In a world first, the UK declares a climate emergency

May 7, 2019 by  
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In a victory for peaceful protest and the planet, the United Kingdom parliament is now the world’s first national legislative body to proclaim a climate change emergency. The decision comes on the heels of major protests by Extinction Rebellion that snarled London traffic for a week last month. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn proposed the emergency declaration. “Today, we have the opportunity to say, ‘We hear you,’” Corbyn told parliament . “By becoming the first parliament in the world to declare a climate emergency, we could, and I hope we do, set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments all around the world.” Related: Extinction Rebellion LA protests climate change by supergluing themselves to Universal globe The declaration was one of several demands made by Extinction Rebellion. Extinction Rebellion’s other demands call on Britain to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2025 and for citizens’ assemblies to be responsible for working out these initiatives, rather than the powers-that-be. Michael Gove, environment secretary under conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, acknowledged the danger of climate change. “Not only do I welcome the opportunity that this debate provides, I also want to make it clear that on this side of the house, we recognize that the situation we face is an emergency,” Gove said . “It is a crisis, it is a threat, that all of us have to unite to meet.” Gove and Corbyn both vowed to confront Donald Trump on his environmental stance when the U.S. president visits the U.K. in June. Many municipalities and regions of the U.K. have also declared climate emergencies, including Scotland, Wales, Manchester and London, noting that the clock is winding down for Earth’s inhabitability by humans. As one sign hoisted by a Scottish school child during last month’s protests said, “Dinosaurs thought they had time, too.” Via Reuters , The Guardian Image via David Holt

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In a world first, the UK declares a climate emergency

Crucial animal protection laws for the sage grouse being eliminated by the White House

March 19, 2019 by  
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The White House is eliminating crucial animal protection laws for the sage grouse. The protections, originally put in place by President Barack Obama , are being rolled back to open millions of acres of land for gas and oil development. Conservationists warn the move could land the sage grouse back on the endangered species list. The Donald Trump administration’s new plan targets 8.7 million acres of Sagebrush Focal Areas, an important habitat for the sage grouse and hundreds of other wildlife. Since 2015, oil and gas companies have been unable to set up shop in these areas, which has boosted grouse populations. Related: Trump administration wants to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list Steve Holmer, vice president of the American Bird Conservancy, revealed that stripping away these protections has already cut down grouse populations in the Dakotas and Washington State. “These changes will put the grouse back on a path toward needing an Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing,” ABC President, Mike Parr, shared. “That’s exactly the outcome that the 2015 cooperative plans had sought to prevent.” Trump first proposed the plan back in December with the goal of opening the door for more gas and oil development on public land. Trump is justifying his new initiative by calling for a new age of “ energy dominance” in America, and his Interior Department head, David Bernhardt, is helping make it happen. Bernhardt is also looking to revise the Endangered Species Act, which was put in place back in 1973. Bernhard, who used to be an oil lobbyist, wants regulators to consider the economic effects of placing wildlife on the endangered list. This would ultimately make it easier to justify developing in endangered habitats that were previously off limits. With Trump’s new plan threatening sage grouse populations across the country, conservationists are doing their best to protect the beloved bird. This includes studying population numbers and learning how gas and oil development affects those statistics moving forward. Conservationists are also looking to put the sage grouse on the endangered species list, something that has not been possible because of the previous animal protection laws. Via New York Times Image via Shutterstock

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Crucial animal protection laws for the sage grouse being eliminated by the White House

Nine more states join seismic blasting lawsuit against the Trump administration

December 27, 2018 by  
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  Several conservation groups and South Carolina coastal communities sued the Trump Administration earlier this month for allowing companies to conduct seismic blasting surveys in the Atlantic Ocean as a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. And now, a coalition of nine states has joined the lawsuit and added their clout to the claim. Last week, a coalition of attorneys general from Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit because the seismic surveys will expose marine life to repeated sound blasters louder than 160 decibels, and that could lead to dangerous consequences. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, the leader of the coalition, says that the Trump Administration continues to make the interests of the fossil fuel industry a top priority over our natural resources . Therefore, attorneys general along the Atlantic Coast will continue to fight the efforts of Atlantic shore drilling. Diane Hoskins, the campaign director for Oceana— one of the nine groups suing the Trump Administration— applauded the AG coalition for standing up for their states. “Putting our oceans, marine life and coastal economies at risk for dirty and dangerous offshore drilling is wrong, and we are not backing down. Seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic defies law, science and common sense. They acted unlawfully, and we’re going to stop it. Oceana is pleased so many states are joining this critical fight,” said Hoskins. Related: Study finds microplastics in sea turtles around the world This lawsuit comes less than a month after the National Marine Fisheries Service issued five Incidental Harassment Authorizations that permit companies to use airgun blasting off the Atlantic coast. During the seismic blasting process, ships fire blasts of air to the bottom of the ocean every ten seconds for weeks or months at a time. They do this to map the contours of the ocean floor with the goal of finding oil and gas deposits. However, the loud, continuous noise can damage the hearing of marine life, or possibly disorient and kill the animals . It can also negatively impact commercial and recreational fishing by decreasing catch rates. And, because burning fossil fuels is causing rapid climate change, these conservation groups, along with these nine states, are trying to stop the federal government’s “flat-out wrong” decision to allow offshore drilling on the Atlantic coast. Via EcoWatch Images via wener22brigitte

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Nine more states join seismic blasting lawsuit against the Trump administration

California legislature passes historic bill to achieve 100% clean energy

August 30, 2018 by  
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California is going all in on clean energy. Legislators just passed a bill that puts the state on a path to become 100 percent reliable on clean energy by 2045, making it the largest economy in the world to enact such an environmentally friendly policy. Governor Jerry Brown has until the end of next month to sign the bill and make it official. This is not the first eco-friendly move in the California state legislature. The state previously had a goal to become 50 percent reliant on clean energy by 2030, a goal the new bill upped to 60 percent. This past spring, legislators changed state building codes to require newly constructed houses to feature solar energy capabilities. The mandates show that California is looking to become a leader in environmental issues in the decades to come. The historic bill comes amid a struggle with Donald Trump’s administration, which has been attempting to revive interest in traditional energy sources, such as coal, over renewable energy . Trump has also been relaxing regulations when it comes to the environment. California’s new bill flies in the face of Trump’s political agenda and is a victory for clean energy supporters. It also follows what has been a difficult year for California, as the state continues to deal with the aftermath of historic wildfires. “Ongoing wildfires fueled by record-high temperatures and drier conditions exacerbated by climate change have shown us that we can’t wait any longer to tackle the climate crisis and move to clean energy,” said Michael Brune, executive director of Sierra Club. California is not the only state to eye 100 percent clean energy. Hawaii passed a similar bill in 2015 and plans on fulfilling the initiative in 2045. Following California’s clean energy bill , New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C. and New York are debating similar policies. Colorado and Maryland have also considered going 100 percent clean energy but did not have enough votes to pass it. Legislators in California passed their clean energy mandate 44 to 33 votes. Democrat Gov. Brown is fully expected to support the bill in the coming weeks. Via Earthjustice and Sierra Club Image via Camille Seaman / Solutions Project, 100% Campaign

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"Have to have see-through," says Trump of border wall

March 14, 2018 by  
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President Donald Trump stopped in Otay Mesa during his trip to California to inspect eight prototypes of the potential border wall . His feedback? “You have to have see-through,” Trump told reporters, according to CBS Los Angeles . “You have to know what’s on the other side of the wall. You could be two feet away from a criminal cartel and you don’t even know they’re there.” If we don’t have a wall system, we’re not going to have a country. Congress must fund the BORDER WALL & prohibit grants to sanctuary jurisdictions that threaten the security of our country & the people of our country. We must enforce our laws & protect our people! #BuildTheWall pic.twitter.com/NGqNueukvj — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018 Trump examined 30-foot border wall prototypes during his first trip to California since he won the election. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported he preferred a combination of a see-through wall topped with steel or rounded concrete to make it harder for climbers to scale. Archinect said there were solid, opaque options as well as four other materials, non-concrete prototypes Trump appeared to favor. Related: Artists are turning the U.S.-Mexico border fence into the world’s longest peace-themed mural The president said, “If you don’t have a wall system, we’re not going to have a country. There’s a lot of problems in Mexico , they have the cartels. We’re fighting the cartels, we’re fighting them hard.” Trump also addressed criticism about the border wall from California’s governor, Jerry Brown , saying he thinks the governor “has done a very poor job running California” and “the place is totally out of control.” “You have sanctuary cities where you have criminals living in the sanctuary cities,” he said. Brown responded on Twitter , saying bridges are better than walls. ? Thanks for the shout-out, @realDonaldTrump . But bridges are still better than walls. And California remains the 6th largest economy in the world and the most prosperous state in America. #Facts — Jerry Brown (@JerryBrownGov) March 13, 2018 The San Diego Union-Tribune said hordes of both supporters and critics gathered throughout San Diego, and people were largely peaceful, but for shouting insults at the other side, and a Mexican flag was torn and almost burned. CBS Los Angeles said people peacefully protested Trump’s visit, chanting, “No ban! No wall!” Via CBS Los Angeles , The San Diego Union-Tribune , and Archinect Image via U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Flickr

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"Have to have see-through," says Trump of border wall

Studio Gang unveils plans to renovate and expand the Arkansas Arts Center

March 14, 2018 by  
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Studio Gang just unveiled plans for a new project that will strengthen the connections between different spaces at the Arkansas Arts Center . The plan comprises a series of glazed pavilions with pleated roofs, and it will refurbish the existing exhibition , education and performance facilities. Studio Gang collaborated with landscape architect Kate Orff of SCAPE Landscape Architecture to deliver a design will increase visitor services by 81 percent, exhibitions and collections management by 25 percent, and education, public programs and the Museum School by 50 percent. The scheme will give a highly visible architectural identity to the Arts Center and reorganize the current program and architectural envelope. Related: Studio Gang is Transforming a Dirty Coal Power Plant Into a Green Arts College Studio Gang designed a pleated, organic building that connects the new north-facing city entrance with a glass pavilion and south-facing park entrance. An open axis public gallery runs through the building, connecting the various components of the AAC. “Starting from the inside out, the design clarifies the organization of the building and extends its presence into MacArthur Park and out to Crescent Lawn,” said Gang. “By doing so, the Center becomes a vibrant place for social interaction, education, and appreciation for the arts.” New public plazas and gardens at the north and south entrances of the center will foster stronger connections with the park. Planted groves along the west side of the building will create a forested edge that blends into the park. A framework of new trees will, over time, merge with the existing canopy to form a forest park. + Studio Gang + SCAPE Landscape Architecture

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Studio Gang unveils plans to renovate and expand the Arkansas Arts Center

Beloved physicist Stephen Hawking passes away at 76

March 14, 2018 by  
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Stephen Hawking , the brilliant and iconic British scientist who inspired countless millions with his intellect and humanity, has died at 76. After being diagnosed with a degenerative motor neuron disease similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at age 21, which left him nearly completely paralyzed, Hawking found strength in humor and the boundless exploration of science. “My goal is simple,” he famously said. “It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” His achievements as an astrophysicist include his theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, (sometimes referred to as Hawking radiation), his work on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity, and his 30-year tenure as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, a position once held by Sir Isaac Newton. Throughout his life, Hawking traveled the world, inspiring and teaching others, and worked to make science accessible. His 1989 classic A Brief History of Time was written for a mainstream audience on a subject with which few were familiar, emphasizing Hawking’s drive to bring science to the people. Hawking also wrote a series of children’s books with his daughter Lucy to help young people discover their love for science. Hawking’s approach to accessibility was framed by his own physical disability , which left him unable to physically speak. Using a vocal synthesizer controlled by finger movements, and later his cheek muscle, Hawking found his voice again and used it. When asked why he did not update his voice as artificial speech technology had advanced, he replied , “My old system worked well and I wrote five books with it, including ‘A Brief History of Time’. It has become my trademark and I wouldn’t change it for a more natural voice with a British accent. I am told that children who need a computer voice want one like mine.” Related: Stephen Hawking reveals what existed before the Big Bang Hawking wielded his sense of humor to connect with others and to motivate himself in trying times. “Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has maintaining a sense of humor ,” Hawking observed in a 2013 documentary . “I am probably better known for my appearances on The Simpsons and on The Big Bang Theory than I am for my scientific discoveries.” In his guest appearance on the former television series, Hawking found scientific inspiration from Homer Simpson. “Your theory of a doughnut shaped universe is intriguing, Homer,” Hawkings said in a 1999 episode. “I may have to steal it.” As one of the longest surviving people with ALS, Hawking credited humor with his longevity. “When I turned 21, my expectations were reduced to zero,” he said in 2016 . “It was important that I came to appreciate what I did have . . . It’s also important not to become angry, no matter how difficult life is, because you can lose all hope if you can’t laugh at yourself and at life in general.” Via Washington Post Images via Wikimedia

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Beloved physicist Stephen Hawking passes away at 76

Eight prototypes for Trump’s wall near US-Mexico border pass military tests for impenetrability

February 13, 2018 by  
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Filed under the category of depressing news, eight prototypes for Trump’s border wall have been erected at the US-Mexico border in San Diego’s Otay Mesa area for testing. Over the past few months, the 30-foot wall sections have been assessed for breach-ability by the US Customs and Borders Protection agency, using sledgehammers, pickaxes, saws and various power tools. The result? Totally impenetrable, according to military testing. Muro de oro, sueño americano A post shared by Jill Marie Holslin (@jillholslin) on Oct 24, 2017 at 12:32am PDT The prototypes were submitted by the six companies that were chosen out of 250 by the Department of Homeland Security during the bidding process launched in February of 2017. The winning design may or may not serve to help Donald Trump fulfill his campaign promise of strengthening the border between the US and Mexico . Related: Solar-powered ‘ecotopia’ proposed as alternative to Trump’s border wall All of the eight designs are made from concrete , which was specified in the tender process. Other materials include steel reinforcements, as well as metal and an unspecified transparent material. One solid concrete wall is even topped with steel mesh and spikes. No word yet on whether the winning design will be outfitted with solar panels, as Trump has suggested. Tactical teams have spent the past few months attacking the wall to determine if it can stand up against penetration. Now, the teams have determined that the walls all pass muster. No word on which design Trump favors, but the testers said that the design with see-through steel barriers at the top was particularly “good”. It is likely that the final wall will include the best elements of each design. However, the wall installation is still far from reality. The various proposals for the project’s funding, which has an estimated price tag of $1.6 billion, have been stalled in the Senate for months and the state of California has filed a lawsuit to block its construction. Trump’s recently submitted budget proposal includes funding for the wall, but the budget has to pass congress approval before it would go forward. Via Dezeen and the LA Times Images via Wikipedia and EdmondMeinfelder

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Eight prototypes for Trump’s wall near US-Mexico border pass military tests for impenetrability

Trump bewilders scientists, says ice caps are "setting records"

January 29, 2018 by  
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The president of the United States raised eyebrows once again over his thoughts on climate change . In an interview with British journalist Piers Morgan on United Kingdom television channel ITV, Donald Trump said ice caps are setting records – without offering data to back up his statement. Morgan asked Trump, “Do you believe in climate change? Do you think it exists?” Trump said, “There is a cooling and there is a heating and look, it used to not be climate change. It used to be global warming . Right? That wasn’t working too well. Because it was getting too cold all over the place. The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records, okay, they’re at a record level.” Related: This map shows how uninformed Trump’s global warming tweet is There are several errors in Trump’s statement, for which he failed to offer scientific evidence. Reuters spoke with a few scientists about Trump’s claims, and World Glacier Monitoring Service director Michael Zemp told them, “ Glaciers and ice caps are globally continuing to melt at an extreme rate…maybe [Trump] is referring to a different planet.” Trump also talked about the Paris Agreement in the interview, saying, “Would I go back in? Yeah, I’d go back in. I like, as you know, I like Emmanuel,” referring to the president of France Emmanuel Macron . “I would love to, but it’s got to be a good deal for the United States.” Bloomberg pointed out Trump made similar remarks following a meeting with Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway. So what are some of Trump’s beliefs on the environment ? The president told Morgan, “I’ll tell you what I believe in. I believe in clean air, I believe in crystal clear, beautiful water, I believe in just having good cleanliness.” Via The Independent , Bloomberg , and Reuters Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Pixabay

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Trump bewilders scientists, says ice caps are "setting records"

2017 was the hottest year on record for Earth’s oceans

January 29, 2018 by  
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Last year was the hottest year on record for Earth’s oceans , according to two scientists at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IAP/CAS). The increase in ocean heat led to a 1.7-millimeter global sea level rise – and other consequences like “declining ocean oxygen, bleaching of coral reefs, and melting sea ice and ice shelves.” The ocean absorbs over 90 percent of the planet’s “residual heat related to global warming ,” according to the researchers, Lijing Cheng and Jiang Zhu, whose work recently came out as an early online release in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences . While they said the increase in ocean heat content for last year happened in most of the world’s regions, the Atlantic and Southern Oceans displayed more warming than the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Related: Rising ocean temperatures are cooking the Great Barrier Reef to death According to National Geographic , the two scrutinized ocean temperature data from multiple institutions, including the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists started gathering the data during the 1950’s – and in the late 1990’s, ocean temperatures started to take off, per the publication. The IAP ocean analysis reveals “the last five years have been the five warmest years in the ocean.” National Geographic pointed out people visiting the beach probably wouldn’t notice the temperature rise, but a warming ocean could still have damaging impacts. Sea ice coverage and thickness have both taken a hit. And the window to save Earth’s coral reefs is closing quickly . The researchers said in their paper, “The global ocean heat content record robustly represents the signature of global warming…The human greenhouse gas footprint continues to impact the Earth system.” + Advances in Atmospheric Sciences Via Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences , The Guardian and National Geographic Images via Deposit Photos ,  Ant Rozetzky on Unsplash and Tim Lautensack on Unsplash

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2017 was the hottest year on record for Earth’s oceans

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