the companies that produce and store the uncovered piles of carbon powder.
The petcoke is left over after the refining of tar-sands oil, most of which is coming into the Midwest from Canada. Petcoke can't be legally burned as fuel in the U.S., but subsidiaries of Koch Industries have been buying up the waste across the country anyway, presumably for sale into countries with less strict air pollution laws. And two of the defendants named in the lawsuit are subsidiaries of Koch Industries, including KCBX Terminals, which is storing some of the piles of petcoke along the Calumet River.
Someday astronauts visiting the moon could toddle out of their space shuttle, harvest basil from their lunar garden, and sprinkle it over their 3D-printed space pizza.
NASA hopes to begin growing radishes, basil, and other plants on the moon in 2015. A two-pound "greenhouse" is planned to be delivered there using an uncrewed Google Lunar X-Prize mission. From New Scientist:
The aim is to find out if the crews of moon bases will be able to grow some of their own greens, a capability that has proved psychologically comforting to research crews isolated in Antarctica and on the International Space Station, NASA says.
Factors that could confound lunar plant growth include the virtual absence of an atmosphere and high levels of solar and cosmic radiation that bombard the moon's surface. So the space agency is developing a sealed canister with five days' worth of air, in which seeds can germinate on nutrient-infused filter paper. The idea is that water will be released on touchdown and sunshine will do the rest.
And NASA isn't hoping to take just agriculture to new heights -- it is working to bring food production into space as well, using 3D printing. From the agency's website:
Churchill in northern Manitoba bills itself as the the polar bear capital of the world and its tourism-based economy depends on it. But as climate change forces the polar bears inland in search of food, attacks on humans are increasing. Can this small community continue to co-exist with the world's largest land predator? Suzanne Goldenberg reports from Churchill where its bear alert program uses guns, helicopters, and a polar bear jail to manage the the creatures.
It has become a common assertion, repeated ad nauseum by hack pundits such as yours truly, that New York City’s outgoing mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has become one of the world’s most forceful opponents of climate change. Journalists typically refer to Bloomberg’s blueprint for reducing New York’s carbon footprint and adapting to climate change, known as PlaNYC. But such passing references typically fail to offer details of how exactly Bloomberg has done it: What are the components of New York’s sustainability agenda, and what is the story behind its adoption?
Into that void steps InsideClimate News with its e-book, Bloomberg's Hidden Legacy: Climate Change and the Future of New York City. In almost 25,000 words, InsideClimate reporters Katherine Bagley and Maria Gallucci have brought us the definitive account of Bloomberg’s greatest achievement.
Reading through the book, which is available for purchase in its entirety, and for free on the InsideClimate website in five installments, I was reminded that what we now think of as one of Bloomberg’s signature issues, along with smoking cessation and gun control, was not of any particular interest to him during the first half of his tenure. Bloomberg took office less than four months after the horrific terrorist strikes of September 11, 2001. His first term and the beginning of his second were primarily consumed with security concerns and economic revitalization.
And when Bloomberg’s sustainability agenda did arise in 2006, its impetus was not sentimental environmentalism. The mayor was a science geek (he majored in electrical engineering in college) and a technocrat with a commitment to public health. The kind of person who bans trans fats from restaurants and smoking from bars and public parks is a relatively easy sell on environmental regulation. But the real spark for PlaNYC was a projection that New York’s population would grow by a million people by mid-century.