Cross Posted from NPR
Climate change is a stark reality in America’s northernmost state. Nearly 90 percent of native Alaskan villages are on the coast, where dramatic erosion and floods have become a part of daily life.
Perched on the Ninglick River on the west coast of the state, the tiny town of Newtok may be the state’s most vulnerable village. About 350 people live there, nearly all of them Yupik Eskimos. But the Ninglick is rapidly rising due to ice melt, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the highest point in the town — a school — could be underwater by 2017.
Suzanne Goldenberg, a U.S. environmental correspondent for The Guardian, spent time in Newtok and this week on the plight of its residents, whom she calls America’s first climate refugees. She told weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden that the rising river poses the greatest risk.
“The river is basically stealing the land out from underneath the village,” she says. “Every year during the storm season, that river can take away 20, 30, [even] up to 300 feet a year. … It just rips it off the land, away from the village in these terrifying storms.”
by John Atcheson, Cross Posted from Common Dreams
OK, lemmings don’t commit mass suicide. But they do reproduce chaotically, and periodically consume their way out of sustainable habitats, and into mass migrations that result in most of their population dying.
Sound familiar? We’re cavalierly headed for our own cliff – 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere sometime in the next couple of months, if not sooner.
The lemming has a brain the size of a pea. What’s our excuse?
by Bryan Walsh, Cross Posted from Time:
Honestly, if the consequences weren’t potentially so dire, the ongoing struggles to clean up the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan would be the stuff of comedy. In March, an extended blackout disabled power to a vital cooling system for days. The cause: a rat that had apparently been chewing on cables in a switchboard. As if that’s not enough, another dead rat was found in the plant’s electrical works just a few weeks ago, which led to another blackout, albeit of a less important system. The dead rats were just the latest screwups in a series of screwups by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the owner of the Fukushima plant, that goes back to the day of March 11, 2011, when an earthquake and the resulting tsunami touched off a nuclear disaster that isn’t actually finished yet. I’m not sure things could be much worse if Wile E. Coyote were TEPCO’s CEO.
From Root Force
Were you really hoping this was going to save your First World lifestyle?
A series of recently released studies make it clear that wind power is not going to save us—not from global warming, not from high extinction rates, and not from the system of high-energy-consumption industrial exploitation that is killing the planet.
Let’s start with the most damning findings: even the most large-scale shift to wind power cannot slow greenhouse gas emissions enough to have any positive effect on the climate, although it may manage to make things worse. Why?
A studypublished in Nature Climate Change in September found that although hypothetically there is enough power in the earth’s winds to sustain current levels of energy consumption, in practice you could never harvest enough energy from wind to affect the climate:
Turbines create drag, or resistance, which removes momentum from the winds and tends to slow them. As the number of wind turbines increases, the amount of energy that is generated increases. But at some point, the winds would be slowed so much that adding more turbines will not generate more electricity. …
[T]he study found that the climate effects of extracting wind energy at the level of current global demand would be small, as long as the turbines were spread out and not clustered in just a few regions. At the level of global energy demand, wind turbines might affect surface temperatures by about 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit and affect precipitation by about 1 percent. Overall, the environmental impacts would not be substantial. (emphasis added)
from the Economic Times
BEIJING: About 90 per cent of glaciers in Tibet called the Third Pole region, are shrinking because of black carbon pollution “transferred from South Asia” to the Tibetan Plateau, a Chinese scientist has warned.
The Third Pole region, which is centred on the Tibetan Plateau and concerns the interests of the surrounding countries and regions, covers more than five million square kilometres and has an average altitude of more than 4,000 metres. Continue reading
20,000 acres in North Fork area removed from sale
The Bureau of Land Management has announced it is delaying an auction for drilling leases in Colorado following a public outcry. Leases for more than 20,000 acres in the North Fork Valley were set to go on the block this month. But residents organized a campaign raising environmental concerns, including the impact of hydraulic fracturing on the quality of water and air.
The BLM released the following statement on the auction yesterday:
From those same motherf**kers that brought us Arizona’s SB 1070, Stand Your Ground, and countless other rapacious “laws” comes yet another attack on the earth from the American Legislative Exchange Council:
Corporate polluters are taking aim this year at states with renewable energy laws, starting with an attack on North Carolina’s clean energy economy by a corporate front group known as ALEC with support from Duke Energy, ExxonMobil, and Koch Industries.
W. Antarctic warming among world’s fastest
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 24 (UPI) — The western portion of Antarctica is warming twice as fast as previously thought and triple the world’s average temperature rise, U.S. scientists say.
The temperature in the center of western Antarctica, about 700 miles from the South Pole, has risen 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1958, making that area one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth, the researchers wrote in the journal Nature Geoscience.
A 2009 measurement considered authoritative had indicated that part of the continent, which resembles a giant peninsula stretching roughly from the South Pole toward the southern tip of South America, had warmed just 2.2 degrees since 1957. Continue reading
Get yer radical holiday EF! merch at the Earth First! Film Fest
We have an awesome lineup of some radical, entertaining, visual awesomeness! People are coming in from all over and we already have a handful of Earth First!ies crashing in our EF! Journal office (thanks for working in the garden friends!).
So bring yerself over here to see these incredible movies on a big screen, eat food, and hangout with folks.
By: Jenée Desmond-Harris
(The Root) — It’s not news that coal-fired plants cause pollution, and it’s not surprising that it’s low-income people and people of color who tend to live closest to them. But “Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People,” a new report released this week by the NAACP, the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, breaks down the numbers to communicate just how bad the environmental injustice is.
The organizations ranked 378 coal-fired power plants in the nation based on their Environmental Justice Performance, a score based on the plants’ toxic emissions as well as the demographics of their surrounding areas (things like race, income and population density). The results led NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous to conclude, “Coal pollution is literally killing low-income communities and communities of color … There is no disputing the urgency of this issue. Environmental justice is a civil and human rights issue when our children are getting sick, our grandparents are dying early, and mothers and fathers are missing work.”
Here’s some of what they found: The 6 million Americans living near coal plants have an average income of $18,400, compared with $21,857 nationwide, and 39 percent are people of color. That’s especially troubling news for those who can’t afford to live elsewhere, because pollutants emitted by coal plants have been linked to asthma attacks, lung inflammation, chronic bronchitis, irregular heart conditions and birth defects. According to the Clean Air Task Force, coal pollution is estimated to cause 13,200 premature deaths and 9,700 hospitalizations per year across the United States. Continue reading