Posts tagged: Arctic

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Arctic


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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.

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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 Sam Edmondson's blog posts
03 September 2009, 5:01 PM
Gifted composer transcribes "outsider" music
Atigun Gorge, in the foothills of Alaska's Brooks Range. Photo: USGS

John Luther Adams is at times a challenging composer. An unabashed admirer of avant-garde music, Adams has crafted pieces during his decades-long career that ask a great deal of the listener. But the rewards are commensurate with the challenge.

Adams' unique vision provides intrepid listeners with an opportunity to transcend the sounds he creates by inhabiting them fully, thereby connecting to something much larger than the notes and textures he selects. In many cases, the larger something that Adams seeks to conjure—often quite successfully in my humble opinion—is the great Alaskan wilderness. Listen to excerpts of his work. 

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
28 July 2009, 1:45 PM
Satellite images show alarming loss of Arctic summer sea ice
Arctic sea ice. Photo: USGS

On July 15th, the Department of Interior, at the urging of the National Academy of Sciences, released hundreds of satellite images that show the impact global warming is having on the Arctic. Though the images have been public for almost two weeks, the story they tell hasn't lost any of its potency. They are a strong indication that the Arctic—a true natural and international treasure—is changing rapidly, perhaps irrevocably.

The Guardian reports that more than one million square kilometers of Arctic sea ice were absent in 2007 compared to 2006. For scale, that's an area significantly larger than the entire state of Texas (a little less than one-and-a-half Texases, to be exact). One pair of images, taken above the town of Barrow, AK in July of 2006 and 2007, clearly shows this dramatic loss of summer sea ice.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
21 May 2009, 3:00 AM
 

The Beaufort Sea, off Alaska's northernmost shores, and the Chukchi Sea, which separates Alaska from Russia, are home to one in five of the world's remaining polar bears. These icy waters are crucial feeding and migration zones for bowhead, beluga and other whales, seals, walruses and migratory birds; for thousands of years they have also sustained a vibrant Native culture. But the Bush administration treated America's Arctic as just another place to be exploited, relentlessly pushing oil and gas drilling without regard for the consequences.

Now a new President and his Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, have pledged to restore science to the forefront of decisions about energy and the environment. They have no better opportunity to fulfill that pledge than in the coming weeks, as they face key decisions on oil and gas activity in the Beaufort, Chukchi and Bering Seas—decisions that will determine the future of the region, its people and its creatures.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
15 May 2009, 11:25 AM
 

Last November, as Barack Obama won the election, we recommended a list of "easy things" the new president could immediately do to cement his promises about being a pro-environment president. This is our second update on how he's doing.

The new president's greatest achievement clearly is the abrupt reversal of the Bush-era philosophy favoring those who devour our natural resources for short term gain. He also has taken major steps towards restoring integrity to our regulatory agencies, potency to our environmental laws, and respect internationally for our country's leadership.

Nonetheless, the administration has taken some actions—for example, the delisting of northern gray wolves—that are deeply disappointing. Some of the administration actions, notably with regard to mountaintop removal mining, fall short of being complete solutions. Likewise, there remain significant environmental challenges yet to be addressed.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
27 April 2009, 2:19 PM
 

John Kerry and Barbara Boxer are two of the greenest members of the Senate. Jim Inhofe is the Senate's chief global warming denier. But last week—on Earth Day, no less—they came together to introduce a bill requiring the EPA to look at ways to control a dangerous pollutant that kills millions worldwide and accelerates global warming, particularly in the Arctic.

No, not carbon dioxide, which remains the main driver of worldwide climate change, but black carbon, airborne microscopic particles of soot. In the United States and Europe, black carbon comes from diesel engines and industrial smokestacks. In the developing world, the main source is primitive cooking and heating fires.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
23 February 2009, 12:43 PM
 

A scientist with a cigarette lighter is providing the latest evidence of global warming's dramatic and swift impacts in the Arctic.

Four miles south of the Arctic Circle, Katey Walter has found that melting ice and permafrost are releasing vast amounts of methane -- a greenhouse gas 21 times worse than CO2 as a contributor to climate change.

To prove the point, Walter stoops down to melting pools and flicks her lighter to ignite methane flame jets 20 feet high. It's a "time bomb" that even slightly warmer temperatures could set off, she told the Los Angeles Times.

View Bill Walker's blog posts
13 February 2009, 8:21 AM
 

(UPDATE: Since this was posted, more than 21,000 Earthjustice supporters sent comments to the Minerals Management Service opposing expansion of oil and gas exploration in the "Polar Bear Seas.")

The Beaufort and Chukchi seas are home to one in five of the world's remaining polar bears. That's why these icy waters north and west of Alaska are often called the Polar Bear Seas.

They're also crucial feeding and migration zones for bowhead, beluga and other whales, as well as seals, walruses and migratory birds.

This is America's Arctic, already under assault from global warming—and now, threatened by a massive expansion of the oil and gas drilling that fuel climate change.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
03 February 2009, 11:54 AM
 

When the history of our times is written, I bet the nomination of Sarah Palin for vice president will be seen as one of the more bizarre political aberrations in American history, which has already had plenty. One would think that the resounding repudiation she and Senator McCain suffered in the general election would have chastened both, but while the senator has been mostly dignified and supportive of the new administration, Gov. Palin rumbles along as if she should be taken seriously. I mean, what’s up with that?

I’m off on this rant because of a guest opinion piece by the governor that appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (which should know better) on Feb. 1. The subject is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The governor is unhappy that a bill has been introduced to end forever the effort to let the drillers into the coastal plain in search of crude oil.

View Martin Wagner's blog posts
11 December 2008, 11:23 PM
The world is now meeting in Poland to tackle global warming

One of the primary tasks of this conference was to determine the outlines of a "shared vision"—areas where all parties were in agreement concerning what the negotiations would try to achieve. The hope was that this vision would move the negotiations from the very general goals established in the Bali Action Plan toward the kinds of specifics necessary to reach a final agreement a year from now in Copenhagen. So how the negotiators doing? Well, do you want the good news first, or the bad?

Let's start with the good. The negotiations haven't completely broken down—the negotiators have committed to continuing to talk next year, and have set out a work plan to do so. They've even authorized themselves to hold an extra meeting next year, which is fortunate, because they also agree that they still have an extraordinary amount of information to gather on nearly every component of a final agreement.

View Martin Wagner's blog posts
09 December 2008, 2:30 PM
The world is now meeting in Poland to tackle global warming

Yesterday, Erika wrote about negotiations to reduce global warming from deforestation and related activities, which contribute 20% of all human-emitted greenhouse gases. Tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the foundational document for modern-day protection of fundamental human rights around the world. Today, the two issues came together in a shameful fashion and, unfortunately, the United States played a major role.