The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
Patagonia has just become the first retailer to pull out of a big industry trade show in Utah to protest state leaders’ efforts to strip federal protection of public land.
The company’s announcement Tuesday came after its founder, Yvon Chouinard, wrote an open letter last month urging Utah governor Gary Herbert to stop trying to undo the decision by former president Obama to create the Bears Ears National Monument.
Chouinard published the letter during the Outdoor Retailer trade show, which attracts hundreds of companies to Salt Lake City twice a year, and warned that the company will stop attending the show unless Herbert shows “the outdoor industry that he wants our business – and that he supports thousands of his constituents of all political persuasions who work in jobs supported by recreation on public lands.”
Last Friday, Herbert signed a resolution asking US President Donald Trump to strip Bears Ears of its national monument designation.
For the first time, researchers have developed a mathematical equation to describe the impact of human activity on the earth, finding people are causing the climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces.
The equation was developed in conjunction with Professor Will Steffen, a climate change expert and researcher at the Australian National University, and was published in the journal The Anthropocene Review.
The authors of the paper wrote that for the past 4.5bn years astronomical and geophysical factors have been the dominating influences on the Earth system. The Earth system is defined by the researchers as the biosphere, including interactions and feedbacks with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and upper lithosphere.
But over the past six decades human forces “have driven exceptionally rapid rates of change in the Earth system,” the authors wrote, giving rise to a period known as the Anthropocene.
Physicist Steven Desch has come up with a novel solution to the problems that now beset the Arctic. He and a team of colleagues from Arizona State University want to replenish the region’s shrinking sea ice – by building 10 million wind-powered pumps over the Arctic ice cap. In winter, these would be used to pump water to the surface of the ice where it would freeze, thickening the cap.
The pumps could add an extra metre of sea ice to the Arctic’s current layer, Desch argues. The current cap rarely exceeds 2-3 metres in thickness and is being eroded constantly as the planet succumbs to climate change.
“Thicker ice would mean longer-lasting ice. In turn, that would mean the danger of all sea ice disappearing from the Arctic in summer would be reduced significantly,” Desch told the Observer.
New research shows a recent three-year surge in methane levels in northeastern Pennsylvania, a hub of the state’s natural gas production.
After sampling the region’s air in 2012 and again in 2015, researchers found that methane levels had increased from 1,960 parts per billion in 2012 up to 2,060 in 2015, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene.
During that span, the region’s drilling boom slowed and natural gas production ramped up. The researchers said this shift in gas activity is possibly to blame for the spike in methane levels.
“The rapid increase in methane is likely due to the increased production of natural gas from the region which has increased significantly over the 2012 to 2015 period,” Peter DeCarlo, an assistant professor at Drexel University and a study author, said in a statement. “With the increased background levels of methane, the relative climate benefit of natural gas over coal for power production is reduced.”
After considering and rejecting nearly all public suggestions for penalizing Enbridge over the largest ever oil spill into an inland U.S. waterway, federal authorities are asking a judge to approve a settlement negotiated with the Canadian pipeline company.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency are seeking the court’s approval to assess a $61 million fine and require more than $100 million in safety improvements by the company.
If approved, the settlement would close the books on the federal government’s oversight of the massive 2010 oil spill that fouled a 40-mile stretch of Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. The company’s $1.2 billion cleanup effort took nearly five years.
President Donald Trump can add one more lawsuit to his growing list as president: Juliana v. United States, a federal lawsuit brought against the U.S. government by a group of kids and young adults concerned about climate change.
The lawsuit, which began in August of 2015, argues that the federal government, in its actions, has endangered future generations’ rights to what is known as the public trust . The public trust is an old legal doctrine that holds that it is the government’s responsibility to preserve certain natural resources for public use.
Normally, the public trust relates to natural resources like coastal waters, or navigable waters — things that don’t belong to one particular person, but benefit everyone. But this lawsuit takes the idea of the public trust and applies it to the atmosphere, arguing that by failing to curb rampant carbon pollution — and supporting policies, like subsidies on fossil fuels, that encourage it— the government has not been keeping the public trust for future generations.
At BPI Campus our Progressive Agenda is:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.
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