Posts tagged: climate change

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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.


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 Brian Smith's blog posts
22 November 2011, 2:05 PM
IPCC issues new report

How’s the weather? 
Weird, and getting stranger every day.
Last week in Kampala, Uganda the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued new preliminary findings entitled Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.  (Full report available in February 2012.)
Among the findings:

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
18 November 2011, 3:17 PM
Fake farmers, BPA thanks, flooding NYC
The CIA has a secret about climate change. Photo courtesy of AJC1.

CIA shouldn’t be keeping secrets about climate change
A new report by a U.S. government agency known as the Defense Science Board says that the CIA needs to stop being so secret about its climate change research, reports the UK Guardian. Though climate denialism in government seems to be all the rage these days, the CIA has seen the invisible ink on the wall -- that climate change is happening -- and has decided to start preparing for it. Enter the CIA’s Climate Center, established in 2009 to gather intelligence on climate change and its potential national security implications. Unfortunately, in typical CIA fashion, the agency has so far refused to disclose its valuable data to the public or even other government agencies, which could go a long way in preparing the nation for the inevitable destabilization that will occur in around the world as sea levels rise and fresh water resources dry up.

Fake “farmers” abound at local farmers’ markets
The next time you visit your local farmers’ market you may want to keep an eye out for unscrupulous vendors masquerading as local farmers, reports E: The Environmental Magazine. As the popularity of farmers’ has surged, so have the number of markets, from less than 2,0000 in 1994 to more than 7,000 in 2011. Though greater access to farmers’ markets is a good thing, the increased access has also left the door wide open to non-local, corporate vendors looking to cash in on the typically higher priced goods. In response to these fakers, some markets have begun adopting strict regulations to ensure that their farmers are the real deal. Before paying $2 for a local, organic Red Delicious apple, shoppers should look into the screening practices of their own farmers’ markets to find out whether they’re getting the real deal.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
17 November 2011, 3:27 PM
“A lot of people have no idea that many of these ocean species are so badly depleted.”
Steve Roady speaks about Earthjustice's oceans litigation.

Intro: This is the first in a series of Q and As on Earthjustice’s oceans work, which works to prevent habitat loss and overfishing, as well as reduce the impacts of climate change on the ocean. Earthjustice’s Oceans Program Director Steve Roady has been litigating cases that help protect our oceans for more than a decade. Check out for more information.

Jessica Knoblauch: What first drew you to oceans management work?
Steve Roady: I was first exposed to the oceans while growing up on Florida’s Gulf coast. I spent a lot of time on the beaches as a child and was always fascinated by the shrimpers. But I really first became aware of the key problems in the environment in middle school where we were all forced to read Rachel Carson’s classic book, Silent Spring. The idea that birds were dying because of DDT was just amazing to me and it really got me thinking about environmental issues.
JK: How does Earthjustice use the law to protect oceans?
SR: Earthjustice is one of the leading groups to begin looking at oceans’ problems through the lens of potential federal litigation. Basically, we work with three or four of your standard environmental laws. There’s the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the main federal fisheries act, which directs the federal government to prevent overfishing and to minimize bycatch, to protect habitat and to rebuild overfished fish populations. There’s also the National Environmental Policy Act, which mandates the federal government to carefully study the environmental effects of their actions before they take them. And we also invoke the Endangered Species Act to protect species like sea turtles, which are protected under the ESA but often killed as so-called bycatch in trawl fisheries around the country.
We invoke all of these statutes in an effort to try to curb the unrestrained fishing practices going on in federal fisheries and do our best to make sure the federal government is complying with the basic thrust of the laws that protect the ocean resource. Since we started the Ocean Law Project back in 1998, we’ve had a number of significant wins in the courts that set some significant precedents with respect to how the federal government manages ocean resources in a sustainable way. And typically we’ll have a case that we’ll bring on behalf of other groups, so if a case is won the precedent goes to everybody’s benefit.

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View Jessica Goddard's blog posts
26 October 2011, 10:10 AM
Climate change effect on oceans

If ancient Greek polytheism defined our belief system, we would be well into an era of ritual sacrifices seeking to pacify the sea god, Poseidon.

Island and coastal cities fear full submersion as oscillating and extreme weather patterns take headlines more than ever. Hurricanes and tropical storms are growing in size and destructiveness. Costal reefs are in peril as calcium carbonate (“food” for coral reef skeletons) disappears with rises in ocean acidity and sea pollution. Sea ice is melting and receding in the Arctic and Argentina. And land ice (frozen fresh water) continues to melt at an accelerated rate in Antarctica. Climate change and increased surface temperatures are impacting our oceans as you read.

We at Earthjustice are leaving the skeptics behind. Let’s consider the facts: the average reach of ice in the Arctic in September 2011 (yearly minimum) was 4.61 million square kilometers. That’s 2.43 million square kilometers below the average from 1979 to 2000. This reflects an average monthly decline of 11.5 percent per decade. In Antarctica, NASA satellites show an annual decrease in ice coverage of more than 100 cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) since 2002.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
25 October 2011, 2:08 PM
Congress hides behind weak economic numbers
Lisa Heinzerling

In the back and forth between climate skeptics and conservationists, we’ve clearly got two things on our side (although many of our foes would argue this): science and the law.

This point was clearly delineated during a panel discussing the congressional attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency (and the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act) at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Miami last week.

“Those rules are required by law,” said Lisa Heinzerling, a Georgetown law professor who is a former EPA official and most notably argued the landmark Massachusetts v. EPA Supreme Court case.

Heinzerling was referring to several EPA rules that GOP lawmakers have taken aim at, among them one that would rein in pollution from cement plants, and another rule to curb pollution from industrial boilers.

View Wendy Lau's blog posts
14 October 2011, 3:04 PM
Rising sea levels threaten California beaches
Sunset at Venice Beach

As we say goodbye to sweet, summer days and the beautiful beaches we enjoyed this year, we can look forward with some assurance to more summers on the beaches—but not too many more.

The problem is, we may not even have beaches to go to by the end of the century.
A recent study by experts from San Francisco State University showed that beach communities in California are at risk of being submerged due to rising sea levels. The areas include Carpinteria, Malibu, Venice, Torrey Pines State Reserve near San Diego, and Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
13 October 2011, 10:24 AM
Before Colorado Gov. Cheerleads Coal Mines, He Should Help Clean Them
A hillside bulldozed for a coal mine methane drainage well, western Colorado. Photo By Ted Zukoski

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper took a feel-good tour of a Colorado coal mine this week, bolstering his corporate-friendly cred in the southern part of the state.

He talked about how great it was that the mine could co-exist with wildlife, and joked about the high-paying jobs. And for all of you self-serving Prius owners who call coal by its other name—One Of The Dirtiest Fuels On The Planet ™—Hickenlooper wanted to remind you:

"We all use electricity, we all drive vehicles so we have to play our role in getting the energy, whether it's coal or natural gas. We all have to figure out how to get it safely and efficiently and in a way that it benefits the community around it. That's what they are trying to do here."

Music to the ears of those running the New Elk Mine, the subject of the tour, which is digging out metallurgic coal in an area that has seen mining for decades. And you have to appreciate job creation in tough economic times. But Hickenlooper omitted some interesting facts about the New Elk Mine. For example:

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View John McManus's blog posts
30 September 2011, 11:39 AM
Earthjustice asks court to cancel lease of massive coal mine

Earlier this week, Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine went to court to argue that the state of Montana was legally required to consider steps to minimize the consequences of burning more than a half-a-billion tons of coal before leasing it to St. Louis-based Arch Coal, Inc. Earthjustice is representing the Montana Environmental Information Center and the Sierra Club in a lawsuit asking the court to cancel the lease so that the state may study options for minimizing or avoiding the environmental consequences of this massive strip mine.

Arch Coal also has leased coal on adjacent private lands, which combined with the state-leased coal, amount to 1.3 billion tons. If developed, the Otter Creek strip mine would be one of the largest coal mines in the country. Arch is making plans to ship at least a portion of this coal to Asia by way of west coast ports. Once burned, the coal will emit billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, not to mention mercury, lead and a host of other nasty byproducts.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
30 September 2011, 12:17 AM
Clean air haters, Yellowstone meltdown, killer cantaloupe
Photo courtesy of sk8geek

Monsanto’s new broccoli designed to fight company’s own environmental pollution
Perhaps dismayed by the public’s outcry to genetically engineered (GE) crops and their environmental effects, last October America’s favorite biotech company, Monsanto, released a non-GE product that combines two different types of broccoli to create a sort of super broccoli that’s chock-full of nutrients, reports Grist. The problem, of course, is that broccoli is already considered a super food. According to the USDA, one medium stalk provides 200 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C, 16 percent of recommended dietary fiber, and 10 percent of recommended vitamin A in the form of betacarotene. Broccoli also contains folate, potassium and several other minerals, providing 6 percent of daily calcium and 4 percent of daily iron needs. Heck, it can even prevent cancer. Talk about fixing something that ain't broken.

In addition to silly redundancy, Monsanto’s desire to provide a vegetable that helps “maintain your body’s defenses against the damage of environmental pollutants and free radicals,” is just plain ironic, as Grist cleverly points out, considering that the company’s cash cow—herbicides—have been shown to cause some of the very illnesses that eating broccoli can prevent. If selling a product that causes illness and then turning around and selling another product to prevent that illness seems, well, wrong, then it won’t be much of a surprise to find out the rest of Monsanto’s seedy past.

Climate change threatens Yellowstone National Park
Within the next century, Yellowstone National Park may be as hot as the LA suburbs thanks to climate change, reports Reuters. A recent study by Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and Greater Yellowstone Coalition found that warming in Yellowstone, one of the world’s last largely intact ecosystems, is likely to increase wildfires, kill large swaths of trees and damage areas vital to grizzly bears and other threatened species. And, as a vacation hotspot for tourists, failing to reverse the warming trend could put a dent in the region $700 million annual tourism economy. Despite the dismal predictions, the good news is that there’s still time to make choices that will influence how climate change effects Yellowstone, like preserving wildlife corridors and increasing resilience to damaged habitats. Earthjustice is working hard on both of these fronts in the Crown of the Continent, a 10-million-acre expanse of land that encompasses some of the largest blocks of wilderness in the contiguous United States, including Yellowstone. See for yourself what we’re protecting

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
24 September 2011, 8:13 PM
Earthjustice will defend fragile environment, Native communities
Caribou form large herds on the coastal plains north of the Brooks Range, one of the most splendid stretches of wilderness left in America. Arctic Refuge, Alaska. (Florian Schulz /

The Palmyra Atoll is a tropical coral reef island in the heart of the Pacific Ocean. It’s warm, tiny and far from the vast, frigid Arctic. And yet these distant, disparate places are as alike in one sense as any two places on Earth.

Each is an early victim of humankind’s addiction to fossil fuels and our constantly affirmed determination to stay addicted.

Like other low-lying communities around the world, the Palmyra Atoll, only a few feet from sea level, is quietly disappearing under rising ocean waters. As the Arctic melts—at a near-record pace—the ocean is warming and expanding. These islands and their inhabitants are literally at the water’s edge of global climate disaster.

But, while the evidence of global warming is clear and the science overwhelming, the unwillingness of nations to address this shared problem is perplexing. Even the Obama administration has taken actions that keep us tethered to the oil dependency that contributes so much to climate change.

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