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Diving deep: Susan Shaw, ocean crusader and environmental health pioneer

Cross-posted from Urbanite.

In 1983, with the encouragement and support of iconic landscape photographer Ansel Adams, Susan Shaw wrote Overexposure, a research book on the dangers of photographic chemicals. With an M.F.A. from Columbia University already in hand, she completed a Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from Columbia's School of Public Health. She was among the first researchers to document and study the presence of perfluorinated chemicals, flame retardants, and cancer-causing chemicals -- many found in consumer products -- in the tissue of harbor seals and marine fishes.

Shaw is the founder and director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute in Blue Hill, Maine, and a professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the State University of New York in Albany. A well-known figure in the fight against ocean pollution, she has provided commentary in several documentary films on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, including Animal Planet's Black Tide: Voices of the Gulf and Green Planet's The Big Fix, which was an official selection documentary at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

Last year, the Society of Women Geographers named Shaw its Gold Medal Award recipient, the organization's highest honor, first given to Amelia Earhart in 1933.

Read more: Animals, Oil, Pollution


Why The Hunger Games is no climate parable: A science fiction pro explains

Photo by JT Thomas.

Looking for ecological lessons in The Hunger Games? Give it up, says Paolo Bacigalupi.

“A very influential critic once said, ‘Don’t argue with the book,’” Bacigalupi says. “Hunger Games is not a book about how the world came to be this way. It’s a thought experiment about a theoretical world. Trying to turn it into a parable of eco-collapse is forcing it in a direction that it was not meant to go.”

Bacigalupi should know. He’s a guy who writes eco-parables for a living. His first novel, The Windup Girl, is set in a world shaped by climate change and bioengineering. His most recent book, a young adult novel called Ship Breaker, takes place in an energy-starved future where kids scavenge for precious metals amid the ruins of old oil tankers. The books have won every award known to science fiction. Ship Breaker was a finalist for a National Book Award.


Half-bike, half-car Velomobile goes 80 miles on 6 cents of electricity

Photo by Watson House.

Velomobiles are reclining bicycles with fiberglass shells on top, to make you super aerodynamic, weatherproof, and sort of whimsical.


How China will force Americans to drive electric cars

For all the Republican blather about keeping gas prices down with domestic production, pretty soon the U.S.’s effect on the market price of oil will be totally swamped by demand from the developing world. As energy futurist Chris Nelder observes at Txchnologist, nowhere is this trend better exemplified than the fact that auto sales in China recently exceeded auto sales in the U.S.

Chart source: Feng An, Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation, Beijing, 2010.


Obama ad ties Mitt Romney to Big Oil’s gas-price attacks

Cross-posted from ThinkProgress Green.

The Obama campaign is acting as if it is already in a general-election fight, against a Big Oil-Mitt Romney ticket. In a new ad, President Obama attacks “Big Oil” and Mitt Romney, pushing back against oil-industry campaign ads that accuse Obama of raising gas prices. The front group American Energy Alliance, secretly funded by Koch Industries and other oil giants, is running a $3.6 million ad campaign that criticizes Obama policies that don’t favor the oil-industry agenda. Oil companies have been profiting from American suffering at the gas pump, but they believe they would do even better under a Romney presidency, the new Obama ad argues:

Under President Obama, domestic oil production’s at an eight-year high. So why is Big Oil attacking him? Because he’s fighting to end their tax breaks. He’s raising mileage standards, and doubling renewable energy. In all these fights, Mitt Romney stood with Big Oil, for their tax breaks, attacking higher mileage standards and renewables. So when you see this ad, remember who paid for it and what they want.


If fossil fuel subsidies were distributed to every person, we’d each get $58/year

Globally, every year fossil fuels get six times as much money in subsidies than renewable energy. Given a world population of around 7 billion, that means every man woman and child on the planet is spending an average of $58 a year to prop this industry up, but only around $9 to support renewables.


Incredible NASA images of Saudi Arabia’s careless use of water

Last week, NASA released satellite images showing that the Saudis are irrigating the desert in order to grow food -- with fossil water that accumulated during the last Ice Age and will be gone completely in 50 years. It's the very definition of unsustainable.


George Bush’s hometown is running out of water, thanks to climate change

Here's a theme we're going to see a lot in the 21st century:

Payback is a bitch.

The president who nixed America's commitment to the carbon-reducing Kyoto protocol, whose administration censored reports on climate science, and whose State Department thanked Exxon executives for their "active involvement" in helping to determine climate change policy, is watching the town in which he grew up squirm in the grip of Texas' epic, climate change-enhanced drought.


Tim DeChristopher put in ‘isolated confinement’

Tim DeChristopher. (Photo by Cliff Lyon.)

Editor's note: Wednesday night, DeChristopher was released back into regular old prison.

Peaceful Uprising put out the word Tuesday that Tim DeChristopher, still serving his sentence for disrupting a government auction of oil leases, has been transferred to isolated confinement. He’s been there since March 9.

It's a strange story: Peaceful Uprising says that "Tim was informed by  Lieutenant Weirich that he was being moved to the SHU [the prison's Special Housing Unit] because an unidentified congressman had called from Washington, D.C., complaining of an email that Tim had sent to a friend."

Read more: Natural Gas, Oil, Politics


Ire drill: Obama lauds Keystone’s southern leg

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

Once upon a time, Obama said future generations would remember his ascendance as "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."

In a Cushing, Okla., speech Thursday, Obama made clear future generations would remember him for something quite different:

Read more: Oil