Tag Archives: america

Roses are red, violets are blue, America to coal: I might dump you.

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Roses are red, violets are blue, America to coal: I might dump you.

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Scott Pruitt suspends Obama-era Clean Water Rule for two years

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

On Wednesday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt formally suspended the Obama-era Clean Water Rule for two years, while the Trump administration works to repeal and replace the rule with their own, industry-friendly version.

Also known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS), the rule was established by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers in 2015. Largely celebrated by environmental groups, it expanded the protection of headwaters, streams, and 20 million acres of wetlands under the 1972 Clean Water Act. It also held farmers and real estate developers accountable for runoff pollution in streams running through their property. Over 100 parties initially challenged Obama’s rule, including business groups and some Republican officials, arguing that it was an overstep of government power.

WOTUS has been a target of Pruitt’s for years, even before he was in Washington; as Oklahoma attorney general, in 2015 he helped lead a multi-state lawsuit against the rule, calling it the “greatest blow to private property rights the modern era has seen.”

“Today, E.P.A. is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers,” Pruitt said in a statement Wednesday night. “The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation.”

Shortly after taking office, President Trump issued an executive order directing the EPA and the Department of the Army to rescind or revise the rule. In June, administration officials signed a proposed rule that aimed to revert environmental protection standards of water and wetlands to pre-Obama levels. A month later, it was published in the Federal Register. Wednesday’s action buys time for the administration to officially kill the rule.

As expected, environmental groups are outraged over the Trump administration’s decision to roll back WOTUS. Jon Devine, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Water Program, said in a statement the action is “grossly irresponsible, and illegal — and [the NRDC] will challenge it in court.” Last year, the Environmental Defense Fund’s senior vice president for ecosystems, David Festa, said in a blog post that the Trump administration’s rationale for withdrawing the rule is “arbitrary” and “dead wrong.”

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Scott Pruitt suspends Obama-era Clean Water Rule for two years

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We might know where Trump has been getting some of his wacky ideas

Ever wonder who’s behind President Trump’s backward energy policies? The Heartland Institute, a libertarian, climate-denying think tank, seems to be taking credit. Experts from the Koch- and Exxon-funded group took a victory lap after Trump praised “clean, beautiful coal” in Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

“One of the most thrilling aspects of the speech was the total absence of climate change hysteria,” Heartland’s Science Director Jay Lehr said in a statement issued in response to the speech. While Trump mentioned that the nation had “endured floods, and fires, and storms,” he didn’t note climate change — the factor that fanned their flames.

Lehr’s gushing over the president approached the point of satire: “After watching it a second time, I could not find a single sentence I would have changed.”

That’s not too surprising, considering that the White House had reached out to the group a few weeks earlier to ask if they “had other suggestions” for the speech, according to Heartland President Tim Huelskamp.

“The Heartland Institute has been advising many in the administration on climate and energy policy, so we were certainly encouraged and excited the president promoted his pro-energy, pro-America vision in his State of the Union Address,” Huelskamp said in the statement.

Soon after Trump was elected, the Heartland Institute laid out a climate and energy wish list. The administration has already fully or partially accomplished eight of those 13 goals. Some of the policy recommendations: Withdraw from the Paris Agreement, approve the Keystone XL pipeline, roll back air pollution rules, and end “conflicts of interest” on scientific review boards (i.e., bar expert scientists from advisory panels).

Many of the Trump administration’s actions over the past year — even just the past day — align with Heartland’s wish list. On Wednesday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt formally suspended an Obama-era rule to clean up our streams and waters. (No. 6 on Heartland’s list: “Withdraw implementation of the Waters of the U.S. rule.”)

Heartland isn’t the only group out there with these kind of goals. In October, the Sierra Club obtained emails showing that Peabody Energy, a major coal company, provided input to the Energy Department on a study about how to help coal plants. And last month, the New York Times reported that the administration had already accomplished most of the 16 items on the environmental rollback wish list by coal baron Robert Murray, a longtime Trump supporter.

And even though The Heartland Institute has gotten more than it ever hoped for, it yearns for even more: It wants to stop subsidies for wind and power, shrink more national monuments, and, you know, end the entire EPA.

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We might know where Trump has been getting some of his wacky ideas

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The 3 Holiday Plants That Clean the Air

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You don’t have to have a green thumb — or be vegan — to delight in the presence of plants. Gardening and food consumption aside, household plants are pretty miraculous to have around due to their numerous superpowers. And what better time to take advantage than during the holidays, when we could all use as many superpowers as possible.

Health Benefits of Plants

Most of us realize the pluses of incorporating greenery in our indoor environments, including 20 percent less dust, according to a study by Washington State University. Besides magical fairy dusting and beautification of a space, plants can absorb up to 10 percent of carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air we breathe. Plants even reduce stress and boost morale when placed in offices, simultaneously reducing airborne bacteria.

Plants Improve Indoor Air Quality

What many people are unaware of is the fact that certain plants do all of the above while also removing toxic gases and chemical vapors commonly found in our indoor environments, according to studies by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Green building today is great for energy efficiency, but it’s not always so great for our health. In 1973, NASA realized that indoor air pollution in tightly sealed structures could present health-related problems. The Clean Air Study, led by Dr. B.C. Wolverton in conjunction with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, discovered the miraculous benefits of 50 houseplants (three of them being holiday plants) that are exceptional little air scrubbers. These must be potted plants in soil and ideally, one should be placed every 100 feet for maximum air filtration benefits, as advised by NASA.

3 Holiday Plants that Remove Chemicals

Three popular holiday plants — the Poinsettia, the Norfolk Island Pine and the Christmas Cactus — work as natural, mini air purifiers. They provide an affordable defense by absorbing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia, from the air through the tiny openings in their leaves (stomata) and their root microbes. Let’s take a closer look at each plant.

1. Poinsettia

You’ll recognize this holiday beauty from its bright, vibrant bracts (leaves). Ironically, it’s not the flower of this plant, rather the leaves, that are grown in pink, red, white, speckled or marbled. Discovered by Joel Poinsett in 1830 in Southern Mexico, this plant prefers semi-shade. It’s easy to grow and pretty resistant to insect infestation. Water when the top layer is dry.

2. Norfolk Island Pine

Photo: Adobe Stock

This evergreen often serves as a mini Christmas tree with a similar appeal. One variety, the heterophylla, is suitable for indoors and can grow up to 10 feet high! It was discovered by Captain Cook and botanist Sir Joseph Banks. The Norfolk Island Pine prefers full sun to semi-shade. Use water sparingly in the winter and mist often.

3. Christmas Cactus

Photo: Adobe Stock

This beautiful cactus with bright red buds blooms fully in December. Unlike most plants, this cactus removes CO2 and releases oxygen at night, making it a great plant for the bedroom. It prefers semi-sun and is highly resistant to insect infestation. Allow it to dry between waterings.

There you have it — the perfect holiday or housewarming gift. Your host or hostess will be breathing easier through the hustle and bustle while enjoying a more beautiful and relaxing home.

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The 3 Holiday Plants That Clean the Air

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100-degree October temperatures? Welcome to ‘hotumn.’

The demonstrations call on households, cities, and institutions to withdraw money from banks financing projects that activists say violate human rights — such as the Dakota Access Pipeline and efforts to extract oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

The divestment campaign Mazaska Talks, which is using the hashtag #DivestTheGlobe, began with protests across the United States on Monday and continues with actions in Africa, Asia, and Europe on Tuesday and Wednesday. Seven people were arrested in Seattle yesterday, where activists briefly shut down a Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo.

The demonstrations coincide with a meeting in São Paulo, Brazil, involving a group of financial institutions that have established a framework for assessing the environmental and social risks of development projects. Organizers allege the banks have failed to uphold indigenous peoples’ right to “free, prior, and informed consent” to projects developed on their land.

“We want the global financial community to realize that investing in projects that harm us is really investing in death, genocide, racism, and does have a direct effect on not only us on the front lines but every person on this planet,” Joye Braun, an Indigenous Environmental Network community organizer, said in a statement.

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100-degree October temperatures? Welcome to ‘hotumn.’

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Half of all rides on Uber and Lyft didn’t have to happen.

Those trips — 49 to 61 percent of all rides in metro areas — would otherwise have been made on foot, bike, or public transit, according to new analysis from UC Davis.

Sustainability-inclined urbanists — including us — often credit car- and ride-sharing services for reducing the overall number of cars in cities. After all, if people know they can get a ride when they need one, they will presumably be less likely to invest in a car of their own.

But the UC Davis study shows that the vast majority of ride-sharing users — 91 percent — have not made a change in their personal vehicle ownership as a result of Uber or Lyft. Meanwhile, these ride-share users took public transit 6 percent less.

That means that ride-hailing services aren’t necessarily taking people out of their cars — they’re taking them off of buses and subways.

There’s still lots of evidence that shows car ownership is an increasingly unappealing prospect for young people in America’s cities (after all, a big chunk of that 91 percent may not own a car in the first place).

Taxi apps may help kill the private car, but they won’t fix all our traffic and transit problems, either. That will take more work.

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Half of all rides on Uber and Lyft didn’t have to happen.

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Nearly half of the country thinks Donald Trump is handling hurricane season well.

Those trips — 49 to 61 percent of all rides in metro areas — would otherwise have been made on foot, bike, or public transit, according to new analysis from UC Davis.

Sustainability-inclined urbanists — including us — often credit car- and ride-sharing services for reducing the overall number of cars in cities. After all, if people know they can get a ride when they need one, they will presumably be less likely to invest in a car of their own.

But the UC Davis study shows that the vast majority of ride-sharing users — 91 percent — have not made a change in their personal vehicle ownership as a result of Uber or Lyft. Meanwhile, these ride-share users took public transit 6 percent less.

That means that ride-hailing services aren’t necessarily taking people out of their cars — they’re taking them off of buses and subways.

There’s still lots of evidence that shows car ownership is an increasingly unappealing prospect for young people in America’s cities (after all, a big chunk of that 91 percent may not own a car in the first place).

Taxi apps may help kill the private car, but they won’t fix all our traffic and transit problems, either. That will take more work.

From:

Nearly half of the country thinks Donald Trump is handling hurricane season well.

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Foraging – Mark Vorderbruggen PhD

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Foraging

Mark Vorderbruggen PhD

Genre: Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: April 12, 2016

Publisher: DK Publishing

Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


Foraged delicacies have become the latest foodie obsession. Wild edibles collected by professional foragers are proliferating on the plates of top-tier restaurants because they offer novel and ultra-fresh sensations for the tongue, and they frequently taste more flavorful than farmed foods. For people seeking new food experiences and wanting to forage for themselves, Idiot's Guides: Foraging shows how to find wild edibles and when and how to harvest them. Includes 30+ tasty recipes that describe how to prepare these wild foods. * Includes common plants all across North America * Covers positive plant identification * Multiple large, full-color photos identify each plant (including the mature plant, how it looks at various stages of growth, and how it looks at the right stage of growth for harvesting) * Each entry gives facts on the plant's habitat, physical properties, which parts are edible, harvesting sustainability, preparation, storage, and poisonous look-alikes * More than 30 delicious recipes * Includes range maps and charts that list plants by habitat and by season

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Foraging – Mark Vorderbruggen PhD

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Hurricanes have made Caribbeans the world’s latest climate refugees.

The devastation wiped out 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s agricultural production, according to Puerto Rico’s agriculture secretary, Carlos Flores Ortega. The New York Times visited farmer José A. Rivera after the winds flattened his plantain, yam, and pepper fields.

“There will be no food in Puerto Rico,” Rivera, told the Times. “There is no more agriculture in Puerto Rico. And there won’t be any for a year or longer.”

Food prices will surely rise on the island, although the loss of crops will not necessarily mean people will starve. Puerto Rico imports about 85 percent of its food. Even so, the storm damaged the infrastructure used to distribute imported food, like ports, roads, and stores.

On CNN, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló pleaded for aid from Congress. “We need to prevent a humanitarian crisis occurring in America,” he said. FEMA and the Coast Guard are working in the territory.

Flores, the agriculture secretary, appeared to be looking for a silver lining. This may be a chance to rebuild the island’s agriculture so that it is more efficient and sustainable, he told the Times.

As climate change accelerates, we can expect the rate of disasters like this to accelerate as well.

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Hurricanes have made Caribbeans the world’s latest climate refugees.

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Quakeland – Kathryn Miles

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Quakeland

On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake

Kathryn Miles

Genre: Nature

Price: $14.99

Publish Date: August 29, 2017

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


A journey around the United States in search of the truth about the threat of earthquakes leads to spine-tingling discoveries, unnerving experts, and ultimately the kind of preparations that will actually help guide us through disasters. It’s a road trip full of surprises.   Earthquakes. You need to worry about them only if you’re in San Francisco, right? Wrong. We have been making enormous changes to subterranean America, and Mother Earth, as always, has been making some of her own. . . . The consequences for our real estate, our civil engineering, and our communities will be huge because they will include earthquakes most of us do not expect and cannot imagine—at least not without reading Quakeland . Kathryn Miles descends into mines in the Northwest, dissects Mississippi levee engineering studies, uncovers the horrific risks of an earthquake in the Northeast, and interviews the seismologists, structual engineers, and emergency managers around the country who are addressing this ground shaking threat. As Miles relates, the era of human-induced earthquakes began in 1962 in Colorado after millions of gallons of chemical-weapon waste was pumped underground in the Rockies. More than 1,500 quakes over the following seven years resulted. The Department of Energy plans to dump spent nuclear rods in the same way. Evidence of fracking’s seismological impact continues to mount. . . . Humans as well as fault lines built our “quakeland”. What will happen when Memphis, home of FedEx's 1.5-million-packages-a-day hub, goes offline as a result of an earthquake along the unstable Reelfoot Fault? FEMA has estimated that a modest 7.0 magnitude quake (twenty of these happen per year around the world) along the Wasatch Fault under Salt Lake City would put a $33 billion dent in our economy. When the Fukushima  reactor melted down, tens of thousands were displaced. If New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant blows, ten million people will be displaced. How would that evacuation even begin? Kathryn Miles’ tour of our land is as fascinating and frightening as it is irresistibly compelling.

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Quakeland – Kathryn Miles

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