Beijing is waging a war against air pollution, one barbecue at a time. Officials have destroyed more than 500 open-air barbecues to cut particulate matter.
Photos carried by state media showed workers cutting pieces of metal as city wardens looked on. A media officer at Beijing’s Xicheng district administration bureau said hundreds of barbecue grills had been confiscated in a three-month campaign and cut up so they could not be used again.
The war on democracy: How corporations and spy agencies use “security” to defend profiteering and crush activism
A stunning new report compiles extensive evidence showing how some of the world’s largest corporations have partnered with private intelligence firms and government intelligence agencies to spy on activist and nonprofit groups. Environmental activism is a prominent though not exclusive focus of these activities.
The report by the Center for Corporate Policy (CCP) in Washington DC titled Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage against Nonprofit Organizations draws on a wide range of public record evidence, including lawsuits and journalistic investigations. It paints a disturbing picture of a global corporate espionage programme that is out of control, with possibly as much as one in four activists being private spies.
The report argues that a key precondition for corporate espionage is that the nonprofit in question:
“… impairs or at least threatens a company’s assets or image sufficiently.”
[...] The CCP report notes that:
“A diverse array of nonprofits have been targeted by espionage, including environmental, anti-war, public interest, consumer, food safety, pesticide reform, nursing home reform, gun control, social justice, animal rights and arms control groups.
Many of the world’s largest corporations and their trade associations – including the US Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, Monsanto, Bank of America, Dow Chemical, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Burger King, McDonald’s, Shell, BP, BAE, Sasol, Brown & Williamson and E.ON – have been linked to espionage or planned espionage against nonprofit organizations, activists and whistleblowers.”
In June 2013, construction workers unearthed more than 20 rusty barrels from beneath a soccer pitch in Okinawa City. The land had once been part of Kadena Air Base – the Pentagon’s largest installation in the Pacific region – but was returned to civilian usage in 1987. Tests revealed that the barrels contained two ingredients of military defoliants used in the Vietnam War – the herbicide 2,4,5-T and 2,3,7,8-TCDD dioxin. Levels of the highly toxic TCDD in nearby water measured 280 times safe limits. 
The Pentagon has repeatedly denied the storage of defoliants – including Agent Orange – on Okinawa.  Following the discovery, it distanced itself from the barrels; a spokesperson stated it was investigating if they had been buried after the land’s return in 1987  and a US government-sponsored scientist suggested they may merely have contained kitchen or medical waste.  However, the conclusions of the Japanese and international scientific community were unequivocal: Not only did the barrels disprove Pentagon denials of the presence of military defoliants in Japan, the polluted land posed a threat to the health of local residents and required immediate remediation. 
The Pentagon is the largest polluter on the planet.  Producing more toxic waste than the US’s top three chemical manufacturers combined, in 2008 25,000 of its properties within the US were found to be contaminated. More than 100 of thee were classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as Superfund sites which necessitated urgent clean-up. 
Although Okinawa Island hosts more than 30 US bases – taking up 20% of its land – there has never been a concerted attempt to investigate levels of contamination within them. Unlike other nations with US bases such as South Korea and Germany, the Japanese government has no effective powers to conduct environmental checks, nor does the Pentagon have a duty to disclose to the public any contamination that it knows to exist. 
To date, most incidents of pollution have only become known when individual service members divulge details to the media or, as in the case of the barrels uncovered in Okinawa City, the Japanese authorities conduct tests following the return of military land.
Despite their limited scope, such disclosures offer a disturbing window into the contamination of Okinawa. Over the past seven decades, the island’s sea, land and air have been contaminated with toxins including arsenic, depleted uranium, nerve gas and carcinogenic hexavalent chromium. These substances have poisoned Okinawan civilians and US troops alike – and it is highly probable that they are damaging the health of those living on the island today. But, regardless of these risks, the Pentagon continues to do everything it can to evade responsibility for the damage its bases cause.
Morrissey has given his public support of Russell Brand’s call to abstain from voting in rebellion against the ‘broken political system’.
The singer said he agreed with the comedian that “the most powerful vote you can give is No Vote”.
In a 2,000 word tirade ranging from the monarchy to Sarah Palin, the singer said: “Thank you to Russell Brand for standing up and speaking out in recent weeks.
“Like Russell, I believe that the most powerful vote you can give is No Vote; for the days of Prime Ministers have gone, and it’s time for a form of change that is far more meaningful than simply switching blue to red.”
In a typically impassioned rant that spared no member of the British establishment, Morrissey railed against David Cameron, Princess Anne, Pippa Middleton, PJ Harvey, Jamie Oliver, the Queen, David Beckham, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William.
Russian courts granted bail to nine jailed foreign Greenpeace activists on Tuesday, a turnaround in Russia’s treatment of 30 people facing trial over a protest against Arctic oil drilling.
Activists from New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Italy, France, Finland and Poland were each granted a 2 million rouble ($61,300) bail in hearings over their dentention since the September protest at an offshore Russian oil rig.
But Greenpeace said it remains unclear whether they will be allowed to go back home.
One other activist has been ordered held in further pre-trial detention. All 30 face up to seven years in prison if convicted.
But the rulings signaled a shift in Russia’s handling of the case, which has fueled Western criticism of President Vladimir Putin’s third term. Courts had repeatedly refused to free them on bail in previous hearings.
The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.
[...] Half of the estimated emissions were produced just in the past 25 years – well past the date when governments and corporations became aware that rising greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal and oil were causing dangerous climate change.
Many of the same companies are also sitting on substantial reserves of fossil fuel which – if they are burned – puts the world at even greater risk of dangerous climate change.
Want to know where we’re destroying the world’s forests? Here’s the very first high-resolution map showing the change in the world’s tree cover between 2000 and 2012:
That comes from a new study published Thursday in the journal Science — the first effort to quantify in detail how forests are changing and disappearing over the past decade. The research team, led by the University of Maryland, used Landsat satellite images and Google’s Earth Engine to assemble detailed new maps.
Limitless growth is the fantasy of economists, businesses and politicians. It is seen as a measure of progress. As a result, gross domestic product (GDP), which is supposed to measure the wealth of nations, has emerged as both the most powerful number and dominant concept in our times. However, economic growth hides the poverty it creates through the destruction of nature, which in turn leads to communities lacking the capacity to provide for themselves.
The concept of growth was put forward as a measure to mobilise resources during the second world war. GDP is based on creating an artificial and fictitious boundary, assuming that if you produce what you consume, you do not produce. In effect , “growth” measures the conversion of nature into cash, and commons into commodities.
The UN’s Montreal Protocol, designed to phase out industrial gases that destroy Earth’s protective ozone layer, coincidentally applied a small brake to the planet’s warming, it said.
Without this treaty, Earth’s surface temperature would be roughly 0.1 degrees Celsius (0.2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher today, according to its authors.
“Paradoxically, the recent decrease in warming, presented by global warming sceptics as proof that humankind cannot affect the climate system, is shown to have a direct human origin,” according to the paper, published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Signed in 1987 and implemented in 1989, the Montreal Protocol committed signatories to scrapping a group of chlorine- and bromine-containing chemicals.
Japan took a major step back Friday from earlier pledges to slash its greenhouse gas emissions, saying a shutdown of its nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster had made its previous target unattainable. The unexpected announcement cast a shadow over international talks underway in Warsaw aimed at fashioning a global pact to address the threats of a changing climate.
Under its new goal, Japan, one of the world’s top polluters, would still seek to reduce its current emissions. But it would release 3 percent more greenhouse gases by 2020 compared to levels in 1990. Japan’s previous government had promised before the Fukushima crisis to cut greenhouse emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels, expecting that it could rely on nuclear power to achieve that goal.
Since the 2011 disaster, Japan’s nuclear power program, which provided about 30 percent of the country’s electricity, has ground to a halt amid public jitters over safety. The current government is pushing to restart reactors, but it remains unclear when that might happen.
“We’re down to zero nuclear; anyone doing the math will find that target impossible now,” Nobuteru Ishihara, the environment minister, said in Tokyo after announcing the new target. He said the original goal was “unrealistic in the first place.”
“The current government seeks economic growth while doing our best to meet emissions targets,” he added.
The operators of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant have postponed the extremely complicated and difficult task of removing damaged atomic rods.
New video footage from a robot has revealed new leaks within the damaged reactors meaning the rods now can’t be taken out as planned.
One of the fuel assemblies was damaged as far back as 1982 when it was mishandled during a transfer and is bent out of shape.
Kazuaki Matsui, the executive director of Japan’s Institute of Applied Energy said: “It’s very difficult to remove a spent rod because parts of the wall and the bottom of the reactor are all melted. We’ve never had to deal with this before so that adds to the complication.”
Consumers face another 17 years of above-inflation rises in utility bills as families are forced to cough up to pay for the renewal of Britain’s aging infrastructure, the Whitehall spending watchdog has warned.
The National Audit Office (NAO) said the government had little idea of the impact the continued price hikes would have on households or whether they would they would even be affordable, particularly for those on the lowest incomes.
Ministers have come under pressure to act to help Britons with the cost of living after Ed Miliband promise a 20-month energy prize freeze if Labour came to office.
This comes as five of the six energy giants have unveiled price rises set to come in over the next few months, while energy secretary Ed Davey has warned firms that they are facing a “Fred The Shred” moment that could leave them as disgraced as the banking industry.
Study Reveals Dangerous Levels of Radioactivity Near Fracking Waste Sites: Interview with Greg Palast
- Prepare for fracking, UK minister tells Southern England
- ‘Fracking is safe,’ says Government’s own health body
- The Hard Numbers on Fracking: Radiation, Toxic Wastewater and Air Pollution
- Judge defeats challenge to ‘medical gag order’ on health risks from fracking
- Fracking Boom Slouching Toward Bust
- Big Oil PR Pros, Lobbyists Dominate EDF Fracking “Study”
- MSNBC “Leans Forward” Into Running “Native Ads” Promoting Fracking
- What The Media Left Out: Pro-Fracking Report Was Funded By Gas Industry
- 2011 Oklahoma Temblor: Wastewater Injection Spurred Biggest Earthquake Yet, Study Says
- How shale fracking led to an Ohio town’s first 100 earthquakes
- Greenpeace encourages homeowners to sue energy companies for ‘fracking’ beneath their property
- Homeowners Increasingly Duped in Land Deals
- France cements fracking ban
- Eyes of the Nation on Colorado Towns’ Fracking Fight
- Canadian Police Use Military Tactics to Disperse Indigenous Anti-Fracking Blockade
- Romania police clash with anti-fracking protesters
As many as 10,000 people are feared dead in one city alone after Super Typhoon Haiyan — one of the most powerful storms ever recorded — slammed into the central islands of the Philippines, officials said.
Regional police chief Elmer Soria said he was briefed by Leyte provincial Gov. Dominic Petilla late Saturday and told there were about 10,000 deaths on the island, mostly by drowning and from collapsed buildings. The governor’s figure was based on reports from village officials in areas where Typhoon Haiyan slammed Friday.
Tacloban city administrator Tecson Lim said that the death toll in the city “could go up to 10,000.” A mass burial was planned Sunday in Palo town near Tacloban.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said a massive rescue operation was underway. “We expect a very high number of fatalities as well as injured,” Roxas said after visiting Tacloban on Saturday.
Their experiments have shown that intense pulses of light can cause ice to form and water to condense, leading to the formation of clouds.
The scientists have now begun testing their equipment outside for the first time with extremely short pulses of laser light were fired into the sky.
Researchers have also proved that lightning discharges can be triggered and channelled through the air using laser pulses.
They hope the technology could allow lightning during thunderstorms to be guided away from sensitive buildings such as power plants or airports
It could also be used to manipulate the weather by creating clouds and triggering rainfall ahead of major public events.
Sacred forests, which have mainly been protected by indigenous communities following traditional beliefs, are among the few remaining forest ecosystems that have been spared by loggers, but they are increasingly under threat, scientists warn.
“Evidence has shown that many people, including loggers, have for years respected, or have been afraid of going against some religious beliefs – and that has long been a conservation measure for several sacred forests around the world,” said Prasit Wangpakapattanawong, assistant professor at the forest restoration research unit of Thailand’s Chiang Mai University.
Most sacred forests are found in Asian countries, especially India, where they have for centuries been preserved and protected by adherents of Buddhism, a religion indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, Wangpakapattanawong said at the World Agroforestry Centre’s 2013 science week in Nairobi.
But the ever-growing appetite for land among global investors is a real risk for these previously safe havens, which are rich in biodiversity, the scientist told Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Climate-change debates often focus on how to cut the carbon spew of particular countries—China and the US above all. But another way to do such carbon accounting is to look at individual fossil-fuel projects. All it takes is single massive coal mine to outstrip the CO2 emissions of many countries.
As the Guardian’s Graham Readfearn detailed yesterday, two controversial coal mines in the Australian state of Queensland would emit nearly 125 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) annually. (Those emissions, based on court documents and environmental impact statements Readfearn obtained, include the actual burning of the coal as well as emissions associated with its extraction.) The Australian government has approved the two projects, which remain mired in litigation brought by opponents of the mines.
To put that number in perspective, that’s a bigger carbon spew than Vietnam, Uzbekistan or Iraq. And altogether, there are nine proposed coal mines for the Galilee Basin in central Queensland.
Wait — pro-nuclear environmentalists? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Apparently, not so much anymore.
Embracing nuclear is the only way, the scientists believe, to reverse the looming threat of climate change which they blame on fossil fuels. Depending who you ask, they’re either abandoning — or leading — traditional environmentalists who for a half-century have rejected clean-burning nuclear power as too expensive or too dangerous. Opponents cite disasters at Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile island.
- In Unprecedented Move, Spent Fuel Rods To Be Removed from Fukushima Reactors
- Help wanted in Fukushima: Low pay, high risks and gangsters
- Panel Finds TEPCO Should Be Stripped Of Responsibility For Shutting Down Fukushima
- Governor: TEPCO can’t yet be trusted to restart world’s biggest nuclear plant
- Japan’s Most Hated Outfit, TEPCO, Reports Fat Profit (From Taxpayer Bailout Money)
- Meet Japan’s ‘liquidators,’ the depressed, radiated workers who make $60 a day to dismantle Fukushima
- Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear: ’Fukushima beyond tragic, it’s a crime’
- Dr Helen Caldicott: ‘Any country with a nuclear plant is a bomb factory’
- David Suzuki’s Fukushima Warning Is Dire And Scary
- Fukushima’s Radiation Gusher
- TEPCO, US to cooperate in Japan nuke plant cleanup
- Tepco refuses to fund outside cleanup
- Fukushima Politics
- Osaka Police Target Anti-Nuclear Protesters
- More than two years on, many in Japan still uncertain about food from around Fukushima
- Japan launches anti-radiation underwear after Fukushima crisis
- Fukushima is here: Californians to spell it out for the world to see
More than a century ago, around 300,000 hopeful people rushed to California with the aim of striking it rich. From 1848 to 1855, at the height of the Gold Rush, miners tore up the countryside in pursuit of that precious mineral. But even forty-niners who didn’t strike it rich left a legacy of rare metal behind—namely, mercury, which still contaminates California’s soil and waterways.
Wildlife officials in South Africa have used culling to manage elephant populations since the 1960s. The environmental benefit is clear: too many of these huge, hungry animals could quickly eat, trample and uproot the vegetation in a fenced nature reserve. To prevent such habitat destruction, managers have historically rounded up the big beasts with a helicopter and had professional hunters on the ground kill some adults. The young elephants are then shipped to other parks.
Previous studies have shown that young elephants that live through such events grew up with a version of PTSD, delaying their development and making them unusually scared or aggressive. The elephants in this study had experienced even more extreme distress, however, as one of the researchers, Joyce Poole, told National Geographic,
“These calves watched as their mothers and other family members were killed and butchered. Because the people in charge of culls didn’t understand the long-term implications, didn’t understand they were dealing with intelligent, highly social animals, they, for convenience, tied the calves to their dead mothers while the butchering took place.”
Texas-sized floating island containing one million tonnes of junk from Japan tsunami drifting towards US
An enormous floating island of debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami is drifting towards the coast of America, bringing with it over one million tonnes of junk that would cover an area the size of Texas.
The most concentrated stretch – dubbed the “toxic monster” by Fox News – is currently around 1,700 miles off the coast, sitting between Hawaii and California, but several million tonnes of additional debris remains scattered across the Pacific.
If the rubbish were to continue to fuse, the combined area of the floating junkyard would be greater than that of the United States, and could theoretically weigh up to five million tonnes.
Global warming could mean big business for controversial agriculture giant Monsanto, which announced last week it was purchasing the climate change-oriented startup Climate Corporation for $930 million.
Agriculture, which uses roughly 40 percent of the world’s land, will be deeply affected by climate change in the coming years. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that warming will lead to pest outbreaks, that climate-related severe weather will impact food security, and that rising temperatures will hurt production for farms in equatorial areas. (In areas further from the equator, temperature rise is actually estimated to increase production in the short term, then harm production if temperatures continue to rise over 3 degrees Celsius in the long term.) Meanwhile, increases in the global population will make it crucial for farmers to be efficient with their land, says UC Davis professor Tu Jarvis. “The increase in food production, essentially, in the future needs to be in yields—output per acre,” Jarvis says, even while weather patterns make farming less predictable or more difficult in some places.
Monsanto, meanwhile, has been gearing up to sell its wares to farmers adapting to climate change.
Charles Darwin once said that we can understand some parts of nature and the universe, but we can’t comprehend them.
For instance, take the fact that in the next 12 years, we’re projected to add another billion people. Since a billion seconds equal 31.7 years, at the rate people are arriving, we can’t even count them.
Or that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now says that if we want to stay below a 2-degree Celsius (3.6-degree Fahrenheit) increase in average global temperature, we can’t emit any more carbon dioxide than what’s released by burning 1 trillion tons of carbon. But we’ve already used more than half our allotment.
There’s a direct link between those two hard-to-grasp figures — the more humans, the more carbon.
The world invested almost a billion dollars a day in limiting global warming last year, but the total figure – $359 billion – was slightly down on last year, and barely half the $700 billion per year that the World Economic Forum has said is needed to tackle climate change.
These are the findings spelled out in the latest Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) report. For the first time, it estimated global North-South cash flows at between $39 and $62 billion.
But the total funding pot fell $5 billion from 2012, and remains just a tiny fraction of the $5 trillion that the International Energy Agency estimates is required by 2020 for clean energy projects alone, if rising temperatures are to be pegged at 2 degrees Celsius.
“Investment to combat and adapt to climate change is happening around the world, but it’s short of where it needs to be and efforts to grow it have not been successful enough,” said Thomas Heller, the executive director of Climate Policy Initiative, the group which compiled the report.
“Leveling the playing field can help unlock significant additional finance,” he added.
The report, Landscape 2013, says that amounts invested in clean energy were dwarfed by the $523 billion a year that the world shells out in fossil fuels subsidies, according to the OECD.