Category Archives: Environment

Remember Cecil the Lion?

Do you remember Cecil the Lion? He was a loin in Zimbabwe, living in a protected park, somewhat habituated to human presence. A Great White Hunter, who was also a dentist in Minnesota, killed him a couple of years ago, and took a lot of heat for it. The real story of what happened is now out in a brand new book by biologist Andrew Loveridge. Continue reading Remember Cecil the Lion?

Nuclear Plant Bill Riles, Confuses, Perhaps Conspires

There is a pair of bills working their way through the Minnesota state legislature that would change the way Xcel Energy can pay for certain costs of maintaining and upgrading its nuclear power plants between now and their eventual final shut down several years hence. Continue reading Nuclear Plant Bill Riles, Confuses, Perhaps Conspires

Biodiversity Down

You’ve heard of the IPCC, the climate change report thingie. That is a project of the UN, and the UN actually has other, similar projects that are less well known. One of them is the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). This is the international agency tracking global biodiversity. They are issuing their new report on March 26th, but I can tell you about it now. Continue reading Biodiversity Down

The Children Are Coming. They Are Coming For You.

And, by “you” I mean the individuals and institutions that have shepherded civilization, and even our entire species, to the very brink of collapse and near extinction, motivated by greed and guided by ignorance.

And, in particular, this group of children are coming for that group of bad guys: Continue reading The Children Are Coming. They Are Coming For You.

Trump Ruins Everything For Everybody (but good news from Minnesota)

Donald Trump went into a snit and his babysitter wasn’t around to control him, so he barged into a meeting and slapped high tariffs on metal imports. The stock market suffered a mini-crash, and according to some experts, 2 cents per watt have been added to utility scale solar projects. Continue reading Trump Ruins Everything For Everybody (but good news from Minnesota)

Dear Candidate For Office: About your environmental policy…

Over the last five months, and with increasing frequency, I find myself listening to candidates for office talk about their environmental policies. I’ve looked at the policies of candidates for Minnesota Governor, for US Congress in three different districts, and for Minnesota Senate and House in numerous districts. There is a lot of variation across the candidates. Only one candidate so far has demonstrated a) rich knowledge of the subject, b) well formulated and detailed policy, and c) policy that I find very good and agree with. This is not a post about that candidate, but rather, all the other candidates.

The other candidates have positions that run from “seems kinda OK” to “is maybe mostly OK” but none are good enough. The most common position on a given environmental issue is for the candidate to indicate that they think it is very important. Sadly, when it comes to climate change specifically, the most common position is for the candidate to acknowledge that climate change is real.

Sorry, but you don’t get points for knowing how to write your name on the top of the exam. Continue reading Dear Candidate For Office: About your environmental policy…

About 30 Thousand U.S. Newborns At Risk From Fracking per Year?

A new study based in Pennsylvania measured health indicators of children born far, near, and very near, fracking sites. The study showed an effect that reached out to about 3 kilometers, but that was much stronger within about 1 kilometer, from fracking sites. The effects included lower birth weight and similar differences that are associated with in utero stress.

Given this finding, it is estimated that about 29,000 newborns are born in fracking danger zones per year in the US. Continue reading About 30 Thousand U.S. Newborns At Risk From Fracking per Year?

Federal Court Dismisses Resolute SLAPP Suit Against Greenpeace

A press release from Greenpeace provides information on this issue which I know some of you have been following.

SAN FRANCISCO, October 16, 2017 — Today, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed all claims in the controversial case that major logging company Resolute Forest Products [2] filed against Greenpeace Inc., Greenpeace Fund, and Greenpeace International, Stand.earth and individual defendants, including claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act.

The court’s decision sends a clear message to corporations that attacks on core democratic values like freedom of speech and legitimate advocacy on issues of public interest will not be tolerated. District Judge Jon S. Tigar wrote in his order dismissing the case that Continue reading Federal Court Dismisses Resolute SLAPP Suit Against Greenpeace

Is your honey laced with neonicotinoid?

There is a reasonable chance there is. From the current issue of Science:

Growing evidence for global pollinator decline is causing concern for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services maintenance. Neonicotinoid pesticides have been identified or suspected as a key factor responsible for this decline. We assessed the global exposure of pollinators to neonicotinoids by analyzing 198 honey samples from across the world. We found at least one of five tested compounds (acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam) in 75% of all samples, 45% of samples contained two or more of these compounds, and 10% contained four or five. Our results confirm the exposure of bees to neonicotinoids in their food throughout the world. The coexistence of neonicotinoids and other pesticides may increase harm to pollinators. However, the concentrations detected are below the maximum residue level authorized for human consumption (average ± standard error for positive samples: 1.8 ± 0.56 nanograms per gram).

A worldwide survey of neonicotinoids in honey, by E. Mitchel et al.

Caption for the figure at the top of the post:

Fig. 1 Worldwide contamination of honey by neonicotinoids.
(A) Worldwide distribution of honey contamination by neonicotinoids. White symbols, concentration below quantification levels (LOQ for at least one neonicotinoid; shading indicates the total neonicotinoid concentration (nanograms per gram). Pie chart insets: Relative proportion of overall concentration of each neonicotinoid by continent (legend in bottom inset). (B) Overall percentage of samples with quantifiable amounts of 0, 1, or a cocktail of 2, 3, 4, or 5 individual neonicotinoids. (C) Proportion of samples with 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 individual neonicotinoids in each continent. (D) Rank-concentration distribution of total neonicotinoids in all of the 149 samples in which quantifiable amounts of neonicotinoids were measured.

I’m still … er … digesting this. What do you think?

On that chilling law suit against the environmental groups

… which I’ve posted on before … there are new developments, summarized at Inside Climate News:

Invoking the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, a federal conspiracy law devised to ensnare mobsters, the suit accuses the organizations, as well as several green campaigners individually and numerous unidentified “co-conspirators,” of running what amounts to a giant racket.

“Maximizing donations, not saving the environment, is Greenpeace’s true objective,” the complaint says. “Its campaigns are consistently based on sensational misinformation untethered to facts or science, but crafted instead to induce strong emotions and, thereby, donations.” Dozens of the group’s campaign emails and tweets, it said, constituted wire fraud.

“As an NGO, that is a deeply chilling argument,” said Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), which joined eight other groups to file an amici curiae brief supporting a move to dismiss Resolute’s case.

ICN goes on to describe the background and details of the suits. And now, an important appearance before the courts is about to happen.

On Oct. 10, Greenpeace will ask a federal judge in California to dismiss the case. The group submitted a similar motion last year in Georgia, where the suit was originally filed. The Georgia judge later moved the case to California, where two of the defendants are based, saying Resolute had not provided any “factual basis from which to infer that defendants committed fraud or extortion” in Georgia. “Rather, the allegations in the complaint, at best, support the inference that the defendants organized and held a protest in Augusta.”

“It is very alarming that you can have plaintiffs like this, representing corporate interests attacking legitimate critics doing advocacy work by just drafting a complaint, throwing whatever in there, stretching racketeering law and going after constitutionally protected free speech by throwing labels out there basically trying to criminalize legitimate advocacy work,” said Tom Wetterer, Greenpeace’s general counsel.

Read all the details here.

A Letter To The Logging Company That Is Suing Greenpeace

This is interesting.

It is a letter from Hachette Livre, a major international publisher, to Resolute Forest Products, the group that is trying to sue a number of environmental groups into submission. (See these posts: Taking The Axe To The Environmental Movement: Resolute v. Greenpeace and Freedom of Speech, Resolute Forestry, Stand.Earth, Greenpeace: New Developments) Hachette Livre uses Resolute, and seems to be a significant customer of the tree cutting pulp giant. And, they are giving Resolute a little what for:

HACHETTE LIVRE’S COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Richard Garneau Produits forestiers Résolu

Vanves, June 8h, 2017

Dear Mr Garneau,

My company, Hachette Livre, is a customer of Resolute, and has been for many years. Our US subsidiary, Hachette Book Group, buys substantial quantities of FSC-certified ground wood paper from your Canadian mills.

We enjoy a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship. As you probably know, Hachette Book Group, as its parent company Hachette Livre, has very high environmental standards that both companies advertise in their corporate brochures and web sites. We have a history of working productively with various environmental NGOs such as Rainforest Action Network, for instance.

Greenpeace has recently attracted our attention to the conflict between it and Resolute that has erupted into a significant legal battle.

I have no intention of getting involved in the dispute, for as publishers, we have neither the expertise nor the resources to forge an educated opinion as to who is right and who is wrong in what seems to be a complex set of highly technical issues.

I would simply like to respectfully make two points.

The first is that our commitment to FSC is the cornerstone of our Social and Environmental Responsibility policy.

As such, it cannot suffer exceptions to suit a particular situation or a specific vendor. I therefore urge you to do everything in your power to retain the FSC certifications you have in Canada and more specifically, those that are necessary to meet our environmental requirements. It is of vital importance to us.

The other point I would like to make, not as a customer but as a publisher and a citizen, is that the vigor of your legal response to Greenpeace under RICO statutes strikes me as excessive. It is a very disturbing turn of events for publishers like us, who cherish public debate as an essential dimension of our activity and include many conservationists and environmentalists in our list of authors. Indeed, an escalation of the legal dispute could cause some authors to decline having their books printed on Resolute’s paper, further complicating the situation.

Needless to say, we cherish just as much the rule of law and respect the right to seek legal remedy, but I wonder whether there might not be other ways to respond to Greenpeace’s claims.

Let me put it this way: At a time when the United States has decided to turn its back on climate change by reneging on its commitment to the Paris Accord, we believe we need more than ever independent NGOs such as Greenpeace. Without them, who will speak up for the environment in the future?

I hope these suggestions will give you pause, if not meet with your approval.

This letter will be posted on our company web site after you have received it.

Thank you for your attention, and I hope you are able to resolve this dispute soon.

Sincerely,

Arnaud Nourry

I do want to go back to this sentence:

I have no intention of getting involved in the dispute, for as publishers, we have neither the expertise nor the resources to forge an educated opinion as to who is right and who is wrong in what seems to be a complex set of highly technical issues.

That is utter bullshit, embarrassingly stupid, and I have no idea why they would say this. I want to know how much this guy pays for his milk. But otherwise, it is a good letter.

The New Climate Alliance

Screw the so-called Federal Government, once part of a great democracy, now a great joke run by an insane clown and his posse.

Most of the hard work in the energy transition needs to be done at the levels of the state and the individual anyway. So, with Trump taking the so-called Federal Government, which most of us now recognize as illegitimate and an annoyance at best as is slowly disappears bit by bit and becomes nothing other than a way to transfer tax money to rich people (until we stop paying our taxes), let’s just get on with saving civilization, the planet, our children, and all that good stuff on our own.

And, at the state level, I’m proud to announce that Minnesota has joined the new “Climate Alliance.”

From MPR:

Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday joined a group of governors who are committing their states to upholding the Paris climate deal’s emissions cuts despite President Trump’s decision last week to withdraw the U.S. from the pact.

Organized as the U.S. Climate Alliance, member states aim to reduce emissions by at least 26 percent from 2005 levels and meet the federal Clean Power Plan targets.

“President Trump’s withdrawal will cause serious damage to our environment and our economy,” Dayton said in a statement. “Nevertheless, Minnesota and other states will show the world what we can achieve by working together to conserve energy, to use cleaner and renewable energy, and to leave a livable planet to our children and grandchildren.”

There’s over 12 other states in the group now, last count.

Of course, this is all for naught if we dont’ elect a Democratic governor here in 2018. For information on that, see this.