It was nearly midnight, but it wasn’t dark. Standing more than a mile away in an illuminated watermelon patch, I could hear its spectacular roar; akin to the release of liquid propane burning off into a hot air balloon. And I could feel it. The searing heat radiated from the blazing column, transforming the landscape into an open-air sauna. I snapped a few photos, hopped back in my car, and navigated through a maze of oil field service roads back to the highway.
Whether or not the United States addresses impending climate change hinges largely on the marketing message driving the discussion. Last night, President Barack Obama made his best pitch to reframe the climate change debate, casting it through the prism of a Works Progress Administration-style plan for achieving a clean energy future.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has a snazzy new interactive slideshow on its website, highlighting states that are bypassing opportunities to ditch dirty coal and embrace clean energy. The slideshow is both interesting and an office-safe distraction good for at least a five-minute break from your spreadsheet formulas.
By now, we all know the refrain. Sure, politicians and pundits tell us, it would be swell to make the switch to clean energy, but such a move is infeasible at any time in the near future. No, they say, we must not stray from our well-hewn path of environmental destruction paved by fossil fuels.
Silver was the precious metal at the foundation of the Roman Empire’s economy and since silver is often embedded in lead ore, lead was an abundant byproduct available throughout the empire. As such, Romans used lead in everything from plumbing pipes to wine to women’s makeup. In a sense, it was the high fructose corn syrup of its day: it was found in a plethora of common items and caused negative health effects.
The nonprofit public interest organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) this week released the results of a studythat tested the water supplies of 35 American cities. In 31 of the 35 cities tested, the known carcinogen hexavalent chromium was present in the water supply.
This week, following a challenge from California water districts, the state and corporate agribusiness, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to revise its plan to protect the delta smelt, a fish that makes its home in the brackish waters of the San Francisco Bay Delta. Earthjustice attorneys defended a biological opinion from USFWS that implemented protections for the smelt, and while the judge agreed with the majority of the biological opinion, he asked for revisions to specific sections.
Rose Eveleth has an interesting piece on the National Resource Defense Council’s OnEarth blog about zoos choosing to house only the cutest, “richest” animals and leaving the less appealing critters to their own devices. This is important, Eveleth says, because zoos often operate breeding programs where endangered animals can safely reproduce offspring, which can then be released back into the wild, thus increasing the species’ ultimate prospects for survival.
Plain and simple: people do not want Dr. Frankenstein getting into the business of agriculture. Sure, the good doctor built one fine specimen of a monster, but when it comes to sugar beets and potatoes it seems most folks would rather stick with nature and forgo the jigsaw-puzzled gene mash of genetically engineered crops.