Trump threatens to pull FEMA money from wildfire victims

Trump threatens to pull FEMA money from wildfire victims

Earlier this week President Trump tweeted out the above tweet and while many of us have ceased to be truly stunned by anything the president says and tweets, him stating that he won’t give government aid to desperate Americans struggling to survive is deeply troubling. Trump’s claim that “forest management” will magically stop the hellish infernos that California experiences each summer has been disproven numerous times but by actual fire scientists.

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Virginia Regulators Ignore Environmental Justice Concerns, Grant Pipeline Permit

Virginia Regulators Ignore Environmental Justice Concerns, Grant Pipeline Permit

Ignoring the pleas of residents of the historic African American community of Union Hill in Richmond, the Virginia state air pollution control board voted unanimously to approve a natural gas compressor station there. 

Why This Matters:  The large and powerful fossil fuel industry always seems to have the upper hand — in DC and in state capitals around the country.  The ruling probably does not matter because the pipeline is mired in more serious federal court litigation.  But environmental groups were disappointed that Democratic Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, replaced two skeptical air pollution control board commissioners whose terms had run out, with two pro-pipeline commissioners.  Governor Northam, according to The Post, attended a political fundraiser with Dominion executives in recent days.  Yup.  It’s all about the money.  

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Defense Think Tank Wades into Ocean Sustainability Fight

Defense Think Tank Wades into Ocean Sustainability Fight

A new “front” opened yesterday in the fight to ensure that the world’s ocean resources are used sustainably, with the launch of the Stephenson Ocean Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  The Project’s web site explains its objective — to raise awareness about the ways that competition for marine resources contributes to instability and geopolitical risk for the United States.

Why This Matters:  Full disclosure — I (Monica) have had a long standing interest in the issue of ocean resources and national security, and have been working to help CSIS get the ball rolling on the project.  I believe that if you substituted the word “oil” for “fish” in the paragraphs above, no one would even blink at the national security implications and environmental significance of this work. Fish in my view could be even more important than oil to a larger segment of the public globally — those in the developing world who don’t have cars but do eat fish. The resources available at the Department of Defense (both technical and financial) could be a game changer for efforts to ensure ocean sustainability into the future.  

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One Wondrous Thing: Free Digit!

One Wondrous Thing: Free Digit!

One of the biggest threats to whales across the globe is getting fatally ensnared in derelict fishing gear.  National Geographic last week told the story of a leading sperm whale researcher working in Dominica in 2015 who spied a familiar juvenile whale named “Digit” with fishing rope tangled on her tail and midsection, which kept her […]

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Balloon bans to follow plastic bags and straws?

Balloon bans to follow plastic bags and straws?

If 2018 was the year of the plastic straw ban then 2019 might shape out to be the year of balloon bans in coastal areas. Before you rush to judgment and say to yourself “these bans are going too far” just consider the fact that balloons filled with helium which are released into the air […]

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Celestial events not to miss in 2019

Celestial events not to miss in 2019


While the new year just began, Mother Nature already has an entire year’s worth of celestial events to behold. The first major event will be a Super Blood Wolf Moon (say that 3X fast) which will occur on January 20th at 11 PM as the full lunar eclipse will begin around 11:41 PM.

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California looks to more distributed solar

California looks to more distributed solar

We wrote recently that after the massively destructive wildfires in California in 2017 and 2018, the state’s largest electric utility, PG&E, was facing criticisms that large utilities have become an obsolete way to provide power to people in a state prone to wildfires. The argument is that PG&E is incapable of managing risk and its response […]

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Government shutdown negatively impacting weather forecasts

Government shutdown negatively impacting weather forecasts

Among the most consequential impacts of the government shutdown are the strain and diminution of capacity to the National Weather Service (NWS) operations, upon which all public and private daily weather forecasts are based. 

Why This Matters: One-third of the U.S. economy is impacted by the weather.  Indeed, as The Post points out, that means many sectors such as transportation, energy, national security, agriculture, the stock market, not to mention forecasts of extreme weather — are now operating on less than the highly accurate forecasts they usually can rely upon. And imagine if we have a “billion dollar” storm such as a “snowmaggedon” while the shutdown drags on, with lives and profits at risk, which seems increasingly probable as we are now squarely in winter snow season.  Offices like the one that Saha works in are down to skeleton staff — only one or two rather than dozens.  This weather forecasting degradation is much riskier to the general public than any risk we face from the lack of a feckless border wall segment.  

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Greenhouse gas emissions increasing again for the first time in nearly a decade

Greenhouse gas emissions increasing again for the first time in nearly a decade

Toxic carbon dioxide emissions (that are an important contributor to global warming)  increased by 3.4% in 2018 after three years of declines, according to a new report based on government statistics released today, demonstrating that the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction on cleaning up air pollution and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Why This Matters:  The Washington Post reported that the study’s authors concluded that we are now experiencing the impacts of the Trump Administration’s regulatory rollbacks of the clean power plan, the clean car rule, and dozens of other rules designed to protect health and reduce air emissions that cause global warming.  And recall that these impacts are not harmless — according to a study by Harvard scientists published last summer in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Trump administration‘s changes to air pollution policies will result in an extra 80,000 deaths per decade.  And we no longer are leading the world on battling climate change, despite the best efforts of states, cities, corporations and individuals.  This should give greater impetus to the Green New Deal proposals likely to emerge from the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives.  

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Toyota goes “pedal to the metal” on electric vehicle plans

Toyota Motor Corporation announced last month that it intends to speed its development and introduction of additional electric vehicles (hybrids, battery electric models and fuel-cell electric), with a goal of having every Toyota and Lexus model include an “electrified” option by 2025. 

Why This Matters:  As we pointed out in another ODP story today, vehicle emissions are rising in the U.S. again — which is very bad news.  This announcement by Toyota shows that even though the Trump Administration is rolling back the clean car standards, the auto industry is going to move in the right direction.  Increasingly, U.S. consumers want to wean themselves off conventional gasoline cars and the market will reflect that.  What is needed is a full suite of electric options — more electric vehicles of all types, sizes, configurations and prices — and more companies like Toyota, Tesla and Volvo that are moving rapidly in that direction.  The future is most definitely electric.

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A challenge to make New York City 100% renewable

A challenge to make New York City 100% renewable

According to a draft of proposed legislation obtained by Huffington Post, New York City Councilman Costa Constantinides is preparing to introduce a bill mandating that the city come up with a plan by the end of the year to phase out nearly two dozen gas-fired power plants and replace them with renewable sources of electricity.

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One cool thing: NHL All-Star game fights ocean plastic

One cool thing: NHL All-Star game fights ocean plastic

In a tweet recently posted by Adidas Hockey, the sports apparel company revealed that they would team up with ocean advocacy group Parley for Oceans to create a jersey for players in the NHL All-Star game made out of reclaimed ocean plastic.

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