A feed from EcoWatch, one of the US’s leading environmental news sites at the forefront of uniting all shades of green to ensure the health and longevity of our planet.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not doing enough to prevent weed resistance to the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) says a new report from the EPA's Inspector General's Office, which draws in part on a report from the agbiotech company, Pioneer: Weed Management in the Era of Glyphosate Resistance .
The EPA Inspector General's Office report explains that glyphosate (Roundup) is used on crops modified to tolerate this herbicide, which kills surrounding weeds but leaves the GMO crop intact.
If you use enough of it long enough, weeds develop resistance.
U.S. farmers are planting more herbicide-resistant GMO corn and soybeans (this figure is from the Pioneer report):
Here's how much glyphosate U.S. farmers are using:
- 2002: 110 million pounds
- 2012: 283.5 million pounds
Weeds resistant to herbicides were first reported in 1968. Weed resistance is now increasing rapidly (this figure is from the Inspector General's Office report):
Weeds resistant to glyphosate are spreading rapidly throughout the U.S. (this figure is in both reports):
What should government do to stop this? A quick lesson on GMO regulation:
- U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates these crops.
- EPA regulates herbicides used on these crops
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates their safety.
The EPA Inspector General said EPA is not doing enough to mitigate herbicide resistance:
- It is not communicating with farmers or other stakeholders about managing resistance.
- It is not collecting data on herbicide resistance through its adverse incident reporting database.
- It is not dealing with the need to develop alternatives.
- It is not tracking progress in addressing weed resistance.
- It needs to do better.
What should be done? Pioneer says:
A truly integrated strategy should incorporate non-chemical control tactics as well. Mechanical weed control and crop rotation are examples of two such tactics available to growers, but the feasibility of their implementation will vary depending on the characteristics of a cropping system.
Non-chemical control tactics? Sounds like sustainable agriculture, no?
Weed resistance is a big reason not to use glyphosate.
Another is its suspected carcinogenicity , but I will save that for another time.
When it comes to the latest wind turbine technologies, size matters. A group of six institutions and universities is designing an offshore wind turbine that will stand 500 meters in height. That's taller than the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building.
The research team, led by researchers at the University of Virginia , believes that its wind turbine concept will produce 50 megawatts of peak power, or about 10 times more powerful than conventional wind turbines.
"Our mission is to conceptualize, design and demonstrate morphing technologies for 50-megawatt wind turbines that can reduce offshore levelized cost of energy by as much as 50 percent by 2025," they state.
A typical wind turbine stands around 70 meters tall with blades about 50 meters long. But the team's Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor dwarfs the field with rotor blades that are 200 meters long, or as long as two football fields.
"We call it the extreme scale," aerospace engineer and University of Virginia professor Eric Loth told Digital Trends . "There's nothing like it." The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Digital Trends reports the blades will face downward and can be assembled in small segments, making it easier to manufacture, transport and put together on site.
Loth added that the blades will also be adjustable, meaning they can fan out during peak wind conditions and contract if weather conditions are damaging.
"Like a flower, the petals are spread out, and we reach out and grab as much wind as we can," he said.
As Loth explained to
, these mega turbines will be more cost-effective than existing turbines because wind blows stronger and more steadily at greater altitudes, allowing you to "capture more energy." Furthermore, the long blades catch the wind more efficiently.
The team wants the massive structures to stand at least 80 kilometers offshore, where winds are usually to stronger and is far enough away to avoid the path of migratory birds.
The turbine's design was inspired by palm trees, whose trunks bend with the wind.
"Palm trees are really tall but very lightweight structurally, and if the wind blows hard, the trunk can bend," Loth said. "We're trying to use the same concept—to design our wind turbines to have some flexibility, to bend and adapt to the flow."
According to Scientific American, the prototype has yet to be tested. The researchers are currently designing the turbine's structure and control system and will build a mini-model this summer that stands about two meters in diameter. They plan to test a larger turbine with 20-meter-long blades in Colorado next summer.
Adrian Grenier was named UN Goodwill Ambassador earlier this month. The Hollywood actor, best known for his iconic role of A-list movie star Vincent Chase in the HBO smash hit and film Entourage, will advocate for drastically reducing single-use plastic and protection of marine species , and encourage his followers to make conscious consumer choices to reduce their environmental footprint, according to the UN Environment announcement .
"Together we must usher in a new era of compassion and carefulness through forward thinking environmental programs to drive measurable change," Grenier said. "I am personally committed to creating ways in which the global community can come together to help solve our most critical climate crises through routine, collective action.
"The more we connect to nature in our daily lives, the more dedicated we will become to our individual commitments. Together, I believe we can go further, faster in our race to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030."
Watch the video above to learn more.
28 June 2017.
With All the Fracking Going On, How Much Methane Is Leaking? –
Natural gas is often considered the cleanest fossil fuel, but could it actually be dirtier than coal ?
Watch as New York Times reporter Mark Bittman, in the above Year's of Living Dangerously video, investigates how much methane is leaking at fracking wells. Find out how the natural gas industry's claims compare to what scientists are reporting.
See what happens when Gaby Petron, an atmospheric scientist with NOAA, converts her van into a mobile methane detector and sets out across northeastern Colorado for two years, taking thousands of readings to uncover the truth.
The last week has seen a flood of stories on clean energy's prospects—stories that make your head spin with their conflicting tales of renewable energy's prospects of ending our dangerous addiction to fossil fuel power from coal and gas.
A renewables transition will " happen without Trump " because of market forces—or can't do the job and is shaping up as "likely very costly." (Both from the same day's New York Times). Cities , states and businesses are filling in the leadership vacuum created by the Trump administration —or they are falling far short . Wind is making it impossible for fossil fuels to compete in Texas power markets—or Texas will continue to be the biggest carbon emitting state of all because wind is too unreliable. (Both from Bloomberg).
And all of these perspectives are coming from scientists and analysts who are pro-clean energy and favor strong action to protect the climate —this is not a fight ginned up by ExxonMobil , Peabody Coal or climate denialists from the Heartland Institute .
So what's the argument? Where do we stand on the ability of clean, renewable energy sources to eliminate the risk to the climate posed by continuing reliance on coal, oil and natural gas?
That depends on the question you ask. If you look at where we are today, our current emission rates are far too high. If continued unchecked, they will rapidly destabilize the weather and increase climate risks to catastrophic levels. (Mathematicians call this the function). If you look at the progress we are making, the future looks brighter, but still quite scary. The commitments governments made at the Paris climate agreement , and the trends for deployment of clean energy vs. fossil fuels, all show future emissions declining, but not declining enough to stabilize the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. (This question, "How fast are we progressing?" is what mathematicians call the first derivative). But if you compare the pace of progress this year with that pace five years ago, you can see that decarbonization is accelerating. Not only are we cutting emissions, we are cutting them faster with each passing year. If we continue to accelerate that progress long enough, then we can look forward to eliminating fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions and stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. (Mathematicians call this measure of acceleration "the second derivative").
Let's apply these three measurements to the most heated of this week's controversies, the attack by a group of prominent climate and energy scientists on journal articles by Stanford scientist Mark Jacobson which argued that wind, solar and hydro could enable the U.S. to eliminate all fossil fuels and nuclear energy from its electricity mix, without any significant increase in costs.
I'm not going to get into the debate about whether Jacobson's article met scientific standards or was too speculative—I'm not qualified. But the media coverage of the debate has missed the point. Jacobson described a scenario in which we get 100 percent of our power from renewables by 2055 with technologies he thinks will be available by that date. Jacobson's critics disagree—but the lead contributor to their article, Christopher Clack previously published his own trail-breaking journal article saying that we can cut carbon emissions by 80 percent with renewables by 2030. Clack's article argued that this would require connecting different regions of the U.S. with transmission lines—a technology clearly available today. We would need 60 percent wind and solar to do this—hydro, nuclear and natural gas would make up the rest.
So both sides of this media-hyped debate agree that, using today's renewable technology plus transmission, we can cut utility sector carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2030. (President Obama's much criticized Clean Power Plan , now suspended by the Trump Administration, by comparison, envisaged cutting utility emissions by only 32 percent by 2030).
So what Clack and Jacobson disagree about is what happens between 2030 and 2055. How likely is it that new storage technologies will enable us, at no cost, to get rid of the last 20 percent of those emissions—25 or 40 years from now! Even with all of my respect for the scientists on both sides, they can't possibly know the answer to that question. Only 15 years ago, solar power cost about $0.37 kwh. No one anticipated the precipitous drop in costs that followed. Today that same solar power costs a tenth as much so predicting how much electricity storage will cost in 2055 (and storage, plus long distance transmission, is the key to enabling renewable power to meet 100 percent of our needs) is simply not possible.
If, in the next 15 years, battery or other storage costs drop as fast as solar did for the last 15, Jacobson's vision is clearly viable. The second derivative can get us there—but today we are only at 10 percent wind and solar. We have a long way to go.
And we know is that racing ahead to install as much solar and wind as the grid can handle will drive the costs of renewables down even further—and lower utility bills. Both Clack and Jacobson agree that getting 60 percent renewable reliance is feasible and cheaper. So it's premature to ask "will we need some remaining natural gas or nuclear or can we go 100 percent renewable?" And we are making money—as well as cutting carbon—every step of the way.
How much of a difference would such an acceleration of renewable energy in the utility sector make to the climate? Well, cutting utility sector emissions by 80 percent would fulfill the entire Obama Administration Paris pledge (the first derivative). But it would also require doubling the speed at which we have cut utility emissions in the past decade (the second derivative).
How do we make sure that happens? That's the important question—not what do we do about the last 20 percent of those emissions when we get to 2030. We can be reasonably certain every guess we make about that today will prove wrong—however carefully peer reviewed.
So this is the wrong argument to be having. Fortunately, the stakeholders who are the target of the fight—policy makers—are asking the right question and coming up with the right answer. At its Miami convention this week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously agreed to a resolution , initiated by the Sierra Club , calling for 100 percent renewable power not by 2055—but by 2035. All of America's largest cities just got on board the renewables express—its second derivative just got a boost.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) administrator Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris before deciding to reverse an earlier EPA decision to ban the company's toxic and widely used pesticide , chlorpyrifos.
According to records obtained by the Associated Press , the EPA boss met with Liveris for about 30 minutes at a Houston hotel on March 9. Later that month, Pruitt announced that he would no longer pursue a ban on chlorpyrifos from being used on food, ignoring his agency's own review that even small amounts of the pesticide could impact fetus and infant brain development.
But EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman insisted to the AP that Pruitt and Liveris were only "briefly introduced" at the energy industry conference where both men were featured speakers.
"They did not discuss chlorpyrifos," the spokeswoman said. "During the same trip he also met with the Canadian minister of natural resources, and CEOs and executives from other companies attending the trade show."
According to the AP, Pruitt also attended a larger group meeting with two other Dow executives, but Bowman said they did not discuss the pesticide.
"The move adds to the Trump administration's growing roster of decisions informed by 'alternative facts,'" the NRDC's Nicole Greenfield wrote in a blog post about the lawsuit. "Nearly two decades' worth of scientific studies—including analyses by Pruitt's own agency—have documented the numerous risks this bug-killer poses to children and pregnant women."
The American Academy of Pediatrics also sent a letter to Pruitt on Tuesday, urging the EPA to ban the pesticide and called the agency's decision to allow its use a threat to children's health.
A lot has been reported about Dow's seemingly close ties with Trump. The company donated $1 million to the presidential inauguration. Additionally, Liveris leads President Trump's advisory council on manufacturing. In February, Liveris received Trump's pen after he signed the "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda" executive order aimed at eliminating regulations that the administration claims are damaging to the U.S. economy, but some worry that the measure will roll back critical environmental protections.
The Associated Press reported in April that Dow is pressuring the Trump administration to throw out a 10,000-page government risk study on three pesticides under review, including chlorpyrifos. The government scientists found that chlorpyrifos is "likely to adversely affect" 1,778 of the 1,835 animals and plants in its study.
According to the Sierra Club , this is just the latest in a long list of examples of the Trump administration working with corporate polluters before reversing public safeguards to protect families from corporate negligence:
- In February, automakers sent a letter to Pruitt and Trump asking for lighter fuel economy standards. In March,Donald Trump announced a review of U.S. vehicle fuel-efficiency standards from 2022-2025 put in place by the Obama administration, effectively reopening a process the Obama administration had ended ahead of an April 2018 deadline. This review goes against the massive public support for cleaner, more fuel efficient cars .
In his first few weeks in office, Pruitt
met with executives of fossil fuel and energy companies numerous
times. Since these meetings the Trump administration has:
- Rolled back methane safeguards , a move highly praised by oil and gas executives who now have a free pass to pollute.
- Gutted the clean water rule , long pushed for and praised by business and industry execs who are able to gain financially from the dangerous deregulation.
- Touted an anti environmental and pro-polluter agenda from a coal mine.
- Left the Paris Climate Agreement , a move opposed by much of the American public , but supported by coal executives .
28 June 2017.
EPA Moves to Eliminate Essential Clean Water Act Protections –
Continuing its march toward elimination of key Clean Water Act protections, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) on Tuesday issued a formal notice of withdrawal of the Obama administration's rule defining which waters can be protected against pollution and destruction under federal law.
This is the first step in EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's plan to eliminate essential Clean Water Act protections for waterways across the country that have been in place since the 1970s.
Within the next few months, Pruitt is expected to take the more dangerous second step—adopting a narrow definition of "waters of the United States" (WOTUS) long sought by industry that will allow uncontrolled pollution and destruction of our nation's rivers , streams, lakes and wetlands.
The decision to withdraw and replace the definition that protects our nation's waterways—a move advocated by industry groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Petroleum Institute —was made soon after Pruitt became administrator and without consultation with the public, the states or environmental groups. In fact, Pruitt attended the Farm Bureau Advocacy Conference on the same day he signed the withdraw and replace notice to announce to his allies that "relief is on the way."
It has been widely reported that, after becoming administrator,
Pruitt had multiple meetings
with senior executives in the automotive,
, oil and gas, and utility industries, including attending "a
March 22 meeting
of the executive council of the American Petroleum Institute at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, with 45 oil and gas CEOs."
By contrast, despite Pruitt's purported goal of "restoring states' important role in the regulation of water," the states were briefed on EPA's plan on April 19th after Pruitt had already determined to proceed with the withdrawal and replacement of the existing definition, and an official request for written comment was provided to the states roughly 40 days prior to a June 19th deadline .
"This action is not about restoring the state's role in the protection of water—the states are the primary entities that implement the Clean Water Act," said Waterkeeper Alliance Senior Attorney Kelly Hunter Foster. "This is EPA Administrator Pruitt's first step in implementing a long-term industry strategy to eliminate federal and state authority to protect waterways against industrial pollution."
Waterkeeper Alliance is committed to ensuring that the Clean Water Act continues to protect our nation's rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands, and all those that depend on clean water. Waterkeeper Alliance will fight every attempt to weaken this vital environmental protection.
28 June 2017.
Resistance Grows Against Bayou Bridge Pipeline –
Native communities and environmental justice advocates in Louisiana opened a new resistance camp Saturday to oppose the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline project. Called L'eau Est La Vie, or Water is Life, the camp will consist of floating indigenous art structures on rafts and constant prayer ceremonies during its first two weeks.
The Bayou Bridge project, owned in part by Dakota Access Pipeline owner Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), would transport crude oil over 163 miles of natural heritage swampland to a terminal in St. James Parish in Louisiana. St. James residents and environmental advocates recently filed suit to overturn the pipeline's permit, claiming that the state did not adequately address impacts of a potential spill on the community or surrounding wetlands.
"Once again Indigenous communities are being put in harm's way and over 700 bodies of water will be threatened by one of the worst environmental offenders known to date," said the Indigenous Environmental Network in a statement. "We stand with the Water Protectors here in southern Louisiana to protect these critical wetlands that serve as protection for the people of this region from floods and storms."
The Indigenous Environmental Network announced the opening of the camp with the video above explaining why completion of the Bayou Bridge pipeline must be stopped.
"The corporation Energy Transfer Partners has proven themselves to be untrustworthy in regards to their moral responsibility to preserve both human and ecological rights," said Cherri Foytlin of BOLD Louisiana. "Whereby they have obfuscated the truth, sabotaged democracy, destroyed our lands and water, and even hired mercenaries to injure our people, we have but one recourse, and that is to say, 'You shall not pass.' No Bayou Bridge! We will stop ETP. They are not welcome here—not in our bayous, not in our wetlands, not in our basin, not under our lands or through our waters. Period."
For a deeper dive:
Canadian government officials and marine biologists are investigating the mysterious deaths of six North American right whales . The endangered animals all turned up dead between June 6 and June 23 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off Canada's southeastern coast.
North Atlantic right whales are the rarest of all large whale species and among the rarest of all marine mammal species, with only about 450 right whales in the North Atlantic.
"The loss of one whale has a huge impact for any endangered species, but in particular for the North Atlantic right whale," Sigrid Kuehnemund, the lead ocean specialist with the World Wildlife Fund-Canada , told the Globe and Mail . "Looking at this number of deaths, it will take such a devastating toll on the population. And we know that, of the whales that have been sighted, at least two are females. So, we're not just losing those whales but also the potential for those females to have calves into the future."
The six deaths—accounting for approximately one percent of the population—has been described by Tonya Wimmer, a marine biologist and the director of Marine Animal Response Society , as an " unprecedented event ."
"It seems very odd that they would die in this time frame and in the same area," Wimmer told National Geographic . "It's catastrophic."
National Geographic reported that various marine animals in the busy port area around St. Lawrence face a number of threats, from ship strikes to toxic infections. Furthermore, the publication noted:
"A 2013 report found that water contaminants, high levels of noise, decline in prey availability, and global warming all negatively impacted the St. Lawrence beluga population, which shares habitat with right whales. And unlike belugas, the whales feed on zooplankton, which are also highly susceptible to changes in climate."
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Marine Animal Response Society, the Canadian Coast Guard and others are investigating the cause of the deaths and are devising ways to prevent further losses.
Glyphosate , the main ingredient in Monsanto's widely used herbicide Roundup, will be added July 7 to California's list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer, according to a Reuters report Tuesday. This news comes after the company's unsuccessful attempt to block the listing in trial court and requests for stay were denied by a state appellate court and California's Supreme Court.
California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced the designation on Monday under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, or Proposition 65.
Citing figures from the state's pesticide regulation department, the Los Angeles Times noted that glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in California and is sprayed on more than 200 crops across 4 million acres across the Golden State.
The St. Louis-based agrochemical maker adamantly defended its star product, telling Reuters the OEHHA listing was "unwarranted on the basis of science and the law."
The company's appeal of the trial court's ruling is pending. "This is not the final step in the process, and it has no bearing on the merits of the case," Scott Partridge, Monsanto's vice president of global strategy, said. "We will continue to aggressively challenge this improper decision."
Under Prop 65, Monsanto and other companies that sell the chemical in the state will be required to add warning labels to packaging within one year from the listing date. Furthermore, warnings would also be required if glyphosate is sprayed at levels deemed unsafe by regulators, Reuters reported.
California's decision to add the substance on its cancer list was prompted by the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC) finding in 2015 that the chemical is a "probable" human carcinogen.
Environmental groups welcomed the OEHHA's decision.
"California's decision makes it the national leader in protecting people from cancer-causing pesticides," said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity . "The U.S. EPA now needs to step up and acknowledge that the world's most transparent and science-based assessment has linked glyphosate to cancer."
In another blow to Monsanto, Olga V. Naidenko, a senior science advisor for children's environmental health at the Environmental Working Group , commented last week that OEHHA is preparing to issue a "No Significant Risk Level" of 1,100 micrograms per day for exposure to glyphosate—marking the first time any agency in the world has issued a health guideline for glyphosate based on cancer risk.
"The state's proposed safe level is more than 100 times lower than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's legal allowance for the average-sized American," Naidenko said. "By itself, that listing would be a big blow to Monsanto, because it would require cancer warning labels on containers of Roundup and on foods that have high residues of glyphosate. Monsanto is appealing the decision in state court, but in the meantime the OEHHA has moved forward in setting a so-called No Significant Risk Level of the amount of glyphosate people could safely consume each day."
Glyphosate has been at the center of a number of controversies in recent years, including a
wave of lawsuits
in which plaintiffs across the U.S. claim that they or their loved ones developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma due to exposure to Monsanto's Roundup, pointing in part to the IARC's cancer classification.
A recent Reuters investigation , published earlier this month, raised questions about the IARC's assessment. The piece accused Dr. Aaron Blair, a top epidemiologist from the U.S. National Cancer Institute and a lead researcher on the IARC committee, for failing to share unpublished scientific data from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) suggesting that the weedkiller was not linked to cancer.
Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union , said the Reuters report "omits the fact that the data from the other epidemiology studies (all case control studies), and the meta-analyses, clearly show a statistically significant increase in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma with glyphosate exposure." Other concerns of the study include the failure to use an appropriate latency period for cancers, the control group having an elevated risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and exposure misclassification.
The IARC also said it is sticking with its classification.
27 June 2017.
11 Stunning Photos of the World's Newest Biosphere Reserves –
This transboundary biosphere reserve is composed of mangroves, savannah, lagoons and flood plains, as well as forests, and is home to two million inhabitants whose main activity is small-scale farming (palm oil and coconuts), livestock grazing, forestry and fishing.
This reserve is a series of islands and islets in the southern Baltic Sea, with woodlands, grasslands, meadows, wetlands, coastal areas, ponds and steep hills. There are small villages and scattered farms with a total population of about 10,250.
This Pacific coast site holds 20 percent of the total flora of the country, 54 percent of its mammals and 59 percent of its birds, according to the UN. It has approximately 50,000 inhabitants, whose main activities are agriculture and livestock rearing.
This reserve straddles the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, allowing ecological corridors between the two nations.
The foothills of the Andes are a "biodiversity hotspot" according to the UN, including dry forests, altitudes reaching up to 3,000 meters, and 59 endemic species, of which 14 are threatened.
The Afromontane forests are found in one of the most threatened regions in the world, along with wetlands and marshes flourishing with biodiversity, including 550 higher plant species, 33 species of mammal and 130 bird species.
The low mountain ranges, forests, meadows and lowland moors of the Black Forest reserve is almost 70 percent forested. There are some 38,000 inhabitants and a culture of sustainable tourism.
This site hosts thriving biodiversity as well as flower, fruit, and coffee production.
The eastern and western slopes of the river that divide this reserve help create biological and cultural diversity, according to the UN.
The deserts, forests and floodplains of the Ili River are surrounded by deciduous and spruce forests as well as salt marshes, according to the UN.
Niger's sprawling reserve of savannahs, depressions, pits and sand dunes includes mammals such as dorcas gazelle, pale fox and golden jackal.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen .
By Colleen Curry
The United Nations has designated 23 new sites around the world to its World Network of Biosphere reserves —stunning natural landscapes that balance environmental and human concerns and strive for sustainability.
The forests, beaches and waterways were added to the list this year at the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme meeting in Paris earlier this month.
The Biosphere Reserves are places that try to reconcile biodiversity, conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources, according to the UN . The choices are made by representatives from 34 UNESCO members. Here are some of the stunning choices from this year's additions:
27 June 2017.
Only 30 Left in the Wild: Saving the Nearly Extinct Vaquita –
In one of the longest campaigns in Sea Shepherd 's history, Operation Milagro III concluded its six-month operation in Mexico's Gulf of California to protect the near-extinct vaquita porpoise and the endangered totoaba bass .
Two Sea Shepherd vessels, the M/V Farley Mowat, along with the M/Y Sam Simon, spent the last six months patrolling the vaquita refuge in the upper gulf, retrieving illegal gillnets that trap and kill the vaquita and totoaba, along with other marine wildlife. Together, the two ships removed 233 illegal fishing gear including 189 totoaba nets, 27 shrimp and corvina nets and 17 long lines.
In February, scientists announced that only about 30 vaquita remained left in their habitat. This is half the amount that was previously recorded in 2015, making the vaquita the most endangered marine mammal in the world.
Sadly, during Operation Milagro III , Sea Shepherd discovered five dead vaquita. Their deaths are attributed to being caught in gillnets set up by poachers to trap the totoaba bass, whose swim bladder is prized for unsubstantiated medicinal properties in China and Hong Kong, where it sells for tens of thousands of dollars. Once vaquita become entangled in these gill nets, they are unable to reach the surface of the water to breathe, causing them to drown.
But the nets do not discriminate. During the campaign, the crew removed 1,195 dead animals—among them sharks, dolphins, whales, turtles and sea lions—and released 795 live ones. Watch this video detailing facts and figures.
Removing Illegal Gillnets
Throughout the campaign, Sea Shepherd used radar and drones to nab poachers in the act, contacting authorities who could then make arrests. The ships also gathered information on the location of the nets to retrieve them from the sea. The nets are subsequently destroyed, separated and then handed over to NGO Parley for the Oceans for recycling.
"If we had not been there, if we were unable to have removed those nets, the vaquita would now be extinct," said Milagro Campaign leader, Captain Oona Layolle. "Milagro means miracle and we intend to do all we can to perform this miracle because there is nothing more noble, more satisfying, and more important than to save a species from extinction."
Meanwhile, the Farley Mowat continued its presence through June, and will keep working in collaboration with local fishermen, the Mexican government, and marine scientists to retrieve all ghost nets from past fishing seasons. It is now headed to San Diego, California where it where it will offer free ship tours to the public from July 1 - July 4.
About Operation Milagro
Sea Shepherd's inaugural Operation Milagro brought much-needed attention to the plight of the vaquita, spawning groundbreaking efforts to protect this imperiled species. On April 18, 2015, Sea Shepherd crew members documented the first recorded sighting of a vaquita since 2013, shattering claims by some locals that the species is already extinct. The resulting video made national headlines in Mexico, prompting the government to reach out to Sea Shepherd.
The following month, a partnership between Sea Shepherd and the Mexican government was announced and since then, the two sides have worked together to protect the vaquita. Sea Shepherd's dedication to save this porpoise has garnered international attention and its work has been documented on 60 Minutes , CNN , Al Jazeera, The National Geographic Channel, Animal Planet, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times , San Diego Union Tribune, NPR and more.
So far, Sea Shepherd's efforts clearing the bottom of the ocean of ghost nets has been effective in removing another 160 nets since October 2016, preventing them from actively killing marine life.
After Sea Shepherd's third consecutive year in the Gulf of California, the total number of illegal nets retrieved over the three campaigns is 452.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ( EPA ) chief of staff pressured the leader of its Board of Scientific Counselors to change her congressional testimony to downplay the impact of the agency's mass dismissal of scientists from the board, the New York Times reports.
According to emails obtained by the Times, EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson requested that Dr. Deborah Swackhamer, a retired science and public policy professor, keep to agency "talking points" on the dismissals ahead of a May 23 appearance before the House Science Committee.
Jackson also requested Swackhamer tell the committee a "decision had not yet been made" on final dismissals, despite notices being sent to multiple scientists earlier that month.
"I was stunned that he was pushing me to 'correct' something in my testimony," Swackhamer told the Times. "I was factual, and he was not. I felt bullied."
For a deeper dive:
27 June 2017.
Is Giant Sequoia National Monument Next on the Hit List? –
By Jason Mark
Sequoiadendron giganteum. That's the scientific name for the giant sequoia: the mammoth trees found in California's Sierra Nevada that are the largest organisms on Earth, and among the longest-lived. Biologists estimate that about half of all sequoias live in Giant Sequoia National Monument, a 328,000-acre preserve in the Southern Sierra Nevada established by President Clinton in 2000.
Now that national monument is in jeopardy.
When President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April directing Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke to review national monuments established since 1996 and larger than 100,000 acres to determine whether they should be rescinded or reduced in size, it appeared that California's national monuments were relatively safe. Although California is home to six of the 27 monuments under review (more than any other state), its monuments haven't been as controversial as others on Zinke's list.
So far, much of the Zinke's attention has been focused on Utah's Bears Ears —which earlier this month the interior secretary said he was likely to recommend downsizing —and Maine's Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, where, despite strong support from local residents and the rest of the state's political establishment, Gov. Paul LePage is waging a one-man campaign to abolish the monument. It seemed likely that the six California monuments (Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, Berryessa Snow Mountain, San Gabriel Mountains, Carrizo Plain, and Giant Sequoia) would escape the unprecedented Trump-Zinke assault on public lands .
"When we first heard that Trump wanted to look into the monuments, we thought it wouldn't do much to change things here," said Arturo Rodriguez, policy coordinator for Wild Places , an environmental organization in the southern Sierra Nevada. "Now, we've started organizing and calling friends" to protect Giant Sequoia National Monument.
The fight over the future of Giant Sequoia will intensify Tuesday, June 27, as supervisors in two California counties vote on measures to roll back protections for forests within the monument. Supervisors in Tulare County will consider a resolution urging Sec. Zinke to "clearly permit the removal of dead or dying hazard trees and to allow the U.S. Forest Service to actively manage the groves"—a demand that echoes the wishes of logging companies, which for years have sought to cut timber in the monument. Also Tuesday, supervisors in Kern County will vote on a resolution calling on Sec. Zinke to reduce Giant Sequoia National Monument by 200,000 acres.
While the Kern County proposal to slash the monument by two-thirds would still protect the groves where the giant sequoia are found, conservationists say the idea ignores the biological necessity of protecting the entire ecosystem. For the sequoias to thrive, the forests surrounding them also have to thrive, too.
"This is the remaining extent of the largest trees on the planet, the largest living things on the planet, and they exist within the context of an area that has been heavily logged," said Peter Ringgold, chief program officer of Save the Redwoods League . "In addition to the 90,000 acres that are specific to the giant sequoia groves, we believe that the rest of the area is deserving of protection so that it can function as a whole ecosystem, and not just as a zoo or a bell jar placed over these remaining sequoia groves and calling it good."
"These groves are part of a larger web of life," said Ryan Henson, senior policy director at the California Wilderness Coalition . "They are surrounded by tree species that would be giants in and of themselves if they weren't dwarfed by the sequoias." Henson said that the current 300,000-plus acres of protection are necessary to give sequoias the ability to spread to new areas as temperatures increase due to climate disruption . "Giants need room to roam—even if they're trees."
Some of the arguments being deployed against Giant Sequoia misrepresent basic facts about how the monument is being managed and appear to be a thinly veiled attempt to allow commercial logging in the area, conservation groups say. The Kern County draft resolution, for example, says that "dying trees from the many years of drought are directly threatening our mountain communities," in the words of the Kern County draft resolution. But according to Susan Britting, executive director of Sierra Forest Legacy , the management plan for the monument allows for select logging along Forest Service roads to reduce fire risk and intensity. The wildfire issue, Britting said, "is a red herring."
And while monument opponents claim there wasn't adequate public input in President Clinton's decision to create the monument— "local officials were not invited for public comment, feedback was not received from the community," the Tulare County draft resolution says—the effort to create the monument was, in fact, broad-based. In the lead up to monument designation, 65 California state legislators and 16 members of Congress from California wrote to President Clinton asking him to protect the area. The Sierra Club gathered some 600,000 postcards from people in support of monument creation. "The vetting went on for several years, with stakeholders and researchers examining the benefits of that landscape from an economic value, a water quality and habitat value, and looking at the various pros and cons," Ringgold said.
"The way I see it, and this is just my read, is that the logging companies are letting the county commissioners carry water for them" said Chad Hanson, director of the John Muir Project , a forest watchdog group. "They have a history of logging that area. There is mature timber there that they would love to log if they could."
Indeed, even after the monument was created, logging companies were trying to cut timber there.
The original management plan for the monument—drafted by the George W. Bush administration and released in 2005—allowed for commercial logging in the area. Conservation groups sued to stop that plan, and in 2006 a federal judge ruled against logging in the monument. Since President Trump took office, the timber industry has begun lobbying for greater logging in the national forests.
Asked for its stance on Giant Sequoia National Monument, the California Forestry Association, a timber industry group, said: "We fully support the protection of the giant Sequoia trees and know that the best way to protect them is to manage the surrounding forestlands by reducing the fuel loads and thinning the surrounding forest to help protect the giant sequoias from catastrophic wildfire. Restricting forest management within the 327,000 acres has created overly dense forestlands. These unhealthy forest conditions are being exacerbated by the bark beetle and are at risk of catastrophic wildfire."
In response, Hanson, a forest and fire ecologist, pointed out that giant sequoias actually require fire for their seeds to effectively germinate and grow into saplings, and he noted that hundreds of scientific studies now conclude that post-fire habitat is some of the very best and most biodiverse wildlife habitat. "When the logging industry says 'thinning', they are really talking about intensive commercial logging projects that would destroy the giant sequoia forest ecosystems and associated forests in the monument," Hanson said.
Even as some officials in Kern and Tulare counties make the case for downsizing the national monument, other community leaders have spoken out in favor of sustaining Giant Sequoia at its current size. Two weeks ago, the city council of Porterville, California—one of the primary gateway communities into the monument—debated a resolution calling for a reduction in the monument's size. The Porterville city council ended up voting 3-2 against monument downsizing and decided to write a letter to Zinke in support of the monument.
While area environmentalists applauded the Porterville vote, the meeting left them worried about the political machinations that appear to be behind the push for monument reduction. One of the more interesting moments at the public meeting (which Wild Places filmed) occurred when council member Cameron Hamilton said that the monument-reduction resolution "came from Congressman McCarthy"—that is, Republican Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Leader. McCarthy's office did not respond to requests to clarify council member Hamilton's statement.
"We don't know McCarthy's motivation," said Rodriguez of Wild Places. But he says that his group and others remain cautiously optimistic that they will be able to successfully defend the monument. "It's high on our priority list, and we're doing everything we can to get the message out. This place is beautiful. Instead of decreasing it, we should be talking about increasing it."
Reposted with permission from Sierra Magazine .
27 June 2017.
Teenagers See Renewables as Fuel of Their Generation –
By Andy Rowell
Donald Trump this week is launching an "energy week," pushing the argument that the U.S. will become a net exporter of oil and gas.
The president and his cronies are talking about a new era of " U.S. energy dominance ," which could stretch for decades to come. However, no one believes the president anymore.
A new survey has found that over three-quarters of the world has little or no confidence in Trump's leadership or his signature policies.
And furthermore, America's kids don't believe the president and his fossil fuel hype. To today's young, the oil industry is yesterday's fuel. And coal belongs to their grandparents.
Another top level survey by global accountants Ernst & Young , into U.S. attitudes towards the oil and gas industries, stated, "The perception that the oil and gas industry is good for society decreases with each new generation."
The survey found that well over two thirds—71 percent—of teen respondents believe renewable fuels such as solar and wind are the fuels of their generation, while 56 percent said oil and gas are the fuels of their parents' generation. Interestingly, over half of teens also see coal as the fuel of their grandparent's generation.
So the oil industry is in deep trouble. Faced with rising global temperatures, a resurgent renewables industry, decreasing oil demand and fairly stagnant prices, it also faces an image problem amongst the young.
According to Ernst and Young, "Overall, the survey showed young people increasingly feel shunted by the industry and their environmental values, especially, are not matched by oil and gas companies."
Just over half of teen respondents "said oil and gas decision-makers are mostly interested in what's best for people their age," with just under half believing "the industry isn't interested in what is best for their generation."
But why should the oil industry's image problem and mistrust from today's teenagers be a problem? Because, argued Ernst and Young, "Public perception of the industry will become ever more critical."
The report outlined how "in this era of technological disruption, when many industries are fighting to stay relevant, oil and gas may be facing its 'last cycle'—a time when energy abundance, driven by technology, creates a permanent oversupply that not only keeps prices low but also allows consumers to make new choices about their energy usage."
It added, "As younger consumers grow in both number and political influence, their viewpoints will become especially vital to the continued relevance of the industry."
Interestingly of all respondents, not just teenagers, some 59 percent had a positive perception of natural gas.
This positive perception differs widely from the views of scientists, who argue that even gas, the so-called cleaner bridge fuel, has no future.
A report published earlier this month by Carbon Action Tracker found that "Natural gas is often perceived as a clean source of energy that complements variable renewable technologies."
However, gas has no future: "The Paris agreement long-term temperature goal requires a complete decarbonization of the power sector by 2050. This leaves little space for any kind of fossil fuel, including natural gas." If companies continue to invest in gas, they risk investing in stranded assets.
Ernst and Young argued that, in these changing times, for the oil industry to survive there is a "need to change public perception to secure the future of the industry."
This conclusion is wrong. The industry doesn't need to change perceptions. It needs to change its business model and join the renewable revolution. Only then will it have a guaranteed future. No matter how many "Energy Weeks" this misguided president launches.
Scott Leonard and Matt Reynolds founded Indigenous more than 20 years ago with a big dream and a steep uphill climb. Inspired by the women's weaving collectives of South America, the pair envisioned a scalable fashion line based on ancient techniques and fair labor.
The company employs around 1,500 artisans working in groups of three to 30, which made quality control and consistency a challenge at the outset. "We're dealing with a unique production model—it's diversified, it's spread out—and we had to create a new systems model," Reynolds told RSF Social Finance . "That took a lot of time and collaboration and money."
After years of work, the company's supply chain runs like a well-oiled machine. Indigenous was among the first in the apparel sector to adopt Fair Trade certification. It now works with more than a dozen Fair Trade field organizing teams to source its cozy sweaters and everyday basics for men and women, which are made from organic and other natural fibers.
Everlane was founded on the principle of " radical transparency "—and it's not joking. The e-commerce company discloses the true cost of manufacturing and shipping each product, as well as its markup, and customers can explore each of its partner factories online.
Everlane claims to source from "the best factories around the world," but the label's surprisingly competitive prices align with its transparent model: A men's or women's shirt sells for around $25, while a pair of pants will set shoppers back around $65.
"When we make a decision because it's the right thing to do for the planet, it ends up also being good for the business," Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard wrote in his 2016 book, Let My People Go Surfing .
The 78-year-old nature enthusiast grew his company from a passion project to one of the most successful outdoor gear and apparel brands in the world, with 2015 revenues topping $600 million . But Chouinard's vision for a company with a net-positive impact never faded.
The private company switched to 100 percent organic cotton in 1996, and its line makes good use of other sustainable materials like recycled wool, down, nylon and polyester. It was one of the first mainstream labels to offer Fair Trade fashions and now boasts nearly 300 certified styles in its portfolio.
The firm headed by CEO Rose Marcario also considers itself an activist company and regularly backs environmental causes, donating $10 million in Black Friday profits to grassroots eco groups last year.
Trends change quickly, and modern shoppers expect something new every time they log onto a brand's website or step into a store. While major fashion labels often reach for environmentally intensive materials and sweatshop labor to keep up, Reformation is out to turn the system on its ears by merging fast fashion and sustainability.
The women's label uses only sustainable materials , such as vintage and deadstock fabrics. Each piece is made by fairly paid workers in downtown Los Angeles, and its online and retail stores feature new fashions every few weeks.
The concept dreamed up by 30-something entrepreneur Yael Aflalo seems to be working: Supermodel Karlie Kloss invested in the certified B Corp, which also counts it-girls like Rihanna and Taylor Swift as fans.
Warby Parker is known for disrupting the eyewear industry. Its stylish frames, competitive prices and e-commerce-driven model quickly amassed a mainstream following, and the company's valuation grew to $1 billion in only five years.
But the label's innovative use of the " buy-a-pair, give-a-pair " business model is arguably what keeps customers coming back. For every pair of spectacles or sunglasses sold, the company distributes a pair to a person in need through its nonprofit partners, totaling more than two million pairs to date.
Some fans may also be glad to hear about the company's growing activist streak: It is one of 1,370 big brands involved in We Are Still In , a pledge to continue reducing greenhouse gas emissions despite the U.S.' abrupt exit from the Paris climate accord .
Americans send moret than 13 million tons of textiles to the landfill each year. In the UK, around 30 percent of clothing is worn for less than a year before being landfilled, amounting to 350,000 tons annually, thanks in large part to the fast fashion cycle.
Tom Cridland is another up-and-comer looking to change that. The 27-year-old Londoner founded his label three years ago by outfitting some of the most dapper gents in Hollywood, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Stiller and Daniel Craig. Two years later, he launched his " 30-Year Collection " of men's T-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets that are guaranteed to last—you guessed it—for 30 years.
The line is manufactured ethically in Portugal and Italy, and seeks to "fight fast fashion" while promoting more "sustainable" and "ethical" clothing, Cridland told Fortune last year .
Sustainability and business ethics are top of mind for Eileen Fisher and her eponymous fashion label. "Ten years ago, I decided to take baby steps toward making clothes that helped versus hurt the planet," Fisher told Inc. magazine in 2014 . "But recently I realized we're not moving fast enough: We have to start sprinting, and actually lead the fashion industry to make these changes now."
Last year, Fisher and her team adopted a set of bold goals for 2020 . The company known for its women's basics pledged to become carbon negative, create an entirely ethical supply chain with a focus on fair labor and human rights, and "use the most sustainable fibers we can lay our hands on," among other targets.
"It's really about two words," Fisher told the Los Angeles Times in 2015. "No excuses."
Men will never know the struggle of blowing a week's pay on undergarments only to see them left threadbare after the first wash. And all of that wasted money does little more than contribute to expanding waste streams and poor working conditions around the world.
Enter an unlikely union between entrepreneur Catalina Girald and "Jane the Virgin" actress Gina Rodriguez. Their eco-minded lingerie and swimwear brand Naja won't break the bank, and it empowers women workers rather than oppressing them: Naja's garment factory employs mostly single mothers and female heads of household who receive above-market wages and healthcare benefits.
Most swimwear is made from nylon or polyester, both of which are petroleum products. Summerlove is one of several brands opting for a recycled nylon blend made from discarded fishing nets and other nylon waste. The company claims this simple swap slashes energy use by more than 65 percent while turning waste into resource.
Known for its "$99 eco bikini," Summerlove's suits have graced the pages of Sports Illustrated, and they're all designed and manufactured in California.
Philadelphia entrepreneur Brian Linton founded United By Blue with one goal: Leverage an outdoor apparel brand to actively improve the natural spaces he knew and loved. His label focuses on relaxed, summer-ready fashions for men and women, and the company promises to remove one pound of trash from American waterways for every item sold.
Over the past seven years, Linton and his team facilitated nearly 200 cleanups and removed an astounding one million pounds of trash from waterways. "We do our own dirty work," Linton told the Philadelphia Citizen . "We decided that by internalizing the cleanup work, we would be able to have a larger impact than if we donated money."
Mark Twain once quipped, "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."
That may be so, but with a growing number of sustainable, fair-trade and eco-conscious fashion brands, those clothes can also help make the world a little better.
Mary Mazzoni is the senior editor of TriplePundit and a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News, Earth911, the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands and the Daily Meal. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni . Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet .
By Mary Mazzoni
In 2013, shoppers were reacquainted with the tragic story of their clothing when a massive factory collapse claimed the lives of more than 1,100 Bangladeshi garment workers.
The nonprofit Fashion Revolution , formed in response to that disaster, continues to track the apparel industry's progress on environmental stewardship and human rights. But four years later, big brands are still not doing enough to disclose their efforts to customers, the organization concluded in a recent report .
Some former corporate bogeymen like Adidas , Nike and H&M are moving in the right direction, but big labels are playing catch-up compared to newcomers and competitors that were sustainable from the start. Before you refresh that summer wardrobe, consult our list and spend your dollar where it counts.
26 June 2017.
'There's No Such Thing as Clean Coal' –
"There's no such thing as clean coal," according to this ATTN : video.
Watch above as ATTN: explains the many hazards of coal beyond carbon emissions, that no matter what there's no reviving the coal industry and how investment in renewable energy is the best way forward.
Share this video if you think America needs real energy solutions.
26 June 2017.
12 Healthy Fat-Burning Foods –
By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE
Boosting your metabolic rate can help you lose body fat. However, most "fat-burning" supplements on the market are either unsafe, ineffective or both.
Fortunately, several natural foods and beverages have been shown to increase your metabolism and promote fat loss.
Here are 12 healthy foods that help you burn fat:
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish is delicious and incredibly good for you.
In addition, omega-3 fatty acids may help you lose body fat.
In a six-week controlled study in 44 adults, those who took fish oil supplements lost an average of 1.1 pounds (0.5 kilograms) of fat and experienced a drop in cortisol , a stress hormone that's associated with fat storage ( 4 ).
What's more, fish is an excellent source of high-quality protein. Digesting protein leads to greater feelings of fullness and increases metabolic rate significantly more than digesting fat or carbs ( 5 ).
To boost fat loss and protect heart health, include a minimum of 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of fatty fish in your diet at least twice a week.
Summary: Fatty fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that may promote fat loss. Fish is also rich in protein, which helps you feel full and boosts metabolic rate during digestion.
2. MCT Oil
MCT oil is made by extracting MCTs from coconut or palm oil. It is available online and at natural grocery stores.
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are a type of fat that's metabolized differently than the long-chain fatty acids found in most foods.
Due to their shorter length, MCTs are rapidly absorbed by the body and go straight to the liver, where they can be used immediately for energy or converted into ketones for use as an alternative fuel source.
One study in eight healthy men found adding 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 grams) of MCTs per day to the men's usual diets increased their metabolic rate by 5% over a 24-hour period, meaning they burned an average of 120 extra calories per day ( 8 ).
Replacing some of the fat in your diet with 2 tablespoons of MCT oil per day may optimize fat burning.
However, it's best to start with 1 teaspoon daily and gradually increase the dosage in order to minimize potential digestive side effects like cramping, nausea and diarrhea.
Summary: MCTs are rapidly absorbed for immediate use as an energy source. MCT oil may increase fat burning, decrease hunger and protect muscle mass during weight loss.
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide.
It's a great source of caffeine, which can enhance mood and improve mental and physical performance ( 12 ).
Moreover, it can help you burn fat .
In a small study including nine people, those who took caffeine an hour before exercise burned nearly twice as much fat and were able to exercise 17% longer than the non-caffeine group ( 13 ).
In one study, people took 100 mg of caffeine every two hours for 12 hours. Lean adults burned an average of 150 extra calories and formerly obese adults burned 79 extra calories during the study time period ( 18 ).
To get the fat-burning benefits of caffeine without the potential side effects, such as anxiousness or insomnia, aim for 100–400 mg per day. This is the amount found in about 1–4 cups of coffee, depending on its strength.
Summary: Coffee contains caffeine, which has been shown to improve mental and physical performance, in addition to boosting metabolism.
Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse.
Additionally, eggs are a killer weight loss food .
In a controlled eight-week study in 21 men, those who ate three eggs for breakfast consumed 400 fewer calories per day and had a 16% greater reduction in body fat, compared to the group who ate a bagel breakfast ( 23 ).
In fact, one of the reasons eggs are so filling may be due to the boost in calorie burning that occurs during protein digestion ( 24 ).
Eating three eggs several times a week can help you burn fat while keeping you full and satisfied.
Summary: Eggs are a high-protein food that may help reduce hunger, increase fullness, boost fat burning and protect heart health.
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is loaded with health benefits.
In one study, obese men who added 2 tablespoons of coconut oil per day to their usual diet lost an average of 1 inch (2.5 cm) from their waist without making any other diet changes or increasing their physical activity ( 27 ).
Unlike most oils, coconut oil remains stable at high temperatures, making it ideal for high-heat cooking.
Consuming up to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily may help maximize fat burning. Make sure to start with a teaspoon or so and gradually increase the amount to avoid any digestive discomfort.
Summary: Coconut oil is rich in MCTs, which may increase your metabolism, reduce appetite, promote fat loss and reduce heart disease risk factors.
6. Green Tea
Green tea is an excellent beverage choice for good health.
In addition to providing a moderate amount of caffeine, green tea is an excellent source of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant that promotes fat burning and the loss of belly fat ( 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 ).
In a study of 12 healthy men, fat burning during bicycling increased by 17% in those who took green tea extract, compared to those who took a placebo ( 37 ).
Given the difference in study outcomes, green tea's effects likely vary from person to person and may also depend on the amount consumed.
Drinking up to four cups of green tea daily may provide a number of health benefits, including potentially increasing the amount of calories you burn.
Summary: Green tea contains caffeine and EGCG, both of which may boost metabolism, promote weight loss, protect heart health and reduce the risk of cancer.
7. Whey Protein
Whey protein is pretty impressive.
In addition, whey protein seems to be even more effective at suppressing appetite than other protein sources.
One study had 22 men consume different protein drinks on four separate days. They experienced significantly lower hunger levels and ate fewer calories at the next meal after drinking the whey protein drink, compared to the other protein drinks ( 44 ).
In one study of 23 healthy adults, a whey protein meal was found to increase metabolic rate and fat burning more than casein or soy protein meals ( 46 ).
A whey protein shake is a quick meal or snack option that promotes fat loss and may help improve your body composition.
Summary: Whey protein appears to increase muscle growth, reduce appetite, increase fullness and boost metabolism more effectively than other protein sources.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an ancient folk remedy with evidence-based health benefits.
Although there isn't much research on vinegar's effect on fat loss in humans, the results from one study are pretty encouraging.
In this study, 144 obese men who added 2 tablespoons of vinegar to their usual diets every day for 12 weeks lost 3.7 pounds (1.7 kilograms) and experienced a 0.9% reduction in body fat ( 52 ).
Including apple cider vinegar in your diet may help you lose body fat . Start with 1 teaspoon per day diluted in water and gradually work up to 1–2 tablespoons per day to minimize potential digestive discomfort.
Summary: Apple cider vinegar may help suppress appetite, promote loss of belly fat and reduce blood sugar and insulin levels.
9. Chili Peppers
Chili peppers do more than add heat to your food.
Their powerful antioxidants may reduce inflammation and help protect your cells from damage ( 53 ).
In addition, research suggests that one antioxidant in chili peppers called capsaicin may help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
It does this by promoting fullness and preventing overeating ( 54 ).
In a study of 19 healthy adults, when calorie intake was restricted by 20%, capsaicin was found to counteract the slowdown in metabolic rate that typically occurs with decreased calorie intake ( 57 ).
One large review of 20 studies concluded that taking capsaicin helps reduce appetite and can increase the number of calories you burn by about 50 calories per day ( 58 ).
Consider eating chili peppers or using powdered cayenne pepper to spice up your meals several times a week.
Summary: Compounds in cayenne pepper have been found to reduce inflammation, help control hunger and boost metabolic rate.
10. Oolong Tea
Oolong tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink.
Although it receives less press than green tea, it has many of the same health benefits, thanks to its content of caffeine and catechins.
A review of several studies found that the combination of catechins and caffeine in tea increased calorie burning by an impressive 102 calories per day, on average ( 59 ).
Small studies in men and women suggest that drinking oolong tea increases metabolic rate and promotes weight loss. What's more, one study found that oolong tea increased calorie burning twice as much as green tea did ( 60 , 61 , 62 ).
Drinking a few cups of green tea, oolong tea or a combination of the two on a regular basis may promote fat loss and provide other beneficial health effects.
Summary: Oolong tea contains caffeine and catechins, both of which have been found to increase metabolic rate and promote fat loss.
11. Full-Fat Greek Yogurt
Full-fat Greek yogurt is extremely nutritious .
First, it's an excellent source of protein, potassium and calcium.
Also, yogurt that contains probiotics can help keep your gut healthy and may reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as constipation and bloating ( 65 ).
Full-fat Greek yogurt also contains conjugated linoleic acid , which seems to promote weight loss and fat burning in overweight and obese people, according to research that includes a large review of 18 studies ( 66 , 67 , 68 , 69 ).
Eating Greek yogurt on a regular basis may provide a number of health benefits. But make sure to choose plain, full-fat Greek yogurt, as non-fat and low-fat dairy products contain little to no conjugated linoleic acid.
Summary: Full-fat Greek yogurt may increase fat burning, reduce appetite, protect muscle mass during weight loss and improve gut health.
12. Olive Oil
Olive oil is one of the healthiest fats on earth.
In a small study in 12 postmenopausal women with abdominal obesity, eating extra virgin olive oil as part of a meal significantly increased the number of calories the women burned for several hours ( 71 ).
To incorporate olive oil into your daily diet, drizzle a couple of tablespoons on your salad or add it to cooked food.
Summary: Olive oil appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, promote feelings of fullness and boost metabolic rate.
The Bottom Line
Despite what certain supplement manufacturers may suggest, there isn't a safe "magic pill" that can help you burn hundreds of extra calories per day.
However, a number of foods and beverages may modestly increase your metabolic rate, in addition to providing other health benefits.
Including several of them in your daily diet may have effects that ultimately lead to fat loss and better overall health.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition .
26 June 2017.
Tour the World's Largest Indoor Vertical Farm –
Check out this great 360° virtual reality video by NowThis on the world's largest indoor vertical farm, AeroFarms . Located in Newark, New Jersey, AeroFarms grows more than 2 million pounds of greens a year without sunlight, soil or pesticides.
As reported by EcoWatch in July 2105, the $30 million, 70,000-square-foot AeroFarms headquarters dwarfs Japan's (already impressive) 25,000-square-foot vertical indoor farm, which had been the world's largest until now.
26 June 2017.
SeaWorld Subpoenaed for Executives' Comments on 'Blackfish' –
According to Bloomberg , "SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. received a subpoena earlier this month from regulators investigating disclosures and public statements by executives, including comments about the Blackfish documentary that caused a public backlash against the confinement of orcas.
"The investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission will also look at trading in the Orlando, Florida-based company's securities before and during August 2014, according to a filing Friday. SeaWorld said it's cooperating with the probe, and its board organized a special committee of independent directors, with their own legal counsel, to deal with the matter."
Watch the Newsy video above to learn more.
26 June 2017.
This Blog No Longer Accepts Comments, Thanks to GMO Trolls –
The GMO trolls—people who post deliberately hostile comments—have defeated me.
I realize that this sort of thing is a deliberate, if shameful, strategy of the agbiotech industry: "Let Nothing Go."
As described in a document filed in a lawsuit by U.S. Right to Know:
"Monsanto even started the aptly-named 'Let Nothing Go' program to leave nothing, not even Facebook comments, unanswered; through a series of third parties, it employs individuals who appear to have no connection to the industry, who in turn post positive comments on news articles and Facebook posts, defending Monsanto , its chemicals, and GMOs."
This is not about thoughtful discussion of the scientific, social and political issues raised by GMOs. This is about personal attacks to discredit anyone who raises questions about those issues, as I did.
Trolling is not appropriate on this site. Hence: no more comments.
I will continue to write about GMOs as new developments occur.
In the meantime, I commend the first chapter of Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety to your attention. It does much to explain why opinions of GMOs are so polarized and why the science of GMOs has become so politicized.
26 June 2017.
France to Ban All New Development of Shale Oil and Gas –
By Andy Rowell
There is a growing feeling within European capitals that a quiet, but deeply positive, revolution is happening under Emmanuel Macron in France.
Macron's opinion poll rating is high, especially boosted in how the young French president has reacted to Donald Trump on the international stage.
On Friday, there was further evidence of Macron's anti-Trump stance, when former governor of California and star of the "Terminator" film, Arnold Schwarzenegger , posted a selfie video of himself with Macron, where they mocked Trump's withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris agreement .
The video shows Schwarzenegger saying the pair talked about "talking about environmental issues and a green future," before Macron adds: "We will deliver together to make the planet great again."
And in another sign that things are changing in Paris, France's new celebrity "Ecological Transitions" minister, Nicolas Hulot, has said the country will issue a moratorium on new oil and gas exploration licenses. "There will be no new exploration licenses for hydrocarbons, we will pass the law this autumn," Hulot told a French news channel.
A former TV host of nature documentaries, Hulot is a popular environmentalist, and his appointment was seen as a major "coup" by Macron's new administration.
As the France24 website noted, this is about preventing future oil and gas development, not curtailing current operations:
"The measure would essentially kill development of shale oil and gas in mainland France and in the country's overseas territories, but does nothing to curb ongoing exploration or extraction projects involving conventional oil and gas."
Hulot said that the French government would be hit by costly legal action if it tried to stop current oil and gas operations, which cover about 4,000 square kilometers (approx. 1544 square miles) of the country.
This stance disappointed France's environmental community, who thought Hulot could have gone further.
"There are at least 55 exploration licenses that were previously approved and will likely be extended, and 132 extraction permits awaiting approval," said Juliette Renaud, a fossil fuel industry expert with Friends of the Earth .
"If we continue to exploit conventional hydrocarbons, it will be impossible to keep global temperatures from rising above 2°C," Renaud added.
While France's announcement has to be welcomed as a first step and an encouragement for other countries to follow suit, it is not by any means a large oil and gas producer.
In February , production was 15,000 bpd, so the majority of its oil and gas which it consumes was imported.
But it is yet another sign that the days of unfettered fossil fuel extraction are over.
The latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information's " Electric Power Monthly " (with data through April 30) reveals that—for the first time since the beginning of the nuclear era— renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar —inc. small-scale PV, wind) are now providing a greater share of the nation's electrical generation than nuclear power.
For the first third of this year, renewables and nuclear power have been running neck-in-neck with renewables providing 20.20 percent of U.S. net electrical generation during the four-month period (January to April) compared to 20.75 percent for nuclear power. But in March and April, renewables surpassed nuclear power and have taken a growing lead: 21.60 percent (renewables) vs. 20.34 percent (nuclear) in March, and 22.98 percent (renewables) vs. 19.19 percent (nuclear) in April.
While renewables and nuclear are each likely to continue to provide roughly one-fifth of the nation's electricity generation in the near-term, the trend line clearly favors a rapidly expanding market share by renewables. Electrical output by renewables during the first third of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016 has increased by 12.1 percent whereas nuclear output has dropped by 2.9 percent. In fact, nuclear capacity has declined over the last four years, a trend which is projected to continue, regardless of planned new reactor startups.
From 2013-16, six reactors permanently ceased operation (Crystal River, Kewaunee, San Onofre-2, San Onofre-3, Vermont Yankee, Fort Calhoun), totaling 4,862 MW of generation capacity. Last year, one new reactor (Watts Bar-2) was connected to the grid (after a 43-year construction period), adding 1,150 MW, for a net decline of 3,712 MW since 2013. Six more reactors are scheduled to close by 2021, totaling 5,234 MW (5.2 percent of nuclear capacity). Two more reactors totaling 2,240 MW are scheduled to close by 2025.
In addition, nuclear generators are discussing the potential retirements of several more. Against the planned retirement of 7,274 MW of capacity, four new reactors are in construction, totaling 4,468 MW. The completion of these reactors is in doubt, however, due to billions of dollars in cost overruns and the bankruptcy of designer-builder Westinghouse.
If all reactors being built are ultimately completed, total nuclear generating capacity will decline by at least 2,806 MW (three percent) by 2025, planned additions against planned retirements. If these projects are cancelled, nuclear capacity will decline by at least 7,274 MW (7.2 percent) from 2017, accounting for roughly 57,000 TMWh/year of generation.
On the other hand, almost all renewable energy sources are experiencing strong growth rates. Comparing the first four months of 2017 to the same period in 2016, solar has grown by 37.9 percent, wind by 14.2 percent, hydropower by 9.5 percent, and geothermal by 5.3 percent. Biomass (inc. wood and wood-derived fuels) has remained essentially unchanged—slipping by just 0.3 percent.
In recent years, the strong growth rates of both solar and wind have resulted in new records being set virtually every month. For the second month in a row, solar and wind combined provided more than 10 percent of the nation's electrical generation. In March 2017, those sources provided 10.04 percent of the nation's electrical generation. That record was eclipsed in April when solar and wind reached nearly 11 percent (10.92 percent) of total generation. And, for the first time, wind and solar combined have provided more electricity year-to-date (113,971 thousand megawatt-hours (TMWh)) than has hydropower (111,750 TMWh).
In April, solar alone reached another milestone, providing more than two percent (2.33 percent) of the nation's electrical supply. Consequently, solar has now moved into third place among renewable sources—behind hydropower and wind but ahead of biomass and geothermal. In April, utility-scale plus small-scale solar provided 20,928 TMWh compared to 20,509 TMWh from biomass and 5,945 TMWh from geothermal.
And not coincidentally, as renewables' share of electrical generation has grown, that of fossil fuels has declined. Electrical generation by fossil fuels (i.e., coal , natural gas, petroleum liquids + petroleum coke) dropped by 5.2 percent during the first third of 2017 compared to 2016.
"In light of their growth rates in recent years, it was inevitable that renewable sources would eventually overtake nuclear power," noted Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. "The only real surprise is how soon that has happened—years before most analysts ever expected."
"Renewable energy is now surpassing nuclear power, a major milestone in the transformation of the U.S. energy sector," said Tim Judson, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.
"This gulf will only widen over the next several years, with continued strong growth of renewables and the planned retirement of at least seven percent of nuclear capacity by 2025. The possible completion of four new reactors will not be enough to reverse this trend, with total nuclear capacity falling by 2,806 MW (three percent) through 2025."
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger posted a selfie video Friday with French president Emmanuel Macron , in what some are reading as Schwarzenegger's latest jab at President Trump on climate change .
In the video, Macron promises to "make our planet great again," a slogan he first debuted after President Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris agreement .
Both leaders attended a meeting at Sorbonne University this weekend, where Macron pledged to support a campaign to establish a clean environment as a basic human right.
"I was truly honored to meet with President Emmanuel Macron about how we can work together for a clean energy future," Schwarzenegger said on his Facebook page . "He's a great leader."
For a deeper dive:
Monsanto , the maker of the glyphosate -based herbicide Roundup, filed a motion June 16 in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California to reconsider the chemical's addition to California's Proposition 65 list of agents known to cause cancer.
The agrochemical giant made this move based on a June 14 Reuters investigation of Dr. Aaron Blair, a lead researcher on the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) committee, that classified glyphosate as a "2A probable human carcinogen" in March 2015.
On June 22, Monsanto's petition for review and application for stay were denied by the court.
Earlier this year, California became the first state to consider requiring Monsanto to label glyphosate as a chemical "known to the state to cause cancer" in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, better known as Prop 65. The designation was compelled by the IARC's glyphosate classification .
Glyphosate is at the center of hundreds of cancer lawsuits in which plaintiffs across the U.S. claim that they or their loved ones developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma due to exposure to Monsanto's Roundup, pointing in part to the IARC cancer classification.
But the St. Louis-based agrochemical maker has vehemently defended the safety of its star product and has previously attempted to block the herbicide from California's cancer list.
The Reuters piece accused Dr. Blair, a top epidemiologist from the U.S. National Cancer Institute, for failing to share "important" scientific data from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) he conducted with other scientists to assess the herbicide glyphosate for the IARC. IARC scientists, including Dr. Blair, reviewed a wide body of published, peer-reviewed scientific research on glyphosate and determined in March of 2015 that glyphosate should be classified as a
probable human carcinogen
. The Reuters' article assumed that IARC scientists were unaware of the additional AHS data and that if the IARC had known of this missing data, its conclusion could have been different. However, Dr. Blair, who worked on the AHS study and the IARC analysis
[starting on page 70] that he supported IARC's carcinogenicity finding notwithstanding the AHS results, repeatedly asserting that the AHS study was unfinished and unpublished, and IARC required that findings only rely upon studies that were complete, therefore the incomplete AHS data could not have been relied upon by IARC scientists.
Monsanto and its industry allies accused Blair of deliberately concealing data. Blair called the accusations "absolutely incorrect." Reuters reported that IARC is "sticking with its findings." As stated above, the organization only considers published, peer-reviewed research.
Some scientists have since voiced concerns with the AHS cited in the story. Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union , said the Reuters report "omits the fact that the data from the other epidemiology studies (all case control studies), and the meta-analyses, clearly show a statistically significant increase in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma with glyphosate exposure."
Other concerns of the study include the failure to use an appropriate latency period for cancers, the control group having an elevated risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and exposure misclassification.
Some consumer advocates have also suggested " flaws " within the Reuters story itself. Carey Gillam, a veteran journalist who spent 17 years at Reuters before joining the nonprofit consumer group U.S. Right to Know in 2016, claimed "Monsanto clearly planted that false and misleading story with Reuters and now is exploiting the carefully spun story to try to gain political advantage."
"A careful reading of the documents that the story is based on indicates that Reuters cherry-picked points that furthered Monsanto's agenda while ignoring points that ran counter to Monsanto's position," Gillam continued. "It certainly is also noteworthy that while Reuters described the documents as 'court documents,' implying their reporter got them through the court system rather than from Monsanto and friends, they were not in fact filed in court and so had to be hand-fed to Reuters. It's unfortunate that Reuters has allowed itself to be used to promote Monsanto's propaganda, but hopefully regulators can see through the ruse."
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. called Monsanto's motion "a classic smoke and mirrors flimflam." The environmental attorney is co-leading lawsuits on behalf of dozens of California residents and hundreds of people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma throughout the U.S. who allege Roundup causes cancer.
"Its basis is the company's deceptive spin on a study so badly flawed that it could not pass peer review and was never published," Kennedy added. "Like all of its other products and campaigns, Monsanto's motion is equal parts poison, deception and chutzpah."
25 June 2017.
How Algae Can Help Sweden Eliminate Carbon Emissions –
By Avery Friedman
Algae is often considered a nuisance, but for Sweden, the rapidly growing sea plant is now an asset.
As the Scandinavian country works to cut all of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, it's using algae to sop up the carbon emissions from cement.
Cement production, it turns out, is a major source of carbon dioxide . It also happens to be a top industry in Sweden.
So the country is at a crossroads—how does it keep creating one of the most widely used materials in the world , while also bringing emissions to zero?
The answer: algae.
Nestled in the quaint village of Degerhamn, Sweden, a cement factory called Cementa (owned by the international conglomerate HeidelbergCement ) is implementing a new initiative that uses algae from the nearby Baltic Sea to capture the factory's carbon dioxide emissions before the gas enters the atmosphere.
Cement is composed largely of limestone, a substance that, when heated, releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In addition, fossil fuels are burned in the process of heating the limestone, emitting even more carbon dioxide.
The process that Cementa uses is simple. First, water from the Baltic is pumped into large bags that can hold about 800 gallons of liquid. Then, nutrients are added to multiply the algae. Finally, the liquid is mixed with the factory's waste and left to sit in the sunlight, which gradually absorbs all the carbon.
This system was created as a part of Swedish scientist Catherine Legrand's Algoland project.
Legrand and her team from Linnaeus University found that algae is able to convert carbon dioxide and water into various growth-promoting nutrients. The cement plant is essentially enhancing algae's naturally occurring photosynthesis process. According to Linnaeus University researcher Martin Olofsson , in just a few runs through the algae mixture, nearly all carbon dioxide is absorbed by the green sea plant.
The Algoland system at Cementa is still small-scale, but with ample supply of space, sunlight, water and fresh algae, the company has plenty of potential to take this initiative to the next level. The project is set to expand beyond Sweden as well.
"We are preparing to scale up the algae project to a commercial scale in Morocco," Jan Theulen, Heidelberg's director of alternate resources, told Quartz Media.
Sweden's use of algae is just a small part of a larger, nationwide push towards a cleaner energy supply. Over the past several years, the country has increased its tax on carbon emissions for both industries and households, and it's one of the few countries that goes beyond the pledges made under the Paris climate agreement .
Sweden has long been a trailblazer in the fight against climate change , and it's now discovering that viable green technology sometimes resides just beneath the surface.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen .
[Editor's note: I'm still in shock after hearing the news that Lucia Grenna passed away in her sleep last week. When we first met in April of 2014 at a Copenhagen hotel, I was immediately taken by here powerful presence. We spent the next couple days participating in a Sustainia climate change event where Lucia presented her audacious plans to connect people to the climate issue. I had the chance to partner with Lucia on several other projects throughout the years and work with her incredible Connect4Climate team. I was always in awe of her ability to "make the impossible possible." Her spirit will live on forever. — Stefanie Spear]
It is with a heavy heart that Connect4Climate announces the passing of its founder and leading light, Lucia Grenna. Lucia passed peacefully in her sleep on June 15, well before her time. We remember her for her leadership and extraordinary ability to motivate people to take on some of the greatest challenges of our time, not least climate change.
With her extensive experience in development communication, Lucia realized that communication for climate action would be key to advancing the climate movement, promoting the solutions necessary and motivating the political leadership needed to build a low-carbon, resilient and sustainable future. She made it her mission to build a social movement for climate action by raising awareness of the impact of climate change and promoting the solutions for addressing it. She worked with partners across the globe to reach the greatest audience possible, especially young people.
In 2009 she convinced the World Bank and the Italian Ministry of Environment that climate communication was critical and well worth supporting and established the Communication for Climate Change Multi-Donor Trust Fund of the World Bank Group. In 2011 the flagship global partnership program Connect4Climate was born. It quickly took hold, gathering half a million Facebook followers and forging ties with leaders in popular culture—including music , film and fashion icons—to reach the generations of the future while at the same time helping scientists, politicians, and administrators raise awareness and prompt action.
The World Bank Group's Connect4Climate global partnership program received a Green Oscar .
Lucia was a unique and influential presence who could mix with anyone, anywhere, gain their attention and advance proposals for seemingly impossible, but magnificent and celebratory initiatives. Who but Lucia could have brought together an unusual group of partners to orchestrate the projection of massive climate-related images on the front of the Vatican , reminding a worldwide audience of our responsibility to protecting the Planet? We remember her for "making the impossible possible."
For Lucia and the Connect4Climate program, the operative word has been to "connect." This sentiment was Lucia through and through. She was passionate about finding ways for people and organizations to interact together and did her utmost to create and grow lasting connections. Connect4Climate now interacts with hundreds of partners, reaches millions online and engages with global audiences through competitions, events , and education to support the movement for climate action and to end poverty.Lucia's ideas would never stay on paper but would lead to tangible outcomes that engaged partners and energized audiences worldwide. She was a leader driven to find the most impactful communications, and in doing so inspired and advocated for a sustainable development pathway.
As Lucia would always say, "let's get busy and make this happen!"
The so-called "first and last mile" problem is one of the biggest hurdles with public transportation . How do you encourage more people to take Earth-friendlier commutes when their homes are miles away from the train or bus station?
One solution, as this Estonian electric scooter company proposes, is to simply take your commute with you—literally. Tallinn-based Stigo has developed a compact e-scooter that folds to the size of a rolling suitcase in about two seconds.
When folded, the Stigo L1E takes up a mere 48 × 40 cm (19 x 16 inches) of space. And at only 14 kg. (31 lbs.), it can be easily towed by hand, tucks neatly into train and bus storage compartments or, say, underneath your table at a café or the office.
"We believe Stigo will revolutionize the way people travel," Stigo CEO Ardo Reinsalu said in a statement . "Stigo is not only the world's fastest folding electric scooter, but you can also pull it along like hand luggage wherever you go, including indoors and outdoors, and charge it from a regular outlet."
According to its specs, the electric scooter has a max speed of 15 mph (25 kph) and runs on a 250W hub motor powered by a 36V lithium-Ion battery that can be charged from a regular outlet. A single charge takes about three hours and will give a range of 22 miles (40 km). You use a grip-twist throttle to adjust the speed.
"Our vision is to solve the first/last mile commuting problem by offering freedom of movement in a stylish and environmentally friendly manner," Reinsalu added.
By Itai Vardi
A recent intensification in protests against Williams Partners' planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania prompted a state senator to propose legislation aimed at limiting demonstrations.
Last month, Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Martin (R-Norman) announced his intention to introduce legislation that would pass the costs of law enforcement responding to protests onto the demonstrators. Martin also helped introduce a different bill that would criminalize protests at natural gas facilities.
A DeSmog investigation has found, however, that Martin is intimately tied to an obscure group of lobbyists recently hired by Williams Partners.
State Legislators Against Pipeline Protestors
The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams Partners plans to construct the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline through its subsidiary, Transco. The $3 billion 200-mile project, which would transport fracked gas from the state's northern shales southward to the company's interconnecting pipeline systems, received federal approval earlier this year but still requires several state permits.
Grassroots and citizen opposition to the pipeline, which has been ongoing since the project's original proposal in 2014, has intensified in recent months. In February, activists built an encampment on the planned route near Conestoga in Lancaster county, which Scott Martin represents.
Led by the group Lancaster Against Pipelines , they signaled their willingness to engage in nonviolent direct action.
Yet in early May, a day after arranging a conference call between local first responders and North Dakota law enforcement officials who dealt with the Dakota Access pipeline protests, Martin published a legislative memo detailing his plan to propose a bill penalizing protestors. The memo, which directly referenced the Dakota Access pipeline demonstrations, is aimed at "shielding taxpayers against the additional costs resulting from protests." Martin is currently seeking cosponsors for his legislation.
Two weeks earlier, Martin was among a group of senators advancing a bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Regan (R-Carroll Township) seeking to essentially criminalize civil disobedience and other forms of demonstrations at critical infrastructure sites, including gas pipelines and facilities. According to the bill, those who "impede or inhibit" the operations of the facility will be charged with a felony, face imprisonment and pay hefty fines.
Williams Hires Secretive Group with Ties to Sen. Martin
A recent disclosure by Transco to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) revealed that last year the company hired an entity generically called the Pennsylvania Advocacy Group LLC.
From Transco's latest financial report to FERC, showing a payment to Pennsylvania Advocacy Group LLC
State corporate records reveal that Pennsylvania Advocacy Group LLC was created in 2014 by five lobbyists from two different firms: Alan Novak , Angela Leopold and Dan Hayward from Novak Strategic Advisors, and David Feidt and Michael Musser from Community Networking Strategies LLC .
Novak, Leopold, Hayward and Feidt are also long-time top Pennsylvania Republican operatives. Musser runs a political action committee that supports politicians from both parties.
Although it does not have a website, state corporate records indicate that Community Networking Strategies is a subsidiary of the Harrisburg-based legal and lobbying firm McNees, Wallace & Nurick . While Community Networking Strategies is not officially registered as a lobbying firm in Pennsylvania, state disclosure records show that McNees, Wallace & Nurick is currently lobbying for several fossil fuel entities, including Gulf Oil Ltd, Industrial Energy Consumers of Pennsylvania and Sunoco Logistics.
Scott Martin is closely tied to Community Networking Strategies. According to his state senate financial disclosures, Martin worked at Community Networking Strategies immediately before starting his tenure as legislator in January.
Disclosing a position of "vice president," Martin described his professional activities in the company as "business development." The address he provided on the disclosure matches McNees, Wallace & Nurick's address for the firm's Lancaster Pennsylvania branch.
From Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Martin's financial disclosure, showing his work for the lobbying firm Community Networking Resources, a subsidiary of McNees, Wallace & Nurick
Martin's LinkedIn profile states that he worked for Community Networking Strategies between January 2016 and January 2017.
Community Networking Resources Fundraises for Sen. Martin
Apart for its business lobbying, Community Networking Resources also engages in political campaigning. According to Pennsylvania campaign finance records, in recent years the company has provided political support and fundraising services—including for Martin.
Michael Musser, whose two hats include Community Networking Resources and Pennsylvania Advocacy Group, runs a PACcalled Better Government for PA . A review of the PAC's records show that since 2008 it has contributed over $36,000 to Martin's PAC, Friends of Scott Martin. At the same time, Friends of Scott Martin hired Musser's Community Networking Resources on several occasions for fundraising services when Martin served as Lancaster County commissioner.
Lobbyist David Feidt, also of both Community Networking Resources and Pennsylvania Advocacy Group, is registered as the treasurer of Better Government for PA PAC.
By contracting with Pennsylvania Advocacy Group, Transco can potentially benefit from its deep ties to the state's GOP. From the Novak Strategic Advisors side of the firm, Alan Novak is former chairperson of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, while Dan Hayward served as the party's executive director. Angela Leopold served in the past in the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania.
From the Community Networking Resources side, David Feidt currently serves as chairperson of the Dauphin County Republican Committee. Feidt's twitter account continuously promotes the use of natural gas, including support for the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline.
In a conversation with DeSmog, Michael Musser confirmed that Pennsylvania Advocacy Group was formed jointly by the firms Community Networking Resources and Novak Strategic Advisors, but said his involvement in the company is minimal. He referred DeSmog to Dan Hayward from Novak Startegic Advisors. Hayward did not reply to several requests for comment. A spokesperson for Transco did not provide comment, either.
Martin denies his previous work for Community Networking Resources had any effect on his legislative efforts concerning pipeline protests. In an email to DeSmog, Martin responded to a series of questions:
Have you ever provided work for Transco as part of Pennsylvania Advocacy Group and/or in any other capacity?
"I have never provided work for Transco in any capacity and haven't done work for Pennsylvania Advocacy Group."
As senator, were you ever contacted by employees of Pennsylvania Advocacy Group and/or Community Networking Resources and/or Novak Strategic Advisors in relation to Transco's gas projects?
"As Senator, I was never contacted by these groups in relation to Transco's gas projects."
Did your ties to Community Networking Resources have any effect on your recent legislative efforts related to pipeline protesting?
"No, Community Networking Resources had no effect or involvement on my protestor legislation being worked on. I started that initiative to try to be proactive in our community having seen the aftermath and costs of the NDAPL protests. Having been heavily involved with Emergency Management as a commissioner and concerned about costs and impacts on our community is what motivated me to look at this legislation."
Do you currently receive any compensation from Community Networking Resources and/or its parent firm, McNees, Wallace & Nurick?
"I receive no compensation from any source except for my job as State Senator."
Can you describe your relationship with Mike Musser of Community Networking Resources? According to state campaign finance records, Musser's PAC contributed to your PAC in the past, while Community Networking Resources provided political consulting and fundraising for your PAC.
"Mike helped organize my annual fundraisers throughout my time as county commissioner. I was employed by CNR [Community Networking Resources] for a year after I left being a county commissioner, before starting with the Senate."
Reposted with permission from our media associate DeSmogBlog .
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its Final Environmental Impact Statement Friday for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a controversial 303-mile pipeline that would carry two billion cubic feet of fracked gas per day from West Virginia through Virginia.
As has been the pattern at FERC, the review fails to adequately assess whether the pipeline is needed in the first place, while sweeping aside the project's serious threats to water resources, the safety of communities and the climate .
Oil Change International research analyst Kelly Trout had the following response to FERC's deeply flawed climate assessment:
In this utterly insufficient review, FERC ignores both science and economics to sweep aside the Mountain Valley Pipeline's significant climate impact. FERC severely undercounts climate pollution by ignoring methane leakage across the gas supply chain, which makes gas as dirty or dirtier than coal , and by omitting emissions from upstream fracking . FERC also wrongly assumes that gas supplied by the project is likely to replace coal, when it's just as likely to lock out the clean energy and efficiency alternatives we urgently need.
If FERC was doing its job, it would find the Mountain Valley Pipeline will cause an unacceptable increase in climate pollution and reject this dirty project. A proper analysis shows that this pipeline will cause as much climate pollution as 26 coal plants per year. This project is the last thing we need in the face of worsening heatwaves and flooding , and when clean alternatives are readily available now.
Concerned residents continue to fight this dirty pipeline because it's a clear threat to local livelihoods, clean water and our climate. It's time for FERC to completely overhaul its pipeline review process to prioritize the safety of communities and our climate, not the profits of corporate polluters.
In a recent study , Oil Change International found that the Mountain Valley Pipeline will cause nearly 90 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution per year, which is the equivalent of 26 coal plants or 19 million vehicles on the road. The study applied a gas pipeline climate methodology that is based on the latest analysis of the lifecycle pollution of fracked gas from the Appalachian Basin.