Monday, October 29, 2012

Bill McKibben on Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change: "If There Was Ever a Wake-up Call, This Is It"

Much of the East Coast is shut down today as residents prepare for Hurricane Sandy, a massive storm that could impact up to 50 million people from the Carolinas to Boston. The storm has already killed 66 people in the Caribbean, where it battered Haiti and Cuba. "This thing is stitched together from elements natural and unnatural, and it seems poised to cause real havoc," says Bill McKibben, founder of New York and other cities have shut down schools and transit systems. Hundreds of thousands of people have already been evacuated. Millions could lose power over the next day. Meteorologists say Sandy could be the largest storm ever to hit the U.S. mainland. The megastorm comes at a time when President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have refused to make climate change an issue on the campaign trail. For the first time since 1984, climate change was never addressed during a presidential debate. "It’s really important that everybody, even those who aren’t in the kind of path of this storm, reflect about what it means that in the warmest year in U.S. history, ... in a year when we saw, essentially, summer sea ice in the Arctic just vanish before our eyes, what it means that we’re now seeing storms of this unprecedented magnitude," McKibben says. "If there was ever a wake-up call, this is it." We’re also joined by climate scientist Greg Jones from Southern Oregon University. [includes rush transcript]

Bill McKibben on Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change: "If There Was Ever a Wake-up Call, This Is It"
Democracy Now!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Food Fight: Debating Prop 37, California’s Landmark Initiative to Label GMO Food

On Election Day, California voters will decide on Proposition 37, which would make their state the first in the nation to require the labeling of food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The California Department of Public Health would be responsible for labeling everything from baby formula and instant coffee, to granola, canned soups and soy milk. Many major corporations, including Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Pepsi and Coke, are spending millions fighting the measure, which stands to impact labeling practices across the country. We host a debate on Prop 37 with two guests: Stacy Malkan, a longtime advocate for environmental health and spokesperson for the Yes on 37 California Right to Know campaign, and David Zilberman, professor of agricultural and resource economics at University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Center for Sustainable Resource Development. [includes rush transcript]

Food Fight: Debating Prop 37, California’s Landmark Initiative to Label GMO Food
Democracy Now!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Democracy Now! Expanding the Debate

In the last of our exclusive "Expanding the Debate" series, we bring you highlights of our coverage of last night’s final presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, with the added voices of third-party candidates. As Obama and Romney faced off for the last time before the general election, we once again broke the sound barrier by inserting Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party into the discussion. In an evening focused on foreign policy, both Obama and Romney shared wide agreement on issues including support for the Israeli government, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, and opposition to U.S. military involvement in Syria. But they clashed over a few key points, including military spending, negotiating with Iran, and responding to the Libyan embassy attack. Before a live audience in San Rafael, California, we aired the Obama-Romney debate and paused the tape to give Stein and Anderson a chance to respond in real time to the same questions put to the major-party candidates. [includes rush transcript]

Watch our full three-and-a-half-hour "Expanding the Debate" special featuring Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson responding to the same questions posed to President Obama and Mitt Romney in the final debate of the campaign. In addition, we speak to Ai-jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, University of San Francisco Professor Stephen Zunes, and Norman Solomon, co-founder of

Democracy Now!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Climate Change Is Simple - David Roberts Remix - YouTube

Climate Change Is Simple - David Roberts Remix - YouTube
Published on Oct 15, 2012 by 
This video is to promote general awareness of the science of climate change. It features David Roberts of Grist, and short clips from around the web. Edited by @ryanlcooper. Find more of my stuff at

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chasing Ice | Capturing our Disappearing Glaciers - Balog w Moyers

In the spring of 2005, acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a tricky assignment for National Geographic: to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate. Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change. But that first trip north opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history and sparked a challenge within him that would put his career and his very well-being at risk.

Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet. Within months of that first trip to Iceland, the photographer conceived the boldest expedition of his life: The Extreme Ice Survey. With a band of young adventurers in tow, Balog began deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers.

As the debate polarizes America and the intensity of natural disasters ramps up globally, Balog finds himself at the end of his tether. Battling untested technology in subzero conditions, he comes face to face with his own mortality. It takes years for Balog to see the fruits of his labor. His hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate. Chasing Ice depicts a photographer trying to deliver evidence and hope to our carbon-powered planet.

Chasing Ice
James Balog’s Photo Gallery | Chasing Ice

James Balog on Capturing our Disappearing Glaciers | Moyers & Company |

October 11, 2012
James Balog, one of the world’s premier nature photographers, joins Bill to explain how “the earth is having a fever.” At tremendous risk to his own safety, Balog has been documenting the erosion of glaciers in Switzerland, Greenland, Iceland, and Alaska. Now he joins Bill to share his amazing photos, discoveries, and self-discoveries –  including his transformation from climate change skeptic to true believer, and his mission to capture footage of these destructive environmental consequences before it’s too late. Balog’s soon-to-be-released film, Chasing Ice, is a breathtaking account of climate change in action.
“What made me a skeptic 30 years ago was that I didn’t have it in my head that it was possible that our species, homo sapiens, was capable of so profoundly altering the basic physics and chemistry of the planet,” Balog tells Bill. “And of course the revelation that we can alter the physics and chemistry so profoundly is something that has just emerged in the scientific community in the past ten or 15 years… It’s a really revolutionary idea.”

Kucinich Calls Out Monsanto: Americans Demand GMO Labeling

Kucinich Calls Out Monsanto: Americans Demand GMO Labeling - YouTubePublished on Sep 19, 2012 by 

In 1992 the Food and Drug Administration decided that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are the functional equivalent of conventional foods. They arrived at this decision without testing GMOs for allergenicity, toxicity, anti-biotic resistance and functional characteristics. As a result hundreds of millions of acres of GMO crops were planted in America without the knowledge or consent of the American people: no safety testing and no long term health studies...

whats more: hurdy gurdy postcard from Germany

a friend who was traveling sent this to me from Germany awhile back

2609. Orgelleier von César Pons
Grenoble, Ende 18. Jh.

"Gurdy organ" by César Pons
Grenoble, late 18th Century

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

As Texas Pipeline Blockade Continues, Activists Challenge First U.S. Tar Sands Strip Mine in Utah

 As a direct action blockade of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline continues in Texas, we look at what could be the first actual tar sands and oil shale strip-mining operation in the United States. Not far from Moab, Utah, the state has already leased land to a Canadian energy development company that recently changed its name to U.S. Oil Sands. The company plans to mine nearly 6,000 acres in an area of unspoiled wilderness that is also the watershed of the Colorado River, which provides water to more than 30 million people. The mine itself would be water-intensive in what is already the second-driest state in the country, and activists say chemicals used in the mine could pollute the water that is left. We’re joined by two activists working to block the project: John Weisheit, longtime conservation director of Living Rivers & Colorado Riverkeeper; and Ashley Anderson, founder and director of Before It Starts, which is leading the fight to stop tar sands drilling in Utah. [includes rush transcript]

As Texas Pipeline Blockade Continues, Activists Challenge First U.S. Tar Sands Strip Mine in Utah

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Nuclear" seismic testing threatens wildlife in California?

My Greenpeace colleagues aboard our new flagship the Rainbow Warrior in the Indian Ocean shared a heartwarming experience when a frolicking group of humpback and minke whales put on quite a show. The excitement of their encounter just reverberated through their email and I can see from these photos why they were so pumped. It’s not a stretch to say these whales were happy and playful. Why wouldn’t they be as the entire Indian Ocean is a whale sanctuary where they can live in peace? What a contrast this is to other parts of the world where whales not only don’t have protections but face a myriad of direct threats from humans. One huge emerging threat to whales, dolphins and other marine wildlife is happening now in the coastal waters of California... (more)

and another petition:

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is posed to conduct seismic testing in a grid pattern over a large area off the Central Coast of California from Cambria to the Santa Maria River. Tests could begin as early as September 2012 and last until the end of the year. The research ship would emit blasts of very loud noise into the ocean. Streamers four or five miles long would be towed behind the vessel, which would pick up the sound waves as they penetrate several miles into the Earth’s crust and reverberate back to the surface...

and another petition:
The goal of the seismic imaging project is to attempt to measure the three major earthquake fault lines which run along our coast. The existence of these fault lines, especially after the continuing disaster at Fukushima, Japan, call into question the advisability of maintaining the Diablo Canyon nuclear power facility, operating near Avila.

on facebook see:

Chumash Nation speaks out against seismic testing off California coast

The Chumash Nation is speaking out against the Diablo Canyon Seismic project off the Central Coast of California.
The California-based energy company Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) wants to carpet bomb approx. 580 square nautical miles of sea floor with powerful Air Cannons that will blast every 10 to 20 seconds for 42 days straight.
The Chumash warn that these 260db sonic blasts, which will travel through the water and 10 miles into the earth's crust, will devastate the local marine ecosystem and possibly destroy fragile and sensitive Sacred Chumash Cultural Sites.
PG&E itself suggests that fisherman, divers, kayakers, boaters (including our tomol paddlers), and surfers remain out of the water during the tests due to the possibility of illness and even death. PG&E's Environmental Impact Report also lists a number of animals that will be unavaoidably impacted... (more)

Will the Federal Agency Charged with Protecting Whales and Dolphins Stand Up to the Navy? | Zak Smith's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC

Yesterday, the National Marine Fisheries Service – the federal agency charged with protecting whales and dolphins – announced that it received requests from the Navy for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to training and testing activities offSouthern California, Hawaii, and the East Coast, including the Gulf of Mexico, for the five-year period starting in January 2014.  It all sounds very innocuous until you dig a little deeper and discover that the Navy is asking for authorization to take 33 million (yes, that’s not a typo:  33,000,000) whales and dolphins over the next five years, including more than 5.23 million instances of temporary hearing loss; almost 16,000 instances of permanent hearing loss; almost 9,000 lung injuries; and more than 1,800 deaths.  It’s a staggering and unprecedented amount of harm that should give any federal agency involved, be it the Navy or the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”), pause.
Yet, the Navy is not pausing, apparently has no plans to go back to the drawing board, and instead continues to rely on a mitigation scheme – centered on the ability of lookouts to detect whales and dolphins and then limit the use of sonar when they get too close – that is demonstrably ineffective and inadequate.  It’s ineffective because, as the Navy admits, lookouts on Navy ships only detect about 9 percent of whales and dolphins in the best of conditions.  It’s inadequate because the Navy’s own analysis shows that some of the most severe impacts, such as permanent hearing loss, will occur well beyond the Navy’s “too close” zone.  How else then does the Navy propose that the harm from its activities can be limited?  It doesn’t.  Its analysis and application to NMFS fail to present decision makers with any alternatives or mitigation measures that would appreciably reduce the harm to whales and dolphins.
So what’s an agency like NMFS to do when the Navy – no small fry in the Executive Branch – comes calling?  Follow.  The.  Law.
Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS has a legal obligation to minimize the harm to whales and dolphins from the Navy’s proposed activities.  If the Navy’s application and draft Environmental Impact Statements fail to offer a path forward for minimizing harm – as they do – NMFS is required to develop alternatives and mitigation measures of its own that limit impacts to marine mammals, while still meeting the Navy’s training needs.
Comments to NMFS on the Navy’s application and request are due November 5.  NRDC will be submitting comments urging NMFS to meet its obligations under the MMPA – develop and adopt alternatives and mitigation measures that appreciably reduce the harm to whales and dolphins from the Navy’s activities.

Will the Federal Agency Charged with Protecting Whales and Dolphins Stand Up to the Navy? | Zak Smith's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC
Zak Smith's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC | NRDC

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why sustainability is bad for the environment

Nan Laney

The environmental movement which started out working to sustain nature at large has ended up campaigning to sustain industrial civilisation instead, writes Paul Kingsnorth.

Paul Kingsnorth | The Drum Opinion  (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) | 2 Oct 2012

For many years, I called myself an 'environmentalist'. I don't use the word anymore, though the things that motivated me to do so are still important to me - perhaps more than they ever were.

I became an environmentalist because of a strong emotional reaction to wild places and to natural beauty. From that reaction came a feeling, which became a series of thoughts: that such things are precious for their own sake; that they are food for the human soul; that they need people to speak for them to, and defend them from, other people because they cannot speak our language and we have forgotten how to speak theirs; and because we are killing them to feed ourselves and we care about it, sometimes, but we do it anyway because we are hungry, or we have persuaded ourselves that we are.

These are not very common sentiments within the mainstream of the green movement today. Today's environmentalism is as much a victim of the contemporary cult of utility as every other aspect of our lives, from science to education. You won't hear many greens today talking about their emotional reactions to the wild world. Instead, you'll hear them promoting something called 'sustainability'.

We hear this curious, plastic word everywhere. But what does it mean? It does not mean what it ought to: defending the non-human world from the ever-expanding empire of industrial humanity. Instead, it has come to mean sustaining human civilisation at the comfort level which the world's rich people - us - feel is their right, without destroying the 'natural capital' or the 'resource base' which is needed to do so.

A strange confusion has come about. A movement which started out working to sustain nature at large, in the face of human attacks upon it, has ended up campaigning to sustain industrial civilisation instead...

more > Why sustainability is bad for the environment - The Drum Opinion (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Virginia Residents Fight Back Against Nuclear Industry Effort to Lift Ban on Uranium Mining

Virginia residents are organizing against a push by the nuclear industry to lift a three-decade-long ban on uranium mining. The ban went unchallenged until recently, when the cost of uranium began to rise. Virginia residents have expressed concern about the dangers uranium mining poses to drinking water, air quality, farm products, fishing and tourism. They say allowing mining of the one uranium deposit already identified would open the door for exploration of other sites across the state. Almost all of Virginia’s major cities have passed resolutions to oppose lifting the ban. We’re joined by the former director of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality, Robert Burnley, now an environmental consultant to the statewide coalition, Keep the Ban. [includes rush transcript]