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 →
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 →
…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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
The Conversation is “a news organization dedicated to facts and evidence” and with the tag line “Academic rigor, journalistic flair”. Our kind of reading. The graph to the left illustrates this article’s point; the photo below to the right is too composed for rigor:
Brazil’s enormous soy farms mostly produce food for animals, not humans. lourencolf / shutterstock
The opening plenary of the U.N. biodiversity conference in Montreal. Photograph by Andrej Ivanov / AFP / Getty
We continue, as a species, to document our impact on other species. The warning signs keep getting clearer. It is not pleasant reading, but it is documented for a reason; it is about us. It is about our responsibilities. Our thanks, as always, to Elizabeth Kolbert:
Never mind the yuck factor: precision fermentation could produce new staple foods, and end our reliance on farming
So what do we do now? After 27 summits and no effective action, it seems that the real purpose was to keep us talking. If governments were serious about preventing climate breakdown, there would have been no Cops 2-27. The major issues would have been resolved at Cop1, as the ozone depletion crisis was at a single summit in Montreal. Continue reading →
Change in stance puts spotlight on US and China, which have both objected to fund
A breakthrough looked possible in the deadlocked global climate talks on Friday as the European Union made a dramatic intervention to agree to key developing world demands on financial help for poor countries. Continue reading →
Two decades after the advent of fracking, a growing number of studies are pointing to a link between gas wells and health problems, particularly among children and the elderly. Researchers are now calling for new regulations restricting where wells can be located.
Almost 20 years after the adoption of hydraulic fracturing began to supercharge U.S. production of oil and gas, there’s growing evidence of a correlation between the industry’s activities and an array of health problems ranging from childhood cancer and the premature death of elderly people to respiratory issues and endocrine disruption. Continue reading →
The view from Egypt: Trumpism, Putinism, Bolsonaroism finally on the defensive
Those of us who have been faithful in bringing the world bad news are perhaps excused if we seize occasionally on the the promising straws in the wind (though always aware that ill winds continue blowing, and not just in Florida where a rare November hurricane made landfall today). I’m thinking globally this afternoon, because I’m at the climate summit in Sharm al Sheikh in Egypt, where dozens of countries have pavilions (it’s the Epcot of carbon mitigation.) And the planet looks just a little better than it did a month ago. Continue reading →
Following is an article that does something different, and more difficult to find recently. A look at five decades’ accomplishment on one environmental issue in one country, and a takeaway worthy of the photo above: complex, but inspiring. Our thanks as always after a decade relying on Yale e360 for environmental stories, and advocacy; in this case also for introducing us to Andrew S. Lewis, who will now be on our radar:
Sparked by the 1970s environmental movement, the Clean Water Act — which marks its 50th anniversary this month — transformed America’s polluted rivers. The Delaware, once an industrial cesspool, is one of the success stories, but its urban stretches remain a work in progress.
Steve Meserve (second from right) is a fourth-generation shad fisherman who operates the Lewis Fishery, the last commercial shad operation on the Delaware. ANDREW S. LEWIS
When Steve Meserve’s great-grandfather, Bill Lewis, started the Lewis Fishery in 1888, it was one of dozens of commercial outfits scattered up and down the Delaware River that seined for American shad during the spring spawn. At the time, the Delaware’s shad fishery hauled 3 to 4 million of the hard-fighting fish from the river and its tributaries every year. But, soon enough, Lewis discovered that he had gotten into the business just as the river — along with the species it supported — was entering a period of catastrophic decline. Continue reading →
Why resisting climate change means combatting the fossil fuel industry
The science on climate change has been clear for a very long time now. Yet despite decades of appeals, mass street protests, petition campaigns, and peaceful demonstrations, we are still facing a booming fossil fuel industry, rising seas, rising emission levels, and a rising temperature. With the stakes so high, why haven’t we moved beyond peaceful protest? Continue reading →
Patagonia has become more politically active, going so far as to sue the Trump administration in a bid to protect the Bears Ears National Monument. Laure Joliet for The New York Times
We have mentioned this company multiple times in our pages over the years, because we take inspiration from it, the same way we have taken inspiration from the example set by Chuck Feeney. It is worth noting that I also value everything I have ever bought from Patagonia. The day of this blizzard in New York I took an old beat up backpack in to see if they could repair it in the nearby shop; instead, they gave me a new one.
Good quality products, combined with good service, make the good environmental values of the company all the better:
“Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people,” said Mr. Chouinard. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times
Mr. Chouinard filmed an announcement for his employees at home in Wyoming. By giving away the bulk of their assets during their lifetime, the Chouinards have established themselves as among the most charitable families in the country. Natalie Behring for The New York Times
A half century after founding the outdoor apparel maker Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, the eccentric rock climber who became a reluctant billionaire with his unconventional spin on capitalism, has given the company away.
Rather than selling the company or taking it public, Mr. Chouinard, his wife and two adult children have transferred their ownership of Patagonia, valued at about $3 billion, to a specially designed trust and a nonprofit organization. They were created to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits — some $100 million a year — are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe. Continue reading →
I have missed plenty of good articles, books and other sources of news and analysis that relate to our goals with this platform. When I am late to see something important, like the book to the right, no regrets. Especially when it comes to my attention through an essay like this one by Daniel Sherrell:
Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act filled me with joy and rage, relief and apprehension, exhaustion and vigilance. We must celebrate, but also mourn, rage and organize
I was at a Mets game when news broke that the climate bill had enough votes to pass in the Senate. It was the bottom of the eighth, and Edwin Díaz had just struck out the heart of the Braves’ lineup. The crowd at Citi Field was feeling good. Everyone could sense a win was at hand.
I read the push notification then sat there stunned for several minutes, watching the Mets clinch the game, waiting for the world-shaping news to register. Continue reading →