Category Archives: Green

These 21 kids are taking on Trump, and they may be our best hope for climate action

/ Leave a Comment

The best shot at large-scale climate action under the Trump administration may lie with a lawsuit set to go to trial early next year.

Juliana v. United States has a plot suitable for a Disney movie: An eclectic group of 21 kids (and their lawyers) fighting to save the world by forcing the federal government to adopt a science-based plan to reduce emissions. Their lawsuit got a boost this past week when climate scientist James Hansen published a paper in support of their cause.

The time may be right for Juliana and other lawsuits like it to gather real momentum, paving the way for meaningful victories, says Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. He says that a “groundswell of litigation” could put “real pressure” on industries and governments to pay for local adaptation projects and make firm commitments to reduce emissions, all within Trump’s first term.

Legal experts say Juliana has helped open a new front in the battle against climate change in the United States and around the world. It’s the culmination of years of legal strategizing by Our Children’s Trust, the advocacy group that helped organize the effort. Our Children’s Trust has brought related suits in all 50 states, as part of a buckshot strategy to get one of them to break through.

“This case is especially crucial in the fight against climate disruption,” says Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. Cases like Juliana, she says, empower young people to advocate for their rights, and that “drives social change.”

The buzz about Juliana comes amid a flurry of legal challenges to the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle environmental rules. Just this week, a series of lawsuits were filed in California as a direct challenge to the oil industry on climate change grounds, using a legal theory similar to the landmark tobacco industry lawsuits of the 1990s. The administration’s quest to roll back or reverse pending Obama-era EPA regulations is also getting blocked in the courts.

When it comes to climate change, “so far, the Trump administration is losing more frequently than it’s winning,” says Burger.

At the heart of this suit is the principle of intergenerational equity. In essence, the 21 plaintiffs in Juliana say that the federal government’s refusal to take serious action against climate change unlawfully puts the well-being of current generations ahead of future generations.

This argument might have helped spur legal action abroad, too. Since Juliana was filed in 2015, similar lawsuits have been brought by youth in Pakistan, New Zealand, and India, Burger says.

“Worldwide, there is a great deal of interest in the Juliana case not just because of the practical outcome that it might or might not achieve, but because of what it represents,” he says. “Deeply held values about environmental protection, about intergenerational equity, about the need to address climate change — these things can be linked to specific legal rights embodied in constitutions or in common law.”

So far, the courts agree. In November, they scored their first major victory, when a federal district court allowed the suit to go to trial. Judge Ann Aiken set a judicial precedent in her decision, ruling that climate change may pose an unconstitutional burden on younger generations. “I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society,” she wrote.

Late last month, a trial date for the Juliana case was scheduled for next February in Eugene, Oregon. It’s sure to set a dramatic spectacle of the kids and their lawyers on one side of the room against representatives of the Trump administration on the other, with the future of the climate on the line.

In his paper published on Wednesday, Hansen — whose granddaughter Sophie Kivlehan is a plaintiff in the case — presented an updated scientific basis for the suit’s claims. The new study, which has 14 coauthors from around the world, concludes that the burden climate change has placed on younger generations is now so huge that continuing on a high-emissions scenario would cost a minimum of $89 trillion (and as much as $535 trillion) to clean up by the end of this century. And that cleanup job would rely mainly on the still-unproven technology of negative emissions — literally sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Such a burden “unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both,” the paper argues. The best alternative, Hansen says, is a court-ordered mandate to reduce emissions now.

After decades working as a NASA climate scientist and at times being politically pressured into silence, Hansen quit his post in 2013 in part to help build the scientific evidence backing the Juliana case. “It’s hard to solve this politically,” he said on a conference call with the media this week. “That’s why we need to take advantage of the fact that the judiciary is less subject to that pressure.”

To be sure, the ultimate success of Juliana hinges on the composition of the Supreme Court, if the case makes it that far. That fact makes Burger and his colleague, Michael Gerrard, less optimistic. “I can’t foresee a scenario where there are five votes to uphold such a ruling,” says Gerrard. Burger called success in a Supreme Court during Trump’s first term “a near impossibility.”

But victory in the Supreme Court isn’t the only objective for the kids and their lawyers. This is a trailblazing case, designed to pave the way for future success of other cases, too.

“This is strategic impact litigation,” says Burger. “As you can see from the global interest, it’s already had a real impact. It’s starting to shape the conversation about climate change.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline These 21 kids are taking on Trump, and they may be our best hope for climate action on Jul 21, 2017.

http://ift.tt/2tOv7RY Source: http://grist.org

Trump comms chief Anthony Scaramucci used to be right about climate. Not anymore.

/ Leave a Comment

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned over the appointment of Scaramucci, a Wall Street executive and longtime supporter of President Trump.

Scaramucci’s Twitter history holds some surprises for a Trump appointee. Case in point:

Scaramucci called the science of climate change “pretty much irrefutable” in a June 2016 interview with a financial outlet and tweeted about climate action on multiple occasions last year.

But when Scarmucci joined Trump’s transition team following the election, a very curious transformation occurred. In an appearance on CNN in December, Scaramucci noted that some scientists believe climate change is “not happening.” When the show’s host reminded him about the scientific consensus on the matter, Scaramucci countered that there was once “overwhelming science that the earth was flat.”

We’ll wait and see if Scaramucci descends further into climate denial during his role as communications secretary, which begins in August.

And speaking of incoherence on climate change, here’s a grand performance to watch in memory of Spicer’s old job:

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Trump comms chief Anthony Scaramucci used to be right about climate. Not anymore. on Jul 21, 2017.

http://ift.tt/2tnRHkY Source: http://grist.org

A gold-standard test proves we can save forests with just a little money.

/ Leave a Comment

Here’s a simple way to match the priorities of rich environmentalists (saving forests and vulnerable species, like gorillas) with the needs of the poor (making a little more money): Pay people living near endangered forests not to cut them down.

The world has already promised to spend billions this way. But do people just take the cash and still hack away?

A new study of a cash-for-forest program attempts to answer that question. Northwestern University economist Seema Jayachandran led a randomized, controlled trial — the gold standard for science — monitoring 60 villages in Uganda over two years.

People were cutting down trees around all the villages. But they chopped down fewer in areas where villagers were paid $11.40 an acre per year not to. It’s a great bang for the buck, if you measure in terms of keeping carbon out of the atmosphere — several times cheaper than other popular methods, like subsidizing solar panels.

“I came into this study expecting to be a wet blanket,” Jayachandran, told the New York Times. “We were surprised the impacts were so large.”

Everyone has their pet ideas for saving the world. We need good evidence like this to figure out which ones work best.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline A gold-standard test proves we can save forests with just a little money. on Jul 21, 2017.

http://ift.tt/2uQPzqn Source: http://grist.org

We’ve made enough plastic trash to bury Manhattan under 2-miles of the stuff

/ Leave a Comment

plastic, environment, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, 13 billion tons, 2050, Science Advances, wildlife,

Whether you get an iced latte to-go in the morning, your restaurant leftovers in a plastic takeaway container, or forget to take a reusable bags to the store, there are numerous ways disposable plastic  adds up –  and that is a huge problem. According to the first global analysis of the production of plastics, humans now produce more plastic than anything else and, as a result, have created 8.3 billion tonnes of the stuff since the 1950s. If the trend continues, humans will eventually bury the planet in plastics, which require hundreds — if not thousands — of years to decompose.

plastic, environment, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, 13 billion tons, 2050, Science Advances, wildlife,

The study was published in Science Advances and unearthed some dizzying facts. For instance, around 79 percent of the plastic produced ends up in landfills, where it is simply buried and forgotten. Additionally, a large percentage of this waste goes into the oceans where it contaminates the environment, often times poisons or chokes wildlife, and breaks down into tiny pieces, which later collect in giant convergences such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The study also found that only 9 percent of all plastics are recycled, and a further 12 percent are incinerated. “The only way to permanently eliminate plastic waste” is to burn or melt it down, the authors wrote. “Thus, near-permanent contamination of the natural environment with plastic waste is a growing concern.”

For the study, the researchers looked at various kinds of plastics, from resin to fibers. They deduced that production has increased from around 2 million tonnes (2.2 m tons) a year in 1950 to an astonishing 400 million tonnes (440 m tons) in 2015. Plastic is now the most produced man-made material, with the exception of items such as steel and cement. However, unlike those two industrial materials which are put to use for decades, plastic is single-use, therefore, is most often discarded right away.

The researchers make it clear that while it is not plausible to completely eliminate plastic from the modern world, production and use needs to decrease dramatically to benefit the ecosystem as a whole. “Most plastics don’t biodegrade in any meaningful sense, so the plastic waste humans have generated could be with us for hundreds or even thousands of years,” said Jenna Jambeck, who co-authored the study. “Our estimates underscore the need to think critically about the materials we use and our waste management practices.” The advice is spot-on, considering a recent paper found the micro plastics were present in every marine animal which was sampled in Australia — even those thought to be inaccessible.

plastic, environment, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, 13 billion tons, 2050, Science Advances, wildlife,

Related: Scotland bans plastic bags, spares landfill 650 million bags in just one year

To reduce your dependence on plastic, you can buy whole, unprocessed foods and biodegradable soaps in bulk and keep them in mason jars at home, remember to take your reusable bags to the grocery store and farmer’s market and take advantage of thrift store offerings (or similar apps which connect you with second-hand goods) to reduce waste and needless packaging. Making this effort will help reduce the amount of plastic in the environment and, as a result, ensure a habitable environment exists for future generations.

+ Science Advances

Via LA Times

Images via Pixabay

http://ift.tt/2txIP0x Source: http://inhabitat.com

RT @dicapriofdn: In victory for #StandingRock #Sioux Tribe, court finds that approval of #DakotaAccessPipeline violated the law https://t.co/munCVVxJhC

/ Leave a Comment

Frederike Top’s geometric LED lamps cast colorful rays of ever-changing light

/ Leave a Comment

Amsterdam-based designer Frederike Top just unveiled her latest work – and it’s literally brilliant. Reflected Sequence is a series of reflective mobiles that use geometric panels and LED lights to cast colorful, ever-changing reflections.

Frederike Top, led lights, led lamps, led-lit lamps, led bulbs, Led art, led furnishings, led artists, led lighting, glass lamps, interior design, lamp design, light art instalation, art installation, led art installations,

Frederike Top, led lights, led lamps, led-lit lamps, led bulbs, Led art, led furnishings, led artists, led lighting, glass lamps, interior design, lamp design, light art instalation, art installation, led art installations,

Top creates her striking pieces by stringing together panels of semi-transparent acrylate covered in iridescent foil. The series consists of hanging mobiles, table lamps, and window danglings illuminated by LED bulbs.

Frederike Top, led lights, led lamps, led-lit lamps, led bulbs, Led art, led furnishings, led artists, led lighting, glass lamps, interior design, lamp design, light art instalation, art installation, led art installations,

Frederike Top, led lights, led lamps, led-lit lamps, led bulbs, Led art, led furnishings, led artists, led lighting, glass lamps, interior design, lamp design, light art instalation, art installation, led art installations,

Related: Stickbulb’s new Boom LED lamp is made of reclaimed wood from NYC water tanks

Whether hanging from the ceiling or placed on a table, the lamps create a kaleidoscopic light show that varies depending on the angle of view. The result is a dynamic, ever-changing light source that never casts the same light twice.

+ Frederike Top

Frederike Top, led lights, led lamps, led-lit lamps, led bulbs, Led art, led furnishings, led artists, led lighting, glass lamps, interior design, lamp design, light art instalation, art installation, led art installations,

Frederike Top, led lights, led lamps, led-lit lamps, led bulbs, Led art, led furnishings, led artists, led lighting, glass lamps, interior design, lamp design, light art instalation, art installation, led art installations,

Frederike Top, led lights, led lamps, led-lit lamps, led bulbs, Led art, led furnishings, led artists, led lighting, glass lamps, interior design, lamp design, light art instalation, art installation, led art installations,

Frederike Top, led lights, led lamps, led-lit lamps, led bulbs, Led art, led furnishings, led artists, led lighting, glass lamps, interior design, lamp design, light art instalation, art installation, led art installations,

Frederike Top, led lights, led lamps, led-lit lamps, led bulbs, Led art, led furnishings, led artists, led lighting, glass lamps, interior design, lamp design, light art instalation, art installation, led art installations,

Frederike Top, led lights, led lamps, led-lit lamps, led bulbs, Led art, led furnishings, led artists, led lighting, glass lamps, interior design, lamp design, light art instalation, art installation, led art installations,

http://ift.tt/2uiZUbI Source: http://inhabitat.com

US DOI scientist claims he was reassigned for speaking up on climate change

/ Leave a Comment

Joel Clement, Department of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, United States, Donald Trump, Trump, Trump administration, whistleblower, climate change, Alaska, Shishmaref, policy, politics

Is the Donald Trump administration reassigning employees who speak out on the dangers of climate change? Joel Clement, former Office of Policy Analysis director at the Department of the Interior (DOI), seems to think so. He penned an opinion piece for The Washington Post saying he was moved into an “unrelated job in the accounting office.” He said he’s a scientist and policy expert, not an accountant – “…but you don’t have to be one to see that the administration’s excuse for a reassignment such as mine doesn’t add up.”

Joel Clement, Department of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, United States, Donald Trump, Trump, Trump administration, whistleblower, climate change, Alaska, Shishmaref, policy, politics

Clement said he began working in the DOI almost seven years ago, and worked with communities in Alaska to help them prepare for the impacts of climate change. On June 15, he received a letter informing him of his reassignment to “improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration.” He was one of around 50 senior employees to receive a letter, and was shuffled to the role of senior adviser in the Office of Natural Resources Revenue – an office he said gathers royalty checks from fossil fuel companies.

Related: Trump launches “witch hunt” for government employees who worked on climate change policy

Clement’s background is not in accounting. He has a Master of Environmental Studies degree in Forest Sciences and Canopy Biology from The Evergreen State College. But he said he spoke out on the challenges stemming from climate change that Alaska Native communities face in the months before his reassignment, even bringing the threat up with White House officials.

Clement said in his op-ed, “It is clear to me that the administration was so uncomfortable with this work, and my disclosures, that I was reassigned with the intent to coerce me into leaving the federal government.”

Joel Clement, Department of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, United States, Donald Trump, Trump, Trump administration, whistleblower, climate change, Alaska, Shishmaref, policy, politics

Indeed, a few days following his reassignment, new Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testified before Congress that reassignments might be used to eliminate employees. Clement suggested Zinke might think fed-up employees might quit, and said he has colleagues who are being moved to other locations in the country, at taxpayer expense, to jobs that don’t align well with their skill set.

Clement said the Kivalina, Shishmaref, and Shaktoolik villages are “one superstorm from being washed away.” He wrote, “I believe that every president, regardless of party, has the right and responsibility to implement his policies. But that is not what is happening here. Putting citizens in harm’s way isn’t the president’s right…The threat to these Alaska Native communities is not theoretical. This is not a policy debate.”

Read Clement’s full piece here.

Via The Washington Post

Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

http://ift.tt/2vIyOtP Source: http://inhabitat.com