Archive for April, 2009

No Age, Deerhunter, and Dan Deacon Team Up For Summer Tour

April 30, 2009

Vodpod videos no longer available.

No Age, Deerhunter, and Dan Deacon are teaming up for a forthcoming joint North American tour. The summer jaunt will see all three artists play together at, what I am sure will be, a whole bunch of awesome shows.

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Recycled Tissue and Toilet Paper Guide

April 30, 2009

Stop the destruction of old growth forests just to wipe them after going Number 2!!

This is a guide for environmental friendly aspects in paper products. Be informed and shop wisely, you vote for a business every time you buy something. Green Forest have the most environmentally responsible paper products and Walmart brand paper products are ranked the lowest.

Please read this and act! If you don’t buy the paper products in your household, share this information with those who do.

Find Guide Here.

Obama seeks reversal of mountaintop mining rule

April 30, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is taking steps to reverse a last-minute Bush-era rule that allows mountaintop mining waste to be dumped near streams.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday the administration will ask a federal court to abandon the rule that made it easier for coal mining companies to dump waste near streams. If the court agrees, the Obama administration could start drafting a new regulation that better protects waterways and communities sooner than if it sought to rewrite the measure itself.

Salazar said the rule, finalized with a little more than a month before President George W. Bush left office, was bad policy. Two lawsuits pending in federal court sought to block or overturn the rule. The Obama administration’s decision puts the federal government in the rare position of siding with the parties that filed the lawsuits.

“The Secretary of the Interior’s move to undo a seven year rulemaking process is precipitous and will only add to the uncertainty that is delaying mining operations and jeopardizing jobs,” National Mining Association Chief Executive Hal Quinn said in a statement. “We trust the Secretary of the Interior does not plan on engaging in a de facto rulemaking, thereby avoiding the transparency integral to a fair and legal regulation.”

Cool Interactive US Wind, Solar & Biomass Power Potential Map Released by NRDC

April 30, 2009

A couple weeks ago NRDC and the Audubon Society released a Google Earth layer that mapped out what areas in the western United States are and should be off-limits to protect certain ecosystems and wildlife habitat. Now the NRDC has released a companion map (not for Google Earth) that shows wind farms, advanced biofuel facilities and biodigester projects either existing or planned, across the whole country, as well as color coding the energy potential for each technology.

Go to the link to check it out . . .

Life cycle assessments measure water’s impact on Earth’s ecosystems for the first time

April 30, 2009

Despite water’s significance, modeling how freshwater consumption for drinking, industrial manufacturing, and agriculture has affected ecosystems, human health, and the depletion of nonrenewable freshwater resources has been overlooked. In a new ES&T study (DOI 10.1021/es802423e), researchers take the traditional life-cycle assessment (LCA) approach one huge step beyond current practices with a model that incorporates water consumption.LCA models were created to address problems in industrialized nations, and most of these countries don’t experience human-health risks due to water scarcity, the authors note. Recently, researchers have started to use LCA models to manage diminishing resources in developing countries. To incorporate water consumption into the LCA process, Stephan Pfister, Annette Koehler, and Stefanie Hellweg at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich’s (ETH Zurich’s) Institute of Environmental Engineering started from scratch: they created units of measure for water consumption that are compatible with the many values for energy and resource use that appear in an internationally recognized LCA method. “For water use, this hadn’t been done, ever,” says Hellweg, who is a professor of ecological systems design at ETH Zurich.

For example, the team interpreted a well-known value established by the World Health Organization in LCA models and applied it to water use. The disability-adjusted life year is a value that expresses the number of years a person’s life will be shortened as a result of disease or premature death. The team also adapted an indicator applied to address ecosystem impacts and known as PDF (potentially disappeared fraction of species) to express how water impacts species.LCAs routinely rely on aggregated data to represent large areas. But the ecological impacts of water use depend on regional factors, such as freshwater availability, water infrastructure, rainfall, and consumption patterns at a specific location. The team used a geographic information system to gather regional data and divided large rivers, such as the Nile and the Mississippi, into subcatchments. “The watershed level is more appropriate for the assessment, because hydrological processes are connected within watersheds,” Pfister says.

In the paper, Pfister and colleagues demonstrate their model with a case study of a process that is water-intensive worldwide: cotton production. They began with data from the “virtual water” database developed by researchers in The Netherlands. A relatively new idea, virtual water describes the amount of water that evaporates during agricultural use. Specifically, the database is an inventory of the water consumed for agricultural use for many crops in most countries.The team found that the impacts from water consumption in the cotton industry vary according to country: Egypt’s water supply experiences the highest level of damage (77%) from cotton production, whereas Brazil experiences the lowest level of damage (0%), followed by the U.S. (4%).

The damages to ecological systems from overconsumption of water are illustrated in this world map (yellow represents low impacts, navy high impacts).

20 Gut-Wrenching Statistics About the Destruction of the Environment

April 30, 2009

Every so often it is good to remind ourselves why we are working so hard to protect the environment and all its creatures. While many of these statistics are depressing, the good news is that we are currently working towards a solution for each one of these and making some pretty sizable progress.

The United States makes up less than 5 percent of the population on earth, yet we easily consume over 30 percent of its resources. While us humans would appear to be doing well, spreading our population like wild fire across the globe, the diminishing resources and other life forms on the planet tell a different story. “We are in the midst of a mass extinction, an event not seen since the disappearance of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago,” says Worldwatch Institute.

About 110 million Americans live in areas with levels of air pollutants the federal government considers to be harmful.

A one years worth subscription to the New York Times weighs well over 500 pounds. The good and bad news however, is that more and more newspapers are being forced into extinction, many of them becoming online news sources. While newspapers have been a tradition and they will be one day missed, the great part about online news is that is can be up to the minute on breaking news stories.

Using recycled paper for one days worth of the New York Times Sunday Edition would save approximately 75,000 trees.

Five trillion plastic bags are made each year. Of these bags, one billion are thrown away, with only 1 percent finding their way into a recycle bin. The end result of this is around 1 billion birds and mammals dying each year by the ingestion of plastic.

Americans dump 16 tons of sewage into their waters, every minute.

If the number of cars keeps increasing at its present rate, there will be over one billion on the road by 2025. There is currently around 700 million cars on the road today producing 900 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. This equals approximately 15 percent of our total output. Sadly, one half of these trips in the U.S. are within 3 miles and could easily be walked in less than an hour.

A single quart of motor oil dumped on the ground or in the trash, can contaminate up to two million gallons of fresh water.

A large study has found that up to one half of all plants and animals species on dry land could face extinction by the year 2050 due to global warming. According to the World Resources Institute, 100 species die each day due to tropical deforestation.

A plant called the rosy periwinkle, which grows in the “rainforests” of Madagascar, has been used to make a drug that can cure some kinds of cancer. Imagine all the other miracles we may have already lost out on.

Some scientists believe that at the current rate of resource depletion, the Earth will become limited to sustaining only about 2 billion humans by the year 2100. Currently there are about 5.9 billion lives on the earth to support, and of these nearly 15 million children die each year of malnutrition and starvation.

In the U.S., one third of the population is overweight and spends approximately $35 billion to cure this “disease”. $20 billion is all that would be necessary to feed every single malnourished nation.

The assets of the world’s three richest men are shockingly much more than the combined GNP of every single one of the least developed countries around the globe.

The Clean Air Council tells us that in the United States, we generate millions of tons of municipal waste each year, equaling approximately 4.3 pounds per person per day and 56 tons per person per year. Of that, 95 percent is deposited into overflowing landfills of which one out of two have been deemed in desperate need of repair due to leaks and contamination of ground soil.

Eighty-four percent of the typical waste coming out of a U.S. Household (food, yard waste, paper, plastic, cardboard, aluminum cans, etc.) is recyclable.

31 countries around the world today face chronic freshwater shortages. In another 20 years, that number will increase to over 50 countries (2.8 billion people). Meanwhile, the United States continues to import bottled water for its consumers, of which burns about 1.5 million barrels of oil just to get it here, and costs over 10,000 times what a glass of tap water would be. All in all, bottled water per gallon has become more of a costly resource than gasoline itself.

The typical U.S. Home uses no less than about 300 gallons of water every single day. Many people around the world have to travel miles just to carry back 5 gallons to use for an entire family.

We have just as much water in the world today as we ever did, but only 3 percent of that is in drinkable condition. Two-thirds of the 3 percent is currently locked up in polar ice caps, while the remaining one-third is accessible for organic consumption. Sadly, of the remaining 1 percent of drinkable water in the world, only half of that is considered drinkable by international standards. In the United States alone, an estimated one-third of all its waters are considered unsafe for drinking, bathing, or even fishing.

Water is quickly becoming a private commodity. At its current rate of acquisition, 70 percent of all water systems in Europe and North America may soon be owned by private corporations.

Just about every single healthy person reading this article has between 70 and 90 industrial chemicals and pollutants flowing through their circulatory system at this very moment. We get these from the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. The United States uses 100 different pesticides each year, equaling 2.2 billion pounds of toxic chemicals (carcinogens, birth defects, gene mutations.

Only about 10 percent of the billions of pounds of pesticide chemicals (some 35,000 different chemicals total) used on produce since the 1940’s have been tested for their negative effects on humans.

Article here.

The Lost Forests of America

April 27, 2009

The forests that once dominated this nation were full of trees such as chestnuts, hemlocks and white pines on the East Coast and conifers such as redwoods and Douglas firs on the West Coast.

Around the arrival of Columbus, “it’s said that squirrels could travel from tree to tree from the Northeast to the Mississippi without ever having to touch the ground,” said Chris Roddick, chief arborist at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York. “In the old growth forests in the Northeast, you had hemlock that were six or seven feet in diameter, chestnut trees 200 feet tall.”

Although Native Americans used to burn forests to farm, such practices were nowhere close to damaging “as the drastic deforestation that came with the Europeans,” Roddick said. The colonists, like the Native Americans, cleared forests to farm, and felled trees for their timbers as well. “White pine was used a lot for shipbuilding,” he explained.

While some pockets of old growth remain, supporting trees that are hundreds of years old, the majority of those ancient forests have been replaced by younger trees that are much smaller and typically grow in settings that look nothing like bygone forests.

As deforestation leveled native trees, so too have infestations of disease and insects decimated forests:

* A fungal disease called chestnut blight attacked the American chestnut.
* A sap-sucking relative of the aphid from East Asia known as the hemlock woolly adelgid helped drive hemlocks into decline.
* Dutch elm disease devastated American elms.
* The emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees.
* The fungus-like organism that causes sudden oak death is threatening oaks.
* The Asian longhorn beetle has been attacking maple trees, “and if it were to get at sugar maples in New England, that would be very disastrous,” Roddick said.

Invasive species were introduced as well, either trees grown for timber or as ornaments that escaped into the wild. “The Norway maple is pretty common in New York City and New England, and that’s a European native,” Roddick said. “One mature tree can have hundreds of thousands of seeds on it and out-compete native forests.”

Global warming is also affecting forests. “The sugar maple is an American native that needs cooler weather, and we’re seeing it move to northern latitudes and higher elevations, which is thought in part due to climate change,” Roddick said. “It’s not clear what changes might happen with trees due to climate change — it might affect how much rain we get, and some species might flower earlier, but if their pollinators aren’t out yet, it’s not clear what effects that might have.”

Article here.

Special screening of “Crude” April 29 in San Francisco

April 27, 2009

Three years in the making, this cinéma-vérité feature from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial legal cases on the planet. An inside look at the infamous $27 billion “Amazon Chernobyl” case, Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. Presenting a complex situation from multiple viewpoints, the film subverts the conventions of advocacy filmmaking as it examines a complicated situation from all angles while bringing an important story of environmental peril and human suffering into focus.

Find out more here.

Oops. Republicans stripped $900 million in pandemic preparedness funds from the stimulus bill.

April 27, 2009

When House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who has long championed investment in pandemic preparation, included roughly $900 million for that purpose in this year’s emergency stimulus bill, he was ridiculed by conservative operatives and congressional Republicans.

Obey and other advocates for the spending argued, correctly, that a pandemic hitting in the midst of an economic downturn could turn a recession into something far worse — with workers ordered to remain in their homes, workplaces shuttered to avoid the spread of disease, transportation systems grinding to a halt and demand for emergency services and public health interventions skyrocketing. Indeed, they suggested, pandemic preparation was essential to any responsible plan for renewing the U.S. economy.

Now, as the World Health Organization says a deadly swine flu outbreak that apparently began in Mexico but has spread to the United States has the potential to develop into a pandemic, Obey’s attempt to secure the money seems eerily prescient.

And his partisan attacks on his efforts seem not just creepy, but dangerous.

The current swine flu outbreak is not a pandemic, and there is reason to hope that it can be contained.

But it has already killed more than 80 people in a neighboring country and sickened dozens of Americans — causing the closing of schools and other public facilities in U.S. cities.

On Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that a national “public health emergency” had been declatred. (Notably, the second question at the White House press conference on the emergency had to do with the potential impact on the economic recovery.)

Dr. Anne Schuchat, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Interim Deputy Director for Science and Public Health Program, explained to reporters on Saturday that, because the cases that have been discovered so far are so widely spread (in California, Kansas, New York, Ohio and Texas), the outbreak is already “beyond containment.”

Article here.

Take Action: Obama about to act on mountaintop removal mining

April 27, 2009

In only hours, we expect President Obama’s agencies to decide whether to keep his campaign promise and end mountaintop removal mining—a devastating practice that has destroyed hundreds of mountains and thousands of miles of streams in Appalachia.

This is one of the most critical moments in our years-long fight to stop this environmental tragedy.

But, even as you read this, the powerful lobbying forces of King Coal are banging on the White House door, urging Obama to break his promise. Coal’s forces run deep and are gathering. They know that Obama is about to make a decision. Their voices are loud.

We need to be louder.

But we must act fast. Decisions are expected as early as tomorrow, and Tuesday is a big day in court.

Please act now. Tell President Obama not to support Bush administration policies that continue the irreversible and destructive practice of mountaintop removal. Urge President Obama to keep his promise to enforce the Clean Water Act and let science lead policies on coal mining.

We have reasons to be concerned about Obama’s decision. Some in his administration have publicly stated that most pending permits for mountaintop removal mining “will not raise environmental concerns.” There are nearly 100 permits poised to bury and permanently destroy 432 valleys and 213 miles of streams in Kentucky and West Virginia alone. Permits that were halted are now being reviewed.

Tell President Obama to finally take action and prevent the permanent devastation of some of the world’s oldest mountains—and the communities that surround them. Don’t let dirty coal win! Talk is cheap, it’s time that President Obama make his words the law.

Please act today. It soon could be too late.

Sign here.