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Trump Watch
The effects of post-fire logging after the rim fire, in the Stanislaus National Forest, nearly three years after the logging occurred. Chad Hanson

Congress, Trump Exploit Fire Tragedy to Promote Logging Agenda

By Chad Hanson

In the wake of the October 2017 fires in Northern California, which resulted in the loss of so many lives and homes, people affected by the tragedy are grieving and bewildered. Many people are searching for answers about what caused the fires, and a way forward to prevent similar loss of life and property.

It's frustrating, then, to watch Republican leaders in Congress and the Trump administration politicizing the recent tragedy as they push for a sweeping elimination of environmental laws on our national forests and other federal public lands to increase logging and backcountry fire suppression under the guise of community protection. On Nov. 1, the House voted 232-188 to allow for more "salvage logging" and other forms of tree-cutting on federal properties. According to the Associated Press, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the bill was needed to protect the nation's federal forests "from the kind of devastation that California experienced."

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Environmental activists in kayaks protest the arrival of the Polar Pioneer, an oil drilling rig owned by Shell Oil, in Seattle. Backbone Campaign / Flickr

Moyers and McKibben: What to Do When Time Is Running Out for the Planet

By Bill Moyers

I wasn't one of the 50,766 participants who finished the New York City Marathon last weekend. Instead, I spent the average marathon finish time of 4:39:07 to read a book—obviously a small book. In the interest of disclosure, I didn't even start the race, but that's another and even shorter story than Radio Free Vermont, the book from which I did occasionally look up and out the window to check on the stream of marathoners passing our apartment, their faces worn and haggard.

A shame, I thought, that I couldn't go outside and hand each one a copy of the book that had kept me smiling throughout the day while also restoring my soul; I was sure the resilience would quickly have returned to weary feet and sore muscles now draped in aluminum foil for healing's sake. I admire those athletes, but wouldn't have traded their run for my read, because Radio Free Vermont is funny, very funny, all the more so considering the author is one of the more serious men on the planet—the planet he has spent his adult life trying to save.

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Politics
OFF Act press conference, Oct. 26, 2017. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard / Flickr

Congresswomen and Environmental Groups Urge Congress to Pass the OFF Act to Combat Climate Change

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44) joined Food & Water Watch, first responders, non-profit organizations and local government officials to urge Congress to pass H.R. 3671, the OFF Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act (OFF Act) to transition the U.S. to a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2035.

"Our country cannot passively standby while we watch the climate crisis devastate our planet and the livelihoods of working families across the country and the world," said Gabbard, who introduced the bill. "It is our obligation to protect the most vulnerable in our society, to protect our planet, to grow the economy and rebuild America's infrastructure with a stable, domestic clean energy economy."

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Climate
Many stations in southern California had already topped 100°F as of 1 pm PDT Tuesday Oct. 24, 2017, as shown in this WU WunderMap.

Record-Melting Fall Heat Wave Bakes Southern California

By Bob Henson

It's not every Oct. 23 or 24 that millions of Americans are swathed in temperatures above 100°F. This week has done just that, bringing some of the toastiest weather ever observed in the U.S. during late October, and more pre-Halloween heat is on the way.

By far the most scorching weather has been in Southern California, although it's also been exceptionally mild this month in settings as far-flung as Michigan, Florida and New England.

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Climate
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Losses From California Wildfires Top $1 Billion, Expected to Rise 'Dramatically'

Insured losses from fires in Northern California have topped $1 billion and are expected to rise "dramatically," state insurance officials announced Thursday.

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Smallholder agriculture in southern Ethiopia. Smallholder farmers are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity. Leah Samberg

How Climate Change and Wars Are Increasing World Hunger

By Leah Samberg

Around the globe, about 815 million people—11 percent of the world's population—went hungry in 2016, according to the latest data from the United Nations. This was the first increase in more than 15 years.

Between 1990 and 2015, due largely to a set of sweeping initiatives by the global community, the proportion of undernourished people in the world was cut in half. In 2015, UN member countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which doubled down on this success by setting out to end hunger entirely by 2030. But a recent UN report shows that, after years of decline, hunger is on the rise again.

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Two Graphs Explain Why California’s Wildfires Will Only Get Worse

By Molly Taft

The deadly wildfires ripping through Northern California are just the latest in a season of record-defying natural disasters across the country. As the death toll passes 40, reports of Californians hiding in pools as their houses burn and scenes of devastated homes and vineyards add to 2017's apocalyptic picture of how climate change is impacting America today.

As the Trump administration guts environmental protections and undermines science, California is one of the states leading the way on climate action. Ironically, experts agree the state can expect devastating fires like the ones in Napa to become the new normal. Drier and drier conditions and creeping temperatures in the American Southwest, definitively linked to climate change, serve to create tinderbox conditions for massive, catastrophic fires to explode.

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Energy
Climate activists Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein shut down Enbridge's tar sands pipelines 4 and 67 in Minnesota on Oct. 11, 2016. Shutitdown.today

Judge Allows Vital 'Necessity Defense' for Climate Activists

By Jessica Corbett

In a decision that is being called "groundbreaking" and "precedent-setting," a district court judge in Minnesota has ruled that he will allow oil pipeline protesters to present a "necessity defense" for charges related to a multi-state action by climate activists last October.

In his decision last week, Judge Robert Tiffany ruled that four activists who participated in the #ShutItDown action—in which pipelines across five states were temporarily disabled, halting the flow of tar sands oil from Canada into the U.S.—may present scientists and other expert witnesses to explain the immediate threat of climate change to justify their action.

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