Posts tagged: science

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

science


    SIGN-UP for our latest news and action alerts:
   Please leave this field empty

Facebook Fans

Featured Campaigns

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.

Learn more about Earthjustice.

View Neil Gormley's blog posts
03 January 2013, 3:26 PM
Why this destructive practice is holding Appalachia back
Satellite imagery of the massive Hobet mine. September 20, 2012. (NASA's Earth Observatory)

Last month, Earthjustice Associate Attorney Neil Gormley took a trip to West Virginia to visit partners and clients and to see the effects of mountaintop removal mining first-hand. As he explains in this unEarthed entry, his visit prompted questions about the relationship between this destructive practice and regional poverty.

The Hobet mining complex is one of the largest mountaintop removal surface mines in the country. It was my destination last month when I took off from Charleston’s Yeager Airport in a four-seater Cessna, courtesy of Earthjustice’s partners at SouthWings.

Neil Gromley.Neil, on board the SouthWings plane.

Hobet is huge. Between current and past mining, it spans more than 15 square miles. At the time of my visit, miners were operating a dragline, an earth-moving machine so enormous it dwarfed the 240-ton dump trucks. The destruction is impossible to miss from above. Yet the mine is barely visible from the state highway that runs along its eastern perimeter. It’s shielded from view by a tall ridgeline, sparing most passers-by the eyesore.

Hobet mine.

Aerial view of the Hobet mine.  (Neil Gormley / Earthjustice via Southwings)
View David Guest's blog posts
14 December 2012, 10:59 AM
EPA will step in to regulate 100,000 miles of Florida's waters
Visitors at spring-fed Santa Fe River near Gainesville, FL, for the 2012 Memorial Day weekend found a rude surprise—pollution from sewage, manure and fertilizer sparked an outbreak of nasty green slime. (John Moran)

We’re happy to report that our long fight to clean up the green slime that’s been plaguing Florida waterways for years hit a major turning point on Nov. 30. That’s the day the Environmental Protection Agency agreed to set numeric pollution limits for some 100,000 miles of Florida waterways and 4,000 square miles of estuaries.

We fought every polluting industry in Florida for four years to get this result. These slime outbreaks—caused by pollutants in inadequately treated sewage, manure and fertilizer—are a pestilence, contaminating water, killing fish, destroying property values and chasing off tourists. Now the EPA has to stop dragging its feet and deal with it.

Using extensive data it has been collecting and analyzing in concert with Florida Department of Environmental Protection scientists, the EPA will impose numeric limits on the allowable amount of phosphorus and nitrogen—so called “nutrient” pollution—in the state’s waterways.

11 Comments   /   Read more >>
View John McManus's blog posts
28 November 2012, 2:58 PM
Earthjustice will act to protect them
L87, a southern resident orca, breaches at sunset with Whidbey Island and Mt. Baker in the background.  (Susan Berta / Orca Network)

A far right anti-environmental group based in Sacramento, California is trying to get federal Endangered Species Act protections removed from a small extended west coast family group of killer whales.

This group of killer whales, or orcas, is known as the southern residents because they spend much of their time residing in coastal waters between Washington and Canada’s Vancouver island. They feed almost exclusively on salmon, which is indirectly what’s got them in trouble with the anti-environmental Pacific Legal Foundation. They eat salmon not only in Washington waters, but as far south as California when salmon mass there in the spring.

Federal regulators curtailed fresh water diversions to large agricultural operations in the desert on the west side of California’s San Joaquin Valley, in part to save the salmon eaten by the whales—both for the sake of the threatened salmon, and for the whales. The Pacific Legal Foundation and other anti-environment groups (including one headed by a former Bush Administration wildlife official) found a few irrigators there who were willing to ignore the needs of the orcas in order to get more water diverted.

Because these groups and the irrigators live more than a thousand miles from where the killer whales spend most of their time, no one should be surprised they aren’t all that concerned about the whales.

1 Comment   /   Read more >>
View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
08 October 2012, 8:56 AM
State delists endangered gray wolf and the hunt begins
Wolves perform a valuable ecological role and stand as a living symbol of wilderness. (NPS)

In Wyoming, wolves that were federally protected on Sept. 30 became legal vermin overnight—subject to being shot on sight in approximately 90 percent of the state as of Oct. 1. In the remaining 10 percent of Wyoming, wolf hunting season opened for the first time since the gray wolf was eradicated from the state in the early 1900s. Fifty-two wolves are expected to be killed in the “trophy zone” hunting season and dozens more in the free-fire “predator zone” over the coming weeks.

All of this wolf-killing threatens to turn back the tide of wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies and leave Yellowstone area wolves isolated from other wolf populations in the region. And it is all happening because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service turned wolf management in Wyoming over to state officials, despite the fact that Wyoming’s wolf management policies open the door to unlimited wolf killing throughout most of the state and provide inadequate protection for wolves even where killing is regulated.

35 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Tom Turner's blog posts
24 July 2012, 12:05 PM
Bill McKibben takes us to school—and nominates Public Enemy #1
Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben,  who first alerted the non-scientific world to global climate change two decades ago with The End of Nature  has a new piece in Rolling Stone that he says is the most important thing he’s written in the past 20 years, and he’s written hundreds of articles and books during that period.

It’s titled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” and it’s long but worth reading. More than worth reading.
 

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Chris Jordan-Bloch's blog posts
13 July 2012, 11:01 AM
News report investigates coal ash pollution in Moapa
A cloud of coal ash looms in Moapa, NV. Photo: Chris Jordan-Bloch/Earthjustice

For years, white ash has been blowing across the desert from the Reid Gardner Power Plant right into the homes on the Moapa Paiute Indian Reservation. The Paiutes claim that this ashthe waste from the power plant—is making them sick. The power plant claims that the Paiutes are wrong. This week, a 3-part investigative series from KSNV, the NBC station in Las Vegas, examines the situation in Moapa from three sides. The Paiutes and the power plant each get their sayas does science.

8 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
21 June 2012, 2:54 PM
Plus: Body snatching weeds, clean air apps, cold chemicals, pineapple pesticides

Mexican government saves miracle reef
Cabo Pulmo, an ecological treasure and the jewel of California, recently received a stay of execution after the Mexican government announced its decision to cancel a mega-resort development project near the reef in Baja California Sur, reports the LA Times. The cancelled Cabo Cortes resort development was by far the largest of three proposed development projects near the area (two still remain). The government’s decision comes after the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (which partners closely with Earthjustice) challenged a conditionally approved environmental impact assessment, arguing that the new developments would harm the rich biodiversity of the nearby Cabo Pulmo National Park. Though threats to the reef from other projects and intensive marine resource use remain, the Mexican government’s decision is a big win for defenders of the 20,000 year-old reef, which  has experienced an unprecedented 463-percent increase in biodiversity just 10 years after Mexico established the surrounding the reef as a Marine Protected Area. 

Higher CO2 levels breathe life into body-snatching weeds

Weeds, those pesky invaders that break through sidewalk cracks and blemish perfectly good vegetable beds, are getting a leg up over agriculture crops thanks to increased CO2 emissions, reports ScienceNews. According to recent research, because weeds can adapt more quickly to a changing climate than food crops, they’ve already figured out how to use increased carbon dioxide to their advantage. Food crops, on the other hand, are slow learners by design so that their tastes are not constantly changing, which keeps consumers happy. Though faster growing weeds are a headache in their own right, the more troubling finding of the research is that carbon dioxide makes the weed-like quality in weeds more contagious. As CO2 emissions increase, researchers found that the weedy natural form of rice “increasingly hybridized with the crop plants,” with the result being a diminished value and quality of the cultivated rice. In other words, the crops that breeders have spent decades cultivating into perfect specimens could eventually be transformed into weeds. It seems that when it comes to climate change, you really do reap what you sow.
 

View Maria Beloborodova's blog posts
19 June 2012, 2:20 PM
Enormous body of evidence warns of climate change impacts

An increasing number of experts are reaching consensus on the devastating and possibly irreversible effects of climate change linked to human activity, according to the Nature journal.

The “tipping point” – that moment when the planet’s capacity to support all of its systems collapses – could be near, scientists say. Environmental conditions on Earth that allow species and ecosystems to thrive may already be undergoing a radical state shift. Loss of habitat and biodiversity, exponential human population growth, depletion of natural resources, and the rapidly changing climate are all putting an immense amount of pressure on the planet’s well-being.

The magnitude of this environmental disaster could be even greater than the ice age 11,700 years ago.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
19 June 2012, 11:13 AM
Congress finally addresses community health emergency in Appalachia
Mountaintop removal mining devastates the landscape, turning areas that should be lush with forests and wildlife into barren moonscapes. (OVEC)

Big news today in our fight to end destructive mountaintop removal mining: 13 congressional leaders joined to introduce legislation to protect communities and families from the dangerous health effects of our nation's most extreme form of coal mining—mountaintop removal mining.

The Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act is the first federal legislation to address the human health effects of mountaintop removal mining. More than 20 peer-reviewed scientific studies show significantly elevated birth defect rates, early mortality rates, cancer rates, and major disease rates in areas of mountaintop removal mining. There is truly a public health emergency, and these studies point the blame to mountaintop removal mining.

This bill aims to protect communities and address this health emergency: It would require the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct thorough health studies on the human impacts of mountaintop removal, and until it is proven that this form of mining is not killing, harming, or sickening families, children, and people across Appalachia, it would place a hold on all new mining permits.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
16 June 2012, 11:12 AM
Earthjustice at Rio+20 to seek solutions

(Trip Van Noppen is President of Earthjustice)

It started in 2005, when baby oysters began dying by the billions in Oregon and Washington. At first, the fishermen weren’t worried, hardened by years of dealing with nature’s fickleness. But, when the die-offs continued year after year, seamen and scientists alike started seeking answers.

What they found is that the impacts from carbon pollution that scientists have been warning about for decades are occurring now. It turns out that while the world’s eyes have been trained on the changes to the land, the ocean has been quietly undergoing its own transformation.