Rep. Ocasio-Cortez releases Green New Deal resolution

February 8, 2019 by  
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On February 7, House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) released an official resolution for the highly debated “Green New Deal.” The resolution provides further information on the broad goals of the original proposal, however it remains abstract and nonbinding — and that is only if the House votes to approve it. The resolution delivers a more tangible framework upon which Ocasio-Cortez and her team plan to push for co-sponsors and move the resolution to the House and Senate floors. The summary report indicates that legislators would begin to assemble the “nuts and bolts” of the plan by drafting specific Green New Deal bills. The document specifies five ambitious goals to be completed in 10 years, reduced from the proposal’s original seven goals . Five Green New Deal Goals 1. Ensure net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers 2. Create millions of high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all 3. Invest in infrastructure and industry to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century 4. Guarantee clean air and water, climate and community resilience, healthy food, access to nature and a sustainable environment for all 5. Promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future and repairing historic oppression of frontline and vulnerable communities While the resolution focuses on an equitable transfer to renewable energy and a reduction in carbon emissions, the Green New Deal is an all-inclusive economic overhaul that also promises broad access to jobs, fair wages and healthcare. NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben breaks down some of the notable and far-reaching objectives that fall under the above-mentioned goals, including: • Attaining 100 percent renewable energy by 2020, including transferring away from nuclear energy • Upgrading “all existing buildings to energy-efficient” • Incentivizing farmers to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions • Investing in the electric car industry and expanding high speed rails to compete with and eventually stamp out the airline industry • Guaranteeing jobs with adequate wages and comprehensive benefits for all Americans • Ensuring “high-quality healthcare” for all Americans The resolution continued to be revised after it was released, with many media outlets updating their published stories throughout the day. Does the Green New Deal have the support it needs? Ocasio-Cortez from the House is also joined by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), who is working to garner support in the Senate. Related: Is the Green New Deal the all-inclusive climate plan we need? Though the document’s summary cites that 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans support the Green New Deal, the controversial responses do not seem to support this claim. In fact, the current co-sponsors, published by Axios , include “Reps. Brendan Boyle (Pa.), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Ro Khanna (Calif.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Joe Neguse (Colo.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.),” all of whom say their support is pending final language. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has been called out for her lack of support for the Green New Deal. On Wednesday, she was quoted in Politico saying: “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?” In addition to politicians on both sides of the aisle, journalists and climate experts argue the Green New Deal is wildly ambitious. Environmental Fellow Jesse Jenkins,  interviewed by NPR, contends that reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 is already a major challenge, so reaching zero-emissions by 2030 — as the resolution mandates — will be next to impossible. However, Ocasio-Cortez told NPR’s Morning Edition , “Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us.” Political activists across the country — largely led by a youth organization called the Sunrise Movement — are showing up at congressional offices to pressure their representatives to come out in support of the Green New Deal by the end of February. Even if the resolution does not pass, which many believe will be the outcome, the activists hope that the mounting attention will make climate change a key issue — if not the most central issue — in the upcoming 2020 presidential race. Can Americans curb climate change? The resolution explains that the U.S. contributes an alarming 20 percent of the world’s carbon emissions and is in the position to become a leader in drastic green economy development. Despite the Trump administration’s recent break from global climate commitments, statistics show that the U.S. has already made the most significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions since 2000. Though the data indicates the U.S. has only made an 8 percent reduction, given that the U.S.’s total contribution to pollution is among the highest, this 8 percent reduction equates to 760 million metric tons, nearly as much as the sum of the European Union’s reductions. Though significant, this accomplishment still does not change Americans’ title as the world’s largest polluters per-capita. The U.S. indeed has the numbers to make a difference; what it needs now is for these types of policies to have the support that this vision could be our reality. + Green New Deal Resolution Via NPR Image via SCOOTERCASTER / Shutterstock.com

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Rep. Ocasio-Cortez releases Green New Deal resolution

6 environmental topics to spark discussion at the Thanksgiving dinner table

November 22, 2018 by  
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Nothing sparks political discussion and debate more than a family dinner during the holidays. In this explosive political climate, chances are the conversation will run wild during Thanksgiving even more than it has in the past. To give you some ideas for the upcoming holiday season, here are some environmental topics to help spur your political discussion while you enjoy your turkey dinner. Elections With a major midterm election happening just this month, politics will be a hot topic at Thanksgiving dinner tables across the country. In addition to Republicans who doubt climate science being voted out of the House of Representatives, there were also many environmental measures on the ballots in states across the nation. But  the results on these key issues sent mixed messages that are sure to get people talking. Food waste One-third of all globally produced food ends up wasted, and that makes food waste a huge problem . Americans throw away more than 40 percent of the food they buy, which is also a major factor in climate change. To tackle this problem, some cities are passing laws banning restaurants from throwing out food , and that is a step in the right direction. But making changes at home will help just as much, if not more. If we don’t change our food waste habits, a new study says the problem will continue to increase, and we will be throwing out 66 tons of food per second by 2030. What better time to bring this up than during your Thanksgiving feast? It’s a great time to encourage everyone to take home leftovers . Climate change The latest UN report on climate change has revealed that we are not on target to maintain the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius or less. If we want to avoid more extreme weather events and species’ extinction, we need to make some major changes to hit that goal. During the 2015 Paris Agreement, nearly 200 nations pledged to keep the ceiling for temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius, but that isn’t enough to avoid irreparable damage to Earth’s ecosystems. While discussing climate change , you can add a new twist on the topic and bring up the new study on barley production , which says that beer prices will soar in the near future because of climate change. Plastic bans The ban on single-use plastics is starting to trend all over the world , and the word “single-use” just became Collins Dictionary’s 2018 Word of the Year . States are banning plastic straws and other single-use items to reduce the waste, and the European parliament just supported a major ban of single-use plastics that member nations will implement over the next few years. Let everyone at the dinner table know it’s time to ditch straws or stock up on reusable options. Related: Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is best for the future? Veganism, vegetarianism and flexitarianism The meat industry has taken a big hit in recent years thanks to the diet trend of veganism , vegetarianism and flexitarianism. Vegetarianism has been popular since the ’90s, but veganism have become mainstream in recent years, with new vegan-only restaurants popping up in cities across the world. Now, flexitarianism is on the rise, which is a diet that is mostly plant-based but does have some select meat dishes incorporated on a limited basis. Related: 12 plant-based recipes for a vegan or vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner With this growing trend away from meat, a third of the people in the U.K. now have little to no meat in their daily food intake. But we still have a long way to go if we want to avoid a climate crisis . Perhaps it’s time to swap out the turkey for a vegan option. Animal welfare There are many different issues making headlines on the topic of animal welfare —  including Trump’s border wall , which is threatening the National Butterfly Center. This year, California became the first state in the country to ban animal testing for cosmetics, and Los Angeles also put a stop to the sale of fur . Burberry also vowed to stop using fur in its products, and an entire Fashion Week went fur-free . Encourage friends and family at the table to do the same. No matter where the discussion takes you, try to keep the environment in mind for every topic of your conversation. One of the most important things we can do is spread awareness about the major problems that are harming our planet and educate our loved ones on how to help. Happy Thanksgiving! Images via Aaron Burden , Patrick Hendry , Sagar Chaudhray , Simon Matzinger , Tamara Bellis and Shutterstock

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6 environmental topics to spark discussion at the Thanksgiving dinner table

Here’s new research attendees are debating at the Global Climate Action Summit

September 12, 2018 by  
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A roundup of reports, indexes and solution handbooks issued in collaboration with the GCAS gathering.

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Here’s new research attendees are debating at the Global Climate Action Summit

DNC votes to ban fossil fuel company donations

June 14, 2018 by  
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The Democratic National Committee (DNC) recently adopted a ban on donations coming from fossil fuel companies, HuffPost reported . The executive committee voted unanimously on a resolution proposed by political strategist Christine Pelosi that doesn’t allow the organization to accept contributions from corporate political action committees (PACs) connected to the oil and gas industry . The text of the resolution says, “…fossil fuel corporations are drowning our democracy in a tidal wave of dark oily money; they have deceived the public about the impacts of climate change , fought the growth of clean renewable energy , and corrupted our political system.” Oil and gas companies in 2016 spent $7.6 million on Democratic races, compared to $53.7 million in direct donations to Republicans . In 2018, Republicans have taken 89 percent of the oil and gas industry’s donations thus far. The DNC confirmed the recent vote to HuffPost but did not comment on the record. Related: Climate change video directed by James Cameron heats up the DNC The resolution’s text says “hundreds of individual Democratic political candidates for office across the country have pledged not to take money from the fossil fuel industry.” Former president Barack Obama prohibited contributions from corporate PACs after winning the Democratic party’s nomination, but former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz lifted that ban before the 2016 election. HuffPost reported the DNC might consider a second resolution in August at a Chicago full board meeting to ban contributions greater than $200 from people working for the fossil fuel industry. Co-author of the recent resolution RL Miller told HuffPost, “So if Eddie Exxon is your college buddy and a frat-boy friend of yours and he’s employed at an Exxon gas station and wishes to donate $25 to have a barbecue and a beer with you, fine. But if Edward J. Exxon in Exxon’s middle management thinks you’re worth contributing $2,700 to out of his own salary, that is much more concerning to us.” + (((sfpelosi))) on Medium Via HuffPost Image via Depositphotos

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DNC votes to ban fossil fuel company donations

Yellowstone superintendent says the Trump administration forced him out of his job due to wildlife advocacy

June 11, 2018 by  
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Yellowstone National Park superintendent Dan Wenk says he was forced out of his position by President Donald Trump’s administration because of his wildlife advocacy, The Guardian reported . Former National Park Service director Jon Jarvis told the publication the move was meant to make Wenk into an example to weaken a culture of conservation . Wenk said, “It’s a hell of a way to be treated at the end of four decades spent trying to do my best for the park service and places like Yellowstone, but that’s how these guys are. Throughout my career, I’ve not encountered anything like this, ever.” Last week, the United States Department of the Interior (DOI) told Wenk, who has been the Yellowstone superintendent since 2011, that he must accept a reassignment to the Capital Region in Washington, D.C. in 60 days or resign. The Guardian said Wenk had been outspoken about creating more room for wild bison to ramble outside the national park to Montana, a move opposed by the cattle industry, which comprises a core section of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke ‘s constituency. Wenk had also questioned proposed sport hunting of grizzly bears. Related: US DOI scientist claims he was reassigned for speaking up on climate change Jarvis told The Guardian that preservation in large parks, largely in Alaska and the American West, conflicts with Zinke’s hopes to increase industrial development and monetize natural resources located on public lands . He said that Zinke “holds little regard for the esprit de corps traditions of the park service. Dan [Wenk] was set up as the first domino to fall.” An April 2018 Office of Inspector General at the DOI report scrutinized the reassignment of 27 senior executives between June 15, 2017 and October 29, 2017 and discovered the DOI’s Executive Resources Board “did not document its plan for selecting senior executives for reassignment, nor did it consistently apply the reasons it stated it used to select senior executives for reassignment.” They also found the board “did not gather the information needed to make informed decisions about the reassignments” and didn’t effectively communicate with the senior executives or most managers impacted by the reassignments. The report said, “As a result, many of the affected senior executives questioned whether these reassignments were political or punitive, based on a prior conflict with DOI leadership, or on the senior executive’s nearness to retirement. Many executives…believed their reassignment may have been related to their prior work assignments, including climate change , energy, or conservation.” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons (1)

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Yellowstone superintendent says the Trump administration forced him out of his job due to wildlife advocacy

United Kingdom moves to ban most of its ivory trade

May 30, 2018 by  
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United Kingdom Secretary of the Environment Michael Gove has introduced a bill to Parliament that would ban the purchase, sale, possession for sale and international trade of ivory . Though the bill contains several exceptions for ivory found in museums, musical instruments and some antiques, it would be one of the most comprehensive ivory bans of any country. The United Kingdom is the largest legal ivory exporter and the bill, if passed into law, would certainly put a dent in this lucrative trade. While environmental organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have praised the bill , they also have identified weak points within it, such as the potential for the exemptions clause to become a widely-used loophole. The NRDC also urges the bill to require those who benefit from the exemption to provide more detailed documentation. The bill will be submitted again on June 6th for what is known as the “second reading,” during which members of Parliament will be able to make amendments to the bill. Then, the bill will be sent to committee, then return to the floor of the House of Commons for a final vote. The NRDC and other organizations are expected to engage with the crafting of the bill as it moves through the process. Related: The world’s largest ivory market just banned ivory According to the BBC , Gove said that the successful adoption of the bill would “reaffirm the U.K.’s global leadership on this critical issue, demonstrating our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past.” He continued, “Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.” Those who break the law could face jail time of up to five years or an unlimited fine. This is not the first instance of British leadership on curbing the ivory trade. “Since the U.K. government held the Illegal Wildlife Conference in 2014, the U.S. and China have both enacted bans on their domestic ivory trade, so the U.K. doing this now is extraordinarily important,” Stop Ivory founder Alexander Rhodes told the BBC . “The EU on the other hand has been very resistant — I am hopeful that the U.K.’s strong position will lead to change.” Via NRDC and BBC Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Conservationists sound alarm over US House bill that weakens Endangered Species Act

May 25, 2018 by  
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Activists and scientists are concerned over the inclusion of a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that could threaten the survival of the endangered Greater Sage-Grouse and Lesser Prairie-Chicken. The provision would prevent the Lesser Prairie-Chicken from receiving protection under the Endangered Species Act for at least ten years, despite evidence of population decline suggesting that the Prairie-Chicken needs to be legally protected. It would also weaken safeguards put in place to protect the Greater Sage-Grouse, while clearing away regulatory obstacles for oil and gas development. “We urge U.S. Representatives to oppose the grouse and prairie chicken rider,” Steve Holmer of American Bird Conservancy said in a statement . “This provision has nothing to do with national defense, will place imperiled species on the path to extinction and should be stricken.” Both species live in isolated populations that are greatly diminished from their pre-contact levels, with the number of grouse falling from 15 million to fewer than 300,000 today. The prairie-chicken population dropped 50 percent between 2012 and 2013, and its range continues to shrink. Congressional changes to the Endangered Species Act could further threaten the birds . “Endangered Species Act protection provides an essential backstop to hedge against species extinction, particularly in light of major increases in oil and gas drilling in priority grouse habitats in Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Colorado ,” Holmer explained. Related: ‘Acoustic lighthouses’ could warn birds about wind turbines While a 2015 review of the status of the Greater Sage-Grouse led to more favorable protections, it did not result in its listing on the Endangered Species Act. Now, those limited protections could be rolled back by Congress . Perhaps the more impactful provision requirement is that the Lesser Prairie-Chicken not be placed on the Endangered Species list for ten years, regardless of scientific opinion. Holmer said, “Potentially the most devastating provision is the one that precludes judicial review of these listing moratoria, which prevents the public from seeking protection for these species even if they are on the very brink of extinction .” Via American Bird Conservancy Images via USFWS Mountain-Prairie (1)

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Conservationists sound alarm over US House bill that weakens Endangered Species Act

Costa Rica to abolish fossil fuel use in a bid to be the world’s first decarbonized country

May 10, 2018 by  
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Could Costa Rica become the first decarbonized country in the world? That’s one of the goals of new president Carlos Alvarado. The Independent reported during his inauguration that he said, “We have the titanic and beautiful task of abolishing the use of fossil fuels in our economy to make way for the use of clean and renewable energies .” 38-year-old Alvarado, a former journalist, rode a hydrogen-electric bus to his inauguration ceremony, where he spoke of plans to ban fossil fuels in the Central American country. Alvarado said, “Decarbonization is the great task of our generation and Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish it, if not the first.” Thousands of people attended the ceremony. Related: Costa Rica celebrates 113 days of 100% renewable energy (and counting) The Independent reported Alvarado said last month that Costa Rica would start carrying out a plan to stop the use of fossil fuels in transportation by 2021, which marks the 200th year of the country’s independence. Alvarado said in a victory speech, “When we reach 200 years of independent life we will take Costa Rica forward and celebrate…that we’ve removed gasoline and diesel from our transportation.” The country generates over 99 percent of its electricity via renewable sources, The Independent said. But experts said rapidly reaching zero carbon transport could be tricky. Vehicle and Machinery Importers Association president Oscar Echeverría told The Independent, “If there’s no previous infrastructure, competence, affordable prices, and waste management we’d be leading this process to failure. We need to be careful.” University of California, Berkeley energy researcher Jose Daniel Lara told The Independent it may be unrealistic to fully cut out fossil fuels in a few years, but the plan could pave the way for speedier action, saying, “A proposal like this one must be seen by its rhetoric value and not by its technical precision.” Via The Independent Images via Depositphotos and Wikipedia

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Costa Rica to abolish fossil fuel use in a bid to be the world’s first decarbonized country

The Trump Administration just ended the program that lets us monitor carbon emissions

May 10, 2018 by  
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While the news media focuses its attention on the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the scandals related President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, the Trump Administration quietly ended the Carbon Monitoring System (CMS). With a $10 million annual budget and administered by NASA, CMS served to track the flow of Earth’s carbon, a particularly important mission as the United States and other nations confront climate change. “If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,” Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Tufts University’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, told Science . Gallagher described the administration’s decision to end the program as “a grave mistake.” Much of the work done by the CMS since 2010 has focused on forests and the carbon that they contain. One such project involved a collaboration between NASA and the US Forestry Service, in which the organizations created an aircraft-based laser imaging device to quantify forest carbon stocks. “They’ve now completed an inventory of forest carbon in Alaska at a fraction of the cost,” CMS science team leader George Hurtt told Science . The CMS has also used its capacity to support other countries in their efforts to preserve and study their forest stocks, particularly in tropical locations. Related: Even NASA isn’t quite sure how to explain these holes in the Arctic Sea’s ice Though disheartening for those who work to combat climate change, the Trump Administration’s decision to end CMS fits with its previous policy making on climate change . However, this decision, like others, puts the United States outside of the global climate mainstream. “The topic of climate mitigation and carbon monitoring is maybe not the highest priority now in the United States,” said Hurtt. “But it is almost everywhere else.” The work of carbon monitoring will continue in Europe , though the United States has ceded leadership in the process. “We really shoot ourselves in the foot if we let other people develop the technology,” president of the Woods Hole Research Center Phil Duff told Science . Via ScienceAlert Images via IIP Photo Archive/Flickr and Joshua Meyer/Flickr

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The Trump Administration just ended the program that lets us monitor carbon emissions

Macron says what Trump won’t and urges action on climate change in US Congress

April 26, 2018 by  
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While it seemed like French President Macron was cozying up to President Trump in Washington DC as the special guest of honor for the first State Dinner of the Trump Administration , the two leaders are an ocean apart on the issue of climate change. “Some people think that securing current industries and their jobs is more urgent than transforming our economies to meet the challenge of global change.” Macron said in a speech to the US Congress. “In the long run, we will have to face the same realities. We’re just citizens of the same planet.” In his speech to Congress, Macron acknowledged the economic concerns regarding the initial cost of abandoning fossil fuels. “I hear [those worries]. . . but we must find a transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Macron. “What is the meaning of our life, really, if we work and live destroying the planet, while sacrificing the future of our children?” Macron urged the United States to understand that there is “no Planet B,” that the world must work together to solve the problem or all will suffer. Despite the current atmosphere in Washington, Macron remained optimistic that the disagreements between France and the United States, historic allies, would someday be resolved. ““I am sure one day the United States will come back and join the Paris agreement,” said Macron. Related: Macron offers 18 scientists the chance to “Make Our Planet Great Again” While Democrats heartily applauded Macron’s positions on climate change, the Republican side of the aisle was predictably less than enthusiastic. President Trump has notably called climate change a hoax created by the Chinese, withdrawn the United States from the Paris agreement, and increased tariffs on Chinese solar panels, therefore increasing the cost of solar power in the United States . Trump also picked Scott Pruitt, a former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma and a climate-change skeptic, as head Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency , an executive appointment that was approved 52-46 by the United States Senate. Via Washington Post Images via C-SPAN

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Macron says what Trump won’t and urges action on climate change in US Congress

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