Per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) have been getting a lot of negative publicity. And with good reason. Classified as “forever chemicals,” they’ve been found in food, water, soil, animals and even our blood. Although the extent of their effects is not fully understood, they are known to negatively impact human health in a variety of ways. But while many are calling for an overall ban on the chemicals, pushback from the industry seeks to simply switch out the PFAS we already know are harmful with lesser-known ones that likely have the same — or possibly even worse — effects. Continue reading →
Adrienne Buller is Director of Research at the think tank Common Wealth, where she leads investigative projects about building a democratic economy. She previously researched the intersection of finance and the climate crisis at InfluenceMap, and has also written for The Guardian and the Financial Times, among other publications. Continue reading →
Alarmed by the pollution produced by the Konkola Copper Mines operation in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia, Chilekwa Mumba organized a lawsuit to hold the mine’s parent company, Vedanta Resources, responsible. Chilekwa’s victory in the UK Supreme Court set a legal precedent—it was the first time an English court ruled that a British company could be held liable for the environmental damage caused by subsidiary-run operations in another country. This precedent has since been applied to hold Shell Global—one of the world’s 10 largest corporations by revenue—liable for its pollution in Nigeria.
Chilekwa Mumba led a court battle to hold a U.K.-based company responsible for the gross pollution from a copper mine it owns in Zambia. In an interview, he talks about how he and local villagers faced arrest to overcome long odds and finally win a landmark legal victory.
The southern African nation of Zambia is home to a wealth of minerals — in particular, lots of the copper and cobalt that the world will require to power a green economy. Continue reading →
“Humanity is on thin ice, and that ice is melting fast,” António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, recently warned, in response to a newly alarming climate report. The ice is melting, in large part, because the world keeps burning fossil fuels. To change that, the U.S. will need to join other nations in replacing machines that burn them—cars, stoves, furnaces, and eventually things like planes and factories—with machines that run on electricity. Continue reading →
…But something else happened yesterday too, with a price tag that may eventually dwarf that settlement, and with even larger potential implications for the future of the planet. The Supreme Court, also tersely, declined to grant cert in a case brought by oil companies desperately trying to hold off state court trials for their climate crimes. Continue reading →
The United States is on the brink of its most consequential transformation since the New Deal. Read more about what it takes to decarbonize the economy, and what stands in the way, here.
I’m an environmentalist, which means I’ve got some practice in saying no. It’s what we do: John Muir saying no to the destruction of Yosemite helped kick off environmentalism; Rachel Carson said no to DDT; the Sierra Club said no to the damming of the Grand Canyon. Continue reading →
Brazil’s President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, promises to keep miners and loggers from destroying the rain forest. On the ground, the fight is complicated.
The Brazilian Amazon is riven by two long highways, in the shape of a cross: the BR-163, which extends more than four thousand miles from north to south, and the Trans-Amazonian, which runs twenty-four hundred miles from east to west. The roads were carved from the jungle in the nineteen-seventies, to open the wilderness to settlers and development. The effects have been calamitous. As colonists flooded in, the human population in Brazil’s Amazon has quadrupled, to nearly thirty million. Continue reading →
The Three Brothers, taken just east of El Capitan, by Carleton Watkins, ca. 1865. “A sharp earthquake shock at 7:30 a.m.,” Muir wrote in his journal on January 5, 1873. “Rotary motion tremored the river. . . . A boulder from the second of the Three Brothers fell today.” (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
This book review in the LA Times will be of interest to those who find the history of conservation innovations entertaining:
John Muir and Robert Underwood Johnson were unlikely allies in the war to preserve Yosemite. Muir, son of a Scripture-quoting Scottish immigrant father, was raised poor on a Wisconsin farm, but he wrote and spoke with the fervor of a prophet, and his craggy visage, tough constitution and unshakable devotion to the natural world drew admirers like a magnet. The urbane and cultured Johnson was an insider with a vast network of contacts in publishing and politics. The editor of one of the country’s preeminent magazines, Johnson hosted New York literary salons, mingled with America’s elite and eventually became the U.S. ambassador to Italy.
John Muir in California nature, 1902, left, and Robert Underwood Johnson, associate editor of the Century Magazine, at his office on Union Square in New York City. Their complementary skills helped carve out Yosemite National Park.(Courtesy of the Library of Congress; Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
It was improbable that they even met — Muir was on the West Coast, Johnson on the East. But on one memorable journey into the California kingdom now known as Yosemite National Park, the two agreed to pull together to wage the nation’s “first great environmental war,” battling through the administrations of seven presidents to save Yosemite. It’s fair to say that the valley’s matchless terrain and fragile ecosystem would have been logged, plowed and plundered without their relentless efforts. Veteran nonfiction writer Dean King tells their story in “Guardians of the Valley: John Muir and the Friendship that Saved Yosemite.” Continue reading →
The race for high-tech metals has sparked a cobalt boom in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that has come at a steep human cost. In an e360 interview, author Siddharth Kara talks about the horrific conditions in the mines that are putting thousands of workers at risk.
As countries around the world look to pivot quickly to clean energy, demand for the lithium-ion batteries used to charge our smartphones, laptops, and electric vehicles is booming. Continue reading →
The white-haired woman in the picture above is one of my great heroes in the world. Her name is Heather Booth, she’s 77, and a board member at Third Act, which helped organize last Tuesday’s massive day of protest against the fossil-fueled banks, coordinating 102 demonstrations in 30 states and (see above) the District of Columbia, where the Rocking Chair Rebellion shut down four banks for the day. Continue reading →
Indigenous park ranger Osvaldo Martinez tours the Nairi Awari indigenous community in Limon, Costa Rica on November 9, 2021. – The indigenous people of this community are payed for caring for the environment, as part of a program awarded by the British royalty. (Photo by Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP) (Photo by EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP via Getty Images)
Costa Rica has won international acclaim for its initiatives to restore its forests. But those successes are now jeopardized by conflicts over the government’s failure to return traditional lands to the Indigenous people who are regarded as the best forest stewards.
Costa Rica has a green halo. In recent decades, the small Central American nation has transformed itself from a notorious hotspot for deforestation into a beacon of reforestation that is the envy of the world. Many of its more than 12,000 species of plants, 1,200 butterflies, 800 birds, and 650 mammals, reptiles, and amphibians have gone from bust to boom, and eco-tourists are savoring the spectacle. Continue reading →
Demonstrations at 90 sites are billed as first major action by older activists: ‘It’s not fair to ask 18-year-olds to solve this’
Climate activists across the US will on Tuesday blockade branches of banks that finance fossil fuels, cutting up their credit cards in protest and holding rallies featuring everything from flash mobs to papier-mache orca whales. Unusually for such a spectacle, the protests won’t be led by young activists but those of a grayer hue. Continue reading →
The term was shaped by social-evolutionist thinking; white settlers used it to designate the “primitive” other. Illustration by Lauren Peters-Collaer
Given that our work has often brought us into close proximity, sometimes into working relationships, with such communities as described in the essay below, we have done our best to stay informed on respectful communication; so, this is of interest:
Many groups who identify as Indigenous don’t claim to be first peoples; many who did come first don’t claim to be Indigenous. Can the concept escape its colonial past?
Identity evolves. Social categories shrink or expand, become stiffer or more elastic, more specific or more abstract. What it means to be white or Black, Indian or American, able-bodied or not shifts as we tussle over language, as new groups take on those labels and others strip them away. Continue reading →
There is genuinely no precedent in the modern history of geopolitics for the climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Four and a half years ago, she began “striking” outside of Swedish parliament — a single teenager with a single sign. She was 15. In just a few months, she had made her mark at the United Nations climate conference in Poland: “You are not mature enough to tell it like it is,” she told the assembled diplomats and negotiators, “even that burden you leave to us children.” Continue reading →
Forget diplomatic language—it’s a moment for some home truths.
On Monday morning, at the United Nations, the Secretary-General delivered his annual report on priorities—a kind of State of the Planet address. If you’re struggling to remember the name of the current Secretary-General, it’s António Guterres, who came to the job after, among other things, serving as the Prime Minister of Portugal. We’re used to the idea that “diplomatic language” is filled with euphemisms—“a full and frank exchange of views,” and so on. Continue reading →
Bobbi Wilson holds her collection of spotted lanternflies as she is honored at the Yale School of Public Health on Jan. 20. Andrew Hurley/Yale University
A young person doing their part, on their own, to help with an environmental scourge. Hats off to that. The unneighborly act aside, this is a story to celebrate (thanks to National Public Radio, USA) and an extra bravo to Yale University for their part in it:
A pile of debris from Hurricane Ian rises behind a line of people waiting to vote in Fort Myers, Fla., in November 2022. Research suggests support for some climate policies increases immediately after climate-driven disasters such as Ian. Rebecca Blackwell/AP
If you are not (yet) concerned about climate change there is no time like the present:
Most people are focused on the present: today, tomorrow, maybe next year. Fixing your flat tire is more pressing than figuring out if you should use an electric car. Living by the beach is a lot more fun than figuring out when your house will be underwater because of sea level rise. Continue reading →
To Indigenous leader Levi Sucre Romero, carbon credit markets have failed to respect Indigenous people and their key role in protecting their lands. In an e360 interview, he talks about how carbon brokers have taken advantage of local communities and why that must change.
Indigenous protesters at the opening ceremony of the UN biodiversity conference in Montreal this month. ANDREJ IVANOV / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
In a world where carbon credit markets are taking advantage of Indigenous people and their forests, the United Nation is losing its leadership on combating climate change, says Indigenous leader Levi Sucre Romero.
In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Romero, who is from Costa Rica and is coordinator of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests, calls out the “carbon cowboys” — the brokers who he says are wrecking efforts to allow Indigenous communities to have ownership of the carbon credits generated on their land, and who, by acting unscrupulously and secretively, are undermining global hopes of using nature to mitigate climate change. Continue reading →
The Bronx River Foodway, the only legal place to forage in New York, celebrates the end of a season
Foodway team members gathered around a picnic bench at the New York Botanical Garden created by the artist Elizebeth Hamby. Photograph: Courtesy Elizabeth Hamby
Bimwala’s tours are a mix of returning foragers eager to learn more and newcomers, many of whom have lived in the Bronx for decades. Photograph: Courtesy of Nathan Hunter
On a crisp November day in the South Bronx, more than 300 people made their way from Westchester Avenue below the clamor of the 6 train down a tree-lined path leading to Concrete Plant park. This is the home of the Bronx River Foodway, a quarter-acre food forest full of edible, mostly native plants. What looks like a stretch of land dotted with trees appears at first glance to be overrun by weeds, but the wild foliage has been intentionally planted by the Foodway. It is the only legal foraging site in New York City.
Neighbors young and old poured on to the grassy banks of the Bronx River to celebrate the end of the season and the foliage of the Bronx, including an array of snacks made from foraged ingredients: ginkgo cheese and acorn crackers, and pickled mushrooms and herbal ales made at recent four-part cooking series put on by the Foodway over the last two months. Continue reading →