Blue Marble Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2010/11/undefined http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en The Great Barrier Reef Will Be Ravaged By El Niño http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/great-barrier-reef-will-be-ravaged-el-nino <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/04/great-barrier-reefs-coral-faces-ravaging-by-expected-el-nino" target="_blank">story</a> originally appeared in the </em><a href="http://theguardian.com" target="_blank">Guardian</a> <em>and is republished here <em>as part of the <a href="http://climatedesk.org/" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration</em></em>.</p> <p>The Great Barrier Reef is set to be ravaged by the expected El Ni&ntilde;o weather phenomenon and scientists warn that similar warming events have significantly impacted upon the reef&rsquo;s coral.</p> <p><a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016703714002804">Research</a> by the University of Queensland studied large <em>Porites</em> coral colonies, a type of coral considered more resistant than others to changes in the environment.</p> <p>By analysing and dating coral samples, researchers found there was a significant correlation between mass coral mortality events and spikes in sea surface temperature over the past 150 years.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/07/great-barrier-reef-will-be-ravaged-el-nino"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Climate Desk Tue, 08 Jul 2014 10:00:11 +0000 Oliver Milman 255601 at http://www.motherjones.com One of the Biggest Opponents of GMO Labeling Is Offering More Non-GMO Products http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/one-biggest-opponents-gmo-labeling-offering-more-non-gmo-crops <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Cargill, a giant privately held food manufacturer, is one of the <a href="http://http://www.cargill.com/news/issues/gmo/gmo-labeling/index.jsp" target="_blank">biggest enemies</a> of laws requiring companies to label products that contain genetically modified ingredients. But even as the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), an anti GMO-labeling lobbying group Cargill belongs to, fights GMO-labeling laws in state legislatures and courthouses around the country, Cargill is introducing more GMO-free products.</p> <p>Last week, Cargill <a href="http://www.cargill.com/news/releases/2014/NA31660682.jsp" target="_blank">announced</a> its newest non-GMO crop, soybean oil, which will join corn and beans on Cargill's list of unmodified products offered in the United States, among others.</p> <p><a href="http://http://www.cargill.com/company/management/" target="_blank">Gregory Page</a>, the chairman of Cargill's board, sits on the executive board for the GMA, the big-food lobbying group that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/06/big-food-plans-sue-vermont-new-gmo-labeling-bill" target="_blank">recently sued Vermont </a>for passing a bill requiring food manufacturers to label genetically modified foods. The company warns <a href="http://http://www.cargill.com/news/issues/gmo/gmo-labeling/index.jsp" target="_blank">on its website</a> that mandatory labeling can be "misleading" to consumers who might believe genetic modification and bioengineering in food is dangerous. A GMO label does not provide any meaningful information about the food, Cargill argues, because GMO foods are "substantially equivalent" to non-GMO foods.</p> <p>But despite this, Cargill seems to see the benefit in offering consumers the option of eating unmodified foods. "Despite the many merits of biotechnology, consumer interest in food and beverage products made from non-GM ingredients is growing, creating opportunities and challenges for food manufacturers and food service operators," Ethan Theis, a spokesman for the company, <a href="http://www.cargill.com/news/releases/2014/NA31660682.jsp" target="_blank">said in a company press release </a>last week. Even the fiercest opponents of GMO labeling are willing to offer non-GMO products when consumers' cash is on the line.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag GMO labeling GMOs Wed, 02 Jul 2014 07:15:04 +0000 Jenna McLaughlin 255036 at http://www.motherjones.com "Make It a Quickie," "Get Paid for Doing It," and Other Advice From San Francisco's Water Agency http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/drought-quickie-water-usage-reduction <!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="//www.youtube.com/embed/ueLh5ifUfuk" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>In response to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/wheres-californias-water-going" target="_blank">California's ongoing drought</a>, San Francisco's water agency has come out with a hilariously creepy ad campaign to make saving water sexy. In addition to the commercial above, featuring a water-efficient showerhead being stroked and a seductive male voice telling you to "screw them on," ads encourage water users to "Make it a quickie" and "Get paid for doing it" ("it" referring to your shower and the replacement of your old toilet, respectively).</p> <p>Unfortunately, new data from the state's Water Resources Control Board shows that Californians need to be "doing it" a lot more. Gov. Jerry Brown requested that Californians voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent in January, when he declared the drought to have reached a state of emergency. But the Control Board found that, as of April, Californians had <a href="http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-80659608/" target="_blank">reduced their water usage by only 5 percent,</a> and Bay Area residents had reduced by only 2 percent. The state has yet to enforce mandatory water restrictions, though a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/california-drought-matters-more-just-california" target="_blank">handful of cities have</a>. Listen to KQED's deep dive on water reduction <a href="http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201406300900" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p>And, in the name of water reduction, here are a few more ads:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/drought%20quickie.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/drought%20doing%20it.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/drought%20satisfied.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/jiggle%20it.jpg"></div></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Food and Ag Tue, 01 Jul 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Julia Lurie 255171 at http://www.motherjones.com Nature Is Magical—and These 10 Stunning Photos Prove It. Happy Birthday, Yosemite! http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/happy-150th-birthday-yosemite-national-park <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On this day 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln&nbsp;signed the <a href="http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/jun30.html" target="_blank">Yosemite Grant Act</a> to protect Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove in California. It was&nbsp;the first time the US had set aside wilderness, in this case roughly the size of Rhode Island,&nbsp;especially for preservation.&nbsp;These days, <a href="http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/statistics.htm" target="_blank">4</a><a href="http://www.nps.gov/yose/historyculture/index.htm" target="_blank">&nbsp;million people</a> enjoy the park every year&nbsp;to marvel at its famous soaring granite peaks and waterfalls, and enjoy a rare serenity. Here are photos of Yosemite's epic landscapes, past and present,&nbsp;to celebrate the its sesquicentennial year. Happy Birthday, Yosemite!</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/3b11865u.jpg"></div> <p>The Three Brothers rise above a mirror-like stream in Yosemite.&nbsp;This photo was taken&nbsp;in the 1860s by&nbsp;Carleton E. Watkins, one of California's early commercial photographers. He&nbsp;took some of the first photographs of the Yosemite region.&nbsp;&acirc;&#128;&#139;<em>Carleton E. Watkins/Library of Congress</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP6208170206.jpg"></div> <p>President John F. Kennedy's helicopter is seen here dwarfed by the epic grandeur of Yosemite Falls in August 1962. Kennedy was in Yosemite for an overnight stay before going to Los Angeles, where he attended ground-breaking ceremonies for the San Luis Dam project.&nbsp;<em>Anonymous/AP Photo</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP8303050176.jpg"></div> <p>Queen Elizabeth II is shown the sites during her visit to the park in&nbsp;March&nbsp;1983. <em>Walt Zeboski/AP Photo</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%">&acirc;&#128;&#139;<img alt="" class="image" src="/files/5349895728_aefea830e1_o.jpg"></div> <p>The sun sets across Yosemite&nbsp;in this <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhanchanahal/5349895728" target="_blank">photo</a> from 2006.&nbsp;<em>Nagaraju Hanchanahal/Flickr</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/12095779186_e62de9cdcc_o.jpg"></div> <p>In this photo of the night sky above Yosemite valley, the peaks of El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks can be seen on the the left and right, respectively. <em><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/parksjd/12095779186/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Joe Parks</a>/Flickr</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP96010601203.jpg"></div> <p>This photo shows the first visitors in three weeks to visit Yosemite Valley, on January 6, 1996, after a budget crisis shut down the federal government, and thus the park. Earlier that day, President Bill Clinton signed Republican-crafted legislation to restore wages to federal government workers while budget negotiations continued, reopening the park to the public.&nbsp;<em>Thor Swift/AP Photo.</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2066780234_108951a317_o-%281%29.jpg"></div> <p>A view of Half Dome Rock from Glacier Point.<em> <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/matthigh/2066780234" target="_blank">mlhradio</a>/Flickr</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/20130825_zaf_m11_006.jpg"></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/08/rim-fire-yosemite-explainer" target="_blank">The Rim Fire</a>&nbsp;in 2013 was one of the largest wildfires in recent California history and burned parts of Yosemite National Park.&nbsp;The steep, remote topography of western Yosemite made it especially difficult for firefighters to get the blaze. <em>Elias Funez/Modesto Bee/ZUMA</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/12178773153_23525423bb_o-%281%29.jpg"></div> <p>Yosemite Valley in Winter, taken from&nbsp;Tunnel View <em><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/nrg_crisis/12178773153" target="_blank">nrg_crisis</a>/Flickr</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP504532707246-%281%29.jpg"></div> <p>The Three Brothers rock formation <em>Mark Brodkin/Solent News/REX/AP Photo</em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Photo Essays Climate Change Climate Desk Mon, 30 Jun 2014 18:52:34 +0000 James West 255141 at http://www.motherjones.com Chick-Fil-A's Twee New Food Journalism Site http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/chick-fil-a-lets-gather <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Perhaps hoping to distance itself from its <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/04/07/chick-fil-a-fast-food-dan-cathy/7250871/" target="_blank">horrendous display of homophobia</a> in 2012, the fast-food chicken chain Chick-Fil-A has launched a folksy new food journalism site called <a href="http://letsgather.chick-fil-a.com/" target="_blank">Let's Gather</a>:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/beekeepers.gif"><div class="caption">Image from <a href="http://letsgather.chick-fil-a.com/" target="_blank">Let's Gather</a></div> </div> <p>Yes really. Check out the <a href="http://letsgather.chick-fil-a.com/" target="_blank">actual site</a>, which is now hosting the project's second issue. Push past the animated bees buzzing around scenically, and don't get so distracted by this homey idyll that you forget to click on the shabby chic nav tool in the upper right.</p> <p>Once you do, you might venture over to the about page, which says this: "By exploring the winsome themes found in the everyday blend of our meals, hobbies, and relationships, each issue inspires readers to try a new recipe, think a new thought, and join a new conversation. Ultimately, these are stories that remind us of the joy we experience when we make time to <strong>do life together</strong>." (Emphasis added.)</p> <p>But wait, it gets better. Nestled among the features about stair climbing and giving up groceries is a Q&amp;A with Chick-Fil-A on-staff registered dietitian (<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/my-trip-mcdonalds-sponsored-nutritionist-convention" target="_blank">don't even get me started</a>) Jodie Worrell:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/chickfiladietitian.gif"><div class="caption">Image from <a href="http://letsgather.chick-fil-a.com/" target="_blank">Let's Gather</a></div> </div> <p class="segment menu-Description">"We do almost everything from scratch every day&mdash;we hand-bread our chicken and squeeze lemons to make our lemonade and prepare our salads fresh every day," says Worrell. "The list goes on. Most people probably think our food just goes from freezer to fryer, which it doesn't."</p> <p class="segment menu-Description">Gosh, all it takes is breading and chicken and lemons? Well, not exactly. Here's what <a href="http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Food/Menu-Detail/ChickfilA-Spicy-Chicken-Sandwich-Deluxe#?details=nutrition" target="_blank">Chick-Fil-A's Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe</a>&mdash;which has 27 grams of fat and a truly mind-boggling 1750 miligrams of sodium&mdash;is actually made of:</p> <blockquote> <p class="segment menu-Description" id="MainContent_pIngredients">Spicy chicken (whole breast filet, water, seasoning [salt, monosodium glutamate, sugar, spices, paprika], spicy seasoning [maltodextrin, flavor, modified rice starch, tapioca dextrin, salt, cottonseed oil, paprika, contains less than 2% enzyme modified milkfat, soy lecithin], spicy seasoned coater [enriched bleached flour {bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid}, sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, leavening, spice, nonfat milk, soybean oil, whey, color {paprika, Yellow #6}], milk wash [water, nonfat milk, egg], peanut oil [fully refined peanut oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness and dimethylpolysiloxane an anti-foaming agent added]), bun (enriched flour [wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, folic acid], water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, contains 2% or less of each of the following: liquid yeast, soybean oil, nonfat milk, salt, wheat gluten, soy flour, dough conditioners [may contain one or more of the following: mono- and diglycerides, calcium and sodium stearoyl lactylates, calcium peroxide], soy flour, amylase, yeast nutrients [monocalcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate], calcium propionate added to retard spoilage, soy lecithin, cornstarch, butter oil [soybean oil, palm kernel oil, soy lecithin, artificial flavor, TBHQ and citric acid added as preservatives, and artificial color]), tomatoes, green leaf lettuce, pepper jack cheese, (pasturized milk, hot peppers [Jalapeno and Habanero], cheese culture, salt, enzymes), pickles (cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate [preservative], natural flavors, polysorbate 80, yellow 5, blue 1).</p> </blockquote> <p class="segment menu-Description">Am I saying Chick-Fil-A's Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe doesn't taste delicious? No, I am not. But this kind of treacly marketing&mdash;usually meant to distract you from something&mdash;drives me bonkers. Examples abound: Coca-Cola's <a href="http://www2.happinessflag.com/?l=en" target="_blank">World Cup happiness flag</a>, McDonald's sites about <a href="http://www.mcdonalds.com/365black/en/home.html" target="_blank">African American</a> and <a href="http://www.myinspirasian.com/html/english/asian_phrases/index.html" target="_blank">Asian American</a> culture, and Monsanto's video <a href="http://www.americasfarmers.com/meet-the-families/" target="_blank">profiles</a> of American farm families, to name just a few.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Media Thu, 26 Jun 2014 22:42:43 +0000 Kiera Butler 254966 at http://www.motherjones.com This Guy Just Summed Up America's Climate Inaction Beautifully in 15 Lines http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/guy-just-summed-americas-climate-inaction-beautifully-15-lines <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Pretty much as a rule, the comments section below any post on climate change will contain&nbsp;all the same&nbsp;dreary&nbsp;back-and-forth about how the world hasn't actually warmed in 15 years, or some thing;&nbsp;how fat cat Al Gore is profiting off global warming;&nbsp;and all those petty attacks over intellect/punctuation/spelling. That was certainly true <a href="http://m.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/brash-mining-magnate-and-al-gore-walk-into-a-room-and-make-australias-climate-politics-" target="_blank">for my recent post</a> about Australia's climate politics, and the ongoing craziness Downunder that has resulted in more than a little political bloodletting in recent years. And then, <span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">reading down through the comments,&nbsp;</span>just when I was giving up hope...a sudden bolt, as if the clouds&nbsp;parted and a little (uncharacteristic) humor was allowed to shine down upon all the silliness. Thank you "ThatDudeOnABike", <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/brash-mining-magnate-and-al-gore-walk-into-a-room-and-make-australias-climate-politics-#comment-1455128346" target="_blank">for neatly summarizing some of the ridiculousness with this 30-second double-hander</a>. A micro-Tony Award for you!</p> <blockquote> <p>"Captain, there's a large iceberg ahead that will cause us to sink."&nbsp;<br> "No there isn't"&nbsp;<br> "Yes, captain, it's right there."<br> "Ice berg schmice berg. Oh, that berg. Right. It's not our fault."<br> "Regardless, sir, It will still sink us."<br> "No it won't"<br> "99% chance."<br> "So you don't know. Is there consensus among the crew?"<br> "We don't really have time..."<br> "If we stop the ship it will cost jobs and the economy will tank."<br> "We don't have to stop, just change course if we do it right away, before it's too late."<br> "You liberal elites just want to scare us."<br> "I'm not liberal, I just looked off the starboard bow and there it was."<br> "So it just appeared? You made it up. Why do you hate America?"<br> CRASH!</p> </blockquote> <p>[Aaand,&nbsp;<em>scene</em>&mdash;thanks ThatDudeOnABike!]</p> <p>And a reminder, we do love your comments. In fact, we once tracked down our biggest troll... and kind of liked him. You could be next:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Zv_ci5uqrNk?list=PL1ZVKOvHtj-D_HVt5ylgaoXAdKJuv9oJt" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk Thu, 26 Jun 2014 20:52:22 +0000 James West 254956 at http://www.motherjones.com Is This the Beginning of the End of Junk Food at Stadiums? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/edible-garden-atat-park-sf-giants-junk-food-stadiums <!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="//www.youtube.com/embed/95Y_N7ktDB0" width="629"></iframe></p> <p>Blueberries, avocados, and kale, fresh-picked for salads and small plates. Rows of water-saving aeroponic towers that grow as many as 44 veggie plants each. Fertilizer made from coffee grounds...at a baseball field?</p> <p>That's right: Below the scoreboard at San Francisco's AT&amp;T Park, a 4,320-square-foot edible garden space, the first of its kind in a sporting arena, will grow seasonal produce year-round while hosting outdoor classes on sustainability, urban farming, and healthy eating for Bay Area children. It also features a bar, dining tables, fire pits, and a sod farm (later harvested for use on the field) for picnicking fans. "We hope it really catches on with other parks," says Eric Blasen, cofounder of Blasen Landscape Architecture, the studio that designed the garden.</p> <p>Giants outfielder Hunter Pence confirms that it is&mdash;at least among Giants team members. At the garden's grand opening on Tuesday, he said that at first his teammates made fun of his kale salads from the garden&mdash;until they tried them. Now they're a team favorite.&nbsp;</p> <p>So does a project like this have potential anywhere outside of San Francisco? For most Americans, a visit to the ballpark means hotdogs and pretzels, not flatbreads and kumquats. And the harvests will be small, only enough for "a fraction" of the stadium's needs,&nbsp;says Bonnie Powell, director of communications for Bon App&eacute;tit Management, an AT&amp;T park food provider that helped launch the garden. "The main point of the garden is to be an educational one: how food grows, and that you can grow it even in small, challenging spaces."</p> <p>The garden's designers hope those themes will resonate with the fans. "We'll have so much exposure," says Silvina Blasen, the other cofounder at Blasen Landscape Architecture. "I mean, I think they can seat 44,000 people on these bleachers. It <em>should</em> catch on."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Food and Ag Sports Top Stories Thu, 26 Jun 2014 10:00:06 +0000 Prashanth Kamalakanthan and Brett Brownell 254876 at http://www.motherjones.com If You Think Climate Politics In the US Are Crazy, Wait Till You See What Just Happened in Australia http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/brash-mining-magnate-and-al-gore-walk-into-a-room-and-make-australias-climate-politics- <!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="//www.youtube.com/embed/mNdnA4QfuF8?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Hold on to your hats! Australia's already-bizarre carbon price adventures veered into the utterly surreal overnight.</p> <p>Picture this: an eccentric billionaire mining baron, most famous outside Australia for <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/business/global/a-new-titanic-on-the-drawing-board-but-wheres-the-captain.html">commissioning a replica of the Titanic</a>, appearing alongside the world's most recognizable&nbsp;climate campaigner and former US vice president, Al Gore, to announce Australia's relatively new&nbsp;carbon tax will be scrapped, and a new emissions trading scheme proposed,&nbsp;effectively screwing over the sitting conservative prime minister, Tony Abbott, who is hell-bent on getting&nbsp;rid of carbon legislation altogether.</p> <p>It's a big blow to a prime minister who said recently in Canada that he has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/10/climate-unity-dealt-blow-as-australia-and-canada-take-issue-with-us-stance" target="_blank">"always been against"</a> an emissions trading scheme, and believes fighting climate change will "clobber the economy."</p> <p>For watchers of Aussie politics, it was a visual feast of weirdness. For US readers, imagine&mdash;I don't know&mdash;industrialist Charles Koch jumping on stage with writer and activist Bill McKibben and you're getting close.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/clivepalmer.jpg" style="height: 182px; width: 280px;"><div class="caption"><strong>Clive Palmer speaking at a press conference to unveil plans to build a an almost-exact replica of the ill-fated Titanic, in March 2013. </strong>Ben Cawthra/ZumaPRESS</div> </div> <p>Al Gore has shared a press conference podium, and political common ground, with many influential leaders in his time, but&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Parliamentarian?MPID=LQR">Clive Palmer</a> must be among the most unexpected. The mining magnate's upstart political group, the populist center-right Palmer United Party (PUP), was elevated to the Australian political heavyweight class during last year's national elections, and is now on the verge of holding the balance of power in the Australian Senate, or upper house&mdash;a position that possesses outsized power to wheel and deal with a government intent on getting laws passed.</p> <p>That has meant all eyes are on Clive, who owns a <a href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/toxic-spill-closes-clive-palmers-yabulu-nickel-refinery/story-e6frg9df-1226884389580">nickel refinery</a> and large swathes of land laced with coal&nbsp;and iron ore, along with several jets and resorts: not the climate's most likely hero.</p> <p>A bit of backstory: Abbott took office last year after&nbsp;campaigning relentlessly to "scrap the toxic tax" and do away with the other parts of the carbon price legislation introduced by former-PM Julia Gillard.&nbsp;The carbon tax would have finally transitioned into a fully-fledged emissions trading scheme in mid-2015.&nbsp;Since the election,&nbsp;Australia's conservative government led by Abbott has been gearing up to&nbsp;axe&nbsp;the entire package for good.</p> <p>Under Tony Abbott's replacement plan, the package would be scrapped in favor of a policy called "Direct Action",&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/15/coalitions-direct-action-contracts-too-short-for-success-says-adviser" style="line-height: 24px;" target="_blank">which critics say</a>&nbsp;will do little to address carbon emissions, and cost taxpayers a hell of a lot of money. The repeal will certainly pass the lower house, but getting Clive Palmer on side was crucial to its passage through the Senate.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Clive Palmer, a fantastical&nbsp;maverick-type (an enormous Tyrannosaurus rex <a href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/billionaire-clive-palmer-orders-117-more-dinosaurs-for-resort/story-e6frg6nf-1226609040256?nk=0aa96590adfb6ccd21cf02ebed6d5f70" style="line-height: 2em;">presides over one of his golf courses</a>), appears to be enjoying his newly found political power, basically telling Abbott "not so fast." He has indeed agreed to axe the tax, but is now pushing instead to keep some form of emissions trading scheme (which his party will introduce). Palmer's emissions trading scheme would be toothless and non-competitive, at least at first, with the carbon price set to zero until Australia's major trading partners like China and South Korea effect similar schemes.</p> <p>All of this is made even more baffling since Clive Palmer himself only recently rejected&nbsp;the scientific consensus on climate change, telling the Australian Broadcasting Corporation <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-04/clive-palmer-ross-garnaut-wa-senate-election-climate-carbon-tax/5366202" target="_blank">in April</a> that "There's been global warming for a long time. I mean, all of Ireland was covered by ice at one time...&nbsp;so I think that's part of the natural cycle."</p> <p>But at this week's performance, he made an incredible about-face:</p> <p>"Australia has got an opportunity to set a standard which can act as a catalyst for the whole world, to set a fair framework which the world can follow," Palmer said. "As President Obama in the US has shown, great leadership and encouraging all countries to act, Australia needs to do its fair share." Palmer argues that without a trading scheme, Australian businesses will get left behind. Another motivation might be more personal: there's a <a href="http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/palmer-v-abbott-floating-like-butterflies-and-stinging-like-bees-20120626-20zyh.html" target="_blank">long-standing</a>&nbsp;distrust between Palmer and Abbott, the prime minister.</p> <p>Gore, appearing alongside Palmer, fully endorsed what will effectively&nbsp;isolate Tony Abbott, the prime minister, calling Palmer's decision&nbsp;"an extraordinary moment."</p> <p>"All of these developments add up to the world moving to solve the climate crisis," he said.</p> <p>But climate change has washed Canberra's corridors of power in political blood for years, and it seems that no matter how hard&nbsp;Tony Abbott tries to finally put it to rest, there's no end in site, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/25/how-coal-miner-clive-turned-climate-crusader" style="line-height: 2em;">writes Lenore Taylor at <em>The Guardian</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>It is a dramatic, if slightly confusing, eleventh hour conversion to the climate change cause for Clive Palmer, millionaire would-be coal miner who... just two months ago didn&rsquo;t seem to think global warming was a thing.&nbsp;After contributing to the downfall of three Australian prime ministers, two opposition leaders and seven years of bitter and acrimonious debate, carbon policy is now presenting yet another prime minister with some serious dilemmas.</p> </blockquote> <div style="position: relative;padding: 56.25% 0px 40px;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="auto" mozallowfullscreen="" msallowfullscreen="" oallowfullscreen="" src="http://www.vuact.com/v/climate-desk/climate-change-the-killing-fields-of-australian-politics" style="position: absolute;top:0px;width: 100%;height: 100%;" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="100%"></iframe></div></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Wed, 25 Jun 2014 19:16:00 +0000 James West 254841 at http://www.motherjones.com How the Sweetener Industry Sugar-Coats Science http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/sugar-industry-tactics-to-make-your-food-unhealthy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Food companies have spent billions of dollars to cover up the link between sugar consumption and health problems. That's the conclusion of a new <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/center-for-science-and-democracy/sugar-industry-undermines-public-health-policy.html">report</a> from the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="sugar industry lobbying" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-06-24%20at%2010.40.27%20AM_1.png" style="height: 471px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption">From "Added Sugar, Subtracted Science"</div> </div> <p>The industry's tactics&mdash;similar to those used by Big Tobacco in downplaying the adverse health effects of smoking&mdash;were explored by Gary Taubes and Cristin Kearns Couzens in the 2012 <em>Mother Jones</em> investigation "<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/10/sugar-industry-lies-campaign" target="_blank">Big Sugar's Sweet Little Lies</a>." But this latest report draws on some <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/center-for-science-and-democracy/added-sugar-subtracted-science-appendix-d.html" target="_blank">newly released documents</a> submitted as evidence in a recent federal court case involving the two biggest players in the sweetener industry: the Sugar Association and the Corn Refiners Association (the trade group for manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup).&nbsp;</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/sweet_225.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-197151"> <li><a href="/environment/2012/10/sugar-industry-lies-campaign"> Big Sugar's Sweet Little Lies</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-200191"> <li><a href="/politics/2012/10/sugar-industry-marketing-timeline"> A Timeline of Sugar Spin</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-200576"> <li><a href="/environment/2012/10/former-dentist-sugar-industry-lies"> How a Former Dentist Drilled Big Sugar</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-203466"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2012/10/watch-video-gary-taubes-sugar-regulation"> WATCH: Q&amp;A With Author Gary Taubes</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-202621"> <li><a href="/environment/2012/10/sugar-industry-internal-documents-revealed"> Secret Sugar Documents Revealed</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-202431"> <li><a href="/slideshows/2012/10/classic-sugar-ads"> 10 Classic Sugar Ads</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-182311"> <li><a href="/media/2012/06/supersize-biggest-sodas-mcdonalds-big-gulp-chart"> Charts: How Our Sodas Got So Huge</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>The report details companies' plans to bury data and to convince consumers that sugar is "fine in moderation." It also shows how trade groups hired independent scientists to cast doubt on studies that show the adverse affects of sugar consumption&mdash;and strategized to intimidate scientists and organizations who didn't tow the industry line.</p> <p>For example: The researchers cite a 2003 letter, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/documents/458188-sugar-association-letter-to-who-april-2003#document/p1/a79120" target="_blank">first obtained by </a><em>Mother Jones</em>, from the president and CEO of the Sugar Association to&nbsp;the director general of the World Health Organization. In the letter, the Sugar Association intimates that it will deny funding to the WHO and the Food &amp; Agriculture Organization if the groups don't pull a report that shows that added sugars "threaten the nutritional quality of diets." Another <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/ucs-documents/science-and-democracy/corn-refiners-association-defendants-declaration-exhibits.pdf" target="_blank">internal document</a> claimed the action worked:</p> <blockquote> <p>"We have been successful in getting the Food &amp; Agriculture Organization (FAO) to oppose the WHO Diet and Nutrition Report 916 calling for 10% consumption of sugar, we have been successful in getting the U.S. WHO representative Dr. Steiger to express major concerns with Report 916 and call for edits to the initial draft of the WHO Global Strategy recommending to limit sugar intake."</p> </blockquote> <p>Sure enough, when The World Health Assembly (the WHO's decision-making body) released its global health strategy on diet and health in 2005, the study in question wasn't referenced once.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="General Mills sugar lobbying" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-06-24%20at%2010.39.52%20AM_0.png" style="height: 431px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption">From "Added Sugar, Subtracted Science"</div> </div> <p>The report's authors hope that the new findings will influence the ongoing battle over school lunches eaten by 32 million children each day. In 2013, both General Mills and the Sugar Association weighed in on proposed lunch standards, dismissing the connection between sugar and health problems. According to the report, "the USDA adopted a weaker rule than it first proposed, limiting kids' sugar intake at school by weight rather than by calorie as public health experts had recommended." If the current agriculture appropriations bill&nbsp;is approved in an upcoming congressional vote, schools will be allowed to opt out of new USDA rules that require cafeterias to provide more fruits and vegetables in students' lunches.</p> <p>The authors also hope to hasten change on food labels. The FDA is currently evaluating <a href="http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm387533.htm">proposed revisions</a> that would require manufacturers to list added sugars separately from those that occur naturally. A public hearing is <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/05/29/2014-12362/proposed-rules-on-food-labeling-revision-of-the-nutrition-and-supplement-facts-labels-and-serving" target="_blank">scheduled</a> for Thursday in Washington D.C. Six trade groups, including the Corn Refiners Association, the American Frozen Foods Institute, and the National Confectioners Association, have already <a href="http://www.regulations.gov/#%21documentDetail;D=FDA-2012-N-1210-0155" target="_blank">pushed on the FDA to postpone</a> while they complete "consumer perception research," on the proposed changes. Representatives from the Center for Science and Democracy plan to present the results of the study to encourage officials to move forward with the new labels.</p> <p>You can read the full report <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/center-for-science-and-democracy/added-sugar-subtracted-science.pdf" target="_blank">here</a>.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Science Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 254716 at http://www.motherjones.com Is Your Cereal Giving You a Vitamin Overdose? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/your-vitamin-heavy-cereals-little-secret <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Those bran flakes with "original antioxidants" or "extra vitamin A"? You might be better off without the added nutrients. A <a href="http://www.ewg.org/release/excessive-vitamins-and-minerals-food-put-millions-children-risk#.U6mwilf8jOU.twitter" target="_blank">report</a> released on Tuesday by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that cereals and snack bars that have been fortified with extra vitamins and minerals to appear healthy may actually be harmful&mdash;particularly for kids.</p> <p>The report, <em>How Much is Too Much?</em>, explains that there are some nutrients that most Americans don't get enough of, like calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin E. But it turns out that kids are eating too much of other nutrients, and overconsuming certain vitamins and minerals for a long period of time can have negative health implications in the long run.</p> <p>EWG focused on three nutrients that are regularly consumed in excess: vitamin A, zinc, and niacin. Only 6 percent of two- to eight-year-olds are deficient in vitamin A, and less than 1 percent are deficient in zinc and niacin. But, according to the report, an estimated 28 million children between those ages are overexposed to these nutrients from food and supplements.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/k1Way/1/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Studies have shown a host of illnesses associated with excessive intake of these nutrients.<strong> </strong>Here are the effects of overconsumption, according to the EWG:</p> <ul><li><strong>Vitamin A:</strong> Liver damage, brittle nails, hair loss, skeletal abnormalities, osteoporosis and hip fracture (in older adults), and developmental abnormalities (of the fetus)</li> <li><strong>Zinc:</strong> Impaired copper absorption, anemia, changes in red and white blood cells, impaired immune function</li> <li><strong>Niacin:</strong> Skin reactions (flushing, rash), nausea, liver toxicity</li> </ul><p>Ren&eacute;e Sharp, the EWG's director of toxics research, explained that the associated health risks are "more chronic than acute": If a child eats too much of a given nutrient over a long period of time, he or she might experience the associated illnesses down the line. The tricky part is that it's nearly impossible to link a specific case of an illness to overconsumption of fortified food, so there isn't a hard and fast set of rules on what to eat and what to avoid. But, according to the report, several studies have shown that "cumulative exposures from fortified food and supplements could put children at risk for potential adverse effects." Put more simply by Sharp: "if your kid is eating highly fortified cereal, and that kid is also eating snack bars and other fortified foods and you're giving your kid a vitamin pill, that adds up. And there's no reason to put your kid at that risk."</p> <p>Part of the reason for childrens' overconsumption of certain nutrients is marketing: If products are marketed as healthy, people are <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21806872" target="_blank">more likely to buy them</a>. According to New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle, "Plenty of research demonstrates that nutrients sell food products. Any health or health-like claim on a food product&mdash;vitamins added, no trans fats, organic&mdash;makes people believe that the product has fewer calories and is a health food&hellip;Added vitamins are about marketing, not health."</p> <p>Adding to the confusion among shoppers is nutrition labels. Young kids have significantly lower recommended daily intakes of nutrients than adults, but nutrition labels, even on brands marketed toward kids, almost always show the recommended values for adults. Furthermore, the EWG contends that the intake recommendations, which were calculated by the FDA in 1968, are themselves out of date: "Those values were set at a time when people were worried about nutrient deficiencies," explained Sharp. "Scientists just hadn't done as much research on the potential pitfalls of overconsuming nutrients. Things have changed."</p> <p>Zinc perfectly exemplifies this double whammy. The&nbsp;FDA currently recommends that adults consume 15&nbsp;milligrams of zinc per day, and that children younger than five consume 8 milligrams per day. But food packaging, which shows recommended intake levels calculated in '60s, still says that adults should consume&nbsp;20 milligrams per day. "If you think about it, every single food sitting in&nbsp;the grocery store has&nbsp;a nutrition fact panel right now that is largely irrelevant for young children," says Valerie Tarasuk, a University of Toronto nutritional scientist.</p> <p>In the years since the FDA calculated its recommended Daily Values, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, have developed "Tolerable Upper Intake Levels" for these three nutrients (referenced in the graph above).&nbsp;Often, they're considerably lower than the FDA's recommended daily allowances. An FDA proposal to revise nutrition labels is currently open for public comment. Though the FDA proposed similar changes in 2003, the Daily Values for nutrients have remained consistent since the 1960s. An FDA spokesperson declined to comment for this article.</p> <p>In EWG's review of fortified foods, the top source of excessive intake of the three studied nutrients was cereal. Cereals made up 43 percent of all sources of preformed vitamin A, 52 percent of added niacin, and 97 percent of added zinc.</p> <p>But not all cereals are fortified equally. The EWG's analysis of the nutrition labels for 1,556 cereal brands found that 114 cereals were fortified with 30 percent or more of the FDA's daily intake values (for adults) of vitamin A, zinc, or niacin. The full list of those cereals is <a href="http://static.ewg.org/reports/2014/children_at_risk/pdf/too_much_of_a_good_thing.pdf" target="_blank">here</a>, but here are a few brands you might recognize:</p> <ul><li>Cap'n Crunch's Chocolatey Crunch</li> <li>Food Lion Whole Grain 100 Cereal</li> <li>General Mills Fiber One, Honey Clusters</li> <li>General Mills Wheaties</li> <li>General Mills Total Raisin Bran</li> <li>Kashi U 7 Whole Grain Flakes &amp; Granola with Black Currants &amp; Walnuts</li> <li>Kellogg's Crispix Cereal</li> <li>Kellogg's Smart Start, Original Antioxidants</li> <li>Kellogg's Special K</li> <li>Kroger Frosted Flakes of Corn</li> <li>Malt-O-Meal Corn Bursts</li> <li>Safeway Kitchens Bran Flakes</li> <li>Stop &amp; Shop/Giant Source 100 Crispy Whole Grain Wheat &amp; Brown Rice Flakes</li> <li>Trader Joe's Bran Flakes</li> </ul></body></html> Blue Marble Charts Econundrums Food and Ag Health Top Stories Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:30:21 +0000 Julia Lurie 254166 at http://www.motherjones.com These Maps Show How Many Brutally Hot Days You Will Suffer When You're Old http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/how-many-really-hot-days-there-will-be-time-you-are-old <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/DaysOver95-MJ.jpg"><div class="caption">Risky Business</div> </div> <p>One of the main difficulties in getting people to care about climate change is that it can be hard to notice on a daily basis. But the prospect of sweating profusely through your golden years? That's more arresting.</p> <p>If you're aged 4 to 33 right now, the map above shows you how many very hot days&mdash;those with temperatures over 95 degrees Fahrenheit&mdash;you're likely to experience by the time you're elderly. It comes from a <a href="http://riskybusiness.org/index.php?p=about" target="_blank">new report</a> by the economics research firm Rhodium Group, which was commissioned by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Henry Paulson, the Republican Treasury secretary under George W. Bush; and Tom Steyer, the billionaire Bay Area entrepreneur and&nbsp;environmentalist.&nbsp;</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/06/how-many-really-hot-days-there-will-be-time-you-are-old"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Charts Climate Change Climate Desk Science Tue, 24 Jun 2014 16:14:10 +0000 Tim McDonnell 254676 at http://www.motherjones.com What Does "Natural" Mean? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/natural-foods-label <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Last year, according to Nielsen, foods labeled "natural" <a href="http://www.nmisolutions.com/index.php/what-we-do/news-a-publications/nmi-trend-insights/175-whats-selling-winning-losing-and-struggling" target="_blank">generated $43 billion in sales.</a> That's more than five times the figure for foods carrying an "organic" label ($8.9 billion). A new Consumer Reports <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/06/say-no-to-natural-on-food-labels/index.htm" target="_blank">survey</a> of 1,000 people found that two-thirds of respondents believed&nbsp; that a "natural" label meant that a food contained:</p> <ul><li>No artificial materials during processing</li> <li>No pesticides</li> <li>No artificial ingredients</li> <li>No GMOs</li> </ul><p>More than half of those surveyed said that they specifically looked for a "natural" label on their foods.</p> <p>There's just one problem: There are no real federal regulations around the word "natural."</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/06/natural-foods-label"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Food and Ag Explainers Wed, 18 Jun 2014 10:00:11 +0000 Lei Wang 254291 at http://www.motherjones.com Weather-Sensitive Watering, and 4 Other Simple Fixes for California's Drought http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/pacific-institute-nrdc-california-drought-solutions <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>There's been a lot of scary news on the drought front lately. In the midst of its third dry year in a row (<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/california-drought-matters-more-just-california" target="_blank">and what's shaping up to be the driest in 500 years</a>), California faces worsening wildfires and drinking water shortages. The state will likely have to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/01/california-drought-scary-facts-snowpack" target="_blank">rely on dirty and costly fossil fuels instead of hydropower for energy</a>. Plus, because the state is the nation's largest agricultural producer and international exporter, California's crisis will have severe economic implications for the entire country, including raising the price of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/06/california-drought-water-produce-fruit-vegetables" target="_blank">your favorite produce</a>.</p> <p>Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on water supply options that are now tapped out, and a recent survey showed that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/drought-poll" target="_blank">Californians are unwilling to invest</a> in any new infrastructure or programs. Are we doomed?</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/06/pacific-institute-nrdc-california-drought-solutions"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Climate Change Economy Energy Top Stories Tue, 17 Jun 2014 10:01:13 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 253981 at http://www.motherjones.com Don't Believe Anything You Read About Pomegranate Juice http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/supreme-court-pomegranate-juice-pom-wonderful <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In ancient Greek mythology, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomegranate#Ancient_Greece" target="_blank">pomegranates symbolized death</a>. They were certainly a source of grief for Coca-Cola on Thursday morning, when <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/13/business/supreme-court-says-coca-cola-can-be-sued-by-Pom-Wonderful.html?hp" target="_blank">the Supreme Court ruled unanimously</a> that the pomegranate juice company POM Wonderful can sue Coke for marketing a product that contains 99.4 percent apple and grape juice as "Blueberry Pomegranate."</p> <p>And like many Greek myths, the Supreme Court decision is also rich with irony: <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-us-juice-maker-pom-fights-misleading-advertising-charge-20140502,0,1938554.story" target="_blank">POM is currently locked in a separate court battle</a> over allegations that its own pomegranate juice marketing misleads consumers.</p> <p>Both companies have relied on some pretty questionable rhetoric. Coke claimed that because the Food and Drug Administration had approved its juice label, it couldn't be sued under other trademark laws for misleading consumers. "We don&rsquo;t think that consumers are quite as unintelligent as POM must think they are," Coke's lawyer <a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/12-761_8m58.pdf" target="_blank">Kathleen Sullivan told the Court </a>in April&mdash;an argument that fell flat when Justice Anthony Kennedy responded, "Don't make me feel bad because I thought that this was pomegranate juice."</p> <p>But as HBO's John Oliver <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JLxHgsEjzw" target="_blank">has pointed out</a>, POM isn't exactly a hero here. In September 2010, the <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2010/09/ftc-complaint-charges-deceptive-advertising-pom-wonderful" target="_blank">Federal Trade Commission charged</a> POM with falsely claiming that its products could prevent or treat a variety of medical conditions. According to the FTC, claims that POM juice has "SUPER HEALTH POWERS!... Backed by $25 million in medical research [and p]roven to fight for cardiovascular, prostate and erectile health" have no basis in reality.</p> <p>POM has contested the FDA's complaint, but <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/16/ftc-pom-advertising-idUSL1E9CGA4520130116" target="_blank">so far</a>, judges have sided with the federal agency. The case has made its way to federal appeals court in Washington, where the judges don't seem particularly sympathetic. At a hearing in May, Judge Merrick Garland read one of POM's ads aloud and <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-us-juice-maker-pom-fights-misleading-advertising-charge-20140502,0,1938554.story" target="_blank">said</a>, "I don't understand if you look at those two paragraphs how you can say that it's not misleading."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Fri, 13 Jun 2014 17:28:32 +0000 Rebecca Cohen 254001 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch Live: Can China Survive a Fracking Revolution? The United States Sure Hopes So. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/watch-live-can-china-survive-fracking-revolution-special-mother-jones-event <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="385" scrolling="no" src="http://cdn.livestream.com/embed/asiasociety?layout=4&amp;color=0xe7e7e7&amp;autoPlay=false&amp;mute=false&amp;iconColorOver=0x888888&amp;iconColor=0x777777&amp;allowchat=true&amp;height=385&amp;width=640" style="border:0;outline:0" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>China is on the brink of an energy revolution: fracking. And it's enlisting American energy companies&nbsp;to help implement the technology that blasts shale rock formations deep underground to unlock natural gas. For this event at the <a href="http://asiasociety.org/" target="_blank">Asia Society in New York City</a>, my colleague Jaeah Lee and I are debuting field reporting from a month's worth of exhilarating, exhausting travels deep into Sichuan province, to see China's first fracking wells for ourselves.</p> <p>Watch the livestream of the event above to catch Jaeah and me discussing the big business&nbsp;of fracking in China&mdash;and its potential health and environmental costs. The other panelists are&nbsp;<a href="http://orvilleschell.com/" target="_blank">Orville Schell</a>, the great chronicler of modern Chinese politics and society;&nbsp;Josh Fox, the director of the anti-fracking documentary&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/" target="_blank">Gasland</a>;&nbsp;</em>and Ella Chou, <a href="https://twitter.com/ellachou" target="_blank">an energy analyst</a> who is trying to work out how China can break its deadly addiction to coal.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video China Energy Wed, 11 Jun 2014 20:22:06 +0000 James West 253886 at http://www.motherjones.com Has This Chilean Architect Figured Out How To Fix Slums? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/want-reduce-sprawl-build-half-house <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/radical%20cities.jpg"></div> <p>In the United States, we tend to think of the suburbs as the historic domain of the middle class. It's where the boomers went after fleeing the cities to accommodate their growing families (although the demographics of the suburbs are <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2013/may/20/local/la-me-suburban-poverty-20130520" target="_blank">now changing</a>).</p> <p>But in Latin America, urban peripheries are less commonly populated by leafy suburbs for the rich than by slums for the poor. These shantytowns typically lack basic infrastructure like paved roads, sewers, and tap water. Living far from the city, residents are often forced to make long and expensive commutes.</p> <p>But in the medium-sized Chilean port city of Iquique, one architect, <a href="http://justinmcguirk.com/alejandro-aravena" target="_blank">Alejandro Aravena</a>, had a solution: partial houses, located at the center of town, equipped with only the barest necessities&mdash;and space for residents to build on, bit by bit, as they can afford it.&nbsp;</p> <p>When they were first built fourteen years ago for about 100 families, Aravena's flagship projects, called the Quinta Monroy Houses, came with all the core necessities&mdash;a roof, a bathroom, a kitchen. With a little more than 300 square feet in floor space to start with, the houses were 25 percent smaller than the average public housing unit in Chile, but with an extra-wide foundation, residents had plenty of room to expand.</p> <p>In his new book, <a href="http://www.versobooks.com/books/1646-radical-cities" target="_blank"><em>Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture</em></a>, journalist Justin McGuirk writes that when Aravena first launched the project through his firm, <a href="http://www.elementalchile.cl/?lang_pref=es" target="_blank">Elemental</a>, a number of critics were appalled. They argued that the government should provide complete houses, since incomplete houses require the occupant to perform manual labor. But where some saw a failure in the making, others welcomed change. In the 1970's, under Chile's socialist president Salvador Allende, the government prioritized building completed public housing, even enlisting a Soviet-made pre-fabricated house factory for the job. But despite the initial gusto, the government quickly ran out of the resources to continue. In three years, the slum population rose more than 130 percent.</p> <p>Since the Allende period, the government has shifted to a hybrid market-government approach, giving subsidies to the poor to buy houses and land. At the time Aravena built Quinta Monroy, the government offered $7,500 per family&mdash;usually too little to buy a complete house, but just enough to make Aravena's stripped-down models affordable.</p> <p>As residents expanded their houses, their value grew. <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCIQFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.helsinkidesignlab.org%2Ffiles%2F361%2Foriginal.pdf&amp;ei=g3eXU5-lFNSjqAaGx4CwAg&amp;usg=AFQjCNHoHHKud-_RmqEzj02pIoqATgqTpw&amp;sig2=7kEKuDwWH_h1q-4FaF6cpg&amp;bvm=bv.68445247,d.b2k" target="_blank">One study (PDF)</a>, sponsored by the Finnish government, found that in its first two years, Quinta Monroy's 100 families had made an average of $750 in improvements per unit, doubling the size of their homes and raising the houses' value to an estimated $20,000 each. One six-year resident McGuirk speaks with says that after the subsidy, he spent just $400 of his own money to buy a basic Quinta Monroy house. But after saving up and adding four bedrooms and an extra bathroom, he estimates he has increased the value of his home to $50,000.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="The Quinta Monroy houses" class="image" src="/files/Quinta-Monroy-III.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The Quinta Monroy houses before residents doubled their size with their own improvements </strong>Crist&oacute;bal Palma/Verso Books</div> </div> <p>It's hard to see a plan like this taking off in the United States, given our long permitting processes and strict building codes. And even in Iquique, some of the half-houses look similar to the shantytowns they were designed to replace: While some residents have transformed their homes into elegant structures with balconies and trim, "other add-ons look like slum shacks wedged between concrete houses," McGuirk says.</p> <p>Still, other countries see promise in Aravena's idea. Already, Elemental has built and sold hundreds of half-houses in Chile, and it's testing the idea in Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru. "These are places where Aravena can still make a difference," McGuirk says.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Books International Top Stories Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:00:25 +0000 Alex Park 253686 at http://www.motherjones.com SunnyD's New Teen Energy Drink Has More Calories Than Coke http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/sunnyds-new-energy-drink-teens-sugar <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="354" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/BGEtv/3/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>From the people who brought you the "<a href="http://www.sunnyd.com/about/index.html#" target="_blank">fruit-flavored beverage</a>" SunnyD comes a brand new product: <a href="http://sunnydx.com/" target="_blank">SunnyD X</a>, a caffeine- and taurine-free energy drink just for teens. For now, it's available only in convenience stores in Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. But Sunny Delight Beverages Co. said in a press release that it has big plans to market it at "venues and locations of interest to teens, such as concerts, sporting events, skate parks and beaches."</p> <p>David Zellen, the company's associate marketing director, touted the beverage as "carbonated energy that is uniquely provided by a combination of three carbohydrates, as well as seven B-vitamins to help metabolize the carbohydrates into energy." He added, "Simply put, SunnyD X offers the energy teens crave without the ingredients moms tell us concern them, such as caffeine and taurine. It's a win-win."</p> <p>Here's what he didn't mention: SunnyD X's mega-dose of sugar, a whopping 50 grams per 16-oz. serving. That adds up to a lot of calories: SunnyD X has 200 calories per 16-oz. serving, while an equal amount of Coca-Cola Classic has 187 calories and 52 grams of sugar.</p> <p>I asked company spokeswoman Sydney McHugh whether the company was at all concerned about the teen drink, which contains just 5 percent juice, contributing to childhood obesity. "I can tell you that we chose to use sugar as a safer source of energy," she wrote to me in an email. Then, she pointed me toward a <a href="http://ww2.sunnyd.com/company/news_pop12.shtml" target="_blank">press release</a> in which&nbsp;Ellen Iobst, the company's chief sustainability officer, bragged that the company had reduced its average calories per serving from 92 to 48 since 2007. "Socially, we need to be taking care of the communities where we do business and our employees," she said. "This is a way to help alleviate the obesity epidemic." Mind you, the calorie count in SunnyD X is more than quadruple that average.</p> <p>Here's the nutritional information for SunnyD X's orange flavor. Check out the tongue-twisting list of ingredients, too.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/sunny-D-630.gif"><div class="caption">Image from Sunny Delight Beverage Co.</div> </div> <p>HT <a href="http://consumerist.com/2014/06/09/sunny-delight-now-has-an-energy-drink-for-teens/" target="_blank">Consumerist</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Health Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:00:25 +0000 Kiera Butler 253776 at http://www.motherjones.com Californians Want to Fix the Drought—Without Spending Any Money http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/drought-poll <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Californians agree their state's drought is a big problem, but they're not enthused about spending money to alleviate it. That's one of the takeaways from a just-released <a href="http://www.latimes.com/science/la-me-poll-drought-20140606-story.html" target="_blank">University of Southern California/<em>Los Angeles Times </em>poll</a>. Some other findings:</p> <p><strong>Big problem, getting bigger</strong></p> <p>Just prior to California's last gubernatorial election in November 2010, <a href="http://gqrr.com/images/Blog_posts/documents/USC-LAT/111410_USC_LA_Times_fq.pdf" target="_blank"><strong>46 percent</strong></a> of voters agreed that "having enough water to meet our future needs" mattered "a great deal." The proportion of people who care a lot about water issues has crept up a lot since then:</p> <ul><li>Last September, <strong>63 percent</strong> of voters called the drought a "crisis or major problem."</li> <li><strong>89 percent</strong> of voters call the drought a "crisis or major problem" now.<br> &nbsp;</li> </ul><p><strong>Save us some water, just don't send us the bill</strong></p> <p>Californians are notoriously tax averse, but even what may be the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/california-drought-matters-more-just-california" target="_blank">worst drought in 500 years</a> is apparently not enough to get most voters to agree that the state should improve its water infrastructure:&nbsp;</p> <ul><li><strong>36 percent </strong>of voters said the state should improve water storage and delivery systems, even if it costs money.</li> <li><strong>52 percent</strong> said the state should address these problems without spending money, by taking measures like encouraging conservation.<br> &nbsp;</li> </ul><p><strong>Poorer people and Latinos&nbsp;are feeling harder hit</strong></p> <p>The poll found:</p> <ul><li><strong style="line-height: 24px;">11 </strong><strong style="line-height: 24px;">percent</strong>of people making more than $50,000 annually&nbsp;said the drought had a "major impact" on their lives.</li> <li><strong style="line-height: 24px;">24 percent</strong> of people making less than $50,000 annually said the same.&nbsp;</li> <li><strong style="line-height: 24px;">29 percent&nbsp;</strong>of people making less than $20,000 annually<strong>&nbsp;</strong>said the same.</li> </ul><p>It's worth noting that some of California's poorest people are <a href="http://westernfarmpress.com/government/quarter-california-farmworkers-live-poverty" target="_blank">Hispanic farm workers</a>. While <strong>25 percent </strong>of Latinos surveyed said the drought had a "major impact" on their lives, just <strong>13 percent </strong>of people from other racial groups said the same.&nbsp;</p> <p><br><strong>Climate denial</strong></p> <p>A <a href="http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2014/04/24/study-links-california-drought-to-global-climate-change/" target="_blank">recent study</a> has linked the drought to climate change, but some Californians still aren't so sure about the connection. While <strong>78 percent</strong> of Democrats said climate change was "very or somewhat responsible" for California's water trouble, only <strong>44 percent</strong> of Republicans agreed.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Food and Ag Top Stories Sat, 07 Jun 2014 10:00:14 +0000 Alex Park 253591 at http://www.motherjones.com How Much Cleaner Will Obama's Climate Rules Make Your State? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/heres-how-much-epa-wants-your-state-clean <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency rolled out the centerpiece of President Obama's climate strategy&mdash;a plan to limit carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's power plants. The main takeaway was that by 2030 the regulations will cut these emissions, the biggest single driver of global warming, by 30 percent compared to 2005 levels. But under the hood, things get a little more complex.</p> <p>Rather than a consistent national standard, the proposed rule sets a different standard for every state, based on the EPA's assessment of what each state can realistically achieve using existing technology at a reasonable cost. The goal applies to a state's carbon intensity, the measure of how much carbon pollution comes from each unit of electricity produced in that state, rather than total carbon emissions. States like Kentucky and West Virginia, for example, rely heavily on coal power and have a higher carbon intensity than states like California that are more energy-efficient and have more renewable energy. By 2030, each state will be required to meet a carbon intensity target lower than where it is today; how much lower, exactly, depends on what the EPA thinks the state can pull off.</p> <p>States will have broad leeway to devise individual plans to meet their targets, which could include installing air-scrubbing technology on plants themselves, adopting more robust energy efficiency standards, or switching from coal to cleaner sources like natural gas or renewables.</p> <p>Here's a ranking of which states will have to shrink their carbon footprint the most:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="required cuts" class="image" src="/files/state-cuts-MJ1_1.jpg"><div class="caption">Tim McDonnell</div> </div></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/06/heres-how-much-epa-wants-your-state-clean"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Charts Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Infrastructure Tue, 03 Jun 2014 18:15:05 +0000 Tim McDonnell 253216 at http://www.motherjones.com Cops and Firefighters Could Soon Be Charged for Disclosing Fracking Chemicals in North Carolina http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/05/north-carolina-criminalize-disclosing-fracking-chemicals-doctors-firefighters <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p style="clear:none;">North Carolina lawmakers have softened&nbsp;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/05/north-carolina-felony-fracking-chemicals-disclosure" target="_blank">a controversial bill</a>&nbsp;that would have made it a felony to disclose the chemicals used in&nbsp;fracking. Under the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S786v7.pdf" target="_blank">version</a>&nbsp;of the law that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2013&amp;BillID=S786" target="_blank">passed the state legislature</a>&nbsp;on Thursday, the offense has been knocked down to a misdemeanor.&nbsp;But legal experts say the language may still&nbsp;allow&nbsp;companies to press criminal charges against individuals who disclose what they learn about&nbsp;fracking&nbsp;chemicals&mdash;including doctors or fire chiefs.</p> <p style="clear:none;">Known as the "Energy Modernization Act," the legislation is partly meant to establish&nbsp;protocols for firefighters and health care providers to access information about chemicals during emergencies. However, it also gives oil and gas companies&nbsp;the right to require emergency responders to sign&nbsp;confidentiality agreements.&nbsp;The previous&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncleg.net/Applications/BillLookUp/LoadBillDocument.aspx?SessionCode=2013&amp;DocNum=7819&amp;SeqNum=0" target="_blank">version</a>&nbsp;of the bill, which was introduced on May 15 by&nbsp;three&nbsp;Republican state senators&mdash;&acirc;&#128;&#139;including a member of North Carolian GOP leadership&mdash;called for&nbsp;fines and prison time as punishment for disclosing proprietary chemical formulas.</p> <p>Following widespread public outcry, lawmakers have reduced&nbsp;the&nbsp;penalty to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_15a/GS_15a-1340.23.html" target="_blank">community service</a>. But they&nbsp;failed to clarify confusing language from an earlier draft that might subject fire chiefs and health care providers to criminal charges.&nbsp;This provision could prevent emergency responders from speaking about their experiences with chemical accidents to colleagues<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 11.818181991577148px; line-height: 23.99147605895996px;">&mdash;</span>even when the information is relevant to&nbsp;emergency planning or patient care.</p> <p>How much the public is entitled to know about chemicals injected into the ground <span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 11.818181991577148px; line-height: 23.99147605895996px;">during the&nbsp;</span>fracking<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 11.818181991577148px; line-height: 23.99147605895996px;">&nbsp;process&nbsp;</span>to&nbsp;break up natural gas-rich shale formations&nbsp;is one of the hottest issues surrounding&nbsp;fracking. Most energy companies maintain that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.propublica.org/article/critics-find-gaps-in-state-laws-to-disclose-hydrofracking-chemicals" target="_blank">the information should be proprietary</a>. Public health advocates counter that they can't monitor the environmental and health impacts without knowing what chemicals are involved.</p> <p>Many North Carolina officials have come down hard on the side of&nbsp;industry.&nbsp;As&nbsp;<em>Mother Jones</em>&nbsp;has <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/05/north-carolina-felony-fracking-chemicals-disclosure" target="_blank">reported</a>, the&nbsp;North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission, which is writing&nbsp;fracking&nbsp;regulations to complement the&nbsp;Energy Modernization Act,&nbsp;put off approving a near-final chemical disclosure rule because Haliburton<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 11.818181991577148px; line-height: 23.99147605895996px;">&mdash;</span>a major player in the&nbsp;fracking&nbsp;industry&acirc;&#128;&#139;<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 11.818181991577148px; line-height: 23.99147605895996px;">&mdash;</span>complained that the proposal was too strict.</p> <p>The current version of the&nbsp;act sailed through the North Carolina legislature with no debate. Following the bill's passage last&nbsp;Thursday,&nbsp;Gov. Pat McCrory&nbsp;told reporters that he "absolutely" supports the legislation. This week, he's expected to sign the measure into law.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk Energy Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Mon, 02 Jun 2014 16:50:47 +0000 Molly Redden 253071 at http://www.motherjones.com WATCH: This Thunderstorm Time Lapse Is Absolutely Nuts http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/05/watch-thunderstorm-time-lapse-absolutely-nuts <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Look! In the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...OH JESUS LORD GOD, NO, THE GATES OF ANOTHER DIMENSION ARE OPENING!</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Some epic structure by Clareton, WY several hours ago!!! <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23wywx&amp;src=hash">#wywx</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23weather&amp;src=hash">#weather</a> <a href="http://t.co/WzCMdKnf6D">pic.twitter.com/WzCMdKnf6D</a></p> &mdash; Basehunters Chasing (@Basehunters) <a href="https://twitter.com/Basehunters/statuses/468205231487324160">May 19, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p><em>The Washington Post</em> <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/05/19/wow-wyoming-surreal-supercell-thunderstorm-time-lapse-photos-and-video/" target="_blank">explains</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Fledgling low pressure forming downwind of the Rockies spun up a towering thunderstorm so imposing that the footage almost seems fake &ndash; as if from a sci-fi movie or another planet.</p> </blockquote> <p>Pray! Confess thy sins, for the dark days are upon us!</p> <blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/05/19/wow-wyoming-surreal-supercell-thunderstorm-time-lapse-photos-and-video/" target="_blank">Spectacular cannot</a> even describe the time lapse video from this spinning supercell storm that blossomed in eastern Wyoming Sunday evening, near Newcastle.&nbsp; The action really gets going about 55 seconds in.</p> </blockquote> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/VoO89cqDgJU" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>It looks like Storm from the "X-Men" franchise and Thor from the "Thor" franchise teamed up and took the show on the road!</p> <p>Anyway, have a nice day.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Mon, 19 May 2014 15:29:33 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 252156 at http://www.motherjones.com North Carolina GOP Pushes Unprecedented Bill to Jail Anyone Who Discloses Fracking Chemicals http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/05/north-carolina-felony-fracking-chemicals-disclosure <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As hydraulic fracturing ramps up around the country, so do concerns about its health impacts. These concerns have led 20 states to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/house-republicans-fracking-toxic-chemical-regulations-epa" target="_blank">require the disclosure</a> of industrial chemicals used in the fracking process.</p> <p>North Carolina isn't on that list of states yet&mdash;and it may be hurtling in the opposite direction.</p> <p>On Thursday, three Republican state senators introduced <a href="http://www.ncleg.net/Applications/BillLookUp/LoadBillDocument.aspx?SessionCode=2013&amp;DocNum=7819&amp;SeqNum=0" target="_blank">a bill</a> that would slap a felony charge on individuals who disclosed confidential information about fracking chemicals. The bill, whose sponsors include a member of Republican party leadership, establishes procedures for fire chiefs and health care providers to obtain chemical information during emergencies. But as the trade publication <em>Energywire</em> <a href="http://www.eenews.net/energywire/2014/05/16/stories/1059999688" target="_blank">noted</a> Friday, individuals who leak information outside of emergency settings could be penalized with fines and several months in prison.</p> <p>"The felony provision is far stricter than most states' provisions in terms of the penalty for violating trade secrets," says Hannah Wiseman, a Florida State University assistant law professor who studies fracking regulations.</p> <p>The bill also allows companies that own the chemical information to require emergency responders to sign a confidentiality agreement. And it's not clear what the penalty would be for a health care worker or fire chief who spoke about their experiences with chemical accidents to colleagues.</p> <p>"I think the only penalties to fire chiefs and doctors, if they talked about it at their annual conference, would be the penalties contained in the confidentiality agreement," says Wiseman. "But [the bill] is so poorly worded, I cannot confirm that if an emergency responder or fire chief discloses that confidential information, they too would not be subject to a felony." In some sections, she says, "That appears to be the case."</p> <p>The disclosure of the chemicals used to break up shale formations and release natural gas is one of the most heated issues surrounding fracking. Many energy companies argue that <a href="http://www.propublica.org/article/critics-find-gaps-in-state-laws-to-disclose-hydrofracking-chemicals" target="_blank">the information should be proprietary</a>, while public health advocates counter that they can't monitor for environmental and health impacts without it. Under public pressure, a few companies <a href="http://www.propublica.org/article/critics-find-gaps-in-state-laws-to-disclose-hydrofracking-chemicals" target="_blank">have begun</a> to report chemicals voluntarily.</p> <p>North Carolina has banned fracking until the state can approve regulations. The bill introduced Thursday, titled the Energy Modernization Act, is meant to complement the rules currently being written by the North Carolina Mining &amp; Energy Commission.</p> <p>Wiseman adds that, other than the felony provision, the bill proposes disclosure laws similar to those in many other states: "It allows for trade secrets to remain trade secrets, it provides only limited exceptions for reasons of emergency and health problems, and provides penalties for failure to honor the trade secret."</p> <p>Draft regulations from the North Carolina commission have been <a href="http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/05/02/2866836/fracking-giant-halliburton-nixes.html" target="_blank">praised</a> as some of the strongest fracking rules in the country. But observers already worry that the final regulations will be significantly weaker. In early May, the commission put off approving a near-final chemical disclosure rule because Haliburton, which has huge stakes in the fracking industry, complained the proposal was too strict, the <em>News &amp; Observer </em><a href="http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/05/02/2866836/fracking-giant-halliburton-nixes.html" target="_blank">reported</a>.</p> <p>For portions of the Republican-controlled North Carolina government to kowtow to the energy industry is not surprising. In February, the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/02/north-carolina-protected-duke-energy-pollution-complaints-its-coal-ash-disaster" target="_blank"><em>Associated Press</em> reported</a> that under Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, North Carolina's top environmental regulators previously <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/nc-regulators-shielded-dukes-coal-ash-pollution" target="_blank">thwarted three separate Clean Water Act lawsuits</a> aimed at forcing Duke Energy, the largest electricity utility in the country, to clean up its toxic coal ash pits in the state. Had those lawsuits been allowed to progress, they may have prevented the February rupture of a coal ash storage pond, which poured some 80,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River.</p> <p>"Environmental groups say they favor some of the provisions [in the Energy Modernization Act]," <em>Energywire</em> <a href="http://www.eenews.net/energywire/2014/05/16/stories/1059999688" target="_blank">reported</a> Friday. "It would put the state geologist in charge of maintaining the chemical information and would allow the state's emergency management office to use it for planning. It also would allow the state to turn over the information immediately to medical providers and fire chiefs."</p> <p>However, environmentalists point out that the bill would also prevent local governments from passing any rules on fracking and limit water testing that precedes a new drilling operation.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk Energy Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Mon, 19 May 2014 14:15:32 +0000 Molly Redden 252076 at http://www.motherjones.com VIDEO: Is the BP Oil Spill Cleanup Still Making People Sick? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/05/bp-oil-spill-cleanup-still-making-people-sick <!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="//www.youtube.com/embed/wLzacnH3u50" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, when an oil rig explosion sent five million barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, the company behind the spill, BP, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2010/08/bp-ocean-timeline-damage-control" target="_blank">went swiftly into damage-control mode</a>. One of its first steps was to buy up a third of the world's supply of chemical dispersants, including one called Corexit that was designed to concentrate oil into droplets that sink into the water column, where in theory they can be degraded by bacteria and stay off beaches.</p> <p>After the spill, roughly two million gallons of Corexit were dumped into the Gulf. There's just one problem: Despite BP's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2010/09/bp-ocean-cover-up?page=2" target="_blank">protestations to the contrary</a>, Corexit is believed to be highly toxic&mdash;not just to marine life but also to the workers who were spraying it and locals living nearby&mdash;according to a new segment on <em>Vice</em> that will air tonight on HBO at 11 pm ET. (For its part, <a href="http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/04/watchdog_group_reports_health.html" target="_blank">BP has said</a> that its use of dispersants was approved by the federal government and that it isn't aware of any data that the disperants pose a health threat.)</p> <p>The show follows cleanup workers, local doctors, and shrimpers, and suggests that four years after the spill, Corexit contamination could be nearly as big a problem as the oil itself. You can watch a short clip from tonight's show above.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Climate Desk Energy Fri, 16 May 2014 19:20:42 +0000 Tim McDonnell 252006 at http://www.motherjones.com That Amazing 'Solar Roadways' Project Has a Working Prototype http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/05/amazing-solar-roadways-project-has-working-prototype <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.citylab.com/tech/2014/05/amazing-solar-roadways-project-has-working-prototype/9076/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.citylab.com/" target="_blank">CityLab</a><em> website and is reproduced here as part of the </em><a href="http://climatedesk.org/" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a><em> collaboration.</em></p> <p>Four years ago, Scott and Julie Brusaw announced their provocative concept of "<a href="http://www.solarroadways.com/intro.shtml">Solar Roadways</a>,"a system of modular solar panels that could be paved directly onto roads, parking lots, driveways, bike paths, "literally any surface under the sun." Since then, the Brusaws have received two rounds of funding from the Federal Highway Administration as well as a private grant to develop their project.</p> <p>They now have a working prototype featuring hexagonal panels that cover a 12-by-36-foot parking lot. In addition to the potential to power nearby homes, businesses, and electric vehicles, the panels also have heating elements for convenient snow and ice removal, as well as LEDs that can make road signage. According to the Brusaws' <a href="http://solarroadways.com/numbers.shtml">calculations</a>, Solar Roadways, if installed nationwide, could generate over three times the electricity currently used in the United States.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="solar roadways" class="image" src="/files/rendering1_1.jpg"><div class="caption">Concept rendering by Sam Cornett</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="solar roadways" class="image" src="/files/rendering2.jpg"><div class="caption">Concept rendering by Sam Cornett and Craig Fine</div> </div> <p>Before you ask&mdash;the panels have indeed been tested for traction, load testing, and impact resistance. It's supposed to withstand a 250,000-pound load, typical of the heaviest trucks. For starters, here's footage of a tractor driving over the prototype.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/iKO-sDdJzTw" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>In their current Indiegogo <a href="https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/solar-roadways#home">campaign</a>, the Brusaws are trying to raise $1 million to help move Solar Roadways into production and start installing additional projects. With the campaign only 8 percent funded so far, their plan faces a long road ahead.</p> <p>Here's the full demo.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/SNMFKKyFU60" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk Energy Fri, 16 May 2014 18:48:28 +0000 Jenny Xie 252101 at http://www.motherjones.com This Year's Wildfires Could Incinerate the Nation's Fire Budget http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/05/wildfires-budget-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 upcoming wildfire season could cost $400 million more to fight than the Forest Service and Interior Department have in their available budgets, according to a report those agencies released today.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1151304-flame-forecast-report-may-2014-copy.html" target="_blank">forecast</a> estimates that the Forest Service and Interior will need to spend a combined total of about $1.8 billion fighting wildfires this year (though the actual amount could be significantly higher or lower), while only $1.4 billion is available for that activity. The difference will have to be drawn out of the budget reserved for other activities, including fire-related work like clearing brush and controlled burns. In other words, the cost of fighting fires will take resources away from the very programs designed to keep fires in check.</p> <p>The projected expenditures are the highest in several years, according to a <a href="http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2014/05/0075.xml&amp;contentidonly=true" target="_blank">statement</a> from the US Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service. After record-breaking drought in the West over the last year, this year's fire season is expected to be especially frightful&mdash;by mid-April, California had <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/04/california_s_fire_season_is_basically_year_round_now.html" target="_blank">already tallied nearly 1,000 fires</a> for 2014 (without even counting fires occurring on federal land).</p> <p>"With climate change contributing to longer and more intense wildfire seasons, the dangers and costs of fighting those fires increase substantially," Interior Dept. Assistant Secretary Rhea Suh said in the statement.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/1os6GNzNjsI?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>If you live in a wildfire-prone area, don't panic&mdash;federal firefighters will still be hard at work across the country this summer. But this is a familiar song and dance for the Forest Service: The agency has had to borrow against itself for firefighting costs in 7 of the last 12 years. (Last year was especially bad, as the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/05/wildfire-prevention-flagstaff-arizona-sequester" target="_blank">sequester slashed the fire prevention budget</a>.) The problem stems from the fact that firefighting costs have to be drawn out of the agency's fixed operating budget, rather than a special emergency fund like the kind used by FEMA to pay for recovery from other natural disasters. When costs exceed that budget, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/05/wildfire-prevention-flagstaff-arizona-sequester" target="_blank">preventative programs</a>&mdash;which likely do more to limit the devastation than firefighting itself&mdash;suffer.</p> <p>"This is obviously not a sustainable approach to managing any budget," especially with the high firefighting costs of recent years, said Nature Conservancy policy analyst Cecilia Clavet.</p> <p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/02/26/obama-budget-would-change-wildfire-fighting-formula/" target="_blank">Budget legislation</a> recently introduced in Congress and backed by the White House aims to remedy the recurring problem by creating an emergency fund for federal firefighting agencies to tap when their costs go beyond the fixed budget. But that bill is still in its early stages, and in any case it would only take effect starting in fiscal year 2015, which begins in October&mdash;after the fire season has largely passed.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Top Stories Thu, 01 May 2014 21:27:08 +0000 Tim McDonnell 251091 at http://www.motherjones.com