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Latest News From Higher Perspective

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Did you know that energy is so inexpensive in Iceland that it is cheaper to ship aluminum from Australia to Iceland for its final treatment? I don't know much about refining aluminum, but I do know that final process (bauxite scrubbing?) is quite energy-intensive. And it must be worth it to ship something all the way from the other side of the world. I can't imagine there are many ports further apart than Australia to Iceland! I used to play this game on my Amiga called Ports of Call. I may have to boot it up to check! Anyway, this geothermal plant was very interesting and perfect for photography. Asmundur and I spent a bit of time there moving around for cool perspectives. I'd like to thank him again for taking me there! from the blog at www.stuckincustoms.com

Environmental advocates who’ve been working tirelessly to halt the Dakota Access pipeline have been given what some are calling a lifeline. In a ruling on Wednesday, US district judge James Boasberg said that the US Army Corps of Engineers did not perform an adequate environmental survey.

The judge cites the possible impacts of an oil spill affecting “fishing rights, hunting rights, and environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.”

The judge is calling on the army to perform a new environmental analysis in key sections of their original survey. The judge has not ruled on whether or not to halt operations in the meantime, but it is a distinct possibility.

It’s “a significant victory” according to chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe Dave Archambault II. The Standing Rock Sioux led the opposition to the pipeline for several months through the dead of winter.

“Until now, the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have been disregarded by builders of the Dakota Access pipeline and the Trump administration, prompting a well-deserved global outcry,” said Jan Hasselman, attorney for Earthjustice, calling the decision “an important turning point.”

Previously, Judge Boasberg rejected two complaints from tribes in the vicinity of the pipeline. One tribe attempted to divert the path of the pipeline because of threats to sites of cultural and historical significance.

“Now that the court has rejected these two lines of attack, Standing Rock and Cheyenne River here take their third shot, this time zeroing in DAPL’s environmental impact,” Boasberg wrote. “This volley meets with some degree of success.”


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President Donald Trump is following through on a promise: that he will review 27 national monuments established by 3 former presidents and allow for new energy development on those sites. Put simply: your favorite national monuments could someday soon feature fracking wells.

First on the list is Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke would like to reduce the size of in order to open it up for oil and gas drilling. Bears Ears has been a political target in particular, as it was designated during the final days of Barack Obama’s presidency.

The national monument protects land deemed sacred by the Navajo Nation, encompassing 100,000 different archaeological sites as well as ancient abandoned cliff dwellings. Today, members of the tribe visit these sites for ceremonies and rituals.

These national monuments don’t just protect human antiquities, but fragile wildlife as well.

Giant Sequoia National Monument was established during Bill Clinton’s presidency, much to the dismay of logging companies. Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument serves to protect a myriad of oceanic life, like whales and sea turtles, from human encroachment.

All of the national monuments on the list will be reviewed by August.


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People being born today will have to deal with consequences of climate change that you and I may not live long enough to have to endure. For many, that’s enough reason to sit on their hands and take no action. But for 21 young people, a lawsuit against the US government seemed like a step in the right direction.

But the federal government is having none of it and has invoked a legal tool that’s almost never used in order to crush their lawsuit.

Last week, Ann Aiken granted the plaintiffs a hearing, deciding that their lawsuit deserved one. Following that, the Trump administration did something unusual – it went to the 9th circuit court of appeals in order to get their case dismissed.

According to the government’s official complaint, Aiken and the district court committed “multiple clear errors of law” and felt it was important to “end this clearly improper attempt to have the judiciary decide important issues of energy and environmental policy to the exclusion of the elected branches of government.

The Children’s Trust, which is the NGO working with the 21 young people filing the suit, have countered stating that the plaintiffs have equal right to weigh in on policies.

If Trump’s attempt to dismiss the case fails, it will be headed to trial.

“The Trump administration wouldn’t be scrambling to avoid facing us in trial if they were upholding their constitutional duty to protect us,” said Nathan Baring, a 17-year-old plaintiff.

“The public is waking up to the blatant collusion between business and governmental interests at the expense of the people, at the expense of our liberties.”

Photo by Robin Loznak


This website isn’t paid for by deceitful third party ads or paywalls. If you would like to support more stories like these, visit our store and pick up a sticker or a sweet men’s or women’s tee. They’re made in the United States and for each one sold, we plant 10 trees. Free shipping in the USA!

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The United States has begun the long, four-year process of pulling out of the Paris climate agreement. The rest of the world has remained steadfast in their support of comprehensive goals to avoid catastrophic climate change.

While the politicians in Washington D.C. may not be willing to work with the international community on the issue of climate change, U.S. states are on board and the world is taking notice.

Both China and the European Union have declared an eagerness to work with any states and cities that want to continue fighting against climate change.

“Strong transatlantic ties are far more important and far more durable than the latest unfortunate decisions of the new administration,” EU President Donald Tusk said.

Despite Trump’s desire to “renegotiate” the terms of the Paris climate accord, the international community is having none of it and numerous cities and states have signed on to a climate alliance to meet the goals laid out in our original agreement.

One of the most challenging aspects of the United States pulling out of the agreement is finding the funding dedicated to helping poorer countries develop while meeting their own carbon reduction goals. China and the European Union have made it known that the funding will be available, topping $100 billion by 2020.

“The decision of the United States to pull out of the Paris agreement is utterly regrettable, and that is me choosing very restrained language,” said German chancellor Angela Merkel.

“This is why it is necessary now after this announcement by the US administration yesterday evening, to turn our attention to the future.”

American states with mostly Democratic leadership have begun to declare their intents to see through the Paris agreement. On Tuesday, Hawaii became the first state in the country to officially sign a bill into law that adopts the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

“Reducing greenhouse emissions in Hawaii is now the law — the state law,” reports Hawaii Public Radio’s Bill Dorman. “While the specifics are a bit vague, the political message is clear: to keep pace with environmental commitments made as part of the Paris accord.”

Governor David Ige signed the senate bill, citing his own motivation by the overwhelming evidence of climate change that is visible to Hawaiians every day.

“We are the testing grounds. … We are especially aware of the limits of our natural environment,” Ige said. “Tides are getting higher, biodiversity is shrinking, coral is bleaching, coastlines are eroding, weather is becoming more extreme. We must acknowledge these realities at home. That is why Hawaii is united in its political leadership on tackling climate change.”


This website isn’t paid for by deceitful third party ads or paywalls. If you would like to support more stories like these, visit our store and pick up a sticker or a sweet men’s or women’s tee. They’re made in the United States and for each one sold, we plant 10 trees. Free shipping in the USA!

In an attempt to justify the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump claimed that scientists “can’t even get the weather report right, so how come they think they can get [climate change] right?” The comment was originally reported by Politico. 

The comment was made after a round of golf at the Trump National Golf Club because of course it was.

Trump officially withdrew the US from the non-binding global agreement, citing research that he intentionally misunderstood, claiming that it was the international community’s attempt to pull a fast one on the American economy. Which it wasn’t. The agreement was totally voluntary. But Trump doesn’t want you to know that.

Circling back around to the original cringe-worthy remarks, Donald Trump demonstrated clearly that he has zero understanding of the climate and doesn’t even know the difference between climate and weather. So Mr. President, in case you’re reading (which I don’t know why you would be since this isn’t an episode of Fox and Friends) here’s the difference between climate and weather, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center:

Weather is the day-to-day state of the atmosphere, and its short-term variation in minutes to weeks.

Climate is the weather of a place averaged over a period of time, often 30 years. Climate information includes the statistical weather information that tells us about the normal weather, as well as the range of weather extremes for a location.

Learn the difference.


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Trump has indicated through words and action time and time again that he doesn’t give a shit about nature, allowing big ag to destroy wetlands and streamsas well as letting hunters kill wolf pups and bears while they hibernate.

Now, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is in Trump’s sights. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has issued a directive to find out how much oil is located under ANWR and how much can be extracted.

In 2013, a plan was written that limited the scope of drilling for oil and natural gas in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. Oil companies were quick to complain about these restrictions, and Trump’s administration was all too eager to listen.

“This is land that was set up with the sole intention of oil and gas production; however, years of politics over policy put roughly half of the NPR-A off-limits,” Zinke said in a statement. “Using this land for its original intent will create good-paying jobs and revenue.”

ANWR is a 19-million-acre reserve that was originally established by congress in 1980. Today, it is estimated that 12 billion barrels of crude oil sits below the reserve, which has drawn the interest of oil companies as well as politicians.

Environmental advocates are already pushing back.

“It’s hard to see how they could open up more land to development without putting at risk some pretty sensitive areas,” said Kate Kelly, the public lands director at the Center for American Progress. “Zinke might give lip service to balance, but this announcement shows the scales are tipped pretty far in industry’s favor.”

Regardless, Zinke is pushing forward with further fossil fuel development in the region, which will only end up costing the natural environment, and you, in the long run.


This website isn’t paid for by deceitful third party ads or paywalls. If you would like to support more stories like these, visit our store and pick up a sticker or a sweet men’s or women’s I’m With Her t-shirt. They’re made in the United States and for each one sold, we plant 10 trees.

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The Trump administration has never been particularly tethered to reality. That fact showed itself again when Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt took to Sunday morning talk shows to spread bizarrely false information about the president’s choice to exit the Paris climate accord and the coal industry.

Pruitt’s biggest fib seems to be centered on coal jobs, stating on several programs that there were 50,000 new coal jobs created since Trump took office. The interesting thing about that claim is how little data there is to back it up. And by little, I mean no data. At all.

We do have numbers on actual new coal jobs though. The S&P Global Market Intelligence report, citing data from U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administrations, indicates about 586 new jobs in the coal industry.

Pruitt may have gotten his wires crossed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 51,000 jobs in the coal industry all together. But lies and half-truths like this have become a common occurrence for Trump’s embattled administration.


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Many in the media have spent the past few weeks speculating wildly about whether or not Trump would pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. Mayors and governors around the country, like most of us, knew what the likely answer was.

Minutes after President Trump’s announcement on Thursday, 70 mayors and several states announced a coalition to fight the White House’s decision and assume the role of global leadership in light of our weak and seemingly leaderless executive branch.

Governor Jerry Brown of California had perhaps the sharpest rebuttal, calling it an “insane course of action,” and declaring himself, and his state, “ready for battle.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jay Inslee of Washington announced with Governor Brown the creation of the United States Climate Alliance.

According to the governors, it’s a “a coalition that will convene US states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change.”

This newly formed alliance may be all that stands between a healthy future for our children and grandchildren and the isolationist lunatic elected to the highest office in the nation. But the question on my mind and the minds of millions of others is: will it be enough?

Only time will tell.


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Pollution will be one of the lasting legacies of our era. You can look no further than Henderson Island, an atoll in the Pacific, for proof of that.

Henderson Island is a tiny chunk of land with no human inhabitants. In a sense, you could argue that humans have left it mostly untouched. And yet, our touch is still present on this pristine island.

Researchers have concluded that more than 3,500 pieces of trash wash up on the island every day, adding to the 38 million pieces of ocean-moved garbage already present on the island. Almost all of this trash is plastic.

“The quantity of plastic there is truly alarming,” Jennifer Lavers, a co-author of the report, said in an interview with the Associated Press. “It’s both beautiful and terrifying.”

Images like the one above, provided by Lavers, shows the variety of trash that washes up on the island, anything from plastic nets, helmets, water bottles, and even plastic garden planting buckets.

These pieces of plastic travel thousands upon thousands of miles through the South Pacific Gyre, a central point where tons of plastic trash accumulate.

Researchers spent a total of three months researching Henderson Island in 2015, analyzing the garbage. Most of the trash was found to come fro industrialized countries around the Pacific rim as well as Europe.

If there isn’t real action soon, the fate of Henderson Island could be seen around the world.


gasantee2This website isn’t paid for by deceitful ads or annoying popups. If you would like to support more stories like these, visit our store and pick up a sticker or a sweet men’s or women’s t-shirt like the one you see here. They’re made in the United States and for each one sold, we plant 10 trees.

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If you’ve opened up a utility bill in recent years, you’ve probably noticed a modest upward trend in the cost of keeping the lights on and the water running. But that upward trend could start going a whole hell of a lot faster if this paper is correct.

Researchers at Michigan State University have found that the cost of water will need to increase by 41% in order to pay for replacing outdated water infrastructure.

Already, about 14 million households have trouble paying for their water. A 41% hike in water costs could expand that number to over 40 million, or one-third of all American homes, by 2020.

The worst part is, in many of the places most impacted by this, the water quality is poor. Already we’ve been hearing reports about how 50,000 households in Flint, Michigan are facing repercussions for their inability to pay for lead-tainted tap water.

There’s a water crisis brewing, and pretty much no one is talking about it.


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