Posts tagged: Monday Reads

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Monday Reads

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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 Shirley Hao's blog posts
30 May 2011, 3:05 PM
The saga of Violet, Bobby and their eyas
"Yes? May I help you?" (Photo courtesy of Erin Callihan / NYU Local)

Polar bears may be the poster child for climate change, but our warming world is affecting flora and fauna up the food chain and down. Birds of prey are no exception. As temperatures change, some areas get drier, others get wetter—and the landscape that the birds have relied on and adapted to becomes increasingly foreign.

For many of us, the active lives of birds can be glimpsed only fleetingly (if at all) through carefully trained binoculars. Thankfully, the Internet—as it has with so many other mysteries of life—has stepped in to help us out.

1 Comment   /  
View Shirley Hao's blog posts
25 April 2011, 4:41 AM
Have you ultrasonic vocalized today?
Cookie the Little Penguin is headed toward something good. Real good.

These days, it seems like the fossil fuel companies are the only ones having gigglefests.

BP checked off a tidy $9.9 billion tax deduction for its handiwork in the Gulf last year. A company calling itself “Making Money Having Fun LLC” is dumping 80 truckloads of coal ash a day onto Bokoshe, OK—a place where it’s become unusual not to know someone with illnesses like cancer or congestive heart disease. And in their rush to capitalize on the gas drilling boom, industry is exploiting loopholes in the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Air Act that are large enough to drive leaky fracking wastewater trucks through.

Fortunately, the Internet has stepped in to reassure us that giggles have in fact not been monopolized by climate changing, water polluting, dirty energy enthusiasts. Cookie, a Little Penguin from Cincinnati, has his own set of giggles—which, with a little bit of help, he shares at the end of this video:

2 Comments   /  
View Shirley Hao's blog posts
04 April 2011, 3:57 PM
A sunken steel behemoth provides refuge and life ... or not?

You know those humongous shipping containers that traverse the world in smog polluting ships?

Shipping containers. Photo: Dorothy / Flickr.

Shipping containers, packed full o' goodies. (Dorothy / Flickr)

Yeah, those. Guess how many go overboard every year. A couple dozen? A few hundred? Try 10,000. Whether it’s due to storms, careless stowing, or an obesity of fellow cargo, these lost containers evidently decided at some point that the great blue yonder was a far better cry than for whatever port they were destined, and took a lurch into watery oblivion.

View Shirley Hao's blog posts
22 March 2011, 2:08 PM
Albatross refuge braves tsunami waves
Laysan albatross chick, washed over by tsunami wave. (Photo: Pete Leary / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Several hours after the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck northern Japan, towering waves raced west across the Pacific, engulfing the three tiny islands of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.

A mere three days earlier, Midway Atoll had been heralding the latest wildlife celebrity to woo human audiences: Wisdom. Not only was she the oldest known wild bird in the United States (“a coyly conservative 60”, who was banded as a breeding adult in 1956), Wisdom was—yet again—a proud albatross mum, having raised at least thirty youngsters throughout her lifetime.

By the early hours of March 12, four successive waves had overrun the low lying refuge, a famed nesting ground for nearly the entire world’s population of Laysan albatrosses, as well as important habitat for the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and the Hawaiian green turtle. In the aftermath, biologists and volunteers dug out more than 300 birds who were trapped in the debris. Thousands more are thought to have been buried alive in their underground nests. Officials estimate that more than 20 percent of this year’s albatross population have been killed—including 110,000 Laysan and black-footed albatross chicks and 2,000 adults—as a result of the tsunami and two severe winter storms that had preceded it.

2 Comments   /  
View Shirley Hao's blog posts
22 February 2011, 3:00 AM
Animals' taste in music revealed (Creed doesn't make the cut)
(Photo: drhstars01 / Photobucket)

News headlines last week prominently featured both music (the Grammy Awards rolled out their red carpet) and the environment (the GOP’s proposed spending legislation steamrolled through the House, nearly crushed under the weight of riders and amendments seeking to rollback many environmental and public health gains of the past several years).

What readers may not be aware of is that in two smaller stories, the environment weighed in on music:

EXHIBIT A: Wolves give Creed a chance. (And then leave.)

A few weeks ago in southern Norway, 13-year-old Walter Eikrem was on his way home from school, listening to Creed (“heavy-metal music,” according to Spiegel International), when he (distressingly) crossed paths with four wolves. His mother had given him strict instructions on what to do in just such a circumstance: Don’t Run. (Walter’s Mom: "You can even get a little poodle to run after you if you run away.”)

1 Comment   /  
View Shirley Hao's blog posts
25 January 2011, 12:43 PM
Potty-training comes to CAFOs
For pig use only, please.
(Photo: raedunn)

As anyone who has been “lucky” enough to pass by a factory farm can attest, Confined Animal Factory Operations (or CAFOs) bring a certain...fragrance to the surrounding environs. It doesn’t matter if you’re downwind or up—the stench is inescapable.

The problem (of which there are many, when speaking of CAFOs), is poop. Lots of it. Large factory farms pack animals numbering in the thousands into very close quarters, all generating a lot of stinky waste, all around themselves. Day in, day out. All that accumulated waste doesn’t just smell bad; it’s literally toxic—to the animals’ health and to ours.

From southern Taiwan comes an approach every parent would nod their head knowingly to: potty training.

2 Comments   /  
View Shirley Hao's blog posts
14 December 2010, 2:51 PM
'Hibernation al fresco,' embracing winter head on

We’ve reached that time of year again.

I’m not talking about when the holiday decorations come out in force, or when gift shopping reaches a fevered, frenzied pitch. I’m talking about when it gets cold. When the wisdom of grizzly bears in their dark, quiet caves, and pikas in their cozy, warm burrows (hay piles close at paw), dawns on us shivering humans. When the going gets cold, really, the best thing to do is seek shelter in a warm, warm bed.

Well, unless of course, you’re a musk ox. Then you've got a whole different strategy all together.

What are musk oxen, you ask? Perhaps one of the lesser-known megafauna Earthjustice is working to protect, they are, in the words of a recent New York Times profile: “a blocky, short-legged, highly social ungulate with distinctively curved horns and long hair that looks like shag carpeting circa 1975.”

These guys, according to Dr. Jim Lawler of the National Park Service, “Their basic approach to winter management is: ... stand there.”

Photo of musk oxen. Credit: Florian Schulz /

The venerable musk oxen, hard at work on 'hibernation al fresco.' © Florian Schulz /
3 Comments   /  
View Shirley Hao's blog posts
01 November 2010, 4:54 PM
Invasion of the goats, coming to a weed-choked lot near you

It’s finally happened. The job outsourcing phenomenon has moved to another level. Forget outsourcing jobs to other countries—now they’re being outsourced to other species.

Portland, OR, is just the latest urban area to join the hip (and sensible) species outsourcing trend. Quiet the noisy, gas guzzling, carbon polluting lawn mower. Leave those toxic herbicides on the store shelf. It’s time to call in the goats.

Photo of goat. Credit: William A. Clark.

Here's looking at you, kid. Credit: William A. Clark.
View Shirley Hao's blog posts
11 October 2010, 10:12 PM
A 28,000 turtle egg truck lift

As animal births go, sea turtles arguably top the cuteness scale. Watching a hundred teeny turtles emerge from the sand, scrambling straight towards the sea in a gleeful mad dash for the future is nothing short of incredible:

From the sandy shore, each season’s new hatchlings embark on the same journey that their forebearers have made for more than a hundred million years. This year, though, there was a 200-million gallon surprise lying in wait for Alabaman and South Floridian hatchlings: the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill.

The New York Times gives an engrossing account of the emergency plan wildlife agencies put into action in an attempt to save the turtles. In a nutshell:

America was orchestrating the migration of an entire generation of sea turtles, slow and steady, overland, in a specially outfitted FedEx truck.

How did they do it? With the help of the turtle people.

4 Comments   /  
View Shirley Hao's blog posts
04 October 2010, 9:33 PM
"Bear also drinks from fishbowl"
The zucchini. Image provided by the Missoula County Sheriff's Office

Bears, you’ve had it tough this past year.

Out in Yellowstone, the grizzly members of the family are being thwarted by voracious mountain pine beetles, who are depriving the bears of one of their key food sources (fatty and delicious whitebark pine seeds). A year ago, Earthjustice won ESA protections for the bears, but the federal government has appealed the court’s decision. The fight continues.

Meanwhile, in the lush Arctic, oil and gas drilling leases in the Chukchi Sea (key habitat for the threatened polar bear) have been halted for now—but are not yet canceled.

If all that wasn’t bad enough, last month, a black bear in Montana was defeated by a zucchini. Yes, a zucchini.