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.

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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 December 2012, 5:39 PM
Earthjustice set to make 2013 the year to powerfully engage climate change

Earthjustice has just won two major victories over fossil fuels that strengthen our resolve to make 2013 the year America turns from these dirtiest of energy sources and moves towards a clean energy future—the only real solution to climate change.

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency reacted to Earthjustice legal action by adopting drastic limits on the amount of soot poured out from coal-fired power plants and tailpipes. This powerful achievement will save thousands of lives a year and slow climate change by reducing pollution that accelerates sea ice melt.

And, a few weeks ago, we learned that the Danskammer coal-fired power plant, one of New York’s dirtiest polluters, will be retired and torn down. Recent Earthjustice legal action helped bring about this happy outcome, aided by flooding from superstorm Sandy, a storm made fiercer by the climate-changing emissions from coal power plants like this one.

But we aren’t basing our climate change plan on more poetic justice. Our plan for tackling climate change is based on the kind of justice we had great success in achieving this year through the courts and the political system.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
17 November 2012, 7:47 PM
It's back on Obama's agenda, along with "all of the above"
President Obama, on election night.  (Christopher Dilts)

Life doesn’t hand you many second chances to make good on promises.

But that’s what the American public, with an assist from superstorm Sandy, has given President Obama: another 4-year opportunity to tackle climate change—the critical environmental issue of our time. He’s now talking about the issue again, after two years of near-silence, and just a few days ago spoke of “an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth and make a serious dent in climate change.”

President Obama's words aren't quite as bold as those he made four years ago about attacking climate change, but they give us hope that climate change has become a politically viable issue—especially when seen in the context of the election.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
12 November 2012, 9:26 AM
Without a clean energy future, more Sandys could be the future
Homes damaged by superstorm Sandy. (FEMA)

While for many in the country, thoughts of Hurricane Sandy are being replaced by thoughts of the election, football, or the Thanksgiving holiday, for the tens of thousands of people in New York and New Jersey, survival and their families' well-being are still the urgent thoughts.

Two weeks after the storm, more than 68,000 people in the path of superstorm Sandy were still without power. Eighty-five died during Sandy and many are still suffering from the total loss of their homes and belongings, lack of food, heat, clothes, gas and more. At the worst point, the Long Island Power Authority reported that 8.5 million homes and businesses in the region were powerless. Gas rationing took over in the New York city area, and a blustery, snowy nor’easter storm left many shivering to stay warm without heat.

The tremendous costs of Sandy are still growing. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo estimated that Sandy will cost the state of New York $33 billion. New Jersey’s best estimates approach $50 billion. All combined, Sandy was the second most costly storm in U.S. history, just behind Katrina. The area affected by Sandy produces fully one-fifth of our nation’s GDP, so the economic implications of this storm have yet to be fully realized. It’s clearly in our entire nation’s best interest to do everything we can to get this region up and running and back to business as quickly as possible.

To deny that Sandy was intensified because of climate change would be to deny science. Rising ocean temperatures and sea levels make storms like Sandy more powerful and disastrous.

An aerial view of Breezy Point and Long Beach, NY, Nov. 12, 2012. (U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley / Department of Defense)

An aerial view of Breezy Point and Long Beach, NY, Nov. 12, 2012.
(U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley / Department of Defense)
View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
06 November 2012, 9:56 PM
President must unite America to secure prosperity and fight climate change
President Obama now has a second chance to put this nation on course to a prosperous future built on clean energy. (Scout Tufankjian)

The American people have reinvested their faith in a President who now has a second chance to put this nation on course to a prosperous future built on clean energy and with a far-reaching goal of ending mankind’s role in climate change.

In the wake of superstorm Sandy, voters saw—and many continue to experience—the impacts of climate change-induced weather. They are convinced and, like us, demand that President Obama take action to steer us away from the fossil fuels that feed climate change. This is the real path to energy independence.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
04 November 2012, 5:10 PM
Superstorm blows climate change onto national ballot
Lower Manhattan was without power for days.  (Eric Konon)

Hurricane Sandy delivered a lot of pain when it punched into the East Coast. As I write this, a week later, the sea has retreated but the suffering remains. Half of Manhattan is cold and dark. The New Jersey shore is in bits. Parts of Long Island are knocked out.

Having spent most of my life in hurricane country and having lived through many similar blows, I can’t stop thinking about what people are going through to find bottled water and a place to get gas and some sort of help for the elderly and infirm. My heart is with them.

But I’m also thinking about the other knock-out punch that Sandy delivered—to the climate deniers and the climate-avoiding politicians. Sandy is the kind of superstorm that climate scientists have been warning about for decades. They are the new heavyweight champs of the hurricane world, and will reign as long as we fail to challenge the causes of rising sea levels and warming ocean and atmospheric temperatures near coastal mega-cities.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
01 November 2012, 11:52 AM
The effects are clear, if not the cause, says LA Times
NOAA satellite photo of Sandy

Today, in an editorial, the Los Angeles Times took on a question that many of us have been pondering – did climate change cause super-storm Sandy? The newspaper didn’t try to answer the question, but instead made a strong case for how global warming made Sandy more intense:

In part, it's because Sandy involved a highly unusual confluence of weather events, some of which may have resulted from a widely documented rise in global ocean and surface temperatures…But more important than the exact causes of Sandy's fury is the fact that it was so predictable.

The newspaper observed how climate scientists have long warned about the side-effects of climate change – the increase in extreme weather events like Sandy, and rising sea levels that would allow storms to sweep into low-lying places such as Manahattan and erode coastal areas like the Jersey shoreline.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
16 October 2012, 11:07 AM
Nervously enjoying an Indian Summer in Northern California
San Francisco's City Hall sporting Giants orange last week. Historically, California goes multiple-year cycles of abundant rain and then drought.  (_lmc / Flickr)

Here in Northern California, we are experiencing our typical October Indian Summer - warm days, clear skies, and for San Franciscans, a pennant race. Giant’s orange is seen on the streets everywhere, even the lights of City Hall are celebrating the home team.

It has been months since the last significant rainfall in the region as is typical in California. After lackluster rains last winter, it is easy to wonder if rain will come this year, and when will it start?

Earlier this year, the experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration saw the first signs of an El Niño brewing in the equatorial Pacific ocean, which typically means a good rain year. But now they are not so sure.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
04 October 2012, 3:41 PM
Plus: Cleaning up greenwashing, pesticide overdosing, toxic tuna
(flickr, tribp)

Climate change leaves CA wine lovers with fewer options
California’s popular wine varieties may soon be hard to find thanks to drier and hotter temperatures caused by climate change, reports the Center for Investigative Reporting. Though by now farmers are used to Mother Nature’s unpredictability, a slightly wetter or drier season is nothing compared to the extreme weather that the world has been experiencing over the past few years, which is wreaking havoc on California’s vineyards (and those who insure them). And, the situation is only expected to get worse. Recent research from Stanford University found that as little as two degrees of warming, predicted to happen by 2040, could reduce California’s prime wine-growing land by up to 50 percent. The situation is so dire, in fact, that wine breeders are recommending that vineyards switch to grapes that are well-adapted to higher temperatures, and soon, since vineyards have a shelf life of about 30 years. So far, wine growers are hesitant to make the switch given the public’s attachment to well-known wine varieties like pinot noir. But if our carbon-based economy continues as business-as-usual, consumers may have no choice but to drink outside of the wine box.
 
Federal consumer watchdog cleans up greenwashing
Ecofriendly. Biodegradable. All Natural. As green goes mainstream, consumers are finding it hard to determine which eco-friendly terms are legit, but the Federal Trade Commission’s revised guidelines for green marketing should help shed some light on all the fuzzy claims, reports the Christian Science Monitor. And it's about time. The revisions are long overdue (they were written in 1998), and since that time consumers have seen a dramatic increase in the number of products that tout supposedly green characteristics. Though the guides are not considered rules or regulations, the FTC has fined companies for using deceptive claims. Speaking of deceptive marketing, Earthjustice has been working to make green shopping easier by advocating for better verification testing for Energy Star, which points consumers to energy efficient appliances, but doesn’t do a great job in strengthening its testing requirements or updating labels. 
 

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
01 October 2012, 12:06 PM
Plus: Bacon blues, ocean critter jitters, burger smog and cattle candies
(flickr, cookbookman17)

Climate change may ruin BLTs and loaded baked potatoes
You know Americans may be a little food-obsessed when the only time we get concerned about climate change is when it affects our favorite meals. According to the USDA, this year’s drought is so bad that it’s expected to negatively impact next year’s pork production, reports Mother Jones, meaning that BLTs and pork chops may soon become a luxury item for many Americans. And forget about importing your bacon fix from Europe. Britain’s National Pig Association recently announced that a “world shortage of pork and bacon is now unavoidable” thanks to high pig-feed costs that are causing farmers to reduce their herd sizes. Though the association’s press release doesn’t specifically mention “climate change,” it does allude to “disastrous growing and harvesting weather,” which scientists only expect to get worse with increasing carbon emissions. In other words, if we don’t get our act together soon, it may mean good-bye, baconator®. Hello, tofu maker?
 
Consumers’ caffeine consumption gives ocean critters the jitters
Many people these days tend to be a little over-caffeinated, and it turns out that all of the sodas, coffee and energy drinks that people consume are having a similarly jittery effect on the world’s oceans, reports National Geographic. Conditions are especially amped up along the Pacific Northwest, home of Starbucks and many a caffeine-fiend, where researchers recently discovered caffeine pollution off of Oregon’s coast. Currently, caffeine’s impact on natural ecosystems is relatively unknown, though at least one researcher has found that the stimulant’s presence in water does tend to stress out mussels. Surely anyone who has knocked back too many cups of black gold can relate. But the problem isn’t just coming from the Pacific Northwest. Caffeine has also been detected in Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay seawater. The presence of caffeine is the oceans isn’t all that surprising though considering that most water treatment facilities typically don’t screen or filter for many pollutants, such as pharmaceuticals, detergents or estrogen-containing birth control pills. But given the growing evidence for elevated levels of human contaminants in the water, they may soon have to, or suffer the caffeinated consequences.
 

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
25 September 2012, 11:08 AM
A bike ride that changed how we think about cities and our planet

In the USA, transportation is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide pollution causing climate change, just behind electricity generation. How we get around impacts our planet. If protecting our climate is your cause, reducing one’s transportation carbon footprint is a great place to start.

This week, a monthly bicycle ride in San Francisco known as Critical Mass celebrates its 20th Anniversary. The ride launched a new era of green transportation activism worldwide and is now celebrated in hundreds of cities. In Budapest, Critical Mass has drawn an amazing 80,000 riders.

This celebration of the bicycle no longer shocks, it can now be found in the travel books that international tourists carry through the streets of San Francisco each day.

But it wasn’t always so mainstream.