Sometimes, the only way to fix an unhappy relationship is to end it. Since former president Obama (remember that guy?) left office in January, the United States has done an about-face on the Paris climate agreement — the country has gone from being an leader on climate action to a rogue state that can't decide whether it wants to keep a seat at the international table.
Tagged With environment
Extremely loud air gun blasts have not been used to hunt for oil deposits in the mid and south Atlantic ocean for the last 30 years, but since the industrial practices of the '80s are apparently in vogue again, on Wednesday the Trump administration restarted the application process to use seismic surveying. Environmentalists say the technology threatens surrounding deep sea ecosystems for thousands of kilometres.
On Monday, the Washington Post reports that EPA head Scott Pruitt was behind the dismissal of half of the members of the agency's Board of Science Counselors. The 18-member board oversees the rigour and integrity of the scientific research guiding policy decisions coming out of the EPA, from climate change to air pollution. Even more alarming, a spokesman for the EPA told the New York Times their replacements may be representatives from the polluting industries themselves. While the move has outraged some environmentalists, it seems completely in line with Pruitt's longstanding goal of curtailing the EPA's regulatory power from within.
Well, it took 100 days but the Environmental Protection Agency in the US has finally removed the climate change section of its website. An agency spokesman explained that the information that has been collected on the page over the last 20 years posed a problem because it contradicted the administration's denial of man-made climate change.
In 1908, Ernest Shackleton's legendary Nimrod team was making its way toward the South Pole when the men were startled by something unexpected: The sound of liquid water, roaring across the frozen wasteland toward the sea. One hundred and nine years later, scientists can confirm that this sound, described by one early explorer as "odd after the usual Antarctic silence" was not a trick of the mens' imaginations, nor was it a fluke. Hundreds of individual waterways gush across our planet's ice-covered continent in the summertime, and they have been doing so for decades.
The stoat — a small, adorable, weasel-like mammal — is the one of the largest ecological threats in New Zealand. It's a fierce invader with few predators that dines freely on the country's endangered birds. The stoat did not come to New Zealand via any unfortunate accident. It was brought there on purpose, introduced in the 19th century to control another pest introduced by settlers, the rabbit. It was, in essence, a Russian nesting doll of ecological disasters — one bad decision supplanting yet another.
In 1992, more than 170 countries came together at the Rio Earth Summit and agreed to pursue sustainable development, protect biological diversity, prevent dangerous interference with climate systems, and conserve forests. But, 25 years later, the natural systems on which humanity relies continue to be degraded.
We all hoped EPA head, Scott Pruitt, would eventually face consequences when he falsely claimed that there was "tremendous disagreement" about whether human activity cause global warming.
The time may have finally arrived.
Today, President Trump is expected to begin the process of dismantling Obama's environmental legacy, including his signature climate action policy, the Clean Power Plan. According to Reuters, Trump will sign an executive order compelling the Environmental Protection Agency to review and rewrite the plan, which calls on states to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, with an overall goal of shaving 32 per cent off the power sector's greenhouse gas footprint by 2030. As Trump and EPA head Scott Pruitt see it, regulations like this need to be dismantled to end the EPA's "job killing war on coal". Other experts say a roll back of the CPP is in the fossil fuel industry's best interest, but can't revitalise Big Coal.
Courts in New Zealand and India have granted legal personhood status to three rivers. The strange status is meant to protect the waters from pollution, but the measure could lead to unintended consequences, while undermining efforts to grant personhood status to living beings who actually deserve it.
In a study that's bound to attract considerable controversy, a pair of researchers are claiming that between 60 and 66 per cent of all cancer-causing mutations are the result of random DNA copying errors, making them essentially unavoidable. The new research is offering important insights into how cancer emerges, and how it should be diagnosed and treated — but many questions remain.
There's this pervasive idea that science is somehow exempt from the ugly political world in which the rest of us wallow. But even a perfunctory look at the history of American science shows that this hasn't always been the case — and the circumstances that pushed scientists into the public sphere in the past aren't that different from those scientists are facing today.
America's coal mining industry has cooled down in recent years. It lost over 200,000 jobs between 2014 and 2016; the latest sorry statistic to cap what's been a massive downward trend for decades. Expounding on his plan to restore the industry in the "America First Energy Plan", Trump has promised increased fossil fuel production and environmental deregulation. He's also committed, time and again, to an obscure and speculative technology called "clean coal", which, in his mind, probably sounds like a win-win for jobs and the environment. Policy and environmental experts, however, say it is neither.