Kiera Butler

Kiera Butler

Senior Editor

Kiera answers your green questions every week in her Econundrums column. She was a hypochondriac even before she started researching germ warfare.

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Kiera has written about the environment, arts and culture, and more for Columbia Journalism Review, Orion, Audubon, OnEarth, Plenty, and the Utne Reader. She lives in Berkeley and recently planted 30 onions in her backyard.

BP Oil Coming to Your Beach, and More News from the Gulf

| Fri Jun. 4, 2010 6:00 AM EDT

Is oil from the BP disaster in the Gulf headed your way? According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) the spill "might soon extend along thousands of miles of the Atlantic coast and open ocean as early as this summer." Watch this video to see how your local beach might be affected. Closer to the spill epicenter, MoJo reporters Mac McClelland and Julia Whitty continue to blog, snap lots of pictures, and tweet live from the Gulf, while Kate Sheppard keeps tabs on the politics of the spill. Recent updates:

For more up-to-the-minute updates on the spill, check out our BP coverage and the Blue Marble blog. You can also follow Mac McClelland, Julia Whitty, Kate Sheppard, The Climate Desk, and the Blue Marble on Twitter.

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Pro-Life Movement Goes "Green"

| Thu Jun. 3, 2010 4:28 PM EDT

The pro-life coalition American Life League has a new tactic for convincing women not to use birth control: The Pill Kills the Environment campaign, set to launch this Saturday, June 5. From the "Talking Points" section of the campaign website:

Q: What can we do to help save our environment?
A: Educate! Educate the women in your life about the dangerous consequences the birth control pill can have, not only on them but on their preborn baby and all of the people in their community as well. The very fact that scientists are finding "intersex" fish, that is male fish with eggs in their testes, should be enough to alarm the environmentalists in your area and others that are concerned about protecting our environment. Scientists are finding that the presence of female hormones in our water is making male fish, frogs and river otters less masculine.

Oy. It's true that the hormones from birth control are a problem in waterways, but ALL's take on the subject lacks some serious perspective, to say the least. As we reported in an Econundrum on the subject:

Long-lasting devices like diaphragms create less waste than single-use rubbers, which can end up in sewers, clog waste treatment plants, and potentially pose a threat to wildlife. The Pill, while waste free, sends small amounts of estrogen into waterways, possibly harming fish. But whatever works for you—the toll of a few prophylactics is nothing compared to the environmental consequences of population growth.

For more on the environmental consequences of overpopulation, read MoJo environment reporter Julia Whitty's excellent piece on the issue here.

In the meantime, if you're worried about the pill's effect on the environment, you might be just the kind of person who would enjoy this. Endangered species condom!

Palin Blames Spill on "Extreme Enviros" and More News From the Gulf

| Thu Jun. 3, 2010 9:28 AM EDT

On Tuesday, Sarah Palin posted a new screed on Facebook bashing environmentalists for being the cause of the Gulf oil spill. No, really. Meanwhile, back on Earth, MoJo reporters Mac McClelland and Julia Whitty continue to blog and tweet live from the Gulf beaches, while Kate Sheppard keeps tabs on the politics of the spill. And if you haven't checked out Mac's and Julia's photos yet, they're worth a gander. Trust me. Mac's are here, and Julia's shots of birds battling oil are here.  Some sample tweets and links to our recent coverage of BP and the spill that's shaping up to be the environmental disaster of the century:

@JuliaWhitty: The oil in the seawater is as tacky as wax. I'd like to give the BP bigwigs fully-body Brazilian waxes #bp #oilspill

@MacMcClelland: A big lake of concentrated #BP crude has just been spotted coming toward the coast of Grand Isle.

For more up-to-the-minute updates on the spill, check out our BP coverage and the Blue Marble blog. You can also follow Mac McClelland, Julia Whitty, Kate Sheppard, The Climate Desk, and the Blue Marble on Twitter. 

Feds' Criminal Probe of BP, and More Oil Spill News

| Wed Jun. 2, 2010 6:00 AM EDT

We've been keeping close tabs on the environmental horror show unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. MoJo human rights reporter Mac McClelland and environment reporter Julia Whitty are on the scene at the oil spill, tweeting and blogging as run BP's corporate blockade, while Kate Sheppard reports on the politics of the spill. The big news yesterday was the Department of Justice's announcement that it's launching a criminal probe into the oil rig explosion, and that and that the federal government is weighing both criminal and civil penalties for the disaster. Read more here.

Sample tweets from our reporters in the Gulf:

@MacMcClelland: Even on the beach we're allowed on, there are tar piles big as a 5-yr-old. And this beach was already cleaned today. #BP

@JuliaWhitty: Remember the book On the Beach? Nuclear fallout wafting towards the last survivors? That's what today on the Mississippi coast felt like.

More coverage:

  • BP Hires Cheney's Press Flack: Anne Womack Kolton will serve as the new "head of U.S. media relations" as the company deals with the PR disaster of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf. Kolton was Cheney's press secretary during the 2004 campaign, and then moved to a job in public affairs at the Department of Energy.
  • As Hurricane Season Kicks Off, Gulf Oil Worries Grow: Tuesday was the first day of what's expected to be a bad hurricane season. Especially worrisome, since hurricanes imperil the thousands of miles of oil pipelines that snake across the Gulf. The storms also threaten to churn up the millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf, pushing the slick further on land and spreading it out over a larger area.
  • How BP, MMS Ignored Spill Warning Signs: New documents show that both BP and federal regulators at the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service had plenty of warning that the drilling operation at the Macondo well site was plauged with problems.
  • Hollywood to the Rescue: Believe it or not, Kevin Costner and James Cameron have some interesting ideas. But, um, why didn't BP think of them first?

For more up-to-the-minute updates on the spill, check out our BP coverage and the Blue Marble blog. You can also follow Mac McClelland, Julia Whitty, Kate Sheppard, and the Blue Marble on Twitter.  

What To Do With Old Lightbulbs?

| Tue Jun. 1, 2010 2:47 PM EDT

Recently switched all the lights in your house over to CFLs? Inhabitat has an idea for giving your old incandescents new life: Make them into vases. Only challenge is to support the bulbs so they stand up. Pictured left is a stand called a Potus Pot, but I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to make your own bulb support. If you filled an old tray with a bed of pebbles a few inches deep, I'm guessing you could nestle a few bulbs in there. Readymade has another idea.

Readers, have any of you found other ways to reuse old lightbulbs?

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