Posts tagged: climate change

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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.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
26 June 2012, 11:09 AM
Federal appeals court sides with clean air

Today has turned into a better day for our planet—and our lungs. In a landmark decision, the D.C. federal appeals court upheld every single one of the EPA’s carbon pollution limits. These EPA protections are in response to the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, and are important parts of the agency’s efforts to curb such pollution under the Clean Air Act.

The rules went to oral argument in February after more than 60 lawsuits by companies including Massey Energy Co.; business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and states such as Texas and Virginia pushed the court to overthrow the “arbitrary” and “capricious” standards.

However, today the three-judge panel of the D.C. court of appeals ruled that the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act was “unambiguously correct.” The court also concluded that opponents don’t have the legal right to challenge the timing and tailoring rules.

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View Erika Rosenthal's blog posts
22 June 2012, 1:56 PM
Nations take positive actions to enhance ocean protections

The news out of the Rio+20 Earth Summit has been bleak. World leaders, yet again caught in the headlights of financial crises and electoral cycles, fundamentally failed us and the planet. However, there is a bright spot—and it is blue. Both the formal Rio text and the voluntary, on-the-ground and on the water commitments nations made, are a reason for hope.

The oceans sequester, or absorb, about 30 percent of the CO2 we spew into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. But this remarkable environmental service, helping to moderate the climate impact of our fossil fuel addition, comes at a heavy cost—ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification has created renewed urgency to reduce pollution, over fishing and coastal damage to build ocean ecosystem resilience against the adverse effects of carbon pollution. The only long-term solution to acidification is deep cuts in CO2 emissions, but to ensure that as much marine biodiversity as possible survives the inevitable acidification in the coming decades, building resilience is essential and urgent.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
21 June 2012, 2:54 PM
Plus: Body snatching weeds, clean air apps, cold chemicals, pineapple pesticides

Mexican government saves miracle reef
Cabo Pulmo, an ecological treasure and the jewel of California, recently received a stay of execution after the Mexican government announced its decision to cancel a mega-resort development project near the reef in Baja California Sur, reports the LA Times. The cancelled Cabo Cortes resort development was by far the largest of three proposed development projects near the area (two still remain). The government’s decision comes after the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (which partners closely with Earthjustice) challenged a conditionally approved environmental impact assessment, arguing that the new developments would harm the rich biodiversity of the nearby Cabo Pulmo National Park. Though threats to the reef from other projects and intensive marine resource use remain, the Mexican government’s decision is a big win for defenders of the 20,000 year-old reef, which  has experienced an unprecedented 463-percent increase in biodiversity just 10 years after Mexico established the surrounding the reef as a Marine Protected Area. 

Higher CO2 levels breathe life into body-snatching weeds

Weeds, those pesky invaders that break through sidewalk cracks and blemish perfectly good vegetable beds, are getting a leg up over agriculture crops thanks to increased CO2 emissions, reports ScienceNews. According to recent research, because weeds can adapt more quickly to a changing climate than food crops, they’ve already figured out how to use increased carbon dioxide to their advantage. Food crops, on the other hand, are slow learners by design so that their tastes are not constantly changing, which keeps consumers happy. Though faster growing weeds are a headache in their own right, the more troubling finding of the research is that carbon dioxide makes the weed-like quality in weeds more contagious. As CO2 emissions increase, researchers found that the weedy natural form of rice “increasingly hybridized with the crop plants,” with the result being a diminished value and quality of the cultivated rice. In other words, the crops that breeders have spent decades cultivating into perfect specimens could eventually be transformed into weeds. It seems that when it comes to climate change, you really do reap what you sow.
 

View Maria Beloborodova's blog posts
19 June 2012, 2:20 PM
Enormous body of evidence warns of climate change impacts

An increasing number of experts are reaching consensus on the devastating and possibly irreversible effects of climate change linked to human activity, according to the Nature journal.

The “tipping point” – that moment when the planet’s capacity to support all of its systems collapses – could be near, scientists say. Environmental conditions on Earth that allow species and ecosystems to thrive may already be undergoing a radical state shift. Loss of habitat and biodiversity, exponential human population growth, depletion of natural resources, and the rapidly changing climate are all putting an immense amount of pressure on the planet’s well-being.

The magnitude of this environmental disaster could be even greater than the ice age 11,700 years ago.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 June 2012, 2:25 PM
Earthjustice delegation focuses on fortifying oceans resilience

(Trip Van Noppen is President of Earthjustice)

More than 130 heads of state, other leaders, and some 50,000 participants from all over the globe are gathering this week in Rio de Janeiro, the most-visited city in the southern hemisphere, for the Rio+20 Earth Summit. I am here with Martin Wagner, head of the Earthjustice International program, and Erika Rosenthal, Earthjustice attorney and veteran of many international environmental negotiations, and we want to share a few glimpses into what is going on as this historic event unfolds.

The summit offers the world an opportunity to deepen and broaden the reach of environmental commitments that are fundamental to sustainable development and reducing poverty around the world, and to support and extend good work that is happening in many countries and under many other international agreements.

Unlike the grand, path-breaking outcomes that the nations accomplished at the first Rio Earth Summit 20 years ago, this summit is focused on improving implementation of existing agreements for better outcomes for the people and the planet. Some in the news media have focused on the lack of grand new treaties, but that narrative misses the point. Although political realities may preclude great leaps forward, and certainly the summit is not producing the sorts of outcomes that it should, we can still work hard for incremental change when the opportunities exist. That’s what Earthjustice is doing at home and that's what we are doing here. In particular here in Rio, we’re pressing for progress on two important issues: ocean protection and reducing fossil fuel use.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
16 June 2012, 11:12 AM
Earthjustice at Rio+20 to seek solutions

(Trip Van Noppen is President of Earthjustice)

It started in 2005, when baby oysters began dying by the billions in Oregon and Washington. At first, the fishermen weren’t worried, hardened by years of dealing with nature’s fickleness. But, when the die-offs continued year after year, seamen and scientists alike started seeking answers.

What they found is that the impacts from carbon pollution that scientists have been warning about for decades are occurring now. It turns out that while the world’s eyes have been trained on the changes to the land, the ocean has been quietly undergoing its own transformation.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
15 June 2012, 3:41 AM
Plus: Testy turtles, gas pump fallacies and Alberta oil spills
Seaside in Victoria, Australia (Shutterstock)

Australia announces world’s largest marine reserve
Just in time for this week’s Rio+20 Earth Summit, Australia has announced its plans to create the world’s largest marine reserve, reports the BBC. The protected zone will cover more than a third of Australia’s waters (about 3 million square kilometers) and will include restrictions on fishing as well as oil and gas exploration. The announcement comes on the heels of another big environmental win, courtesy of the Australian government, which last week announced that it is putting a stop to a billion-dollar coal project that could negatively impact the Great Barrier Reef. Though this latest move to create a marine reserve didn’t quite go as far as some environmentalists groups would have liked, it’s a great first step in building resilient oceans, which are already being battered by overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and now ocean acidification. Find out more about Earthjustice’s work to push for building resilient ocean ecosystems.

Turtle couple that’s been dating for decades calls it quits
After more than 100 years of companionship, a pair of Giant Turtles at an Austrian zoo have decided to call it quits, reports the Austrian Times. According to the zoo staff, the century-long love fest came to a seemingly sudden end after the female turtle, Bibi, attacked her partner by biting off a chunk of his shell. Afterwards, Bibi continued attacking the male turtle until he was moved to a different cage. Since there have been no apparent changes in the turtles’ routine, the zoo suspects that Bibi may simply want to be single and nothing—including “romantic good mood food” and couples —will change her mind.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
08 June 2012, 11:13 AM
Plus: fatty flame retardants and debris tsunamis
Great Barrier Reef. (Shutterstock)

Coal project kept out of Great Barrier Reef
This week, Australian environment minister Tony Burke put a stop to a billion dollar coal project that could have negatively impacted the Great Barrier Reef, reports CorpWatch. The world’s largest coral ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef contains an abundance of marine life, is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and provides a major boost to the Australian economy. The massive coal project—the first of several proposed coal projects—would have increased the likelihood of damage to the delicate reef ecosystem by expanding the number of ship journeys occurring near the reef. Though Burke’s decision is a big win for the environment, many of the ocean’s reefs still face other environmental stressors like pollution and ocean acidification, which could alter their very existence. Currently, Earthjustice is working to reduce ocean stressors to help protect coral reefs and the millions of creatures (including us) that depend on them.

Flame retardants may be making you fat
Flame retardants are back in the news again, and this time they’re being tied to obesity, anxiety and developmental problems, reports the Chicago Tribune. According to new research, small doses of flame retardants can disrupt the endocrine system by altering levels of thyroid hormones, among other effects. Given that the average American baby is born with the highest recorded levels of flame retardants among infants in the world, the recent study is raising concern amongst researchers and parents alike. And though flame retardants have been widely touted as lifesavers for preventing household fires, research by government and independent scientists has found that they actually provide no meaningful protection from furniture fires. Find out more in the Chicago Tribune’s special report, “Playing with Fire.”

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
01 June 2012, 1:53 PM
Fukushima fish, two-faced corporations, corn sugar fail
(Photo courtesy of fortherock)

Taking a hike may boost your brainpower
Spending time outside doesn’t just make you happier and calm your frazzled nerves, reports the Wall Street Journal. It can also improve creativity. According to a yet-to-be-published paper by University of Kansas researchers, a group of hikers that spent four days in the woods outperformed another set of hikers that had yet to hit the trails on a standard creativity test. This wasn’t just a meager boost in creativity, though. The test results showed a nearly 50 percent increase in performance from the hikers who were already on the trails. In addition to boosting creativity, previous studies have shown time spent in nature (or even having a window that looks out into a grassy area) can improve everything from short-term memory to how you handle life’s major challenges.

 Fukushima fish swim their way to California waters
U.S. scientists recently announced that Bluefin tuna contaminated with low levels of radiation from last year’s Fukushima meltdown were found along the California coast five months after the disaster, reports Mother Jones. The finding comes on the heels of Japan’s own announcement that it’s preparing to restart one of the nation’s nuclear plants, which were idled after the Fukushima meltdown. Despite the stigma that radioactive fish will no doubt entail, the scientists maintain that radiation levels found in the fish is lower than what occurs naturally in the environment and therefore doesn’t pose a risk to human health. Unfortunately, these days radiation isn’t the only contaminant that people have to worry about when ordering a tuna fish sandwich. Many fish, including Bluefin tuna, also contain mercury, a toxic chemical linked to impaired neurological development and having other harmful effects. But unlike nuclear radiation pollution, which tends to happen only when there’s a meltdown, mercury is willingly created every day by industrial sources like coal-fired power plants. Find out how we're shutting them down and cleaning them up.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
25 May 2012, 8:46 AM
Cruel pizza toppings, superweed takeover, Hollywood bags the bag
(Cambridge Brewing Company)

Breweries worry that extreme gas drilling will frack their beer
It turns out that hydraulic gas drilling or fracking doesn’t just contaminate the air and water; it could also mess up your favorite brew, reports Mother Jones. Brewmasters like Brooklyn Brewery and upstate New York’s Ommegang Brewery are raising the alarm about toxic fracking chemicals like benzene making their way to America’s beers through weak fracking regulations that don’t protect an area’s water supply. After all, beer brewing takes a whole lot of water and places like the Brooklyn Brewery often get their water from local watersheds. The Brewery’s founder, Steve Hindy, says that fracking threatens the purity of his beer. New York has promised to ban high-volume fracking in areas where the city sources its water, but environmental groups like Earthjustice say that the state’s rules are weak and leave aquifers vulnerable to contamination by fracking chemicals. Find out how we’re helping breweries like Ommegang to keep their beer from being fracked.

Domino’s pizza’s meat policy makes little piggies cry
Domino’s may have recently had an artisanal makeover, but the pizza giant still isn’t budging on its policy to continue serving pork from pigs raised in gestation crates, reports Grist. For the uninitiated, gestation crates are cages about the same width and length of a pig’s body, a space so small that the pigs are unable to even turn around in the crates. Given that pigs are extremely smart animals capable of feeling fear, pain and stress, many food vendors have been successfully pressured into working with its pork suppliers to eliminate the cruel practice, but not Domino’s, which is one of the last holdouts in the industry. It looks like Domino’s new “artisan toppings,” meant for food-conscious customers, is just lipstick on both the proverbial and the literal pig.  
 

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