Shirley Hao's Blog Posts

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Shirley Hao's blog


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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S 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.

Shirley Hao undertakes sous chef duties as Senior Web Producer for Earthjustice's website, serving up interactive online features, large and small, on Earthjustice's litigation and campaign work. Shirley also writes the unEARTHED column Monday Reads, profiling quirky stories and how Earthjustice's work can unexpectedly intersect with everyday news. The column has engaged topics from bear vs. zucchini (and our litigation to protect the grizzly and polar varieties) to giggling penguins (and a look at how that species and others are faring in our warming world). She's an enthusiastic appreciator of the four 'C's (community supported agriculture, comics, cats and canines) and is fond of practicing the under-appreciated art of sleeping in.

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28 September 2010, 4:04 PM
Recycling of life, one shark bite at a time
Great white shark, ready for a meal. Photo: Fedorenko Gennady.

It turns out you really can get a free lunch—at least, if you're a great white shark.

A group (or, a shiver, if you prefer a more alliterative group name) of sharks found themselves presented with just such an unexpected buffet earlier this month, when a 36-foot Brydes whale (Balaenoptera edeni) was found drifting off the coast of South Africa.

Likely the tragic result of a ship strike—a major cause of injury and death to large whales, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale we're working to protect—the massive 10-ton remains was on a steady course for the shoreline, presenting a serious problem for local authorities. The recently departed whale would attract hungry sharks, which would in turn increase the likelihood of awkward shark/human encounters.

In a brilliant solution, the South African navy made the best of the whale's unfortunate death, towing it out to a remote area where the sharks could dine undisturbed—and under the close eye of scientists. Alison Kock, project leader at the Save Our Seas Shark Centre, characterized the nine-day marathon feast as "an unparalleled opportunity to document white shark behaviour." (Click on the image to advance to the next photo. Viewer discretion advised, if you're presently in the midst of your own meal.)

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23 August 2010, 10:38 PM
A notable episode of congestion reminds us of the cost of "convenience"
Photo: http://flickr.com/photos/securityguard/3573714028/

Somewhere between reports of the re-education of a certain beloved “puny and decadent” ABP (American-Born Panda) nicknamed Butterstick and the Chinese economy swapping global economic rankings with its neighbor across the East China Sea, one particular tale from China is drawing escalating amounts of fascination and Facebook Shares.

We’re talking, of course, of the 60 mile-long, 9-day-weary-and-counting traffic jam on a major thoroughfare leading to Beijing. This one may be creeping into the record books, one hard-fought inch at a time.

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16 August 2010, 12:27 PM
“Making ocean life count”

On dry land, the U.S. Census Bureau is tidily wrapping up work on the Great 2010 Census of Humans (and coming in nicely under budget, at that). Meanwhile, out in the seven seas, a different kind of census—wetter, wider and most surely wilder—is also coming to a much-anticipated conclusion.

Ten years in the making, the spectacular Census of Marine Life is assembling the first ever catalog of all sea-faring residents, uncovering far more personal details than your census form ever dared to ask: where these species live and vacation, their numbers (historical, present and trending), the roles they play in the ecosystem, and more.

Earlier this month, COML scientists released a sneak preview of their findings, a roll call of salty friends from 25 key ocean areas, ranging from the intimidating:

Imagine living in the sea where it is permanently dark, cold, and food is hard to find. For many animals at depth it may be weeks to months between meals. If you find something to eat, you have to hang on to it. This is why so many deep-sea fishes have lots of big teeth. This dragonfish even has teeth on its tongue! They would be terrifying animals if they weren't the size of a banana. (c) Dr. Julian Finn, Museum Victoria.

Imagine living in the sea where it is permanently dark, cold, and food is hard to find. For many animals at depth it may be weeks to months between meals. If you find something to eat, you have to hang on to it. This is why so many deep-sea fishes have lots of big teeth. This dragonfish even has teeth on its tongue! They would be terrifying animals if they weren’t the size of a banana. © Dr. Julian Finn, Museum Victoria.

…to the many-legged:

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21 May 2010, 4:17 PM
Happy Belated Endangered Species Day

Last week marked the 5th appearance of Endangered Species Day. Although young as annual commemoration days go, Endangered Species Day draws attention to an age-old countdown that has been accelerated by human development at a frightening rate. In the U.S. alone, more than 500 species have gone extinct since the Mayflower docked.

Nearly 2,000 plants and animal species are listed under the Endangered Species Act, granting them varying levels of protection. From American Alligator to Mountain Zebra, from San Diego Ambrosia to Suisun Thistle, too many flora and fauna are facing the end of the line due to habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, and more—and these are only the ones we know about.

National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore features 68 endangered species in his book Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species. Several of those also tried out their acting chops, as evidenced in this video:

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14 May 2010, 5:05 PM
Photos worth more—much more—than a thousand words

The Arctic has invaded Seattle. And Berkeley. And Venice. (Venice, California, not the Italian city of gondolas.)

Fortunately, this is not to say that the next Ice Age has unexpectedly crept up on us while we were preoccupied with this whole climate change debacle. Rather, wildlife photographer Florian Schulz and his partner Emil Herrera-Schulz have succeeded in bringing the Arctic to us, in one stunning photograph after another:

Towards the end of June, caribou start to form larger herds on the coastal plains north of the Brooks Range. With warmer temperatures the tundra brings both lush green growth and hordes of mosquitoes. Arctic Refuge, Alaskan Arctic. Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com.

Towards the end of June, caribou start to form larger herds on the coastal plains north of the Brooks Range. With warmer temperatures the tundra brings both lush green growth and hordes of mosquitoes. Arctic Refuge, Alaskan Arctic. Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com.
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11 May 2010, 11:49 AM
Of "velcro" feathers and Pepto-Bismol (bonus: an amazing Right Whale tale)
Washing a bird at a Gulf wildlife care center. Photo: IBRRC

All along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, rescue and rehabilitation groups are working to search for and clean wildlife fouled by oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill, and to prepare for additional animals that may be rescued in the coming days, weeks, and months.

International Bird Rescue Research Center is working in conjunction with Tri-State Bird Rescue and other experts to operate care centers in several states, and has a very informative FAQ regarding birds and oil spills.

The FAQ answers (among others):

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29 March 2010, 1:24 PM
A new entry to the energy efficiency lexicon?
The godfather of energy efficiency at work. (Photo: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Dust off those cobwebs from your memories of high school science. Can you describe what these words have in common: tesla, volt, mach?

While some may be saying, “Cars!” (Tesla Roadster, Chevy Volt, and, of course, Speed Racer’s Mach 5), the actual answer is: “Scientific units named after people.” Nikola Tesla (magnetic field strength); Alessandro Volt (electrical potential difference); and Ernst Mach (an object’s speed when traveling at the speed of sound).

To these and dozens of other units-formerly-known-as-people, we may soon be adding the Rosenfeld.

Dr. Arthur H. Rosenfeld has spearheaded energy saving techniques since the oil embargo crisis in the 1970s. Already well known within energy circles, the good doctor was highlighted to Jon Stewart’s Daily Show viewers last year during an interview with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu (6:49):

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15 March 2010, 5:40 PM
Looking for love, in all the wrong places

When you hear “Wolverine!,” the first thing you think of is:

Wolverine poll.

We’re not keeping score, but if we were, we’re guessing that A) Wolverine of the X-Men, and B) the University of Michigan’s mascot would be winning handily over C) Gulo gulo (common name: wolverine).

Wolverines seem to do their best to avoid humans, which may explain their probable low-rated finish in the above informal poll. But in the Sierra Nevada, one Gulo gulo is making his name known and is out cruising for love.

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08 March 2010, 12:45 PM
Wildlife do not appreciate our bright lights

For many of us, the lights never truly go out. (Speaking literally, of course. Metaphorically? Now that’s a topic for another post.)

Long after we’ve switched off our lights and settled down to sleep, the soft glow of street lamps continues to spill out into the night. Traffic lights tirelessly cycle red, green, yellow, while electronic billboards advertise to the heavens. Even in our homes, that microwave clock keeps shining, holding total darkness at bay.

Light pollution may often be relegated to a lower tier of concern than, say, air or water pollution. After all, a little light drowning out the stars might be hard to match up against pea soup smog, or an oil-slicked waterway.

Although it may seem to simply be an astronomer’s annoyance, our 24-hour, man-made lightshow has created larger problems. Last week, Earthjustice put one brightly lit luxury Hawaiian resort on notice: follow the law, or we’ll see you in court.

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23 February 2010, 5:31 PM
Wandering the watery world
Baby loggerhead greets the world. Photo: National Park Service.

Last week, Monday Reads took a look at the seafaring Hawaiian petrel, avian travelers who spend nearly their entire lives over the open ocean. Today, we turn to another wanderer (albeit one who dwells under the waters, rather than above) who also shares an Earthjustice connection: the loggerhead sea turtle.

Born on sandy beaches at a mere fraction of their adult weight, loggerheads who survive into the decades of their adult years can grow to a stately 350 pounds, swimming the ocean currents of the world. Once plentiful, the loggerheads today are in decline, facing serious threats from human activity, such as miles of maiming hooks courtesy of bottom longline fisheries.

As hatchlings, loggerheads break free of their eggshells with no one to guide them to the waters of their future but instincts and the moonlit starry night. Big city lights have been known to beckon to the young—human and turtle, alike—luring the naïve hatchlings with false hopes and promises. (Several hundred loggerhead babes were quite nearly waylaid in just this manner, attempting to parade across a bustling street in Scarborough, Australia earlier this month.)

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