Blue Marble Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2007/08 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Obama's Plan to Save the Monarch Butterflies' Epic Migration http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/whats-deal-obamas-plan-save-monarch-butterflys-epic-migration <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Earlier this week, amid negotiating <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/obama-leadership-trans-pacific-partnership-tpp" target="_blank">major trade deals</a> and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/05/barack-obama-finally-joins-twitter" target="_blank">joining</a> Twitter, Obama put forth a major infrastructure project: a highway for monarch butterflies.</p> <p>That's right, monarch butterflies. The pollinators are crucial to the health of our ecosystems but, like bees, their populations have <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/02/09/the-monarch-massacre-nearly-a-billion-butterflies-have-vanished/" target="_blank">seen</a> startling drops. Some groups are even <a href="http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/invertebrates/monarch_butterfly/index.html" target="_blank">calling</a> for their protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Obama administration wants to do something about it as part of its&nbsp;strategy to protect pollinating insects, but that turns out to be a tricky task given the monarch's&nbsp;complex life cycle.</p> <p>Each year, millions of monarch butterflies complete a 2,000-mile migration circuit from Mexico to the border of the United States and Canada that is so epic it has inspired <a href="http://makewayformonarchs.org/i/poetry" target="_blank">poetry</a>, <a href="http://www.powells.com/biblio/9780062124265" target="_blank">a novel </a>and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YatyW5ozRAs" target="_blank">documentary</a> <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Le1snq0ROXM" target="_blank">after</a> <a href="http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/butterfly_monarch" target="_blank">documentary</a>.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/YatyW5ozRAs" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>The whole process revolves around the butterflies' favorite plant, milkweed, on whose leaves they lay eggs. Milkweed grows in the northern&nbsp;United States and southern Canada, so each spring they <a href="http://www.monarchbutterflyfund.org/node/148" target="_blank">migrate</a> north from Mexico (a process that requires multiple generations), resting along the way on trees like this.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Monarch butterflies in trees" class="image" src="/files/butterflies%20on%20trees.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption">Rebecca Blackwell/AP</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Monarch butterflies on branch" class="image" src="/files/butteflies%20on%20branch.jpg" style="height: 422px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption">Rebecca Blackwell/AP</div> </div> <p>The generation that arrives up north has just enough energy to lay eggs on milkweed leaves before dying themselves. The new generation, bolstered by the milkweed, then grows up with the strength to make make the autumn trip back to Mexico before the cold, continuing the cycle.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ocWgSgMGxOc" width="630"></iframe></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Monarch butterflies" class="image" src="/files/shutterstock_143452636_0.jpg" style="height: 418px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption">Noradoa/Shutterstock</div> </div> <p>But a mixture of climate change, development, and herbicide use has <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/01/how-gmo-crops-dethrone-monarch-butterfly">wiped out</a>&gt; the milkweed-hungry monarchs. The US Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/02/09/the-monarch-massacre-nearly-a-billion-butterflies-have-vanished/">estimated</a> that nearly one billion butterflies have died since 1990, a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/invertebrates/monarch_butterfly/pdfs/Monarch_ESA_Petition_QA.pdf">90 percent</a> population decline.</p> <p>Enter Obama. As part of his "National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators," his administration&nbsp;has <a href="http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/politics/national-strategy-to-promote-the-health-of-honey-bees-and-other-pollinators/1554/" target="_blank">introduced</a>&nbsp;a plan to <span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">restore the monarch butterflies' habitat and&nbsp;</span>increase their population by 225 million. The centerpiece of the&nbsp;plan is a "flyway" along Interstate 35, which stretches from Texas to Minnesota. The plan calls for turning federally owned land along the interstate corridor into milkweed refuges for the butterflies.</p> <p>Will it work? Many don't think it's enough, including Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The goal the strategy sets for the monarch butterfly migration is far too low for the population to be resilient," she said in an email adding&nbsp;more protection and a ban of harmful pesticides are needed to save them.</p> <p>One source of hope for the insect is its beauty. No one wants to see these iconic butterflies go away.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="600" src="https://vine.co/v/O9rFPxu9Yql/embed/simple" width="630"></iframe><script src="https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js"></script></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="monarch butterfly" class="image" src="/files/shutterstock_93648106.jpg" style="height: 367px; width: 630px; float: left;"><div class="caption">Jean-Edouard Rozey/Shutterstock</div> <div class="caption"> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="monarch butterfly" class="image" src="/files/AP166429473329.jpg" style="height: 452px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption">Rebecca Blackwell/AP</div> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Climate Change Top Stories Sat, 23 May 2015 19:52:56 +0000 Luke Whelan 275751 at http://www.motherjones.com School Lunches Just Got Way Better in These 6 Cities (and It's Not the Food) http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/school-lunches-just-got-way-better-these-major-school-districts <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>School lunches may <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/pity-poor-school-food-professional" target="_blank">be healthier</a> than when you were a kid, but the wasteful and polluting materials that cafeterias serve them on have actually gotten worse. In an effort to save on labor and equipment costs, many schools <a href="http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/baltsun/offers.html?url=%2Fbaltsun%2Fdoc%2F406806979.html%3FFMT%3DFT%26FMTS%3DABS%3AFT%26type%3Dcurrent%26date%3DAug%2B26%252C%2B1993%26author%3DNguyen%252C%2BLan%26pub%3DThe%2BSun%26edition%3D%26startpage%3D%26desc%3DSchool%2Bboard%2Burged%2Bto%2Bbuy%2Bdisposable%2Blunch%2Btrays%2BWashables%2Bare%2Btoo%2Bcostly%252C%2Breport%2Bsays" target="_blank">switched</a> from washable trays to disposable foam ones over the past couple of decades. But this trend is now beginning to change.</p> <p>The school districts of six major cities&mdash;New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and Orlando&mdash; <a href="http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/mizeman/big_cities_once_again_step_up.html" target="_blank">announced today</a> that they will stop using polystyrene foam trays, and begin serving lunch on compostable plates.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.urbanschoolfoodalliance.org/" target="_blank">Urban School Food Alliance</a>, which counts the country's largest school districts among its members, coordinated the change after developing an affordable compostable plate made from recycled newspaper that costs just a penny more than its foam counterpart.</p> <p>"Shifting from polystyrene trays to compostable plates will allow these cities to dramatically slash waste sent to landfills, reduce plastics pollution in our communities and oceans, and create valuable compost that can be re-used on our farms," said Mark Izeman, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which partners with the Alliance.</p> <p>This shift to compostable plates by more than <a href="http://www.urbanschoolfoodalliance.org/#section-the-numbers" target="_blank">4,000</a> schools will <a href="http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/mbrown/serving_up_a_better_school_pla.html" target="_blank">save</a> an estimated 225 million petroleum-based plastic trays from going into landfill each year.</p> <p>What's next? The Alliance hopes to introduce compostable cutlery by next school year.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/FINAL.CompostablePlateGraphic.NRDC_.Alliance.5.20.15.jpg" style="height: 473px; width: 630px;"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Education Food and Ag Thu, 21 May 2015 10:00:12 +0000 Luke Whelan 275606 at http://www.motherjones.com The 85-Year-Old Nun Who Went to Prison for Embarrassing the Feds Is Finally Free http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/megan-rice-85-year-old-nun-released-prison-nuclear-weapons <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Sister Megan Rice, the 85-year-old activist nun who two years ago humiliated government officials by <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/nun-megan-rice-sentencing-y-12-nuclear-weapons-security" target="_blank">penetrating and vandalizing</a> a supposedly ultra-high-security uranium storage facility, has finally been released from prison. A federal appeals court on Friday overturned the 2013 sabotage convictions of Rice and two fellow anti-nuclear activists, Michael Walli, 66, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 59, ruling that that their actions&mdash;breaking into Tennessee's Y-12 National Security Complex and spreading blood on a uranium storage bunker&mdash;did not harm national security.</p> <p>Rice's case has become the subject of intense media scrutiny, including <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/03/09/break-in-at-y-12" target="_blank">a recent <em>New Yorker</em> profile</a> by Eric Schlosser, whose latest <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/08/eric-schlosser-command-control-excerpt-nuclear-weapons" target="_blank">book</a> exposed gaping flaws in America's nuclear weapons program. The activists now await re-sentencing on a lesser charge of damaging federal property. The punishment is expected to be less than the two years they've already spent in federal prison.</p> <p>Speaking with Rice over the phone this afternoon, I asked her how it feels to be free. "Not that much different, because none of us is free," she said, "and it looks like we are going to go on being un-free for as long as there is a nuclear weapon waiting."</p> <p>Asked <a href="http://www.democracynow.org/2015/5/19/how_an_85_year_old_nun?autostart=true" target="_blank">on <em>Democracy Now</em></a> this morning about her experience in federal prison, Rice gave a response worthy of Sister Jane Ingalls, a character from the Netflix prison drama <em>Orange Is the New Black</em>, who was clearly inspired by Rice. "They are the ones who are the wisest in this country," she said of her fellow inmates. "They know what is really happening. They are the fallout of nuclear weapons production."</p> <p>Skip to the 33-minute mark to watch the interview:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" frameborder="0" height="355" src="http://www.democracynow.org/embed/story/2015/5/19/how_an_85_year_old_nun" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Military Nuclear Weapons Tue, 19 May 2015 20:17:24 +0000 Josh Harkinson 275516 at http://www.motherjones.com Kayaktavists Take Over Seattle's Port to Protest Shell Oil's Arctic Drilling Rig http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/kayaktavistsv-take-over-seattles-elliott-bay-protest-shell-oil-rig <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong><em>This article is being updated as news breaks. See below for the latest.</em></strong></p> <p>Seattleites took <a href="http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/paddle-in-seattle-protesters-gather-against-shell-oil-rig/" target="_blank">a dramatic stand</a>, er paddle, against Arctic oil drilling on Saturday afternoon. Against the backdrop of the Pacific Northwest city's skyline, around 200 activists, local Native Americans, and concerned citizens took to kayak and canoe and surrounded a giant, Arctic-bound Royal Dutch Shell oil drilling rig currently <a href="http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/shell-oil-rig-arriving-today-just-the-start-of-arctic-drilling-fleet/" target="_blank">making a layover</a> in the Port of Seattle.</p> <p>Despite the oil giant's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/03/shell-arctic-drilling-timeline" target="_blank">rocky history</a> in the Arctic region, last Monday the Obama administration conditionally <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/obama-just-gave-shell-green-light-drill-arctic" target="_blank">approved</a> Shell's summer plans to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea, north of Alaska. Environmentalists are not happy, and neither are many in Seattle, whose port has become a home base for the two Shell oil rigs' operations. The Port of Seattle's commissioners <a href="http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2015/01/21/guest-editorial-seattle-port-commissioners-turn-a-blind-eye-to-climate-change" target="_blank">took heat</a> for their controversial <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/14/us/oil-company-lease-stirs-revolt-in-green-seattle.html?ref=us" target="_blank">decision</a> to lease one of its piers to Shell, tying the progressive city to fossil fuel extraction and the potential for environmental catastrophe in the Arctic.</p> <p>As the first of the towering oil rigs arrived in Elliott Bay late last week, a group of "activists, artists, and noisemakers" calling themselves <a href="https://shellno.org/" target="_blank">ShellNo</a> <a href="https://shellno.org/" target="_blank">organized</a> a series of protests to welcome the oil company. The "Paddle in Seattle" yesterday drew an impressive flotilla of kayaks, canoes, and boats into the Duwamish River, which feeds into the Elliott Bay, to surround the Coast-Guard-protected rig. Below is a roundup of Tweeted pictures taken by people on the scene:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">&lsquo;Paddle in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Seattle?src=hash">#Seattle</a>&rsquo; protesters gather against <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Shell?src=hash">#Shell</a> oil rig. (Mark Harrison / ST) Story: <a href="http://t.co/glrr6C8cit">http://t.co/glrr6C8cit</a> <a href="http://t.co/u3tJIgm2Hv">pic.twitter.com/u3tJIgm2Hv</a></p> &mdash; Seattle Times Photo (@SeaTimesPhoto) <a href="https://twitter.com/SeaTimesPhoto/status/599683258796781568">May 16, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="und"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PaddleInSeattle?src=hash">#PaddleInSeattle</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a> <a href="http://t.co/xfonuonQMJ">pic.twitter.com/xfonuonQMJ</a></p> &mdash; Sydney Brownstone (@sydbrownstone) <a href="https://twitter.com/sydbrownstone/status/599690794207850496">May 16, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="und"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a> <a href="https://t.co/9M5DAePrsz">https://t.co/9M5DAePrsz</a></p> &mdash; Ansel (@Ansel) <a href="https://twitter.com/Ansel/status/599685762028830720">May 16, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">PHOTOS: Anti-Arctic drilling activists hold <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a> protest in Seattle - <a href="http://t.co/gZgUZ6XBtb">http://t.co/gZgUZ6XBtb</a> <a href="http://t.co/6i7oYW6cTp">pic.twitter.com/6i7oYW6cTp</a></p> &mdash; KOMO News (@komonews) <a href="https://twitter.com/komonews/status/599708417888899075">May 16, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">PHOTOS: Anti-Arctic drilling activists hold <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a> protest in Seattle - <a href="http://t.co/gZgUZ6XBtb">http://t.co/gZgUZ6XBtb</a> <a href="http://t.co/tQpHnlaS2L">pic.twitter.com/tQpHnlaS2L</a></p> &mdash; KOMO News (@komonews) <a href="https://twitter.com/komonews/status/599693328272134144">May 16, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Amazing pictures of the Duwamish tribe leading the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/shellno?src=hash">#shellno</a> flotilla in Seattle's harbor <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PaddleInSeattle?src=hash">#PaddleInSeattle</a> <a href="http://t.co/E2ep8JFh6c">pic.twitter.com/E2ep8JFh6c</a></p> &mdash; Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) <a href="https://twitter.com/billmckibben/status/599666089593839617">May 16, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Today's best banner. <a href="http://t.co/QBacS1aO6w">pic.twitter.com/QBacS1aO6w</a></p> &mdash; Ansel (@Ansel) <a href="https://twitter.com/Ansel/status/599705128556371968">May 16, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Seattle's true polar pioneer. <a href="http://t.co/Rw7VnyEq4x">pic.twitter.com/Rw7VnyEq4x</a></p> &mdash; Ansel (@Ansel) <a href="https://twitter.com/Ansel/status/599704952869552128">May 16, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The sign says "climate justice now" - protestors are chanting "shell no" <a href="http://t.co/o7WvNLMLmN">pic.twitter.com/o7WvNLMLmN</a></p> &mdash; Coral Garnick (@CoralGarnick) <a href="https://twitter.com/CoralGarnick/status/599672678794956800">May 16, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Tribal canoes are intermixed with the kayakers and other boats participating in the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/paddleinseattle?src=hash">#paddleinseattle</a> <a href="http://t.co/mQYp1M94Te">pic.twitter.com/mQYp1M94Te</a></p> &mdash; Coral Garnick (@CoralGarnick) <a href="https://twitter.com/CoralGarnick/status/599663017349939200">May 16, 2015</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en">&nbsp;</blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en">&nbsp;</blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p><strong>UPDATE, Monday, May 18, 2:00 p.m. PST:</strong></p> <p>Today, "ShellNo" <a href="http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/polar-pioneer-protests/" target="_blank">continued</a> its protest of Shell's plans to drill for oil in the arctic by blocking the entrances to the Port of Seattle's Pier 5 where one of the oil company's rigs is docked. Hundreds gathered earlier this morning at the pier's main entrance to slow operations on the rig, although some rig workers were apparently able to get in through other entrances. Police did not interfere with the demonstration, and at about 1:30PM the group began to leave the pier and march back the way they came. Those present included Native American activists and Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant. Some pictures of the event:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Mohawk Kuzma is among the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackLivesMatter?src=hash">#BlackLivesMatter</a>, Filipino and indigenous activists leading this march. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a> <a href="http://t.co/8tGx7GgNTT">pic.twitter.com/8tGx7GgNTT</a></p> &mdash; Ansel (@Ansel) <a href="https://twitter.com/Ansel/status/600313604496199681">May 18, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Who said blockades need to be boring? We've got amazing speakers and musicians keeping the crowd pumped. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a> <a href="http://t.co/rvb6DAUDk6">pic.twitter.com/rvb6DAUDk6</a></p> &mdash; Oil Change Intl (@PriceofOil) <a href="https://twitter.com/PriceofOil/status/600322533351563264">May 18, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">With elected leadership having failed us, we launch a movement of non-violent civil disobedience to say <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a>! <a href="https://t.co/ZkCgfpe4Te">https://t.co/ZkCgfpe4Te</a></p> &mdash; Kshama Sawant (@cmkshama) <a href="https://twitter.com/cmkshama/status/600298811911602177">May 18, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The scene at the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a> <a href="http://t.co/g126LCaVEY">pic.twitter.com/g126LCaVEY</a></p> &mdash; Ansel (@Ansel) <a href="https://twitter.com/Ansel/status/600329415013244930">May 18, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">SHELL NO: Seattle protesters block entrance to port where Shell's oil rig is moored <a href="http://t.co/HKQJ1zbD6D">http://t.co/HKQJ1zbD6D</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a> <a href="http://t.co/hQZLkd0daD">pic.twitter.com/hQZLkd0daD</a></p> &mdash; Earthjustice (@Earthjustice) <a href="https://twitter.com/Earthjustice/status/600405580969218048">May 18, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Protestors at Terminal 5 have decided to end <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Shellno?src=hash">#Shellno</a> protest and march back to morning starting point <a href="http://t.co/uSKZk6Vpa0">pic.twitter.com/uSKZk6Vpa0</a></p> &mdash; Hal Bernton (@hbernton) <a href="https://twitter.com/hbernton/status/600400845574840321">May 18, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Energy Top Stories Oil Sun, 17 May 2015 17:41:56 +0000 Luke Whelan 275381 at http://www.motherjones.com This Likely GOP Presidential Candidate Actually Believes in Global Warming http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/chris-christie-thinks-climate-change-real <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a potential contender for the Republican presidential nomination, thinks climate change is real and caused&mdash;at least in part&mdash;by human activity, <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/chris-christie-new-hampshire-global-warming-real" target="_blank">according to MSNBC</a>.</p> <p>Christie said he believes there's "no use in denying global warming exists" but that he's skeptical about most of the mainstream approaches to dealing with it. That includes cap-and-trade programs and unilateral steps to reduce America's carbon footprint, such as President Barack Obama's proposed restrictions on power plant emissions.</p> <p>Christie's comments essentially matched those he made in <a href="http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/08/gov_christie_admits_climate_ch.html" target="_blank">back in 2011</a>, the last time he spoke publicly about the issue. In some respects, his position is refreshingly distinct from those of his probable rivals in 2016. Many of the GOP contenders&mdash;for example, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/04/rand-paul-climate-change" target="_blank">Rand Paul</a>, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/ted-cruz-seth-myers-climate-change" target="_blank">Ted Cruz</a>, and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/marco-rubio-president-climate-change" target="_blank">Marco Rubio</a>&mdash;sit somewhere on the spectrum of climate change denial. But at the same time, Christie's track record in New Jersey suggests that as president, he'd be unlikely to actually do much to confront global warming, even if he thinks it's happening. <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/05/10/3657144/christie-climate-change-is-real/" target="_blank">As <em>Climate Progress</em> put it:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>As governor, Christie withdrew New Jersey from the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing emissions, in 2011. Last year, Christie <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/09/19/3569631/chris-christie-rggi-useles/">called</a> RGGI "a completely useless plan" and said that he "would not think of rejoining it." Christie even vetoed an attempt by the New Jersey state legislature to rejoin RGGI&hellip;New Jersey also doesn't have a statewide climate change plan&mdash;the state is the only one on the eastern seaboard to not have one in place or be in the process of developing one, <a href="http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/thepulse/item/70942-lacking-statewide-strategy-nj-shore-towns-prep-for-climate-change-">according to</a> the Georgetown Climate Center.</p> </blockquote> <p>Christie's logic&mdash;that even if climate change is real, there's nothing we can do to stop it&mdash;is out of step with mainstream science. And it ignores the growing international political momentum around climate action, which Obama has <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/04/fukushima-climate-shinzo-abe-obama" target="_blank">sought to lead</a>. Moreover, if Christie thinks that kind of rhetoric is going to help him score points with Republican voters in the wake of the <a href="http://localtalknews.com/state/government/2122-indictments-come-down-in-bridgegate-scandal.html" target="_blank">federal indictments handed down last week</a> in the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/chris-christie-bridge-traffic-jam-emails" target="_blank">Bridgegate scandal</a>, he has a long way to go: The <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/2016_republican_presidential_nomination-3823.html" target="_blank">latest polling</a> puts Christie behind all of his serious opponents for the nomination.</p></body></html> Blue Marble 2016 Elections Climate Change Climate Desk Mon, 11 May 2015 21:12:04 +0000 Tim McDonnell 275056 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Okays Shell's Plan to Drill for Oil in the Arctic http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/obama-just-gave-shell-green-light-drill-arctic <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Royal Dutch Shell cleared a major hurdle this afternoon when the Obama administration <a href="http://www.boem.gov/press05112015/?utm_source=BOEM+Conditionally+Approves+Shell%27s+Revised+Chukchi+Sea+Exploration+Plan&amp;utm_campaign=BOEM+Conditionally+Approves+Shell%27s++EP&amp;utm_medium=email" target="_blank">announced</a> conditional approval for the company's application to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's North Slope. The decision came after a few months of public comment on Shell's exploration plan, which was <a href="http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060016345" target="_blank">roundly condemned</a> by environmental groups and several North Slope communities.</p> <p>Shell's plan involves drilling for oil in a patch of ocean called the <a href="http://this-small-planet.com/2012/shell-begins-drilling-in-the-chukchi-sea-the-details/shell-burger-prospect-map/" target="_blank">Burger Prospect</a>. The drilling is slated to take place this summer when sea ice is at its lowest. In anticipation of this decision, two massive oil drilling ships owned by Shell <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/us/grabbing-paddles-in-seattle-to-ward-off-an-oil-giant.html" target="_blank">are en route to a temporary dock in Seattle</a>; from there, they are scheduled to press on to the Arctic.</p> <p>If the ships make it to the planned site, it will be the first attempt Shell has made to drill in the Arctic (an area believed to hold massive subterranean reserves of oil and gas) since its disastrous effort in 2012. Back then, Shell faced a <a href="http://www.desmogblog.com/2013/01/06/timeline-shell-s-arctic-drilling-debacle-2012" target="_blank">yearlong series of mishaps</a> as it tried to navigate the icy waters, culminating in a wreck of the <em>Kulluk</em>, one of its main drilling ships. For many environmentalists, that botched project was a sign that Shell is ill-equipped to handle Arctic waters.</p> <p>Moreover, today's decision underscored what many describe as an inconsistency in President Barack Obama's climate change policy: Despite his aggressive rhetoric on the dangers of global warming, and a suite of policies to curb the nation's carbon footprint, Obama has also pushed to expand offshore oil and gas drilling. Earlier this year, he <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/28/us/obama-plan-calls-for-oil-and-gas-drilling-in-the-atlantic.html" target="_blank">announced a plan</a> to limit drilling permits in some parts of the Arctic while simultaneously opening a vast new swath of the Atlantic ocean to drilling.</p> <p>Allowing Shell to forge ahead with its Arctic ambitions flies in the face of the president's own climate agenda, said Franz Matzner, associate director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council.</p> <p>"It's a total mystery why the Obama administration and [Interior] Secretary [Sally] Jewell are continuing down this path that is enormously risky, contradicts climate science, and is completely unnecessary to meet our energy goals," Matzner said. "It's a dangerous folly to think that this can be done."</p> <p>Before Shell can start drilling, it still needs to secure a few final federal and state permits, including one that requires Shell to demonstrate how it plans to protect ocean life during drilling and in the case of a spill. Those decisions are expected within the next month or so.</p> <p>A spokesperson for Shell told the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/us/white-house-gives-conditional-approval-for-shell-to-drill-in-arctic.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank"><em>New York Times</em></a>: "Before operations can begin this summer, it's imperative that the remainder of our permits be practical, and delivered in a timely manner. In the meantime, we will continue to test and prepare our contractors, assets and contingency plans against the high bar stakeholders and regulators expect of an Arctic operator."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Top Stories Infrastructure Mon, 11 May 2015 19:31:08 +0000 Tim McDonnell 275066 at http://www.motherjones.com After a Mother Jones Investigation, Starbucks Says It Will Stop Bottling Water in California http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/after-mother-jones-investigation-starbucks-says-it-will-stop-bottling-water-cali <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On the heels of a <em>Mother Jones</em> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/04/starbucks-making-bank-californias-disappearing-water" target="_blank">investigation</a> last week that found that Starbucks sources its bottled water from a spring in the heart of <a href="http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA" target="_blank">California's drought country</a>, Starbucks <a href="https://news.starbucks.com/news/starbucks-finds-a-new-source-for-ethos-water-outside-california?hootPostID=0ab1a5fa4db91917a865f6c4fab036f9" target="_blank">announced yesterday that it will phase out use of its California bottling plant for Ethos Water</a> over the next six months. Because of "the serious drought conditions" in California, the company will transition to its Pennsylvania supplier while looking for another source to cover the western United States, Starbucks officials said in a press release.</p> <p>The California counties from which Starbucks sources and bottles Ethos have been in a drought emergency for years now. Placer County, where Ethos' spring water is drawn, was already <a href="http://www.placer.ca.gov/news/2012/september/drought" target="_blank">declared a natural disaster area by the USDA because of the drought back in 2012</a>. <a href="http://placercountyonline.com/2014/latest-drought-information-updates-important-meetings/" target="_blank"> Reports from more than a year ago</a> noted that the county was already scrambling to deal with the area's "extreme drought." Merced county, where the bottling facility is located, <a href="http://www.co.merced.ca.us/BoardAgenda/2015/20150421Board/AS200515/AS200522/AI200578/DO200273/all_pages.pdf" target="_blank">declared a local emergency due to drought more than a year ago, as "extremely dry conditions have persisted since 2012."</a></p> <p>Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania county to which Starbucks is now shifting its entire national production of Ethos Water is itself facing drought conditions. While not as catastrophic as California's historic water emergency, Luzerne County, where Starbucks' east coast supplier sources and bottles Ethos, was <a href="http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152555787/" target="_blank">declared to be under Drought Watch by Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection back in March</a>. DEP issued the declaration after below-normal rainfall over the past year has led to low groundwater levels in the region, which the agency noted has the potential to cause well-fed water supplies to go dry. The state is asking local residents to voluntarily reduce water consumption and to "<a href="http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/newsroom/14287?id=20710&amp;typeid=1" target="_blank">run water only when absolutely necessary.</a>" DEP has put large water users on notice to plan for possible reductions in water supplies.</p> <p>Nevertheless, Ethos' Pennsylvania bottler, Nature's Way Purewater, which bottles a number of other brands at its facility, <a href="http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/nature-s-way-looks-to-double-volume-names-new-coo-1.1812702" target="_blank">announced in January that it planned to double production going forward</a>.</p> <p><em>This article was reported in partnership with the <a href="http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/" target="_blank">Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute</a>, with support from the <a href="http://www.puffinfoundation.org/" target="_blank">Puffin Foundation</a>.</em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Corporations Food and Ag Top Stories Fri, 08 May 2015 18:49:50 +0000 Anna Lenzer 274961 at http://www.motherjones.com These Scientists Just Lost Their Lives in the Arctic. They Were Heroes. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/two-climate-scientists-just-gave-their-lives-their-research <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Early last month, veteran polar explorers and scientists Marc Cornelissen and Philip de Roo set out on skis from Resolute Bay, a remote outpost in the patchwork of islands between Canada and Greenland. Their destination was Bathurst Island, a treacherous 70-mile trek to the northwest across the frozen sea, where they planned to document thinning Arctic sea ice just a few months after NASA reported that the winter ice cover was the <a href="http://climate.nasa.gov/news/2256/" target="_blank">lowest on record</a>.</p> <p>It wasn't hard to find what they were looking for, according to a <a href="https://soundcloud.com/expeditionreports/cold-facts-expedition-update-20150428" target="_blank">dispatch</a> Cornelissen uploaded to Soundcloud on April 28.</p> <p>"We're nearing into the coast of Bathurst," he said. "We think we see thin ice in front of us&hellip;Within 15 minutes of skiing it became really warm. In the end it was me skiing in my underwear&hellip;I don't think it looked very nice, and it didn't feel sexy either, but it was the only way to deal with the heat."</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/202916376&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>His next message, a day later, was an emergency distress signal picked up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/vital-signs/2015/may/01/deaths-arctic-researchers-ice-climate-change-cornelissen" target="_blank">According to the <em>Guardian</em></a>, a pilot flying over the spot reported seeing open water, scattered equipment, and a lone sled dog sitting on the broken ice. By last Friday, rescuers had called off the search. The pair are presumed to have drowned, victims of the same thin ice they had come to study. Cornelissen was 46; de Roo had just turned 30.</p> <p>Yesterday, <a href="http://www.coldfacts.org/" target="_blank">Cold Facts</a>, the nonprofit with whom the pair was working at the time, dispatched a snowmobile expedition to attempt to recover their belongings. You can follow their progress on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/coldfactsorg" target="_blank">here</a>. The dog, Kimnik, was found a few days ago and is doing fine, the group <a href="https://twitter.com/coldfactsorg/status/594615704554479616" target="_blank">said</a>.</p> <p>In a <a href="http://blogs.esa.int/campaignearth/2015/05/04/in-memoriam-marc-cornelissen-and-philip-de-roo/" target="_blank">blog post</a> on the website of the European Space Agency, Cornelissen was remembered by former colleagues as "an inspirational character, an explorer and a romantic. He had fallen in love with the spellbinding beauty of the poles and had made it a personal mission to highlight the magnitude of the human fingerprint on this last wilderness."</p> <p>It's not clear whether the ice conditions the pair encountered were directly attributable to climate change, according to <a href="http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060018063" target="_blank"><em>E&amp;E News</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>That the region had thin ice is evident. Perhaps the ice had been thinned by ocean currents that deliver warm water from below, or by the wind, which could generate open water areas. It is difficult to know. Climate change may have played a role, or it may not have&hellip;the impacts of the warming on ice thickness regionally can be unpredictable, [ESA scientist Mark] Drinkwater said.</p> </blockquote> <p>Still, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth. We rely on the work of scientists like these to know exactly what is happening there and how it will affect those of us who choose to stay safe in warmer, drier places. Their deaths are a testament to the dedication and fearlessness required to stand on the front lines of climate change.</p> <p>Rest in peace, guys.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Science Top Stories Thu, 07 May 2015 19:14:27 +0000 Tim McDonnell 274906 at http://www.motherjones.com The World's Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit a Staggering New Milestone http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/carbon-dioxide-global-concentrations <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The monthly global average concentration of carbon dioxide just broke 400 parts per million for the first time since record-keeping of greenhouse gas levels began.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CLIMATE?src=hash">#CLIMATE</a> NEWS: Global <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CO2?src=hash">#CO2</a> concentrations surpass 400 ppm for 1st month since records began <a href="http://t.co/7OnX817g3K">http://t.co/7OnX817g3K</a> <a href="http://t.co/bzDUqflYUC">pic.twitter.com/bzDUqflYUC</a></p> &mdash; NOAA (@NOAA) <a href="https://twitter.com/NOAA/status/595979681205194753">May 6, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>The milestone, reached last month, was announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday.</p> <p>"It was only a matter of time that we would average 400 parts per million globally," said NOAA scientist <a href="http://research.noaa.gov/News/NewsArchive/LatestNews/TabId/684/ArtMID/1768/ArticleID/11153/Greenhouse-gas-benchmark-reached-.aspx" target="_blank">Pieter Tans in a press release</a>. "We first reported 400 ppm when all of our Arctic sites reached that value in the spring of 2012. In 2013 the record at NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory first crossed the 400 ppm threshold. Reaching 400 parts per million as a global average is a significant milestone."</p> <p>Crossing the 400 ppm threshold is equal parts disheartening and alarming. Less than a decade ago scientists and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2008/11/most-important-number-earth" target="_blank">environmental activists,</a> including Bill McKibben, launched a campaign to convince policy makers that global CO2 concentrations needed to be reduced to 350 ppm in order to avoid massive impacts from global warming. McKibben, who co-founded the group 350.org, explained the significance of that figure in a 2008 <em>Mother Jones</em> article entitled <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2008/11/most-important-number-earth" target="_blank">"The Most Important Number on Earth"</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>And so we're now in the land of tipping points. We know that we've passed some of them&mdash;Arctic sea ice is melting, and so is the permafrost that guards those carbon stores. But the logic of Hansen's paper was clear. Above 350, we are at constant risk of crossing other, even worse, thresholds, the ones that govern the reliability of monsoons, the availability of water from alpine glaciers, the acidification of the ocean, and, perhaps most spectacularly, the very level of the seas.</p> <p>[&hellip;]</p> <p>It's not clear if a vocal world citizenry will be enough to beat inertia and vested interest. If 350 emerges as the clear bar for success or failure, then the odds of the international community taking effective action increase, though the odds are still long. Still, these are the lines it is our turn to speak. To be human in 2008 is to rise in defense of the planet we have known and the civilization it has spawned.</p> </blockquote> <p>We're now at 400.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Top Stories Wed, 06 May 2015 19:17:33 +0000 Inae Oh 274846 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Administration Gives Rail Companies Three Years to Fix Their Most Explosive Oil Cars http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/transportation-department-releases-new-rules-oil-trains <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Trains hauling crude oil have <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/choo-choo-boom-boom" target="_blank">continued</a> to explode across the United States and Canada this year as oil production booms in North Dakota and Alberta. <a href="http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/15/derailments/index.html" target="_blank">Nearly two dozen</a> oil trains have derailed in the past two years, many causing fiery explosions and oil spills. <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/237013-dems-intensify-fight-for-oil-train-regulations" target="_blank">Lawmakers</a>, <a href="http://www.onearth.org/earthwire/oil-train-derailments" target="_blank">environmentalists</a>, and <a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/10/24/-bomb-trains-carryhighlyexplosivecrudeoilthroughneighborhoods.html" target="_blank">communities</a> in the path of these trains have ramped up pressure on the Obama administration to toughen what they see as lax safety regulations at the heart of the problem.</p> <p>Finally, some new regulations. This morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stood next to Lisa Raitt, Canada's transportation minister, to <a href="http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/final-rule-on-safe-rail-transport-of-flammable-liquids" target="_blank">announce</a> coordinated rules across both countries aimed at making the industry safer by catching up to surging crude-by-oil shipments, which increased 4,000 percent from 2008 to 2014.</p> <p>According to the <a href="http://www.dot.gov/mission/safety/rail-rule-summary" target="_blank">new rules</a>, older tank cars will have to be replaced or retrofitted with new "protective shells" and insulation to prevent puncture (and potential explosion) after derailment. New tank car construction will have to comply with these standards, too.</p> <p>Oil trains will also be required to install enhanced "electronically controlled pneumatic" [ECP] braking, which allows for more control over the train when required to stop suddenly, and they will be limited to to speeds of 50 mph, and 40 mph in urban areas. <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/west-virginia-oil-train-that-derailed-was-traveling-under-speed-limit-1424379645" target="_blank">Many</a> <a href="http://qctimes.com/news/local/galena-train-derailment-recovery-nearly-complete/article_cfb80f04-c63f-11e4-906c-8fc85743afa0.html" target="_blank">recent</a> train derailments and explosions have occurred at speeds far below those, however.</p> <p>And lastly, train companies will now be required to minimize the chances of explosions and oil spills happening near towns and environmentally sensitive areas by assessing route options and rail conditions more closely. Once the routes are made, companies will need to tell local and state officials along the train's pathway.</p> <p>Transportation Secretary Foxx described the rules as, "a significant improvement over the current regulations and requirements and will make transporting flammable liquids safer."</p> <p>But the new rules have already drawn criticism from regulation proponents and industry players alike. The American Railroad Association believes the new braking technology is unnecessary. "The DOT has no substantial evidence to support a safety justification for mandating ECP brakes, which will not prevent accidents," said Edward R. Hamberger, AAR president and CEO said <a href="https://www.aar.org/newsandevents/Press-Releases/Pages/New-US-Rules-Governing-Flammable-Liquids-Moved-by-Rail-Enact-Misguided-Braking-Requirement-That-Threatens-Rail-Capacity.aspx" target="_blank">in a statement</a>. "This is an imprudent decision made without supporting data or analysis."</p> <p>But Senator Maria Cantwell, D-WA, who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/26/exploding-oil-train-legislation_n_6951284.html" target="_blank">introduced</a> legislation in March to toughen crude-by rail standards, said they didn't go far enough. "The new DOT rule is just like saying let the oil trains roll," she <a href="http://www.cantwell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=e42ff0d8-1d22-4193-927b-01a0bd61479d" target="_blank">said</a>. "It does nothing to address explosive volatility, very little to reduce the threat of rail car punctures, and is too slow on the removal of the most dangerous cars."</p> <p>Indeed, rail companies will have several years to bring their fleets up to scratch. The now-infamous DOT-111 oil tankers, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/oil-tank-trains-bakken-crude-accidents" target="_blank">involved</a> in nearly half of oil train explosions since 2013, must be fixed within three years. And the so-called "unjacketed" CPC-1232 cars, which are newer but don't have protective shells (and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/choo-choo-boom-boom" target="_blank">have also</a> been involved in explosions) will still be in network for up to five years.</p> <p>That amount of time is too long too wait given the potential dangers, said Anthony Swift, a deputy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We can only hope the federal government revisits the broader issue of crude oil unit trains before it's too late."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk Energy Foreign Policy Infrastructure Fri, 01 May 2015 19:53:50 +0000 Luke Whelan 274651 at http://www.motherjones.com We're in the Process of Decimating 1 in 6 Species on Earth http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/1-6-species-could-be-killed-climate-change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Plants and animals around the world are already suffering from the negative impacts of manmade global warming&mdash;including shrinking habitats and the spread of disease. A great number are also facing the ultimate demise&mdash;outright extinction&mdash;among them the <a href="http://nautil.us/issue/14/mutation/a-strange-new-gene-pool-of-animals-is-brewing-in-the-arctic" target="_blank">iconic polar bear</a>, some fish species, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/cayman-islands-coral-reefs-dead" target="_blank">coral</a>, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/03/bark-pine-beetles-climate-change-diana-six" target="_blank">trees</a>... the list goes on.</p> <p>While most of the research on this topic so far has been piecemeal, one species at a time, a new <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/10.1126/science.aaa4984" target="_blank">study</a> out today in <em>Science</em> offers the most comprehensive view to date of the future of extinction. The outlook is pretty grim.</p> <p>The research, conducted by evolutionary biologist Mark Urban of the University of Connecticut, analyzes 131 other scientific papers for clues about how climate change is affecting the overall rate of species extinction. The result is alarming: One out of every six species could face extinction if global warming continues on its current path. The picture is less dire if we manage to curb climate change, dropping to only 5.2 percent of species if warming is kept within the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/02/un-climate-change-pessimism" target="_blank">internationally-agreed upon target</a> of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.</p> <p>The analysis makes clear that the climate change threat isn't necessarily a separate issue from things like habitat loss and disease; indeed, it's often climate change that is the driving force behind those impacts. The risk appears to be spread evenly across all types of plants and animals (i.e., trees, amphibians, mammals, etc.), but is more severe in geographic ares where there are more unique species and exposure to climate impacts.</p> <p>South America takes the lead, with up to 23 percent of its species threatened. One classic case study there is the golden toad, a native of mountaintop rain forests that was last seen in 1989. The toad was driven to extinction in part due to an epidemic of <em>chytrid</em> fungus (which is <a href="http://www.amphibianark.org/the-crisis/chytrid-fungus/" target="_blank">wiping out amphibians worldwide</a>), and because climate change-related drought is destroying the forests they called home. Australia and New Zealand also ranked highly at risk, with up to 14 percent:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/extinction-map.jpg"><div class="caption">Urban, Science 2015</div> </div> <p>Urban's paper offers perhaps the most comprehensive scientific companion to a terrifying narrative made popular last year in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/kolbert-pulitzer-prize-osnos-gonnerman-finalists" target="_blank">"The Sixth Extinction</a>," by Elizabeth Kolbert. The <em>New Yorker</em> journalist argued that when you look at the combined toll that pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change is taking on the planet's biodiversity, humans are driving extinction on a scale only preceded in the geologic record by cataclysmic natural disasters (like the meteor that likely brought about the demise of the dinosaurs). Never before has one species been responsible for the demise of so many others. (Check out our interview with Kolbert <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/01/interview-elizabeth-kolbert-new-yorker-sixth-extinction" target="_blank">here</a>).</p> <p>Still, Urban's study makes clear that many species that avoid extinction still face grave threats from climate change:</p> <p>"Extinction risks are likely much smaller than the total number of species influenced by climate change," Urban writes. "Even species not threatened directly by extinction could experience substantial changes in abundances, distributions, and species interactions, which in turn could affect ecosystems and their services to humans."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Climate Change Climate Desk Science Thu, 30 Apr 2015 19:10:33 +0000 Tim McDonnell 274566 at http://www.motherjones.com The 10 American Cities With the Dirtiest Air http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/state-air <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Nearly 44 percent of Americans live in areas with dangerous levels of ozone or particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association's annual <a href="http://www.stateoftheair.org/" target="_blank">"State of the Air" report</a>, published yesterday.</p> <p>The good news is that's actually an improvement over last year's report, which showed that 47 percent of the population lived in these highly polluted places. Overall, the air has been getting cleaner since Congress enacted stricter regulations in the 1970s, and the American Lung Association report, which looked at data from 2011 through 2013, showed a continuing drop in the air emissions that create the six most widespread pollutants.</p> <p>But don't pat yourself on the back just yet. Many cities experienced a record number of days with high levels of particle pollution, a mixture of solid and liquid droplets in the air that have been linked to serious health problems. Short-term particle pollution was especially bad in the West, in part due to the drought and heat, which may have increased the dust, grass fires and wildfires. Six cities&mdash;San Francisco; Phoenix; Visalia, California; Reno, Nevada.; Yakima, Washington; and Fairbanks, Alaska&mdash;recorded their highest weighted average number of unhealthy particle pollution days since the American Lung Association started covering this metric in 2004.</p> <p>Los Angeles held its rank as the metropolitan area with the worst ozone pollution, even as it saw its best three-year period since the first report 16 years ago: the city experienced a one-third reduction in its average number of unhealthy ozone days since the late 1990s.</p> <p>Meanwhile, states on the east coast showed the most headway in cleaning up their air, with major drops in year-round particle pollution. The American Lung Association attributed the improvement to a push for cleaner diesel fleets and cleaner fuels in power plants.</p> <p>"The progress is exactly what we want to see, but to see some areas having some of their worst episodes was unusual," said Janice Nolen, an air pollution expert with the association, referring to the record-breaking days of short-term particle pollution.</p> <p>Data is missing for some of the dirtiest cities in the Midwest, including Chicago and St. Louis, due in part to problems at data labs in Illinois and Tennessee. Similar problems in Georgia also prevented researchers from assessing changes in Atlanta, another city notorious for air pollution.</p> <p>Outdoor air pollution has been linked to about <a href="http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/" target="_blank">3.7 million premature deaths worldwide</a>, by causing or exacerbating lung cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease, acute lower respiratory infections, ischaemic heart disease, and strokes. And unfortunately, it seems <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/04/air-pollution-racial-disparities" target="_blank">people of color and with low incomes</a> are often exposed to the dirtiest air.</p> <p>Using data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the American Lung Association ranked cities around the country in terms of their year-round particle pollution, or the annual average level of fine particles in the air. These fine particles can come from many sources, including power plants, wildfires, and vehicle emissions, and breathing them in over such long periods of time have been linked to lung damage, increased hospitalizations for asthma attacks, increased risk for lower birth weight and infant mortality, and increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.</p> <p><strong>Here are the 10 cities with the lowest levels of year-round particle pollution:</strong></p> <p>1. Prescott, Arizona</p> <p>2. Farmington, New Mexico</p> <p>3. Casper, Wyoming</p> <p>3. Cheyenne, Wyoming</p> <p>5. Flagstaff, Arizona</p> <p>6. Duluth, Minnesota-Wisconsin</p> <p>6. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida</p> <p>6. Salinas, California</p> <p>10. Anchorage, Alaska</p> <p>10. Bismarck, North Dakota</p> <p>10. Rapid City-Spearfish, South Dakota</p> <p><strong>And the cities with the most year-round particle pollution:</strong></p> <p>1. Fresno-Madera, California</p> <p>2. Bakersfield, California</p> <p>3. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, California<a href="#correction">*</a> </p> <p>4. Modesto-Merced, California</p> <p>5. Los Angeles-Long Beach, California</p> <p>6. El Centro, California</p> <p>7. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California</p> <p>8. Cincinnati; Wilmington, Kentucky; Maysville, Indiana</p> <p>9. Pittsburgh; New Castle, Ohio; Weirton, West Virginia</p> <p>10. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio</p> <p>To see city rankings for short-term particle pollution and ozone pollution, check out the <a href="http://www.stateoftheair.org/" target="_blank">report</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p id="correction"><em>Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the state in which Visalia, Porterville, and Hanford are located.</em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Thu, 30 Apr 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Samantha Michaels 274506 at http://www.motherjones.com Chipotle Says It's Getting Rid of GMOs. Here's the Problem. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/chipotle-gmos-anti-science <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Chipotle announced this week that it will stop serving food made with genetically modified organisms. The company <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/27/business/chipotle-to-stop-serving-genetically-altered-food.html?_r=0" target="_blank">wants you to think</a> the decision is "another step toward the visions we have of changing the way people think about and eat fast food," apparently because GMOs are regarded with at best suspicion and at worst total revulsion by lots of Americans.</p> <p>There's data to support that notion: A Pew poll released earlier this year found that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/01/chart-shows-how-science-public" target="_blank">less than 40 percent</a> of Americans think GMOs are safe to eat.</p> <p>Here's the thing, though: GMOs are totally safe to eat. Eighty-eight percent of the scientists in that same poll agreed. As longtime environmentalist Mark Lynas pointed out in the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/25/opinion/sunday/how-i-got-converted-to-gmo-food.html" target="_blank"><em>New York Times</em></a> recently, the level of scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs is comparable to the scientific consensus on climate change, which is to say that the disagreement camp is a rapidly diminishing minority. Lynas also made the equally valid point that so-called "improved" seeds have a pretty remarkable track record in improving crop yields in developing countries, which translates to a direct win for local economies and food security. (Although there is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/03/bittman-right-its-not-gmos-its-how-theyre-used" target="_blank">evidence</a> that widespread GMO use can lead to an increased reliance on pesticides.)</p> <p>But there's an even more important reason why Chipotle's announcement is little more than self-congratulatory PR, even if you think that GMOs are the devil. As former <em>MoJo</em>-er Sarah Zhang <a href="http://gizmodo.com/chipotles-anti-gmo-stance-is-some-pandering-bullshit-1700437048?utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_twitter&amp;utm_source=gizmodo_twitter&amp;utm_medium=socialflow" target="_blank">pointed out at <em>Gizmodo</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>For the past couple of years, Chipotle has been getting its suppliers to get rid of GM corn and soybean. Today&rsquo;s "GMO-free" announcement comes as Chipotle has switched over to non-GMO corn and soybean oil, but it <em>still </em>serves chicken and pork from animals raised on GMO feed. (Its beef comes from pasture-fed cows.) A good chunk of the GM corn and soybeans grown in America actually goes to feed livestock, so a truly principled stance against GMOs should cut out meat from GM-fed animals, too.</p> </blockquote> <p>The same caveat applies to soda, which is also made mostly from corn.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Food and Ag Tech Tue, 28 Apr 2015 20:08:40 +0000 Tim McDonnell 274441 at http://www.motherjones.com This Stat Will Make Deforestation Hit Home http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/stat-about-forests-will-make-you-sad <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Okay, so <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/11/watch-mapping-deforestation-google-earth" target="_blank">deforestation</a> is sad, and it's Arbor Day so we should be extra sad about it. But there are <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/04/organic-standards-animal-welfare" target="_blank">so</a> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/03/arctic-sea-ice-maximum-extent" target="_blank">many</a> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/04/everything-you-wanted-know-about-california-drought" target="_blank">things</a> to be sad about, right? Well maybe this stat, from <a href="http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/2/e1500052.figures-only" target="_blank">a study</a> that came out last month, will make the loss of the world's forests sink in for you:</p> <blockquote> <p>More than 70 percent of the worlds's forests are within 1 kilometer of a forest edge. Thus, most forests are well within the range where human activities, altered microclimate and nonforest species may influence and degrade forest ecosystems.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's right, we've arrived at the point where the majority of the forest in the world is just a short walk from the stuff humans have built. If you need that in graph form, here you go:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <p class="rteindent4"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/grafarbor.jpg" style="float: right;"></p> <div class="caption">Science Advances</div> </div> <p>According to the study, which was published in the journal <em>Science Advances</em>, the largest remaining contiguous forests are in the Amazon and the Congo River Basin. The study also synthesized past forest fragmentation research and found that breaking up habitats to this degree has reduced biodiversity by as much as 75 percent in some areas.</p> <p>Happy Arbor Day&hellip;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Science Rainforests Fri, 24 Apr 2015 20:33:20 +0000 Luke Whelan 274186 at http://www.motherjones.com This Is Why You Crave Sugar When You're Stressed Out http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/sugar-overconsumption-stress <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's something that won't come as a surprise to anyone who has ever devoured a pint of Rocky Road after a miserable day at work: Researchers at the University of California-Davis recently found that 80 percent of people report eating more sweets when they are stressed. Their <a href="http://press.endocrine.org/doi/pdf/10.1210/jc.2014-4353" target="_blank">new study</a>, published in the the <em>Journal of Clinical Endocrinology &amp; Metabolism</em>, offers a possible explanation.</p> <p>Sugar, the researchers found, can diminish physiological responses normally produced in the brain and body during stressful situations. With <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/stress-levels-soar-america-30-30-years-article-1.1096918" target="_blank">stress levels on the rise</a>, this could explain why more people are reaching for sweets.</p> <p>The three-phase study involved 19 women, ages 18 to 40, who spent three days on a low-sugar diet at the research facility. Saliva samples and MRIs were taken and stress was induced through timed math tests. After being discharged, over the course of 12 days, the women consumed sweetened drinks three times a day. Half had beverages sweetened with the artificial sweetener aspartame, while the rest had drinks sweetened with real sucrose. This phase was followed by an additional three-day stint at the facility during which MRIs and saliva samples were taken again.</p> <p>After the 12-day period, the group that had sucrose-sweetened beverages showed higher activity in the left hippocampus (an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory that is <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19317179" target="_blank">sensitive to chronic stress</a>) and significantly reduced levels of cortisol (the hormone released in response to stress) compared to those who had artificially sweetened beverages.</p> <p>While this study was one of the first to show that sugar can reduce stress responses in humans, it followed up on previous studies that found similar conclusions in animal subjects. The researchers noted the need for future research&mdash;especially on whether long-term sugar consumption has the same effect.</p> <p>"The concern is psychological or emotional stress could trigger the habitual overconsumption of sugar," lead author Kevin D. Laugero <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150416132015.htm" target="_blank">told</a> <em>Science Daily. </em>Not exactly great news for those of us who enjoy <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Eat-Your-Feelings-Recipes-Self-Loathing/dp/0452296587" target="_blank">eating our feelings</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Top Stories Sugar Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:00:10 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 273876 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Just Called Out Florida's Climate Deniers in Their Own Backyard http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/happy-earth-day-obama-just-called-out-climate-deniers-so-hard <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>President Barack Obama just marked Earth Day with a speech on climate change, given from a podium in Florida's Everglades National Park. The choice of venue was appropriate from an environmental perspective&mdash;the Everglades is <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/04/obama_s_earth_day_speech_the_everglades_is_losing_to_climate_change.html" target="_blank">already acutely feeling the impacts of sea level rise</a>&mdash;but it was also telling from a political standpoint. Although our swampiest national park has a <a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/04/obama-everglades-trip-117219.html#.VTfJuxfjJW0" target="_blank">long history of bipartisan support</a>, it's located in a state that has recently produced some of the most absurdist climate denial in recent memory&mdash;and Obama didn't forget to mention it.</p> <p>Florida is home not just to Sen. Marco Rubio, a GOP presidential contender who <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/marco-rubio-president-climate-change" target="_blank">maintains that humans can't affect the climate</a>, but also to Gov. Rick Scott, who landed in headlines last month after <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/florida-climate-change" target="_blank">apparently barring state employees</a> from talking about climate change.</p> <p>"Climate change can no longer be denied," Obama said today. "It can't be edited out. It can't be omitted from the conversation&hellip;Simply refusing to say the words 'climate change' doesn't mean climate change isn't happening."</p> <p>Obama also took a jab at Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) for <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/02/inhofe-snowball-climate-change" target="_blank">bringing a snowball</a> onto the Senate floor. "If you have a coming storm, you don't stick your head in the sand," he said. "You prepare for the storm."</p> <p>You can watch the full speech below (starts at 48:00):</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fW-ApJg7p90" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Obama Science Top Stories Wed, 22 Apr 2015 20:05:44 +0000 Tim McDonnell 274081 at http://www.motherjones.com Scott Walker Celebrates Earth Day by Proposing To Fire 57 Environmental Agency Employees http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/scott-walker-happy-earth-day-youre-fired <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Happy Earth Day! Today is a day we can all band together and share our love for this beautiful planet&mdash;or at least drown our sorrows about climate change with <a href="http://grist.org/living/3-delicious-cocktails-to-help-you-drink-away-earth-day/" target="_blank">nerdy themed cocktails</a>. Later today, President Barack Obama will mark the occasion with a <a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/04/obama-everglades-trip-117219.html#.VTfJuxfjJW0" target="_blank">climate-focused speech</a> in the Florida Everglades. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, had a different idea: Fire a big chunk of the state's environmental staff.</p> <p>From the <a href="http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/fifty-seven-dnr-staff-receive-layoff-notices-b99486014z1-300927681.html" target="_blank"><em>Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Fifty-seven employees of the state Department of Natural Resources began receiving formal notices this week that they might face layoff as part of Gov. Scott Walker's budget for the next two fiscal years&hellip;</p> <p>The DNR's scientific staff conducts research on matters ranging from estimating the size of the state's deer herd to to studying the effects of aquatic invasive species. Work is paid for with state and federal funds&hellip;</p> <p>All told, Walker's budget would cut 66 positions from the DNR. Of this, more than 25% would come from the science group. Cosh said a smaller number of employees received notices than the 66 positions in the budget because some positions targeted for cuts are vacant.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's no secret that a signature tactic in <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/03/scott-walker-environment-climate-change-2016" target="_blank">Walker's controversial environmental record</a> has been to degrade the DNR, which in addition to carrying out research is tasked with regulating the state's mining industries. Still, the timing of this particular announcement is striking. I guess no one marked Earth Day on Walker's calendar.</p> <p>Neither Walker's office nor DNR immediately returned requests for comment.</p> <p>As consolation for this depressing news, here's is a <a href="http://zoo.sandiegozoo.org/cams/panda-cam" target="_blank">webcam of pandas</a> at the San Diego Zoo.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Scott Walker Top Stories Wed, 22 Apr 2015 17:48:21 +0000 Tim McDonnell 274051 at http://www.motherjones.com How Californians Screwed Drought-Plagued California http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/prop-218-ballot-measure-california-drought <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Solving California's water crisis got a lot harder on Monday when a state appeals court <a href="http://www.mercurynews.com/drought/ci_27954116/california-drought-court-rules-tiered-water-rates-violate" target="_blank">struck down</a> steeply tiered water rates in the city of San Juan Capistrano. Like many other California cities, this affluent Orange County town encourages conservation by charging customers who use small amounts of water a lower rate per gallon than customers who use larger amounts. The court ruled that the practice conflicts with Proposition 218, a ballot measure that, among other things, bars governments from charging more for a service than it costs to provide it.</p> <p>The drought isn't the only way Prop. 218 is hamstringing California cities. Early last year, San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency announced a controversial pilot program that would allow Google buses and other tech shuttles to use public bus stops for <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Google-bus-backlash-S-F-to-impose-fees-on-tech-5163759.php" target="_blank">$1 a stop</a>. Activists, who saw the shuttles as symbols of inequality and out-of-control gentrification, wanted the agency to charge Google much more than that and use the profits to subsidize the city's chronically underfunded public transit system. But MTA officials <a href="http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2014/01/07/why-muni-won%E2%80%99t-earn-dime-tech-buses" target="_blank">argued that their hands were tied</a>: Prop. 218 <a href="http://www.thebolditalic.com/articles/4228-breaking-it-down-the-google-bus" target="_blank">prevented</a> them from charging more than the estimated $1.5 million cost of administering the program.</p> <p>Prop. 218, the "Right to Vote on Taxes Act," was a constitutional amendment drafted in 1996 by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the group that led the tax revolt that swept California in the 1970s and eventually helped elect President Ronald Reagan. After 1978, when the group's signature initiative, Prop. 13, began severely limiting property tax increases, cities and counties moved to plug their budgetary holes with other types of taxes and fees. Prop 218 was designed to constrain those workarounds by requiring that any new tax be approved by voters or affected property owners. For the purposes of the act, taxes included any fees from which a government derived a profit.</p> <p>Prop. 218 has been widely criticized for making it harder for cities to raise revenues, but the recent cases with water rates and tech shuttles point to another issue: the way the initiative prevents state and local governments from addressing urgent social and environmental problems. It's worth remembering that withdrawing water from California's dwindling reservoirs to feed verdant lawns is in itself a tax of sorts, and Mother Nature may not wait until the next election to revoke our ability to levy it.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Tech Top Stories taxes Wed, 22 Apr 2015 16:25:14 +0000 Josh Harkinson 274011 at http://www.motherjones.com 17 Everyday Items That Use a Whole Lot of Water http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/blue-jeans-cars-microchips-water-use <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>If you live in the West, particularly in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered a 25 percent mandatory reduction in household water use, you may have started taking shorter showers. Perhaps a spiky array of cacti now dwells where your lawn used to be. Maybe you've even stopped <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/wheres-californias-water-going" target="_blank">drinking almond milk.</a></p> <p>But even those of us who don't live in California are thinking more about how much water our lifestyles require&mdash;after all, much of the country is now <a href="http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/" target="_blank">in drought</a>, and climate models project that dry spells will become <a href="http://www.climatehotmap.org/global-warming-effects/drought.html" target="_blank">more and more common</a> all over the world in the years to come. A few years back, we crunched the numbers on the water footprints of a few common items:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Water_use_cards_IVY-01.png"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Water_use_cards_IVY-02.png"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Water_use_cards_IVY-03.png"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Water_use_cards_IVY-04.png"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Water_use_cards_IVY-05.png"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Water_use_cards-06.png"></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Water_use_cards_IVY-07.png"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Water_use_cards_IVY-08.png"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Water_use_cards_IVY-09.png"></div> <p><em>Icon credits (via Noun Project): Microchip&mdash;Rabee Balakrishnan; Apple&mdash;Ava Rowell; Beer&mdash;Fabian Sanabria; Wine&mdash;Philippe Berthelon Bravo; Can&mdash;Blaise Sewell; Coffee&mdash;Okan Benn; OJ&mdash;Blaise Sewell; Diaper&mdash;Isabel Foo; Chicken&mdash;Ana Maria Lora Macias; Cheese&mdash;Elliott Snyder; Hamburger&mdash;Pei Wen (Winnie) Kwang; T-shirt&mdash;Sergi Delgado; Paper&mdash;Evan Udelsman; Beef&mdash;Jon Testa; Jeans&mdash;Pranav Mote;</em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Charts Food and Ag Top Stories drought Tue, 21 Apr 2015 10:45:07 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 273936 at http://www.motherjones.com McDonald's Franchisees: "We Will Continue to Fall and Fail" http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/mcdonalds-franchises-arent-happy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>McDonald's opened its <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/04/fast-food-is-bad-but-mcdonalds-hot-mustard-sauce-is-so-good" target="_blank">first franchise</a> in Des Plaines, Ill., 60 years ago today, but its franchisees aren't exactly celebrating.</p> <p>"The future looks very bleak. I'm selling my McDonald's stock," one operator wrote in response to a recent survey of McDonald's franchises across the country, <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/mcdonalds-franchisees-are-furious-2015-4" target="_blank">as quoted by <em>Business Insider</em></a>. "The morale of franchisees is at its lowest level ever."</p> <p>"McDonalds' system is broken," another wrote, <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/mcdonalds-franchisees-are-not-happy-2015-04-15" target="_blank">according to <em>MarketWatch</em></a>. "We will continue to fall and fail."</p> <p>Is the fast-food giant having a mid-life crisis?</p> <p>McDonald's has some 3,000 franchises in the United States, and 32 of them&mdash;representing 215 restaurants&mdash;took part in the latest survey by Wall Street analyst <a href="http://www.janney.com/institutions--corporations/equity-research/our-team/mark-kalinowski" target="_blank">Mark Kalinowski </a>of Janney Capital Markets. Many of them complained about poor business this year and blamed corporate executives. When asked to assess their six-month business outlook on a scale of 1 to 5, they responded grimly with an average of 1.81. Maybe that's because, according to the survey, same-store sales for franchises declined 3.7 percent in March and <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/mcdonalds-u-s-same-store-sales-fall-4-in-february-1425903434" target="_blank">4 percent</a> in February.</p> <p>Only three of the 32 franchisees said they had a "good" relationship with their franchisor, while about half described their relationship as "poor." The average score for this question was 1.48 out of 5, the lowest score since Kalinowski first started surveying the franchisees more than a decade ago.</p> <p><span id="articleText"><a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/15/us-mcdonalds-idUSKBN0N625Z20150415" target="_blank">Reuters reported</a> that a McDonald's spokesperson responded to the survey by noting the poll size and saying that the company appreciates feedback from franchisees and has a "solid working relationship with them." </span></p> <p>Last month, McDonald's executives invited franchisees to a <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=7&amp;ved=0CEIQFjAG&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fstory%2Fmoney%2F2015%2F03%2F09%2Fmcdonalds-fast-food-restaurants-monthly-sales%2F24643027%2F&amp;ei=9tUuVYCCBZL8yQTcy4DgCg&amp;usg=AFQjCNH42o44g3sKBWw7zuAOQ_JUc6eZlg&amp;sig2=XY-Aat713AlTMEqSgDvqLg&amp;bvm=bv.90790515,d.aWw" target="_blank">"Turnaround Summit" in Las Vegas</a>, to address its US sales decline. But the get-together didn't seem to boost anyone's spirits. "The Turnaround Summit was a farce," one franchisee wrote in the survey, <a href="http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/mcdonald-s-franchisees-turnaround-plan-a-farce/298069/" target="_blank">as quoted by <em>AdAge</em></a>. "McDonald's Corp. has panicked and jumped the shark." Another added, "McDonald's management does not know what we want to be."</p> <p>Some franchise operators slammed McDonalds' <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/mcdonalds-wages-increase-some-employees-credited-rising-economy" target="_blank">decision to raise pay</a> by giving employees at company-owned stores $1 an hour above minimum wage. "We will be expected to do the same," one wrote, <a href="http://nrn.com/franchising/survey-mcdonald-s-franchisee-outlook-worsens" target="_blank">according to <em>Nation's Restaurant News</em></a>. "Watch for $5 Big Macs, etc. and Extra Value Meals in the $8 to $10 range."</p> <p>Next week, McDonald's is set to report its first-quarter earnings.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Wed, 15 Apr 2015 23:11:00 +0000 Samantha Michaels 273726 at http://www.motherjones.com These Popular Clothing Brands Are Cleaning Up Their Chinese Factories http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/new-fashion-trends-apparel-mills-greening-their-supply-chains <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It's well known that the outsourcing of clothing manufacturing to countries with low wages and weak regulations has led to exploitative <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/11/india-garment-factories-sumangali" target="_blank">labor conditions</a>.&nbsp;But many foreign apparel factories also create environmental problems. The industrial processes used to make our jeans and sweatshirts require loads of water, dirty energy, and chemicals, which often get dumped into the rivers and air surrounding factories in developing countries. Almost 20 percent of the world's industrial water pollution comes from the textile industry, and China's textile factories, which produce half of the clothes bought in the United States, emit 3 billion tons of soot a year, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).</p> <p>But a few basic (and often profitable) changes in a factory's manufacturing process can go a long way in cutting down pollution. That's the takeaway from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nrdc.org/international/cleanbydesign/" style="line-height: 2em;" target="_blank">Clean by Design</a>, a new alliance&nbsp;between NRDC,&nbsp;major clothing&nbsp;brands&mdash;including Target, Levi's, Gap, and H&amp;M&mdash;and Chinese textile manufacturing experts.</p> <p>Starting in 2013, 33&nbsp;mills in the cities of Guangzhou and Shaoxing participated in a pilot program that focused on improving efficiency and reducing the environmental impact of producing textiles. The results, <a href="http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/lgreer/banner_day_for_reducing_pollution.html" target="_blank">released</a> in a report today, are impressive.&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="446" src="/files/Screen%20shot%202015-04-13%20at%205.36.54%20PM_0.png" width="414"><div class="caption"><a href="http://www.nrdc.org/international/cleanbydesign/" target="_blank">NRDC</a></div> </div> <p>The 33 mills reduced coal consumption by 61,000 tons and chemical consumption by 400 tons. They&nbsp;saved 36 million kilowatts of electricity and 3 million tons of water (the production of one tee shirt <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/27/cottons-water-footprint-world-wildlife-fund_n_2506076.html" target="_blank">takes</a> about 700 gallons, or 90 pounds, of water). While mills often needed to invest in capital up front, they saw an average of $440,000 in savings per mill&mdash;a total of $14.7 million&mdash;mostly returned to them within a year.</p> <p>How did they accomplish all this? Below are some of the measures that were implemented:</p> <ul><li> <p><strong>Upgrading metering systems</strong> to monitor water, steam, and electricity use (and identify waste)</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Implementing condensation</strong> <strong>collection</strong> during the steam-heavy dying process</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Increasing water reuse </strong>after cooling and rinsing (some clothes get rinsed as many as 8 times; the final rinses often leave behind clean water)</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Investing in equipment for recovering heat</strong> from hot water used for dying and rinsing, and from machines</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Stopping up steam and compressed air leakage </strong>to increase energy efficiency</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Improving insulation </strong>on pipes, boilers, drying cylinders, dye vats, and steam valves to prevent wasted energy</p> </li> </ul></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2015/04/new-fashion-trends-apparel-mills-greening-their-supply-chains"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble China Labor Regulatory Affairs Wed, 15 Apr 2015 10:00:15 +0000 Luke Whelan 273421 at http://www.motherjones.com The FDA Has Some Bad News About Your Kind Bars http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/fda-kind-bars <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Depressing news for all you Kind bar fans: The popular nut and fruit snack, which bills itself as a "healthy and tasty" treat, is actually kind of not healthy at all.</p> <p>According to a<a href="http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm440942.htm" target="_blank"> letter</a> from the Food and Drug Administration to the makers of Kind, the bars "do not meet the requirements for use of the nutrient content claim 'healthy&rsquo; on a food label" under the law.</p> <blockquote> <p>"Your website states, 'There&rsquo;s healthy. There&rsquo;s tasty. Then there&rsquo;s healthy and tasty' and 'all of our snacks are pretty much the nirvana of healthful tastiness.' In addition, your webpage for the Kind Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein product states 'KIND Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein is a healthy and satisfying blend of peanuts and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.' However, none of your products listed above meet the requirements for use of the nutrient content claim 'healthy' that are set forth in 21 CFR 101.65(d)(2)."</p> </blockquote> <p>The FDA said the bars have too much saturated fat to justify the term "healthy," and also don't measure up to their "antioxidant-rich" claim. Bloomberg <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-14/kind-bars-aren-t-healthy-enough-for-healthy-label-fda-says" target="_blank">reports</a> Kind is "moving quickly to comply" to edit its labels.</p> <p>More disappointment for people who thought cheerfully labeled snacks and drinks (a la <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/03/vitaminwater-false-claims_n_1181860.html" target="_blank">Vitamin Water</a>) could actually make them fitter.</p> <p><a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-14/kind-bars-aren-t-healthy-enough-for-healthy-label-fda-says" target="_blank">(h/t Bloomberg)</a></p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Tue, 14 Apr 2015 18:41:49 +0000 Inae Oh 273641 at http://www.motherjones.com Marco Rubio Used to Believe in Climate Science. Now He's Running for President. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/marco-rubio-president-climate-change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CYCBFGBQdDQ" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>When the Florida state Legislature opened its 2007 session, Speaker Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDvlt5DnIbI" target="_blank">took the stage</a> to lay out his priorities for the year. Near the top of his list was a focus on clean energy.</p> <p>"Global warming, dependence on foreign sources of fuel, and capitalism have come together to create opportunities for us that were unimaginable just a few short years ago," he said, in a video recording <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/as-florida-house-speaker-marco-rubio-voiced-suppo#.dd25KBz6A" target="_blank">unearthed by <em>BuzzFeed</em></a>. Rubio predicted that legal caps on greenhouse gas emissions were inevitable, and he argued that Florida should prepare to become "an international model of energy efficiency and independence" and the "Silicon Valley" of clean energy.</p> <div><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> How the 2016 contenders will deal with climate change </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-266761"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/12/jeb-bush-climate-change-skeptic"> Jeb Bush on Climate Change: "I'm a Skeptic"</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-273261"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/04/marco-rubio-president-climate-change"> Marco Rubio Used to Believe in Climate Science</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-273141"> <li><a href="/environment/2015/04/rand-paul-climate-change"> Rand Paul Is No Moderate on Global Warming</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-273556"> <li><a href="/environment/2015/04/hillary-clinton-climate-change-president"> What a Hillary Clinton Presidency Would Mean for Global Warming</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-272011"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/03/ted-cruz-seth-myers-climate-change"> Scientists: Ted Cruz's Climate Theories Are a "Load of Claptrap"</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-271541"> <li><a href="/environment/2015/03/scott-walker-environment-climate-change-2016"> Scott Walker Is the Worst Candidate for the Environment</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-257241"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/09/hillary-clinton-fracking-shale-state-department-chevron"> How Hillary Clinton's State Department Sold Fracking to the World</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-267041"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/12/jim-webb-climate-change"> Jim Webb Wants to Be President. Too Bad He's Awful on Climate Change.</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-266956"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/12/martin-omalley-longshot-presidential-candidate-and-real-climate-hawk"> Martin O'Malley Is A Longshot Presidential Candidate, and a Real Climate Hawk</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-275086"> <li><a href="/environment/2015/05/elizabeth-warren-climate-change-hero"> Is Elizabeth Warren Really a Leader on Global Warming?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-275161"> <li><a href="/environment/2015/05/bernie-sanders-greenest-presidential-candidate"> Is Bernie Sanders the Best Candidate on Climate Change?</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> </div> <p>Several years later, as a junior senator <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLmZbBh83-I" target="_blank">offering his party's rebuttal</a> to President Barack Obama's 2013 State of the Union address, Rubio was singing a different tune. Solar and wind energy "should be a part of our energy portfolio," he said, but the United States should focus its efforts on extracting coal, oil, and natural gas "instead of wasting more money on so-called clean-energy companies like Solyndra." (Solyndra was a solar power company in California that <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/24/business/la-fi-solyndra-20110925" target="_blank">failed spectacularly</a> in 2011 after receiving a $500 million grant from the Obama administration. Republicans seized on it as a textbook case of the president's foolhardy energy agenda, but in reality the company was just badly managed.)</p> <p>Rubio's comments since then have been more consistent: He argues that government policies to limit emissions are pointless in the face of rising pollution from developing countries. And, he says, such policies are certain to be "devastating" to the US economy.</p> <p>He also rejects the notion that scientists are in agreement about the role humans have played in causing global warming. "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it," he <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/05/sen-marco-rubio-yes-im-ready-to-be-president/" target="_blank">told ABC News</a> last May.</p> <p>On Monday, Rubio is <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/13/politics/election-2016-marco-rubio-presidential-campaign/" target="_blank">expected to announce</a> his candidacy for president. Check out the video above for a look back at his thoughts on climate change.</p> <p><em>This story has been revised.</em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Video 2016 Elections Climate Change Climate Desk Science Top Stories Mon, 13 Apr 2015 10:15:05 +0000 Tim McDonnell 273261 at http://www.motherjones.com The Drought Is Behind California's Skyrocketing West Nile Virus Numbers http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/drought-behind-influx-west-nile-virus-california <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>California's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/04/everything-you-wanted-know-about-california-drought" target="_blank">drought</a> isn't <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/01/california-drought-scary-facts-snowpack" target="_blank">bad news</a> for everyone: turns out West Nile Virus has been thriving in the state's parched climate. The California Department of Public Health <a href="http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR15-027.aspx" target="_blank">announced</a> last week that in 2014 it recorded the most cases of the potentially deadly mosquito-borne illness since it first showed up in the Golden State more than a decade ago. The CDPH tallied 801 diagnoses, including 31 deaths&mdash;the most ever in California.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/x57T0/2/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2015/04/drought-behind-influx-west-nile-virus-california"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Charts Climate Change Health drought Mon, 13 Apr 2015 10:00:11 +0000 Luke Whelan 273481 at http://www.motherjones.com Another State Agency Just Banned the Words "Climate Change" http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/another-state-agency-just-banned-words-climate-change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The climate change language police just struck again.</p> <p>Last month it was in Florida, where former staffers with the state's Department of Environmental Protection <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/florida-climate-change" target="_blank">alleged that senior officials</a>, under the direction of Gov. Rick Scott (R), had instituted an unwritten ban on using the phrases "climate change" and "global warming." Scott <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/03/11/392263831/fla-gov-scott-denies-climate-change-is-a-banned-term" target="_blank">denied</a> the claim.</p> <p>This week's incident is much less ambiguous. Yesterday, the three-person commission that oversees a public land trust in Wisconsin voted 2-1 to block the trust's dozen public employees "from engaging in global warming or climate change work while on BCPL time."</p> <p>In proposing and voting on the ban, the commission "spent 19 minutes and 29 seconds talking about talking about&nbsp;climate change," <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-08/for-some-wisconsin-state-workers-climate-change-isn-t-something-you-can-talk-about" target="_blank">according to </a><em><a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-08/for-some-wisconsin-state-workers-climate-change-isn-t-something-you-can-talk-about" target="_blank">Bloomberg</a></em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>The&nbsp;move to ban an issue leaves staff at the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands&nbsp;in the unusual position of not being able to speak about how climate change might affect&nbsp;lands it oversees&hellip;</p> <p>The Midwest warmed about 1.5F on average from&nbsp;1895 to&nbsp;2012. Pine, maple, birch, spruce, fir, aspen, and beech forests, which are common in the region, are likely to decline as the century progresses, according to the latest US <a data-web-url="http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/" href="http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/">National Climate Assessment</a>.</p> </blockquote> <p>The ban was proposed by newly elected State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, a Republican who ran on the unusual campaign promise to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/02/us/wisconsins-treasurer-wants-to-cut-needless-workers-starting-with-himself.html?_r=0" target="_blank">swiftly eliminate his own job</a>. At a public meeting on Tuesday, according to <em>Bloomberg, </em>Adamczyk said he was disturbed to learn that the agency's director, Tia Nelson, had spent some time co-chairing a global warming task force in 2007-08 at the request of former governor Jim Doyle (D). Dealing with climate issues&mdash;even responding to emails on the subject&mdash;isn't in the agency's wheelhouse, he said. Adamczyk didn't immediately return our request for comment.</p> <p>Adamczyk was joined in voting for the ban by State Attorney General Brad Schimel (R), also newly-elected. Schimel is handling <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/03/scott-walker-environment-climate-change-2016" target="_blank">Gov. Scott Walker's lawsuit</a> against the Environmental Protection Agency over President Barack Obama's new climate regulations. The ban was opposed by the commission's third member, Secretary of State Bob La Follette, a Democrat.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Wed, 08 Apr 2015 19:45:03 +0000 Tim McDonnell 273336 at http://www.motherjones.com