Environment & Climate

As COP23 Closes, Climate Movement Calls for Ambition ‘That Science and Justice Demand’

by Andrea Germanos – “We confront a mortal threat, now endangering the very existence of island and low-lying nations in the Pacific and around the planet. Accordingly, ambition must be increased and enforced,” says James Hansen. As the United Nations climate conference known as COP23 drew to a close on Friday, leaders from the global climate justice movement called for greater ambition to make the necessary transition away from fossil fuels. The two-week summit in Bonn, Germany (but presided over by Fiji) saw delegates from nearly 200 countries work towards creating a “rulebook” for implementing the Paris climate accord, while protesters on the sidelines drew attention to the urgency of the crisis and its already-felt impacts on communities. As one indigenous activist at the conference said: “Life itself and the future of humanity is at stake.” Former NASA scientist James Hansen laid out the stakes as well. “We are entering a period of consequences and are...

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As Predicted—Because ‘Pipelines Are Bound to Spill’—Existing Keystone Gushes 200K Gallons of Oil

by Jon Queally – ‘With their horrible safety record, today’s spill is just the latest tragedy caused by the irresponsible oil company TransCanada.’ Some of the worst fears and dire predictions of opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline came true on Thursday when pipeline owner TransCanada announced that more than 200,000 gallons of oil had spilled from the existing portion of the Keystone system in Marshall County, South Dakota. While the company reported the spill in a public statement, Buzzfeed notes there was an approximately four-and-a-half hour gap between when the company said the breach was discovered at 6:00 am and when local officials say they were notified at 10:30 am.  As a South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources told the news outlet, “We’re not quite sure why there was a time gap in there.” Outside of the company’s statement, there has been no outside or independent verification of the size of the spill or details about...

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Scott Pruitt Claims He’s Taken More Actions to Fight Pollution Than Obama, but Can’t Name Any

by Mark Hand – The EPA has not taken a single step to significantly reduce air or water pollution under Trump. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt has accomplished an impressive feat: In only nine months in office, he has done more than any of his predecessors — even more than the divisive Anne Gorsuch under President Ronald Reagan — to roll back the EPA’s crucial functions and create a culture of fear among agency employees with years of expertise in environmental protection. EPA observers contend Pruitt “has claimed the worst-ever title” from Gorsuch, who herself succeeded in shepherding through major agency budget cuts and rollbacks of new clean and air and regulations when the agency was in its infancy. But Pruitt is going several steps further by turning the agency into “a hollow shell by whacking its budget, overturning rules based on bogus reports and keeping employees in the dark,” according to one assessment of Pruitt’s...

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‘Giant Leap Backwards’ as Global Carbon Emissions in 2017 Soaring to All-Time High

by Julia Conley – “The urgency for reducing emissions means they should really be already decreasing now.” Warning of a “giant leap backwards for humankind,” the Global Carbon Project said in a report (pdf) released Monday that carbon emissions are expected to hit a record high in 2017, following three years of stable CO2 levels. The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen about two percent in 2017 according to climate scientists, dashing hopes that the world had already seen the highest emission levels from the coal, oil, and gas industries. The findings carry urgent implications for the next three years. A report released earlier this year by scientists at Carbon Tracker, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and Yale University showed that global emissions must begin falling quickly after 2020 in order to keep the global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Professor Corinne Le Quéré...

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Over 15,000 Scientists Just Issued a ‘Second Notice’ to Humanity. Can We Listen Now?

by Andrea Germanos – Reassessing warning issued 25 years ago, the “second notice” to humanity warns of “widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss” unless business-as-usual is upended. Yikes. Over 15,000 scientists hailing from more than 180 countries just issued a dire warning to humanity: “Time is running out” to stop business as usual, as threats from rising greenhouse gases to biodiversity loss are pushing the biosphere to the brink. The new warning was published Monday in the international journal BioScience, and marks an update to the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” issued by nearly 1,700 leading scientists 25 years ago. The 1992 plea, which said Earth was on track to be “irretrievably mutilated” baring “fundamental change,” however, was largely unheeded. “Some people might be tempted to dismiss this evidence and think we are just being alarmist,” said William Ripple, distinguished professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, and lead author of...

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Trump Administration Holds Pro-coal Event at Bonn Climate Conference

by Mark Hand – It’s like “promoting tobacco at a cancer summit.” Rather than presenting a strategy for meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement, the Trump administration’s delegation to the United Nations’ climate conference in Bonn, Germany, is using the talks to promote the U.S. coal industry. At a U.S. government-sponsored event on Monday, for example, officials invited a top executive from St. Louis-headquartered coal giant Peabody Energy to help tout the benefits of burning coal in meeting the world’s energy needs. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who serves as the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for cities and climate change, said Monday that “promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit.” Dave Banks, Trump’s special assistant for international energy and environment, countered that climate activists fail to understand world energy demand. “This panel is only controversial if we choose to bury...

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New Study Shows Urgently Needed 100% Renewable Transition More Feasible Than Ever

by Julia Conley – A complete transition from fossil fuels would create millions of jobs and save money while protecting planet from harmful emissions. A transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050—or even sooner—is not only possible, but would also cost less and create millions of new jobs, according to new research presented in Bonn, Germany on Thursday. The German non-profit Energy Watch Group (EWG) teamed up with Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology to present a study at the COP23 climate summit. The results of the study, according to a forward written by EWG’s president Hans-Josef Fell, show “that a 100% renewable electricity system is an effective and urgently needed climate protection measure. A global zero emission power system is feasible and more cost-effective than the existing system based on nuclear and fossil fuel energy.” To achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting the warming of the earth to well below...

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‘America Last’: US vs. Entire World After Syria Agrees to Join Paris Accord

by Jessica Corbett – “Every single other country in the world is moving forward together to tackle the climate crisis, while Donald Trump has isolated the United States on the world stage in an embarrassing and dangerous position.” At the COP23 United Nations climate summit in Bonn, Germany on Tuesday, war-torn Syria announced that it would sign on to the Paris agreement, leaving the United States—after President Donald  withdrew his support earlier this year—as the only nation on planet Earth to oppose the international accord opponent. “As if it wasn’t already crystal clear, every single other country in the world is moving forward together to tackle the climate crisis, while Donald Trump has isolated the United States on the world stage in an embarrassing and dangerous position,” said Sierra Club president Michael Brune, following the announcement. “Trump’s desperate moves to help corporate polluters by refusing to acknowledge the reality of the climate crisis shows...

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The Administration Just Debunked Its Own Lies About Climate Change

by Joe Romm – Massive new National Climate Assessment warns humans are responsible for all recent warming. On Friday, the Trump administration released the congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment, the “authoritative assessment of the science of climate change, with a focus on the United States,” as the report states. What’s so stunning about the 600-page report, the work of scientists from 13 federal agencies, is that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) oversaw the final review and clearance process of the report — and yet the report details just how dangerous the Trump administration’s policy of climate science denial is to Americans. The National Climate Assessment (NCA) projects a devastated America — widespread Dust-Bowlification, 18°F Arctic warming, sea levels rising a foot a decade — on our current path of unrestricted carbon pollution. The report makes clear just how grave a threat are Trump’s plans to abandon the Paris climate deal, undo Obama-era climate...

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Trump’s Betrayal: One Broken Promise After Another

As a candidate, President Donald Trump made grandiose promises to the people he referred to as the “forgotten men and women of our country.” He said that he would bring back jobs, improve health care, and protect their retirement. Yet one year after being elected president, it is clear that Trump’s policies and plans are a betrayal of the American people—including some of his strongest supporters. Trump said, “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” but in reality: Job growth is slower than it was during the previous six years. Under President Trump, the economy has generated a little more than 164,000 jobs a month, compared with 187,000 jobs a month in 2016 and 226,000 jobs a month in 2015. In fact, in 2017, average job growth has been lower than it was in any of the previous six years. At least 66,000 American jobs have been moved offshore. Since President Trump...

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is Embroiled in More Than One Scandal

by E.A. Crunden – The Trump administration official just got slammed with yet another questionable allegation. A controversial contract benefiting a small company based in his hometown is only the latest possible corruption scandal linked to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has come under fire for his spending habits as well as his connections to special interests and potential misuse of campaign funds. On Monday, nonprofit watchdog group the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) accused Zinke’s dormant congressional campaign of dodging rules prohibiting individuals from converting political donations into individual revenue. According to an official Federal Election Commission complaint, the campaign allegedly purchased an RV from Zinke’s wife, then sold it to a friend at a steeply discounted price a year later, lowering the car’s price from $59,100 to $25,000. The recipient, Ed Buttrey, is a Montana state senator rumored to be in the running to be nominated Interior assistant secretary. The CLC cited the RV sale...

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The Sad State of Disaster Relief

by Jill Richardson – Former presidents are cajoling individual Americans to donate for relief. Maybe they should lobby Congress instead. Five former U.S. presidents recently came together to raise money for hurricane relief for the victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. This generous, bipartisan act is one of true generosity and statesmanship. And yet, as former presidents, all five men know that there’s another way to help hurricane victims, or victims of any natural disaster. The federal government can quickly provide far more in money, personnel, and resources to help disaster victims than even the most generous outpouring of donations by Americans. Congress recently approved $36.5 billion for disaster relief. That’s nowhere near enough given the scale of the crises from California to Puerto Rico. And further funding is going to run up against a GOP plan to cut $1.5 trillion worth of taxes — about 80 percent of which will go to the...

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‘Alarm Bells Ringing’: Global CO2 Levels at Highest in 3 Million Years

by Jessica Corbett – Ahead of UN climate talks, report warns of “severe ecological and economic disruptions” without more drastic moves to cut emissions. Ahead of the COP23 climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany next week, an annual bulletin released on Monday revealed that last year, the average global concentration of carbon dioxide surged at a record-breaking pace to the highest level in approximately 3 million years, renewing scientists’ concerns that more action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “This should set alarm bells ringing in the corridors of power,” Dave Reay, a professor of carbon management at the University of Edinburgh who was not involved with the research, told the Guardian. “We know that, as climate change intensifies, the ability of the land and oceans to mop up our carbon emissions will weaken.” “There’s still time to steer these emissions down and so keep some control,” Reay added, “but if we wait too long humankind...

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Florida Couple Begins Rebuilding Home for Big Cats After Hurricane Irma

by Amelia Kinney – Hurricane Irma had the preserve’s 100 animals wading through a foot of water. The sprawling 5-acre Kowiachobee Animal Preserve in Naples, Florida, is facing its biggest challenge yet. Home to about 100 animals, last month the preserve was caught in the eye of Hurricane Irma, a Category 3 storm that ripped through the Caribbean and Atlantic coast. John, 50, and Grace, 63, met almost 20 years ago on an animal preserve and likely bonded over their love of dangerous, exotic creatures. In 2000, they officially opened Kowiachobee, a 501(C)3 non-profit educational facility. John told NPR they’ve faced many storms over the years, but Irma was by far the worst. Although almost 30 volunteers have pitched in to help the beloved preserve recover, Kowiachobee is far from being back to normal. The preserve is home to an exotic, domestic and farm animals, including twin white bengal tigers, Mali and Tanju. So far, the couple has received...

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Chiding Trump for Inaction, GAO Report Shows Climate to Cost US Taxpayers Trillions

by Jessica Corbett – Federal watchdog’s report serves as indictment of Trump administration’s climate change denialism and pro-industry agenda. Climate change impacts are already costing the federal government billions, and these costs are expected to increase, according to a new report released Tuesday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). While this may not be news to scientists and environmentalists, the federal watchdog’s report serves as an indictment of the Trump administration’s slow and limited response to the looming threats from climate change, with the expressed goal of helping government guide efforts to improve its response and save money by limiting future damage. “Over the last decade, extreme weather and fire events have cost the federal government over $350 billion”—excluding recent hurricanes and wildfires—and “these costs will likely rise as the climate changes,” the GAO report (pdf) notes, citing data from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Global Change Research Program....

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Electric Cars and Surging Solar Spell Market Doom for Fossil Fuels

by Jessica Corbett – Analyses show how demand for electric vehicles and rapidly falling renewable energy prices could take down oil and gas industry. As an increasing number of nations make plans for banning gas and diesel vehicles within the coming decades, and drivers gain an awareness of the benefits associated with electric vehicles, researchers are predicting notable consequences for dirty energy sources as the public shifts toward favoring renewable alternatives. “Post-2025, that’s where electric car sales take off. The further you go into the future, the more it’s electric cars,” Alan Gelder, a senior analyst for the research group Wood Mackenzie, told the Guardian. “If cities began banning cars with a combustion engine, that would rapidly accelerate the switch to electric vehicles.” Drivers transitioning to electric vehicles out of necessity, because of such bans—which multiple European nations plan to implement in the next 15-25 years—and efforts by governments to increase fuel efficiency regluations, is only part of...

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Our Summer of Fire and the Fires to Come

by Curtis Johnson, Truthout | News Analysis – Explosive wildfires have raged in Northern California over the last two weeks. Forty-one people are dead, and at least 6,700 structures have been destroyed, making these the most destructive fires in the state’s history. Parts of the city of Santa Rosa have burned to the ground. Extremely hot and dry conditions, continuing impacts of the state’s drought, and high winds combined to create fires so fast-moving, many residents were forced to flee for their lives with only minutes notice. Tens of thousands have been forced to evacuate. In the last several days, better weather has been helping firefighters fight the blazes, though many are still continuing. Air quality in the region has been called the worst in recorded history due to wildfire smoke. The fires in Northern California come after a summer of infernos and smoke spanning the West. It began in Seattle on August 1, 2017....

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A New Generation of Candidates Make Clean Energy a Campaign Centerpiece

by Joe Romm – If Trump isn’t going to do the right thing, “we’re going to have to do it at the governor’s level.” According to polling and public opinion analysis, support for strong action on climate change and clean energy is an across-the-board winning political issue. Yet progressive candidates for high office have historically downplayed those issues, as has the Democratic party — both in the 2016 national election and even in the wake of the recent unprecedented string of superstorms. But a new generation of candidates are taking a new approach, refusing to be silent or even defensive on these issues, which are overwhelmingly popular with voters. They understand that Americans are increasingly concerned about climate change and want to see climate action. ThinkProgress spoke with four such candidates who are currently running in Democratic primaries. Each has their own remarkable story: Rebecca Otto, Minnesota’s state auditor who’s running for governor, is a former science...

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‘People Are Dying’ but Trump Gives Himself Perfect ’10’ for Puerto Rico Response

by Julia Conley – “The lasting image of this administration may well be Puerto Ricans having to drink contaminated water from polluted streams while waiting for timely, appropriate federal aid.” Despite an estimated one million people still living without drinking water, 80 percent of the island without electricity, and fresh reports that people are “dying” on the island, President Donald Trump stirred outrage on Thursday by giving himself a perfect “ten” on his response to the crisis in Puerto Rico. “The people in Puerto Rico are dying,” said National Nurses United (NNU) vice president Cathy Kennedy, who returned Wednesday from a two-week relief trip with the union’s Registered Nurses Response Network (RNRN). “Nurses have been going out into communities, where all they ask for is water and food. And when you have to make a decision of who’s going to get the food today or the water — we shouldn’t have to do...

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Chef Jose Andrés’ Kitchen has Served 1 Million Meals in Puerto Rico, Nearly Double the Red Cross

by Gabe Ortiz – Chef José Andrés landed in Puerto Rico more than three weeks ago and has been working nonstop to feed his fellow U.S. citizens. Initially, chefs Andrés and José Enrique were able to prepare enough nutritious meals to feed around 2,000 people daily—significant, but keep in mind a population of over 3 million is in crisis—but as their “Chefs for Puerto Rico” campaign gained steam, their efforts overshadowed even the Red Cross. Immigrants like chef José Andrés: they get the job done. Nearly a month after Maria, Andrés, World Central Kitchen and volunteers have reached a milestone in their #chefsforpuertorico campaign: As of Tuesday, they’ve prepared and delivered a million meals to residents. As a point of comparison, the American Red Cross has served more than 540,000 meals and snacks (and distributed more than 534,000 relief supplies) in the weeks since hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico, according to a spokeswoman for the organization. ”My...

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Senate Democrats Vow to Keep Arctic Refuge Out of the Hands of Big Oil

by Samantha Page – Republican lawmakers have said they will open the reserve to raise revenue for the federal budget. Democratic Senators are vowing to keep drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge out of the upcoming federal budget, as Republican lawmakers in both chambers have indicated they want to use revenue from drilling in the refuge to balance their budget proposals. They are proposing to open Area 1002 of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge — a 1.5 million-acre parcel that was not permanently protected in the 1980s, when Congress established the refuge. The sole mating ground for the porcupine caribou, Area 1002 is considered a pristine wilderness. “We’re not going to allow it to be opened,” Sen. Ed. Markey (D-MA) said Tuesday at a press conference. Opening the refuge is not expected to bring in much revenue, in the context of the $4-trillion overall budget. Recent analysis of the White House budget from the Congressional Budget...

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Federal Court Dismisses RICO and Defamation Lawsuit Against Greenpeace

by Jessica Corbett – “These cases don’t seek justice,” says Greenpeace USA’s general counsel. “They intend to silence free speech through expensive, time-consuming litigation.” In a decision that could set a powerful precedent for protecting activists from legal attacks, a federal judge on Monday dismissed all claims in a lawsuit filed by a major Canadian logging company against Greenpeace, Stand.earth, and individual activists, which included claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Resolute Forest Products Inc. filed the $300 million CAD lawsuit in response to the environmentalists’ advocacy work in protest of deforestation that results from logging. The activists celebrated the decision, and called for future collaboration between environmental advocates and corporations to protect natural resources. “The judge’s decision to dismiss the case affirms that Resolute’s divisive and bullying tactics are a waste of time and resources,” said Greenpeace USA senior forest campaigner Daniel Brindis. “It is time for Resolute...

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‘The People of Puerto Rico are Dying’: Action is Needed Now

by Bonnie Castillo – Volunteer nurses describe deadly conditions and demand federal action immediately. Crowd funding. A Costco Card. The water in a nurse’s own backpack. These are the resources to which volunteer nurses on the ground in Puerto Rico—where 85 percent of the island is still without power and where the official death toll has risen to 48 (with the real toll expected to rise much higher)—have been forced to turn in recent weeks, to keep hurricane victims alive, even for a few additional days. “The people over here in Puerto Rico are dying. We have a healthcare crisis right now,” said National Nurses United (NNU) vice president and Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN) volunteer Cathy Kennedy, RN. “Nurses have been going out into communities, where all they ask for is water and food. And when you have to make a decision of who’s going to get the food today or the water—we shouldn’t have to...

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To Great Applause, Paris Announces Combustion Engine Ban by 2030

by Julia Conley – New goal would accelerate existing plan to do away with gas-powered cars and trucks. Receiving great applause from climate advocates, Paris officials announced a new goal on Thursday to ban gas-powered cars from its streets by 2030. Greenpeace USA  ✔@greenpeaceusa Paris plans to banish all but electric cars by 2030 Paris authorities plan to banish all petrol- and diesel-fueled cars from the world’s most visited city by 2030, Paris City Hall said on Thursday. A BIG step! — Paris is planning to ban all but electric cars by 2030. http://reut.rs/2i5cjxQ  1:00 PM – Oct 12, 2017 The proposal would accelerate existing efforts to reduce air pollution in the city after French President Emmanuel Macron promised to ban the sale of vehicles with combustion engines by 2040. Under the rule, only electric cars would be allowed in the city. Paris is already home to an electric car-sharing service, Autolib, which...

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EPA’s 4-Year Strategic Plan Doesn’t Mention ‘Climate.’ Not Once

by Jake Johnson – “This wasn’t an oversight, this is a deliberate strategy by this administration.” If President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hadn’t already made it abundantly clear that addressing climate change is near the very bottom of its list of priorities, the agency’s newly unveiled four-year “strategic plan” should remove all doubt, as it does not contain a single mention of “climate change”—or even just “climate.” The 38-page draft, quietly made available for public comment last week, also neglects to mention “carbon dioxide,” “greenhouse gases,” or “renewable energy.” By contrast, former President Barack Obama’s EPA made addressing climate change the first of the agency’s five stated goals in its 2014 strategic plan—which used the phrase “climate change” more than 40 times. Dr. Rachel Cleetus, climate policy manager with the Union of Concerned Scientists, calledthe EPA’s scrubbing of climate change from its report “stunning,” and argued that it was no accident. “Climate...

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Promoting Renewable Future, Solar Companies and Nonprofits Rush to Puerto Rico

by Jessica Corbett – Promoting Renewable Future, Solar Companies and Nonprofits Rush to Puerto Rico As Congress on Thursday approved a $5 billion loan that will further burden the already bankrupt U.S. territory, various solar companies and nonprofits continued working together to offer aid to the storm-ravaged island while also promoting a more sustainable future and resilient energy system. On Thursday, the nonprofit Empowered By Light and Sunrun—the nation’s largest residential solar company—partnered with local leaders to install a 4kW solar array with battery storage at the Barrio Obrero fire station in San Juan. A second system will be installed at another fire station on Friday. More than 90 percent of the island’s power grid has not been restored since Hurricane Maria struck last month. The commonwealth’s power system was already hobbled by financial difficulties long before the hurricane devastated the island, and the federal government has been widely condemned for its slow and inadequatedisaster relief efforts. “It appears the federal emergency response is focused on diesel to...

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‘Great News for the Climate’ as Banking Giant Ditches Tar Sands, Arctic Drilling

by Andrea Germanos – Climate campaigners praise move by BNP Paribas, call on other banks to follow suit. In a move being hailed as a win for the climate, banking giant BNP Paribas announced Wednesday that it is severing ties with companies whose main business is connected to shale and/or oil from tar sands, will stop financing transportation projects for such fuels, and will not finance any oil or gas projects in the Arctic region. “In concrete terms,” writes Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, director and CEO of BNP Paribas, “these decisions mean that we will cease providing finance to a number of companies and organizations that are not making an effort to be part of the transition to a less greenhouse gas-emitting economy.” According to Lucie Pinson, Friends of the Earth France’s private finance campaigner, it’s “great news for the climate and a huge victory for the groups who have been mobilizing in support of Indigenous peoples...

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Carbon Rule Repeal Kicks Off Epic Battle Over Regulating Emissions

by Natasha Geiling – The EPA has finally revealed its proposal for repealing a major climate regulation. After months of speculation and days of teasing the announcement — the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday released its proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a 2015 rule that would have regulated carbon emissions from the electricity sector. “We are committed to righting the wrongs of the Obama administration by cleaning the regulatory slate.  Any replacement rule will be done carefully, properly, and with humility, by listening to all those affected by the rule,”  EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a press statement. At least two state attorneys general said Tuesday they would sue to protect the rule. Pruitt’s proposal is merely the first step in repealing the rule, which had previously been put on hold by the Supreme Court while opponents and supporters of the rule argued over its legality in the D.C. Circuit Court....

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‘An Inferno Like You’ve Never Seen’: Deadly Wildfires Ravage California

by Jake Johnson – The “unprecedented” fires, fulfilling predictions of climate scientists, have forced tens of thousands from their homes. More than ten people have been killed, thousands have been left without power, and tens of thousands have been forced to evacuate as more than a dozen wildfires tore through Northern California overnight Monday, forcing Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in eight counties. “Presently, these fires continue their path of destruction,” Brown said in a statement late Monday. “Many residents had little time to flee due to the fires’ rapid and erratic rate of spread through the rural terrain. Tragically, these fires have already taken lives and emergency responders anticipate the number of fatalities could grow.” Brown also asked President Donald Trump—who spent his morning tweeting insults at ESPN host Jemele Hill and the NFL—to issue a disaster declaration. At least eighteen total wildfires have been counted, and firefighters have struggled...

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Tainted Honey: Bee-Poisoning Pesticides Found Globally

by Jessica Corbett – Lead researcher says there were “relatively few places where we did not find any” samples contaminated with neonics known to harm bees. Raising further concerns about the global food production system, a new study found that bees worldwide are being widely exposed to dangerous agricultural chemicals, with 75 percent of honey samples from six continents testing positive for pesticides known to harm pollinators. “What this shows is the magnitude of the contamination,” the study’s lead author, Edward Mitchell, a biology professor at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland, told the Denver Post. He said there were “relatively few places where we did not find any” contaminated samples. For the study, published in the journal Science, Mitchell’s team of researchers examined nearly 200 samples for the five most commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides, or neonics. They found: in North America, 86 percent of samples from contained one or more neonicotinoid; in Asia, 80 percent; in Europe (where there is...

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Google to Use Balloons for Puerto Rico Phone Service

Alphabet Inc is sending high-altitude balloons to provide phone service to island devastated by Hurricane Maria. Alphabet Inc, the company that controls Google, is sending special balloons to Puerto Rico to help restore phone service after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria last month. The US Federal Communications Commission said it had approved the company’s application to provide the emergency cellular service to Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services. The FCC said on Friday that 83 percent of cell sites remain out of service, while wireless communications company are deploying temporary sites. Alphabet, which announced its Project Loon in 2013 to use solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to provide internet service in remote regions, said in an FCC filing it was working to “support licensed mobile carriers’ restoration of limited communications capability” in Puerto Rico. Earlier on Friday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced...

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San Francisco, Oakland Are Suing Five Major Fossil Fuel Companies Over Climate Change

By Brianna Acuesta – They estimate that the costs will be in the billions. San Francisco and Oakland just became the first major U.S. cities to file a lawsuit against fossil fuel companies in an effort to hold them accountable for the effects of climate change that the two highly-populated cities have already begun experiencing. Both cities foresee major construction and damages in the near future that needs to be prevented or fixed, and they have pointed to Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell. These companies are among five of the biggest investor-owned fossil fuel companies. San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera and Oakland city attorney Barbara J. Parker each filed their own lawsuit on the same day, both citing that the fossil fuel companies have known about their part in climate change since at least the 1970s or 1980s. According to the lawsuits, the companies took this information, which was confirmed by outside...

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Peak Oil Demand is Near: General Motors Says the Future is ‘all-electric’

by Joe Romm – GM, Ford, and China strongly embrace electric cars, signaling trouble for Big Oil. “General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” Mark Reuss, GM’s head of global product development, announced in a corporate press release Monday. These are remarkable words for a company that has become a global behemoth over the past century by making and selling tens of millions of cars, SUVs, and light trucks that run on liquid fossil fuels. When you add in plans from huge, fast-growing markets like China and India to quickly shift to EVs and end the sale of petrol cars, it’s clear that upending the car market will also upend the oil market. Reuss said GM would accelerate the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), with two new EV models coming out in 2018, and “at least” another 18 by 2023. On the same day, Ford Motor Co. announced it would release 13 new EV models in the next five years. The...

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Coca-Cola Produced 1 Billion More Plastic Bottles Last Year, Says Greenpeace

by Amanda Froelich – In 2016, Coca-Cola produced more than 110 billion single-use plastic bottles, according to a new analysis by Greenpeace. Though no one company is to blame for a number of plastic bottles piling up in landfills, Coca-Cola certainly holds a fair share of the responsibility. According to a new analysis by Greenpeace, the world’s biggest soft drinks company increased its production of single-use PET bottles from 2015-2015 by more than one billion. This puts Coke’s total production in 2016 at more than 110 billion. The Guardian reports that Coca-Cola confirmed the finding that single-use plastic bottles make up 59 percent of its global packaging in 2016, compared to 58 percent just one year prior. This is a staggering realization, as figures suggest that by 2021, the number of plastic bottles produced every year, worldwide, will reach more than half a trillion. Reportedly, only a fraction of the 110 billion plastic bottles which...

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Trump’s Empathy Deficit (VIDEOS)

by Sam Fulwood III – The racism is no longer thinly disguised; it’s blatant and obvious for all to witness. You would think that during the two weeks since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump would have found the proper message for the people of the U.S. territory as they struggle to reassemble their homes and lives. It’s easy to envision any of our past presidents bringing words of comfort and hope to Puerto Rico, along with a pledge of federal support to assist in the recovery. But Trump is no normal president and his overdue visit to the island on Tuesday, his first since the storm, demonstrated just how much he lacks empathy for others and selfishly craves praise for himself. At this point in both his personal history and White House tenure, the racism is no longer thinly disguised; it’s blatant and obvious for all to witness. For example, during his meeting with...

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Oxfam to Assist Puerto Rico Victims After ‘slow and inadequate’ U.S. Government Response

by Hunter – The charitable organization Oxfam does not generally respond to humanitarian crises in America or other wealthy nations; they primarily provide relief in impoverished or infrastructure-deficient regions of the world. They are making an exception in the case of the ongoing Puerto Rico crisis, and are pinning the need for such action squarely on the Trump administration’s continued lack of action. Oxfam has monitored the response in Puerto Rico closely, and we are outraged at the slow and inadequate response the US Government has mounted in Puerto Rico. Clean water, food, fuel, electricity, and health care are in desperately short supply and quickly dwindling, and we’re hearing excuses and criticism from the administration instead of a cohesive and compassionate response. The US has more than enough resources to mobilize an emergency response but has failed to do so in a swift and robust manner. Oxfam rarely responds to humanitarian emergencies...

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Humans Have Messed With Earth so Much, Formal ‘Anthropocene’ Classification Needed: Scientists

by Andrea Germanos –  From climate change to invasive species to changes in the planet’s fundamental chemical cycles, the markers indicating profound change make clear Holocene is over. A group of scientists says that the scope of human impact on planet Earth is so great that the “Anthropocene” warrants a formal place the Geological Time Scale. “Our findings suggest that the Anthropocene should follow on from the Holocene Epoch that has seen 11.7 thousand years of relative environmental stability, since the retreat of the last Ice Age, as we enter a more unstable and rapidly evolving phase of our planet’s history,” said Professor Jan Zalasiewicz from the University of Leicester’s School of Geography, Geology, and the Environment, in a statement released Monday. The scientists write: We conclude that human impact has now grown to the point that it has changed the course of Earth history by at least many millennia, in terms of...

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Trump Rebuked for Lashing Out at San Juan Mayor Who Criticized Govt Aid Efforts

by Jessica Corbett – “Doesn’t matter if you’re desperate and dying—if Trump feels criticized, he will lash out,” noted one critic after the president tweeted about Puerto Rico. President Donald Trump is under fire Saturday morning for lashing out on Twitter at the mayor of San Juan, who on Friday raised major concerns about the Trump administration’s slow action and misleading commentary regarding Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico. In a series of tweets, the president purported that unidentified Democrats had told the Puerto Rican official “you must be nasty to Trump.” He also claimed “the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico” had demonstrated “poor leadership ability.” The backlash on social media was swift. Speaking to CNN on Friday, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin had expressed shock at the Trump’s administration claims that Puerto Rico’s recovery from the devastating hurricane is “a good news story,” and made headlines for saying: “When you’re drinking from...

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The United States is Unprepared for the Next Major Earthquake

by E.A. Crunden – Mexico is a victim of geography — but so are major U.S. cities like Los Angeles. Two devastating earthquakes recently rocked Mexico in the short span of 12 days, killing nearly 300 people and leaving many more in need of aid and assistance. The dual tragedies, largely worsened by geography, left the country struggling to recover and rebuild. But as outside nations flocked to send their condolences, many experts warned that the same fate could befall a number cities in their home countries as well. The United States happens to be counted in that list. The 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico on Tuesday originated in Puebla and topped buildings far from the site, including 75 miles away in Mexico City. At least 230 people have died so far, with many more casualties expected. That disaster came less than two weeks after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake off the coast —...

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Following Harvey and Maria, House Republicans Propose $10 Billion … for Trump’s Wall

by Gabe Ortiz – Maria’s aftermath in Puerto Rico is nothing short of catastrophic. “Water, food, and fuel are scarce on the island,” noted Vox, with more than three million U.S. citizens facing the prospect of living up to six months without power. According to some estimates,damage could exceed $30 billion. Our fellow Americans are in crisis. Since the disaster, House Republicans, led by Congressman Michael McCaul (TX-R), have unveiled a $10 billion proposal … for Donald Trump’s racist border wall and immoral mass deportation force: Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said his panel will vote on the legislation next week. The bill also would add 10,000 more border patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers, tap the National Guard to patrol the southern border and target people who have overstayed visas. “Now that we have a partner in the White House who has made this a top priority, it’s time to send a bill to President Trump’s...

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Trump’s Refusal to Send Hospital Ship Tips His Plan to Abandon Puerto Rico (UPDATED)

by DocDawg – A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. – U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper Eight hundred and ninety-four feet long, 106 feet wide, and weighing 69,360 tons, USNS Comfort is a complete ocean-going medical facility with 1,000 patient beds including 80 for intensive care patients. Along with 12 operating rooms she boasts a complete dental clinic, optometry lab and pharmacy, X-ray machines, CT scanners, oxygen and fresh water production plants, capacity to store 5,000 units of blood, laundry operations, and a morgue. She’s the size of a 20th century supertanker. Indeed, she was a supertanker — the SS Rose City — until purchased by the Navy in 1987 and converted to serve her current lifesaving mission. She and her sister ship in the Pacific, USNS Mercy, are among the rare few assets of the obscenely wealth US military devoted exclusively to saving, rather than taking, lives. But today,...

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Puerto Rico is a Disaster, Moving Toward Catastrophe, That Demands a Massive, Emergency Response

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump has not mentioned Puerto Rico since the day after Hurricane Maria brutally scourged the US territory. After making a trip to Alabama to call any athlete who takes part in peaceful protest a “son of a bitch” who should be fired, Trump doubled, tripled … pentadekaled down on that point by tweeting 15 times about his NFL hate. He’s also slipped in half a dozen mentions of the health care bill and even managed to talk about how nice the White House looks. But three and a half million Americans, many of whom are without shelter, struggling to find clean water and food, who are living about without power, lacking communications with relatives, and still searching for loved ones they haven’t seen since before the storm—that doesn’t merit a word. Trump isn’t alone in his disdain and neglect. The grand total of time all five Sunday morning talk shows devoted...

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EPA Forces Staff to Attend Anti-Leak Classes as Attack on Environment Continues

by Jessica Corbett – Federal employees threatened over leaks while Trump administration wages war on planet. As the Trump administration continues to gut regulations meant to protect public health and the environment, the Associated Press reports Thursday that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staffers are being forced to attend anti-leaking classes this week as part of a wider effort by the White House to stem the flow of unauthorized information reaching the public. The AP, which obtained training materials from the Environmental Protection Agency’s hour-long anti-leaking class, reports how “a three-page fact sheet sent to EPA employees as part of the training warned that leaks of even unclassified information could have serious consequences to national security.” The document reportedly provided examples detailing how government secrets previously have been revealed through espionage, hacking, or leaks to the press, and noted that “enemies of the United States are relentless in their pursuit of information which they can exploit to harm U.S....

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Court Rules Obama Administration did not Overreach in Fracking Rule

by Samantha Page – Too bad the new administration is going to reverse the rule, anyway. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the Obama administration was within its rights when the Bureau of Land Management issued a 2015 rule to modernize fracking regulations on public lands. The so-called Fracking Rule, which increased safety specifications on oil and gas wells and mandated chemical disclosures, was challenged by two states — Colorado and Montana — as well as the American Petroleum Institute. In June 2016, a lower court ruled that the BLM “acted beyond its statutory authority.” In part, the lower court found that no law specifically allows the BLM to regulate underground injections. The court also found that even if the BLM could regulate fracking, the so-called “Halliburton Loophole,” part of the 2005 update to the Safe Drinking Water Act, “precluded all federal regulation of non-diesel fracking.” The 10th Circuit...

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Climate Scientists Predicted the Rise in Super-hurricanes Like Maria, Irma, and Harvey

by Joe Romm – But deniers are still trying to shout down any talk of a climate-hurricane link, calling it “idle chatter.” Hurricane Maria, currently on a collision course with Puerto Rico, intensified explosively in one day from a Category 1 storm to Category 5 superstorm. The Prime Minister of Dominica said Tuesday that Maria caused “mind boggling” devastation when it tore through his island nation. “As see storms like Irma and now Maria intensify from tropical disturbances to Category 5 hurricanes in record time, we see hints of yet another potential threat,” climatologist Michael Mann told ThinkProgress via email. “We may have less time to prepare and react to monster storms, hindering our adaptive capacity to deal with their devastating impacts.” Climate science deniers have sought to dismiss scientists’ discussion of the link between human-caused climate change and more intense hurricanes as “idle chatter.” It is anything but. Maria is the...

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Hurricane Maria Threatens Caribbean After Irma (VIDEO)

A strengthening storm is swirling towards the eastern Caribbean along a path similar to deadly Hurricane Irma. A new hurricane is bearing down on the eastern Caribbean, threatening dangerous storm surges and floods, less than two weeks after the region was devastated by Irma. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Monday warned that the new storm, Maria, could become “a major hurricane”. The French territory of Guadelope, the staging area for relief operations for several islands hit by Irma, was on “red alert” on Monday. Schools, businesses and government offices were ordered closed. Warnings were also triggered for Dominica, St Kitts, Nevis, the British island of Montserrat and France’s Martinique. Maria is expected to hit the islands late on Monday, possibly strengthening to as much as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of at least 209km/h. ‘Dangerous’ As of 06:00 GMT, Maria was a Category 1 hurricane, the...

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The Trump Admin Auctioned Off an Imperiled Bird Habitat to Oil Companies for a Whopping $14,837

by Jen Hayden – The Trump administration has auctioned off acres of habitat for the sage-grouse, which narrowly missed making the endangered species list after an extensive plan to preserve the bird’s habitat took effect during the Obama administration. Which, naturally means Trump is dead set marching back the progress. From Westwise: Sage-grouse, a chicken-sized bird once widespread in the West, have seen their populations drop dramatically in recent years, thanks in part to oil and gas development. In an effort to keep the sage-grouse off the endangered species list — a move that would limit all forms of development throughout the region — ranchers, conservationists, Western governors and the Obama administration spent years working on collaborative plans to help the species rebound. Widely hailed as a success, the plans resulted in former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announcing that the sage-grouse would avoid the endangered species list. Unfortunately, this success story is under assault. Citing...

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As World Moves Forward with Paris Accord, U.S. Observes From Sidelines

by Julia Conley – Some officials left a climate summit in Montreal this weekend with the impression that Trump could re-enter the Paris agreement—but critics have doubts. Amid reports that the U.S. is reviewing the terms of the Paris climate agreement and examining a potential re-entry, climate advocates expressed doubts this weekend about changes in President Donald Trump’s climate policy and about the White House’s insistence that it will renegotiate the hard-won climate accord in any meaningful way. Emily J Gertz @ejgertz Contrary to Trump bluster, US can’t unilaterally renegotiate the terms of the Paris accord. It can opt for even weaker CO2 targets, though. https://twitter.com/andymccanse/status/909165008906485761 … 5:25 PM – Sep 16, 2017 Some news outlets reported Saturday that a summit in Montreal, attended by representatives from 30 countries that signed the accord—with a U.S. delegation observing from the sidelines—left officials with the impression that Trump could reconsider his decision to withdraw from the agreement. MIguel...

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House Passes Spending Bill ‘full of giveaways to polluters’ and Big Cuts to EPA and NPS

by Samantha Page – The National Park Service was cut 30 percent — even more than Trump had asked. The House of Representatives voted Thursday in favor of an omnibus spending bill that environmental organizations say will help polluters and reduce the country’s air and water quality. The bill also cuts a number of programs intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or streamline the transition to clean energy. The bill cuts funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by more than $500 million — another blow to an agency that will now have to operate on less than 75 percent of its 2010 funding levels. The National Park Service received a 30 percent cut — a greater cut than even the White House suggested earlier this year in its infamously skeletal budget proposal. Prior to the vote, a group of dozens of environmental groups wrote to representatives, begging them not to...

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Should Utilities Build Charging Stations for Electric Cars?

by Martha T. Moore – Faced with deadlines to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road, states are being asked to decide whether utility companies can build electric vehicle charging stations — and pass on the cost to their customers. Building more charging stations could help alleviate “range anxiety,” the fear of running out of charge with no station in sight, and therefore stimulate sales of the clean-air-friendly cars. But in some states, officials say that letting the utility industry build more stations would force all electricity consumers to pay for a service that only a few, relatively affluent, people will use. In California, home to nearly half the electric vehicles (EVs) now on U.S. roads, the Public Utilities Commission last year approved plans for three of the state’s largest utilities — Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric — to...

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