Today the Center for American Progress (CAP) released America’s Future Under ‘Drill, Baby, Drill,’ describing where we will be in 2030 if we continue down the path of oil dependency as the American Petroleum Institute, or API, advocates in their report outlining their long-term vision for the future. CAP’s report uses sobering scientific projections and analyses that can help us understand what 2030 might hold if we choose to let Big Oil have its way.
Instead of focusing on new sources of clean energy and jobs created by American innovation, which will reduce our addiction to oil and enhance public health, API’s recent report envisions an America that drills more, despite having reached record-high profits and an eight-year-high oil production. API’s vision accelerates Big Oil projects by fast-tracking permits and leases without adequate review, aggressively calls for the construction of a massive pipeline infrastructure that will bisect the entire country, and opens up vast quantities of America’s public lands for extraction.
The decisions that we make now about our energy future will have major consequences in the ensuing decades. The CAP report looks back, as if from 2030, on a hypothetical congressional approval to open the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelves, major swaths of public lands, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for oil drilling in 2012. These actions, coupled with conservative proposals to dismantle the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), keep natural gas fracking regulations at a minimum, resist new fuel efficiency standards and oppose public health protections that would impose limits on hazardous emissions from power plants, will all lead to a bleak future.
Extreme heat waves, drought, more ferocious hurricanes and accelerated sea-level rise become commonplace in parts of a warming, unchecked, carbon-spewing world. Public health impacts in the U.S. from smog and ozone quadruple, and globally the rising price of food and scarcity of water exacerbate already desperate conditions in Asia, Africa and Latin America. While the promise of abundant oil jobs was dangled before us as an incentive by API and other industry-backed groups, the fact remains that green jobs outnumber oil jobs 4-to-1 and under the “drill, baby, drill” scenario, we will be beholden to spikes in the global oil market, as gas prices continue to soar and clean energy and efficiency becomes an afterthought in our country with no commitment to alternative investments, and no price incentive or regulatory controls to stop polluting.
We have the power to make sound energy choices. The U.S. is well positioned to be a key player in combating the worst effects of climate change and we have the opportunity to remake our economy from one that is reliant on dirty and unstable fossil fuels to one that is cleaner, safer and more equitable.
Read the full report here.
For more information, click here.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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