By Zak Smith
There are only about 30 vaquita porpoises left in the world. The smallest and most endangered cetacean species on the planet faces extinction in three years if the people with the power to save it don't take immediate action. Instead of shrugging their shoulders and casting blame elsewhere, the Mexican government, Mexican shrimp fisheries and U.S. shrimp importers must be bold or Mexico will lose this national treasure. But they're not committed to taking the steps necessary to save the vaquita, so we have to motivate them. Boycotting Mexican shrimp is the answer.
The vaquita's steep decline is solely attributable to the use of gillnets in their habitat, a 2,000km² area in the northwest corner of the Upper Gulf of California—an area roughly equal in size to Orange County, California. Vaquita get tangled and drown in gillnets used to catch shrimp, totoaba and other fish. Between 1990 and 2010, shrimp fisheries' use of gillnets drove the population down by more than 70 percent from more than 700 to about 200. After 2010, the use of gillnets in an illegal fishery for a croaker fish called the totoaba (also endangered and also found in the Upper Gulf of California) increased the vaquita's rate of decline as fishermen flooded the area with gillnets to supply Asian demand for totoaba swim bladders.
The response from those with power to force change has fallen flat. The Mexican government promised stronger enforcement of a temporary and incomplete gillnet ban and a ban on fishing in a special vaquita refuge. It hasn't happened; fishermen's use of gillnets in the vaquita's habitat continues unabated. Mexican shrimp fisheries point fingers at the illegal totoaba trade, refusing to take responsibility for bringing the vaquita to the cliff's edge and focusing instead on the fishery that is giving the vaquita the final fatal push. And U.S. shrimp importers pledge fealty to "sustainability," but continue to profit without demanding the vaquita's recovery.
We have the power to force their attention. We have the power to save the vaquita. Boycott shrimp from Mexico and these actors will respond. They will finally ensure that the vaquita's waters are gillnet free. We all know how this works; you hit people where it hurts, their wallets. Join the campaign and save the vaquita.
Drinking wine is like a U-shaped curve. A little bit is ok; a little more is bad news. For women, wine can be especially damaging. Why? Increased alcohol load means your liver can't metabolize estrogen well. Increased estrogen in the body can lead to breast cancer. Drinking just one glass of wine a day increases your breast cancer risk by 40 percent.
So, What is the Verdict?
Occasionally enjoying a glass of wine can be part of a healthy diet but only in moderation. Red wine, for example, contains resveratrol, which naturally protects and improves your body's mitochondrial function through its effects on special master aging genes. But make sure you enjoy only the best quality wine out there. I recommend Dry Farm Wines for the best quality and highest integrity wines.
Remember … mitochondria are the part of your cells that create energy. So, supporting healthy development and sustaining them is super important. But as stated above, increased consumption can tax your liver, leading to negative side effects.
For a less harmful and more effective way to support healthy mitochondria, I recommend sticking to these tactics:
- Exercise regularly and incorporate a mix of different types of exercise. Interval training increases the efficiency and function of mitochondria, while strength training increases the number of mitochondria.
- Eat whole, real, colorful plant foods which are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients that protect mitochondria. Include 8 to 12 servings of fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds every day.
- Supplement with nutrients that protect mitochondria and boost energy—such as: acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, n-acetyl-cysteine, NADH, D-ribose, resveratrol and magnesium aspartate.
- Increase omega-3 fats. These help to build your mitochondrial membranes.
The final word here is that we need to think of alcohol as a recreational treat. If you drink alcohol, I suggest you limit consumption to one glass, up to three times a week. Remember: One drink equals 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol or 12 ounces of beer. And again, quality makes all the difference. For the best quality organic wines check out Dry Farm Wines.
Scientists have been seeing mysterious green ice spread across the Arctic floor since 2011. Upon further inspection, they realized it was blooming phytoplankton, a very rare occurrence in this harsh environment.
It was thought that this region was too dark for phytoplankton to bloom. The ice is usually so thick that it reflects incoming rays, starving out any possible photosynthesis. But, a team of researchers from Harvard University found that rising temperatures due to climate change are causing the ice to wear so thin that phytoplankton are thriving and majorly disrupting the food web.
"What we found was that we went from a state where there wasn't any potential for plankton blooms to massive regions of the Arctic being susceptible to these types of growth," Chris Horvat, lead author of the study and Harvard graduate student, said.
The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, concluded that as ice retreats, the sun is able to beat down on the open water, spawning huge phytoplankton blooms. The plumes attract fish, and the fish attract mammals, which ultimately attract indigenous hunters.
"The meter decline in sea ice thickness in the Arctic in the past 30 years has dramatically changed the ecology in that area," Horvat said. "All of a sudden, our entire idea about how this ecosystem works is different. The foundation of the Arctic food web is now growing at a different time and in places that are less accessible to animals that need oxygen."
Just 20 years ago, the ice was still thick enough that only 3 to 4 percent of it was susceptible to blooms. But, now, a staggering 30 percent of the ice is melting off in the summer months. This doesn't just affect phytoplankton, but larger mammals who need oxygen to survive. Habitat destruction at this level is unbeknownst to scientists and it will take further observations to monitor and measure the true impact on the ecosystem.
"The decision is a major blow to Exxon's efforts to distract from the valid investigations into whether the company lied to the public and its investors about the dangers of global warming," Jamie Henn, 350.org strategic communications director, said.
"Instead of coming up with more bogus legal maneuvers, Exxon should comply with the Attorneys General requests, including handing over Tillerson's secret 'Wayne Tracker' emails."
In an effort to distract from the Attorneys General investigation into if the company lied to its shareholders and the public about its knowledge of global warming, ExxonMobil had filed a complaint asserting that the investigation against it was a politically motivated conspiracy designed to "silence" it.
Despite his obvious sympathy to the oil giant, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade was forced to admit in a decision this afternoon that Exxon's complaints against the Attorneys General should be transferred out of Texas to the Southern District of New York because "a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred" in New York City.
As part of its complaint, ExxonMobil had issued a subpoena to 350.org in December in an attempt to gain access to the organization's emails. 350.org promptly filed a motion to quash the subpoena and issued a statement asserting our First Amendment rights to speak out and advocate for the public interest. That motion is currently pending in the Southern District.
Wednesday's decision is a blow for Exxon, who had obviously hoped to fight the Attorneys General on their home turf in Texas rather than comply with the investigation. The announcement comes just days after the embarrassing revelation that while CEO of the company Rex Tillerson used a secret email alias "Wayne Tracker" to discuss climate change and other sensitive issues.
"The public deserves the truth about what Exxon Knew," Henn said. "The company is arguing we want to silence them, but it's just the opposite: We want them to speak clearly and honestly about their track record of climate denial so we can get to work solving the problem. Instead of continuing to follow the Big Tobacco playbook of deceit and deception, Exxon should come clean and own up to the damage it's caused."
350.org will keep up pressure on ExxonMobil to comply with the existing investigations, as well as advocate for more Attorneys General to launch their own inquiries into what Exxon knew.
"With Rex Tillerson now guiding our international climate policy as Secretary of State, this case is more important than ever," Henn continued. "If Tillerson used a secret email to discuss Exxon's climate coverup, that would turn out to be an absolute bombshell. We could be on the verge of seeing an acting Secretary of State getting pulled into a fraud investigation. And this isn't just any old fraud: Exxon's crimes are on a planetary scale."
The conservative and libertarian think tank has sent out 25,000 copies of the organization's book, Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming, and an accompanying 10-minute DVD to 25,000 science teachers this month, according to a Frontline report. The book argues that climate change is not settled science.
Katie Worth, who authored the Frontline report, called the effort a "massive propaganda campaign by the nation's leading climate change skeptical think tank."
The Heartland Institute, which has received funding from polluting industries such as Exxon and the Koch family, rejects the scientific community's widespread consensus that human activity causes climate change.
The organization plans to send the materials to another 25,000 teachers every two weeks until every public-school science teacher in the nation has a copy, Heartland president and CEO Joseph Bast said.
This means the book and DVD could end up in the mailboxes of more than 200,000 K-12 science teachers in the country. The campaign began in mid-March.
Frontline also published a cover letter of the materials from Lennie Jarratt, project manager of Heartland's Center for Transforming Education, who asks that the teacher "consider the possibility" that climate science is not settled.
The 2015 book is coauthored by Drs. Craig D. Idso, Robert M. Carter and S. Fred Singer, who have been heavily involved in the "debate" over global warming.
Here are some tidbits about the authors:
- According to DeSmog, Idso believes that "CO2 is not a pollutant" and is the chairman and former resident of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, which has a mission is to "separate reality from rhetoric in the emotionally-charged debate that swirls around the subject of carbon dioxide and global change."
- Carter, who passed away last year, was an Australian marine geologist and a paid climate change denier, SourceWatch noted. He once asserted that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has not found evidence that global warming was caused by human activity.
- Singer, a former space scientist and government scientific administrator, founded the Science & Environmental Policy Project in 1990, a 501(c)(3) "educational group" focusing on global warming denial, according to DeSmog. Idso and Singer helped develop the Heartland Institute's "Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. Singer said in Jan. 2016 that "the real threat to humanity comes not from any (trivial) greenhouse warming but from cooling periods creating food shortages and famines."
The letter directs teachers to visit Izzit.org to access an online guide to using the DVD. Izzit.org is a "right-wing advocacy organization" that provides free educational videos to U.S. educators and homeschoolers.
The National Center for Science Education, an Oakland, California nonprofit that monitors climate change education in classrooms criticized the mailing campaign.
"It's not science, but it's dressed up to look like science," NCSE executive director Ann Reid told Frontline. "It's clearly intended to confuse teachers."
Climatologist Michael Mann also tweeted that the Heartland Institute is trying to "indoctrinate children with climate denial propaganda."
Bast, Heartland's president, said that some teachers have appreciated the information and even asked for a Heartland speaker to visit a class.
However, many science teachers have not welcomed the campaign.
As Frontline wrote:
Lori Baker, a sixth-grade science teacher at North Putnam Middle School in Roachdale, Indiana, found the package in her school mailbox and was dismayed by its contents. "I read quite a bit of the book, actually, and it was extremely frustrating. It's an attempt to sound science literate, but there's very little actual data," she said.
Baker pointed to the first paragraph of the foreword, written by Marita Noon, executive director of Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy, a nonprofit and lobbying group that advocates for the use of fossil fuels. In it, Noon writes that Obama's description of climate change as the greatest threat facing mankind is "laughable" at a time when "ISIS is beheading innocent people."
"That as a foreword to something claiming to be scientific is pretty shocking," said Baker.
Now, you can sip that ice cold brew without feeling guilty. The world's largest beer manufacturer, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, has vowed to completely shift from fossil fuels by 2025, including investing in their own renewable energy sources.
The international business owns 35 titles including Budweiser, Budlight, Stella Artois, Natural Light, Busch, Michelobe Ultra, Schock Top and Goose Island. The company claims it was mere coincidence that their announcement came on the same day as President Trump's executive order to dismantle President Obama's climate policies.
"This has no political connotations at all," said CEO Carlos Alves De Brito in a statement. "We just think this is good for our business and the environment."
The shift will require uprooting 6 terawatt-hours—enough to power Spain for a month—and transferring it to wind and solar. They will begin by installing their own solar panels on their facilities worldwide. They are also making plans to power their facility in Mexico by purchasing 490 gigawatt-hours annually from Iberdrola SA, a Spanish electricity company, that is currently in the process of building a 220-megawatt wind farm in Puebla, Mexico.
AB InBev is the largest beer maker to commit to renewable energy in the world.
"Whether you're brewing beer or making cars, embracing clean and renewable energy is the smart thing to do," Jodie Van Horn, director of Sierra Club's Ready for 100 Campaign, said.
"That's why Anheuser-Busch joins a growing coalition of nearly 90 companies and 25 U.S. cities that have committed to go all-in on clean, renewable energy," Van Horn continued. "As the Trump Administration attempts to unravel protections designed to save billions of dollars and thousands of lives, businesses, cities and states throughout the U.S. and across the world will continue to step-up to lead the transition to clean, renewable energy."
In response to Tuesday's order, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted, "Mr. Trump, you cannot run a government by rejecting science. Listen to the scientific community, not the CEOs of the fossil fuel industry."
Sanders—who has one of the strongest records on climate change in the Senate and is one of the new president's harshest critics—also posted a video onto social media calling Trump's "anti-environmental executive orders" a "disaster" and a "threat to the future of this country, and to the future of the world."
Trump's order has rolled back Obama-era regulations such as the Clean Power Plan that limits emissions from power plants. The Clean Power Plan was designed to reduce harmful carbon emissions and particle pollution that would benefit the climate and provide important public health protections at the same time.
Trump, however, does not seem to care about that. At yesterday's signing ceremony, the president surrounded himself with company executives and coal miners and promised that his sweeping order will create jobs.
"C'mon, fellas. You know what this is? You know what this says?" Trump said. "You're going back to work."
But as Sanders' widely viewed video shows, the president's promise to bring back coal jobs is a "flat out lie." U.S. mining jobs have been on the decline for decades whereas the renewable energy sector can create millions of jobs while protecting the climate at the same time.
Indeed, a new Sierra Club
analysis of Dept. of Energy 2017 jobs data across the energy sector found that clean energy jobs overwhelm fossil fuels in nearly every state.
"What our job is, is not to expand the use of fossil fuels," Sanders said. "It is to significantly cut back on fossil fuels, move to energy efficiency and sustainable energies like wind, solar and geothermal."
Sanders lamented that the United States is being led by a president who thinks that climate change is a "hoax" created by the Chinese. He believes that Trump's actions threaten "not only this generation" but also "the lives of our kids and our grandchildren," Sanders added. He then vowed to fight the order "every step of the way."
The senator is not alone in his disapproval of the Trump administration's anti-environmental polices.
"I find it immensely depressing because many of us—not just my institute—have been working really hard to create the Paris agreement and global effort to cut carbon emissions," Goodall told reporters before a speech at American University in Washington. "Thinking that the USA isn't going to play its part, such a major industrial country, is really very, very sad and it just means we're going to have to work harder."
The famed primatologist and conservationist went on to say that she's seen the effects of our rapidly warming planet firsthand.
"Because I'm traveling all over the world 300 days a year, I have seen the result of climate change and we know, science has shown, that global temperatures are warming and these so-called greenhouse gases are blanketing the globe," she said.
Goodall then rejected the attitudes of many politicians who actively oppose climate change policies by claiming they do not know the science behind it.
"There's no way we can say climate change isn't happening: it's happened," she said. "The argument that people give is, 'Well, we can't prove that human activities are the main cause of this,' and I just heard the other day that one of the president's people [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt] said, 'Well, we don't think carbon monoxide is the main greenhouse gas.'"
Pruitt notoriously said in an interview with CNBC earlier this month that CO2 is not a primary contributor to global warming.
"So being not a scientist in that field, I tend to listen to scientists who do work in that field, like Nicholas Stern, and I would not dream of refuting the science that shows climate change is happening, it's happening everywhere, it's already having devastating effects in many parts of the word and the droughts are getting worse, flooding's getting worse, storms, hurricanes are getting more frequent and more violent. And the main thing is unpredictability: everywhere I go people say well it's not normally like that at this time of year," Goodall said.
The bill is now headed to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who is in favor of a statewide fracking ban.
Hogan, who once said that fracking is " an economic gold mine," stunned many with his complete turnaround at a press conference earlier this month.
"We must take the next step to move from virtually banning fracking to actually banning fracking," the governor said. "The possible environmental risks of fracking simply outweigh any potential benefits."
Once signed into law, Maryland would be the first state with gas reserves to pass a ban through the legislature.
Don't Frack Maryland, a coalition of more than 140 business, public interest, community, faith, food and climate groups, has campaigned vigorously for a statewide ban through rallies, marches, petition deliveries and phone calls to legislators.
"Today's vote is a result of the work of thousands of Marylanders who came out to town halls, hearings and rallies across the state. The grassroots movement to ban fracking overcame the high-powered lobbyists and deep pockets of the oil and gas industry," said Mitch Jones, Food & Water Watch senior policy advocate. "We worked tirelessly to make sure our legislators and the governor were held accountable to the demands of voters and followed the science. Now we look forward to Governor Hogan signing this bill into law and finally knowing that our water, climate and families will be protected from the dangers of fracking."
Josh Tulkin, director of the Maryland Sierra Club, also commended the Maryland General Assembly for this "bipartisan victory."
"Congratulations go to the thousands of people across the state, particularly those in Western Maryland, who stood up for their beliefs, who organized, lobbied and rallied to get this legislation passed," Tulkin said. "This ban is a major step for Maryland's path to a clean energy economy."
Supporters of fracking say it creates jobs and provides energy security.
"Denying Maryland consumers, businesses and job-seekers the benefits that come with in-state energy production through hydraulic fracturing shuts the door on an important share of the American energy renaissance and western Maryland's future economic growth," Drew Cobbs, executive director of the Maryland Petroleum Council, told the Associated Press after the vote.
But opponents of the drilling process, which involves shooting highly pressurized water and chemicals into underground formations to release oil and gas, cite health and environmental risks such as air and water pollution and earthquakes.
Fracking does not currently take place in Maryland but a moratorium on issuing permits ends in October.
Elisabeth Hoffman of Howard County Climate Action said that alarming research about fracking's harms has emerged during the state moratorium, adding that "voices from fracked states were sounding the alarms as well."
"We are relieved and overjoyed that the state Senate has said NO to fracking," she added.
The implications of the Senate's vote are far reaching, according to Natalie Atherton of Citizen Shale.
"Western Maryland is surrounded by fracking just across our state borders. We have learned from and worked with our neighbors whose health has been compromised for years," Atherton said. "Already Citizen Shale is being approached by communities in other states, hoping to learn how they can ban fracking where they live. This has become a movement of people, and it won't stop with Maryland."
Yesterday's vote was widely applauded by environmental groups especially in light of the Trump administration's apparent assault on environmental regulations.
"Despite Trump's efforts to block climate action and roll back protections for people and the planet, communities in Maryland took matters into their own hands. This is an incredible victory that speaks to the power of grassroots organizing to take on the fossil fuel industry. Fracking is a reckless practice that threatens health and safety while intensifying the climate crisis," 350.org Fracking Campaign coordinator Linda Capato Jr. said.
Capato is urging a similar movement worldwide.
"Maryland is taking a huge step forward, but communities are continuing to suffer as fracking and extreme extraction expands worldwide. This fight is a great reminder that when communities organize, we win," she said. "As more people fight back against this dangerous and dirty industry, elected officials everywhere should follow Maryland and other state's example by banning fracking and putting the health of our communities and climate first."
By Alexandra Rosenmann
President Trump's push for "clean coal," almost makes sense, explained Stephen Colbert.
"I know clean coal sounds like an oxymoron but so does President Trump," the Late Show host noted.
"There's really clean coal," insisted Colbert. "Back in high school, I had a girlfriend in Canada who was a clean coal miner."
Apparently this ex-girlfriend told the host that Canadians "mine the clean coal and put it on that silver-bullet train and then they send it to Narnia where the Keebler Elves use it to power the pump on the fountain of youth. And when you burn clean coal it actually makes the air cleaner. So clean you can just see right through the air, like you can see through [Trump's] lie."
Colbert then pointed out how this aspect of the plan takes America's climate policy back decades, through an updated version of the iconic "Woodsy the Owl."
"Woodsy," famous for his "Give a hoot—don't pollute!" motto, is a national public service icon dating back to 1971.
Except today, Woodsy's message would be "Go Pollute! F*ck the Planet!"
Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.
Get EcoWatch in your inbox