Category Archives: Earth

The material within these videos and articles will be discussed on our first day of class.

 They came. They drilled. They left, and in their aftermath are unplugged holes in the ground — orphaned coal-bed methane wells. To date, there are 6,924 plugged and abandoned coal-bed methane wells in Campbell County, according to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Of those wells, 5,202 are on fee or state land. The rest are on federal land. There also are wells that are orphaned — wells that the operators walked away from, leaving them unreclaimed. The responsibility of plugging these wells falls on the Oil and Gas Commission if the wells are on state or private land, or to the Bureau of Land Management, if they are on federal land. Since production peaked in 2009 at 580 million thousand cubic feet, the number of orphaned holes has been rising. There are about 1,220 abandoned wells on state and fee (private) land in Wyoming, most of which are in the Powder River Basin, according to Gov. Matt Mead’s office.
Wyoming’s Orphan wells – By Alexandra Sukhomlinova
The mounds of kelp that recently washed onto local beaches point to a thriving offshore ecosystem created by restoration efforts over the past decade, experts say. Ten years ago, there was practically no kelp off Orange County’s coast. Pollution and an overabundance of predators such as sea urchins had decimated the kelp forests, killing 80 percent of what Southern California had a century ago. But over the past decade, environmentalists and others planted nearly 5 acres of kelp along coastal Southern California. They planted lab-grown kelp, transplanted healthy kelp from existing beds, released kelp spores and removed kelp predators, namely sea urchins, which can take over and obliterate a kelp forest if left unchecked. Those efforts seem to have paid off: The kelp is back. “This is just a sign of how healthy our kelp forest has become. Just 10 years ago, there was almost no kelp on the Orange County coast,” said Ray Hiemstra.
Ocean’s hidden kelp forests return — Aaron Orlowski
 This article was also fLaurie Barr is a hunter. Each year, around November, when the trees in Pennsylvania lose their foliage and the shrubs are nothing but bare sticks, offering no hiding place or cover, the hunting season begins. But Laurie Barr doesn’t carry a rifle or a crossbow; she doesn’t wear camouflage, and no faithful hounds lead the way. She doesn’t have to tread silently across the forest floor or keep her voice down because her quarry, if she is lucky enough to find it, is already dead – has been dead for decades. Armed with just a digital camera and a GPS device, Laurie Barr is hunting for what almost no one in Pennsylvania has heard of: orphaned oil and gas wells.
Dimiter Kenarov, for the Pulitzer Center
"In my opinion . . . just to get this many people talking about it (is a win)," Sheehan said. "It really is a David and Goliath story, and it's a story that will not go away no matter" which way the vote swings. Indeed, the initiative to impose a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops in Maui County has become one of the most divisive issues the county has ever seen. It's driven thousands of residents to become more politically engaged this election season by marching in rallies, offering testimony before the Maui County Council or sitting down to analyze the piece of proposed legislation. But the initiative also has brought out combative behavior and vandalism that seldom characterize Hawaii elections. Extreme advocates have been caught on video removing campaign signs from private property and stopping in the middle of a roadway to yell at sign-wavers. In Lahaina, trees and buildings were spray-painted. For a county that has drawn the lowest voter turnout in the state in the past few elections, this singular initiative has driven more residents to get involved than ever before. It's uncertain what effects the surge of one-issue voters might have on other ballot measures or candidates. The "vote yes" side hopes to stop cultivation of genetically engineered crops until studies show they are safe for the environment and public health. The "vote no" side maintains such a ban would cost residents hundreds of jobs and taxpayers millions of dollars. And, it is not clearly written, they say.
GMOs or no GMOs?
2014 Election: That is the voter initiative question
— Eileen Chow
Conventional wisdom says western Lake Erie’s toxic algae is supported by commercial farm runoff, animal manure, sewage spills, faulty septic tanks, and other major sources of nutrients responsible for putting much of the excessive phosphorus and nitrogen in the water. But that’s not the whole story. As Great Lakes scientists probe deeper into the weeds on this issue, they find such contributing factors as invasive species and climate change also foster algal growth. Invasive species and climate change don’t cause algal blooms, but they worsen them. That message often gets lost or misunderstood by a confused public that gets bombarded with information and wants to assign blame to a single issue, even though science doesn’t work that way.
Invasive species compound toxic algae risk — Tom Henry
Cape Town - Gauteng’s water was recently switched off because it was “so close to the edge” – and that’s just the beginning. The rest of the country is running on empty unless government spends 100 times more to secure our water supply. In more than half of the country, South Africans are using more water than what’s available. We are already using 98% of our available water supply, and 40% of our waste water treatment is in a “critical state”. A staggering 37% of our clean, drinkable water is being lost through inefficient ways of using water such as leaking pipes, dripping taps – and that is what’s being reported, the figure could be much higher.
South Africa’s looming water disaster — Emma Thelwell
While big companies make millions from El Salvador’s water-rich Nejapa municipality, locals have little or no access to water. Ana Luisa Najarro’s neighbours include some of the world’s largest corporations. Down the street from her house, giant drinks manufacturers have set up a series of factories and warehouses, bottling water and fizzy drinks for distribution across the country and export across central America. Coca-Cola is here, bottled by a subsidiary of SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer. A Mexican juice multinational has also moved in, as has a large bottled water company. Millions of dollars are made by major beverage businesses in Nejapa, an expanding industrial area in El Salvador near where Najarro lives. But despite living down the road, and on top of one of the country’s largest aquifers, she says she struggles every day to find enough clean water to drink. “Nejapa is a gold mine for water. It’s rich in water, and the communities have no access,” says Najarro, sitting in her garden. Her family has lived on this plot for three generations and she remembers a time when water was plentiful. “There were beautiful rivers you could go to and wash or swim. Now we can’t use the water for anything,” she says. “The water in the river is dirty; it’s dead water.” Just 20km north of the capital, San Salvador, Nejapa is an ecologically critical zone in central America’s smallest and most densely populated country. Salvadoran civil society groups say it is also a prime example of how unfettered competition over limited resources has created scenes of extreme water poverty next door to water-intensive industries
Water everywhere for profit in Nejapa, but few drops for local people to drink — Claire Provost and Matt Kennard
The more traffic pollution a pregnant woman is exposed to—especially during her third trimester—the greater chance her child will develop autism. That’s the conclusion of yet another study, this one published online in the October 2014 edition of the journal Epidemiology. It was only about a decade ago that scientists first began looking at whether air pollution impacted infant development. Today, four studies link traffic pollution exposure to autism, a developmental disorder characterized by social problems, communication difficulties, and repetitive behavior. According to lead author of the latest study, environmental epidemiologist Dr. Amy Kalkbrenner, the literature has been very consistent. “When looking at health impact in a human population, not a controlled animal experiment, getting this level of consistency is, in my assessment, notable,” she said.
Fourth Study Finds Traffic Pollution May Cause Autism — Conran Milner

Same as it ever was

In June of 2014 President Obama announced the goal of reducing coal pollution from power plants by 30%; a definitive gesture to the world in efforts to combat climate change.   On September 16th  Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, held a “CALL FOR CREDENTIALED NEWS MEDIA ONLY.

The gist of her presentation was that President Obama has back-pedaled on the most critical component of his climate-change plan: that of slowing the process of setting new rules cutting carbon pollution from power plants.   Even in a world of shifting baselines June’s announced rule would have cut carbon pollution from the country’s power plants by an average of 30% over 2005 levels.

Yesterday’s forty-five day extension of a public comment period by the current presidential administration follows 106 days after the stated change in what most would consider business as usual.   This delay is a symbolic gesture to all concerned with anthropogenic effects on our biosphere and our climate – including the United Nations.

Seven days after President Obama’s administration announced this “extension” the United Nations will host the largest summit on climate change in history.  Over one hundred and twenty heads of state will convene to address an issue which will impact the future of humanity.

Instead of leading by example, President Obama will again demonstrate actions dictated by fossil fuel interests as he continues to endorse the exporting of our country’s resources at the expense of current and future generations of Americans while multi-national corporations continue to profit.  Instead of embracing renewable technologies to power our economy into the future the message is clear: we are to remain enmired in nineteenth century technology.

Same as it ever was is hardly change anyone can believe in.

 

 

Fracking Ban Stands in New York Town; Victory for Local Communities

 Fracking Ban Stands in New York Town; Victory for Local Communities March 12, 2013 | Feature The Story of Dryden: The Town That Fought Fracking
No longer content with the sale of property and goods, the Supreme Court has recently converted the political system of the United States for sale to those corporate entities willing to spend the most.  So before our new masters get around to having more laws changed in their favor, this is a good time to support Earth Justice.
“Earthjustice was created by a small group of attorneys with a passionate belief that the power of the law could be used to preserve the environment. They helped establish the right of citizens to go to court to enforce environmental laws when the government couldn’t or wouldn’t.”Trip Van Noppen, Earthjustice President

 

Native American Sacred Sites Threatened

Please take a moment to read the letter prepared by Alfredo Figueroa and support the effort to preserve Native American sacred sites by signing our petition and linking to this post.

Alfredo Acosta Figueroa, Elder and Historian,  Chemehuevi Tribe
Alfredo Acosta Figueroa , Elder and Historian,
Chemehuevi Tribe
“Attached you will find our opposition letter sent to Frank McMinemen, the BLM project manager of the proposed Blythe Solar Power Project. As we all know, the California Energy Commission has already approved the project and is on the verge of approving the McCoy project which is just north of the Blythe solar. They are both in the sacred McCoy Valley which is where the Kokopilli/Cicimitll/ El Tosco and over 50 other sacred sites are located.There is no way that any of these sites can be mitigated and that is why it is important for all the people that are concerned in maintaining a harmonious equilibrium that Mother Earth has provided for us since time immemorial be aware of the situation.Please distribute this widely to your contacts, especially to your Senators, Congressmen, and President Obama.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.”

Alfredo Acosta Figueroa (lacunadeaztlan@aol.com)
Chemehuevi Tribe Sacred Sites Monitor
La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle

[emailpetition id=”1″]
[signaturelist id=”1″]

Something out there is worth discovering…

UPDATE June 6, 2015: the owner of the video has made it private. Big loss to all. I am looking out for a replacement recording of Carl Sagan’s historic reading.


Listening to Carl Sagan is an infusion of hope.   This is another wonderful video where Carl Sagan espouses the dream of space exploration; that something “out there is worth discovering.”

I do not believe that there is a single person who has ever lived who has looked up at a night sky populated with uncountable numbers of suns and not thought the same thing. Kudos to Sagan for having articulated this great longing in such a heartfelt and meaningful manner.

1-percent-are-killing-our-planet