Earth Whirl: 17 Jun 2015
A word from Mother Nature.
Where do we go from here?
-Wow: Map of the world showing depletion of underground aquifers, including those in greatest distress.
–Pope Francis really stirring things up with an encyclical arguing “that humanity’s exploitation of the planet’s resources has crossed the Earth’s natural boundaries, and that the world faces ruin without a revolution in hearts and minds.” It also addresses “the root causes of poverty”. Encyclical here.
-The International Energy Agency warns that existing approaches will not halt emissions sufficiently to avoid “a temperature rise of 2.6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century”.
–New research report, quantifying “the real impact of green politics on the environment”, underscores the necessity of a vigorous environmental movement to make things happen. Map and states’ scorecard.
–Mega-hydroelectric dam being built in the Amazon jungle. Relocation and “alternative means of survival” guarantees to the mostly indigenous inhabitants routinely breached. Demolition boats ply the waterways, throwing people off traditional territories. Brazil’s prosecutor has intervened, finally.
–Stunning, full-scope report of our impact on the Colorado River, beginning with the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona which consumes 15 tons of coal/minute 24/7 and emits 16 million tons of carbon dixoide/year. This, and the depletion of the Colorado River, can’t continue. What to do?
–Researchers at Stanford and University of California/Berkeley have a plan, state-by-state, for making the US 100% “renewable energy in less than 40 years.”
-Uh-oh, polar bear seen eating dolphins as global warming continues to nudge sea dwellers north to cooler seas.
–Unusual 2 degrees increase in Pacific water temperature from Central California to British Columbia has contributed to “the largest toxic algae bloom ever recorded off the West Coast.” Shellfish affected; high levels of toxin detected in small fish upon which larger creatures feed.
–Sweden’s Ikea is going to “spend [1.13 billion dollars] over the next five years to address climate change.” Think US top water polluters—Koch Industries, Tyson Foods, Dept of Defense, Cargill, US Steel and Phillips 66—will follow suit? Me neither, but it was fun to fantasize for a moment or two.
-Yay! France has banned the sale of Monsanto’s Roundup at garden centers.
–Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) gets his due in scathing environmental review by Scientific American.
–Buying electricity from Bechtel Corp’s proposed solar project in the Mojave Desert rejected by the city of Los Angeles—and not just because other renewable energy sources have lower prices, but also because of the fate of approximately 100 bighorn sheep. **High fivving**
–Public utilities won, hands down, in a comparison of electricity rates charged California consumers by public vs for-profit utilities.
–Ontario’s English-Sabigoon River was contaminated in 1962-70 when Reed Paper dumped mercury into it. Grassy Narrows First Nation and the province commissioned a study. Major result? “rising contamination levels in some waterways that are the main source of fish, staple food” for the people [emph added]. Premier Kathleen Wynne’s stall? More research needed.
– Japan has built a solar station that floats. It’s on a reservoir, producing enough energy for 820 households. Dozens more are planned.
-15 years ago Bolivians kicked Bechtel out of Cochabamba so their water supply wouldn’t be privatized. Today, three intense struggles by South American indigenous peoples are on-going: against the efforts of extractive industry giants Repsol and Glencore to quash environmental protections in Peru and against Enel-Endesa’s mega-dams threatening environment and indigenous cultures in Colombia.
–Liberation of Mother Earth continues in Colombia as the Nasa people struggle to farm for their survival using earth-healthy farming techniques. They’re up against Big Ag (sugarcane growers), mining companies, FARC and the government. Annotated photos.
–2500 people in the last favela in Sao Paulo depend on one source for water: an “impossibly slender blue PVC pipe”—and it’s illegal. Sewage and electricity provision are equally precarious.
Drilling, fracking, piping frenzy
-Sweeping overview of the shifts taking place as more people awaken to the dangers of fracking, pipelines, bomb-trains; of flagrantly burning hydrocarbons, polluting the environment, and the many inherent dangers of storing the wastes created in the pursuit of fossil fuel profit
–Excellent article: Shell oil Arctic drilling “ground zero” at Barrow/Ukpeagvik, Alaska, where Inupiat people worry about effects of the drilling on their health, environment and culture. Dangers of conflict as the US, Norway, Russia, Denmark and Canada focus on riches hidden in the pristine Arctic.
–Shell’s barge, Arctic Challenger, sailed from Bellingham, Washington, followed by Shell’s Polar Pioneer (puh-leez with the names) departure from Seattle. Many kayakers present in protest, 24 arrested by the Coast Guard, cited and fined $500, then “released with their equipment”.
–“This is the one fight we must win, because without a liveable world, nothing else matters. This is the fight of our lives.” — Jane Fonda on Arctic oil drilling and Big Oil in general.
–Winona LaDuke says the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s granting Enbridge a “certificate of need” is a “Declaration of War” since Enbridge can now build its Sandpiper oil pipeline where it wants—“directly through indigenous wild rice beds.”
–Peak fracking in the USA? Production in the various “oil patches” is decreasing, with one exception, the Permian Basin, but even there production is said to have “seriously ‘plateaued’”.
–8 pipelines proposed through Pennsylvania to get natural gas to the Northeast. Much local opposition, but ultimately the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is in charge. Such a mess!
–Alaska’s House has refused “to cap state spending on oil company tax credits at $500 million” since that would “harm small oil and gas companies that need the cash.” They’re cutting public education instead.
-In Cuero, DeWitt County, Texas a “house-shaking” explosion and huge, intense fire erupted from an Energy Transfer pipeline.
–Exxon’s gotta pay $1 million for that Silvertip Pipeline rupture in 2011 that dumped 63,000 gallons of crude into Montana’s Yellowstone River. US Dept of Transportation says so.
–Same week Texas outlawed community bans on fracking, an EnCana fracking well blew out near Karnes City, Texas. Some residents are still not allowed back in their homes. Even after all the rain, fields and trees are brown (video).
–What will fracking opponents in Denton do now that the Texas political apparatus has run over them? Update: Denton City Council voted 6-1 to repeal their ban on fracking. Meanwhile, 92 year-old Violet Palmer stands tall!
And now to the mining sector
-Talk about outreach! Wangan and Jagalingou indigenous peoples of Australia travelled to London to urge Standard Chartered bank “to rule out funding a massive coal mine on their ancestral lands” in Queensland. Guar one in a series of stops at huge banks. Result: “11 banks have so far distanced themselves from the project”.
-Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva has introduced “Save Oak Flat Act” to undo McCain-Flake sacred Apache land giveaway to Resolution Copper. Resolution Copper, meanwhile, says it’s willing to talk with the San Carlos Apache Tribe—but the mine is going through.
–Noway divested from coal last week; this week, Norway’s pension fund is divesting from cement quarries in Israel and 8 other companies with incomes “from coal-based operations, corruption, environmental damage, and the production of tobacco.”
–Liberate Tate, artists protesting against the Tate Museum’s ties to BP and oil patronage of artists in general, writing “words of warning about climate change” in charcoal on the floor.
–Peru has second largest legal and illegal gold exports. Who’s doing the illegal exporting? The Peruvian government, selling it to “six members of the London Bullion Market Association.” 150 tons/year; $5 billion/year. Two US companies reportedly benefitting.
Leaving you with a smile
Meet Opisthoteuthis adorabilis. 🙂