Category Archives: Pollution

The Perils of Wood-Based Bioenergy: Paraguay Blog Post #2

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project, 20 November 2014

Global Justice Ecology Project is in Paraguay for two weeks of meetings to strategize means to address the impacts of wood-based bioenergy, genetically engineered trees and livestock on deforestation levels, and the solutions to the climate change and deforestation crisis provided by local communities maintaining and caring for their traditional lands.

Ada from the Solomon Islands.  If biomass energy is not stopped, her islands will continue to drown.  Photo credit: GJEP-GFC

Aydah from the Solomon Islands speaks at the meeting. If biomass energy is not stopped, her islands will continue to drown. Photo credit: GJEP-GFC

Today’s meetings included the participation of activists from throughout Africa, Asia, the South Pacific, North and South America and Eastern and Western Europe.  The topic at hand was the problem of wood-based bioenergy–specifically electricity derived from cutting down forests, destroying biodiversity, polluting the atmosphere and displacing forest-based Indigenous and local communities.

Biomass also comes with an enormous cost in waste. In the Drax UK biomass plant, Biofuelwatch has calculated that of every three trees burned, two are wasted as heat. Half of one UK power station takes more wood than the entire UK produces every year and supplies only 4.6% of the country’s electricity demand. These power stations require co-generation with coal, so increased use of biomass = increased use of coal. Without the biomass conversion, this Drax plant would have had to close by 2016. The conversion to co-generation with biomass is allowing it to stay open, enabling continued and increased use of coal.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Cultivating Climate Justice: Brazilian Workers Leading the Charge Toward Zero Waste

This is part 1 of a four-part article series “Cultivating Climate Justice” which tells the stories of community groups on the front lines of the pollution, waste and climate crises, working together for systems change. United across six continents, these grassroots groups are defending community rights to clean air, clean water, zero waste, environmental justice, and good jobs. They are all members of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a network of over 800 organizations from 90+ countries.

 This series is produced by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Other Worlds.

Cultivating Climate Justice: Brazilian Workers Leading the Charge Toward Zero Waste                                      

The streets of Belo Horizonte were filled with singing, dancing, chanting, and marching. It was not a holiday or an election day or a soccer game. The chant was: “We don’t want incineration! Recycle! Recycle!”

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Frontline Communities, Pollution, Solutions, Waste

Monsanto declares GMO science settled–scientists fight back!

International scientists working with the Russian National Association for Genetic Safety (NAGS) have announced the launch of the world’s largest and most comprehensive long-term health study.

The study “Factor GMO” was announced in London earlier this week and will focus on USA based seed and chemical company Monsanto’s GMO maize products. The study is a 3 year $25 million project and will begin next year.

A Russian group working with scientists is set to launch world’s largest long-term health study on a GM food. Photograph: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

A Russian group working with scientists is set to launch world’s largest long-term health study on a GM food. Photograph: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Largest international study into safety of GM food launched by Russian NGO

By John Vidal, The Guardian. 11 November 2014

A Russian group working with scientists is set to launch what they call the world’s largest and most comprehensive long-term health study on a GM food.

The $25m three-year experiment will involve scientists testing thousands of rats which will be fed differing diets of a Monsanto GM maize and the world’s most widely-used herbicide which it it is engineered to be grown with.

Read the Guardian article here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Human made disasters, Monsanto, Pesticides, Pollution

Breaking: Indigenous and tribal groups sue US gov’t over tarsands pipeline

GJEP’s partners at the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Center for Biological Diversity are taking the offensive over the US drive to advance tarsands pipeline development in the US.

Activist groups sue over border pipeline

By David Shaffer, Star Tribune, November 12, 2014 

Tribal and environmental groups alleged the State Department should not have approved a temporary pipeline change allowing more Canadian oil to flow into Minnesota.

File photo of construction on the Alberta Clipper in 2009. Photo Enbridge

Tribal and environmental groups have sued the U.S. State Department for approving a temporary plan by a Canadian pipeline company to increase the flow of heavy crude oil from Alberta into Minnesota before a federal environmental study is finished.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, alleges that the State Department violated the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws in approving the temporary increase in oil flow and in not releasing information about it. The suit seeks an injunction to halt the project.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Keystone XL, Oil, Pipeline, Pollution, Tar Sands

Extensive SUNY Albany study documents toxic air pollution from fracking

 Worker at a fracking site near Mead, Colorado. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley via The Nation post below)

Worker at a fracking site near Mead, Colorado. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley via Chen’s The Nation post below)

A new study documents the toxic air pollution created by fracking, which releases benzene, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulfide into the air.

Michelle Chen from the Nation focuses her response on the effects on workers at fracking sites, which has not much been written about so far, as far as I know. Of course, the effects on local communities is also key and, as she notes, many concerned members in these communities helped gather the evidence.

One note: Chen slightly misidentifies David Carpenter’s college: He’s director of the Institute for Health and the Environment SUNY Albany, a Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization.

Are Fracking Workers Being Poisoned on the Job?

By Michelle Chen, The Nation, 10 November 2014.

A new study published in Environmental Health reveals air pollution data on major, in some cases previously underestimated, health risks from toxic contamination at gas production sites related to fracking. Air samples gathered around “unconventional oil and gas” sites by community-based environmental research teams contained unsafe levels of several volatile compounds that “exceeded federal guidelines under several operational circumstances,” and that “Benzene, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulfide were the most common compounds to exceed acute and other health-based risk levels.”

Read the whole post on The Nation here.

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Filed under Fracking, Pollution

Beyond Extreme Energy Protests End in Over 100 Arrests

Protestors gathered in DC outside FERC headquarters for the final day of protests this week via Ecowatch article below.

Protestors gathered in DC outside FERC headquarters for the final day of protests this week via Ecowatch article below.

Perhaps with the new “red” Congress coming into power, people will cease to think that politicians will fix the climate mess for us. They may be responsible, but that doesn’t mean they will clean up their mess. Time for communities to come together and create new and innovative–not to mention good old fashioned–ways to tackle the climate crisis that are socially just and ecologically responsible.

100+ Arrested at Beyond Extreme Energy’s Week-Long Protests at FERC

By Anastasia Pantsios | November 7, 2014  Source: EcoWatch

As the participants in the Great March for Climate Action ended up in Washington, DC, on Nov. 1 after a six-month trek across the country, they joined with other environmental groups to launch a week of action under the banner Beyond Extreme Energy. The actions revolved around a series of blockades at the DC headquarters of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with more than 100 people arrested.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Fracking, Hydrofracking, Oil, Politics, Pollution, Victory!

The American Chestnut Foundation puts forests at risk with Frankentrees!

The American Chestnut Foundation is leading efforts to introduce genetically engineered (GE) American Chestnut trees back into the eastern North American deciduous forest ecosystem.

The native tree (Castanea dentata) was nearly obliterated by an imported blight during the first part of the 20th century.  It was a crucial part of the forests ecosystem which stretched from Maine in the U.S.; south through the Appalachians and into Missouri; throughout much of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, the Virginias, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama.  This forest also is found in Southeastern Canada including Quebec and Ontario.

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees, in collaboration with Global Justice Ecology Project is developing a major campaign to challenge the introduction of genetically engineered American Chestnuts into these ecosystems.

Read a fact sheet here.

The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont plateau in the Carolinas west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus infestation, known as the chestnut blight, during the first half of the 20th century. An estimated 4 billion American chestnuts, up to 1/4 of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range.

The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont plateau in the Carolinas west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus infestation, known as the chestnut blight, during the first half of the 20th century. An estimated 4 billion American chestnuts, up to 1/4 of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range. Source: American Chestnut Foundation

While lauded in many quarters as a step toward “bringing back the native forests,” there are critical reasons to believe that the introduction of GE American chestnut trees is a dangerous practice and may lead to further demise of ecosystems, the wildlife that depends on them, and ultimately human well-being. In their October campaign appeal, the American Chestnut Foundation may have let the real cat out of the bag, or revealed the camels nose under the tent–funding for research and introduction of synthetic trees into forest ecosystems.

Excerpts from the appeal letter from American Chestnut Foundation, October 2014

As important as the American chestnut is to our ecosystem, its successful restoration will have an even greater significance. We believe our model can be applied to other endangered trees such s the ash, elm, and hemlock. Our continue success will help ensure that other trees under grave threat of annihilation will also be saved.

Our scientists, in partnership with many universities and non-profits, are using the best tools available to advance our American chestnut breeding program. We are using cutting edge technologies to develop genetic makers for blight resistance, hypo virulence strategies, and advance screening techniques for ink disease. Only through science can we successfully restore this iconic species.

Betsy Gamber, Interim President and CEO

Kim Steiner, Ph.D Chairman of the Board of Directors

Read more about GE Chestnut work here.

We know that the ultimate achievements of these programs will further institutionalize the commodification of forests and forest products, turning more of our unprotected natural resources into short term profits for industry that considers the environment an externality. We want you to know this as well. Read more about GE Trees and the STOP GE Trees Campaign.

We intend to stop this and we need your help. In the coming weeks and months we will be posting here at Climate Connections news and maybe an occasional fundraising appeal to support our work. We will work to keep ourselves, our partners, and our readers educated and informed on these critical forest and ecosystem issues.

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Filed under Biodiversity, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, GMOs, Great Lakes, Greenwashing, Pollution, Synthetic Biology, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

BP still in denial about impact of Gulf oil disaster

A new report released this week by the National Academy of Sciences estimates that the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico Oil disaster from April of 2010 left at least 10 million gallons of congealed oil on the floor of the Gulf.

BP disputes the findings saying that “the authors fail to identify the source of the oil.”

Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig explodes and burns, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico-

Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig explodes and burns, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico-

Tons of BP Oil Still on the Bottom of the Gulf of Mexico

A new study shows that cleanup barely scratched the surface

Tim McDonnell, Mother Jones. 27 October 2014

We all saw the images of oil-coated birds and shorelines in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. These were the most visible impacts of the catastrophe, but much of the oil that gushed from the busted Macondo wellhead 5,000 feet underwater never made it to the surface. Of the estimated 5 million barrels that spilled, approximately 2 million stayed trapped in the deep ocean. And up to 31 percent of that oil is now lying on the ocean floor, according to a new study.

Based on an analysis of sea-floor sediment samples collected from the the Gulf of Mexico, geochemists at the University of California-Santa Barbara were able to offer the first clues about the final resting place of hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil. Their results were published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The data, which was gathered as part of the ongoing federal damage assessment, shows “a smokingly clear signal, like a bulls-eye” around the Macondo well, said lead author David Valentine.

In a related story published last week in GRIST, researchers claim that they can now identify the fingerprints from tracking operations in polluted water contaminated by fracking. Maybe the day is not so far off where forensics will link BP to the world’s greatest ecological catastrophe in ways that are undeniable, even in their own minds.

Read more here.

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Filed under Human made disasters, Oceans, Oil, Pollution