Silurian Valley. Michael E. Gordon

Mojave Desert Protections and Renewable Energy Under Attack

By Helen O'Shea

After opening up most of our country's shorelines to offshore drilling, the Trump administration is now reconsidering an ambitious and innovative plan to conserve desert lands while generating renewable energy.

The administration intends to reopen the Desert Renewable Energy and Conservation Plan (DRECP) for the Mojave Desert finalized in September 2016. The plan was based on more than 8 years of stakeholder input—more than 16,000 comments were submitted—hard science and balancing the need for conservation and clean energy.

The DRECP strikes the right balance—it protects lands important for, wildlife and habitat connectivity, lands rich in cultural resources and lands treasured by local communities for recreation. It also identifies almost 400,000 acres of appropriate lands for renewable energy zones—more than enough to meet the state of California's ambitious renewable energy goals.

A desert tortoiseFrazier Haney

Despite Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's recent comments, there is absolutely no reason to re-open it. Zinke couldn't have been more wrong when he said, "Five hundred miles of solar cells is not compatible with the habitat." The whole point of the DRECP was to make sure that renewable energy development and conservation take place in the right areas so that both can co-exist in the desert.

In reality, the DRECP would allow development of solar projects on a small fraction of the 10 million acres of federal land included in the plan. There certainly is no proposal for a single, contiguous solar facility covering 500 square miles that Zinke's misstatement warns of. His blatant error reflects this administration's outright hostility to clean energy and allegiance to fossil fuels at any costs.

Instead of scare tactics, the focus now should be on robust implementation of the plan, not re-opening it at tax payers' expense. Re-opening the DRECP jeopardizes more than four million acres of important conservation lands. It could also threaten many of the desert's most threatened and endangered species such as majestic bighorn sheep and ancient desert tortoise.

Opening the DRECP will also create uncertainty for local counties, industry, wildlife agencies, outdoor recreationists and rural communities. NRDC will fight efforts to undo the work of 8 years of stakeholder input and planning, which will waste a great deal of time and money invested by both the federal and state governments and is certain to result in a less balanced plan.

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What Standing Rock Gave the World

By Jenni Monet

At the height of the movement at Standing Rock, Indigenous teens half a world away in Norway were tattooing their young bodies with an image of a black snake. Derived from Lakota prophecy, the creature had come to represent the controversial Dakota Access pipeline for the thousands of water protectors determined to try to stop it.

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Zero Point Zero

Netflix’s 'Rotten' Reveals the Perils of Global Food Production

By Katherine Wei

We all love to eat. And increasingly, our cultural conversation centers around food—the cultivation of refined taste buds, the methods of concocting the most delectable blends of flavors, the ways in which it can influence our health and longevity, and the countless TV shows and books that are borne of people's foodie fascinations. However, there's one aspect we as consumers pay perhaps too little heed: the production of food before it reaches markets and grocery store shelves. We don't directly experience this aspect of food, and as a result, it's shrouded in mystery, and often, confusion.

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About 2,700 square miles of Amazonia's forest is destroyed annually. Dallas Krentzel / Flickr

Earth's Intact Forests Are Invaluable, and in Danger

By Tim Radford

The world's unregarded forests are at risk. Intact forest is now being destroyed at an annual rate that threatens to cancel out any attempts to contain global warming by controlling greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study.

A second study finds that trees in the tropical regions are dying twice as fast as they did 35 years ago—and human-induced climate change is a factor.

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Modern Event Preparedness / Flickr

5 Billion People Could Have Poor Access to Water by 2050, UN Warns

As the world's population grows and the planet warms, demand for water will rise but the quality and reliability of the supply is expected to deteriorate, the United Nations said Monday in this year's World Water Development Report.

"We need new solutions in managing water resources so as to meet emerging challenges to water security caused by population growth and climate change," said Audrey Azoulay, director-general of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in a statement. "If we do nothing, some five billion people will be living in areas with poor access to water by 2050."

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28 Activists Arrested at Kinder Morgan Pipeline Construction Site

Despite a court-ordered injunction barring anyone from coming within 5 meters (approximately 16.4 feet) of two of its BC construction sites, opponents of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion sent a clear message Saturday that they would not back down.

Twenty-eight demonstrators were arrested March 17 after blocking the front gate to Kinder Morgan's tank farm in Burnaby, BC for four hours, according to a press release put out by Protect the Inlet, the group leading the protest.

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Three Outlandish Ideas to Cool the Planet

By Jeremy Deaton

Climate change is a big, ugly, unwieldy problem, and it's getting worse by the day. Emissions are rising. Ice is melting, and virtually no one is taking the carbon crisis as seriously as the issue demands. Countries need to radically overhaul their energy systems in just a few short decades, replacing coal, oil and gas with clean energy. Even if countries overcome the political obstacles necessary to meet that aim, they can expect heat waves, drought and storms unseen in the history of human civilization and enough flooding to submerge Miami Beach.

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Those Little Produce Stickers? They’re a Big Waste Problem

By Dan Nosowitz

Those little produce stickers are ubiquitous fruits and vegetables everywhere. But, as CBC notes, they're actually a significant problem despite their small size.

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Despite Trump’s Bluster, U.S. Officials and Scientists Maintain Climate Work with International Partners

Trump has loudly declared his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement, but, behind the tweets and the headlines, U.S. officials and scientists have carried on working with international partners to fight climate change, Reuters reported Wednesday.

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