What has 92 protons, deforms growing children, sickens adults, and is being squeezed out of its underground lair by frackers operating in Pennsylvania?
The toxic and radioactive heavy metal is naturally trapped in the Marcellus shale, the fossil-fuel-laden rock formation popular with frackers that stretches from upstate New York through Pennsylvania to West Virginia and Ohio. We know the uranium is in there, and we know fracking sets it free, because scientists have been saying as much for years.
Pity the oceans. Not only do we dump oil and plastics and all kinds of nasty chemicals and garbage into them. Turns out we're dumping heat into them too.
Studies of ocean temperatures are revealing that a lot of the excess heat we're creating by pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is ending up in the oceans.
That's helping to keep the atmosphere cooler than scientists had previously projected; the rise in surface temperatures slowed during the first decade of this century. (The effects of aerosols spat out by volcanoes and other phenomena are also thought to have helped keep temperatures on the surface of Earth lower than expected.) That may seem a good thing from the perspective of terrestrial creatures like us. But the oceans won't suck up all that heat forever.
Environmental activist Daniel McGowan is out of prison, but he’s not out of the woods. He was incarcerated for seven years for his alleged involvement in arson at an Oregon lumber company, then thrown back in prison for writing about how his beliefs got him branded a terrorist. He's now been released, but only after being told he can't publish his opinions or talk to the press.
McGowan is the central figure in the 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary If a Tree Falls, which details the lead-up to his prison sentence for arson credited to the Earth Liberation Front. He was released this past December to a halfway house in New York City.
McGowan spent more than two years of his sentence in a Communication Management Unit (CMU), where his contact with the outside world through letters and phone calls was highly restricted. In a piece published in The Huffington Post on April 1, McGowan explains how he ended up in the CMU: The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) didn't like what he was writing about environmental activism from his cell. "In short, based on its disagreement with my political views, the government sent me to a prison unit from which it would be harder for me to be heard, serving as a punishment for my beliefs," he writes. McGowan learned these details after filing a lawsuit on behalf of himself and other CMU prisoners. Through the lawsuit, the BOP was forced to reveal some damning internal memos. McGowan:
The following speech is listed in these memos to justify my designation to these ultra-restrictive units:
My attempts to "unite" environmental and animal liberation movements, and to "educate" new members of the movement about errors of the past; my writings about "whether militancy is truly effective in all situations"; a letter I wrote discussing bringing unity to the environmental movement by focusing on global issues; the fact that I was "publishing [my] points of view on the internet in an attempt to act as a spokesperson for the movement"; and the BOP's belief that, through my writing, I have "continued to demonstrate [my] support for anarchist and radical environmental terrorist groups."
On April 4, three days after McGowan's post was published, the BOP responded by -- what else? -- throwing him back in prison for talking about what he wasn't supposed to talk about.
Legislation introduced in Kansas would ban the promotion or practice by state agencies of sustainable development.
Don't they know that when sustainable development is outlawed, only outlaws develop sustainably?
House Bill 2366, introduced into the House Energy and Environment Committee, would prevent any state funds from being "used, either directly or indirectly, to promote, support, mandate, require, order, incentivize, advocate, plan for, participate in or implement sustainable development."
Most people realize that the seas are rising, hurricanes are becoming more ferocious, and oceans are turning to acid because we keep digging up fossil fuels, burning them, and poisoning the atmosphere.
Jeez, it seems a wealthy white dude can't even flick mindlessly between Fox News and golf broadcasts these days without being rudely interrupted by a message about the evils of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Last week at the Texas Open, a professional golf tournament sponsored by oil giant Valero, one of the signs being held by volunteer Doug Fahlbusch was changed at the 18th hole from stating players' names and scores to reveal this message: "TAR SANDS SPILL. ANSWER MANCHESTER."
Some of the tar-sands oil that would be piped to the Gulf Coast by Keystone XL would be processed by Valero in Houston's East End, which includes the neighborhood of Manchester, where pollution from industrial operations has long sickened residents.
As you can imagine, Fahlbusch's statement caused quite the kerfuffle among hoity-toity golf officials and he was carried away by security and arrested by police. Watch the video below and you'll see one security guard is particularly anxious to wrestle the dastardly sign from the protestor's hand, even as he is being carried away, perhaps worried that the offensive message might hurt the innocent eyes of any women or children. Which is not bloody likely, given that most golf fans are wealthy middle-aged white men.
New science education guidelines will formalize the teaching of evolution and climate change in American classrooms. But before they were finalized, recommended global warming lessons were watered down.
We mentioned the draft guidelines last month, noting they are expected to be adopted by the 26 states that helped draft them and that other states might also use them (not Texas, though). The final version of the guidelines was unveiled Tuesday.
The extractive industries don't loathe her because she started her career as a petroleum engineer and went on to become a commercial banker working with natural resources companies. “It’s been a while since I fracked a well; I think it was 1979,” she said at her confirmation hearing last month.
“How’d you get appointed by this administration?” GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) joked at that hearing. “Sounds like someone a Republican president would appoint. That’s a remarkable background.”
The oil industry isn't the only business flexing its muscle in Washington. The Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy coalition, aka BICEP, today released a “Climate Declaration" urging Congress to do some heavy lifting on climate change and "asserting that a bold response to the climate challenge is one of the greatest American economic opportunities of the 21st century.” Signatories include Nike, Starbucks, eBay, and 30 other companies, with a combined annual revenue of about $450 billion.
“The signers of the Climate Declaration have a clear message for Washington: Act on climate change. We are, and it’s good for our businesses,” Anne Kelly, director of BICEP, said in a statement.
From the statement: "The signatories of the Climate Declaration are calling for Congress to address climate change by promoting clean energy, boosting efficiency and limiting carbon emissions -- strategies that these businesses already employ within their own operations."
Though the clean coalition's efforts are aimed at policymakers, its business is really aimed at the rest of us. And that's where this effort starts to feel a bit self-serving.