Trump administration disbands climate change advisory panel

August 22, 2017 by  
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Donald Trump’s administration appears determined to sweep away federal efforts to address climate change . The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the administration would disband the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment , a group comprised of academics, officials, and representatives from corporations. Committee chair Richard Moss said the risky move could hurt the economic prospects of the next generation. The charter for the 15-person advisory panel, established in 2015 for the National Climate Assessment , expired over the weekend on Sunday. On Friday, acting administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ben Friedman told the committee chair they wouldn’t be renewing the panel. Related: Trump’s USDA staff told to use ‘weather extremes’ instead of ‘climate change’ The National Climate Assessment is supposed to come out every four years in accordance with a 1990 law calling for the assessment, but has only come out three times since. The next assessment is scheduled for 2018. The Washington Post reported the Trump administration has been going over the Climate Science Special Report, which is crucial to the next National Climate Assessment. Scientists from 13 federal agencies said in the special report that human activity likely led to a global temperature increase from 1.1 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit between 1951 and 2010. NOAA communications director Julie Roberts told The Washington Post in an email that the move to disband the panel “does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority.” But the advisory panel’s job was to help translate National Climate Assessment findings into guidance for officials in both the public and private sectors, so the decision could leave state officials with little guidance on how to consider climate change in infrastructure . Seattle mayor Ed Murray said the move is “…an example of the president not leading, and the president stepping away from reality.” Via The Washington Post Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Derek Liang on Unsplash

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Trump administration disbands climate change advisory panel

White House kills ban on bottled water at National Parks

August 18, 2017 by  
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The Trump administration has put the kibosh on a six-year-old ban on selling bottled water at some national parks . The National Park Service announced on Wednesday that, effectively immediately, parks like the Grand Canyon will no longer be able to block the sale of plastic water bottles in a bid to reduce litter. In a statement, the National Park Service said it wanted to “expand hydration options for recreationalists, hikers, and other visitors to national parks.” The decision serves as yet another rollback of one of President Barack Obama’s environmental policies. Since 2011, the Green Parks Plan has encouraged the use of refillable water bottles on park lands. While it didn’t prohibit the sale of bottled sweetened drinks, the policy allowed parks to prevent the sale of disposable water bottles in vending machines, stores, and hotels. Related: Big Water fights plans to ban plastic water bottles in national parks Besides the Grand Canyon, 22 of the 417 National Park Service sites implemented the policy, officials said. These included Bryce Canyon National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Zion National Park. The rollback is a win for the bottled water and beverage industry, which campaigned against the ban, noting that the Obama administration “removed the healthiest beverage choice at a variety of parks while still allowing sales of bottled sweetened drinks.” “Consumption of water in all forms, tap, filtered, and bottled, should always be encouraged,” said Jill Culora, a spokeswoman for the International Bottled Water Association , a trade group. “The rescinded policy was seriously flawed.” The move by the National Parks comes three weeks after the Senate confirmation of David Bernhardt as deputy interior secretary. Bernhardt, according to the Washington Post , served as a lobbyist with the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which has represented Nestlé Water , one of the largest water bottlers in the United States and the distributor of the Deer Park brand. Via Washington Post and Associated Press Lead image via Pixabay , others by National Park Service/Flickr

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White House kills ban on bottled water at National Parks

Stephen Hawking says Trump’s Paris decision could induce irreversible climate change

July 4, 2017 by  
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Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking could very well be the world’s most famous scientist. He’s also one of the more outspoken ones, and recently talked with the BBC on his views about President Donald Trump and his potentially disastrous decision to yank America out of the 2015 Paris Agreement . Not one to mince words, Hawking warned of the consequences of such a choice: irreversible climate change . Hawking described climate change as one of the greatest dangers humanity faces today. But he said we still have time to prevent it if we take action. Trump’s utter lack of climate action is worrying for the entire planet and future generations, according to the scientist. Related: Stephen Hawking: Humans must leave Earth within 100 years to survive Hawking told the BBC, “We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible. Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus , with a temperature of two hundred and fifty degrees, and raining sulphuric acid.” Climate change could one day transform Earth into a hothouse planet. Hawking said Trump’s denial of the phenomenon “will cause avoidable environmental damage to our beautiful planet.” The BBC said the renowned scientist was pessimistic about our ability to solve our environmental dilemmas, and our future might only be safeguarded by leaving the planet. He said, “I fear evolution has inbuilt greed and aggression to the human genome. There is no sign of conflict lessening, and the development of militarized technology and weapons of mass destruction could make that disastrous. The best hope for the survival of the human race might be independent colonies in space .” Hawking recently said in the BBC documentary Expedition New Earth we have to colonize Mars within the next 100 years if we want to survive. Via the BBC Images via Lwp Kommunikáció on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Stephen Hawking says Trump’s Paris decision could induce irreversible climate change

Ireland set to ban fracking after both houses of Parliament pass bill

July 3, 2017 by  
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Ireland is one signature away from banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking . After the country’s House of Representatives, the Dáil Éireann, passed a fracking ban the end of May, Ireland’s Senate, the Seanad Éireann, followed suit the end of June. Now the bill just needs Irish President Michael Higgins’ signature before Ireland bids farewell to the controversial practice. “We’ve made history,” said Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin, who introduced the bill, after the vote. President Higgins is expected to sign the bill “in the coming days,” according to the Fine Gael Party . France, Bulgaria, and Germany are the only other European Union states to have banned the practice onshore so far. Related: Ireland votes to be world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels “Fracking must be seen as a serious public health and environmental concern for Ireland,” McLoughlin said in a statement. “If fracking was allowed to take place in Ireland and Northern Ireland it would pose significant threats to the air, water, and the health and safety of individuals and communities here.” According to The Irish Times, politicians across the political spectrum in Ireland supported the bill. A public consultation earlier in 2017 drew 8,000 submissions, with just one opposing the ban. Environmental activists touted the bill as protecting people, the environment, and water quality in the country. There are large shale deposits in multiple counties in Ireland such as Sligo and Leitrim, the counties McLoughlin represents. Irish communities will be safe from the negative impacts of fracking seen in towns and cities in the United States, according to McLoughlin, where states are beginning to consider fracking bans . Earlier this year Maryland joined Vermont and New York to ban fracking , and they were the first state with gas reserves to do so. Via The Irish Times and EcoWatch Images via Friends of the Earth Ireland and greensefa on Flickr

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Ireland set to ban fracking after both houses of Parliament pass bill

Old warehouse transformed into a vibrant urban market in Mexico City

July 3, 2017 by  
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Architect Francisco Pardo gave new life to an old warehouse in Mexico City by transforming it into a vibrant urban market. The four-story structure once served as an auto parts shop, however it now features a two-story local grocer, restaurants, a barber’s shop and a yoga studio . The top floor is open to the public and hosts a beer bar. The main challenge for the architects was to adapt the original structure to the new dynamics of the area. They decided to integrate a regular grid of exposed concrete beams, columns and slabs into the venue’s new public role. Related: Foster + Partners unveils plans to rejuvenate Cairo’s Maspero Triangle District “Through it, the street folds to the inside and upwards” says Francisco Pardo, founder of the architectural practice “it’s like a vortex that transversely crosses the building, pulling the street right up to the rooftop ”. + Francisco Pardo Arquitecto Photos by Diana Arnau

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Old warehouse transformed into a vibrant urban market in Mexico City

Trump administration ‘declares war’ on West Coast turtles, dolphins, and whales

June 13, 2017 by  
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Environmentalists say President Donald Trump’s administration has declared war on California marine animals after an announcement this week from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The administration canceled proposed limits on the amount of endangered whales, sea turtles , and dolphins that can be hurt or killed on the West Coast by sword-fishing nets. The proposed limits were backed by the fishing industry and environmentalists. But NOAA said other protections have helped slash the amount of marine creatures that get trapped in the nets – called gill nets – like better training for fishing boat skippers and sound warnings so creatures can leave the area. NOAA Fisheries spokesperson Michael Milstein told the Los Angeles Times, “The cap would have imposed a cost on the industry to solve a problem that has already been addressed.” Related: Unusually high number of humpback whale deaths prompts NOAA inquiry NOAA statistics reveal injuries and deaths for protected whales dropped from over 50 in 1992 to one or two every year by 2015. For common dolphins, the numbers fell from nearly 400 to just a few. But environmentalists disagree. Turtle Island Restoration Network director Todd Steiner said the Trump administration has declared war. He said the drop in numbers is due to the decline in the gill-net fishing fleet in California. He told the Los Angeles Times, “The numbers caught per set have not gone down. The California gill-net fishery kills more marine mammals than all other West Coast fisheries combined.” The restrictions were strong: if two endangered sea turtles or whales were seriously harmed or killed during two years, the gill net fishery would be shuttered for as long as two years. If any combination of four bottlenose dolphins or short-finned pilot whales were hurt or died, the fishery would also be shut down. Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney Catherine Kilduff said rare species are still being killed. And the numbers of some species are so small that the death of just one can be devastating. She told the Los Angeles Times, “Government scientists have said that West Coast fisheries can’t catch more than one leatherback every five years. They estimate that four times that have caught just in the gill-net fishery alone.” Via the Los Angeles Times Images via Salvatore Barbera on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Trump administration ‘declares war’ on West Coast turtles, dolphins, and whales

Trump budget proposes 31% cut to EPA funding

May 24, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump is still trying to take a swing at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The White House’s most recent budget proposal, released yesterday, would cut money for environmental cleanup, clean air , and water programs. And thousands of people could lose their jobs as the number of full-time employees drops from 15,416 to 11,611 . The recent Trump budget proposal lowers EPA funding to $5.65 billion. If that still sounds like a hefty sum, consider what the EPA won’t be able to do with this slashed budget: restore areas like the Great Lakes and Puget Sound and run a lead risk-reduction program. They also won’t have as much money for climate change research, environmental justice efforts, or radon detection programs. The White House proposal also just about halves categorical grants which help states and local areas address water and air quality. Related: Trump saved a toxic pesticide – and then it poisoned a bunch of farmworkers EPA administrator Scott Pruitt stood behind Trump’s drastic cuts; the agency put out a statement praising the returned “focus to core statutory mission,” which we guess means dirty air and polluted water for all. Pruitt even decided to say Trump’s “budget respects the American taxpayer.” This praise comes even though the proposed budget would reduce funding for Pruitt’s Superfund cleanup program – which he’s listed as a priority – by almost one third. Toxic accidents or industrial activity have polluted these Superfund sites, many of which, according to The Guardian , are close to low-income or minority communities. National Association of Clean Air Agencies executive director S. William Becker said he was astounded the administration didn’t change much from their initial March budget proposal, even after bipartisan opposition from Congress. Lawmakers recently reached a deal for government funding through September that cuts the EPA’s budget by around one percent. In a statement on the recent proposal, Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook said, “This isn’t a budget – it’s a road map for the President, EPA Administrator Pruitt, and polluters to see that millions of Americans drink dirtier water, breathe more polluted air, and don’t have enough nutritious food to lead healthy lives.” Via The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and USEPA Environmental-Protection-Agency on Flickr

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Trump budget proposes 31% cut to EPA funding

How to break the political logjam on climate change

May 23, 2017 by  
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It starts with leveraging market-based solutions and bipartisan appeal.

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How to break the political logjam on climate change

Under pressure, Trump punts on Paris climate deal

May 9, 2017 by  
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Google, the North Face and Tiffany & Co. are just a few companies stepping up calls for President Donald Trump to follow through on U.S. climate commitments.

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Under pressure, Trump punts on Paris climate deal

A moment for business statesmanship

April 24, 2017 by  
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Amidst rising global uncertainty, one group that stands to lose the most is global business.

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A moment for business statesmanship

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