White House Council on Environmental Quality buries its head in sand on climate change ruling- DeSmog Blog

Over the past weekend Steve Horn published an important analysis of the recent federal decisions by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to not offer guidance to the federal agencies that it coordinates regarding energy policy and climate change. Industry pushback is given as a primary reason that the CEQ has dropped the ball.

Maybe organizers and participants at the September 17-24  Week of Action surrounding the People’s Climate March in New York can find a way to fit an objection into their busy “demands” list!

Photo from FOEI

Photo from FOEI

 Legal Case: White House Argues Against Considering Climate Change on Energy Projects

DeSmog Blog        Steve Horn

Just over a month before the United Nations convenes on September 23 in New York City to discuss climate change and activists gather for a week of action, the Obama White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) argued it does not have to offer guidance to federal agencies it coordinates with to consider climate change impacts for energy decisions.

It came just a few weeks before a leaked draft copy of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest assessment said climate disruption could cause “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

Initially filed as a February 2008 petition to CEQ by the International Center for Technology Assessment, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) when George W. Bush still served as President, it had been stalled for years.

Six and a half years later and another term into the Obama Administration, however, things have finally moved forward. Or backwards, depending on who you ask.

Read the whole article here

Demand System Change!

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Monsanto suspected in Monarch butterfly population decline

Over the past 20 years, the Monarch butterfly population has decreased up to 90 percent, according to a study by Lincoln Brower, a leading Monarch researcher at Sweet Briar College. The culprit? In an article by Mike Kilen in the Des Moines Register, Brower points a stern finger toward Monsanto’s Roundup, which kills off milkweed, the caterpillar’s only food source.

A monarch butterfly pauses on a milkweed plant on Bill and Sibylla Brown’s land in Decatur County in southern Iowa. Milkweed is the monarch caterpillar’s only food. Photo: Photos Special to the Register

A monarch butterfly pauses on a milkweed plant on Bill and Sibylla Brown’s land in Decatur County in southern Iowa. Milkweed is the monarch caterpillar’s only food. Photo: Photos Special to the Register

The fact that it took 20 years to discover such a startling decrease in a species makes us wonder what else is declining from Roundup poisoning? And how long until we discover that? Often, it is too late for many animals whose habitats are coveted by human beings; let’s hope the Monarch stands a better chance.

Monarch butterflies dying — and Roundup is a suspect

by Mike Kilen, August 29, 2014, Des Moines Register

The monarch butterfly weighs a fourth of a gram, yet migrates thousands of miles every September through Iowa to overwintering grounds in Mexico.

[...]

It’s why on Monday Brower joined three nonprofit organizations, including the Center for Biological Diversity, to petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rule the monarch butterfly threatened and give it Endangered Species Act protection.

His studies have included visits to Iowa, a state that historically has been a prime territory for their birth, but now is at the center of his criticism.

He blames the decline in migration numbers on the widespread use of Roundup herbicide, used to kill milkweed but not the genetically-engineered row crops resistant to it. Milkweed is the monarch caterpillar’s only food.

Check out the full article, Monarch butterflies dying — and Roundup is a suspect, on the Des Moines Register.

 

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Nature Journal Covers GE Trees Public Hearing in Brazil

10373502_10152872411982166_525909789707396872_nOn September 4th, the Brazilian biosafety commission will hold a public hearing on GE trees. Stay tuned for more news on that hearing later this week!

Nature recently ran this story by Heidi Ledford about the hearing and Suzano’s push to plant GE eucalyptus tree plantations in Brazil.

The article includes a lot of very good information about where we are at, including quotes from an interview with Anne Petermann. It’s great that media, particularly institutions like Nature, are finally paying attention!

That said, Ledford does not push back enough against industry’s claims about the potential benefits and safety of genetically engineered trees. We can, though! The fact remains that thorough and independent risk assessments have been done. In fact, trees are so complex, as Steven Strauss notes in the article, that scientists don’t even know what questions to ask.

For a more detailed description of the risks and concerns of these GE Eucalyptus trees, read the open letters to the Brazilian biosafety commission here:

Brazil Considers Transgenic Trees
By Heidi Ledford, August 27, 2014. Nature

Viewed from above, Brazil’s orderly eucalyptus plantations offer a stark contrast to the hurly-burly of surrounding native forests. The trees, lined up like regiments of soldiers on 3.5 million hectares around the country, have been bred over decades to grow quickly.

On 4 September, a public hearing will consider bringing an even more vigorous recruit into the ranks: genetically engineered eucalyptus that produces around 20% more wood than conventional trees and is ready for harvest in five and a half years instead of seven. Brazilian regulators are evaluating the trees for commercial release; a decision could come as early as the end of this year.

Read the rest of the article at Nature.com

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Labor Day Special: Chris Hedges calls out the Climate March

Chris Hedges posted a new piece at Truthdig yesterday, “The last Gasp of the Climate Change Liberals.” Besides getting directly to the point of the critiques associated with the September 21 Climate March, he gives a little love to Climate Connections founder and Global Justice Ecology Project’s Executive Director, Anne Petermann. This is a most important piece. Please read it.

Thanks Chris!

June 25, 2013, President Barack Obama  wipes perspiration from his face as he speaks about climate change at Georgetown University in Washington.   Courtesy truthdig-AP Photo/Charles Dharpak

June 25, 2013, President Barack Obama wipes perspiration from his face as he speaks about climate change at Georgetown University in Washington. Courtesy TruthDig-AP Photo/Charles Dharpak

 

The Last Gasp of Climate Change Liberals
By Chris Hedges, Truthdig. August 31, 2014.

The upcoming climate change march in New York is the last gasp of conventional liberalism. The time for reform and accommodation has ended. We will build a radical movement or be extinguished in a climate inferno.

The climate change march in New York on Sept. 21, expected to draw as many as 200,000 people, is one of the last gasps of conventional liberalism’s response to the climate crisis. It will take place two days before the actual gathering of world leaders in New York called by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the November 2015 U.N. Climate Conference in Paris. The marchers will dutifully follow the route laid down by the New York City police. They will leave Columbus Circle, on West 59th Street and Eighth Avenue, at 11:30 a.m. on a Sunday and conclude on 11th Avenue between West 34th and 38th streets. No one will reach the United Nations, which is located on the other side of Manhattan, on the East River beyond First Avenue—at least legally. There will be no speeches. There is no list of demands. It will be a climate-themed street fair.

Read the Full Article Here

Click here to read Anne Peterman’s August 14, 2014 Climate Connections post, “The Need for Clear Connections at the People’s Climate March.”  

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Find Your Community on U.S. Oil Train Blast Zones Map

A new website has published an interactive map of the U.S and Canadian Rail system that is being used to transport millions of gallons of potentially dangerous crude oil.  The lines run through cities and towns and rural areas across the land.  We know from the Lac-Megantic, Quebec disaster of July 2013 that destroyed the town and killed 47 people, that safety is hardly assured.  Oil transportation by rail has increased 4000% in the last six years. Are safety strategies keeping up with this increase?

 

Police helicopter photo of Lac-Megantic of the derailment.

Police helicopter photo of Lac-Megantic of the derailment.

Do you want to know if these trains are running through your community? The organization that created the website, ForestEthics.org has published the map and has a petition for you to sign.

 Petition- To: US President Obama and Congress

It seems each month another town is facing a terrifying oil train derailment, poisoned drinking water, or a deadly explosion. Our rail system takes these trains through population centers by schools and homes. Safety standards are weak and our emergency responders are not equipped for accidents.

We are not prepared for this threat:

Oil trains are more than a mile-long with 100+ cars, concentrating the risk of an accident that could ignite the three million gallons of crude on a single train.
Oil train traffic has increased more than 4,000 percent in the last five years.
Rail routes run right through major urban areas and cross water supplies. The US rail system was not designed to transport dangerous crude oil.
Dangerous DOT-111 cars, which make up the majority of US oil tanker trains, have serious flaws that make them highly prone to puncture during a derailment.
We have the solution:

The first step: Ban unsafe oil tanker cars.
We must prepare and equip emergency responders and reroute trains around population centers and away from water supplies.
New rail safety rules must be strong and must give citizens the information they need to protect themselves and the power to say no.
We do not need the extreme oil transported by these trains. The crude oil carried by train is more explosive and more toxic than conventional crude oil; it is also more carbon intensive. At a time when our oil use is decreasing and the threat of climate disruption is growing, the risk from oil trains is unacceptable.

View the Map and Sign the Petition Here

Learn More about Oil Trains Here

 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, BREAKING NEWS, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Energy, Great Lakes, Keystone XL, Oil, Uncategorized

Birds contaminated by mercury sing shorter, softer songs

Scientists have discovered that the songs of birds nestled in the woods of the South River have changed, due to mercury contamination from a nearby factory. The affected birds have shorter, softer and simpler songs compared to the same species from unpolluted areas.

Songbirds like this one Kelly Hallinger is holding had surprisingly high mercury levels. Photo: Dan Cristol

Songbirds like this one Kelly Hallinger is holding had surprisingly high mercury levels. Photo: Dan Cristol

Heavy metal songs: Contaminated songbirds sing the wrong tunes

by By Helen Fields and Alanna Mitchell, Environmental Health News, August 28, 2014

Standing in the woods along the South River, Kelly Hallinger held the microphone up to capture the cacophony of songs, one at a time: the urgent, effervescent voice of the house wren, the teakettle whistle of the Carolina wren and the sharp, shrill notes of the song sparrow.

It was the summer after her freshman year at the College of William and Mary, and Hallinger was working with her professor, ecologist Dan Cristol, to investigate the effects of mercury left behind by a factory. Over and over she recorded birdsong, visiting various sites in the woods and along the shore, some polluted, some unpolluted.

When she got back to Williamsburg with her tape recorder, Hallinger sorted through the hours of bird songs. She turned them into digital files in the computer, then analyzed them. The differences were striking: The wrens and sparrows along the contaminated South River were singing simpler, shorter, lower-pitched songs.

Scientists have long known that mercury is a potent toxicant: It disrupts the architecture of human brains, and it can change birds’ behavior and kill their chicks. But after extensive research in Virginia, scientists have shown that mercury also alters the very thing that many birds are known for – their songs.

Read the full article at Environmental Health News.

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Hollywood and Gaza challenge the Ice Bucket Challenge

While we here at GJEP can appreciate when a not-for-profit snags a viral marketing idea, we certainly have some doubts about the ALS ice bucket challenge. While the organization fights valiantly for a worthy cause, the idea of wasting millions of gallons of fresh, clean drinking water — that nearly 1 billion people do not have access to — is a challenge we cannot accept.

Apparently, a few others couldn’t either.

For example, actor, screenwriter and director Matt Damon, also the founder of the nonprofit Water.org, chose to dump dirty toilet water on his head, in recognition of those millions who live without access to potable water.

Matt Damon takes the ice bucket challenge with toilet water in effort to raise awareness about the 800 million people who live without access to clean drinking water. Photo: WVCB.com

Matt Damon takes the ice bucket challenge with toilet water in effort to raise awareness about the 800 million people who live without access to clean drinking water. Photo: WVCB.com

In an article in People magazine, the actor said, “As disgusting as this may seen, hopefully it will highlight the fact that this [access to clean drinking water] is a big problem and together we can do something about it.”

Damon isn’t the only actor taking an environmental twist on the ALS challenge. Leonardo DiCaprio took the ice bucket challenge with the members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, Canada, as he took a tour of and listened to concerns about Canada’s tar sands.

Click to Watch: DiCaprio accepts the ALS ice bucket challenge and raises awareness about tar sands with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

Click to Watch: DiCaprio accepts the ALS ice bucket challenge and raises awareness about tar sands with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

An article in Indian Country Today even has a video of the mass bucket-ing, along with some clues as to why DiCaprio and Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky are interested in this serious environmental issue.

Finally, one of the most salient ice bucket challenges comes to us from the ravaged and war-torn Middle East. The Huffington Post writes:

Palestinians have launched the “Rubble Bucket Challenge” in a moving appeal, where participants swap ice – a precious resource – for debris.

In solidarity with those in Gaza who have lost their homes in the ongoing conflict with Israel, the web has hijacked the ice bucket challenge to “raise awareness on the war in Gaza where people are bombarded in their homes,” according to the Facebook page where more than 4,000 are now backing the appeal.

Search for #RubbleBucketChallenge on Twitter to see how thousands are raising awareness about the shocking conditions on the Gaza Strip. Photo: Huffington Post

This world is filled with causes worth fighting for. However, it is the way we fight for them that makes a difference and truly defines who we are.

 

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Filed under Climate Justice, Tar Sands, War, Water

More evidence against dams, in a week of dam stories

PhotoLangelle.org

PhotoLangelle.org

Carey Biron of Inter Press News (IPS) reported on a recent study by International Rivers showing that dams have a significant negative impact on the water quality and biodiversity of their surroundings. This comes after a week of news on dams, from Jacque Leslie’s excellent NYT op-ed at the start of the week to IPS’s story about the newest planned dam in Chile.

GJEP strongly opposes mega-dam projects as false solutions to the world’s energy needs and climate change.

Large Dams “Highly Correlated” with Poor Water Quality
By Carey L. Biron. IPS. August 29, 2014.

Large-scale dams are likely having a detrimental impact on water quality and biodiversity around the world, according to a new study that tracks and correlates data from thousands of projects.Focusing on the 50 most substantial river basins, researchers with International Rivers, a watchdog group, compiled and compared available data from some 6,000 of the world’s estimated 50,000 large dams. Eighty percent of the time, they found, the presence of large dams, typically those over 15 metres high, came along with findings of poor water quality, including high levels of mercury and trapped sedimentation.

To read more of Biron’s article, click here to go to the original.

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