Trump's EPA Advisor Myron Ebell a 'Superstar of the Denialosphere'
By Alex Formuzis and Sonya Lunder
Myron Ebell, head of President-elect Donald Trump's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team, is a notorious denier of global warming whose biography unashamedly notes that he's considered a "climate criminal" by activists and "a superstar of the denialosphere" by The Climate War author Eric Pooley. But he's also director of environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which touts "the life-enhancing value of chemicals"—chemicals like arsenic, DDT and PCBs.
One of the the Competitive Enterprise Institute's projects is SafeChemicalPolicy.org. The site is bursting with articles and reports that cast doubt on the dangers of toxic chemicals and pesticides in food, water and consumer products, and disparage the work of public health advocates, with Environmental Working Group (EWG) one of the site's favorite targets.
Here are just a few examples:
- SafeChemicalsPolicy.org downplays the risks of arsenic in drinking water and toxic pesticides found on foods young children love to eat.
- An article on the site says it's wrong for schools to notify parents before pesticides are sprayed inside and around schools.
- It disparages public health advocates' concerns over fetuses being exposed to endocrine disruptors in the womb, including Monsanto's notorious PCBs and the now-banned pesticide DDT.
- It actually makes the claim that glyphosate—the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, which the World Health Organization considers probably carcinogenic to humans—has "liberated" children from having to work in corn fields, pulling weeds.
"The simple reality," says the site, "is that modern living means living with chemicals." We couldn't agree more. The problem is that too many of those chemicals are hazardous to our health. The EPA is supposed to protect us from dangerous chemicals, not defend them, as Ebell would almost certainly do if he ran the agency.
As it turns out, EWG is a popular target among Trump's other top advisers. Steve Bannon, the former campaign CEO and incoming chief White House strategist attacked us when he was running the alt-right website Breitbart News.
We're used to it. In fact, when science deniers like Ebell and Bannon regularly get worked up over something you've said or done, it usually means you've said or done something right.
By Tim Radford
Scientists have calculated yet another item on the human shopping list that makes up the modern world: plastics. They have estimated the mass of all the plastic bottles, bags, cups, toys, instruments and fabrics ever produced and tracked its whereabouts, as yet another index of the phenomenal change to the face of the planet made by recent human advance.
Altogether, since about 1950, with the birth of a new industry, more than 8.3 billion tonnes (or 9.1 tons) of synthetic organic polymers have been generated, distributed and discarded. Of that total, 6.3 billion tonnes are classified as waste.
By Jessica Corbett
As Senate Democrats stay silent on an energy bill that environmental groups call "a pro-fracking giveaway to oil and gas interests that would commit America to decades more of dangerous fossil fuel dependence," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is receiving applause for speaking out against it.
"As a nation, our job is to move away from fossil fuels toward sustainable energy and energy efficiency. This bill does the opposite," Sanders said in a statement.
ExxonMobil filed suit against the federal government last week, claiming that a $2 million fine levied against the company by the Treasury Department is "unlawful" and "capricious."
The Treasury Department fined Exxon Thursday morning, alleging that the oil giant displayed "reckless disregard" of U.S.-Russian sanctions in its dealings with Russian company Rosneft in 2014 under CEO Rex Tillerson.
By Andy Rowell
For years, environmentalists have warned that due to climate change, there will be billions of barrels of oil that we will never be able to burn. These reserves will become what has increasingly been called "stranded assets."
To give you one example: In a new report, Friends of the Earth argued that "The coal, oil and gas in reserves already in production and development globally is more than we can afford to burn. There is no room for any new coal, oil or gas exploration and production.
Late last year, the tiny house community celebrated a watershed moment—an official appendix in the 2018 version of the International Residential Code, the model building code used by most jurisdictions in the U.S.
"There are many things that are monumental in the adoption of tiny house construction codes by the IRC," cheered Thom Stanton, the CEO of small space developer, Timber Trails. "Among them, that architects, designers, builders, community developers and (maybe most importantly) zoning officials have a means of recognizing tiny houses as an official form of permissible dwelling."
The colossal mass of throwaway plastic—from straws to bags to bottles—has grown much faster than recycling and disposal efforts can contain it. You might even say this is obvious, no matter where you look.
Check out this video from National Geographic to watch underwater photographer Huai Su film a diver collecting an endless amount of plastic bottles that litter the seafloor off Xiaoliuqiu Island, Taiwan.
A reef off the coast of Cancún will become the first in the world with its own insurance policy, testing a new strategy meant to encourage local investment in the wellbeing of the reef.
Under the policy, created by insurance company Swiss Re and the Nature Conservancy, local hotels and other organizations dependent on tourism will pay into the policy, receiving reimbursements to repair the reef and local beaches after natural disasters.
The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) denounced the USDA's permit for the world's first open-air trials of the Genetically Engineered (GE) Diamondback moth to be released in Geneva, New York.
This announcement came concurrently with the availability of a final environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact for the field release of the GE Diamondback moths. NOFA-NY considers the Environmental Assessment lacking comprehensive health and environmental details.