Tag Archives: oregon

Western wildfires could still be burning by Halloween.

One would think that the demise of ticks and tapeworms would be cause for celebration (especially if your introduction to parasites was, as in my case, an encounter with zombie snails at a mercilessly young age).

But hold the party, say researchers. After studying 457 species of parasites in the Smithsonian Museum’s collection, mapping their global distribution, and applying a range of climate models and future scenarios, scientists predict that at least 5 to 10 percent of those critters would be extinct by 2070 due to climate change–induced habitat loss.

This extinction won’t do any favors to wildlife or humans. If a mass die-off were to occur, surviving parasites would likely invade new areas unpredictably — and that could greatly damage ecosystems. One researcher says parasites facilitate up to 80 percent of the food-web links in ecosystems, thus helping to sustain life (even if they’re also sucking it away).

What could save the parasites and our ecosystems? Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “Reduce carbon emissions.”

If emissions go unchecked, parasites could lose 37 percent of their habitats. If we cut carbon quickly, they’d reduce by only 20 percent — meaning the terrifying (but helpful!) parasites creating zombie snails will stay where they are.

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Western wildfires could still be burning by Halloween.

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Of Wolves and Men – Barry Lopez

READ GREEN WITH E-BOOKS

Of Wolves and Men
Barry Lopez

Genre: Nature

Price: $9.99

Publish Date: May 31, 2016

Publisher: Open Road Media

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC


National Book Award Finalist: A “brilliant” study of the science and mythology of the wolf by the New York Times –bestselling author of Arctic Dreams ( The Washington Post ).  When John Fowles reviewed Of Wolves and Men , he called it “A remarkable book, both biologically absorbing and humanly rich, and one that should be read by every concerned American.” In this National Book Award–shortlisted work, literary master Barry Lopez guides us through the world of the wolf and our often-mistaken perceptions of another species’ place on our shared planet. Throughout the centuries, the wolf has been a figure of fascination and mystery, and a major motif in literature and myth. Inspiring fear and respect, the creature has long exerted a powerful influence on the human imagination. Of Wolves and Men takes the reader into the world of the Canis lupus and its relationship to humankind through the ages. Lopez draws on science, history, mythology, and his own field research to present a compelling portrait of wolves both real and imagined, dispelling our fear of them while celebrating their place in our history, legends, and hearts.  This ebook features an illustrated biography of Barry Lopez including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection. “A splendid, beautiful book.” — The Wall Street Journal “Fascinating. . . . A wealth of observation, mythology, and mysticism.” — The New York Times Book Review “Brilliant. . . . A work of intelligence, dedication, and beauty deserving the widest possible attention not only for the sake of wolves but also for the sake of men.” — The Washington Post Barry Lopez (b. 1945) is the author of thirteen books of essays, short stories, and nonfiction. He is a recipient of the National Book Award, the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and numerous other literary and cultural honors and awards. His highly acclaimed books include Arctic Dreams , Winter Count , and Of Wolves and Men, for which he received the John Burroughs and Christopher medals. He lives in western Oregon.     

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Of Wolves and Men – Barry Lopez

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As far as these states are concerned, the Paris climate agreement is still on.

To compensate, they want to build more natural gas-powered plants and dams. (Well, the first part sounded like a solid plan.)

According to Reuters, by 2030, the country’s current leadership wants coal and nuclear to contribute about 22 percent each to South Korea’s energy mix. Currently, coal and nuclear are responsible for 40 percent and 30 percent, respectively, of the nation’s electricity.

The plan also calls for burning more natural gas — increasing its share from 18 percent to 27 percent of the electricity pie. But South Korea will also rely more on renewables, mainly hydro — upping it from 5 percent of the country’s power to 20 percent.

If they follow through, they’d be walking in America’s footprints. Here, fracking sank the fortunes of nuclear and coal — though President Trump’s entire environmental platform seems to be geared to out-of-work coal miners.

Ironically, South Korea is right now the fourth biggest coal importer and one of the top 3 importers of U.S. coal. So even if Trump breathes new life into that industry, there could be one fewer buyer for its wares.

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As far as these states are concerned, the Paris climate agreement is still on.

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4 in 10 Americans Live in Places Where It Is Unhealthy for Them to Breathe

Mother Jones

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In his America First Energy Plan, President Donald Trump boasts that “protecting clean air” will “remain a high priority” during his presidency. But just a few months into his term, Trump proposed cutting funding to the Environmental Protection Agency and signed an executive order to roll back the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era regulation central to the enforcement of the Clean Air Act. Bad timing. According to a new report published today by the American Lung Association, nearly 4 in 10 Americans live in places where it is unhealthy for them to breathe.

The ALA’s “State of the Air 2017” report analyzed air pollution data collected by the EPA from 2013 to 2015 and found that 125 million people live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone (smog) or particle pollution. Though this represents a “major improvement” from the 2016 report, which placed the number at 166 million, or more than half of all Americans, the ALA is concerned that the recent progress could reverse. “Implementing and enforcing the Clean Air Act is responsible for the progress that we’ve seen so far, and it’s the tool to continue progress,” says Paul Billings, ALA’s national senior vice president.

The installation of modern pollution controls on power plants and retirement of old plants, the increasing reliance on renewable energy sources and natural gas over coal, and the creation of more stringent fuel emission standards have all contributed to the pollution declines, he says. Trump’s proposed cuts “would not only eviscerate programs at the EPA and at regional offices, but also dramatically cut the grants that pass through EPA to state and local environmental agencies”—a big chunk of which is used for air pollution control work.

The report also found an increase in dangerous short-term spikes in particle pollution, or the tiny solid and liquid particles mixed into the air we breathe. Breathing in smog and particle pollution can cause serious health problems, increasing the risk of asthma and infections and cancers of the lungs, and also possibly contributing to heart disease, obesity, and more terrifyingly, degenerative brain diseases.

Many of the cities that reported the worst number of unhealthy days are concentrated in the Western states, including California, Oregon, and Nevada, and experienced wildfire smoke. Given the strong link between climate change and the increasing frequency and intensity of droughts and wildfires, the report concluded that the data “adds to the evidence that a changing climate is making it harder to protect human health.”

Air pollution control is “a multifaceted problem, and it requires a comprehensive solution with many different strategies,” says Billings. “So we need to make sure things like the Clean Power Plan are implemented. If you don’t have strict enforcement, companies cheat and the consequences are dire.”

Look up the air quality of your city and county here.

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4 in 10 Americans Live in Places Where It Is Unhealthy for Them to Breathe

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“If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite.”

Oregon’s largest city became the first in the nation to ban the building of major fossil fuel terminals and the expansion of existing ones after a unanimous city council vote on Wednesday.

The city council used zoning codes to enact the ban, which will go into effect in January, and will prevent the construction of any new terminals for transporting or storing coal, methanol, natural gas, and oil. Other West Coast cities made similar moves earlier this year: Vancouver, Washington, banned new oil terminals and Oakland, California, banned coal terminals.

In the wake of the Trump election, it’s clear that the federal government won’t be taking climate action, so environmentalists are increasingly looking to cities to adopt climate change–fighting policies — and those cities might want to follow Portland’s lead.

“What we’ve done in Portland is replicable now in other cities,” Portland Mayor Charlie Hales told InsideClimate News. “Everybody has a zoning code.”

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is also encouraging cities to take action. “Mayors and local leaders around the country are determined to keep pushing ahead on climate change,” he wrote recently, “because it is in their interest to do so.” It’s also in all of ours.

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“If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite.”

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Is Trump’s EPA pick or State nominee the riper target for Democrats?

Oregon’s largest city became the first in the nation to ban the building of major fossil fuel terminals and the expansion of existing ones after a unanimous city council vote on Wednesday.

The city council used zoning codes to enact the ban, which will go into effect in January, and will prevent the construction of any new terminals for transporting or storing coal, methanol, natural gas, and oil. Other West Coast cities made similar moves earlier this year: Vancouver, Washington, banned new oil terminals and Oakland, California, banned coal terminals.

In the wake of the Trump election, it’s clear that the federal government won’t be taking climate action, so environmentalists are increasingly looking to cities to adopt climate change–fighting policies — and those cities might want to follow Portland’s lead.

“What we’ve done in Portland is replicable now in other cities,” Portland Mayor Charlie Hales told InsideClimate News. “Everybody has a zoning code.”

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is also encouraging cities to take action. “Mayors and local leaders around the country are determined to keep pushing ahead on climate change,” he wrote recently, “because it is in their interest to do so.” It’s also in all of ours.

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Is Trump’s EPA pick or State nominee the riper target for Democrats?

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Is Trump Even Aware of Where He’s Speaking?

Mother Jones

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Donald Trump will deliver a speech on Monday afternoon in Youngstown, Ohio, a quintessential Rust Belt city that has declined sharply from its manufacturing boom times. It’s the kind of place where Trump is perfectly positioned to make inroads among white working-class residents who have long voted Democratic but are drawn to Trump’s opposition to free-trade deals and his pitch for a return to better days.

But Trump doesn’t plan to talk about the economy in Youngstown. Instead, he will deliver a foreign policy address focused on ISIS.

In his speech, Trump will also propose an “ideological test” to administer to all immigrants entering the United States, according to the Associated Press. The “test for admission” would include questionnaires, a search of the immigrants’ social-media accounts, and interviews with friends and family to assess the immigrant’s views on religious liberty, gender equality, and LGBT rights.

The foreign policy focus is a strange one for Youngstown, where the dissolution of the domestic steel industry triggered economic depression and racial tensions—the very circumstances that have fueled Trump’s rise. But it wouldn’t be the first time Trump has delivered a message to one audience that is better suited to another.

At a rally in Loudoun County, Virginia, earlier this month, Trump rattled off a list of shuttered manufacturing plants—the exact topic that would most resonate in a place like Youngstown. But Loudoun County is not in the Rust Belt. It’s the richest county in the United States, thanks to lucrative defense contracts after September 11, 2001. All the factories Trump mentioned during this speech were far from the Washington, DC, exurbs of Loudoun County. One was in North Carolina.

Trump kept up the trend last week in southwestern Virginia coal country, where a speech to coal miners focused as much on the latest batch of Hillary Clinton’s emails as on the future of the state’s coal mines. Surrounded on stage by miners in hard hats, Trump couldn’t resist a reference to his winery in Charlottesville, Virginia, the college town 250 miles from where Trump was speaking in Abingdon. “I don’t know if you know my Charlottesville place, but it’s a fantastic place,” he said. “It’s now a winery, it’s one of the largest wineries on the East Coast.”

Trump has also insisted on campaigning in blue states he is highly unlikely to win. He gave a rambling talk in Fairfield, Connecticut, on Saturday evening. At the end of August, he plans to campaign in Oregon, another deep-blue state in an election where even some Republican strongholds are turning purple.

And then there was Trump’s puzzling decision to hold a rally in Portland, Maine, earlier this month. Because Maine allocates electoral votes by congressional district, Trump has a shot to win the state’s relatively conservative 2nd District. The only problem: He held his rally in the wrong district.

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Is Trump Even Aware of Where He’s Speaking?

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The John Kasich-Ted Cruz Alliance Is Already Unraveling

Mother Jones

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On Sunday night, it finally happened. Just before 11 p.m., the campaigns of Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz released matching statements promising to work together to stop Donald Trump from clinching the Republican nomination before the convention. The agreement they struck was that Kasich would stop campaigning in his neighboring state of Indiana, to give Cruz a chance to catch Trump there, and Cruz would stop campaigning in his neighboring state of New Mexico, as well as Oregon, in the hopes of boosting Kasich there. Anti-Trump voices had been calling for candidates to work together for months (Cruz trampled over Marco Rubio’s frantic appeal for help in Florida); the alliance was a sign that reality had set in.

But one thing missing from the agreement was any indication that Kasich and Cruz would actually tell their voters in Indiana, New Mexico, or Oregon, to support the other guy. And sure enough, while eating at a diner in Philadelphia on Monday morning, Kasich decided to pour water on the whole plan. Would the governor, a reporter asked, tell his supporters in Indiana to vote for Cruz? No, Kasich said. “I’ve never told them not to vote for me; they ought to vote for me.” He explained that the deal had nothing to do with strategic voting—it was only about whether to campaign or not campaign. Sounds like a strong alliance!

This is the most passive-aggressive thing Kasich has done since the last time someone tried to make a deal with him:

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The John Kasich-Ted Cruz Alliance Is Already Unraveling

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House Republican introduces resolution to protect … magic

House Republican introduces resolution to protect … magic

By on 15 Mar 2016commentsShare

Magic is in the air!

Along with six other House Republicans, Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas introduced a resolution on Monday that recognizes “magic as a rare and valuable art form and national treasure.” His resolution reads like a Tumblr poem:

Whereas magic is an art form with the unique power and potential to impact the lives of all people;

Whereas magic enables people to experience the impossible;

Whereas magic is used to inspire and bring wonder and happiness to others;

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Whereas magic has had a significant impact on other art forms;

Whereas magic, like the great art forms of dance, literature, theater, film, and the visual arts, allows people to experience something that transcends the written word;

It continues. And, please, try not to laugh. This is serious congressional business:

Whereas David Copperfield, introduced to magic as a boy growing up in New Jersey, has been named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress;

Whereas David Copperfield, with 21 Emmy Awards, 11 Guinness World Records, and over four billion dollars in ticket sales, has impacted every aspect of the global entertainment industry;

Whereas David Copperfield, through his magic, inspires great positive change in the lives of Americans;

Whereas people consistently leave David Copperfield’s live magic show with a different perspective than when they entered;

Whereas Rebecca Brown of Portland, Oregon, left a David Copperfield magic show with a newfound inspiration to pursue her lifelong, unfulfilled passion for dance;

Whereas three months after Rebecca Brown attended the David Copperfield magic show, she performed her first choreographed recital in Portland, Oregon’s Pioneer Square …

In addition to recognizing magic as rare and national treasure, the symbolic bill would “support efforts to make certain that magic is preserved, understood, and promulgated.” Whatever that means.

The best (worst?) part about this congressional waste-of-time is that while Sessions clearly believes in magic (and has a big ol’ crush of David Copperfield), he and his colleagues fail to recognize something that is happening right in front of their faces: climate change. Sessions has earned a 3 percent score from the League of Conservation Voters, and has voted against almost every piece of climate change and environmental legislation since 1997.

While we are unable to ascertain the validity of magic, it’s clear that magical thinking is alive and well. And Rep. Sessions, just in case you’re listening — how about a trick or two to deal with climate change? It might work better than waiting on Congress.

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Should kids be able to sue for a safe climate? This federal court is about to decide

No Kidding

Should kids be able to sue for a safe climate? This federal court is about to decide

By on 10 Mar 2016commentsShare

This post was co-published with Moyers & Company.

EUGENE, Ore. — Courtrooms usually aren’t jovial places, but with 21 youth plaintiffs and two busloads of supporting junior high-school students in tow, the air in the U.S. District Courthouse here on Wednesday felt more field trip than federal court.

The occasion for the youthful energy was a hearing on a complaint filed on behalf of the plaintiffs, aged 8–19, by Oregon nonprofit Our Children’s Trust. The kids’ lawyers assert that their clients, and the younger generation as a whole, have been deprived of key rights by their own government. By failing to act on climate change, they argue, the United States government — including President Obama and a baker’s dozen federal agencies — has valued its own generation more than future generations, which will bear a greater burden with respect to the climate crisis.

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The Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, and Wednesday’s hearing had a federal judge considering that motion. The youth plaintiffs’ counsel sparred with government lawyers as well as attorneys representing fossil fuel interests. This kind of case might sound, well, juvenile, but trade groups with ties to the oil and gas lobby — the American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, and the National Association of Manufacturers — were concerned enough about it that they joined as co-defendants in November of last year. Now, the Oregon U.S. District Court will decide whether or not the complaint will proceed to trial.

Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh Martinez, a 15-year-old indigenous activist and a plaintiff on the case, summed up the kids’ perspective at a press conference after the hearing. “We are valuing our futures over profits,” he said. “We are valuing this planet over corporate greed.”

Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh Martinez (15) stands in front of his fellow plaintiffs and addresses the press.

Clayton Aldern

This isn’t the first time Our Children’s Trust has brought forth a youth climate lawsuit. Indeed, the group has at one time or another filed suit in all 50 states and currently has cases pending in five states. Back in November, in a case brought by a coalition of Seattle teenagers, a Washington judge ruled that the state was constitutionally obligated to protect its natural resources “for the common benefit of the people of the State” — a notable win for the young plaintiffs — but she did not go so far as to rule that the state’s carbon emissions-limiting standards in question needed to adhere to the “best available science.” A 2011 suit, which the youth plaintiffs ended up losing, also targeted the federal government for failing to keep the atmosphere safe for future generations. It perhaps goes without saying that these types of complaints are incredible long shots.

Julia Olson, a lawyer with Wild Earth Advocates and Our Children’s Trust who argued the plaintiffs’ case on Wednesday, is optimistic about the outcome of this complaint, though. “I believe in our Constitution, and I think it can work to address even the most systemic, intractable problem of our generation,” she told me.

The complaint alleges violation of the kids’ Fifth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection. By failing to act on climate change, it argues, the government discriminates against youth as a class. Without access to a healthy climate, they’re deprived of their fundamental rights to life, liberty, and property.

The complaint is also built on the public trust doctrine, a carryover from English common law that says a government has the duty to protect certain natural resources and systems on behalf of current and future generations. “It originated with Emperor Justinian in Rome,” Alex Loznak, a 19-year-old plaintiff, explained to the press. “It’s reflected in the Magna Carta, the writings of Thomas Jefferson, and cited in U.S. court decisions dating back to the 1800s.”

An important question at hand on Wednesday was whether the public trust doctrine applies to the federal government. The U.S. government and its fossil-fuel industry co-defendants argued that legal precedent only considers it to apply to states. That’s a crucial distinction, because it will help determine whether or not the plaintiffs even have standing in the federal court system.

Youth plaintiff Isaac Vergun (13) poses outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Eugene, Ore.

Clayton Aldern

The defendants also contend that if the federal court took on the case, it would amount to an egregious overstep of authority by the judiciary. “This is the type of problem that is designed to be solved by the political branches,” argued U.S. counsel Sean C. Duffy at the hearing. He said that denying the U.S. government’s motion for dismissal would effectively turn the judicial branch into a “de facto super-agency.”

Another core argument of the defense is that all cases addressing constitutional rights must demonstrate that the government, through its actions, has infringed upon these rights or exceeded its authority. Instead, the defense argued, the kids’ case alleges a failure to act, and you can’t require the government to simply “do more.” “Our Constitution is one that limits the power of government,” argued intervenor counsel Quin Sorenson, who represented industry interests at the hearing.

That’s not how Olson sees it, though. “What we have today is not just a failure to act,” she told the press after the hearing. “The government is not just sitting by and doing nothing. They are doing everything to cause this problem.” Indeed, the complaint calls out the government for its continued actions to “permit, authorize, and subsidize fossil fuel extraction, development, consumption and exportation.”

It’s also not unprecedented for a court to demand that the government meet a specific standard to ensure its citizens’ safety, she said. In Brown v. Plata, for example, a 2010 Supreme Court case concerning prison reform, the court required a mandatory limit on prison populations for the sake of health and safety. Summarizing the decision, she said that while the Supreme Court had no scientific standards to apply at the time, it ruled that it could rely on expert evidence. “The Court selected the number — it set the standard — to keep those prisoners safe.” And when it comes to determining the safe level of climate pollution in the atmosphere, “we have scientific standards,” she said.

Supporters of the youth plaintiffs assemble on the steps of the U.S. District Courthouse in Eugene, Ore., after the hearing. The banner reads, “Our future is a constitutional right.”

Clayton Aldern

“The way I hope it will go is that the judicial branch will say, ‘You’ve got to do something,’” said James Hansen, adjunct professor at Columbia University and former director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Hansen’s granddaughter is a plaintiff in the case, and he’s formally listed in the complaint as the legal guardian of “Future Generations.” He continued, “Hopefully the court will ask for a plan: How are you going to ensure the rights of young people?”

In a time of gridlock and sorely needed climate action, the case couldn’t come soon enough, Hansen said. “It gets harder and harder to stabilize the climate if you go longer and longer without turning the curve.”

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Addressing climate change is perhaps the greatest challenge of our time, and it necessarily causes us to ask some big questions. Is there a constitutional right to be free from climate change? Is there a constitutional right to a safe climate? Is youth a class, or simply a mutable trait? If the federal government takes actions that worsen the climate crisis, does that amount to an abuse of its power?

Said Olson: “We are not just in a climate crisis. We will have a significant constitutional crisis and a crisis in our democracy if this doesn’t work.”


The 21 youth plaintiffs, along with climatologist James Hansen (top, third from left) pose with Our Children’s Trust attorneys Phil Gregory (top left) and Julia Olson (bottom left).

Clayton Aldern

Watch Bill Moyers’ 2014 interview with youth plaintiff Kelsey Juliana:

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Should kids be able to sue for a safe climate? This federal court is about to decide

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