Sunday, April 13, 2014

Years of Living Dangerously Premiere Full Episode

Published on Apr 6, 2014
Hollywood celebrities and respected journalists span the globe to explore the issues of climate change and cover intimate stories of human triumph and tragedy. Watch new episodes Sundays at 10PM ET/PT, only on SHOWTIME.

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It's the biggest story of our time. Hollywood's brightest stars and today's most respected journalists explore the issues of climate change and bring you intimate accounts of triumph and tragedy. YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY takes you directly to the heart of the matter in this awe-inspiring and cinematic documentary series event from Executive Producers James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Hidden Costs of Carbon Fuels

The problem with MCHM (4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol), a coal-washing chemical created by humans, is that you can not filter it out of the water. Thanks to "Freedom Industries".

From Here and Now:

It’s been called one of the most serious episodes of drinking water contamination in U.S. history. Four months after thousands of gallons of the coal-washing chemical MCHM spilled from an unregulated above-ground storage tank into the Elk River, many people in and around Charleston, West Virginia, are still using bottled water.
Water bans after the Jan. 9 spill lasted as long as nine days in some Charleston communities. But residents continue to report that the water smells like licorice and it has sent people to the emergency room. A recent article in The New Yorker that profiled the power of the coal industry in West Virginia called the spill an accident with no clear ending, with the most basic question — “Is the water safe?” — unanswered.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, who runs the Kanawha-Charleston and Putnam County health departments in Charleston, West Virginia, speaks with Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti about the ongoing water crisis.

(Ever see what happens when you have a Solar Power Spill?)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Nowhere To Hide From Global Forest Watch

From 02/25/2014 03:29 PM    print story email story  ShareThis

Nowhere To Hide From Global Forest Watch News
There's nowhere to hide now that Global Forest Watch has launched - citizens around the world now have all the information they need to monitor the state of the world's forests.

Global Forest Watch combines the latest satellite technology, open data and social media crowdsourcing to produce "near-real time, reliable, and actionable data" about what's happening to forests worldwide.
High resolution data from half a billion NASA Landsat satellite images measures whether tree cover is growing or lessening. You can even sign up for alerts that let you know when there's tree cover loss, pinpointing where it's occurring.
"Businesses, governments and communities desperately want better information about forests. Now, they have it," says Andrew Steer, CEO of World Resources Institute, which facilitated the project. Global Forest Watch "will fundamentally change the way people and businesses manage forests. From now on, the bad guys cannot hide and the good guys will be recognized for their stewardship."
Companies that buy commodities such as palm oil, soy and timber will be able to see for themselves whether suppliers are complying with laws and sustainability standards. When they do it right, suppliers will be able to conclusively show their products come from well-managed forests. No more wondering about who is telling the truth!

And forest protection groups can use the information to pressure companies and governments to stop deforestation.
Forests - Global Forest Watch
Until now, the usefulness of satellite images has been limited because of the long time lag in getting them online. By the time people see them, the forests are cut, cattles are grazing (or palm trees are growing) and criminals are long gone. It typically takes 3-5 years to produce a national forest cover map.
"With the exception of Brazil, none of the tropical forest countries have been able to report the state of their forests," says Rebecca Moore, engineering manager with Google Earth Outreach and Earth Engine. "Now it will be possible to have near real-time updates of the state of the world's forests, open to anyone to use."

It's also a great tool for corporations that have committed to purchase only from sustainably managed forests. Nestle, for example, says the tool will give it better oversight of suppliers that produce raw materials such as meat, soy and palm oil - which forests are often cleared to grow.
"It is going to help us dramatically to refine our work on the ground, in places where we think there might be issues with our supply chain," says Duncan Pollard, associate vice president for sustainability at Nestle. 
Global Forest Watch makes this possible by embedding key information in the images. You can see which palm oil company operates in a specific area of Indonesia where images have shown recent forest destruction. That could lead to a buyer canceling purchases from a supplier.

So if a palm oil company says it will no longer clear primary forests, now they will be watched to make sure they keep that promise.

The REDD market should also get a boost. When organizations buy credits for maintaining or restoring forests, and can actively view their progress, they will be more likely to invest.

It will also give people a birds-eye view of the extent of deforestation across the world.

The initial $25 million to build the tool came mostly from the governments of the US, UK and Norway. It's been developed by a partnership convened by the World Resources Institute, which includes Google and some 40 partners - the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and businesses and NGOs from around the world.

Sarawak Geoportal Launches
Another tool, Sarawak Geoportal, focuses specifically on the Malaysian state, Sarawak, which has been torn apart by  deforestation.
The government can no longer misrepresent what's happening on the ground as they have done for political reasons, say The Bruno Manser Fund, which developed and launched the tool.

The online map makes it clear where concessions have been granted for logging and palm oil plantations and shows deforestation. It also pinpoints the exact location of villages, roads and rivers. 

It's necessary, says the Bruno Fund, because the government rarely informs indigenous people about projects that involve their native lands. Believe it or not, communities weren't aware that they would have to move because of construction of the very controversial Murum dam until right before they were forced to leave. 

"All this information should have been made public by the Sarawak government long ago", says Lukas Straumann, director of the Fund. "The data have deliberately been shut away to facilitate the land grab by the political elite under outgoing Chief Minister Taib Mahmud."

Sarawak Geoportal shows that as of 2009, a maximum of
11% of land area remains covered by primeval forest.

Sarawak Geoportal 

Here is Global Forest Watch:

Stanford scientist unveils 50-state plan to transform U.S. to renewable energy

Pick a state: The Solution Project - California

Mark Jacobson and his colleagues have created a 50-state roadmap for replacing coal, oil and natural gas with wind, water and solar energy.
The Solutions Project50 states map
This interactive graphic shows how each state can move to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. See
Stanford University scientist Mark Jacobson has developed a 50-state roadmap for transforming the United States from dependence on fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. He unveiled the plan at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago.
"Drastic problems require drastic and immediate solutions," said Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. "Our new roadmap is designed to provide each state a first step toward a renewable future."
The motivation for the 50-state plan, he said, is to address the negative impacts on climate and human health from widespread use of coal, oil and natural gas. Replacing these fossil fuels with clean technologies would significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming and spare the lives of an estimated 59,000 Americans who die from exposure to air pollution annually, he said.
In recent years, Jacobson and his colleagues have developed detailed proposals for converting the energy infrastructures of New York, California and Washington states to 100 percent wind, water and solar power by 2050. The new plan includes an online interactive map tailored to maximize the renewable resource potential of each of the 50 states. Hovering a cursor over California, for example, reveals that the Golden State can meet virtually all of its power demands (transportation, electricity, heating, etc.) in 2050 by switching to a clean technology portfolio that is 55 percent solar, 35 percent wind (on- and offshore), 5 percent geothermal and 4 percent hydroelectric. Nuclear power, ethanol and other biofuels are not included in the proposed energy mix for any of the states.
"The new map provides all of the basic information, such as how many wind turbines and solar panels would be needed to power each state, how much land area would be required, what would be the cost and cost savings, how many jobs would be created, and how much pollution-related mortality and global-warming emissions would be avoided," Jacobson said.
The 50-state plan is posted on the website of The Solutions Project, a nonprofit outreach effort led by Jacobson, actor Mark Ruffalo (co-star of The Avengers), film director Josh Fox and others to raise public awareness about switching to clean energy produced by wind, water and sunlight. To publicize the plan, Ruffalo joined Solutions Project member Leilani M√ľnter, a professional racecar driver, at a Feb. 15 Daytona National Speedway racing event that Munter participated in.
"Global warming, air pollution and energy insecurity are three of the most significant problems facing the world today," said Jacobson, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy.
"Unfortunately, scientific results are often glossed over. The Solutions Project was born with the vision of combining science with business, policy and public outreach through social media and cultural leaders – often artists and entertainers who can get the information out – to study and simultaneously address these global challenges."
Mark Shwartz writes about energy research for the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University.

A quarter of sharks and rays threatened with extinction

21 January 2014 | News story
A quarter of the world’s sharks and rays are threatened with extinction according to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, with ray species found to be at a higher risk than sharks. The findings are part of the first ever global analysis of these species carried out by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG).
The study, which comes at the start of the year marking the 50th anniversary of The IUCN Red List, was published today in the journal eLIFE. It includes the analysis of the conservation status of 1,041 shark, ray and closely related chimaera species.
According to the findings, sharks, rays and chimaeras are at a substantially higher risk than most other groups of animals and have the lowest percentage of species considered safe – with only 23% categorized as Least Concern.
“Our analysis shows that sharks and their relatives are facing an alarmingly elevated risk of extinction,” says Dr Nick Dulvy, IUCN SSG Co-Chair and Canada Research Chair at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. “In greatest peril are the largest species of rays and sharks, especially those living in shallow water that is accessible to fisheries.”
Overfishing is the main threat to the species, according to the paper. Reported catches of sharks, rays and chimaeras peaked in 2003 and have been dominated by rays for the last 40 years. Actual catches are likely to be grossly under-reported.
Unintentionally caught sharks and rays account for much of the catch, yet developing markets and depleting fishery targets have made this “bycatch” increasingly welcome. Intentional killing of sharks and rays due to the perceived risk that they pose to people, fishing gear or target species is contributing to the threatened status of at least 12 species.
“Surprisingly, we have found that the rays, including sawfish, guitarfish, stingrays, and wedgefish, are generally worse off than the sharks, with five out of the seven most threatened families made up of rays,” says Dr Colin Simpfendorfer, IUCN SSG Co-Chair and Professor of Environmental Science at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. “While public, media and government attention to the plight of sharks is growing, the widespread depletion of rays is largely unnoticed. Conservation action for rays is lagging far behind, which only heightens our concern for this species group.”
The global market for shark fins used in shark fin soup is a major factor in the depletion of not only sharks but also some rays with valuable fins, such as guitarfish. Sharks, rays and chimaeras are also sought for their meat. Other products from these species include a Chinese tonic made from manta and devil ray gills and pharmaceuticals made from deep sea shark livers.
The Indo-Pacific, particularly the Gulf of Thailand and the Mediterranean Sea are the two ‘hotspots’ where the depletion of sharks and rays is most dramatic. The Red Sea is also home to a relatively high number of threatened sharks and rays, according to the experts.
“Sharks, rays and chimaeras tend to grow slowly and produce few young, which leaves them particularly vulnerable to overfishing,” saysSonja Fordham, IUCN SSG Deputy Chair and president of the Washington, DC-based Shark Advocates International, a project of The Ocean Foundation. “Significant policy strides have been made over the last two decades but effective conservation requires a dramatic acceleration in pace as well as an expansion of scope to include all shapes and sizes of these exceptional species. Our analysis clearly demonstrates that the need for such action is urgent.”
Sharks, rays and chimaeras are known as ‘cartilaginous fish’ due to the fact that their skeletons are made of cartilage rather than bone. They are one of the world’s oldest and most ecologically-diverse groups of animals.
The study is the result of a collaboration of 302 experts from 64 countries.
For more information or interviews please contact:
Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations, t +41 22 999 0346 m +41 79 856 76 26, e 
Lynne Labanne, IUCN Species Programme Communications Officer, IUCN, t +41 22 999 0153, m +41 79 527 7221, 

  • Giant Guitarfish
    Photo: Matt D. Potenski
  • Pelagic Thresher Shark
    Photo: Bo Mancao
  • Banded Stingaree
    Photo: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO
  • Bluespotted Maskray
    Photo: Australian National Fish Collection CSIRO
  • Devil ray having its gill rakers removed at a fishing port in Sri Lanka. The gill rakers of devil rays and closely related mantas are valuable for use in Chinese medicine.
    Photo: Sonja Fordham
  • Daily shark landings being auctioned at Tanjung Luar, Lombok
    Photo: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO