Crazy Texas tire fire demonstrates why America needs the EPA

April 18, 2017 by  
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100,000 tires caught fire in arid Odessa, Texas earlier this month. The blaze was too much for local volunteer firefighters to extinguish as the isolated area’s closest fire hydrant is four miles away. So the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came to the rescue. Turns out the government body has some value after all, despite what some politicians and the president think. The Texas tire fire started Sunday, April 9 around 3 PM. Roads were closed and local people were told to shutter their windows because of the toxic black smoke billowing from the fire. West Odessa Volunteer Fire Chief Jimmy Ellis told local news publication OA Online the fire was way beyond their means to extinguish. “We haven’t even been able to get down in the pit where it started because it’s so hot you can’t get down in that pit,” he said. “The rubber just stays hot and it will adhere to your boots and the bunker gear.” YouTube user SF1 captured the massive tire fire with a GoPro Karma drone. Related: Republican senator claims the EPA is brainwashing children Firefighters created a break around the pit to at least prevent the fire from spreading, and then the EPA arrived Monday the 10 to help out. In cases like the Texas tire fire – when a disaster is too overwhelming for local or state resources – the agency can provide strategists, teams, and equipment. GOOD said if the agency hadn’t gotten involved the fire may have raged for weeks. Burning tires can emit hundreds of toxic pollutants into the atmosphere, according to Gizmodo, and breathing in that smoke can lead to negative health effects. Investigators don’t yet know who was responsible for the tire fire. OA Online reported the pit of tires is on private property; their storage could have been against regulation. According to a recent Abilene Reporter-News article , authorities said the fire is finally extinguished. Via GOOD and Gizmodo Images via screenshot

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Crazy Texas tire fire demonstrates why America needs the EPA

9-year-old girl sues Indian government over climate-change inaction

April 12, 2017 by  
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Who runs the world? Ridhima Pandey, for one. The nine-year-old girl from India is suing her government for failing to stem planet-warming greenhouse-gas emissions . In a petition filed last week with the National Green Tribunal , a court that handles cases related to the environment, Pandey reproached the country’s officials for not enforcing their own prescriptions for mitigating climate change , the consequences of which the “children of today and the future will disproportionately suffer.” The tribunal has asked the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate , as well as the Central Pollution Control Board to respond within two weeks. “As a young person, the applicant is part of a class that amongst all Indians is most vulnerable to changes in climate, yet are not part of the decision-making process,” the 52-page petition, which names the above two agencies as respondents, said. “The government has failed to take any effective science-based measure, and there is a huge gap in implementation of the environmental legislations.” India, with its population of 1.25 billion, is one of the world’s biggest polluters, coming in fourth after China, the United States, and the European Union . That Pandey is the daughter of an environmental activist isn’t too surprising, though the lawsuit is reportedly her idea. Certainly she isn’t the first young person to take the Indian government to task over air pollution. Just last year, six teenagers filed a lawsuit over New Delhi’s infamously appalling air quality. Related: Air pollution is the leading environmental cause of death worldwide India isn’t completely oblivious to the damage climate change can cause. The South Asian nation, which officially ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change in late 2016, has pledged to generate at least 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030. But Pandey thinks the government could—and should—be doing more. Her petition included a call for the government to prepare a “carbon budget” that places a cap on the country’s carbon-dioxide emissions, ensure that industrial projects meet emissions standards, and create a time-bound national climate recovery plan. “Children in India are now aware about the issues of climate change and its impact,” Rahul Choudary, Pandey’s lawyer, said in a statement. “[Pandey] is simply asking her government to fulfill its own duty to protect the vital natural resources on which she and future generations depend on for survival.” Via Mashable and Reuters Photos by Unsplash

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9-year-old girl sues Indian government over climate-change inaction

Rural America advances on sustainability, calling it common sense

March 27, 2017 by  
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One primary concern in rural areas: higher temperatures put strain on water and energy sources.

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Rural America advances on sustainability, calling it common sense

Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution

March 23, 2017 by  
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Beijing’s pollution problem is no secret – earlier this year the city even created an environmental police squad in a bid to stop smog . Now, the nearby province of Hebei  – which contributes to Beijing’s smog with it’s heavy industry economy – is taking some creative new steps to combat the dangerous health risk that kills millions of people each year. The government is turning to nature to create a “green necklace” of trees and green belts as a natural way to fight pollution. People have recently pointed fingers at Hebei’s heavy industry as a source for some of Beijing’s hazardous pollution . The city has suffered from numerous smog outbreaks, often during the winter, according to Reuters. So the Hebei government announced this week both they and Beijing will plant trees and use wetlands and rivers to create a green necklace to protect the major global city. In a website notice, the government said it will increase forest coverage and set up green belts with the help of river systems, farms, mountains, and wetlands near Beijing. Related: China’s crazy smog-sucking vacuum tower might actually be working Transportation rules for Beijing and border areas are also part of the plan, which according to Reuters is part of a government effort to integrate the city, Hebei, and Tianjin, a major port city just southeast of Beijing. What have been described as fortress economies in the area could have prompted a race to the bottom in environmental law enforcement, according to Reuters. The cross-regional plan could also help address overpopulation – around 22 million people currently live in Beijing – by trying to limit urban development on the city’s borders. Beijing also plans to move some industries and “non-capital functions” out to Hebei, hoping such moves will also help cut pollution and congestion. Limited coal consumption is another piece of the strategy to clear the skies over Beijing, and the city just decommissioned the last coal-fired power plant earlier in March. Via Reuters Images via Bert Oostdijk on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution

World’s biggest river island could be India’s first carbon-neutral sector

March 23, 2017 by  
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Pollution has plagued India recently; a 2017 report showed people are more likely to die from air pollution not in China, as might be your first guess, but in India. But one area of the country could receive a breath of fresh air. Majuli, which is the largest river island in the world, could become the country’s first carbon-neutral district. Majuli, which is found in India’s Assam state, is home to plentiful biodiversity and the neo-Vaishnavite culture, which according to The Guardian is a monotheistic branch of Hinduism. But the river island is in trouble: monsoons and the river absorb homes as land is disappearing rapidly. In the middle of the 19th century, the river island was around 463 square miles, but in 2015 it was just around 154 square miles, and some research says Majuli could be gone in two decades. Related: New Delhi has the worst air pollution of any city on earth “Majuli is facing an existential crisis and therefore initiatives like designating [it] a carbon neutral district and biodiversity heritage site are [the] needs of the hour to preserve its rich heritage and legacy,” said Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The government aims to make the river island the country’s first carbon-neutral sector by 2020 . Sonowal aims to raise awareness among locals as the area works to become free of pollution. He suggested parents could give a sapling to their children for their birthdays, and plant trees around their homes. He also started an electronic registry to scrutinize the climate impact of any projects proposed for Majuli. A project called the Sustainable Action for Climate Resilient Development, started late last year, will ensure the river island’s infrastructure is low carbon . According to Sonowal’s office as quoted by The Times of India, “Further declaration of Majuli as a Biodiversity Heritage Site, the first in the state, enforces the rich biological biodiversity in the wild, cultivated areas of the island and cultural heritage of Majuli.” Via India Times , The Times of India , and The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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World’s biggest river island could be India’s first carbon-neutral sector

John de Graaf: Buying less is more for social sustainability

March 3, 2017 by  
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The “Affluenza” director discusses decoupling economic growth from consumption and reaching out across the political aisle.

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John de Graaf: Buying less is more for social sustainability

RMI scales community solar across the U.S.

March 3, 2017 by  
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How the organization enabled PPAs at prices 40 percent below median bids and plans to unlock a 5-30 GW market by 2020.

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RMI scales community solar across the U.S.

Why ExxonMobil’s new CEO, like the old one, backs a carbon tax

February 27, 2017 by  
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Darren Woods, who took the helm in early 2017, doubles down on oil giant’s commitment to drive down emissions.

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Why ExxonMobil’s new CEO, like the old one, backs a carbon tax

EPA workers openly fight against potential Pruitt confirmation

February 17, 2017 by  
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With Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt ‘s installation as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head seeming more likely, current EPA employees have taken to their phones and the streets to resist his potential confirmation. They’ve contacted their senators and protested; one expert said he “can’t think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this.” EPA scientists, policy experts, and environmental lawyers are openly opposing the confirmation of a man who’s sued the EPA 14 times – sometimes working with large fossil fuel companies – and can’t come up with even one EPA regulation he supports. The EPA’s union has sent emails and posted on social media exhorting members to take action. EPA employees in Chicago protested on the streets. Related: Scott Pruitt can’t name a single EPA regulation he approves of TechCrunch reported yesterday the EPA posted a snapshot of what their website looked like the day before Donald Trump’s inauguration after receiving numerous requests for the information. Two Democrat senators, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp , said they’ll vote for Pruitt, and only one Republican, Maine’s Susan Collins , said she’ll oppose him. EPA lawyer Nicole Cantello, who’s also the Chicago area union leader, told The New York Times, “It seems like Trump and Pruitt want a complete reversal of what EPA has done. I don’t know if there’s any other agency that’s been so reviled. So it’s in our interests to do this.” Should Pruitt be confirmed, it would be difficult to fire those workers who opposed him due to Civil Service protections, meaning there could be a lot of internal dissension against actions Pruitt aims to take, like dismantling the Clean Power Plan . Former EPA employee Judith Enck told The New York Times, “EPA staff are pretty careful. They’re risk-averse. If people are saying and doing things like this, it’s because they’re really concerned.” Via The New York Times Images via Lorie Shaull on Flickr and Gage Skidmore on Flickr

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Mike Berkowitz, 100 Resilient Cities: It’s a new era in climate action

February 8, 2017 by  
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As cities around the world go from climate planning to climate action, the Rockefeller Foundation offshoot is gearing up for the long haul — with or without Trump.

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Mike Berkowitz, 100 Resilient Cities: It’s a new era in climate action

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