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Trump Touts 'Dirty-Fuels-First Plan' at Fracking Conference

Climate

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of fossil fuel industry executives at the Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh Thursday making it clear that he is continuing to push a fossil fuel agenda.

"America is sitting on a treasure trove of untapped energy—some $50 trillion in shale energy, oil reserves and natural gas on federal lands, in addition to hundreds of years of coal energy reserves ... [and] it's all upside," Trump said to the crowd made up of executives from Marcellus Shale Coalition, the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, and the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association.

Trump said the country needs an "America-First energy plan" and touted his ideas to "open up federal lands for oil and gas production, open offshore areas, and revoke policies that are imposing unnecessary restrictions on innovative new exploration technologies."

His "American Energy Renaissance" also includes:

  • Streamlining the permitting process for all energy infrastructure projects, including the billions of dollars in projects held up by President Obama.
  • A temporary moratorium on new regulations not compelled by Congress or public safety.
  • Unlocking America's shale oil and gas.
  • Renegotiating America's trade deals, and the enforcement of trade rules.

Environmentalists slammed Trump's self-proclaimed energy revolution which, as he reiterated Thursday, would end the war on coal and scrap the $5 trillion Obama-Clinton Climate Action Plan and the Clean Power Plan.

"Donald Trump ... takes talking points from the biggest polluters in the country to slap together his disastrous energy positions," Sierra Club political director Khalid Pitts said.

"Trump's dirty-fuels-first plan is pretty simple: drill enough off our coasts to threaten beaches from Maine to Florida, frack enough to spoil groundwater across the nation, and burn enough coal to cook the planet and make our kids sick. In stark contrast, Hillary Clinton is the only candidate in this race who is committed to grow the booming clean energy economy to create jobs and help tackle the climate crisis."

Greenpeace USA spokesperson Cassady Sharp agrees. "Donald Trump proved again that he is an unfit leader with no grasp on reality," she said.

"Trump pandered to the Marcellus Shale industry today, singing the praises of a dangerous energy extraction process that threatens the health and safety of families and communities all over this country, and promising to slash critical regulations and the EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency]. This man has no business dealing with America's energy policy, and he would be a belligerent catalyst of catastrophic climate change if he were elected president."

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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.

Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.

Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.

SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0​

"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.

It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.

Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.

In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.

The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).

"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.

The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.

"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.

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