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Brian Smith's blog

This week, our friends down under are experiencing climate chaos up close and personal.

Australia is enduring a record heat wave that is causing massive forest fires and unprecedented public health issues.

The situation has become so bad that the weather service was forced to add to add additional colors to the heat map to capture temperatures up to 54 degrees Celsius (129°F).

A recent heat map of Australia, with the new colors.  (AUS Bureau of Meteorology)

Atlantic menhaden.

On Friday, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission finally responded to sound science and a huge public outcry by imposing the first ever coastwide cap on the catch of a little fish known as the menhaden.

More than 100,000 Americans (including more than 13,000 Earthjustice activists) wrote to the commission demanding protection for a fish that is an essential food source for seabirds, whales, and game fish like the striped bass.

Something very unusual happened at the November 2011 meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The audience broke into applause for what the commisioners did.

They stood up for a fish that H. Bruce Franklin at Rutgers University called “The Most Important Fish in the Sea”—the Atlantic menhaden.

The menhaden is not a lovable, or famous fish. As Franklin describes it:

Here in Northern California, we are experiencing our typical October Indian Summer - warm days, clear skies, and for San Franciscans, a pennant race. Giant’s orange is seen on the streets everywhere, even the lights of City Hall are celebrating the home team.

It has been months since the last significant rainfall in the region as is typical in California. After lackluster rains last winter, it is easy to wonder if rain will come this year, and when will it start?

In the USA, transportation is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide pollution causing climate change, just behind electricity generation. How we get around impacts our planet. If protecting our climate is your cause, reducing one’s transportation carbon footprint is a great place to start.

When you ask a 4-year-old, “What do big fish eat?,” the answer comes easily, “Little fish!”

A new report by the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force entitled Little Fish, Big Impact confirms the wisdom of the 4-year-old -- big fish do eat little fish.

Why is this finding significant?

Little fish (forage fish) play an essential role in the marine food web.

While much has been made of the $535 million loan guarantee made to the failed Solyndra Corporation in 2009 to encourage alternative energy, you may have missed the court decision this week, halting expansion plans for a Kansas coal plant facing similar problems.

The ruling underscores how deadbeat coal plants can be even more costly for taxpayers.

When an environmental organization tells you the age of coal is over, it’s fair to dismiss that as mere wishful thinking.

But when an international economic magazine says the same thing, people sit up and pay attention.

While the cradle-to-grave impacts of coal are well documented, the fact remains that coal still provides 45 percent of the nation’s power. But coal's dominance is decreasing as new sources of power come online and energy efficiency improves.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.