Weekend Reader: #GreenToo
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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.

shipping port
Photo by Timelab on Unsplash

Uncounted emissions: The hidden cost of fossil fuel exports

Oil, gas, and coal exports are not counted when countries tally their greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement. This allows wealthy nations to report progress on emissions reduction goals, while shipping their fossil fuels — and the pollution they produce — overseas.
Senator Whitehouse & climate change

Senator Whitehouse puts climate change on budget committee’s agenda

For more than a decade, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave daily warnings about the mounting threat of climate change. Now he has a powerful new perch.
umatilla county eastern oregon
Big Stock Photo

Thousands in eastern Oregon face crisis of polluted well water

Groundwater pollution in Umatilla and Morrow counties is growing worse, leading to dangerous levels of nitrates in water pumped up from what used to be safe wells.
F grade on report card
Big Stock Photo

In a report card on global warming, nations get a very poor grade

Countries are taking “baby steps,” a U.N. official said. In a separate study, Saudi researchers warned of an “existential crisis” for their nation from rising temperatures.
italy drought
Big Stock Photo

Extreme drought in northern Italy mirrors climate in Ethiopia

Extreme drought in northern Italy has doubled over the past two decades, creating a climate that increasingly mirrors that of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, research shows.

James Gerber: How surprisingly small diet tricks change your climate footprint

Fighting climate change is a marathon, not a sprint. But a new report shows surprisingly small changes can make a difference.
oil drill equipment
Big Stock Photo

Alberta's resistance to the global clean energy trend

Danielle Smith, Alberta's premier, staunchly opposes the shift to renewable energy, prioritizing the region's fossil fuel dominance.

Jeremy Appel reports for Jacobin.

In short:

  • Alberta's premier, Danielle Smith, is mounting a formidable challenge against the global transition towards renewable energy sources.
  • The province's economy, deeply entrenched in the fossil fuel industry, is witnessing a strong resistance to embracing a just and equitable shift to greener practices.
  • Smith's administration is actively seeking ways to counteract initiatives aimed at reducing reliance on traditional energy sources, emphasizing economic risk over environmental progress.

Key quote:

Pausing renewable energy production “makes the statement that it’s impossible to achieve a net zero power grid by 2035 that much closer to being true.”

— University of Calgary political scientist Lisa Young

Why this matters:

Smith's stance exemplifies a broader conflict between traditional energy sectors and global sustainability goals, highlighting the tension in balancing economic interests with urgent environmental and health imperatives.

Coal, oil and gas have given communities across the U.S. both steady paychecks and devastating pollution. Is it time to make health a priority in meeting our energy demands?

Question for the reader:

How should regions dependent on fossil fuels navigate the transition to clean energy?

AI-based tools helped produce this text, with human oversight and editing.

flooded stop sign
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

National Climate Assessment warns U.S. faces growing warming threats

Climate change has claimed lives and upended livelihoods in every region of the United States, but its severe toll has prompted parts of the country to respond faster and more creatively than ever, according to a major government report.

From our Newsroom
childrens health climate change

Delays in joining the RGGI regional climate program means excess ER visits and child illness in Pennsylvania

Up to 128 premature deaths from air pollution could have been prevented if the state had entered the program in 2022 as planned.

environmental justice

LISTEN: Carlos Gould on wildfire smoke and our health

“Information matters a lot — trying to explain not just that there’s a problem, but how to do something about it.”

fracking PFAS

“Forever chemicals” in Pennsylvania fracking wells could impact health of surrounding communities: Report

More than 5,000 wells in the state were injected with 160 million pounds of undisclosed, “trade-secret” chemicals, which potentially include PFAS.

800,000 tons of radioactive waste from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry has gone “missing”

800,000 tons of radioactive waste from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry has gone “missing”

Poor recordkeeping on hazardous waste disposal points to potential for bigger problems, according to a new study.

drought climate farming

Opinion: Climate change and soil loss — the new Dust Bowl?

How we can save our soil, stabilize the climate, and prevent a new Dust Bowl.

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