OK, we get it: The climate deniers in Congress don't want the country to do anything to rein in greenhouse gas pollution from their favorite filthy industries.
But are they willing, at the very least, to help Americans adapt as the weather turns deadly around them? We will soon know the answer to that question.
President Barack Obama visited California's Central Valley farming region on Friday to announce disaster relief for the drought-ravagedstate. And, while he was there, he announced his vision for $1 billion in climate-adaptation spending.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is so progressive on climate change that it is currently responsible for the entirety of U.S. climate policy. The agency is moving forward with regulations on new and existing coal-fired power plants, by far the largest source of CO2 emissions in the country, and has already locked in historic vehicle mileage standards. The current EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, is both a climate warrior and a down-to-earth person, who fully understands the climate challenge and intends to use EPA authority to fix it. In short, the EPA is amazing, and may even save civilization through its …
Yevgeny Vitishko, a 40-year-old scientist, is ostensibly being punished for the crimes of spray-painting a fence and swearing in public. Vitishko was among seven members of Environmental Watch of the North Caucasus detained on the eve of the Olympics. An appeal of the decision to jail him for three years was rejected during a hearing that he couldn't attend this week because he was imprisoned.
“The case against Vitishko has been politically motivated from the start,” said Yulia Gorbunova, a Human Rights Watch official in Russia. “When the authorities continued to harass him it became clear they were trying to silence and exact retribution against certain persistent critics of the preparations for the Olympics.”
Scrubbing dead skin cells off your face and tartar off your teeth trashes the environment if it's not done right. The right way to do it is with facial scrubs, shampoo, and toothpaste that do not contain microbeads. The microscopic balls of hard plastic flow down drains and pass through wastewater treatment plants, ending up in rivers, lakes, and oceans, where they enter the food chain.
Finding microbead-free products isn't easy right now -- you have to read ingredient lists and steer clear of products that contain "polyethylene" or "polypropylene." Natural alternatives include ground almonds, oatmeal, and pumice.
But if lawmakers in California and New York get their ways, the microbead-loaded varieties will become nearly impossible to purchase in two of the most populous states in the country.
Early on Tuesday morning, a Chevron-owned natural gas well in Greene County, Pa., burst into flames – and more than 72 hours later, it’s still burning. One contractor for Chevron is missing and presumed dead, and another was injured in the explosion.
When the State Department issued its environmental impact statement on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline two weeks ago, the media's main takeaway was that State had found the project would not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions. But as environmental advocates have dug deeper into the report in the days since, they have concluded that State made several flawed assumptions and decisions. Moreover, even its own findings show potential contributions to global warming if the pipeline moves forward.
To save you the trouble of reading an epic amount of bureaucratese (the report itself runs 11 volumes, and then there are all the critiques), here are environmentalists’ three major complaints:
1.The questionable assumption that tar-sands development is inevitable
Last October, the Reverend Billy was arrested for preaching into a megaphone inside a branch of Chase Bank in Midtown Manhattan. He'd been accompanied by a gang of golden frogs -- the first known species to become extinct as the direct result of climate change. The frogs and the Reverend were there to call attention, through singing and dancing, to Chase Bank’s ranking as the largest lender in the world for new coal plant construction.
Reverend Billy -- an activist and performance artist actually named Bill Talen -- is no stranger to arrest, but what happened next was unusual. Instead of the usual order to do community service, the District Attorney of the City of New York charged Talen and the group’s choir director, Nehemiah Luckett, with riot in the second degree, menacing in the third degree, unlawful assembly, and two counts of disorderly conduct. The Chase branch manager had told the DA’s office that he had mistaken the protest for a robbery, and that several bank customers and employees were reduced to tears by the experience. The two now risked serving up to a year in prison.
The next court date for the duo is Feb. 27. But in the meantime, the prosecution changed its charges and offered a new sentencing recommendation -- one day of community service for Talen, and six months of not getting arrested for Luckett -- if both agreed to plead guilty.
What happened in the meantime, and why did the prosecution change their tune? Talen recently answered my questions over the phone.
Q. Well, first things first. Are you going to plead guilty?
If the U.S. gets its way, developing countries will need to roll up their sleeves and do more to slow down global warming.
The Obama administration is taking the position that poor and rich countries alike should be legally obligated to reduce the amount of climate-changing pollution that they produce after 2020, when a new climate treaty is expected to take effect. The Kytoto Protocol approach, which saw rich countries but not poor ones compelled to rein in greenhouse gas pollution, is "clearly not rational or workable" any more, U.S. officials argue in a new submission to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The next big U.N. climate meeting will be held in Lima, Peru, this December, and then Paris will host a bigger one in December 2015, at which world leaders hope to finalize the new climate treaty.
"[T]he United States supports a Paris agreement that reflects the seriousness and magnitude of what science demands," Obama administration officials wrote in their 11-page U.N. submission, which was published on Wednesday. "As such, it should be designed to promote ambitious efforts by a broad range of Parties."
A recent string of oil-train disasters across North America has Washington state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle feeling nervous. Oil-by-rail traffic in the state is poised to soar as crude from the Bakken formation in North Dakota heads to refineries and ports on the coast.
Republicans who control the state Senate and Democrats who control the House have both drafted legislation to try to reduce the risk of accidents and explosions. The Republican bill calls for a variety of studies and would help local agencies develop emergency plans. The Democratic one would go further, requiring greater public notification about the movement of oil through the state and increasing penalties for oil spills.