Weekend Reader for January 7

This week, the Trump Administration reprised a Reagan-Era blunder.

In the early 1980's President Reagan and Interior Secretary James G. Watt proposed opening up virtually the entire U.S. coastline -- Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans -- to offshore oil exploration. Problem was, the oil industry had virtually no interest in entering most of the areas proposed.


Current oil and gas prices are extremely low. Offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling is inherently more expensive than land-based drilling. Oil prices would have to once again shoot through the roof if there were any expectation that the oil industry actually wants the gift that it's being offered. The New York Times has the national view, while the Tampa Bay Times reports on how Florida's Republican governor is set to battle the White House on offshore drilling.

Top Weekend News

From Lisa Friedman of the New York Times: Expect environmental battles to intensify in 2018.

From the AP's Seth Borenstein: Ocean oxygen levels are taking a plunge. A new study also shows a dramatic increase in coral bleaching.

With a metro area of thirty million, Jakarta is one of the world's largest cities. They're contemplating a future underwater.

You may not have heard of Paul Nyden. The pioneering environmental journalist died this week at age 72. Nyden was among the first to report on mountaintop removal, the then-new coal mining method that lived up to its own name, blasting the tops of mountains to bits to remove the coal seams below, with the resulting waste rock dumped into valleys and streams below. Nyden stood up to the dominant coal industry as a reporter for the Charleston (WV) Gazette, mentoring other fearless reporters like Ken Ward, Jr., who had the difficult task of writing Nyden's obituary .

This Week in Trump

The Interior Department is axing regulations that don't comport with a Trump World view: Conservation and climate change need no longer be considered in many agency decisions.

Over at EPA, they're moving quickly to write new climate change rules that could wipe out any last vestige of Obama's climate policy.

While you were away..... Good rundown from Outside Magazine on Trump Administration rollbacks over the holidays.

The Interior Department also ended a decades-long standoff over building a road through wilderness on the Alaska Peninsula.

Opinions and Editorials

Michael Mann is a deeply respected climate scientist, at least among those who respect science. He offers this piece on the much discussed "Bomb Cyclone" and cold snap in the Northeast.

Writing for the Center for Health Journalism, Dr. Daniel Turner-Lloveras writes that EPA's unwillingness to ban chloprpyrifos would guarantee more illness and death among farm workers.

When wildfires threaten lives and raze entire communities, other hazards can get obscured. This op-ed highlights the added toxic risk from burning carpets laden with toxic chemicals.

From this week's Living On Earth: Peter Dykstra joins Steve Curwood to assess the environment and politics as the year turns, and finds little cause to think the current deregulatory push by the Trump Administration will change. Still, the states have become bright spots in the renewable energy sector and Congress is showing a bit more commitment to climate action.

Losing Bears Ears: Amy Irvine, a Utah mom, on what it means to see the new Bears Ears National Monument drastically reduced in size.

Obama quote that he'll never live down

The Obama Administration also tried a less ambitious expansion of offshore drilling. Shortly before Deepwater Horizon's blowout, he said this about how oil spills didn't much happen anymore. Ouch.

Climate change will continue to widen gaps in food security, new study finds

Countries already struggling with low crop yields will be hurt most by a warming climate.

With storms to the east and wildfires to the west, the climate crisis is currently at the forefront of public consciousness.

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www.theguardian.com

Brazil's Amazon rainforest suffers worst fires in a decade

Fires in Brazil's Amazon increased 13% in the first nine months of the year compared with a year ago, as the rainforest region experiences its worst rash of blazes in a decade, data from space research agency Inpe has shown.

insideclimatenews.org

At one of America’s most toxic Superfund sites, climate change imperils more than cleanup

For many residents of Newark, its concentration of Superfund sites underscores two New Jerseys: one of tree-shaded suburbs where wealth and political leverage guard communities from outside corporate interests and rampant pollution, and the other, of lower-income and predominantly Black and brown residents who have endured decades of discriminatory housing policies only to find their communities squeezed by heavy industry and used as dumping grounds for hazardous waste.

therevelator.org

As glaciers melt, will deadly landslides increase?

A recent string of massive landslides in Alaska and around the world bears the fingerprint of climate change.
insideclimatenews.org

Net zero by 2050 has quickly become the new normal for the largest U.S. utilities

New plans from Ameren and Entergy show the trend to renewables is accelerating because coal just can’t compete. Some activists want it to go even faster.
Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

NHS targets net zero emissions by 2040

Britain's National Health Service pledged on Thursday to become the world's first healthcare system to cut carbon emissions to net zero, hoping to achieve that by 2040 with measures from electric ambulances to energy-efficient hospitals.
www.nature.com

What a Joe Biden presidency would mean for five key science issues

The coronavirus pandemic, climate change and space exploration are among the issues that Biden will influence if he wins the upcoming US election.