Posts tagged: Wildlife and Places

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Wildlife and Places

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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.


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.

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
10 December 2009, 4:40 PM
Copenhagen, the Chukchi Sea, Clean Air, Trees

Some top stories from the last week at Earthjustice...

The Copenhagen conference started off with a bang of optimism when the EPA announced that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health. The cooperative spirit quickly fizzled after a draft agreement surfaced that apparently favors the interests of the U.S. and other wealthy nations. There’s more news by the hour: Be sure to check out our daily reports from Copenhagen, and analysis by two attending Earthjustice attorneys, Erika Rosenthal and Martin Wagner.

All the buzz from the conference nearly drowned out a disturbing, and related, piece of news: Shell Oil was granted conditional approval to drill exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea. Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe warned that the approvals outpace the science of what we know about Arctic waters.

On the same day that the EPA released its endangerment finding, Earthjustice challenged the agency on a toxin polluting the air in Appalachia, to the point where kids can’t play outside. It’s coal dust, and we think the coal plants that produce it should do something about it. 

Farm workers and their families will get some long-awaited help to deal with toxic pesticides poisoning the air around their homes and schools, thanks to a new EPA policy. Going forward, the EPA will assess the health risks posed by pesticide drift with the same standards by which pesticides in food are assessed. 

And finally, this week Earthjustice saved taxpayers $1.5 million!and 4.3 million board-feet of old-growth forest in the Tongass to boot. This also means we kept a little C02 out of the atmosphere. Indeed, one of the least controversial ideas out of Copenhagen is also one of the simplest: don’t cut down trees.

View Shirley Hao's blog posts
07 December 2009, 6:12 AM
The curious effect of climate change on wild boars.
I can run at speeds of 30 mph. Beware. Photo: GerardM.

Last week, unEARTHED reported on a recent study detailing the impact of global warming on endangered species. We’ve also heard of starving polar bears eating each other due to thinning ice, and pika freezing to death as melting snow drifts become too thin to insulate them in the winter. However, swinging the other way in this warming world are wild boars. Spiegel Online tells the tale of a small nation of more than two million wild boars, who are at present traipsing across the German countryside in growing ranks; they increased three-fold last year alone. But is that a good thing?

2 Comments   /  
View Molly Woodward's blog posts
04 December 2009, 10:10 AM
Copenhagen, Climate Change, Coal

Some top stories from the last two weeks at Earthjustice...

The Copenhagen Climate Conference begins next week. President Obama will lead the U.S. delegation, and in anticipation of the conference, the Dalai Lama spoke about the need for governments to put global priorities first.

Studies on the effects of global warming abound; few offer good news. Polar ice is thinner than previously thought, and polar bears are struggling more than ever to surviveonly one of many species seriously threatened by climate change. 

Our addiction to coal-fired power is at the heart of global warming. And as we know, coal plants are responsible for much more destruction. Almost a year ago, 500 million gallons of toxic coal ash flooded 300 acres along Tennessee’s Emory River. Now, despite this disaster, some companies are claiming that the location and contents of their toxic coal ash ponds should be left a mystery. Earthjustice disagrees.

Other mysteries, however, are quite welcomelike lonely stones sailing quietly across the desert.

View Shirley Hao's blog posts
25 November 2009, 12:57 PM
In a desolate stretch of Death Valley, lonely stones silently push forward.
Sailing stones, hard at work. Photo: USGS.

If a stone sails across the desert and no one is there to see it, did it really move?

The Daily Mail revisits the phenomenon of “sailing stones”—stones that apparently move without the aid of wildlife, human, or hoaxist help.

These stones, which range in size from pebbles to boulders heavier than you or I in a post-Thanksgiving dinner state, have been studied by geologists for decades. Many of the stones can be found in Death Valley’s cheekily named Racetrack Playa (dry lakebed), where they leave a distinct trail in their wake, etched into the desert floor. They appear capable of turning on a dime and abruptly changing direction. Mysteriously, stones that had been traveling in a parallel direction, may suddenly inexplicably diverge paths. (Some may idly remark on such similarities in certain human relationships.)

26 Comments   /  
View Shirley Hao's blog posts
20 November 2009, 6:44 PM
An unusual encounter between leopard seal and photographer
What leopard seals may lurk here?

Cats have been known to bring their human companions gifts of all sorts. Curiously surprised humans have found themselves proudly offered such choice items as mice, birds, and squirrels—presents that arrive very much dead, very much alive, and in all states between.

Photographer Paul Nicklen found himself in just this situation on a recent expedition to Antarctica. There aren't many house cats on the icy continent, but there are plenty of leopard seals—and small penguins who look particularly tasty to them.

In this video, Nicklen recounts an incredible story of a female leopard seal who defies her species' reputation as a deadly predator, instead gamely trying her best to take care of and feed him. With penguins. For four days.

2 Comments   /  
View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 November 2009, 12:26 PM
An ocean continues to wait for change
The Chukchi Sea. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In the Arctic waters surrounding Alaska, George W. Bush is still president, but Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has the chance to inaugurate a new regime.

Shell Oil recently got the green light from the Department of Interior to drill next summer just off the shores of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in waters that are an important migratory route for endangered bowhead whales. With numerous decisions on offshore drilling in the Arctic still pending, the looming question is, will Sec. Salazar chart his own course—using science as a guide—or will he continue to make decisions as though Bush were still in charge?

Last summer, Salazar told the magazine American Cowboy, "The science is fundamental to decisions we make. Ignoring the science will imperil important priorities to the United States and our world. Unfortunately, the last administration often ignored the science to get to what it wanted to get to. We will not do that."

On the Arctic, science has spoken, and I hope Sec. Salazar meant what he said.

15 Comments   /  
View Shirley Hao's blog posts
13 November 2009, 1:00 AM
Love bite brings baby sharks into the world
The proud mother. Photo: New Zealand Herald

[UPDATE: "Friday Reads" is now moving to Mondays! Look for us at the start of your week.]

Imagine you're a prospective new mum, walking down the street, minding your own business. Maybe you're thinking about which hospital you should deliver your little ones at. Or perhaps which nursery school to enroll them in. When all of a sudden, a fellow pedestrian suddenly decides to help said little ones out of your womb—with their teeth!

Such was an unusual afternoon this week at Auckland's Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World for one school shark (Galeorhinus galeus), who was bit by a Broadnose Sevengill shark. Or, as Kelly Tarlton's curator Andrew Christie put it, "took some of its normal seasonal aggression out on her."

Unbeknownst to the aquarium staff, the school shark was pregnant, and the situation quickly went from horrifying to bizarre for stunned spectators, as four shark pups gleefully slipped out through the sizeable gash in their mother's side and into the wide world of the aquarium tank.

6 Comments   /  
View Terry Winckler's blog posts
10 November 2009, 1:00 AM
Earthjustice attorney to tell U.N. about military's impact

Earthjustice attorney David Henkin is giving the keynote address this month at the United Nations Environmental Program workshop in Okinawa on the military and the environment. Here's a glimpse of what he will discuss:

What kind of work does Earthjustice do in the Mid-Pacific office?

1 Comment   /  
View Shirley Hao's blog posts
06 November 2009, 4:15 PM
Part of a series of Friday posts on the fascinating natural world around us
Nomura's jellyfish contemplates curious diver. Photo: CDNN

The jellyfish are coming! The jellyfish are coming! Off the coast of Japan, fishing boats are locked in battle with a veritable armada of jellyfish. They actually sank one boat! Also known as Echizen kurage or Nemopilema nomurai, Nomura’s jellyfish aren’t your garden variety jellyfish, growing 6 feet long and 400 pounds heavy.

The jellyfish are thought to originate in the Yellow Sea, picking up a pound or several hundred as ocean currents propel them towards the Sea of Japan. Hiroshima University Professor Ue Shinichi, a leading jellyfish researcher, told Yomiuri Shimbun:

The arrival is inevitable. A huge jellyfish typhoon will hit the country.

3 Comments   /  
View John McManus's blog posts
03 November 2009, 4:22 PM
Home boom destroying Arizona ribbon of life

How much sense does it make for your tax dollars to underwrite home loans for new homes in a place with inadequate water supplies, say like out in a desert? The realtors love it, but when the new homes drill another well for water, nearby rivers disappear undergound.

At least that's what's happened to the San Pedro River in south central Arizona. The San Pedro is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the desert southwest. The river is a lush ribbon attracting all manner of southwest wildlife, and is a major overwintering spot for migratory birds, but all this is threatened by a real estate boom. Earthjustice sued to stop government lending that was pushing ever more home construction—until builders come up with a water source that won't kill the river. So far, the builders have failed, which is why Earthjustice attorney McCrystie Adams will be back in federal court this week, arguing to protect the unique ecosystem and wildlife of the San Pedro River.