Greens won’t let Obama get away with bragging about his public lands record

line of lease resistance

Greens won’t let Obama get away with bragging about his public lands record

By on Aug 25, 2016Share

President Obama may have protected more land and water than any other U.S. president — 265 million acres of it — but he’s also responsible for leasing more than 10 million acres of federal lands for oil and gas development.

WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility plan to push his environmental limits even further. On Thursday, the groups filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management, in the hope that his (or the next) administration will halt oil and gas federal leases while reviewing systemwide reform. Interior’s coal leasing program is undergoing a similar review.

The latest in a string of lawsuits to curtail federal oil and gas leasing, the groups are looking to block 397 lease sales across 380,000 acres. They claim the federal government is violating the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act, which requires federal agencies to consider environmental impacts.

2016 analysis from the Stockholm Environment Institute found that cutting off future lease sales and declining to renew existing ones for coal, oil, and gas would reduce global carbon pollution by 100 million metric tons annually by 2030.

In other words, fossil fuel development on federal lands isn’t an insignificant portion of U.S. climate emissions. The 10 million acres leased to fossil fuels under Obama’s watch adds up to an area bigger than Olympic, Smoky Mountains, Everglades, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite, combined.

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Greens won’t let Obama get away with bragging about his public lands record

Severe drought in India pushed thousands of farmers to suicide

Severe drought in India pushed thousands of farmers to suicide

By on Aug 25, 2016Share

A severe drought in India has caused a spike in farmer suicides. These suicides increased 40 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to government statistics. In those two years monsoon rains were weak, reservoirs dried up, and crops died in the inland west of the country.

What’s causing this?

A columnist for CNN’s website, John Sutter, lays the blame at the foot of climate change. “By burning fossil fuels and chopping down rainforests, we humans are destabilizing the climate. That has life-changing consequences for all of us,” he wrote.

Several Indian sources also blame the adoption of cash crops, like sugarcane, which depend on lots of water and can fail catastrophically during droughts. The government has recently encouraged farmers to shift back to food crops.

Raising cash crops has often helped lift small farmers out of poverty. But the risk is that farmers often go deep into debt betting on a good harvest. And when the weather turns against them, it can dash the hopes of entire families, leading more farmers to kill themselves.

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Severe drought in India pushed thousands of farmers to suicide

California’s big climate bills are a win for environmental justice

where there’s a bill, there’s a way

California’s big climate bills are a win for environmental justice

By on Aug 25, 2016Share

California Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign a pair of climate bills approved by state lawmakers this week. Together, SB32 and AB197 will not only tackle the state’s greenhouse emissions but also assure greater accountability for working class communities of color that too often carry the burden of local polluting industries.

SB32 creates a new target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 (over below 1990 levels). But aggressive climate action doesn’t necessarily benefit all communities equally.

Take Coachella, California. Aside from its famously annoying music festival, Coachella, as part of Riverside County, is best known for having some of the worst air quality in the nation.

Coachella — a working class Latino community where one in three residents survives below the poverty line — is stuck with a disproportionate pollution burden, even while California gets all the credit for cutting overall greenhouse gasses.

Eduardo Garcia, an assembly member from Coachella, authored AB197. The bill assures permanent legislative oversight of the Air Resources Board, an agency that environmental justice activists say doesn’t focus enough on reducing the harmful effect of local polluting refineries and factories. Together, the two bills finally begin to bridge the gap between big climate solutions and local air problems, helping underserved communities breathe a little easier.

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California’s big climate bills are a win for environmental justice

Cool off with your very own portable A/C unit, you jerk


Cool off with your very own portable A/C unit, you jerk

By on Aug 25, 2016Share

There’s a new product coming out that promises to make summers cooler for the user — and warmer for everyone else. Meet the Zero Breeze, “the World’s First Portable, Smart, Multifunctional Air Conditioner,” according to its makers.

The Zero Breeze is a battery-powered A/C unit about the size of a boombox, as Gizmodo reports, which makes it perfect to take on the go. Park too hot? Subway make you sweat? Whip out the Zero Breeze and turn any space into your personal meat locker. “Never before have you been able to take an air conditioner wherever you go,” says the aspirational Kickstarter video.

The Kickstarter fails to mention, however, that air conditioning devices — even small, battery-powered units — increase greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate climate change. Already, air conditioners across the country release 100 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, including both the emissions of the units’ coolants and their power sources. While Zero Breeze uses a more efficient coolant than traditional A/C, it’s still far more emissions-intensive than, say, a fan.

As Stan Cox, author of Losing Our Cool — a comprehensive history of air conditioning — told us: “This is another example of how we are much better at devising technologies to consume energy than we are at coming up with technologies to conserve energy.” Plus, he asks, why bother going outdoors if you’re just going to bring the indoors with you?

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Cool off with your very own portable A/C unit, you jerk

Solar Panels That Truly Be Great For You

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Grow Your Own Goji Berries

Goji berries dont have to be a high-priced, exclusive superfood. Theyre actually easy to grow in your own garden.

Native to Asia, goji berries (Lycium barbarum) are also known as wolfberries. They are a member of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. The majority of commercially produced goji berries are grown in China. These are most commonly available dried and can be considerably expensive.

By growing your own goji berries, you can have an abundant supply of fresh, local, organic berries that are almost impossible to find in a store. Gojis are a perennial shrub that will come back every year, which means youll have an ongoing supply of this healthy berry for free.

Whats So Great About Goji Berries?

Traditional Chinese medicine has used goji berries for thousands of years. Some suggest goji berries can help diabetes, hypertension, menopause and even malaria, but research is still needed to support these claims.

A 2008 study did show that consuming goji juice for 14 days increased feelings of wellbeing and improved neurological performance and gastrointestinal functions. Other studies have found that consuming goji berries may help prevent macular degeneration, promote longevityand boost your immune system.

In addition, goji berries are high in antioxidants and nutrients. A one-ounce (28 gram) serving of goji berries has 50 percent of your daily recommended vitamin A, 14 percent of your iron, 9 percent of your fiber, as well as high amounts of selenium, copper, riboflavin, protein and vitamin C.

Tips for Growing Goji Berries

Goji berries are hardy to USDA zone 5. They form a loose shrub thats 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.1 meters) tall with long, vine-like branches. The small, purple flowers start in spring and will continue through the summer. This gives you a consistent crop of berries from early summer until frost.

1. Where to Get Plants

Garden centers are starting to carry goji berry plants as their popularity rises. You can also get young plants from mail order catalogues or online.

Its easy to start your own from seed as well. Try buying some packaged seeds or simply plant some of the dried berries you can buy for eating. Soak the berries for a couple hours before planting them in a potting soil mix. Keep the pots moist at room temperature and they should germinate in 2 to 4 weeks.

A small shrub will start producing berries within one or two years. A seedling will take about 3 years to make berries.

2. Soil and Location

Goji plants can handle a wide range of conditions. They prefer a moderately moist, well-drained soil, but they are also fairly drought tolerant.

The berries will produce and ripen the best in full sun.

You can also grow gojis in containers. Make sure to use a pot at least 18 inches (45 centimeters) wide to accommodate the full size of a goji shrub. It should be able to overwinter outside in USDA zones 6 and higher.

Mature Goji Berry Shrub

3. Support Structures

Goji berry shrubs have long, arching branches that hold up better with some structural support. A simple T frame works well, where you sink a post at both ends of a row of goji berry bushes, put one or more cross bars on each post to look like a T, then attach strong wires between the cross bars along the row. This will contain and support the branches.

You can also train gojis onto a trellis, fence or any other solid structure.

4. Pruning

Due to their vigorous growth habit, gojis can be pruned anytime to control their height and shape. Its also beneficial to thin out at least one third or more of the branches in late winter. This will allow more light into the shrub during the growing season, which helps to increase the number of berries and ripening speed.

Gojis will often send out suckers as they get older. Youll probably see small goji shoots growing a few feet away from the main plant. You can simply pull these out or transplant them to an area where you want more gojis.

Goji Berry Branches

5. Harvesting and Storage

The young berries take a few weeks to ripen, so wait until theyre a nice dark orange or red shade before picking. The best way to judge when to harvest the berries is by their sweetness. Fresh gojis always have a bit of tanginess to them, but they sweeten up as they ripen. If you feel theyre still too tart or sour, give them a few more days to ripen and then sample again.

You can dry goji berries for storage in a dehydrator or by laying them out on paper in a warm, well-ventilated area for a few days. Fresh goji berries also freeze well. They can be packed into freezer bags and frozen directly without any pre-treatment.

6. Uses for Goji Berries

Goji berries can be eaten fresh or cooked. Theyre nutritionally dense and have a strong flavor, so you dont need to use a lot in any particular dish. They go well in smoothies, trail mixes and desserts, or as a garnish for cereals, salads or yogurt.

Try putting them in an apple crisp, carrot cake or another baked treat. They can also make a tasty addition to casseroles and soups.

The only risk found for goji berries is that they can interact with some medications, so check with your doctor before adding them to your diet.

6 Amazing Recipes Made With The Power of Goji Berries
How to Pick and Preserve Your Favorite Berries
How Honeybees Buzz Out Pests

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Grow Your Own Goji Berries

Obama creates whole new national monument to celebrate National Park System’s 100th birthday

Parks and recreation

Obama creates whole new national monument to celebrate National Park System’s 100th birthday

By on Aug 24, 2016Share

President Obama marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service a day early by protecting 87,500 acres in north-central Maine on Wednesday.

The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, as the new preserve will be known, encompasses the East Branch of the Penobscot River as well as a vast swath of woods rich in biodiversity. The area is a popular site for outdoor recreation, and, according to a statement from the White House, the new monument will bolster “the forest’s resilience against the impacts of climate change.”

It doesn’t hurt that the place looks pretty damn nice:

Obama has now protected 265 million acres of America’s public lands and waters, more than any other president in history (though he’s also also criticized for contradictory policies like allowing offshore drilling to continue). As it goes with anything Obama does, this declaration is not without critics: Some locals, including Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin, opposed a “unilateral” executive action on the basis of giving locals more control to do as they please with the lands.

Much of the land for this new monument wasn’t owned by locals, but by Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby, who transferred 87,000 of 120,000 acres of Maine forest to the U.S. Department of the Interior Monday.

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Obama creates whole new national monument to celebrate National Park System’s 100th birthday

Climate change will cost millennials more than student debt or the Great Recession

the root of all evil

Climate change will cost millennials more than student debt or the Great Recession

By on Aug 23, 2016Share

It costs a lot to be young in the era of climate change — $187,000 per college-educated millennial, to be precise. That figure, which represents the amount of income lost over the lifetime of someone born in 1994, is significantly greater than the usual culprits blamed for young people’s economic challenges. Your old pals Student Debt and the Great Recession will only cost millennials $113,000 and $112,000 over their lives, respectively.

NextGen Climate

A new report from NextGen Climate, an environmental advocacy organization, quantifies the economic impacts of a rapidly changing global ecosystem. For the millennial generation as a whole, the price tag is nearly $8.8 trillion.

As communities scramble for resources to deal with various climate impacts, young people will pay for the ecological and social disasters created by older generations: rising sea levels, drought, declining crop productivity, heat-related health problems, wildfires — you name it. In response, incomes will plummet and tax bills will climb.

And if no action is taken, today’s 1-year-old babies will eventually bear an even bigger financial burden: $581,000 over the course of their lifetimes.

NextGen Climate

Millennials are certainly more saddled with student debt than any other generation, and in addition, we’ve lived through the second-worst economic crisis in the nation’s history. But those costs are small potatoes compared to what’s in store — unless we act fast.

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Climate change will cost millennials more than student debt or the Great Recession

Twitter Makes Total Sense If You Understand It Properly

Mother Jones

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Matt Yglesias speaks truth to power today:

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve cut off a conversation on Twitter with something like “Signing off now. Twitter is a horrible place to discuss anything more complicated than a cookie.” And it is! People try endlessly to turn it into something it isn’t, and the result is that I routinely get told to go take a look at some “epic tweetstorm” or other that “must be Storified.” Usually it turns out to be a grand total of about 300 words split up into awkward 20-word chunks. Milton would not be impressed. It could be done way better, and possibly faster, as a simple blog post.

In fact, I’ve long imagined that Twitter originated something like this:

JACK DORSEY and BIZ STONE are sitting in a dorm hallway at NYU, where they are undergrads.1 A half-smoked joint lies between them. Earlier in the day they got assigned their class project for Communications 152.

DORSEY: Oh man. “Develop a communications medium that demonstrates as many principles of accurate information exchange as possible.” WTF?

STONE: I know. Jesus.

Next day. DORSEY and STONE are in DORSEY’s dorm room.

DORSEY: Hey, I had an idea. How about if we do a proof by contradiction?

STONE: What?

DORSEY: Let’s develop the worst communications medium possible and show how it screws things up!

STONE: Dude. That’s brilliant. Like what?

DORSEY: Well, good communication requires enough bandwidth to express an idea fully. Let’s limit ours to just a few words at a time.

STONE: And strong emotions interfere with accuracy. Let’s develop something that encourages outrage. That means digital. Like a chatroom or something. People are always going postal on those.

DORSEY: We could make it even worse. Maybe by screwing around with response times?

STONE: Sure. Latency should be just long enough to allow other people to barge in during the middle of a conversation. It would drive people crazy.

DORSEY: You’d never be sure who’s responding to what!

STONE: Right. And it should be wide open to everyone, so people can join in even if they have no idea what the conversation is about.

DORSEY: And then other people see the newcomers, and barge in themselves. It’s like the ultimate game of telephone.

STONE: You’d end up with viral mobs! It’s the worst possible environment for communicating.

DORSEY: Sure, because no one who piles on knows if they’re the only critic, or if thousands have already jumped in. You never really know who your audience is, which is one of the linchpins of good communication.

STONE: Nuance and tone are important too. We need to eliminate those.

DORSEY: We can do that by making messages really short. Text message sized. You can barely even speak English in text messages, let alone add caveats and nuance.

STONE: And no editing. Once you’ve said something, you can’t change it even if you realize you screwed up.

DORSEY: It’s tailor made for misunderstanding.

STONE: And if it were marketed right, highly verbal people would be its main consumers. They’d go nuts trying to carry on conversations on complex topics 140 characters at a time.

DORSEY: And the campus language police! Can you imagine how they’d react to every little miscue?

STONE: This is great. It’s like cutting out everyone’s tongues and dumping them into a big overheated room.

DORSEY: And it would still be good for jokes and cat videos, which would demonstrate something important about jokes and cat videos.

Twelve weeks later. DORSEY and STONE are back in the hallway.

DORSEY: He gave us a C-? That’s brutal.

STONE: “Interesting concept, but too divorced from reality.”

DORSEY: Sheesh.

Ten years later. DORSEY and STONE are drinking margaritas on DORSEY’S yacht.

DORSEY: Man, people sure are stupid.

STONE: But we’re rich!

DORSEY: Yeah. It’ll be kind of a drag if Trump wins, though. I wasn’t really expecting that.

STONE: Chill, dude. We’re rich!

Ship sails into sunset. DORSEY and STONE have enigmatic expressions on their faces. Curtain.

1Yes, I know they didn’t go to college together. Work with me here.


Twitter Makes Total Sense If You Understand It Properly

Federal Judge Says Texas Profs Must Allow Guns In Their Classrooms

Mother Jones

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Yesterday morning, a federal judge denied a request by three University of Texas-Austin professors who wanted to ban firearms in their classrooms despite a recently passed law authorizing concealed firearms on public college campuses.

The ruling came down just two days before classes are scheduled to start at UT campuses. US District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the lawsuit filed by professors Lisa Moore, Mia Carter, and Jennifer Lynn Glass is likely to fail and found that their request for a preliminary injunction was “an extraordinary remedy.”

“It appears to the court that neither the Texas Legislature nor the Board of Regents has overstepped its legitimate power to determine where a licensed individual may carry a concealed handgun in an academic setting,” the judge wrote.

The lawsuit, which claims the new campus-carry law forces state schools to impose “overly-solicitous, dangerously-experimental gun policies,” will continue to move through Yeakel’s court. The professors’ attorney told The Dallas Morning News that their legal team would “begin to pull together the evidence and facts for the trial and hope things go smoothly on campus in the meantime.” The plaintiffs are arguing that the law violates their First Amendment right to academic freedom because their classroom management could be influenced by fear of violent student retaliation.

The campus-carry law went into effect earlier this month on the anniversary of the 1966 clock tower massacre at the University of Texas-Austin. It makes it legal to carry concealed firearms at public universities, including in dorms and classrooms. The legislation allows private universities to opt out; all but one have done so. UT administrators have expressed wariness at the idea of guns on campus in the past. Last year, a UT-sponsored working group published a report that wrestled with ways to reconcile the law with campus safety. “Every member of the Working Group—including those who are gun owners and license holders—thinks it would be best if guns were not allowed in classrooms,” it concluded.

The Texas attorney general’s office has been largely unsympathetic to complaints about the new law. Earlier this month, Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a motion to dismiss the professors’ suit, warning the three plaintiffs that they could face disciplinary measures if they interfere with the campus-carry law. Paxton has also said a ban on firearms in dormitories would be a violation of the law.

“I am pleased, but not surprised, that the Court denied the request to block Texas’ campus carry law,” Paxton said in a statement. “There is simply no legal justification to deny licensed, law-abiding citizens on campus the same measure of personal protection they are entitled to elsewhere in Texas. The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed for all Americans, including college students, and I will always stand ready to protect that right.”


Federal Judge Says Texas Profs Must Allow Guns In Their Classrooms