Tag Archives: american

Rex Tillerson is caught in a love triangle with Russia and the U.S.

“The relationship that I had with Putin spans 18 years now,” the secretary of state said during a 60 Minutes interview with CBS’ Margaret Frank. “It was always about what I could do to be successful on behalf of my shareholders, and how Russia could succeed.” A true deal-maker.

But as U.S. secretary of state, the ex-CEO of ExxonMobil is supposed to put the United States’ interests first. That should ostensibly put some pressure on the relationship between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Tillerson, which was commemorated with a Russian friendship medal in 2013 after ExxonMobil signed deals with Rosneft, the state-owned Russian oil company.

Russia is one of the world’s top exporters of both oil and gas. As Alex Steffen and Rebecca Leber have written, the country stands to benefit from procrastinating on climate change action that would limit fossil fuel extraction.

In the 60 Minutes interview, Tillerson recounted his first meeting with the Russian president after becoming U.S secretary of state. “Same man, different hat,” is how he recalls reintroducing himself.

“What he is representing is different than what I now represent,” Tillerson elaborated. “And I said to him, ‘I now represent the American people.’”

Convincing! And now, on to the SNL skit that apparently made Tillerson laugh out loud:

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Rex Tillerson is caught in a love triangle with Russia and the U.S.

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Pig Tales: An Omnivore’s Quest for Sustainable Meat – Barry Estabrook

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Pig Tales: An Omnivore’s Quest for Sustainable Meat
Barry Estabrook

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: May 4, 2015

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton


A Splendid Table Staff Book Pick of the Year “Estabrook, a reporter of iron constitution and persistence, has dug deep into the truth about the American pork industry without losing his sense of humor and humanity.” —Christopher Kimball, Wall Street Journal In Pig Tales, New York Times best-selling author of Tomatoland Barry Estabrook turns his attention to the dark side of the American pork industry. Drawing on personal experiences raising pigs as well as sharp investigative instincts, Estabrook covers the range of the human-porcine experience. He shows how these intelligent creatures are all too often subjected to lives of suffering in confinement and squalor, sustained on a drug-laced diet just long enough to reach slaughter weight. But Estabrook also reveals how it is possible to raise pigs responsibly and respectfully, benefiting producers and consumers—as well as some of the top chefs in America. Provocative, witty, and deeply informed, Pig Tales is bound to spark conversation at dinner tables across America.

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Pig Tales: An Omnivore’s Quest for Sustainable Meat – Barry Estabrook

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The Sea Around Us – Rachel Carson

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The Sea Around Us
Rachel Carson

Genre: Nature

Price: $3.99

Publish Date: March 29, 2011

Publisher: Open Road Media

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC


National Book Award Winner and New York Times Bestseller: Explore earth’s most precious, mysterious resource—the ocean—with the author of Silent Spring .  With more than one million copies sold, Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us became a cultural phenomenon when first published in 1951 and cemented Carson’s status as the preeminent natural history writer of her time. Her inspiring, intimate writing plumbs the depths of an enigmatic world—a place of hidden lands, islands newly risen from the earth’s crust, fish that pour through the water, and the unyielding, epic battle for survival. Firmly based in the scientific discoveries of the time, The Sea Around Us masterfully presents Carson’s commitment to a healthy planet and a fully realized sense of wonder.  This ebook features an illustrated biography of Rachel Carson including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.  “[Carson has] a rare gift for transmuting scientific fact into lucid, lyrical language.” — Time  “Her book remains fresh, in part because of her ability to convey scientific insight in vivid poetic language—but, perhaps more important, because what she has to say is still so relevant today.” — Scientific American  “As stimulating as a breeze from the oceans about which she writes; an invigorating and exciting book.” — Boston Herald  Award-winning author Rachel Carson (1907–1964) was one of the greatest American natural history writers of the twentieth century. In addition to the environmental classic Silent Spring , her books include Under the Sea Wind , The Edge of the Sea, and The Sea Around Us , which has sold more than one million copies, been translated into twenty-eight languages, and won the National Book Award and John Burroughs Award.

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The Sea Around Us – Rachel Carson

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In Pruitt’s world, climate change isn’t such a ‘bad thing’

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

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has suggested that global warming may be beneficial to humans in his latest departure from mainstream climate science.

Pruitt, who has previously erred by denying that carbon dioxide is a key driver of climate change, has again caused consternation among scientists by suggesting that warming temperatures could benefit civilization.

The EPA administrator said that humans are contributing to climate change “to a certain degree,” but added: “We know humans have most flourished during times of warming trends. There are assumptions made that because the climate is warming that necessarily is a bad thing.

“Do we know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100 or year 2018?” he told a TV station in Nevada. “It’s fairly arrogant for us to think we know exactly what it should be in 2100.”

Pruitt said he wanted an “honest, transparent debate about what we do know and what we don’t know, so the American people can be informed and make decisions on their own.”

Under Pruitt’s leadership, the EPA is mulling whether to stage a televised “red team, blue team” debate between climate scientists and those who deny the established science that human activity is warming the planet.

President Trump has also repeatedly questioned the science of climate change, tweeting during a cold snap in December that the U.S. “could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against.”

The EPA itself is unequivocal that warming temperatures, and resulting environmental changes, are a danger to human health via heatwaves, smoke from increased wildfires, worsening smog, extreme weather events, spread of diseases, water-borne illnesses, and food insecurity.

This array of health-related challenges has prompted the medical journal The Lancet to state that tackling climate change will be “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.”

National security experts, including those at the Pentagon, have also warned that climate change is set to create a sprawling humanitarian challenge, as millions of people look to escape failing crops, inundated land, drought, and conflict.

Research has pointed to some potential benefits in certain areas of the world, such as areas of the Arctic opening up to agriculture and shipping as frozen soils thaw and sea ice recedes. Deaths from severe cold are also expected to drop, albeit offset by rising mortality from heatwaves.

Human civilization has, until now, developed in a relatively stable climate. Rising temperatures, of around 1 degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution, are pushing humanity into an environment it has never previously experienced. The last time sea surface temperatures were as high as now was around 120,000 years ago, when sea levels were up to 9 meters higher than today’s average.

“As the evidence becomes ever more compelling that climate change is real and human-caused, the forces of denial turn to other specious arguments, like ‘it will be good for us,’” said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University.

“There is no consistency at all to their various arguments other than that we should continue to burn fossil fuels.”

Since being installed by Trump to lead the EPA, Pruitt has overseen the repeal or delay of dozens of environmental rules, including the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which sought to curb greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

“There was a declared war on coal, a war on fossil fuels,” Pruitt said in his Nevada interview. “The EPA was weaponized against certain sectors of our economy and that’s not the role of a regulator. Renewables need to be part of our energy mix, but to think that will be the dominant fuel is simply fanciful.”

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In Pruitt’s world, climate change isn’t such a ‘bad thing’

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Trump shared his thoughts on climate change, and surprise, they’re dumb

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

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, French President Emmanuel Macron made headlines for poking fun at his American counterpart’s well-documented history of climate change denial.

Now, remarks from President Donald Trump on the issue, which were also recorded in Davos but aired in Britain Sunday evening, are providing additional context to Macron’s spot-on mockery.

“There is a cooling and there’s a heating,” Trump told Piers Morgan in an interview with Britain’s ITV. “I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place.”

He then addressed the subject of polar ice cap melting. “The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records,” Trump said. “They’re at a record level.”

In reality, human-made global warming has far outpaced any short-term cooling. Nevertheless, climate change skeptics regularly cherry-pick such data points that fail to account for long-term trends, which consistently show that the planet’s temperature is rising.

Like Trump’s past musings on global warming, his latest observations fly in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. They also recall a May Politico report in which Trump fell for a hoax Time magazine cover that supposedly warned about a coming ice age. K.T. McFarland, the former deputy national security adviser, reportedly snuck the fake cover onto Trump’s desk with the intention of irritating Trump on the topic of climate change.

A White House official defended McFarland, saying that the cover was “fake but accurate.” Whatever that means.

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Trump shared his thoughts on climate change, and surprise, they’re dumb

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Society saves $6 for every dollar spent on climate change resilience

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

In financial terms, 2017 was the worst year for natural disasters in American history, costing the country $306 billion. Scientists agree that hurricanes, floods, and fires are now turbo-charged by climate change, which the president and many top Republican leaders still refuse to acknowledge. But even while the federal government fails to address the root of the problem, there are ways to limit the damage from these increasingly frequent events — in property, and, more importantly, in human life.

A new report from the National Institute of Building Sciences finds that for every dollar spent on federal grants aimed at improving disaster resilience, society saves six dollars. This return is higher than previously thought: A 2005 study by NIBS found that each dollar from these grants yielded four dollars in savings.

“A lot of things have happened since 2005,” said NIBS’s Ryan Colker, who contributed to the report. “Katrina, Sandy, and the increasing … frequency of disasters prompted us to look at what has changed.”

NIBS, a nonprofit group authorized by the U.S. Congress, took into account grants from FEMA, HUD, and the Economic Development Administration, whose staffs collaborated with NIBS to produce the report. $27 billion spent in mitigation grants over the past 23 years has yielded $158 billion in societal savings, they found. Many of the interventions the grants funded were simple, like installing hurricane shutters, replacing flammable roofs, and clearing vegetation close to a structure.

Summary of the savings attributable to federal disaster-mitigation grants (NIBS)

In addition to federal grants, the report also examines the financial benefits of private developers exceeding local building resilience standards. These interventions — such as elevating homes higher than required in flood-prone areas and building structures to be more rigid than required by seismic safety rules — yield four dollars in savings for every dollar spent. Unlocking these benefits is more difficult, however, since they are contingent on the decisions of private builders.

“As we continue to produce information about the benefits of resilience,” Colker said, “I think you can see an increased recognition from builders that people are willing to pay for this. There’s value associated with it.”

The study finds that developers accrue a small benefit from these long-term investments in disaster mitigation, but not nearly as much as tenants and property owners.

Net benefits to various stakeholders for exceeding local safety requirements in new buildings (NIBS)

Some regions benefit disproportionately from both federal disaster-mitigation grants and better building practices. Stretches of the Gulf Coast, for instance, see a high benefit-cost ratio (BCR) on dollars spent to elevate buildings above the legally mandated height.

Benefit-cost ratio of raising new buildings above required threshold in coastal areas (NIBS)

Large swaths of Southern California, Idaho, and (somewhat surprisingly) Florida derive particularly great benefits from investment in fire-mitigation efforts in new construction.

Benefit-cost ratio of implementing various fire safety measures in new buildings (NIBS)

Ironically, the federal grants that this study reveals to be more effective than previously thought are on the chopping block in Trump’s first budget request. Specifically, FEMA’s pre-disaster mitigation grants would be cut in half; HUD’s Community Block Grant Program would be ended, and the EDA would be eliminated.

Meanwhile, FEMA’s Trump-appointed administrator, Brock Long, “is very much interested in increasing investment in mitigation up front,” according to Colker. It will be interesting to see how the administration’s intent to cut city and state grants of all kinds will square with Long’s position, which is now supported by empirical evidence from the NIBS report.

If the president and Congress are unwilling to act on climate change, at least FEMA has a proven strategy for mitigating its effects. That is, of course, if the agency has the money to implement it.

Continued here – 

Society saves $6 for every dollar spent on climate change resilience

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Most Ohio conservatives want to pay for renewables and stop propping up coal.

Here’s the idea: Build underwater barriers in front of the glaciers most vulnerable to collapse, keeping warm ocean water from sloshing in to melt them.

Princeton glaciology postdoc Michael Wolovick presented this concept at the American Geophysical Union conference in December, as the Atlantic reports.

The Antarctic glaciers Wolovick studies are subject to disastrous feedback loops: The more they melt, the more they are exposed to melt-inducing seawater. Recent studies have suggested these massive stores of ice could collapse much faster than previously thought, potentially raising sea levels by 5 to 15 feet by the end of the century (that’s seriously bad news for coastal cities).

Wolovick has been researching the feasibility of slowing that collapse with ‘sills’ constructed out of sand and rock along the fronts of these vulnerable glaciers. Unlike a seawall, they would be entirely underwater, but would keep warm ocean water from reaching a glacier’s vulnerable base.

That could stall glacial retreat dramatically, and maybe even reverse it. In Wolovick’s virtual experiments, even the least successful version of the sills slowed a glacier’s collapse by 400 or 500 years.

It’s all still a huge if, Wolovick admits, that requires more research. But if it works, it could buy some crucial time against sea-level rise.

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Most Ohio conservatives want to pay for renewables and stop propping up coal.

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3 Green Goals Worth Setting in 2018

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The start of a new year is traditionally the time to reflect on the past and set goals to improve in the future. As you do so, consider setting some personal environmental goals to help you on your path to living a greener, healthier, more sustainable life. The three goals below are a great place to start.

Reduce Your Food Waste

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average American household throws away $2,200 worth of food each year. Clearly, cutting back on food waste is something most of us could work on. Shopping smarter is the first step in reducing your food waste. Walking into the grocery store with no plan can be a big mistake. Without a plan, it’s easy to buy far more food than you’ll actually eat, or foods that you won’t eat all of, during a given week.

By planning effectively, you can buy exactly what you need without getting too much excess. Finding good recipes is a key component. Often, recipes will call for a small portion of something, such as half a bell pepper. As you plan your meals for a week, find recipes that use many of the same ingredients, so you won’t be left with extras. Don’t forget to visit the bulk bins, where you can get exactly the quantity you need of certain ingredients. And make sure you actually eat the leftovers, rather than watching them grow mold in the back of your refrigerator.

When you do have leftovers that don’t get eaten, a backyard composting heap can be an excellent way to reuse them. Composting can be done regardless of your yard size, and can even been done when you live in an apartment.

Decrease Time in the Car

Cutting back on time in a car can be a daunting task, especially if you’re one of the many people that has to commute to work each day. But there are a number of things you can do to reduce the mileage.

One, you could switch to public transit a few days each week if this is available in your area. Riding the train, subway, or bus may not always be convenient, but by doing it just a couple of days per week, you’ll make a significant impact over the course of a year.

Two, carpool with a coworker. I get it, carpooling can be a bit of a pain. You’re forced to work on someone else’s schedule and there’s no “swinging by the store” on your way home. But instead of carpooling every day, why not do it a few days each week? If you carpooled every Tuesday and Thursday, you’d reduce your driving and get to know your coworkers better.

Carpooling is cool! Photo: Adobe Stock

Three, work from home more. While not every employer is open to the idea of remote workers just yet, why not try easing your boss into it. See if you can work from home just once a week or even one day every other week. As they see your productivity unchanged, they may open up to letting you do so more often.

Cut Back on Consumption

The last goal I’ll list here for you to consider setting this year is to consume less. Every new item you buy requires resources to manufacture and transport. In many cases, these items will be used a limited number of times before ending up shoved into a closet or, even worse, in the trash.

When considering a purchase, first think about how much you’ll actually use it. If the answer is rarely, consider borrowing it from a neighbor or friend. You may not need a power sander regularly, but your neighbor may be willing to let you use his. Participating in the sharing economy can be an effective way to reduce your consumption. There are also many services that rent out equipment and items for short periods of time.

If it’s something you will use often, first consider buying it used. There are so many great ways to shop for used items these days, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for in good condition somewhere. If you do need/want to buy new, always strive to buy quality items. This is especially important when it comes to clothes and shoes. You may have to pay a bit more, but in the long run, it’s absolutely worth it.

While these three green goals are a great place to start, there are many more out there. What are some of your green goals for this new year?

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3 Green Goals Worth Setting in 2018

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Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food – Rachel Herz PhD

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Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food

Rachel Herz PhD

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $12.99

Publish Date: December 26, 2017

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton


An eye-opening exploration of the psychology of eating in today’s unprecedented North American pantry of abundance, access, and excess. In Why You Eat What You Eat, acclaimed neuroscientist Rachel Herz examines the sensory, psychological, neuroscientific, and physiological factors that influence our eating habits. Herz, who’s been praised for her “ability to cite and explain academic studies in a conversational manner” (Washington Post), uncovers the fascinating and surprising facts that influence food consumption—such as why bringing reusable bags to the grocery store encourages us to buy more treats, how our beliefs can affect how many calories we burn, why TV influences how much we eat, and how what we see and hear changes how food tastes—and reveals useful techniques for improving our experience of food, such as how aromas can help curb cravings and tips on how to resist repeated trips to the buffet table. Why You Eat What You Eat presents our relationship to food as a complicated recipe, whose ingredients—taste, personality, and emotions—combine to make eating a potent and pleasurable experience. Herz weaves curious findings and compelling facts into a narrative that tackles important questions, revealing how psychology, neurology, and physiology shape our relationship with food, and how food alters the relationship we have with ourselves and each other.

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Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food – Rachel Herz PhD

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The EPA hired a ‘war room’-style media monitoring company.

Forests in the American West are having a harder time recovering from wildfires because of (what else?) climate change, according to new research published in Ecology Letters.

Researchers measured the growth of seedlings in 1,500 wildfire-scorched areas in Colorado, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Across the board, they found “significant decreases” in tree regeneration, a benchmark for forest resilience. In one-third of the sites, researchers found zero seedlings.

The warmest, driest forests were hit especially hard.

“Seedlings are more sensitive to warm, dry conditions than mature trees, so if the right conditions don’t exist within a few years following a wildfire, tree seedlings may not establish,” said Philip Higuera, a coauthor of the study.

Earlier this month, a separate study found that ponderosa pine and pinyon forests in the West are becoming less resilient due to droughts and warmer temperatures. Researchers told the New York Times that as trees disappear, some forests could shift to entirely different ecosystems, like grasslands or shrublands.

You’d think the rapid reconfiguration of entire ecosystems would really light a fire under us to deal with climate change, wouldn’t you?

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The EPA hired a ‘war room’-style media monitoring company.

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