The corrupt Brazilian prosecutors who locked up Lula now want to release him, to make him less sympathetic

In 2017, Brazil's "anti-corruption task force" secured a conviction against the incredibly popular former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who had enacted a series of reforms that addressed the country's longstanding issues of corruption, racial discrimination and inequality. Read the rest

Straws are a distraction: how the plastics industry successfully got you to blame yourself for pollution

40 years of Reaganomic sociopathy has managed to convince hundreds of millions of otherwise sensible people that big, social problems are caused by their personal choices, and not (say) by rapacious corporations that corrupt the regulatory process in order to get away with literal and figurative murder. The Intercept's Sharon Lerner made a short doc on the subject, showing how the inevitable pollution from single-use plastics was rebranded as a matter of individual carelessness, starting with the "Crying Indian" ads, and how that continues to this day, with the plastics industry successfully lobbying states to ban cities from limiting plastic bags, even as those cities have to pay to landfill and clear them away. Read the rest

"The Tragedy of the Commons": how ecofascism was smuggled into mainstream thought

Garrett Hardin's 1968 Science essay "The Tragedy of the Commons" is one of the most widely assigned readings in the past ten years' worth of university syllabi; notionally, it describes how property that is held in common is prone to overuse and exhaustion, while privatization creates an owner who has an incentive to serve as a wise steward over the resource. Read the rest

Global shipping companies comply with anti-air-pollution rules by dumping pollution into the sea, instead

As of Jan 1, a new International Maritime Organisation standard will seriously restrict the kind of air pollution that shipping vessels can emit; in response, the industry has invested more than $12b in "open-loop scrubbers," which capture the sulphur from heavy fuel oil exhaust and reroute it, along with CO2, into waste water that is dumped from the ships directly into the sea. Heavy fuel oil is the dirtiest form of fossil fuel. Read the rest

Whales worth about $1 trillion in carbon sequestration, analysis finds

Photo of whale by Christopher Michel

A new analysis of whales suggests that each one is worth about $2 million in carbon sequestration -- and the global population is thus worth about $1 trillion.

How do whales sequester carbon? By eating stuff, getting big, then drifting to the bottom of the ocean after they die. This makes them carbon sinks on a scale even bigger than most trees, as the authors point out:

The carbon capture potential of whales is truly startling. Whales accumulate carbon in their bodies during their long lives. When they die, they sink to the bottom of the ocean; each great whale sequesters 33 tons of CO2 on average, taking that carbon out of the atmosphere for centuries. A tree, meanwhile, absorbs only up to 48 pounds of CO2 a year.

On top of that, the metabolic activity of whales -- their breathing, peeing and pooping -- stimulates huge growths of phyloplankton, which itself sequesters tons of carbon. As National Geographic notes, in a post about this new study ...

When phytoplankton die, much of their carbon gets recycled at the ocean’s surface. But some dead phytoplankton inevitably sink, sending more captured carbon to the bottom of the sea. Another study from 2010 found that the 12,000 sperm whales in the Southern Ocean draw 200,000 tons of carbon out of the atmosphere each year by stimulating phytoplankton growth and death through their iron-rich defecations.

When the study authors priced out the cost of carbon capture, that's how they arrived at the value of $2 million per whale. Read the rest

At the UN, Greta Thunberg excoriates world leaders and her elders for climate inaction

Holy shit. Read the rest

On Fire: Naomi Klein's book is a time-series of the shift from climate denial to nihilism to Green New Deal hope

My latest LA Times book review is for Naomi Klein's new essay collection, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, which traces more than a decade of Klein's outstanding, on-the-ground reports from the pivotal struggle to begin the transformational work needed to save our species and the rest of the Earth's living things from a devastating, eminently foreseeable, and ultimately avoidable climate catastrophe. Read the rest

Sept 20: More than 900 Amazon employees pledge to walk out over climate inaction

More than 900 Amazon employees have pledged to walk off the job at 11:30PST on Sept 20 to protest the company's inaction on climate change as part of Greta Thunberg's Global Climate Strike: they are demanding an end to donations to climate-denying politicians and PACs; kicking oil and gas companies off of Amazon's platforms; and for Amazon to be zero emissions by 2030. Read the rest

Crowdfunding the "grassroots first responders" helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian

Steve Boyett writes, "HeadKnowles Hurricane Relief Foundation gofundme is raising funds to go to 'grassroots first responders, 1000's of volunteers providing meals, shelter and equipment to displaced persons.' They are on the Approved Dorian Donations list of organizations (more Hurricane Dorian relief organizations). Read the rest

Hurricane Dorian: satellite images show Grand Bahama mostly underwater

Satellite monitoring company ICEYE composed this image, based upon satellite shots of the storm-drenched Bahamas, which shows how much of Grand Bahama went underwater as Hurricane Dorian arrived. Read the rest

As Amazon burns, Trump wants to log world’s largest intact temperate rainforest in Alaska

Illegitimate, popular-vote-losing president Donald J. Trump, just yesterday:

“I’m an environmentalist. A lot of people don’t understand that. I think I know more about the environment than most people.” Read the rest

Adding pink seaweed to cow feed eliminates their methane emissions

One of the major contributors to greenhouse gases is the methane that cows belch up as they break down cellulose, but five years ago, research from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found that adding small amounts of a pink seaweed called Asparagopsis to cows' diets eliminated the gut microbes responsible for methane production and "completely knocks out" cows' methane emissions. Read the rest

Rule of Capture: Inside the martial law tribunals that will come when climate deniers become climate looters and start rendering environmentalists for offshore torture

In 2017, science fiction author Christopher Brown burst on the scene with Tropic of Kansas, an apocalyptic pageturner about martial law in climate-wracked America; now, with his second novel, Rule of Capture, Brown turns everything up to 11 in a militarized, oil-saturated, uninhabitable Texas where private mercs, good ole boys, and climate looters have plans to deliver a stolen election to a hyper-authoritarian president. Read the rest

Pressed about Amazon deforestation, Bolsonaro proposes only shitting on alternate days to remediate climate change

Torture apologist/homophobe/racist Jair Bolsonaro -- whose successful election to the Brazilian presidency was the result of a conspiracy among the wealthy and senior prosecutors and judges, who subverted the justice system in order to ensure that his rival was kept off the ballot -- has presided over record-breaking Amazon deforestation. Read the rest

As New York State's shareholder suit against Big Oil for climate denial proceeds, Exxonmobil caught intimidating witnesses

In 2015, a deep investigative report from Inside Climate News revealed that as early as 1977, Exxonmobil knew that it was destroying the planet with CO2 emissions, and its response to that fact was to gin up a decades-long disinformation campaign aimed at sowing expensive doubt about the subject, even as it grew more certain of its facts. Read the rest

We could fund the transition to green energy with 10-30% of the world's fossil fuel subsidy

A new report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) estimates the cost of subsidizing a full transition to clean energy, and comes out with a figure that is only 10-30% of the subsidy presently given to the planet-destroying fossil fuel industries. Read the rest

Paying for climate change: the question isn't "How?" but "Who?"

Writing in Wired, political scientist Henry Farrell points out what should be obvious: we're going to pay for climate change (that is, either we're going to rebuild the cities smashed by weather and take care of the people whose lives are ruined, or we're going to pay to cope with the ensuing refugee crisis), so the question isn't "how can we possibly pay for climate change?" but rather, "Will the people who profited from pumping CO2 into the atmosphere pay, or will their victims be left on the hook for their greed and recklessness?" Read the rest

More posts