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July 08 2013

18:46

Enviro News Wrap: Farm Bill Foibles; Oil Theft in Nigeria; Expected Opposition to Obama Climate Plan, and more…

The Latest Environmental News HeadlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up and comments on the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

  • Charles Krauthammer Washington Post op-ed belies his understanding of climate science and misrepresents Obama’s climate plan. The whole article is misleading and riddled with pseudo-scientific arguments.
  • Obama has started his environmental campaign with 3 years left in office. A necessary focus of his campaign is coal which is drawing strong opposition from such a wealthy interest group. But, he does not need their re-election money so whine they will while Obama tries to reduce the environmental impact of such a dirty industry. While the coal industry will use its puppets to spread the fear-based propaganda that the economy will crumble from this much-needed regulation, environmentalists are slowly winning this fight.
  • In Nigeria 10 percent of the oil is stolen from pipelines to be sold on the black market. This has created a dirty illegal industry of poor polluters. This is the real affect of “dirty energy,” oil is always being stolen, spilled and regular people feel the consequences. A train in Canada carrying crude oil got out of control and spilled in a small town causing a large explosion that killed several and incinerated part of the downtown area. We need energy sources that can’t easily explode and cause massive death when spilled. If accidents happened like this in the renewable energy industry conservative politicians would be demanding the end of all clean energy, but since the blood is on the hands of the dirty energy industry then the suffering of this town is just part of the cost of cheap energy.
  • As we use up the easily accessible, high quality sources of oil, we are increasingly forced to dig deeper, both on land and underneath the oceans. The cost and environmental impact of this is huge. If companies invested billions of dollars of exploration money into research and development of renewable energy we would be much better off.
  • The US farm bill entrenches in our economy large agricultural companies pumping out lots of cheap corn, cotton, wheat and soy. The “farm bill” has passed in the US congress every year for decades, but this year it did not pass and now some groups are scrambling to upkeep the status quo.
  • People need to be healthy to make healthy environmental decisions. That means we need a society that grows and eats healthy food –  that means real food, not processed food. No matter how much we engineer our food, nothing will beat the bounty that is naturally provided by mother nature. Eat real food.

The post Enviro News Wrap: Farm Bill Foibles; Oil Theft in Nigeria; Expected Opposition to Obama Climate Plan, and more… appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

April 16 2012

16:08

A Population Antidote: High School for Girls

Girls in sub-Saharan Africa who finish secondary school are more likely to understand family planning and acquire skills that could give them some measure of financial independence.
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Reposted bysirthomasbolton sirthomasbolton

April 01 2012

23:22

March 26 2012

13:40

On Our Radar: The State of the Planet

In advance of the Rio + 20 summit meeting in Brazil, specialists are meeting in London this week to present a comprehensive scientific update on the pressure the planet is under as well as potential fixes.

January 19 2012

18:51

January 02 2012

16:39

December 30 2011

18:48

Musings of a Malcontent: The Earth in 2012 – Aye Carumba!


Musings of a Malcontent: Environmental Irony in an Imperfect (but humorous?) World“Musings of a Malcontent” is a weekly op-ed by GlobalWarmingisReal contributor Carlyle Coash

I am beginning to feel redundant.

I mean how many weeks in a row can I talk about oil spills? Seemingly forever at the rate we’re going. If you haven’t seen it yet, there is an absolutely fabulous spill off the coast of Nigeria. Shell Oil clearly put a lot of work into making it look amazing. Let’s put our hands together for them. It really accentuates all the wonderful features of Nigeria’s coastline marvelously. You would think it was made just for that purpose. Stunning!

I think Victoria’s Secret is doing a special fashion show on the slick itself just so we can all revel in the magic. The best designers are involved, showing how much they care for this important issue. The models will be dressed as oil workers just getting off work at the rig from a hard day of drilling. As they strut down their specially made flotilla runway, spray from the slick coats them with the alluring shimmer that only crude oil can create. Covered in oil now, they strip out of their overalls to reveal the new line of sexy hot undergarments made from the carcasses of birds killed by spills all over the world. Fashion at it’s most poignant!

I can dream can’t I?

Will we raise our consciousness about what we are doing to the Earth in 2012?This new spill gives me little optimism for 2012. It just feels like it’s not going to stop. Oil everywhere, huge amounts of methane gas escaping from the Arctic, extreme weather patterns, the start of Celebrity Wife Swap – what are we in for? I know the Mayan calendar is predicting a profound rise in consciousness in 2012, but I’m wondering if that’s because we’ll all be in flames from the massive oil spill-methane-fueled fireball that’s likely to be the Planet Earth.

It’s amazing how being on fire can elevate your consciousness.

If you can’t tell – I’m worried. Somehow I think I am not alone in this. The question is what will it take to slow things down? Do we need an Occupy the Oil Companies movement? Yeah, that would work. Groups can start camping out at gas stations. We can all begin to use alternative fuel sources – like used fry oil from fast food restaurants. Soon the Chevy Volt will be the car everyone craves and all the oil-producing countries will be begging for us to use their product again. Yet because of our Mayan induced surge of conscious awakening we will no longer even need motor vehicles – as we will simply travel through teleportation.

We are totally screwed aren’t we?

Those changes are not going to happen. Sorry Mayans. Why? Because instead of cleaning up the mess currently spanning the globe, these big companies want to add to it. They have all the sway in just the right places. I know this because for the most part nothing has really happened to them. Sure they have gotten fined, but they are still getting away with all sorts of shaky behavior. Just like nothing has really happened to the Wall Street companies that did a collective pistol shot to our femurs, leaving us to bleed out on the street while they sauntered away whistling a tune. The exchange rate is maintained in their favor. I don’t see Bernie Madoff getting a Gaddafi style treatment at the hands of those he screwed. Heck I would settle for a daylong carnival dunk tank opportunity with old Bernie as the star.

Just give us some payback – a little hint that the scales are not totally off balance.

I am not holding my breath. I do have some desire for self-preservation.

So we step into a new year. Hopefully it will not be full of continued disasters. Or scams and misdeeds. Or torture and killing. Or horrors done on each other for just no good reason (like the guy lighting a woman in his building on fire in a very un-consciousness heightening way). Or stories of how much the rich and famous are spending on Christmas gifts ($12,000 worth of gifts from one Twilight series star to the other. They are in love though).

Ugh.

For the consciousness to shift it has to be about something else. Taking responsibility. Taking care of our world and each other. Practicing compassion. Practicing kindness. Practicing generosity. Speaking out when we see things that are unjust. Not tolerating violence. Calming our minds.

Can’t be that far fetched. If the Mayans thought it could happen, why not right?

So what if they died off.

Right.

————
Image sources: The Alopecian Muse, Astrological Musings

December 29 2011

17:02

Closing In on Africa's Bush Meat Trade

Conservationists took inventories of bush meat markets in the hope of one day providing foods that could serve as alternatives to the meat of threatened species.

December 23 2011

12:47

December 22 2011

16:55

August 05 2011

21:38

U.N. Report On Niger Delta Calls For Billion Dollar Shell Oil Spill Clean-Up Fund

A new United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report [pdf] discussing the environmental destruction in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta wetlands calls out Shell, and says that the contamination warrants emergency action and an initial $1 billion clean-up fund to pay for a sweeping environmental restoration which may take 30 years to complete.


According to the UNEP, this is the most detailed scientific study to date on any part of the Niger Delta. The survey team spent 14 months completing the study which involved site visits to more than 200 locations, a survey of 122 km of pipeline, reviews of more than 5,000 medical records and public meetings with more than 23,000 locals.

The Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta is filled with creeks, swamps, waterways and huge reserves of oil which have enabled Nigeria to become the world’s eighth largest oil exporter. Decades of exploitation by national and international corporations like Shell, however, have destroyed the region’s land and freshwater supplies, and have left residents in poverty.

In one community in western Ogoniland, at Nisisioken Ogale, residents are drinking water contaminated with benzene (a carcinogen) at levels over 900 times above World Health Organization guidelines. In at least 10 out of the 15 sites with poisoned water which Shell subsidiaries said had been cleaned, the public health risk is still deemed to be serious.

A full environmental restoration of contaminated drinking water, land, creeks and damaged ecosystems [pdf] “could prove to be the world’s most wide-ranging and long term oil clean-up exercise ever undertaken.”

Achim Steiner, U.N. Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, stated:

“The oil industry has been a key sector of the Nigerian economy for over 50 years, but many Nigerians have paid a high price, as this assessment underlines.”

“It is UNEP’s hope that the findings can break the decades of deadlock in the region and provide the foundation upon which trust can be built and action undertaken to remedy the multiple health and sustainable development issues facing people in Ogoniland. In addition it offers a blueprint for how the oil industry—and public regulatory authorities-- might operate more responsibly in Africa and beyond at a time of increasing production and exploration across many parts of the Continent.”

Even though Shell has not operated in the Ogoniland since 1993, the report identifies the lackluster stewardship of Shell and its subsidiaries stating:

Control and maintenance of oilfield infrastructure in Ogoniland has been and remains inadequate: the Shell Petroleum Development Company’s own procedures have not been applied, creating public health and safety issues.

The oil giant was forced to leave the region after writer Ken Saro-Wiwa (hung by the government in 1995) led a campaign against the corporation for its environmentally destructive practices. The pipelines and other infrastructure, however, remain in place and continue to cause spills and suffer from sabotage attacks.

Despite its vast oil resources, the Niger Delta region suffers from violence, severe poverty and devastation from oil spills caused by faulty infrastructure, theft and sabotage.

The UNEP findings also support the claims of Bodo fishing communities in the Ogoniland region who are taking Shell to court in Britain for poisoning their waters and ruining their livelihoods. Shell officials have agreed to take responsibility for two spills in 2008 and 2009. 

Taking responsibility for spills is out of the ordinary for Shell, which has frequently avoided liability by blaming sabotage and maintaining that under Nigerian law, compensation is not paid when damages are caused by sabotage. Such claims led Friends of the Earth and Amnesty International to submit a joint claim to Dutch officials at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, criticizing Shell for “nontransparent, inconsistent and misleading figures” by claiming that some 98 percent of spills are caused by sabotage [Shell countered saying the figure was more like 70 percent].

The director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Chair of Friends of the Earth International, Nnimmo Bassey, stated earlier this year that:

"Several studies have placed the bulk of the blame for oil spills in the Niger Delta on the doorsteps of the oil companies, particularly Shell."

The new report combined with the Bodo lawsuit means that Shell, national oil companies and other oil prospectors are now on notice to clean up their operations or face the consequences.

Download the executive summary [EN - pdf] and/or full UNEP Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland report [pdf].

Photo Credit: flickr

August 04 2011

21:11

Shell Agrees To Pay Nigerians For 2008 and 2009 Oil Spills

In a historic move, oil giant Shell has agreed to take responsibility and to compensate Bodo fishing communities in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta wetlands after their homes and livelihoods were ravaged by destructive oil spills in 2008 and 2009.

The case is also significant due to the fact that Shell will face the music at home, i.e. in a British court rather than one in Nigeria. Environmental advocates have long called for western oil companies to face their claimants on home soil in order to ensure more media coverage and a larger payout to the affected residents.

Martyn Day, speaking for the 69,000 Bodo, said they are seeking "adequate compensation immediately." This will likely amount to hundreds of millions of dollars in damages paid to people living in the Niger Delta, a region severely affected by poverty. Shell will likely also face additional litigation in the future.

Day explains:

"This is one of the most devastating oil spills the world has ever seen and yet it had gone almost unnoticed until we received instructions to bring about a claim against Shell in this country [UK]."

"The Bodo people are a fishing community surrounded by water. What was the source of their livelihood now cannot sustain even the smallest of fish. The spills have caused severe poverty amongst the community.”

"Marine life has been devastated within the 2,000 hectares of the creek and the mangroves have been, without exception, destroyed."

Until now, Shell has claimed that less than 40,000 gallons of oil were released into the environment due to the spills. This is no longer the situation.

The lawyers for the Bodo, Leigh Day & Co., claim that the quantity of oil released from the two spills is equivalent to approximately 20 percent of the amount which leaked into the Gulf of Mexico after BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster. Some experts even believe that the spills could be as large as the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster off the coast of Alaska which dumped more than 10 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound.

Three sets of claims have been submitted in the case:

(1) for at least $100 million (£61 million) in order to clean up the devastated area;

(2) for damages to the community land;

(3) for losses suffered by individual families.

Finally, at least some Nigerians will be compensated for these disastrous oil spills, which have become all too commonplace. According to the Nigerian government, more than 7,000 spills occurred between 1970 and 2000. It is believed that oil spills are taking place at a rate of 300 every year.

According to a joint report from Friends of the Earth and Amnesty International, Shell has tried to avoid liability for five decades worth of oil spilled (some 546 million gallons) into the Niger Delta (nearly 11 million gallons a year).

In 2009, Nigeria accounted for around 9 percent of Shell’s oil production.

This is a big victory for Bodo Nigerians because taking the company to court in Britain means that Shell will not be able to avoid paying, unlike Chevron’s efforts to avoid $8 billion in compensation when an Ecuadorian court found them liable for spills in that country earlier this year.

January 12 2011

18:09

December 24 2010

15:53

September 27 2010

12:44

June 10 2010

19:28

The Oil Supply Picture, Post-Spill

The International Energy Agency, an intergovernmental group that studies energy policy for industrialized nations, has released some preliminary projections on the disaster's impact on oil supplies. So far, it does not seem to be a game changer, but it is too early too know for sure.
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