The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.

The Arctic Refuge Still Bears Scars From Oil Exploration In The 1980s

In the winters of 1984 and 1985, exploration crews representing more than 20 oil companies set out to evaluate the reserves contained in Alaska’s remote Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Heavy tracked vehicles and ski-mounted trailers crisscrossed the snow-covered terrain conducting seismic surveys, a process that involves sending sound waves into the ground to pinpoint deposits of crude oil and natural gas.

These tests found an estimated 9 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain, also known as the 1002 area. But they also left lasting scars on the tundra ― “seismic trails” that are still visible more than 30 years later. Now, scientists and environmentalists fear the refuge will face a second round of damage as the Trump administration works to lift restrictions on seismic exploration in the refuge.

Michael Wald, an outdoorsman who has been guiding wilderness trips in Alaska since 1991, told HuffPost that trails are still easily spotted from the air and serve as “a symbol, a visual reminder, of the lasting impact and the fragility of the tundra.”

Utility CEO: new renewables will be cheaper than existing coal plants by the early 2020s

It is difficult to exaggerate just what a sea change has taken place in the discussion of renewable energy in recent years.
Oldsters like me remember when the idea that (unsubsidized) renewable energy would be able to compete directly with fossil fuels was downright utopian. As late as the early 2000s, people were debating whether it would happen this century, or at all.

But the extraordinary progress of renewables in the past two decades has moved that hoped-for future closer and closer. And now, unbelievably, it is right on our doorstep.

It’s one thing for advocates or energy analysts to say that, of course. It’s something else to hear it coming out of the mouths of energy executives. But these days, residents of the C-suite are discussing renewable energy in terms that would have made hippies blush a decade ago.

Coral reefs face infection risk from plastic

LONDON, 29 January, 2018 – Scientists have established yet another hazard from the millions of tons of plastic waste that tip into the sea: it delivers microbial infection to the world’s coral reefs.

When plastic pollutants snag on coral reefs, the likelihood of disease rises from 4% to 89%, they calculate. That is an increase in risk of more than twentyfold.

And the impact on the world’s reefs – already under increasing hazard from ocean acidification and from bleaching in extremes of heat – could be devastating.

Ozone layer recovery falters unexpectedly

LONDON, 6 February, 2018 – The Earth’s protective ozone layer is not recovering uniformly from the damage caused to it by industry and other human activities. And scientists are not sure why it isn’t.

An international research team says the ozone, which protects humans and other species from harmful ultraviolet radiation, is continuing to recover at the poles. But recovery at lower latitudes, where far more people live, is not.

Will Cape Town’s Day Zero arrive?

CAPE TOWN, 7 February, 2018 – Day Zero is real. The Day Zero concept means that Cape Town’s utility managers will switch off water to residential buildings and businesses, and continue to supply only critical services such as hospitals, and also the communal taps in slum neighbourhoods where people already collect their water in buckets every day.

This means most people in the suburbs will have to collect their daily 25l (0.88 cubic feet) water ration from 200 new distribution points. People have been warned that the military and police are on standby to manage any civil unrest.

The fear is that the entire economy will grind to a halt, as businesses and schools shut down, lacking water to drink or to flush toilets.

Households are currently asked to stick to a daily limit of 50l, but enforcement is difficult. The city says significant numbers of households, mostly wealthier ones, still massively exceed this figure.

The Trump administration is lifting key controls on toxic air pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency just took a dramatic step toward deregulating some major sources of toxic air pollution, which could have huge implications for public health.

Under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to regulate facilities that emit one or more of 189 hazardous air toxics like benzene, dioxin, and lead that cause health problems such as cancer and birth defects.

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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