Congo could open its national parks to oil drilling

July 2, 2018 by  
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Two national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo could soon face pollution threats and habitat destruction if oil drilling is given the green light. The national government announced on Friday, June 29, 2018 that it is deciding on whether to permit oil wells in parts of the Salonga and Virunga National Parks, which are both home to rare and endangered wildlife. Under the plan put forward by the Congolese government, over one-fifth of Virunga National Park could open for oil exploration. Virunga is home to approximately half of the world’s mountain gorillas . Salonga National Park occupies more than 13,000 square miles of the Congo Basin , the second largest rainforest in the world. The dense jungles are home to bonobos, along with the African golden cat, forest buffalos and pangolins. The government did not elaborate on how much of Salonga could be available for oil drilling. In statements to the press, the government expressed its rights to allow oil well construction in both parks, while claiming it would be mindful of wildlife protection in both areas. Related: New Ebola outbreak strikes the Democratic Republic of the Congo These plans come under heavy criticism from inter-governmental organizations and environmental watchdog groups, whom already denounced previous plans. As World Heritage Sites , UNESCO calls drilling and illegal resource extraction continuing threats to conservation in both the Salonga and Virunga . Oil drilling is not the only issue facing the wildlife in these parks. Poaching and kidnapping remains a major concern in both preserves. After two British tourists were held hostage and a park ranger was killed in the first five months of 2018, government officials have closed Virunga through 2019. Opening the parks to drilling comes as the national government prepares for another wave of sanctions. Before the announcement, the United Nations Security Council upheld an asset freeze and travel ban against the nation. Although British oil and gas exploration firm Soco International previously tested the Virunga area for viability, its license is no longer valid. No other petroleum companies have announced plans to drill in either of the two parks. Via  Reuters  and  BBC Images via Fanny Schertzer ( 1 , 2 )

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Architect turns four shipping containers into an affordable and eco-friendly home

July 2, 2018 by  
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Architectural firm  Matt Elkan Architect has unveiled a beautiful home on Australia’s south coast, with a unique twist: it’s made out of four shipping containers. In addition to constructing the home out of repurposed containers , the firm included a number of sustainable features in order to make the shipping container house as environmentally friendly as possible. From the beginning, architect Matt Elkan worked with the homeowners to create a design that would reflect their vision of an eco-friendly family home . He also wanted to prove that great design doesn’t have to break the bank. According to Elkan’s project description, “This project was always about economy, efficiency and how to do as much as possible on a very limited budget. However, the scale belies the efficiency of program and generosity of the outcome. The client’s conviction from the outset was that good architecture does not need to be expensive, and this project attempts to prove the theory.” Related: Stunning shipping container home can be yours for $125k Although keeping the budget as low as possible was a priority, minimizing the home’s environmental impact was of utmost importance as well. There was no excavation on the landscape and the four shipping containers were laid out strategically to take advantage of natural lighting and passive temperature control. The architects used natural wood insulation on the flat roof, and they did not include any VOC finishes in the building. Additionally, the home has Low E windows and recycled HW doors. For water conservation, 500 liters of water can be stored on-site. The result of this strategic design? A beautiful 1,000-square-foot home that sleeps up to ten people. Unlike some shipping container homes , the design proudly shows the shipping container aesthetic throughout the exterior and interior. The home’s exterior was painted in a dark grey, and the doors were left in their original state with script that marks their weight and shipping details. The interior also proudly shows its industrial origins. The container walls were painted in a glossy white with a few accent walls made of blonde wood, which was also used for the ceiling and flooring. Sliding farmhouse-style doors give the home a modern touch. An abundance of windows throughout the home flood the interior with natural light and also provide a strong connection to the home’s gorgeous surroundings. Many of the floor-to-ceiling windows can be concealed by the large shipping container doors. The living space opens up to a wooden deck, further blending the home’s interior with the exterior. + Matt Elkan Architect Via Dwell Photography by Simon Whitbread

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Architect turns four shipping containers into an affordable and eco-friendly home

Companies push to start oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

June 1, 2018 by  
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Following Congress’s move to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas production, a long-sought goal of the Republican Party, fossil fuel companies are moving forward with their plans to develop the wilderness and hope to survey the region by winter. Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation, two Alaska Native companies, as well as one oil company have applied for a permit to begin seismic surveying on the refuge’s coastal plain. However, despite promises that the process would be as environmentally sensitive as possible, documents obtained by the Washington Post indicate that the Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the initial plan as “not adequate,” noting its “lack of applicable details for proper agency review.” The area the companies hope to explore for oil is also the location of the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd, from which the local Gwich’in First Nation community finds food and cultural significance. In fact, the prospective area where two teams of 150 people are proposed to survey isn’t even visited by the Gwich’in people out of respect for its importance. The speed with which the companies have pushed to begin oil drilling has concerned the locals. “Why can’t they just wait to have more information?” Gwich’in Steering Committee executive director Bernadette Dementieff told Earther . “The oil isn’t going anywhere. There’s nothing wrong with waiting. It makes no sense to rush.” Perhaps the oil companies are concerned that the U.S. may, under a different Congress, return to its long-held status quo of banning oil drilling in the refuge. Related: Spending bill would open the world’s largest intact temperate forest to logging Although the nearby Native town of Kaktovik supported oil and gas drilling in 2005, more recently, the mayor sent a letter to Congress to oppose opening the land to industry. The process has moved forward so quickly since the bill opening the refuge to oil drilling was signed into law that Dementieff was not even aware of the drilling application until she was contacted by Earther. “That is completely insane and disrespectful,” she said. Dementieff believes that Native communities in Alaska will rally together to stop the drilling from ever occurring. “We’ll go to every courtroom. We’ll go to every community meeting. We’re not giving up. We’re not going to allow them to destroy the calving grounds.” Via Earther Images via  Depositphotos and Bob Clarke

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Companies push to start oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Shell predicted the effects of climate change in its own 1991 film

March 1, 2017 by  
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A recent report by The Guardian reveals that Shell not only knew the extent of climate change as far back as 1991, but even made a film about it. The oil company’s film, called “Climate of Concern,” said the climate was changing “at a rate faster than at any time since the end of the ice age – change too fast perhaps for life to adapt, without severe dislocation.” Despite that knowledge, the company has gone on to heavily invest in the Alberta tar sands, and lobby extensively against climate change action. Check out the video below. As The Guardian notes, Shell’s film painted a bleak picture of a planet ravaged by the effects of climate change : “Tropical islands barely afloat even now, first made inhabitable, and then obliterated beneath the waves … coastal lowlands everywhere suffering pollution of precious groundwater, on which so much farming and so many cities depend,” says the film’s narrator as images of people dealing with the effects of natural disasters and famine float by. “In a crowded world subject to such adverse shifts of climate, who would take care of such greenhouse refugees?” Related: Shell tells US it’s ready to begin drilling 8,000 feet below Arctic seabed https://vimeo.com/205539515 At the time it was made, the film was available for public viewing by anyone – including schools and universities. But it seems to have largely gone off the radar in the decades since. And according to Professor Tom Wigley, who helped make the film during his time as head of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia , the predictions made by the film 25 years ago remain pretty accurate based on today’s knowledge. “It was quite comprehensive on what might happen, what the consequences are, and what to do about it,” he told The Guardian, noting that predictions for temperature and sea level rise in the film were “pretty good compared with current understanding.” A copy of the 30-minute film was recently obtained by Dutch online newspaper The Correspondent , which posted the video on its website and Vimeo . Via The Guardian Images via Chris Light and dvidshub , Wikimedia Commons Video via The Correspondent

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Shell predicted the effects of climate change in its own 1991 film

Big Oil celebrates Trump’s goal to open up drilling in national parks

January 13, 2017 by  
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How should the government best manage America’s national parks ? It’s a question that has provoked debate for years, and President-elect Donald Trump ‘s pro- fossil fuel campaign pledges have ignited even more controversy. As he will be inaugurated later this month, oil industry members expressed delight at the potential of more leases to drill or mine the vast amounts of oil , coal, natural gas, and uranium hiding on those contentious federal lands. During President Obama ‘s time in office, the number of leases for mining and drilling stagnated, but Trump promised to “unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves” and might be able accomplish that through new leases to drill for fossil fuel companies. Big Oil is thrilled with that goal; American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard told Reuters, “This opportunity is unique, maybe once in a lifetime.” Related: Obama creates two new western national monuments in last minute effort During his campaign, Trump said Obama denied “millions of Americans access to the energy wealth sitting under our feet,” in part by restricting leases. Some people agree with him, such as former U.S. Bureau of Land Management officer Bob Turri who lives amidst a federal forest in Utah and told Reuters, “We can’t maintain our families here because there are no jobs. That’s the only hope we have left, is what Trump may be able to do for us.” Federal land oil output accounted for around one fifth of the country’s total oil output in 2015, according to Reuters, after comprising over one third of oil output in 2010. In a late November blog post , the Trump-Pence Transition Team said, “Rather than continuing the current path to undermine and block America’s fossil fuel reserves, the Trump Administration will encourage the production of these resources by opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands and waters.” In the very same post they said they plan to conserve “our wonderful natural resources and beautiful natural habitats.” If they’re actually committed to the latter promise as they claim, perhaps they should take a closer look at the havoc drilling has wreaked on the environment in the past . Via Reuters and EcoWatch Images via brewbooks on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Oil prospecting in the Atlantic: ‘seismic airguns’ endanger marine life

March 31, 2016 by  
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Oil drilling along the Atlantic Coast of the United States has been discontinued since the early 1980s. The Obama Administration had recently considered opening the coast of Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas to drilling, but, under pressure from local and environmental opposition, decided against the move . Though there are no imminent plans to lease the Atlantic shoreline to oilmen, the Obama Administration has approved the use of “seismic airgun testing” in prospective offshore oil territory. These tests, designed to determine the presence of oil or natural gas below the seabed, could disrupt already threatened marine life and interfere with their abilities to mate and eat. The specific sites for seismic airgun testing are currently in review, though the potentially impacted area spans from Delaware to Florida. The tests involve the generation of loud and powerful seismic waves that are aimed at the ocean floor. The echoes from these waves are then used to determine whether a large cache of fossil fuels is buried down below. Marine scientist  Douglas Nowacek  described the experience of such a seismic impact as akin to being at “the epicenter of a grenade blast” so forceful that it “would easily cause the rupture of the human eardrum.” Concerned citizens question why these tests are being done at all. “Since the Atlantic has been removed from drilling for the next five years, there’s no immediate need for companies to prospect for oil and gas in this way,” says Dr. Ingrid Biedron, marine scientist at Oceana . “We’d encourage them, and the government, to wait until there is safer technology available before going ahead with this.” Related: Amazon pipeline spill leaks 3,000 barrels of oil into rivers that provide water to indigenous communities Even if the testing is conducted, certain safety measures, already in use in the Gulf of Mexico, could be applied to protect wildlife. The airguns could gradually be brought to full power, which allows disturbed animals to leave the area, while monitors ensure that the coast is clear. A controlled schedule of blasts and limiting their strength could also limit the testing’s ecological damage. The Obama Administration’s recent dance with offshore oil in the Atlantic is not its first dip in the deep. In March 2010, President Obama announced that the Mid-Atlantic and South-Atlantic coasts would once again be open for oil and gas extraction. Following the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster from April 2010 through July 2010, the reactionary White House announced that it would ban all Atlantic drilling through 2017. The Administration’s decision to continue with the seismic airgun testing suggests it is thinking of the future, when the next president will decide whether to drill. Via The Guardian Images via Oceana  and Brian Gratwicke, Flickr

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Oil prospecting in the Atlantic: ‘seismic airguns’ endanger marine life

eL Seed’s latest calligraffiti covers 50 buildings in Cairo’s “Garbage City”

March 31, 2016 by  
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Wildlife rangers killed one of Kenya’s most beloved lions because they didn’t have tranquilizers

March 31, 2016 by  
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Yesterday, a beloved lion named Mohawk was killed by Kenyan wildlife rangers after escaping from Nairobi National Park and allegedly attacking a man. Standard protocol for subduing a wild lion on the loose calls for tranquilizing the animal so that it can be returned to its habitat, but the rangers who responded to calls for help showed up without the proper equipment. Lacking tranquilizers, wildlife rangers turned on Mohawk with rifles, and shot him dead. Read the rest of Wildlife rangers killed one of Kenya’s most beloved lions because they didn’t have tranquilizers

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Wildlife rangers killed one of Kenya’s most beloved lions because they didn’t have tranquilizers

Russia makes a massive Arctic land grab for oil exploration

August 6, 2015 by  
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If you thought Santa Claus was as American as apple pie and baseball, think again. The jolly old elf might soon need to apply for a Russian passport if the country’s new claim over a vast swathe of the Arctic , including the North Pole, is approved. In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said they are claiming 1.2 million square kilometres (about 463,000 square miles) of the north. If their claim is approved by the United Nations committee that arbitrates sea boundaries, Moscow will have control over the economic matters in the region, including oil and gas drilling and the manufacturing of toys for good little girls and boys. Read the rest of Russia makes a massive Arctic land grab for oil exploration

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Obama quietly approved arctic drilling, amid controversy and environmental concerns

April 10, 2015 by  
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On March 31,  President Barack Obama ‘s administration renewed the 2008 Arctic lease sale . That decision started a 30-day clock for the Interior Department to review Royal Dutch Shell’s drilling plans. The oil company has already invested nearly $6 billion exploring the arctic waters for possible drilling sites , and they have oil rigs headed toward Alaska at the time of this report, indicating the oil execs may be feeling pretty confident about getting the go-ahead to resume drilling this summer. Read the rest of Obama quietly approved arctic drilling, amid controversy and environmental concerns Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Arctic Drilling , arctic offshore drilling , arctic oil drilling , environmental destruction , offshore oil drilling , oil drilling , president barack obama , Royal Dutch Shell

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