Archive | June, 2012

Palm Oil Industry Burning Indonesian Orangutans into Extinction to Build Plantations

30 Jun

By Oliver Milman / The Guardian

The world’s densest population of orangutans is set to be “extinguished” by a massive new wave of fires that is clearing large tracts of a peat swamp forest in the Indonesian island of Sumatra, conservationists have warned.

Environmentalists claim that satellite images show a huge surge in forest blazes across the Tripa peat swamp in order to create palm oil plantations, including areas that have not been permitted for clearing.

Tripa is home to a tight-knit enclave of around 200 critically endangered orangutans. However, this number has plummeted from an estimated population of 3,000.

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What Would A Real Transition To A Sustainable Society Look Like?

30 Jun

By Max Wilbert / Deep Green Resistance

Climate scientists are clear that modern human societies are changing the atmosphere of the planet, mainly by clearing forests, grasslands, wetlands, and other natural ecosystems for the purposes of development and logging and by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. These activities are releasing greenhouse gases and destroying natural greenhouse gas reservoirs. The result of all this activity is that the Earth is growing steadily warmer, year after year, and this is causing problems all over the world.

That additional heat is powering up weather systems and altering global flows of energy. Storms are more powerful and frequent than in the past. Drought, wildfires, tornadoes, floods, and other weather patterns are becoming increasingly unpredictable and dangerous. “Freak” events like the disastrous heat wave in Russia in 2011 are becoming more common. Annual deaths ascribed to climate change were estimated in a 2002 study to be 150,000 per year at that time, using what the authors called an “extremely conservative” methodology.

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Micropredators and Oily Prey

30 Jun

by John Fischman

The ecological effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill are still largely unknown. Josh Fischman, senior writer, is on the research vessel Endeavor in the Gulf of Mexico, with a team of university scientists seeking answers. He is filing reports from the ship.
—100 miles off Pascagoula, Miss.

Debby did Gulfport this past weekend. Or threatened to, enough to toss the Endeavor’s cruise plan up in the air. Tropical Storm Debby was barreling north across the gulf with 50-knot winds and 15-foot waves, but the forecasts were vague about whether she would turn east across Florida or west, right across Gulfport, Miss., and the area we want to study. The harbor in Gulfport is fairly exposed, and the captain didn’t relish the idea of staying in port and getting banged against the pier. So on Sunday we jogged four hours east, to a Coast Guard station and shipyard protected by an island at Pascagoula. It was fly-infested—the biting buggers were still on the ship days later—but it was quiet and it was safe.

And it gave Andrew Juhl a chance to talk about why he was on the ship. He was hunting for predators. Small single-celled predators, but still bigger than the oil-eating bacteria which they engulf with tiny whiplike appendages called flagella.

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Can a Tiny Purple Desert Orchid Stop a Massive Open-Pit Mine

29 Jun

Photo © Ron Coleman.

by the Center for Biological Diversity

TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the agency’s failure to protect Coleman’s coralroot under the Endangered Species Act. Coleman’s coralroot is an extremely rare purple orchid found on national forest land in the footprint of the proposed Rosemont copper mine outside Tucson. If protected, it would become one of at least 10 endangered species that would be harmed by the proposed mine. The mine would result in the direct loss of at least 6,500 acres of wildlife habitat and would cause indirect harm to more than 145,000 acres of habitat.

“You can’t blast a mile-wide open pit, produce 1,200 million tons of toxic waste and withdraw 33 billion gallons of water without leaving a permanent scar on this fragile landscape and the plants and animals that depend on it,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist with the Center. “Only Endangered Species Act protection can ensure this gorgeous, incredibly rare orchid isn’t wiped off the face of the Earth.”

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Enviro Group Sells Out to Fracking Industry in NY

28 Jun

Cross Posted from WaterDefense

Documents obtained by the Environmental Working Group show that officials at the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) secretly colluded with gas industry lobbyists to write fracking regulations.

DEC General Counsel Steven Russo, with full knowledge of DEC Commissioner Joe Martens, sent drafts of New York’s fracking legislation to industry lobbyists in order to solicit feedback on the rules at least six weeks before they were released to the public. This gave the industry ample opportunity to ensure that the regulations were watered down and industry-friendly.

New York’s proposed fracking regulations have been widely criticized for ignoring the overwhelming scientific evidence that fracking poses grave health risks to nearby communities. Now we know why: the industry the DEC is tasked with regulating helped write its own regulations.

Click here to call on Governor Cuomo to restore the public’s faith in the DEC by scrapping proposed regulations and beginning the environmental review process from square one.

Obama Plan Expands Risky Offshore Drilling in Arctic, Gulf of Mexico

28 Jun

by the Center for Biological Diversity

SAN FRANCISCO— The Obama administration announced plans on Thursday to dramatically expand offshore oil drilling, including in the Arctic and the heart of critical habitat for polar bears. The plan will also expand high-risk, ultra-deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which is still suffering the effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil.

The five-year plan schedules 15 lease sales in six offshore areas, including the Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas, where an oil spill in remote areas would be nearly impossible to clean up, and portions of the Gulf of Mexico near areas where development has so far been off-limits. The plan encourages further reliance on oil and threatens species already stressed by the impacts of climate change.

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Feds Grant Approval for Southern Portion of Keystone XL

28 Jun

—By / Mother Jones

The pipeline will move all the oil from Canada’s tar sands south.

Not long after delaying the approval of the Keystone XL, President Obama announced that the administration is expediting consideration of permits for the pipeline’s southern portion. And that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday, according to the New York Times:

The Army Corps of Engineers on Monday told TransCanada, which wants to build a 1,700-mile pipeline to carry heavy crude from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, that it could begin construction on the portion of the proposed pipeline that would end at the gulf port of Nederland, Tex. The Corps of Engineers is still reviewing permits for a section of the pipeline beginning at a major oil depot in Cushing, Okla., and linking up with the final leg ending at the gulf.

Nebraska is still working out an alternative route around sensitive ecosystems in the state, and there’s still quite a lot of opposition there to building it at all. But in the meantime, the other half of the pipeline is moving ahead full steam.