Despite spilling tens, if not hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil and chemicals into an Arkansas neighborhood, thanks to a loophole in a law from 1980, ExxonMobil will not be paying into a federal oil spill cleanup fund because the oil they spilled is not the right type of oil. It is a twisted example of the legal technicalities and lax regulations that all too often favor oil companies, but a coalition of environmental groups are working to close the loophole.
Jewell’s career reflects the transition the country itself is making, away from raw exploration at all costs, toward sensible stewardship. The environmental accolades Jewell has acquired in her new role — and the efforts REI has made to reduce its own environmental impact — reinforce that transition.
To avoid passing tipping points, such as initiation of the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, we need to limit the climate forcing severely. It’s still possible to do that, if we phase down carbon emissions rapidly, but that means moving expeditiously to clean energies of the future. … Moving to tar sands, one of the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fuels on the planet, is a step in exactly the opposite direction, indicating either that governments don’t understand the situation or that they just don’t give a damn. … People who care should draw the line.
Nina Berman: “This image is part of a project I’ve been doing on shale-gas drilling and fracking. The picture shows contaminated water from a kitchen faucet in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. The water is discolored and is bubbling methane. It’s undrinkable. Many people in shale-gas country have experienced contaminated drinking water following drilling and fracking operations. This so-called clean energy, billed by energy companies as an environmentally sound solution to heat trapping fossil fuels, is actually very dirty to obtain and transport. I like the purple nail polish and that the cup is plastic. In my mind, these elements speak to the connection between polluting energy and our own lifestyles, which are enabled through petroleum based products.”
Click-through for a slideshow looking at photographers and other visual artists who are challenging viewers to consider the dangers of inaction by capturing the effects of extreme weather and a warming world: http://nyr.kr/UCR7Jh
A West Texas thunderstorm on July 24 kicked up a dust cloud as the winds passed over ground parched and barren from a drought that began back in 2010. As the dust passed over Interstate 20 just before 8 p.m., drivers lost sight of the road before them and quickly slowed down, setting off a chain of collisions as 17 cars and trucks ran into one another. Two 18-wheelers sandwiched one car, killing its driver and passenger.
Nearly 60 percent of the United States, mostly in the center and west of the country, is currently experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions, according to the National Drought Monitor, and the drought is expected to persist into 2013 for many of those already parched states. The effects of these dry times have come in many forms: The costs of agricultural products, including beef and corn, and the food products derived from them have risen. Barges are having difficulty traversing the Mississippi River. Dry soil is causing the foundations of some homes to crack and leak. And dust storms, like the one in Texas, are echoing the 1930s Dust Bowl, the subject of a new documentary by Ken Burns that premieres on PBS this weekend. - Continue reading at Smithsonian.com.
Photo: Associated Press
The US Drought Monitor site is super-handy — you can go there and see the current map. A large swath of the midwest is covered in maroon for “exceptional drought.”
Central Texas has actually received enough rain that we have moved down to the “abnormally dry” or “moderate drought” levels. That is an improvement from the exceptional drought status we had been under for a long while.
Best-ever thing you can read on climate change and the American press.
A convenient excuse by Wen Stephenson in the Boston Phoenix is unlike anything I have read on the subject. Stephenson is a colleague of journalists at places like the Boston Globe, Atlantic magazine and Frontline on PBS. He used to work side-by-side with them. Then he quit to devote himself to understanding climate change, and doing something about it. Here he tells his former co-workers what he thinks of their response to the slow-moving crisis that is now upon us. A key quote:You are failing. You are failing to treat the greatest crisis we’ve ever faced like the crisis that it is. Why?Look, unlike most of your critics, I know you. You’re not just names on a page or a screen to me: you’re living, breathing human beings, with lives and families. I’ve shared the stresses and anxieties of journalism in this era. I know how hard you work, and how relatively little (most of) you are paid. I know how insecure your jobs are. And I know that your work — even your very best work — is most often thankless. Believe me. I know.I also know that you take your responsibility as journalists, as public servants, seriously. Why is it, then, that you are so utterly failing on this all-important topic? I could be wrong, but I think I understand. I’m afraid it has to do with self-image and self-censorship.Nothing is more important to me as a journalist than my independence. Yes, I’m still a journalist. And I’m as independent as I’ve ever been — maybe, if you can imagine this, even more so. Because leaving behind my mainstream journalism career has freed me to speak and write about climate and politics in ways that were virtually impossible inside the MSM bubble, where I had to worry about perceptions, and about keeping my job, and whether I’d be seen by my peers and superiors as an advocate. God forbid.
Read the rest. It is clear, direct, honest and very, very critical of our press.
But the problem it identifies is so huge that solving it requires an ideological war to be fought and won within the journalism profession, which is still populated by people convinced that they have no ideology. That makes me pessimistic. What makes me optimistic: the pressures that brought Stephenson to his conclusion, (“business-as-usual, politics-as-usual, and journalism-as-usual are failing us…”) are not going to change. And so others may be led to where he has gone.
“There is a part of America which was here long before we arrived,
and will be here, if we preserve it, long after we depart: the forests and the flowers, the open prairies and the slope of the hills, the tall mountains, the granite, the limestone, the caliche, the unmarked trails, the winding little streams-well, this is the America that no amount of science or skill can ever recreate or actually ever duplicate.
“This America is the source of America’s greatness. It is another part of America’s soul as well.
“When I was growing up, the land itself was life. And when the day seemed particularly harsh and bitter, the land was always there just as nature had left it—wild, rugged, beautiful, and changing, always changing.
“And really, how do you measure the excitement and the happiness that comes to a boy from the old swimming hole in the happy days of yore, when I used to lean above it; the old sycamore, the baiting of a hook that is tossed into the stream to catch a wily fish, or looking at a graceful deer that leaps with hardly a quiver over a rock fence that was put down by some settler a hundred years or more ago?
“How do you really put a value on the view of the night that is caught in a boy’s eyes while he is stretched out in the thick grass watching the million stars that we never see in these crowded cities, breathing the sounds of the night and the birds and the pure, fresh air while in his ears are the crickets and the wind ?
“Well, in recent years I think America has sadly neglected this part of America’s national heritage. We have placed a wall of civilization between us and between the beauty of our land and of our countryside. In our eagerness to expand and to improve, we have relegated nature to a weekend role, and we have banished it from our daily lives.
“Well, I think that we are a poorer Nation because of it, and it is something I am not proud of. And it is something I am going to do something about. Because as long as I am your President, by choice of your people, I do not choose to preside over the destiny of this country and to hide from view what God has gladly given it.”
Bees at a cluster of apiaries in northeastern France have been producing honey in mysterious shades of blue and green, alarming their keepers who now believe residue from containers of M&M’s candy processed at a nearby biogas plant is the cause.
Since August, beekeepers around the town of Ribeauville in the region of Alsace have seen bees returning to their hives carrying unidentified colorful substances that have turned their honey unnatural shades.
Mystified, the beekeepers embarked on an investigation and discovered that a biogas plant 4 km (2.5 miles) away has been processing waste from a Mars plant producing M&M’s, bite-sized candies in bright red, blue, green, yellow and brown shells.
Asked about the issue, Mars had no immediate comment.