The WH sent a clear message to Bill McKibben: Obama can't do what needs to be done within the current political forces. Obama needs us to pressure DC to take the action needed for environmental change and reform. The WH message was that WE need to build the movement that gives Obama the room to do what needs to be done. (H/T jillian)
Story continues on the flip.
Top Story Continued
This is an outstanding message of WH support for bottom-up politics, but it is not surprising. Last January, I set out the basic community organizer principles that can be used to implement Obama' s bottom-up politics in Bloggers' Role In Obama's Bottom-Up Presidency. These principles apply to all issues, but this week, I discussed these principles in the context of environmental issues as part of DK GreenRoots week: DK GreenRoots: Obama Wants Green Bottom-Up Politics.
As noted in the GreenRoots version of bottom-up politics, we can use these community organizer principles, which Obama applied to his successful campaign, to build the movement he keeps asking us to build. Daily Kos provides us with the tools we need.
We also now have DK GreenRoots to help build that movement.
Word is already spreading about our new DK GreenRoots, an environmental advocacy group which has 262 members from DK and across the net.
How can you join DK GreenRoots advocacy group?
| If you are interested in environmental issues, please join DK GreenRoots, a new environmental advocacy group created by Meteor Blades and Patriot Daily. DK GreenRoots comprises bloggers at Daily Kos and eco-advocates from other sites. We focus on a broad range of issues and are always open to new ones.
Over the coming weeks and months, DK Greenroots will initiate a variety of environmental projects, some political and some having nothing directly to do with politics at all.
Some projects may involve the creation of eco working groups that can be used for a variety of actions, including implementing political action or drafting proposed legislation. We are in exciting times now because for the first time in decades, significant environmental legislation will be passed by Congress. It is far easier to achieve real change if our proposal is on the table rather than fighting rearguard actions.
We alert each other to important eco-stories in the mainstream media and on the Internet, promote bloggers at one site to readers at other sites, connect bloggers of similar interests to each other and discuss crucial eco-issues.
Come help us put these projects together. Bring ideas of your own. There is no limit on what we can accomplish together.
This is actually last night’s OND, but coding errors prevented publication until Magnifico fixed! It’s a totally green OND, starting first with some examples of eco activism by Obama and then looking at some eco issues that need to be addressed. Next week, my OND will provide its usual coverage of all news topics.
- US Cuts $30 Million Indonesian Debt In Exchange For Promise To Protect Sumatran Forests that are key for endangered species and climate change.
About 10.5 million acres of forest on Sumatra have been cleared since 1985, further threatening a wide variety of endangered species, including elephants, tigers, rhinoceroses and orangutans, found nowhere else and contributing to climate change.
Trees have been lost to deforestation and adapting the land for use as palm oil and acacia plantations. The burning of trees and peat swamps contributes about 80 percent of Indonesia's carbon emissions, and the country has the world's third-highest rate of carbon emissions, U.S. statistics indicate.
- Anti-whaling activists use 'Spaceship' to block harpoons.
JAPAN has asked Australia to prevent the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin leaving port to harass its whalers in the Antarctic next summer, but the plea may have little effect.
The anti-whaling activists plan to upgrade their fleet from an ageing, former North Atlantic fisheries patrol boat to include another ship - something out of the future. The global speedboat Earthrace would head south under Sea Shepherd colours next summer, the group's leader Paul Watson said.
"It looks like a spaceship. It can do 40 knots and dive under waves completely. We'll be using it to intercept and block harpoons."
In 61 days last year Earthrace circled the globe fuelled by biodiesel. The New Zealand owner/skipper, Pete Bethune, said he decided to become involved because "this is happening in my backyard and it really pisses me off. I'm going to make a stand."
- Namibian animal rights activist bids to stop seal slaughter by buying fur company that uses pelts, raising money from online donations.
In a bid to save tens of thousands of baby seals being killed for their fur, Namibia animal rights activist are rushing to raise millions of dollars to buy out a fur company that buys the pelts.
The annual commercial seal harvesting season officially opened on Wednesday with a quota of 85,000 pups due to be clubbed to death on the Namibian coast.
"I got the offer from the Australian-based owner Hatem Yavuz to buy out his company for 14.2 million US dollars by mid-July and I have started an international online appeal to raise the funds," Francois Hugo of Seal Alert South Africa, a seal rehabilitation centre, told AFP by telephone from Cape Town.
"I have placed the plea on YouTube and Facebook over the weekend requesting individuals worldwide to pledge $15 each until the target is reached and many offers have already reached us," Hugo added.
- 'Green Jobs' Pitch Swayed Just Enough Coal-State Lawmakers to Vote for Climate Bill.
In the end, the promise of green jobs trumped worries about the future of coal. It trumped fears about higher energy prices. It trumped everything for Democrats from Ohio who voted overwhelmingly for the House climate bill, helping secure its passage by the narrowest of margins.
- How to Have an Organic Party: 10 easy tips that keep the fun and flavor in BBQs and backyard parties, while lessening their environmental impact. Here are two tips:
Buy Local, Buy Organic
'Tis the season to serve local food. Opt for organic local when you can find it. Why bother with cupcakes when you can serve a flat of local blueberries and first of the season peaches?
Serve Grass-fed Beef (or Why Not Squash?)
The number one way to reduce the impact of a BBQ party is to serve grass-fed hamburgers. The environmental toll of conventional meat is gargantuan. It’s also totally inhumane. See the excellent film Food Inc. for an education (or a refresher course) on hamburger patties, agribusiness chickens and more. Grilled "squash burgers" are another fabulous option – cut pattypans into thick rounds and grill.
- Community-based fishery management.
In my last post, I talked about the importance of sustainable fishery management. Basically, catch shares give fishermen a kind of ownership share in the fish stock - a percentage of a year's harvest. If the fish do well, they get more fish. If not, they get fewer. That theoretically is an incentive for stewardship.
What about community-based management? Communities living next to and using a resource will best manage it, the thinking goes. They have the most to lose from bad management, and the most to gain from good management.
This is what the "Seal Whisperer" wants to stop – Warning Disturbing Video Of Seal Slaughter by Clubbing
- Solar energy helps to power huge ship at Port of Long Beach.
The huge car carrier ship called the M/V Auriga Leader idled at the Port of Long Beach, burning through enough electricity to power 100 homes as workers loaded and unloaded a fleet of Toyotas.
But unlike any of the diesel-spewing, power-draining vessels that travel here, the Auriga Leader sports 328 solar panels on its top deck -- a small array that provides 10% of the energy used by the giant ship while she is docked.
- Big Dreams for New Cars That Fly, Run on Air and Reinvent Internal Combustion.
I am at the Concours d'Elegance in Greenwich, Connecticut last month, and in the center of the field, among the Duesenbergs and Packards, is what looks suspiciously like an airplane. But it's also ground transportation, heir to a rich history of flying cars. I wrote about the car after it made its maiden flight, but this is the first time I'm seeing it in the flesh. It's the Terrafugia Transition, and it's bigger than I thought.
At my request, the Terrafugia guy pushes a button and folds the wings up. On the road, the folded wings are vertical, which eats into visibility somewhat. But the carbon fiber car/plane is quite light (1,350 pounds), and supposedly gets 27 mpg on the road, and 30 in the air, where it cruises at 115 mph.
CEO Carl C. Dietrich tells me that one of the big selling points for this $194,000 device is that "it eliminates hangar fees -- you drive from airport to airport." Caught in bad weather? No problem: Just touch down, fold the wings and drive off. Windshield wipers are included. Some 60 people have put down $10,000 refundable deposits. The Terrafugia first flew last March, and since then the company says it has gone in the air 27 more times.
- Earth's most prominent rainfall feature creeping northward.
The rain band near the equator that determines the supply of freshwater to nearly a billion people throughout the tropics and subtropics has been creeping north for more than 300 years, probably because of a warmer world, according to research published in the July issue of Nature Geoscience.
If the band continues to migrate at just less than a mile (1.4 kilometers) a year, which is the average for all the years it has been moving north, then some Pacific islands near the equator -- even those that currently enjoy abundant rainfall -- may be drier within decades and starved of freshwater by midcentury or sooner. The prospect of additional warming because of greenhouse gases means that situation could happen even sooner.
The findings suggest "that increasing greenhouse gases could potentially shift the primary band of precipitation in the tropics with profound implications for the societies and economies that depend on it," the article says.
- EPA allows TVA to dump spilled coal ash in Alabama landfill.
The nation's largest utility can dump millions of tons of coal ash from a Tennessee spill into an Alabama landfill, federal regulators said Thursday, despite criticism that the plan is unfair to one of Alabama's poorest counties.
The Environmental Protection Agency said it would let the Tennessee Valley Authority ship dredged material about 300 miles from the site of a huge retention pond failure in eastern Tennessee to the Arrowhead Landfill in central Alabama's Perry County.
- Federal stimulus money will go to help restore coral reefs.
An underwater nursery project to restore the struggling coral reefs along Florida's southern coast and the U.S. Virgin Islands will receive $3.3 million in national stimulus funding, according to an announcement Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The nonprofit Nature Conservancy will oversee the project, which expands four existing nurseries of staghorn and elkhorn coral and establishes two new nurseries. Over the next three years, about 12,000 corals will be grown to enhance coral populations at 34 degraded reefs from the Dry Tortugas -- 70 miles west of Key West -- to the waters off Broward County. The stimulus money pays for most of the salaries of 57 positions needed for the project.
- Should Obama Try to Reset the Planet's Thermostat?
On Monday, the Waxman-Markey climate bill moved to the Senate floor after narrowly passing the House. It's a step, yes -- but as everyone knows, cooling the planet will require a lot more than closing an emissions deal. That's why earlier this month the august National Academy of Sciences (NAS) brought together in Washington, DC, leading scientists, economists, policy experts, philosophers, and a menagerie of other experts for a two-day workshop to discuss a crazy-sounding idea: Should the US consider geoengineering the planet's atmosphere to combat global warming?
Once a fringe theory, in recent years the idea that humans can change the Earth's climate through direct intervention has begun to gain credibility in climate change discussions. To be fair, the scientific community's hand is forced: Despite ongoing efforts to curb emissions levels and slow the planet's warming, the warning signs are clearer than ever. Natural disasters abound. Entire regions may be rendered inhabitable. Mass extinction looms on the horizon. Geoengineering proposals have, by necessity, moved from the world of science fiction to potential technology and policy.
- Permafrost melting a growing climate threat -study.
The amount of carbon locked away in frozen soils in the far Northern Hemisphere is double previous estimates and rapid melting could accelerate global warming, a study released on Wednesday says.
Large areas of northern Russia, Canada, Nordic countries and the U.S. state of Alaska have deep layers of frozen soil near the surface called permafrost.
..."Projections show that almost all near-surface permafrost will disappear by the end of this century exposing large carbon stores to decomposition and release of greenhouse gases," he said in a statement.
He said if only 10 per cent of the permafrost melted, this could lead to the release of an additional 80 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere. This would equate to about 0.7 degrees Celsius of global warming.
- Sea level rise: It's worse than we thought.
That's because the fate of the planet's ice, from relatively small ice caps in places like the Canadian Arctic, the Andes and the Himalayas, to the immense ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, will largely determine the speed and extent of sea level rise. At stake are the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, not to mention millions of square kilometres of cities and coastal land, and trillions of dollars in economic terms.
In its 2007 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast a sea level rise of between 19 and 59 centimetres by 2100, but this excluded "future rapid dynamical changes in ice flow". Crudely speaking, these estimates assume ice sheets are a bit like vast ice cubes sitting on a flat surface, which will stay in place as they slowly melt. But what if some ice sheets are more like ice cubes sitting on an upside-down bowl, which could suddenly slide off into the sea as conditions get slippery? "Larger rises cannot be excluded but understanding of these effects is too limited to assess their likelihood," the IPCC report stated.
- Climate efforts: Germany No.1, Canada last.
Germany ranks first among Group of Eight nations for tackling climate change while the United States has passed on the last place to Canada, according to scorecards released Wednesday by the World Wildlife Fund and German insurance giant Allianz.
The ratings, unveiled roughly a week before G8 leaders are due to meet in Italy for their annual summit, blasts Canada for skyrocketing greenhouse gas emissions, now 26 percent above 1990 levels. Russia and Italy rank among the worst in Europe. Russia ranks first for emissions reductions since 1990, but that's largely because of the country's economic collapse after the Cold War. When it comes to future policies, it ranks last.
- G8 summit to seek 80 pct emissions cut by 2050: report.
The Group of Eight rich nations summit in Italy next week is likely to call on industrialised countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, a report said Wednesday.
The reduction target is in the draft of a declaration to be issued at the end of the July 8-10 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, the Nikkei economic daily said, without naming its source.
The base year for comparison is likely to be set at 1990 but it may be a more recent year, and the target would be premised on halving global emissions, including by developing countries, by 2050, the paper said.
- An insurance plan for climate change victims.
Climate models forecast that droughts, floods, heatwaves and severe storms are destined to become more frequent, so what can poor farmers do? US and European farmers buy crop insurance to cope with extreme weather. But the cost of checking claims from smallholder farmers in developing countries is prohibitive, and so insurance companies have tended to steer clear of them.
Now a different type of insurance scheme is being rolled out in Adi Ha and many other places in Africa, Latin America and Asia, backed by corporate giants such as Swiss Re and Munich Re. Instead of insuring against lost crops, "index insurance" protects farmers against the vagaries of the weather. For example, if rain gauges at local weather stations drop below a certain level, insurance companies can automatically transfer a payout to farmers without having to visit them.
Cover is tailored to each region. In Adi Ha, where farmers need the rains to start before a certain date, those who are insured will receive a payment if rains fail to come before an agreed cut-off date. In the hurricane-prone Caribbean, hotel owners can buy insurance that pays out if winds exceed a certain speed. The premiums can cost as little as a few dollars a year.
- Tennessee: Climate game changer.
Today's heat may be tomorrow's balmy weather, and while the Southeast may have more rain, it could come in such downpours the region still would face severe seasonal droughts like that of 2007.
The region's eastern hemlocks will disappear, along with fish such as Tennessee's brook trout and North Georgia's blue shiner. Hardwood forests will contain fewer oaks and more pines, and woodlands gradually could become more like savannas, as catastrophic fires become common.
"We need to understand climate change impacts are no longer hypothetical," said Dr. Thomas J. Wilbanks, a corporate research fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and an author of the national report, "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States."
The report, called "a game changer" by officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is the first of its kind to state and document that climate change has begun.
- Extinction looms for coral reef species, amphibians and mammals, study says.
Governments are failing to stem a rapid decline in biodiversity that is now threatening extinction for almost half the world’s coral reef species, a third of amphibians, and a quarter of mammals, a leading environmental group warned today.
"Life on Earth" is under serious threat, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said in a 155-page report that describes the past five years of a losing battle to protect species, natural habitats, and geographical regions from the devastating effects of man.
IUCN, the producer of the world’s Red List of endangered animals, analyzed more than 44,000 species to test government pledges earlier this decade to halt a global loss in biodiversity by 2010.
- Climate change is shrinking sheep.
Climate change is causing a breed of wild sheep in Scotland to shrink, according to research.
Scientists say milder winters help smaller sheep to survive, resulting in this "paradoxical decrease in size".
Classic evolutionary theory would predict that wild sheep gradually get bigger, as the stronger, larger animals survive into adulthood and reproduce.
Reporting in Science journal, the team says this shows the "subtle interplay" between evolution and the environment.
- Great Lakes wolves returning to endangered list: Animal protection groups win struggle against federal agency.
The federal government on Monday agreed to put gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region back on the endangered species list — at least temporarily.
The decision came less than two months after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discontinued federal protection for about 4,000 wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The agency acknowledged Monday that it erred by not holding a legally required public comment period before taking action.
- Hi-tech puffins to monitor decline in seabird populations. (video at link)
Short, stubby and gifted with a distinctive comedy beak, the puffin is an iconic bird. But seabird may also be the bellwether for a crisis in the seas around Britain.
The puffin now has a new role, helping scientists investigate the causes of a steep decline in seabird numbers across the British Isles using miniaturised digital tracking devices, including one borrowed from in-car satellite navigation systems.
...Confronted by other evidence of a significant change in the North Sea's health, which has led to declines of up to 40% in seabird numbers in just eight years, conservationists have begun a series of urgent studies into its possible causes. Many believe climate change is the main culprit.
- Droughts and floods threaten China's economic growth, forecaster warns.
The annual economic cost of extreme weather has soared from 176.2bn yuan (£15.6bn) on average in the 1990s to 244bn yuan (£21.5bn) between 2004 and last year, according to ministry of civil affairs figures cited by the paper.
Farmers are resorting to their own measures to avoid losses. Wheat producers in Henan, Shandong and Hebei fired chemical pellets into the clouds this month to prevent hail and heavy rain from damaging their harvest.
The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters has also warned that drought has become more frequent since the 1990s, causing more crop failures.
According to the China Daily, the headquarters figures show that annual grain loss caused by drought has averaged 37.3m tonnes since 2000 – almost twice the level in the 1980s -- while the annual average proportion of damaged crops has risen to 59.3%, compared with 48% in the 1990s.
- Organic Farms as Subdivision Amenities.
The bewildered Iowan who converted his farm into a ballpark in "Field of Dreams" in 1989 might reverse the move today. From Vermont to central California, developers are creating subdivisions around organic farms to attract buyers. If you plant it, these developers believe, they will buy.
Increasingly, subdivisions, usually master-planned developments at which buyers buy home sites or raw land, have been treating farms as an amenity. "There are currently at least 200 projects that include agriculture as a key community component," said Ed McMahon, a senior fellow with the Urban Land Institute.
- Money flows into green transport despite recession.
A new generation of mean, green electric machinesMovie Camera is shifting attitudes to the electric car. Most large automobile companies are pouring money into electric vehicle programmes, and a new report shows venture capitalists are hot on their heels.
Despite the financial recession, venture capital investment in green technology rose, for the first time in six months, during the second quarter of 2009 -- and the biggest winner was transport-related technology, according to the report, issued this week by the Cleantech Group and Deloitte.
The problems faced by the traditional automobile industry, particularly companies in the US, are well documented. But for many investors, now is an "historic opportunity" to take a chunk of the market themselves by supporting new clean transportation options, says Brian Fan, senior director of research at Cleantech.
- In S.F., thou shalt compost: It's the law.
San Francisco, renowned for its civic will to save the planet, is now ordering residents and businesses to compost food scraps and biodegradables, or risk fines for not properly sorting their garbage.
...San Francisco is the first major city to mandate that residents divvy up their trash – with green bins for compost, blue for recyclables and black for garbage – to salvage their food scraps.
- Veterans to be trained for green jobs under U.S. program.
A veterans outreach organization in Long Beach was named one of 17 groups nationwide Wednesday to receive a share of $7.5 million to train veterans for green jobs.
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced the agency grants to provide about 3,000 veterans nationwide with training and employment in green jobs. In California, the Long Beach site will get $500,000 to train about 100 veterans in Los Angeles County and find work for them. An additional $300,000 will aid 75 veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- EPA proposes new one-hour NO2 standard in an effort to reduce respiratory illnesses.
EPA has proposed to toughen U.S. nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air quality standard in an effort to protect public health.
The revisions would establish a one-hour NO2 standard, in order to reduce people’s exposure to high, short-term concentrations of NO2. According to the EPA, there is scientific evidence linking these short-term NO2 exposures with increased respiratory problems.
- Heart problems linked to bottle use.
A CHEMICAL commonly used in plastic bottles may be harmful to the heart, a number of US studies have found.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in the manufacture of items such as baby bottles, food containers and refillable drink bottles.
Studies presented at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Washington this month suggest that people with cardiovascular disease have higher levels of the toxin in their urine.
...The American Chemistry Council has warned against re-using plastic bottles unless they are thoroughly washed.
- The EcoUsable Stainless Filtered Water Bottle.
In this time of economic troubles, it is a great time to invest in products that will save you money in the long term, contribute to your healthy lifestyle, are good for the environment, and aremade in the USA. Although there is not yet one magical creation on the market that will eliminate your carbon footprint or transform your garbage to energy, there is definitely an emerging market for gadgets to help you take the steps to being more earth- friendly. Indeed, many of these are small steps for you but can potentially have huge impacts on the earth. One of these products is the EcoUsable Stainless Water Bottle, a light steel water bottle with a built- in filter that claims to filter tap, stream, river, lake, and pool water.
- Pesticide Victory: Proposal to Restrict Toxic Pesticides in Bay Area Endangered Species Habitat.
"Tens of millions of pounds of toxic and poisonous chemicals, known to be deadly to endangered species and harmful to human health, including proven carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, are applied in the Bay Area each year, and many of those find their way through runoff or drift into our soil, creeks and rivers, San Francisco Bay, and sensitive wildlife habitats," said Jeff Miller, conservation advocate with the Center. "The toxic stew of pesticides in the Bay-Delta has played a major role in the collapse of native fish populations, and pesticides are a leading cause of the loss of native amphibians. This agreement is a positive step for protection of some of the Bay Area's most endangered wildlife from pesticides."
Water & Natural Resources
Wildlife & Endangered Species
Economic & Food Links To Climate Change