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Weekend Reader: #GreenToo

We sometimes think of scientists, environmental communicators, and others as being above the human failings shown by others. They're not.

The #metoo movement has taken down Hollywood icons and power players; news media superstars; standup comics; politicians.

Here we cover science and environmental news. Don't think for a minute that this realm is walled off from reprehensible behavior.


New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, felled by four accusers who told their stories to the New Yorker, was arguably the nation's leading environmental law enforcer in the Age of Trump.

Schneiderman, along with Massachusetts A.G. Maura Healey, sued Exxon to determine the depths of its private knowledge of climate change while it publicly supported climate denial. He was one of multiple state A.G.'s who battled Trump Administration rollbacks.

He made no delay in resigning, announcing his departure three hours after the New Yorker piece was released, saying he "strongly" contest(ed) the allegations against him. Conservatives made no delay in pouncing on Schneiderman's apparent hypocrisy. Just days before his resignation, he praised the #metoo movement as "extraordinary" in an interview. And his interim successor as New York A.G., vowed that Schneiderman's work would continue without him.

Then there's Rachendra Pachauri, the charismatic head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He resigned in 2015 after allegations, and police charges, that he harassed, stalked, and intimidated a female employee at his Indian nonprofit. The case is still unresolved.

Trevor Fitzgibbon, a high-powered PR consultant for progressive groups like NARAL and Move-On and environmental NGO's including the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, shuttered his PR firm in late 2015 after allegations that he propositioned and groped female employees and job candidates. Fitzgibbon denied the most serious charges, and prosecutors dropped an investigation into them.

University of Illinois anthropologist Kathryn Clancy has made a detailed study of what she sees as sexual harassment in space-related sciences.

Investigative work by High Country News revealed widespread harassment in the National Park Service last year. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has promised action to address the problems.

We sometimes think of scientists, environmental communicators, and others as being above the human failings shown by others. They're not. We're not. It's Us Too.

Top Weekend News

As close ties between fossil fuel billionaires Charles and David Koch and the Trump Administration come more to light, a group of Democratic Senators led by Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) is demanding answers about how much influence the Koch brothers have had in shaping key federal policies. (PRI's Living On Earth.)

Carlos Alvarado, newly-inaugurated President of Costa Rica, announces his country will be the first to ban fossil fuels. (The Independent).

The wind isn't what it used to be. Scientists say surface wind speeds across the planet have fallen by as much as 25% since the 1970s. The eerie phenomenon – dubbed 'stilling' – is believed to be a consequence of global warming, and may impact everything from agriculture to the liveability of our cities. (Cosmos).

From the New Orleans Advocate: Utility giant Entergy tries to deflect blame for hiring actors to pose as supporters at a key public meeting.

Veteran science reporter Miles O'Brien that U.S. audiences are starved for information on climate change. (The National, UAE)

It's only one plastic bag, but.....

It was found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest spot in the world's oceans (National Geographic).

Podcasts of Note

PRI's Living On Earth: EHN's Peter Dykstra and Steve Curwood on a report that shows the US is now the globe's biggest oil producer, and US transportation emits more greenhouse gases than electricity generation. The pair also discuss how mercury from coal-fired power plants is polluting rice in China, and take a trip back to 1872 and a landmark mining law that has had a profound and lasting impact on the American West.

Opinion Pieces & Editorials

Former Clinton Interior Dept. official Paul Bledsoe in the NYT: Trump's fuel efficiency rollback will hurt drivers.

An op-ed in the Wilmington (N.C.) News-Star calls out the state legislature's obeisance to Big Pork.

Trumpweek

A brief dissertation by Kevin Drum of Mother Jones on why EPA's Scott Pruitt still has a job.

From Science Magazine: Trump Admin. quietly cancels a NASA climate science program.

In a move that seems out of character for the anti-regulatory Pruitt EPA, the agency said it's moving to regulate a paint stripping product linked to consumer deaths.

Oops. Scott Pruitt dined with a Catholic Cardinal accused of sexual abuse, and it was omitted from his published schedule.

www.wsj.com

This is what it looks like when a Texas oil boom busts

A year ago, the Permian Basin region was one of America’s hottest labor markets, fueled by a fracking gold rush. Today, the oil field has all but shut down, and everyone is feeling the pain, from restaurant owners to landlords to barbers.

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www.inquirer.com

PFAS testing planned for 1,300 adults, children in Bucks, Montgomery Counties (PA)

The national study presents the opportunity for more Horsham, Warrington, and Warminster residents to get their blood tested, after many had already taken part in an earlier pilot study. That 2018 study showed residents tested had elevated levels of PFAS in their blood compared to average Americans.
edition.cnn.com

Global temperatures could exceed crucial 1.5 C target in the next five years

There is an increasing chance that annual global temperatures could exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels over the next five years, new climate predictions from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) say.
www.nytimes.com

In parched Southwest, warm spring renews threat of ‘megadrought’

Rapid melting this year showed that good snowpack doesn’t necessarily translate into full reservoirs.
www.chicagotribune.com

Chicago air is dirtier in July than smog-choked Los Angeles. More bad air is forecast.

After missing out on cleaner air during the coronavirus lockdown, the Chicago area just suffered its longest streak of high-pollution days in more than a decade.

Beyond the “silver lining” of emissions reductions: Clean energy takes a COVID-19 hit

In early March, the Washington state legislature passed a community solar incentives bill meant to help meet renewable energy goals and increase low-income communities' access to solar technology.

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