Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Wildfire Strategy: Let It Burn

July 14, 2017

Wildfire Strategy

Every year since the dawn of time, the Santa Ana winds lash Southern California’s dry autumn brushlands into explosive, blazing infernos. Every year since the dawn of the last century, Southern Californians express surprise as they are engulfed in a sea of flame. With climate change, things won’t get better.

“We will never be able to control wildfire,” explains Tania Schoennagel of the Institute for Alpine and Arctic Research, “We have to learn to live with it and adapt, just like we do with droughts and flooding. Our current wildfire policies can’t protect people and homes.”

More:

“The Future of Fighting Wildfires in the Era of Climate Change,” Bob Berwyn, Pacific Standard

“Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes,” Tania Schoennagela, Jennifer K. Balcha, Hannah Brenkert-Smith et al., PNAS

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Ain’t No Fish

March 6, 2017

“Some Days There Just Ain’t No Fish.” Produced and directed by Miki Cash and Tom Gasek of Wonky Films. Song written by Carl Sigman and Bob Russell; sung by Hoagy Carmichael.

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Judge Orders Bottled Water Delivery To Flint Residents

November 11, 2016

Judge Orders Bottled Water Delivery To Flint Residents

Federal Court Judge David M. Lawson has ordered Michigan state and local governments to provide home delivery of at least four cases of water a week to each resident of Flint, unless officials verify that the household has a properly installed and maintained water filter. Deliveries must continue until the city’s water lead hazard ends.

Bottled water had previously been available for pick-up at various locations throughout the city, but restrictive access hours and limits per family placed the burden on residents, 40 percent of whom live below the poverty line. Many do not own cars, and had to walk to and from the water supply centers.

As Judge Lawson observed:

“In modern society, when we turn on a faucet, we expect safe drinking water to flow out. As the evidence shows, this is no longer the case in Flint. The Flint water crisis has in effect turned back the clock to a time when people traveled to central water sources to fill their buckets and carry the water home.”

The water became tainted with lead in 2014 when the Republican state government privatized Flint’s water utility, which then instituted cost-cutting measure while charging residents some of the highest rates in the nation.

More:

“Federal judge orders delivery of bottled water in Flint,” Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press

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Less-Gassy Grass Cuts Cow Burps, Eases Global Warming

October 17, 2016

Less-Gassy Grass Cuts Cow Burps, Eases Global Warming
Scientists at Denmark’s Aarhus University and the DLF seed corporation are using DNA technology to develop a type of grass that is easier for cows to digest, meaning less gas builds up in bossy’s belly. Bovine burps are a major source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that promotes climate change.

The project, funded by Denmark’s Ministry of Environment and Food, uses genomic selection to determine promising grass strains for breeding. The project is expected to take about 5 or 6 years, so you’ll have to excuse bovine belching until then. Environmentally-anxious cowboys and cowgirls can follow the project here.

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Road to Hell

October 16, 2016

“Road to Hell (Part 2),” written and performed by Chris Rea. 1989. Said to have been inspired by the frustrations of rush-hour traffic on the M25 motorway. Or maybe it was the A19 near Middlesbrough. Whatever.

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BP’s Bill for the World’s Largest Oil spill: $61.6 billion

July 14, 2016

BP’s Bill for the World’s Largest Oil spill: $61.6 billion

On April 20, 2010, a well blowout a mile under the Deepwater Horizon exploration ship sent a surge of oil and gas up to the rig, setting it on fire and killing 11 crew members. The well leaked for 87 days, and 3.19 million barrels of crude oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico. BP just totaled up the amount of legal bills, damage settlements, restoration costs, and fines it has paid to hundreds of lawyers, 400 local governments, thousands of claimants and the federal government, and the tab comes to $61.6 billion.

More:

“BP’s big bill for the world’s largest oil spill reaches $61.6 billion,” Steven Mufson, Washington Post

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Flint: Fear the Water

March 18, 2016

A New Yorker video, produced by Zackary Canepari and Jessica Dimmock.

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Flint, Michigan

February 24, 2016

Flint, Michigan

Flint, Michigan residents, 40 percent of whom have incomes under the poverty level, have been paying the highest water bills in the nation for the lead-tainted water that has endangered their children’s health. Those rates were set by the state-appointed emergency managers who switched the system from Detroit water to chemical-laden Flint River water. Thank you, Governor Rick Snyder.

More:

“While Lead Flowed Through the Pipes, Flint Residents Paid America’s Most Expensive Water Bills,” Julia Lurie, Mother Jones

“Flint Is What Happens When a Small-Government, Anti-Spending Philosophy Rules the Day,” Jeff Turrentine , Pacific Standard

“Lessons from Flint and the Price of Water Privatization,”  Mary Grant and Jo Miles, Food & Water Watch

“By the numbers: Flint’s water emergency,” Associated Press

Related:

“How the Flint River got so toxic,” Tim Carmody, The Verge

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Dieselgate: Volkswagen or Bosch?

October 7, 2015

11 million Volkswagen diesel cars, 500,000 of them in the USA, have emissions-test-cheating software that allows them to produce lower emissions when tested by regulators and higher-performance dirty exhaust while they’re actually on the road. Now that WV has been caught, EPA is acting accordingly. Volkswagen engineers were certainly involved, but the Wolfsburg firm may not be the only one snared in Dieselgate. Most VW electronic equipment and software is built by Robert Bosch GmbH:

“It isn’t clear whether Bosch provided Volkswagen with the software at the heart of the scandal, or whether any of the Bosch-built components interacted with the software.

‘How these components are calibrated and integrated into complete vehicle systems is the responsibility of each auto maker,’ the Stuttgart-based company said.

Still, questions over how the software worked and who was responsible for installing it have spilled over to include Bosch.

German newspapers have reported that Bosch told Volkswagen in a 2007 letter that the use of Bosch-made software to manipulate car emissions was illegal. Volkswagen declined to comment Friday on the reports.”

— “Bosch Could Get Drawn Into Volkswagen Emissions Litigation,” Robert Wall, Wall Street Journal

So if Bosch knew VW was hacking their software, why didn’t they tell the authorities? Worse: Did Bosch tell the German government, which took no action other than suppressing the information?

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Australia Will Kill Millions of Kitty Cats

July 21, 2015

Australia Will Kill All the Kitty Cats
20 to 30 million feral cats roam Australia, killing 75 million animals each night. 29 of the continent’s mammals have been lost to extinction, and feral cats are implicated in 28 of these eradications. More than 120 Australian animals are currently at risk of extinction by feral cats, which also spread diseases that affect farm livestock.

These critters are not the mild-mannered moggies British colonists brought with them since arriving in 1788 but ferocious felines weighing up to 30 pounds. The Australian government wants to kill 2 million of these furry furies in the next 5 years.

More:

“Feline Massacre: Australia Unveils Plan to Kill Two Million Feral Cats,” Vice

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