Not to beat a dead horse (although that horse could possibly help alleviate the demand for tuna) but I wanted to clarify some of the arguments against eating seafood or, rather, in favor of marine life. Here I address
some specific (and broader) questions in response to my recent posts.
Isn't there sustainably harvested seafood out there we can eat? In theory, we should be able to harvest
seafood sustainably. I am not ruling out this possibility, although most scientists are very hard pressed to name several
truly sustainably managed fisheries (note on the rule of sustainability: things should stay the same). Given the current state of fisheries management, though, it is hard to ensure what you are eating is ecologically sound.
Many 'sustainable fisheries' have negative consequences on the species that rely on them for food or the species that are
caught as bycatch. Also note: in theory, we could also harvest whales, manatees, and dolphins sustainably. That doesn't mean
Why focus on a personal boycott? My work does not focus on a personal boycott (to date in the scientific
literature I have argued for better seafood labeling, eliminating subsidies, and banning the use of fishmeal in livestock
feed) but someone out there should be voicing a boycott as an option. This is not because the consumption by one individual
will make a difference but mainly because, from a theoretical standpoint, fish need a wider spectrum of voices. At present,
the conservation community (and consumers, too, of course) fundamentally relates to most marine life as commodities
rather than wildlife. Plus, many consumers suffer cognitive dissonance when we say: the oceans are totally screwed
but just eat this rather than that and things will improve. A radical problem calls for (at least the presence of)
a radical solution.
How about the premise of eating local when it comes to seafood? It's a nice idea but unrealistic for
the majority of Americans. The U.S. imports 80% of its seafood from 13,000 different suppliers from 160 different countries.
What about all the people who depend on fish and fishing for suvival? I have said this repeatedly,
but I do not think that food insecure populations should consider giving up anything, unless it's on account of health
reasons. Tackling issues of abstinence/personal consumption, while worthy and intriguing, is really a luxury pastime.
What about my health? Seafood is not as healthy as people think (more on this to come). Aside from
having to deal with the dangers of accumulation of mercury and PCBs prevalent in marine carnivores, several medical studies
came out this year affirming that, at best, fish oils are just one factor of many that may reduce health ailments, such as
heart disease. The medical researchers found that people who do not eat fish, such as vegetarians, are not at any greater
risk of illness.
In conclusion, we should consider giving up seafood for the following reasons:
EATING SEAFOOD IS NOT THAT HEALTHY.
EATING SEAFOOD HAS NEGATIVE ECOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES.
MOST IMPORTANT: TO EAT SEAFOOD IS TO EAT THE PLANET'S LAST REMAINING WILDLIFE.
According to our latest count, 417,000 Americans have called
on the EPA to hold our nation's biggest polluters accountable for their global warming pollution -- far surpassing
our coalition-wide goal of 300,000 public comments.
Until now, the most meaningful U.S. efforts to fight global warming
have taken place outside of Washington. Our advocates and activists have helped win dozens of new state and regional initiatives
to cut global warming pollution and repower our economy with clean energy.
Citing our research, The New York
Times noted in an editorial last Monday, "These states and cities shed a hopeful light on what this nation and others can
and must achieve." 
Thanks to 417,000 Americans like you, we're ready to take it to the federal level --
with a plan to enforce, for the first time ever, Clean Air Act limits on global warming pollution from coal-burning power
plants and other big smokestack industries.
With one of the largest outpourings of public support in EPA history,
we've given the Obama administration the strong backing it needs to see this plan through in the next few months.
Washington D.C. being Washington D.C., obstacles remain. Sen. Lisa Murkowski -- ironically, from Alaska, the state most quickly
and dramatically being affected by global warming -- is pushing Congress to block President Obama from using the Clean Air
Act to limit global warming pollution. 
Meanwhile, solving global warming remains a long-term challenge. Today,
we've reached a critical milestone. Thanks, as always, for making it all possible.
In a warming world, scientists have told
us to expect more rain and less snow in the Northwest -- but not less overall precipitation.
New evidence, however, suggests that both rain and snowfall may
decrease across the region during dry years.
Even in the rain-drenched Northwest, the trend could escalate water
conflicts if it continues. Farmers, conservationists and city water managers would face severe challenges trying to balance
human needs with the survival requirements of endangered salmon that need cold, clean, rushing water.
Researchers with the U.S. Forest Service looked for changes in the
amount of water flowing out of mountain basins since 1948 at 43 rivers and streams across Oregon, Washington, Idaho and western
Few rivers showed significant declines in runoff until researchers
isolated the driest 25 percent of years.
Then nearly three-quarters of river basins showed severe decreases
in water flow. Runoff fell by 30 percent or greater in most streams, and by nearly 50 percent at some locations during dry
"And those are really important years," says study author Charlie
Luce, a Forest Service research hydrologist in Boise.
"Those are the years that test the trees, whether they live, die,
or catch on fire. Those are the years that test the fish, that test the farmers and the water managers." The journal Geophysical
Research Letters published the study online Aug. 22.
Previous studies found little or no change in river flow or annual
precipitation because they looked at average or median values. The region's average annual precipitation actually increased
by about 10 percent over the past century, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
Philip Mote, director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute
at Oregon State University, says the new findings are important and "potentially very worrisome."
"But we can't be sure these trends will continue," Mote says.
Global warming The pattern found in the new study runs contrary
to predictions based on computer simulations of global warming. Those suggest the Northwest should continue to receive about
the same amount of precipitation but that runoff will peak earlier and leave rivers emptier in hot summer months.
That's because rising temperatures are likely to cause more precipitation
to fall as rain instead of snow and the mountain snowpack to melt earlier in the spring. In a new forecast for western Washington,
for instance, Susan Dickerson and Robert Mitchell at Western Washington University in Bellingham predict increases in winter
flows, decreases in summer flows, and a shift toward earlier spring snowmelt as the regional climate warms.
"The biggest hydrologic change is a shift in timing of flow, not
a change in total annual flow," Mote says. Since 1920, snow accumulation in Northwest mountains has fallen about 25 percent,
Mote has calculated.
The new findings paint a more complicated picture. Not only will
we see more rain and earlier snowmelts, but we also could see significant decreases in overall precipitation during drought
"It would just be harder and harder to keep farming this dry ground
if the dry years get worse," says Gary Westcott, who grew up on a ranch in eastern Oregon and has run a small farm near Vale
Droughts have hit Northwest farmers hard in recent years. Federal
officials in 2002 halted irrigation to about 1,200 farms to shield endangered Klamath Basin fish from a worsening drought.
That brought an estimated net loss of $27 million to $46 million in crop revenues, of which taxpayers covered about $30 million
in emergency payments.
In 2005, Gov. Ted Kulongoski declared drought disaster emergencies
in six counties. In 2007, some eastern Oregon rivers produced about a third of their average runoff, and some reservoirs ran
dry months before the end of the growing season.
Impact on irrigation In his years of farming, Westcott hasn't
noted an increased severity in drought years. Rather, he says, drought seems more frequent.
Drier winters would undermine plans to extend irrigation with more
reservoirs. Washington passed a law in 2006 creating a Columbia River management plan calling for new reservoirs for eastern
Washington farmers. Kulongoski has backed the idea of building water storage areas in eastern Oregon to help farmers and maintain
instream flows for fish.
The new study doesn't prove that dry years are getting drier because
of less rain and snow, just that rivers run much lower than they did decades ago.
"It is not clear whether precipitation is decreasing, or whether
water use is increasing," says Julia Jones, an associate professor in the department of forest ecosystems and society at Oregon
In the Northwest, forests consume huge amounts of water. Dense,
tall stands of native Douglas firs can soak up more than 40 percent of the precipitation that falls in a river basin.
Several land use changes since the 1950s have tended to increase
water use, Jones says. Fire suppression has allowed forests to expand in some basins. Clear-cutting of old growth and replanting
young, fast-growing trees has increased water consumption in summer. In some watersheds, deep-rooted trees that extract more
water than grasses are overtaking abandoned farm fields and pastures.
Warmer springs and falls, due to climate change, could extend the
growing season of trees and shrubs -- and their water intake.
No matter the cause, if the trends are real, Jones says, the potential
for water conflicts will increase.
Climate models Because climate models don't point to decreasing
precipitation, says Mote, the OSU climate scientist, rising greenhouse gases may have nothing to do with decreased runoff
in dry years. "You can't conclude based on this study that climate models are missing something."
Luce agrees that it's impossible to link greenhouse gases and a
warming climate to less precipitation in dry years. But he says the evidence is fairly strong that the decreases in river
runoff are the result of less rain and snow and that the shift is contrary to climate models. Luce plans to extend his analysis
to precipitation records but says those records aren't as reliable as the numbers on runoff.
To account for changes in water use, Luce tracked forest water consumption
and evaporative losses in one river basin and found that those water losses could not explain the decreases in river flow.
Luce and co-author Z.A. Holden with the Forest Service in Missoula, Mont., also noted sharp decreases in flow in two river
basins in which large tracts of forest had been lost to fires -- which should have increased runoff by allowing more precipitation
to reach streams.
Luce speculates that changes in the Pacific Ocean circulation pattern
known as the El Nino Southern Oscillation may be the driving force behind his findings. Scientists have linked shifts in the
El Nino cycle to droughts in some regions and torrential rains in others. In recent years, some researchers have proposed
that global warming may be altering El Nino events and intensifying droughts.
But researchers don't know enough to predict how the El Nino cycle
will respond to future climate warming.
"Climate models embody the theory as we understand it," Luce says.
"Now we've got a new set of observations that don't quite agree with the theory. People can go out and refine the theory."
Born at the center of China's coal industry, the boy is mentally handicapped and is unable to speak. He is one of many
such children in Shanxi province, where coal has brought riches to a few, jobs for many, and environmental pollution that
experts say has led to a high number of babies born with birth defects.
Experts say coal mining and processing has given Shanxi a rate of birth defects six times higher than China's national
average, which is already high by global standards.
"They looked normal when they were born. But they were still unable to talk or walk over a year later," said farmer Hu
Yongliang, 38, whose two older children are mentally handicapped.
"They learnt to walk at the age of six or seven. They are very weak. Nobody knows what the problem is."
Hu's thirteen-year-old daughter Yimei can only say one word, while her brother Yilong is unable to talk at all. The two
spend most of the day playing in their small courtyard, where their mother Wang Caiying tends to their every need and tries
to shield them from the neighbors' prejudice.
"I never let them go out, I don't want people to laugh at my children. They stay in this courtyard every day," said Wang,
who looks older than her 36 years.
"I am especially worried about my son. He doesn't know how to take care of himself. I have to do everything for him."
The number of birth defects in Chinese infants soared nearly 40 percent from 2001 to 2006, China's National Population
and Family Planning Commission said in a 2007 report.
The rate of babies born with birth defects rose from 104.9 per 10,000 births in 2001, to 145.5 in 2006, affecting nearly
one in 10 families, the report said.
Infants with birth defects accounted for about 4 to 6 percent of total births every year, or 800,000 to 1.2 million babies,
higher than World Health Organization estimates that about 3 to 5 percent of children worldwide are born with birth defects.
"The fact that the rate of birth defects in Shanxi province is higher is related to environmental pollution caused by the
high level of energy production and burning of coal," said Pan Xiaochuan, a professor from Peking University's Occupational
and Environmental health department. Pan has been doing research into the health effects of pollution in Shanxi for several
Neural tube defects were the most common form of defect found in babies in Shanxi, Pan said, though congenital heart disease,
additional fingers and toes, and cleft palettes were also common.
China, home to some of the world's most polluted cities, has pledged to cut emissions and clean up its environment, laid
waste by decades of breakneck development.
But lax local enforcement and an insatiable demand for energy to feed its booming economy undermine environmental policy
China's ministry of health last week said it would give folic acid supplements to 12 million rural women to try to reduce
the rate of defects, especially the neurological defects that are most common and easily prevented with such supplements.
Defects often strike in the poorest families, who can barely afford medical fees let alone care for their children once
they reach adulthood.
The meager 10,000 yuan (1,600 US dollars) a year Hu earns transporting goods leaves almost nothing to pay for medical expenses
for his two children.
The family's hopes are now pinned on their youngest, a six-month old boy named Yiwu, whose blood tests show he was spared
his siblings' afflictions. His parents want Yiwu to be a doctor when he grows up.
Like many other villages in southwest Shanxi, Gaojiagou is surrounded by at least a dozen mines that spew out millions
of tons of coal every year to feed China's power plants and steel mills.
Many Gaojiagou villagers suffer from coughs or respiratory illnesses caused by the dust that clouds the air. Their water
source has also been polluted by mining, they say.
"Before every family got drinking water from the well in the courtyard," Hao said as water the color of weak tea rushed
out of a hose into a metal washbasin. "But now the water in the well is so polluted by the coal mines and washeries around
our village, we cannot drink it any more."
(Additional reporting by Jimmy Jian; Editing by Megan Goldin)
2.23.09 -- The United States Supreme
Court this morning issued an order declining to consider overturning a decision invalidating and vacating a Bush-era rulemaking allowing cap and
trade of toxic mercury emitted by the U.S. power industry.
The lower federal court in 2008, comparing the Bush administration's logic to that of the dangerously irrational Queen of Hearts character in Alice
in Wonderland, held 3-0 that the Environmental Protection Agency rule violated the Clean Air Act by evading mandatory
cuts in toxic mercury pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case finally
and completely invalidates the so-called "Clean Air Mercury Rule," which would have allowed dangerously high levels of mercury
pollution to persist under a weak cap-and-trade program that would not have taken full effect until well beyond 2020.
Fourteen states and dozens of Native American tribes, public health and environmental groups, and organizations
representing registered nurses and physicians challenged the EPA's suite of rules in 2005. The ruling by the United States
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rebuked EPA for attempting to create an illegal loophole for the power
generating industry, rather than applying the toughest emission standards of the Clean Air Act. The states challenging this
EPA rule are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New
Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin.
"The Supreme Court has now confirmed that EPA must follow the law as it is written. We are looking forward
to working on rules that reflect the most stringent controls achievable for this industry, as the Clean Air Act requires,"
said Ann Weeks, attorney for Clean Air Task Force who represented U.S. PIRG, Ohio Environmental Council, Natural Resources
Council of Maine, and Conservation Law Foundation in the case. "That's what is needed now, if we are ever to alleviate the
problem of mercury contamination in fish and wildlife."
The Supreme Court also granted the Obama administration's request -- made two weeks ago -- to drop the
Bush administration appeal.
"Today's good news is due in no small part to the leadership of the Obama administration, in renouncing the
harmful Bush administration actions and embracing EPA's responsibilities to protect the American people against mercury and
other toxic pollution," said John Walke, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Administrator Jackson
has a special opportunity to clean up harmful air pollution from power plants once and for all and her leadership so far bodes
well for the future."
Among the groups involved in last year's successful court challenge was Earthjustice, who argued the case
before the lower court on behalf of Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, and Sierra Club.
Approximately 1,100 coal-fired units at more than 450 existing power plants spew 48 tons of mercury into the
air each year. Yet only 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury is needed to contaminate a 25-acre lake to the point where fish are
unsafe to eat. Over 40 states have warned their citizens to avoid consuming various fish species due to mercury contamination,
with over half of those mercury advisories applying to all waterbodies in the state.
"While we applaud this ruling, mercury contamination from coal fired utilities continues to grow as new plants
are approved for construction," said Chesapeake Bay Foundation Director of Litigation Jon Mueller. "Every year in the
Chesapeake Bay region additional fish consumption advisories are issued. EPA must take action quickly to curtail this
threat to public health."
Power plants also emit tens of thousands of tons of other air toxics, including hydrogen chloride, arsenic
"Industry's desperate, last-gasp effort to continue poisoning our waterways and communities with toxic mercury
has met a fitting end," stated Waterkeeper Alliance Legal Director Scott Edwards. "We welcome the Court's decision as
yet another step in our continuing efforts to put to rest, once and for all, the myth of clean coal."
The EPA rules generated controversy from the moment they were proposed in 2004, when it was discovered that
industry attorneys -- from the law firm from which EPA's political management hailed -- had drafted key language
that EPA included verbatim in its proposal to let power plant companies off the hook. EPA's internal auditor in the Office
of Inspector General later discovered that EPA's senior political management had ordered staff to work backwards from a pre-determined
political outcome, "instead of basing the standard on an unbiased determination of what the top performing [power plant] units
were achieving in practice."
"We're relieved that the Supreme Court has put the final nail in the coffin of this ill-advised regulation,
which left the Adirondacks and Catskills vulnerable to continued mercury contamination," said Neil Woodworth, executive director
of the Adirondack Mountain Club. "Ninety-six percent of the lakes in the Adirondack region exceed the recommended EPA action
level for methyl mercury in fish. In the Catskills, health officials have advised children and women of childbearing age not
to eat fish from six Catskill reservoirs, reservoirs that also provide New York City with its drinking water. With this ruling,
we can now move forward with sensible mercury controls that will help reverse these trends."
Jim Pew/Kathleen Sutcliffe, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500
studied Environmental Studies and Biology at the University of Oregon, a degree that
led him to pursue photographic projects documenting environmental issues. His work on the protection of old growth forests
against logging garnered him numerous awards, including PDN’s 30 New and Emerging Photographers To Watch and the NPPA’s
Best of Photojournalism. His Forest Defenders project was featured in the 2006-2007 ICP triennial, Ecotopia, and was published
in Aperture and Art Review. His clients include Volvo, Newsweek, Time, Fortune, The Fader, and Outside, among others.
There is a revolution going on in the farm fields and on the dinner tables
of America, a revolution that is transforming the very nature of the food we eat. THE FUTURE OF FOOD offers an in-depth investigation
into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery
store shelves for the past decade.
Then as now, a prime tactic of the fossil fuel lobby centered on a clever manipulation
of the ethic of journalistic balance. Any time reporters wrote stories about global warming, industry-funded naysayers demanded
equal time in the name of balance. As a result, the press accorded the same weight to the industry-funded skeptics as it did
to mainstream scientists, creating an enduring confusion in the public mind. To this day, many people are unsure whether global
warming is real.
But because most reporters
don’t have the time, curiosity, or professionalism to check out the science, they write equivocal stories with counterposing
quotes that play directly into the hands of the oil and coal industries by keeping the public confused.
WHEN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA was inundated by a foot of rain, several feet of snow, and
lethal mudslides earlier this year, the news reports made no mention of climate change—even though virtually all climate
scientists agree that the first consequence of a warmer atmosphere is a marked increase in extreme weather events. When four
hurricanes of extraordinary strength tore through Florida last fall, there was little media attention paid to the fact that
hurricanes are made more intense by warming ocean surface waters. And when one storm dumped five feet of water on southern
Haiti in 48 hours last spring, no coverage mentioned that an early manifestation of a warming atmosphere is a significant
rise in severe downpours.
Though global climate change is breaking out all around us, the U.S. news media has remained silent. Not because
climate change is a bad story—to the contrary: Conflict is the lifeblood of journalism, and the climate issue is riven
with conflict. Global warming policy pits the United States against most of the countries of the world. It’s a source
of tension between the Bush administration and 29 states, nearly 100 cities, and scores of activist groups working to reduce
emissions. And it has generated significant and acrimonious splits within the oil, auto, and insurance industries. These stories
are begging to be written.
And they are being written—everywhere else in the world. One academic thesis completed in 2000 compared
climate coverage in major U.S. and British newspapers and found that the issue received about three times as much play in
the United Kingdom. Britain’s Guardian, to pick an obviously liberal example, accorded three times more coverage
to the climate story than the Washington Post, more than twice that of the New York Times, and nearly five times
that of the Los Angeles Times. In this country, the only consistent reporting on this issue comes from the New York
Times’ Andrew Revkin, whose excellent stories are generally consigned to the paper’s Science Times section,
and the Weather Channel—which at the beginning of 2004 started including references to climate change in its projections,
and even hired an on-air climate expert.
Why the lack of major media attention to one of the biggest stories of this century? The reasons have to do
with the culture of newsrooms, the misguided application of journalistic balance, the very human tendency to deny the magnitude
of so overwhelming a threat, and, last though not least, a decade-long campaign of deception, disinformation, and, at times,
intimidation by the fossil fuel lobby to keep this issue off the public radar screen.
The carbon lobby’s tactics can sometimes be heavy-handed; one television editor told me that his network
had been threatened with a withdrawal of oil and automotive advertising after it ran a report suggesting a connection between
a massive flood and climate change. But the most effective campaigns have been more subtly coercive. In the early 1990s, when
climate scientists began to suspect that our burning of coal and oil was changing the earth’s climate, Western Fuels,
then a $400 million coal cooperative, declared in its annual report that it was enlisting several scientists who were skeptical
about climate change—Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling, and S. Fred Singer—as spokesmen. The coal industry paid
these and a handful of other skeptics some $1 million over a three-year period and sent them around the country to speak to
the press and the public. According to internal strategy papers I obtained at the time, the purpose of the campaign was “to
reposition global warming as theory (not fact),” with an emphasis on targeting “older, less educated males,”
and “younger, low-income women” in districts that received their electricity from coal, and who preferably had
a representative on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The Western Fuels campaign was extraordinarily successful. In a Newsweek poll conducted in 1991, before
the spin began, 35 percent of respondents said they “worry a great deal” about global warming. By 1997 that figure
had dropped by one-third, to 22 percent.
Then as now, a prime tactic of the fossil fuel lobby centered on a clever manipulation of the ethic of journalistic
balance. Any time reporters wrote stories about global warming, industry-funded naysayers demanded equal time in the name
of balance. As a result, the press accorded the same weight to the industry-funded skeptics as it did to mainstream scientists,
creating an enduring confusion in the public mind. To this day, many people are unsure whether global warming is real.
Journalistic balance comes into play when a story involves opinion: Should gay marriage be legal? Should we
invade Iraq? Should we promote bilingual education or English immersion? For such stories an ethical journalist is obligated
to give each competing view its most articulate presentation and roughly equivalent space.
But when the subject is a matter of fact, the concept of balance is irrelevant. What we know about the climate
comes from the largest and most rigorously peer-reviewed scientific collaboration in history—the findings of more than
2,000 scientists from 100 countries reporting to the United Nations as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The
IPCC’s conclusions, that the burning of fossil fuels is indeed causing significant shifts in the earth’s climate,
have been corroborated by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the American
Meteorological Society, and the National Academy of Sciences. D. James Baker, former administrator of the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration, echoed many scientists when he said, “There is a better scientific consensus on this
than on any other issue I know—except maybe Newton’s second law of dynamics.”
Granted, there are a few credentialed scientists who still claim climate change to be inconsequential. To give
them their due, a reporter should learn where the weight of scientific opinion falls—and reflect that balance in his
or her reporting. That would give mainstream scientists 95 percent of the story, with the skeptics getting a paragraph or
two at the end.
But because most reporters don’t have the time, curiosity, or professionalism to check out the science,
they write equivocal stories with counterposing quotes that play directly into the hands of the oil and coal industries by
keeping the public confused.
Another major obstacle is the dominant culture of newsrooms. The fastest-rising journalists tend to make their
bones covering politics, and so the lion’s share of press coverage of climate change has focused on the political machinations
surrounding global warming rather than its consequences. In 1997, when the Senate overwhelmingly passed a resolution against
ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, the vote was covered as a political setback for the Clinton administration at the hands of congressional
Republicans. (Predictably, the press paid little attention to a $13 million industry-funded advertising blitz in the run-up
to that vote.) When President Bush pulled out of the Kyoto negotiating process in 2001, the coverage again focused not on
the harm that would befall the planet as a result but on the resulting diplomatic tensions between the United States and the
Prior to 2001, Bush had declared he would not accept the findings of the IPCC—it was, after all, a U.N.
body. “The jury’s still out,” he said, and called instead for a report from the National Academy of Sciences.
That report, duly produced one month later, while professing uncertainty about exactly how much warming was attributable to
one factor or another, affirmed that human activity was a major contributor. In covering Bush’s call for an American
climate report, few reporters bothered to check whether the academy had already taken a position; had they done so, they would
have found that as early as 1992, it had recommended strong measures to minimize climate impacts.
Finally, coverage of the climate crisis is one of many casualties of media conglomeration. With most news outlets
now owned by major corporations and faceless investors, marketing strategy is replacing news judgment; celebrity coverage
is on the rise, even as newspapers cut staff and fail to provide their remaining reporters the time they need to research
Ultimately, however, the responsibility for the failure of the press lies neither with the carbon lobby nor
with newsroom culture or even the commercialization of the news. It lies in the indifference or laziness of hundreds of editors
and thousands of reporters who are betraying their professional obligation to their readers and viewers. Climate change constitutes
an immense drama of very uncertain outcome. It is as important and compelling a story as any reporter could hope to work on.
Perversely, for so great an opportunity, it is threatening to become the shame of the American press.
Japanese activists arrested:
Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki were charged with theft and trespass by the prosecutor
in Aomori after they exposed a major scandal around the embezzlement of whale meat from the Japanese government-sponsored
Southern Ocean whaling program.
Greenpeace Activist Arrested in Japan 2008
It's been 23 days since
my colleagues in our Greenpeace Japan office were arrested for exposing a whaling industry scandal. I'm sorry to tell you that today they were both formally charged with theft and trespass.
It's a sad day for all of us at Greenpeace. We're prepared to risk our lives to protect whales, but we didn't expect
such a politically- motivated reaction by the Japanese government. In fact, the very same day our activists were arrested,
the public prosecutor dropped the investigation into the true crime of embezzlement of whale meat from the Japanese government-sponsored Southern Ocean whaling program.
of support for Junichi and Toru has been amazing, and I can't thank you enough for your support. Almost a quarter of a million
people have sent letters to the Japanese government calling for their release and demanding a full investigation into the
whale meat embezzlement scandal. Protests have been held outside Japanese embassies and consulates in 35 cities across 30
We all want the same thing: It's time for the Japanese government to end whaling altogether instead of
prosecuting peaceful protesters who exposed crimes within the whaling program.
Even though they've been charged, we're
not giving up! We're still working hard to get Junichi and Toru out of detention, so if you haven't already written to the
Japanese government yet, please take action now! And please, spread the word as far and wide as you can - Junichi and Toru need your support more than ever.
I'll be in touch very soon as events unfold. Please keep Junichi and Toru in your thoughts and be ready to do
more to help secure their freedom.
Your generous support got us back to federal court,
where we've scored another big victory for whales -- this time over the President of the United States!
night, a federal judge struck down a waiver issued by the White House that would have exempted the U.S. Navy from obeying a
key environmental law during sonar training exercises that endanger whales.
In doing so, the court affirmed the
bedrock principle that we do NOT live under an imperial presidency. Both the White House and the military must obey
and uphold our environmental laws.
President Bush's waiver was a last-ditch attempt to let the
Navy unleash an onslaught of military sonar off the coast of southern California -- home to five endangered species
of whales -- without taking precautions to protect marine mammals from a lethal bombardment of sound.
the same judge -- U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper -- ordered the Navy to put safeguards in place during the sonar
maneuvers in order to protect marine mammals from needless injury and death. Shortly after that ruling, President Bush issued
his "emergency" waiver, attempting to override the court's order.
In last night's ruling, Judge Cooper called the
Navy's so-called emergency "a creature of its own making," and reaffirmed that the military can train effectively without
needlessly harming whales.
The Navy's maneuvers would take place near the Channel Islands -- one of the world's
most sensitive marine environments. The Navy itself estimates that the booming sonar would harass or harm marine mammals
some 170,000 times -- and cause permanent injury in more than 400 cases.
The far-reaching precautions imposed on
the Navy by Judge Cooper include a ban on mid-frequency sonar within 12 miles of the California coast -- a zone that
is heavily used by migrating whales and dolphins -- and between the Channel Islands.
Make no mistake: we must be
fully prepared to keep fighting for those humane restrictions -- especially if the White House or Navy appeals this
decision to a higher court.
Your support and activism have taken us this far. I know you will continue standing
with us in the courtroom battles ahead -- until that day when whales no longer need to die for the sake of military
Frances Beinecke President Natural Resources Defense Council
I just received some terrific news and I wanted to share it with you
right away, today is 12/12/2007.
This report below came in the form of an email from
A federal judge in California today rebuked the auto industry's attempt to block California and 16
other states from setting tough new limits on global warming pollution from automobiles, calling these efforts
"the very definition of folly."
Environmental Defense was a defendant-intervener in the case. We worked closely with California state
officials and several other environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Blue Water
Network, Global Exchange, and Rainforest Action Network.
In the ruling, Federal District Court Judge Anthony Ishii rejected the auto industry's claim
that federal fuel economy standards preempted the authority of California and other states to limit global warming
pollution from automobiles.
This ruling comes three months to the day after a similar ruling by a federal judge in Vermont, and
just eight months after the historic Supreme Court decision in early April that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
has an obligation to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act.
These are huge victories. Today's ruling shifts the focus to the EPA where a decision on whether to
grant California's waiver request to tighten auto emission standards has been pending for two years.
I have just issued a press statement calling on EPA Administrator Steve Johnson to immediately grant
California's request to move ahead with this program. All similar California air pollution requests have been approved. Not
one has been turned down in EPA history.
In his ruling, Judge Ishii alluded to the importance of EPA granting the waiver. He wrote:
Given the level of impairment of human health and welfare that current climate science indicates may
occur if human-generated greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, it would be the very definition of folly if EPA were
precluded from action.
Environmental Defense played a big role in these historic court rulings. I owe a huge
debt of gratitude to our General Counsel Jim Tripp and our Regional Director of our Climate and Air Program Jim Marston, who
worked so hard on this case.
And, as always, I owe you my heartfelt thanks for all your support. You make our work
possible and I can't thank you enough. Together, we are making progress.
As we look ahead to the new year and the need for a national, economy-wide cap on global warming pollution,
please join me in celebrating today's terrific news.
have discovered 11 new species of plants and animals in Vietnam, including a snake, two butterflies and five orchid varieties,
the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) said Wednesday.
new species were found in a remote region known as the "Green Corridor" in Thua Thien Hue province in central Vietnam, it
only discover so many new species in very special places, and the Green Corridor is one of them," Chris Dickinson, WWF's chief
technical adviser in the region, said in a statement.
new snake species, the white-lipped keelback, generally lives close to streams and eats frogs and other small animals, WWF
said. It has a yellow-white stripe along its head, red dots over its body and can reach a length of 31.5 inches.
new butterfly species are among eight discovered in Thua Thien Hue since 1996. One is a "skipper," a butterfly that flies
in a quick, darting motion. It is from the genus Zela. The other is from a new genus in the subfamily Satyrinae.
of the new orchid species are leafless, which is unusual for orchids, WWF said.
other new plant species include one in the aspidistra family, which produces a black flower and can subsist in low light,
and an arum, which produces yellow flowers surrounded by funnel-shaped leaves, it said.
great news for Vietnam," said Bernard O'Callaghan, Vietnam program coordinator for the World Conservation Union. "The jungles
and mountains of Vietnam are fascinating places and they continue to surprise scientists."
the new species are exclusive to tropical forests in Vietnam's Annamites mountain range, which offers unique habitats.
species in the area are under threat from illegal logging, hunting and development.
threatened species live in the Green Corridor, including the white-cheeked crested gibbon, one of the world's most endangered
in the Philippines contaminated by electronics production
Significant levels of toxic chemicals are contaminating important water sources in
the Philippines, Greenpeace revealed today during a press conference in Quezon City. Greenpeace made the expose in the report
‘Cutting Edge Contamination: A study of environmental pollution during the manufacture of electronic products'.
report, a study of water samples taken from industrial estates in the Philippines, Thailand, China, and Mexico, shows how
a wide range of hazardous chemicals used during electronics production have seeped into rivers and underground water sources.
One of the major findings is that among the countries in the survey, levels of toxicity in Philippine water sources are among
“In the past few years Greenpeace has raised the alarm on how the use of hazardous chemicals and
materials in electronic products has impacted on human health and the environment when the product is disposed of or recycled.
This new report reveals that contamination arising even during the manufacture of electronics is an issue of great concern,”
said Greenpeace Southeast Asia toxics campaigner Beau Baconguis. “The results exposed by this report are worrying especially
because we Filipinos rely heavily on groundwater for drinking.”
Analysis of groundwater samples taken within
and around Gateway Business Park in General Trias, ON Semiconductor in Carmona and Cavite Export Processing Zone (CEPZA) in
Rosario (all in Cavite Province), showed varying degrees of contamination from different hazardous chemicals, including volatile
organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals. VOCs are known to affect the kidneys, the central nervous system and the liver,
and are potentially carcinogenic. All sites notably contained chlorinated VOCs, toxic solvents or degreasers used in “cleaning”
semiconductors and other electrical equipment.
CEPZA, in particular, had unusually high levels of contaminants. Three
samples from this site contained chlorinated VOCs above World Health Organization (WHO) limits for drinking water. One sample
contained tetrachloroethene at nine times above the WHO guidance values for exposure limits, and 70 times the US Environmental
Protection Agency maximum contaminant level for drinking water. Elevated levels of metals, particularly copper, nickel and
zinc, were also found in groundwater samples in some sites(1).
According to the World Bank, 50% of the of the Philippine
population rely on ground water for drinking. Groundwater is also the source of 86% of piped water in the country.
findings at this stage make it clear that only when we factor in the complete life cycle of electronic products will their
full environmental costs emerge. Major electronic manufacturers must get their suppliers to eliminate toxic chemicals from
their production systems so that communities will not have to suffer from consequences of unknowingly consuming contaminated
water,” said Baconguis.
The electronics industry is truly global with individual components manufactured at specialized
facilities around the world often involving highly resource and chemical intensive processes, generating hazardous, wastes,
the fate and effects of which are still very poorly documented.
“The pollution must stop. Electronics manufacturing
remains at the cutting edge of technological development and has a strong economic future. There is no reason why it should
not also be at the cutting edge when it comes to clean designs and technologies, substitution of hazardous chemicals, greater
worker health protection and the prevention of environmental pollution at source,” she added.
and Nickel are widely used in the Printed Wiring Board manufacture of electronics. Effects from copper to aquatic life can
occur at very low levels including reduction in growth and fertility rate. Ingestion of some nickel compounds can cause toxic
effects in humans and animals.
Tell the Bush Administration to protect polar bears
and their critical habitat
Polar bears are completely dependent on Arctic sea ice to survive, but 80 percent
of that ice could be gone in 20 years and all of it by 2040. Polar bears are already suffering the effects: birth rates are
falling, fewer cubs are surviving, and more bears are drowning. The Bush Administration's proposal to list the polar bear
as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act is a crucial first step toward ensuring a future for these magnificent Arctic
creatures. Yet the administration's proposal does not designate "critical habitat" for protection, even though melting habitat
from global warming is the main threat to the polar bear's survival.
Submit your Official Citizen Comment urging the Fish and Wildlife Service to finalize the listing of the polar bear and designate
its critical habitat.
Last week, Bark, a watchdog group focused on protecting Mt. Hood forests, received the Proposed Action notice from
the Forest Service for upcoming restoration work in the Clackamas District of Mt. Hood National Forest. As a result of Bark's
efforts and preliminary recommendations, the Forest Service has announced that they will take action on over a hundred miles
of roads. Now is the time to get involved!
week, Bark, a watchdog group focused on protecting Mt. Hood forests, received the Proposed Action notice from the Forest Service
for upcoming restoration work in the Clackamas District of Mt. Hood National Forest. As a result of Bark's efforts and preliminary
recommendations, the Forest Service has announced that they will take action on over a hundred miles of roads. Bark is in
the midst of a campaign to change the future of roads in our national forest and much of the focus has been an effort to complete
the first citizen inventory of 10% of the 4,000 miles roads around Mt. Hood. This crumbling road system is rapidly becoming
the biggest threat to our drinking water supply and forests. Last week's announcement is the first step in a larger vision
for the future of Mt. Hood where roads lead to campgrounds, not clearcuts.
Bark will be continuing to survey the roads
of Mt. Hood, including a four-day campout this weekend and is looking for more help. Trainings will occur each day and volunteers
will be given all tools necessary to take part in this exciting data collection effort. In May, Bark hosted the first Roadtruthing
Campout along the scenic Clackamas River. Over 40 people attended and became a part of the campaign.
Join Bark on
the eastside of Mt. Hood at the Sherwood Campground off Road 35 for another family-friendly campout, Thursday, July 19th -
Monday, July 23rd to continue this important effort towards a goal of covering 10% of the roads by the end of the summer.
Each day, Bark will conduct a training on how to survey the roads in our national forest and then team up to walk, bike or
drive a selected segment of roads and collect on-site data for future action!
Each morning, Bark will host a training
explaining the issues around roads and what to be looking for as you travel the assigned roads each day. Standard survey forms
will be handed out to be filled out on each road, capturing your observations. The different parts of this survey form will
also be explained. The roadtruthing component of the day will be about 4 hours, with a lunch stop. At the end of the day,
your data will be collected and included in with the rest of our roadtruthing data and eventually become a part of a forestwide
In the evenings supper will be served around the campfire. Please bring lunches, good footwear for walking
and camping gear. Bark will provide some tents and shelter available. Carpools will leave from the Daily Grind at 6pm Thursday,
Friday and Saturday evening. If you have room in your car or can pick up food donations from this location, stop by on your
way out to the forest!
In the coming months, the Forest Service will be revising their Travel Plan. This document
guides the agency in their decision-making when it comes to building, maintaining and obliterating roads in Mt. Hood. Many
of these roads have been unmaintained and abused by all-terrain vehicles. With each storm a road becomes more and more likely
to fall into a crossing stream. After decades of logging and mismanagement, there are over 4,000 miles of roads in Mt. Hood
National Forest alone!
Bark has a long history of defending the national forest with site-specific, scientifically
backed monitoring data from Forest Service projects. This campaign intends to respond to their Travel Plan revisions with
the same rigor and passion. Join Bark's team of groundtruthers come out of the forest and onto the road in an effort to complete
the first citizen-led inventory of this crumbling road system.
For many years, Bark has been successful in stopping
destructive logging projects by having an on-the-ground knowledge of each proposed action, calling the monitoring work groundtruthing.
Their data collection for the roads in Mt. Hood is not so different and has thus, warranted only a slight tweak of lingo;
For more information, check out the Bark website at
Greg's Note: Last week, our Peak Oil correspondent
Byron King traveled to Boston, where he attended the annual meeting of the U.S. Association for the Study of Peak Oil &
A quick rundown of Harvard geology professor
and former MacArthur Fellowship recipient Dan Schrag 's proposed policy solutions include, over the long haul, replacing the
use of carbon-based fossil fuel with carbon-neutral, if not carbon-free, energy sources.
First, policymakers across the world must
focus on driving economic activity toward exceedingly high efficiencies in energy usage, and simply burning less carbon. This
will require a massive effort to educate people about the magnitude of the GW problem, if that is even possible in this great,
big, collectively dumb world of ours.
Energy production will have to trend rapidly
toward renewable energy, with nuclear power included in the mix. And Schrag has some interesting thoughts on what is called
"carbon sequestration," meaning capturing CO2 at the exhaust stack and returning it to deep underground storage, or subsea
storage under geological conditions that would keep the substance out of the atmosphere for many millions of years.
The Forest Service is accepting your comments
on the enormous (nearly 3 square miles) No Whisky Timber Sale until March 17. The No Whisky logging project lies along the banks of the North Fork of the Clackamas
River about 10 miles Southeast of the City of Estacada. Covering nearly 1,700 acres (almost 3 square miles!), the No Whisky
proposal adds insult to an already injured forest ecosystem.
Included in this post is a 4 1/2 minute video from Bark about the importance of stopping this sale.
Forest Service is accepting your comments on the enormous
(nearly 3 square miles) No Whisky Timber Sale until March 17. The
No Whisky logging project lies along the banks of the North Fork of the Clackamas
River about 10 miles Southeast of the City of Estacada. Covering nearly 1,700 acres (almost 3 square miles!), the No Whisky
proposal adds insult to an already injured forest ecosystem. The forests of No Whisky were clearcut in the early 1920s and
in 1929 the railroad used to haul the trees started a fire, burning all but 40 acres of the current logging proposal. To make
matters worse, the burned forest was logged again shortly after the fire, destroying any chance of a healthy recovery. In
addition, these past logging operations opened the area up to illegal off-road vehicle use that has caused significant erosion,
pollution, garbage, noise that disturbs wildlife, and unnatural alterations to area streams. Any new logging projects in this
area will not help the area recover as the Forest Service suggests, it will only make matters worse in an area that is finally
recovering from past abuse.
TAKE ACTION: *1.
Write a letter today asking the Forest Service to drop the No Whisky Timber Sale. Simply add your personal comments to the
sample letter below and mail or e-mail it to:
Jim Roden Clackamas Ranger Station 595 NW Industrial Way Estacada,