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Environment

Report: Debt-For-Nature Swaps Could Help Fight Climate Crisis

According to a new analysis by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), more than $100 billion of developing countries’ debt could be made available to spend on nature restoration, protecting ecosystems like rainforests and coral reefs and climate change adaptation. The research is part of IIED’s “hidden handbrakes” campaign, designed to reveal and explain unseen obstacles to climate action. “Many of the countries most threatened by rising temperatures have huge debt burdens, and are forever paying interest to wealthier nations that have contributed much more to the climate crisis,” said Laura Kelly.

EPA’s New Rule Aims To Cut Toxic Emissions

Leaders in the fight for clean air from Louisiana’s Cancer Alley joined the Environmental Protection Agency’s Administrator Michael Regan on April 9 in Washington, D.C., for the announcement of a new rule governing air toxics-spewing chemical plants. The rule is intended to prevent cancer in surrounding low-income and minority communities. The announcement represents a milestone for environmental justice in communities historically overburdened by air-toxics pollution. But a growing number of proposed industrial projects threaten to further pollute the mostly low-income Black neighborhoods along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Draining The World Of Fresh Water

The thirst of humans and our technology for water, according to two important studies, is bottomless and accelerating, even if the precious liquid itself is finite on this planet. One study shows that human activity has massively altered the world’s flow of surface water and imperilled water cycles critical for life as varied as fish and forests. The other confirms that in many places on Earth aquifers and groundwater wells are being pumped and mined faster than they can be replenished. The concept of the technosphere helps to explain the forces in play.

Three ‘Most Important’ Greenhouse Gases Reached Record Highs

Levels of the three “most important” greenhouse gases — methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide — in the atmosphere reached record highs again in 2023, according to research conducted by scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Global Monitoring Laboratory (GML). Air samples taken by GML indicated that levels of the heat-trapping gases did not rise as fast as the record leaps of recent years, but were still in accordance with sharp increases recorded in the past decade, a press release from NOAA said.

Biden’s So-Called LNG Export Freeze Sacrifices Gulf South Communities

In late March, Texas joined a 15-state federal lawsuit led by Louisiana to block the Biden administration’s executive order pausing new permits for terminals that export fracked gas, or so-called liquefied natural gas (LNG). Separately, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan created a special committee to investigate President Joe Biden’s permitting freeze, a move that has not only drawn backlash from the oil industry and Texas GOP, but also Republicans on Capitol Hill. Texas’s moves follow House Republicans’ February passage of House Resolution 7176, a bill that would reverse President Biden’s permitting pause by stripping the Department of Energy (DOE) of the power to approve LNG exports to non-free trade agreement countries

Environmentalist And Anti-War Goals Go Hand-In-Hand

The human toll of warfare is tragic beyond accounting in lives brutally cut short, grievous injuries suffered, cultural heritage lost (museums, religious structures, libraries, schools) and to vital infrastructure destroyed (hospitals, power plants, reservoirs). War as now fought has been with us at least since the establishment of agriculture, and as technology has advanced, its devastating abilities have escalated. Last century was the bloodiest in human history and we must make sure that record stands. Armed conflict at that scale with the current arsenal would be nightmarish beyond reckoning.

Cities, Roads, And The Sixth Extinction Event

Earth’s biosphere entered the stage of large, complex, multicellular life (following an extended – approximately three billion year – period of dominance by unicellular life) starting approximately 650 million years ago.  This ‘metazoan’ stage saw the tree of life proliferate and complexify, and has expanded into a huge variety of niches across the planet through to the present day.  A key phenomenon over this period has been extinction events; this describes periods of rapidly changing environmental conditions which have resulted in species die-offs and restructuring of ecosystems at different scales. 

You Can’t Be Neutral In A Flooding House

Cicero, Illinois - A crowd swells outside an auditorium one summer evening in 2023, trying to enter a special town hall meeting. The air fills with chants: ​“Where’s our money?” and ​“El pueblo unido jamás será vencido” (“The people, united, will never be defeated”). Soon, police inform the hundreds outside that no one else is allowed in. It felt apt: We wanted answers about why our city was so dysfunctional, and the city couldn’t even host a proper meeting. I’m a journalist and also a Cicero resident, and I was there because I, too, was angry. Howard Zinn famously said you can’t be neutral on a moving train; it’s also difficult in a flooded house.

Activists Launch Own Investigation Of Mud Spill Near Gas Pipeline

On February 15, Pennsylvania’s environmental regulator received an anonymous complaint that a mysterious white material was covering the bottom of a creek in Chester County — a tributary of nearby Marsh Creek Lake located about a thousand feet from the underground Mariner East pipeline. A day later, an inspector from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed that the clay-like material was flowing from a nearby sinkhole into the stream and nearby wetlands.

Yurok Tribe Becomes First To Steward Land With National Park Service

California’s Yurok Tribe had 90 percent of its territory stolen during the mid-1800s gold rush. Now, it will be getting a piece of its land back that serves as a gateway to Redwood state and national parks. For decades, the ancient redwoods on former Yurok lands were decimated for lumber and a sawmill built to process it. Now, in a first-of-its-kind agreement between the Yurok, the National Park Service, California State Parks and nonprofit Save the Redwoods League, the Tribe will become the first to manage Tribal land alongside the National Park Service, a press release from Save the Redwoods League said.

Mineworkers Union Joins Fight Against Landfill

In recent months opponents of a proposed privately owned landfill have appeared at various government meetings wearing camouflage shirts. The shirts are designed similarly to those worn by union coal miners and their supporters during the 1989 strike against Pittston Coal Company. Last week the symbolic link between the two efforts became literal as the United Mine Workers of America announced their opposition to Russell County Reclamation’s proposed landfill that would be placed at the old Moss 3 site.

California Must Triple Its Rate Of Carbon Emissions Reductions

California is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for 2030, new data released by nonprofit think tank Next 10 and prepared by consulting firm Beacon Economics reveals. To do so, the state must triple its annual emissions reductions, the 2023 California Green Innovation Index said. “The increase in emissions following the pandemic makes it all the more difficult for California to meet its climate goals on time,” said Next 10 Founder F. Noel Perry, as reported by ESG News. “In fact, we may be further behind than many people realize.

How $9 Billion From Taxpayers Fueled Plastics Production

Through billions in tax breaks and subsidies, taxpayers in Louisiana, Texas, and other states have supported the construction or expansion of dozens of facilities manufacturing plastics in the United States since 2012. However, many of these plants have also repeatedly exceeded legal limits on the air pollution they release into surrounding communities, disproportionately affecting people of color. That’s according to an Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) report published on Thursday. For instance, in 2015, then-Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal welcomed Indorama Ventures — one of the world’s biggest producers of single-use plastic — to the state.

Greenpeace Calls For Bold High Seas Ocean Protection Of Galapagos

On Monday 12 March, Greenpeace called for new marine protections for the ocean surrounding the Galapagos – a vital biodiversity hotspot. Specifically, the environmental campaign group pushed for governments to create a high seas marine protected zone under a new UN treaty to secure a much wider area around Ecuador’s archipelago. The islands sit some 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off the mainland of Ecuador, and have flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. The islands unique diversity of life famously inspired British scientist Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

How Money Laundering Rules Could Be Used To Tackle Deforestation

I spent the last month binging on money laundering TV to research this feature. But nothing prepared me to write about money laundering in relation to environmental destruction, because until now it has rarely been considered a shady subject. That could all be about to change. Last November, French NGO Sherpa filed a complaint with the National Prosecutor’s Office against French banks BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, BPCE, and Axa. It called for a criminal investigation into money laundering and concealment, arguing that the banks’ financial support for Brazil’s biggest beef companies was contributing to illegal deforestation in the Amazon.
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