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.

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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 Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
14 June 2013, 3:47 PM
President Obama's energy mantra echoes the fossil fuel industry
Climate change increases the frequency of deadly wildfires. (U.S. Forest Service Region 5)

In recent weeks we have continued to experience extreme and destructive forest fires, droughts, and floods. The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached new and dangerous levels.

Despite this, President Obama’s pledge to address climate change with meaningful actions has stalled. Since the stirring words of his Inauguration and State of the Union speeches, the EPA has missed its deadline for setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. Even simple, non-controversial actions like strengthening the efficiency standards for new refrigerators are marooned inside the White House. This failure to act is completely inconsistent with the president’s promise to lead on climate.

Equally troubling is the president’s continued support for expansive and extreme development of new fossil fuel sources. Drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean, fracking across our public lands, expanding coal mines for export to Asia, and importing dirty, carbon-intensive oil from Canada’s tar sands will all drive climate change to even more destructive levels and will destroy ecosystems and damage people’s health in the meantime.

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View Chris Jordan-Bloch's blog posts
04 June 2013, 3:47 PM
Landmark law moves Nevada from coal to renewables

"It felt like I was waking up from a nightmare. I wasn't really sure what was true or false. I was confused. My heart was racing. I was excited. Maybe, I thought, this nightmare is over."

This is what Vickie Simmons remembers feeling when she first heard that the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant might be closing. Simmons is a leading member of the Moapa Band of Paiutes Health and Environmental Committee, and for years she and the rest of the Paiute tribe have lived in the shadow of Reid Gardner’s smokestacks and waste pits. They have paid incredible health costs and reaped little economic benefits.

But Simmons is right - the nightmare is ending.

 Photo of Vickie Simmons by Chris Jordan-Bloch

(Photo of Vickie Simmons by Chris Jordan-Bloch)

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View Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
04 June 2013, 11:44 AM
320 miles of smiles
Earthjustice team members enjoying the coastline.

A traditional road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway provides many “oohs” and “ahhs” along the majestic ocean, and for good reason. The turquoise water and rolling hills encourage exploration around every twist in the road. Yet, through a 320-mile bike journey, I’ve learned that all senses are heightened when on two wheels. Our dynamic team of four women joined Climate Ride, a charitable bike ride, in an effort to fight climate change. Every rider took on the rugged terrain of winding roads with one mission in our hearts: sustainability.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
24 April 2013, 9:48 AM
Climate change may ruin your next seafood night
Photo courtesy of quinn.anya

Seafood lovers hooked on $1 oyster nights may soon have to find a new source of comfort for the work week blues.

Thanks to an increase of carbon in both the atmosphere and our water bodies (which absorb about a third of all carbon emissions), carbon munching critters like crabs, lobsters and shrimp are getting bigger and hungrier, say scientists at the University of North Carolina’s Aquarium Research Center. After analyzing blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay in tanks pumped full of carbon, researchers found that the crabs grew nearly four times faster in high-carbon tanks versus low-carbon tanks.
 
Though bigger crabs sound like a delicious side effect of climate change, they’re not all that they’re cracked up to be, since crabs tend to put all their energy into building larger shells, not meatier flesh. Even worse, super-sized crabs with equally super-sized appetites could also affect the rest of the typical seafood platter, since bigger crabs will no doubt be eating bigger helpings of other seagoing creatures, like oysters.
 
Unfortunately, voracious crabs aren’t the only thing that oysters have to worry about. Because oceans are one of the world’s greatest carbon sinks, taking in 22 million tons of carbon dioxide every day, ocean chemistry is changing rapidly. This is putting a strain on shelled creatures like oysters, shellfish and corals that don't like acid baths because they depend on a pH-balanced lifestyle to build their calcium carbonate shells.
 

View Grand Chief Ruth Massie's blog posts
24 April 2013, 7:34 AM
Grand Chief Ruth Massie shares eyewitness account of climate change
"We are witnessing the strangest of weather patterns." Chukchi Sea, Alaska. (Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com)

Our homelands—the Arctic wildlife and ecosystems that are the foundation of our culture and traditional ways of life—are fast changing. Arctic warming has made the weather, the condition of the ice, and the behaviors and location of fish and wildlife so unpredictable that our Elders no longer feel confident teaching younger people traditional ways. If we cannot effectively pass on our traditional ways to the younger generations, we fear for what will happen to our culture.

We know that a significant cause of these changes is black carbon, or soot, a short-lived climate pollutant which contributes significantly to the rapid warming and melting across northern Canada—our homelands. Black carbon pollution is also a health issue; soot emissions degrade the air quality in the North. Scientists believe reducing these emissions one of the best ways to slow warming and melting in the Arctic in the coming decades.

That’s why the Arctic Athabaskan Council is taking action today by filing a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
19 April 2013, 12:22 PM
DOE releases new distribution transformer standards
Although the electricity used by any one transformer is small, the losses add up on a national scale.  (iStockphoto)

In 2007, we filed a lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's weak energy efficiency standards for electricity distribution transformers, those gray boxes mounted on utility poles that power all our homes and businesses. The results of that lawsuit are new standards from the U.S. Department of Energy that were published in the Federal Register on Thursday. The standards were updated as part of an agreement settling that lawsuit. Along with Earthjustice, parties to the suit include the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and several states.

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View Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
18 April 2013, 4:54 PM
4 ladies take on 1,000 miles to spread the word about climate change
View from the top of Hawk Hill, after a steep climb of 1,100 feet.

In just one month's time, 190 riders will cumulatively bike a total of 60,000 miles to spread the message: climate change is the most urgent problem we face today, and it’s up to us to take action. Our 4-woman team with the alias of “Lean Green Two-Wheeled Machines” will be riding on behalf of Earthjustice, a recently added beneficiary of the fundraising efforts associated with the ride. In December, Earthjustice became one of the 30 teams participating in this 5-day bike journey, thanks to a recent partnership between Earthjustice and Climate Ride. Both non-profits focus on inspiring and empowering citizens to work toward a sustainable and clean energy future.

Throughout this biking journey, we hope to demonstrate that daily changes in our routine can drastically reduce our carbon footprint. By altering our lifestyles, we can make a big difference.

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View Doug Pflugh's blog posts
17 April 2013, 12:20 PM
Unrestrained thirst puts Colorado atop American Rivers' threat list
Management of the Colorado River remains an engineering task that seeks to wring as much water as possible out of its banks. (David Morgan / iStockphoto)

The Colorado River has been called the lifeblood of the west; it defines our geography, sustains our fish and wildlife, feeds and powers our cities. Without it, our lives and heritage would be fundamentally different—which is why Earthjustice and the conservation community have fought for years to preserve and protect this great river.

But, the thirst for Colorado River water is proving too great.

Today, American Rivers, a national river conservation organization, named the Colorado its most endangered river for 2013. This dubious distinction was well earned as decades of damming, diversion and domestication have left the river that carves the Grand Canyon a ghost of its former self.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
09 April 2013, 8:58 AM
Gina McCarthy is a sound choice for the job
McCarthy will be a vital player in the effort to protect our families and environment.  (EPA)

This week a Senate committee will hold a nomination hearing for Gina McCarthy to replace Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.

Gina McCarthy, the EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation, is a sound choice for the job. Given her background and experience, the Senate should move expeditiously to confirm her.

For more than 25 years Gina McCarthy worked with politicians from both parties, including a stint as Gov. Romney’s energy and climate advisor in Massachusetts. In 2009 Republican and Democratic senators easily confirmed McCarthy by a voice vote to head the clean air division of EPA.

Gina McCarthy is a dedicated environmental professional with a history of working on difficult issues including climate change. We share her vision of an energy-efficient economy which creates sustainable jobs.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
04 April 2013, 4:30 PM
Plus: Climate changes coffee and oil industry handouts
Studies have shown that airline cabins contain high levels of flame retardants. Photo courtesy of chinaoffseason (Flickr)

Airplanes may contain high flame retardants levels
New research has found that commercial airliners contain high levels of flame retardants, a suite of chemicals that have been under fire lately due to concerns over health hazards, reports Environmental Health News.

Because having a plane catch fire mid-air could be disastrous, federal regulators require that all airlines pass strict fire-safety tests, hence the intense usage of flame retardants onboard the aircraft. But though chemical companies have long maintained that flame retardants are safe, several recent studies have linked them to detrimental health effects like reduced IQs and attention problems in children. Flame retardants, which are found in common household items like furniture, electronics and even baby clothes, have also been shown to build up in the body over time. And even worse, some studies suggest that flame retardants may not be all that great in slowing fires and may actually increase deadly emissions of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

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