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Conservation & Sustainability

Feds Surrender In Tooth-And-Nail Fight To Leash Dogs In Bay Area’s Open Space

Feds Surrender In Tooth-And-Nail Fight To Leash Dogs In Bay Area’s Open Space

After a snarling battle, the National Park Service has announced that it’s “permanently” backing off its plan to impose tough new leash restrictions on dogs on federally managed open space in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The feds are now resigned to continue enforcing the more lenient 1979 rules in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Authorities had tried to impose leash laws on most areas as part of a plan that they said would protect wildlife. But an appellate court ruling in 2005 ordered the National Park Service to first conduct a hearing process.
A suit last year by dog owners to obtain records on the plan revealed that staff had used work and personal emails to communicate with groups backing dog restrictions.
The trove of emails, which became known as “Woofie Leaks,” revealed what pet lovers argued was a clear bias against their dogs that undermined a fair hearing process — and they used that information to press their case.
An NPS review team determined that, while staff use of personal emails for parks business was inappropriate, the communication “ultimately did not influence the outcome” of the planning process,” according to a park service statement.

Alternative Energy

Corporate Fleets Making the Switch to Electric Vehicles

Corporate Fleets Making the Switch to Electric Vehicles

EV100 companies, including Ikea, Unilever and HP, are committing to, by 2030, integrate EVs into their owned or leased fleets and install EV charging stations for customers and employees.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under the Obama administration set up the Workplace Charging Challenge, which provided technical assistance to hundreds of companies, agencies and organizations small and large interested in installing EV charging stations for employees and customers, adding EVs to their fleets, and otherwise accelerating EV adoption.
The transportation sector is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change, accounting for 23 percent of global energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Even factoring in the emissions from the electricity used to power EVs, they are lower in GHG emissions than conventional vehicles.
Over the past few years, they have worked as a member of We Mean Business, a global coalition of business leaders focused on taking action on climate change. Through this relationship, The Climate Group has launched a number of campaigns to accelerate renewable energy and clean energy production.
LA Metro, for example, which operates the second largest bus fleet in the U.S., just committed to switch to all zero emission buses by 2030. And individuals are making the switch too. But to meet our climate and public health goals, we need to rapidly accelerate EV adoption by individuals, corporations and transit agencies.

Alternative Energy

GOP-Controlled Senate Paves Way for Oil Drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

GOP-Controlled Senate Paves Way for Oil Drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Senate Republicans’ narrow passage of the 2018 budget plan on Thursday opened the door for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR).
ANWR, the largest protected wilderness in the U.S., consists of more than 19 million acres of pristine landscapes and is home to 37 species of land mammals, eight marine mammals, 42 fish species and more than 200 migratory bird species. “Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is not a budget issue, and should not be part of the budget reconciliation process,” Van Noppen added.
Republicans led a “sneak attack” that turned “public lands over to polluters,” Cantwell said.
Conservatives have sought for decades to open up parts of the refuge to create jobs and boost the energy sector. As Reuters reported, Republicans have targeted the so-called 1002 area on the Prudhoe Bay in Northern Alaska, which has an estimated 12 billion barrels of recoverable crude.
But Earthjustice noted that the targeted area hosts migratory bird species and endangered wildlife and is considered to be sacred to the indigenous Gwich’in people, who sustain themselves from the caribou that migrate there.
This fight is far from over,” said Wilderness Society president Jamie Williams. Congress cannot sneak this through the back door when they think nobody is looking.

Alternative Energy

Oil Spill Off Louisiana Coast 2X Bigger Than Original Estimate

Oil Spill Off Louisiana Coast 2X Bigger Than Original Estimate

The oil and gas operator first estimated that it spewed about 340,000 gallons of oil. Now, according to a Coast Guard announcement, the company is now reporting a discharge of 672,000 gallons—about two times the initial estimate.
A report from Bloomberg earlier this week suggested that LLOG’s original discharge estimate was already the largest in the U.S. since the 2010 BP disaster which spilled about 210 million gallons of crude into familiar territory.
No shoreline impacts have been reported and there are no reports of personnel injuries.
The Coast Guard said that since the pipeline is 5,000 feet underwater, the oil is likely to be “broken down into small particles and disperse(d) into deep-water currents prior to reaching the surface.” “Multiple daily flights” over the area, along with underwater inspections, have not detected any recoverable oil, the Coast Guard added, but noted that skimming vessels from Clean Gulf Associates and the Marine Spill Response Corporation “remain on standby.”
On Monday, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Gulf of Mexico Region Director Lars Herbst initiated a five-member panel of inspectors, engineers and accident investigators into the oil release.

Alternative Energy

Air Pollution Kills 9 Million, Costs $5 Trillion Per Year

Air Pollution Kills 9 Million, Costs $5 Trillion Per Year

Yet, pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world today, responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths.”
It continues: “The substantial health and economic costs of pollution globally can no longer be ignored.”
Some of the statistics and findings are startling. People are not just dying—they are getting sick and living with years of disability. The “welfare losses due to pollution to be more than US$4.6 trillion per year, which is equivalent to 6.2% of global economic output.”
However, the burden is disproportionately on the poor and the world’s most vulnerable. More than ninety percent of all pollution-related mortality is seen in low-income and middle-income countries.
Landrigan told the Guardian that the scale of deaths from pollution had surprised the researchers and that two other “real shockers” stood out.
Instead of cleaning up pollution and pioneering a clean energy future, the Trump administration is promoting dirty fossil fuels, including coal. “This Lancet Commission should inform policy makers and serve as a timely call to action.

Climate Change & Global Warming

Climate Change Week in Review: Week Ending October 20, 2017

Climate Change Week in Review: Week Ending October 20, 2017

The Arctic Wildlife National Refuge in Alaska, near Prudhoe Bay, is the largest protected wilderness in the United States and

Conservation & Sustainability

California wildfires torch the legalization hopes of pot growers

California wildfires torch the legalization hopes of pot growers

The wildfires that swept across Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa counties in Northern California last week devastated many of the region’s legal cannabis growers, torching their crops and facilities at peak harvest time and leaving smaller farmers at risk of collapse.
Allen said the fires had destroyed at least 21 farms and damaged two others.
The farms were already under pressure from growing competition from much bigger operations.
But the real culprit looks like climate change, which will put cannabis growers — and the state at large — at risk in the future, as reported by Sonoma County’s weekly newspaper, The Bohemian.
Garrett estimates that Sonoma County produces about $2.5 billion in cannabis revenue per year. That includes indoor and mixed-light production, which is harvested three to five times a year. Outdoor production, the kind most likely to be damaged by the fire, represents the most potential for loss since that crop hadn’t been harvested and dried.
Most of the losses were in Sonoma County, where the fires were largest.
Just as the fire did not discriminate, incinerating homes in upscale ridge-top areas as well as a vast swath of more than 1,000 working-class homes in hard-hit Santa Rosa, the fire took out pot farms big and small, too.
CannaCraft is Sonoma County’s largest cannabis producer and distributor.

Energy

Russia, Saudis team up to boost fracking tech

Russia, Saudis team up to boost fracking tech

While Saudi Arabia and Russia are leading the production cut pact between OPEC and 11 non-OPEC oil producers, Russian oil company Gazprom Neft will cooperate with Saudi Aramco on ways to boost production, including in fracking technology and hard-to-recover oil, Gazprom Neft’s CEO Aleksandr Dyukov said on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Gazprom Neft and Saudi Aramco signed a memorandum of cooperation during the visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to Russia.
Cooperation would include “drilling and well workover technologies, improvements to pumping systems, and the development of large-scale non-metal pipes. The parties also plan to discuss perspectives for collaboration in research and development and experimental engineering works, as well as options for applying innovative solutions to a wide range of technological challenges,” Gazprom Neft said.
Apart from Gazprom Neft, Aramco signed deals in Russia with Gazprom on gas cooperation, with the Russian Direct Investment Fund on investment in energy services and manufacturing, with LUKOIL’s trading arm Litasco on collaboration in trading, and with Russian Direct Investment Fund and SIBUR on strategic marketing for petrochemicals.
The Russian company sees the production cut deal as a short-term one, Yakovlev said.
Meanwhile, as the OPEC summit at end-November is drawing closer, speculation intensifies as to what the cartel and partners would decide (if at all) to do with the deal that expires in March 2018. Most analysts believe that the pact should be extended until the end of next year for a sustained oil market rebalancing.

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Conservation & Sustainability

Feds Surrender In Tooth-And-Nail Fight To Leash Dogs In Bay Area’s Open Space

Feds Surrender In Tooth-And-Nail Fight To Leash Dogs In Bay Area’s Open Space

After a snarling battle, the National Park Service has announced that it’s “permanently” backing off its plan to impose tough new leash restrictions on dogs on federally managed open space in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The feds are now resigned to continue enforcing the more lenient 1979 rules in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Authorities had tried to impose leash laws on most areas as part of a plan that they said would protect wildlife. But an appellate court ruling in 2005 ordered the National Park Service to first conduct a hearing process.
A suit last year by dog owners to obtain records on the plan revealed that staff had used work and personal emails to communicate with groups backing dog restrictions.
The trove of emails, which became known as “Woofie Leaks,” revealed what pet lovers argued was a clear bias against their dogs that undermined a fair hearing process — and they used that information to press their case.
An NPS review team determined that, while staff use of personal emails for parks business was inappropriate, the communication “ultimately did not influence the outcome” of the planning process,” according to a park service statement.

Conservation & Sustainability

California wildfires torch the legalization hopes of pot growers

California wildfires torch the legalization hopes of pot growers

The wildfires that swept across Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa counties in Northern California last week devastated many of the region’s legal cannabis growers, torching their crops and facilities at peak harvest time and leaving smaller farmers at risk of collapse.
Allen said the fires had destroyed at least 21 farms and damaged two others.
The farms were already under pressure from growing competition from much bigger operations.
But the real culprit looks like climate change, which will put cannabis growers — and the state at large — at risk in the future, as reported by Sonoma County’s weekly newspaper, The Bohemian.
Garrett estimates that Sonoma County produces about $2.5 billion in cannabis revenue per year. That includes indoor and mixed-light production, which is harvested three to five times a year. Outdoor production, the kind most likely to be damaged by the fire, represents the most potential for loss since that crop hadn’t been harvested and dried.
Most of the losses were in Sonoma County, where the fires were largest.
Just as the fire did not discriminate, incinerating homes in upscale ridge-top areas as well as a vast swath of more than 1,000 working-class homes in hard-hit Santa Rosa, the fire took out pot farms big and small, too.
CannaCraft is Sonoma County’s largest cannabis producer and distributor.

Conservation & Sustainability

Restoring Beavers by Plane and Automobile

Restoring Beavers by Plane and Automobile

Beavers are.
The two I’m watching are going into Duck Creek.
They’re making places for fish to go,” Brower says. Water flows in and out of a beaver dam.
Beaver dam analogs (BDAs) are man-made clogs on creeks created with posts, mud and willow.
For this habitat experiment to work, the beaver has to stay put.

Conservation & Sustainability

Scientists Press For Marine Sanctuary After Massive Penguin Chick Die-Off

Scientists Press For Marine Sanctuary After Massive Penguin Chick Die-Off

Scientists are seeking increased environmental protections after an entire breeding season of Adelie penguin chicks was wiped out in a key colony in east Antarctica.
Only two chicks survived the massive die-off among the thousands born to 18,000 pairs of breeding adults, researchers reported.
The chicks were also drenched by unusual rains followed by low temperatures, which caused many to freeze to death, according to researchers.
French scientist Yan Ropert-Coudet, who has been monitoring the colony with colleagues from the French National Center for Scientific Research, told Agence France-Presse that conditions are set for such die-offs to “happen more frequently” because of floating Mertz ice as well as changing winds and temperatures.
The breeding pairs in the colony then numbered over 20,000.
Krill, a major part of the birds’ diet, are particularly sensitive to ocean temperature changes.
As part of an effort led by France and Australia, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources is meeting through Oct. 27 in Hobart, on the Australian island state of Tasmania, to discuss creating a massive marine protected area close to 400,000 square miles in the area. Plans were initiated in 2009 to establish a series of such sanctuaries, but they have been stymied by struggles over fishing rights.
It’s the largest marine reserve on the planet, according to AFP.

Conservation & Sustainability

California ‘Horror’ Fires Kill At Least 40 People In One Week

California ‘Horror’ Fires Kill At Least 40 People In One Week

Fast-moving fires spread by shifting winds forced thousands more to evacuate their homes on Saturday as the death toll over the week rose to 40, with hundreds missing.
With 235 people still missing on Saturday in Sonoma County alone and rubble from thousands of incinerated dwellings yet to be searched, authorities expect the death toll to climb.
Some 100,000 people have been forced from their homes, including 3,000 on Saturday from the city of Santa Rosa, about 50 miles (80 km) north of San Francisco.
It is a horror that no one could have imagined,” California Governor Jerry Brown said on a visit to a devastated city.
For the picturesque Napa Valley town of Calistoga, now evacuated, the winds were a double-edged sword.
Fire officials said the Tubbs fire, between Calistoga and Santa Rosa, was about 50 percent contained, while another in wine country, the Atlas fire, was at 45 percent. But the Nuns fire west of Napa was only 15 percent contained.
The year’s wildfire season is one of the worst in history in the United States, with nearly 8.6 million acres (3.5 million hectares) burned as of Oct. 13, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Conservation & Sustainability

Thousands More Flee Their Homes As California Wildfires Spread

Thousands More Flee Their Homes As California Wildfires Spread

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (Reuters) – Thousands more Californians evacuated their homes on Saturday as fierce wildfires spread due to constantly shifting winds, and officials expected the official death toll of 35 from the week of fires to rise with hundreds of people still missing.
Sixteen major wildfires, some encompassing several smaller merged blazes, have consumed nearly 214,000 acres (86,000 hectares), roughly 334 square miles, an area larger than New York City.
Some 100,000 people have been forced from their homes, including another 3,000 evacuated from the city of Santa Rosa, about 50 miles (80 km) north of San Francisco, and another 250 from nearby Sonoma city.
“It’s an unwieldy beast right now,” fire information officer Dennis Rein said at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, the main staging area for the so-called Nuns Fire in Sonoma County, a wine-producing region.
More than 10,000 firefighters are battling the fires, which have destroyed 5,700 buildings and thrown California’s wine-producing industry, and related tourism, into disarray, damaging or destroying at least a dozen Napa Valley wineries.
“It’s cautious optimism but it’s optimism,” Negrete said of the Tubbs Fire.
Cal Fire had estimated the fires would be contained by Oct. 20 but may need to revise that date because of the winds that kicked up, Rein said.
The Nuns burned some 300 acres (120 hectares) near Sonoma, damaging some buildings on the outskirts of the city, McLean said.
The year’s wildfire season is one of the worst in history in the United States, with nearly 8.6 million acres (3.5 million hectares) burned, just behind 2012, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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Climate Change & Global Warming

Climate Change Week in Review: Week Ending October 20, 2017

Climate Change Week in Review: Week Ending October 20, 2017

The Arctic Wildlife National Refuge in Alaska, near Prudhoe Bay, is the largest protected wilderness in the United States and

Climate Change & Global Warming

Climate Change Week in Review: Week Ending October 13, 2017

Climate Change Week in Review: Week Ending October 13, 2017

This week saw a former Australian prime minister give a startlingly denialist speech on the subject of climate change, a

Climate Change & Global Warming

Maybe Hollywood doesn’t produce great scientists?

Maybe Hollywood doesn’t produce great scientists?

The term has given rise to a number of television programs which endeavour to expose whether phenomena seen in films can be replicated.
Mr. Weinstein is rapidly losing his endorsement by the Hollywood crowd, which he had brought to star status.
Want to sell something, anything?
Why should the public care what actor X has to say on the topic? Should they be swayed by what an actor says?
Hollywood can be said to be in the professional business of lying and suspending rational thought. In a sense, actors and directors are professional liars – they work to make seem real a work of fantasy.
So when Hollywood produces film showing Manhattan sinking beneath the ocean, or actor X steps out of character and portrays a scientific concern for the climate and attributes climate catastrophes to human activities, remember that they are both in the business of fantasy.

Climate Change & Global Warming

Dirty bird carcasses tell the story of how air pollution has improved in the last 100 years

Dirty bird carcasses tell the story of how air pollution has improved in the last 100 years

A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the discoloration of birds in museum collections can be used to trace the amount of black carbon in the air over time and the effects of environmental policy upon pollution.
“The soot on these birds’ feathers allowed us to trace the amount of black carbon in the air over time, and we found that the air at the turn of the century was even more polluted than scientists previously thought,” says Shane DuBay, a graduate student at The Field Museum and the University of Chicago and one of the authors of the study. He and co-author Carl Fuldner, also a graduate student at UChicago, analyzed over a thousand birds collected over the last 135 years to determine and quantify the effects of soot in the air over cities in the Rust Belt.
But when you look at pictures of Beijing and Dehli, you get a sense for what US cities like Chicago and Pittsburgh were once like,” says DuBay.
To measure the changes in sootiness over the years, DuBay and Fuldner turned to a novel approach: photographing the birds and measuring the light reflected off of them. Fuldner, a photo historian who focuses on images of the environment, worked with DuBay to develop a method for analyzing the birds using photography.
DuBay and Fuldner plotted the amount of light bouncing off the birds’ feathers according to the year the birds were collected.
“The fact that the more recent birds are cleaner doesn’t mean we’re in the clear,” DuBay notes. “While the US releases far less black carbon into the atmosphere than we used to, we continue to pump less-conspicuous pollutants into our atmosphere — those pollutants just aren’t as visible as soot.

Climate Change & Global Warming

UK and Canada announce global alliance to end coal power

UK and Canada announce global alliance to end coal power

The two nations have committed to phase coal out of their electricity generation – by 2025 in the UK and 2030 in Canada.
Canada’s minister for the environment Catherine McKenna and UK climate minister Claire Perry met at the Houses of Parliament in London.
This year, with the growing influence of renewable energy, the UK began experiencing summer days during which not a single coal station needed to be turned on.
“We still are going to get our resources to market in the near term; we are still going to use oil and gas,” she said.
The Netherlands will surely join after announcing their own coal phase out by 2030 on Wednesday.
In that country, coal still produces 40% of electricity.

Climate Change & Global Warming

Politicized sustainability threatens planet and people

Politicized sustainability threatens planet and people

Even worse, we are supposed to protect those future needs even if it means ignoring or compromising the undeniable needs of current generations – including the needs and welfare of the most impoverished, politically powerless people on Earth today.
Responsible businesses, families and communities practice this kind of sustainability every day: polluting less, recycling where it makes sense, and using less energy, water and raw materials to manufacture the products we need.
However, under sustainability precepts, we are supposed to predict future technologies – and ensure that today’s resource demands will not compromise the completely unpredictable energy and raw material requirements that those completely unpredictable future technologies will introduce.
How today is anyone supposed to predict what might be in store ten, fifty or a hundred years from now?
Who today can foresee what future technologies we will have … and what raw materials those future technologies will require?
Why would we ignore or compromise the pressing needs of current generations, to meet those totally unpredictable future needs?
And regardless of whether supposed alternatives really are eco-friendly and sustainable.
How would that in any way be sustainable?
Meanwhile, more than 1.2 billion people still do not have electricity.

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