Posts tagged: climate change

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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 Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
28 January 2013, 2:57 PM
What your weatherman may not tell you about 2013

Crops shriveled to dust this summer while thermometers hit continuous triple digits in the Midwest and Southwest regions. Yet, what about the current “snowmageddon” occurring in our mountain regions, and record lows on the east coast?

Global warming is the all-encompassing term for what is happening to our planet today. As we increase the amount of anthropogenic pollutants in the air, we trap heat within our atmosphere. Yet, this seems contradictory if the weather channel reports on freezing temperatures and cold fronts nationwide.

What defines global warming is climate, not weather. Weather is what we see on a 10-day forecast, what dictates the clothes we wear, and if our flight will be delayed. Climate, on the other hand, is a compilation of weather over a minimum time span of 30 years. This provides a baseline to compare historical climate patterns, and gives an overall picture of what the weather has been doing for three or more decades.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
24 January 2013, 1:02 PM
Plus: Lead-poisoned parrots and climate change fairy dust
The City of Bath. (Photo courtesy of Daz Smith, Flickr)

Fracking may ruin spa time in UK’s historic City of Bath
People have taken part in the restorative waters in the city of Bath for thousands of years, but this centuries-old tradition may no longer be available if fracking companies are allowed to drill near the Mendip Hills, where the Bath water originates, reports the UK Express. Members of the Bath community are concerned that, if allowed, hydraulic fracturing or fracking, which involves drilling deep into the ground using a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to force gas to the surface, may contaminate the area’s pristine waters, or at the very least ruin the pristine image of the city. Up until now, the controversial drilling practice was banned by the government after it was linked to two earthquakes in Lancashire, a popular seaside resort in Britain. But recently government officials were enticed to lift the ban, most likely because fracking offers a new revenue stream that might boost the weak economy. Unfortunately for the fracking industry, the British are just as freaked out by fracking as many Americans, perhaps even more so because the UK lacks the wide-open spaces where U.S.-based fracking operations often take place. Of course, now that fracking is beginning to show its ugly head in iconic, popular tourist attractions like Cooperstown, NY, Americans and Britons now have one more thing in common besides the English language and our love of pubs.

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View Daniel Hubbell's blog posts
23 January 2013, 1:36 PM
Strikes EPA rule that allowed for more soot pollution
Soot blackens the walls of a Pennsylvania residence neighboring a coal-fired power plant.
(Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

The mention of soot conjures images of black clouds pouring out of unfiltered cars, or of cities lost in dark fog. At times in our history, soot pollution has helped stain entire ecosystems black, famously causing moths in Britain to change color from white to black to better hide in their environment. These images are well-deserved: soot is dangerous to both humans and the environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency blames soot for tens of thousands of premature deaths and hospitalizations every year in the United States; and according to a new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, a soot component—black carbon—is the second largest contributor to climate change, coming in just behind carbon dioxide.

Given how dangerous this soot pollution is, we are very pleased with a recent ruling by the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 January 2013, 4:21 PM
The silence is broken, now is the time to act

On Monday, President Obama’s inauguration will officially mark the beginning of his second term, and with it his second chance at finally taking strong action on one of the most important issues of our time, climate change.

Two months ago, on the night of his re-election and in front of an audience hopeful to move forward on so many issues, the president brought climate change back to the forefront of the nation’s mind by listing it as a top priority for his second term. Now, President Obama must go beyond the mere mention of the issue and use his bully pulpit to make the connection between carbon pollution and extreme weather. Just as Franklin Delano Roosevelt used his first inaugural address to declare war on the Great Depression, Obama must use his own confirmation to declare war on another societal ill that threatens to destroy life as we know it.

Of course, the president’s rhetoric will mean nothing if it is not backed by concrete actions in the next four years. And the time for action couldn’t be more urgent.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
10 January 2013, 12:02 PM
Plus: New FDA food rules and record-breaking heat waves
A collection of plastic washed up along a beach San Francisco, Calif. (Kevin Krejci / Flickr)

Tiny plastics clog the world’s oceans
By now we all know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—a giant mess of trash in the ocean—but in turns out that the world’s oceans are also full of tiny plastics, reports CNN. These so-called microplastics are used in everyday products like exfoliating face soaps and hand cleansers to give you that just-scrubbed feeling without taking a Brillo Pad™ to your face. But despite their tiny nature, microplastics may be wreaking havoc on marine life that unsuspectingly swallow these plastic bits floating in the ocean. One 2008 study even found that these tiny particles can hang out in the bodies of mussels for almost two months, though scientists don’t know yet if they cause any harm (mostly because of a lack of research on the issue). And, because they stick around the environment for a long time and can’t easily be dredged out, the plastic pollution problem is only going to get worse. According to one researcher, there has been a 100-fold increase in plastic garbage over the last 40 years. Personal product companies like Unilever are responding to the problem by phasing out the use of microplastics as a scrub material in its products. So, you may soon have to find another way to get your scrub on.

FDA takes bite out of food illnesses with proposed rules
After years of deadly outbreaks from contaminated spinach, peanut butter and other foods, the Food and Drug Administration recently proposed sweeping food safety rules to prevent contamination of the nation’s food, reports the LA Times. Each year, a shockingly high number of people fall ill from a food-borne illness—about one in six Americans—and of the people who get sick, 3,000 die. Historically, the FDA’s approach to food safety has been to wait until there’s a problem and then scramble to fix it. Now, in order to stem the tide of foodborne illnesses before they occur, the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act will take a more preventative approach by stepping up federal audits of food facilities and establishing science-based, minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables. Though the Act is the most sweeping reform of FDA’s food safety authority in more than 70 years, the rules, unfortunately, won’t come any time soon since large farms have more than two years to comply with the final rules once they’re published and small farms have even longer. Bon appétit!

View Brian Smith's blog posts
08 January 2013, 12:15 PM
Australia swelters as coal industry industry brags
It's hot in Australia. (Stephen Mitchell)

This week, our friends down under are experiencing climate chaos up close and personal.

Australia is enduring a record heat wave that is causing massive forest fires and unprecedented public health issues.

The situation has become so bad that the weather service was forced to add to add additional colors to the heat map to capture temperatures up to 54 degrees Celsius (129°F).

Hobet mine.

A recent heat map of Australia, with the new colors.  (AUS Bureau of Meteorology)
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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
04 January 2013, 4:53 PM
Obama must halt dangerous, misguided operations in Arctic Ocean
The conical drilling unit Kulluk sits aground 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, AK, on the shore of Sitkalidak Island, Jan. 2, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Marsh.)

With one Arctic drill rig shipwrecked on an Alaskan island and the other reportedly under criminal investigation for possibly “operating with serious safety and pollution control problems,” oil giant Royal Dutch Shell is doing a pretty thorough job at proving the quest for oil in the pristine waters of America’s Arctic is just too dangerous, too dirty, and too damaging. The week’s events also prove once again that the U.S. Department of Interior should not have approved drilling in the most remote, dangerous place on the planet. It’s past time for the plug to be pulled on this operation.

The cone-shaped drill rig Kulluk sat in 30 to 40 feet of water along the rocky beach of Sitkalidak Island for the entire week and 18 crew members were evacuated by U.S Coast Guard helicopters. A cast of more than 500 salvage experts is working feverishly to stabilize and rescue the rig.  Further, after delays leaving the Arctic Ocean as winter closed in, Shell reported made its decision to move the rig, which does not have a propulsion system and requires towboats to haul it around, from the port of Dutch Harbor south of Alaska to avoid having to pay Alaska state taxes.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
03 January 2013, 5:35 PM
Plus: Oregano immunity, recycling for couples, NorCal coastal protections
Photo courtesy of Scott Beale (flickr)

Climate change could flood Facebook, Google by 2050
Facebook can't be brought down by angry fans irritated with its privacy policy and data mining tendencies, but it could be swept away by climate change- induced sea level rise, reports Climate Wire. Though much of the California coastline is at risk, Silicon Valley is especially vulnerable since the land it sits on is between 3 and 10 feet below sea level. According to a draft study from the Army Corps of Engineers, an extreme storm coupled with higher seas could put the valley, along with nearby homes and businesses, under water. Despite the dire predictions, for now Silicon Valley inhabitants seem content with delaying any climate change action, a sentiment that world leaders are mimicking. Unfortunately, a recent study has found that delaying carbon cuts until 2020 will make dealing with climate change far more expensive than tackling it now, reports Reuters. And, delaying action also significantly reduces the chance of meeting an U.N. agreed-upon limit of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, which is the limit many scientists agree we must adhere to in order to avoid the most damaging effects of catastrophic climate change. So far, temperatures have risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius since we first started emitting carbon in massive quantities. While governments and industries dawdle, find out how Earthjustice is taking action to stop climate change, before it’s too late.

View Patti Goldman's blog posts
27 December 2012, 11:46 AM
America was well-served by her staunch efforts
Lisa P. Jackson has announced that she will be stepping down from her position in January 2013.

Earthjustice is saddened by today's announcement that Lisa Jackson is stepping down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

America owes Lisa Jackson a debt of gratitude for her work to protect the public's health from polluters and their allies in Congress. For her efforts to clean up pollution and better protect the environment and public health, she faced a steady barrage from members of Congress and the industrial polluters who back them. Her detractors are the same people who told us taking lead out of gasoline in the 1970's would break the economy and that taking acid out of acid rain in the 1990's would ruin the country. In both cases, the environment and economy were strengthened and this is the approach Lisa Jackson took. There is a lot of unfinished business started by Jackson that the next EPA director will need to attend to. Whoever it is, they'll need the support of the President and they'll need to be ready for a non-stop barrage of attacks from the chemical, industrial and fossil fuel industries and their allies in Congress.

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View Maria Beloborodova's blog posts
27 December 2012, 10:00 AM
Readers were most inspired by stories of the wild
Two of the first five calves born at Ft. Peck Indian reservation this year. (Bill Campbell)

Blog posts about Earth's magnificent places and creatures were the most popular themes for unEarthed readers in 2012. By far the most-read post concerned Arctic drilling, followed by reports of bison being restored and wolves losing protection. Not shown in our top 10 blog posts, below, are the delightful tales of curious critters painted in words by our own Shirley Hao. Posts written years ago by Shirley are still being discovered and read by thousands of people every year.

And, now, for your enjoyment, we present our most-read posts of 2012: