A few days ago, scientists reported that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed a long-feared tipping point of 400 parts per million — an amount that hasn’t been present since 3 million years ago. During the roughly 8,000 years that human civilization has existed, CO2 levels were stable; it’s only been since the Industrial Revolution, less than 200 years ago, that heat-trapping gases rose by 41% to reach this record breaking level — and there’s no indication that the rate of increase will stop. The last time we had this much gas was the Pliocene Epoch, a period characterized by hotter climates, much smaller ice caps, more chaotic weather patterns, and sea levels as much as 60 to 80 feet. We’re likely in for an “interesting” few decades.
The amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and sea level.
There are plenty of architects these days who are doing their best to design buildings that are energy efficient and utilize green technology. And then there’s Allison Dring and Daniel Schwaag of the Berlin-based firm Elegant Embellishments.
For Torre de Especialidades, a hospital with a new tower currently under construction in Mexico City, the duo has developed a tile called proSolve370e, which will cover the façade of the building. The tile’s shape and chemical coating will help neutralize the chemicals present in the city’s smog.
“As the algae grows—mostly in the summer—it provides more shade for the building, helping to keep it cool (and serves as a sound buffer as well). Excess heat that builds up in the water in the tanks is transferred to saline water tanks underneath the building for use later. When the amount of algae growth in the tanks reach a certain point, some is harvested and taken to a processing facility inside the building. There the biomass is converted to biogas which can be burned to provide heat in the winter. Thus, the building makes use of both solar thermal and geot
Slaughterhouse cameras might seem unfair to the operators. The images might still appeal to emotion and prompt visceral revulsion. Fair enough. But we are not going to decide how we should treat animals through cold reason alone, and certainly not if their treatment is invisible.
Emotional response is part of moral reasoning, and in this case we need more information, not less. The images need to be supplemented by brain studies and other efforts to understand what animal suffering is like — for instance, whether mammals experience trauma when confined and exposed to slaughter. But the images would motivate us to ask the right questions.
Opponents might compare this proposal to bills that require women to view images of their fetuses before having an abortion. The resemblance is misleading. Those laws intrude on intimate, difficult decisions involving a constitutional right.
In contrast, open-slaughterhouse laws would not force anyone to look at anything. They would just increase our resources for thinking and arguing. A teenager debating her parents at the dinner table, or a parishioner discussing the ethics of eating meat with fellow church members, would be able to pull out a cellphone or laptop to support his or her arguments.
Officials blame the apparent loss on climate change, arguing that it has caused waterways to vanish, and on mistakes by earlier cartographers. But environmental experts say that the disappearance of the rivers is a real and a direct manifestation of headlong, ill-conceived development, where projects are often imposed or approved without public consultation.
- The nearly 733,000 hogs on factory farms in Plymouth County, Iowa, produce twice as much untreated manure as the sewage from the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.
- The more than 857,000 hogs on factory farms in Hardin County, Iowa, produce three times as much untreated manure as the sewage from the greater Atlanta metro area.
- The more than 1 million hogs on factory farms in Sioux County, Iowa, produce as much untreated manure as the sewage from the Los Angeles and Atlanta metro areas combined.
And it’s not just hogs that are crammed into the state’s factory farms. According to FWW, Iowa’s vast confinement facilities also house 1.2 million beef cattle, 52.4 million egg-laying hens, 1 million broiler chickens, and 64,500 dairy cows. Altogether, this teeming horde annually churns out “as much untreated manure as the sewage from 471 million people—more than the entire US population.”Keeping such titanic amounts of shit out of water is a near futile task.
As you might imagine, keeping such titanic amounts of shit out of water is a near futile task. There are occasional spectacular incidents—FWW points to the time in 2008 when spring floods “destroyed at least 3 hog factory farms near Oakville, drowned up to 1,500 hogs and flooded manure from storage pits downstream into waterways throughout eastern Iowa.” And according to the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a group that fights factory farming in Iowa, there have been more than 800 documented in Iowa since 1995.
In a country where a quarter of the arable land—the best land—is already monopolized by less than 1% of the farmers, the Honduran ‘agro-oligarchs’ want to acquire the 10% of Honduran land still owned by its peasantry (who make up 70% of the country’s farmers).
It is easy to understand their voracity. The global demand for palm oil has tripled from two million to over eight million tons over the last decade. Thanks to renewable fuel targets in the U.S. and Europe (that neither can fill with their own stock) lucrative markets are opening for agrofuels. Financial investors view agricultural land as an $8.4 trillion market. The planet’s land rush is heating up and Honduran elites are not going to be left behind in their own backyard. The Aguán Valley—where the two peasant activists were murdered—is the theater for relentless grabs of peasant land
Monsanto is no stranger to patent battles: ThinkProgressreports that the company devotes $10 million per year and 75 staffers to investigating and prosecuting farmers for patent violations. It has also sued more than 400 farmers over the last 13 years for patent infringement.
The Obama administration reportedly backs Monsanto, and urged the court to stay out of this case because it could have implications for patenting other products that can reproduce in fields like nanotechnology and genetics.
Floating patches of humanity’s garbage have become a permanent feature in the world’s oceans and a new discovery in the South Pacific shows that this woeful trend has worsened, not improved, since the phenomenon was first discovered nearly two decades ago.
As new research by the 5 Gyres Institute shows, the existence of a new plastic island has been found swirling with junk in ocean currents running near Easter Island in the South Pacific, marking the first documented garbage patch in the Southern Hemisphere.
The new study, published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, documents the first evidence of a defined oceanic “garbage patch,” an accumulation zone of plastic pollution, floating in the area designated as the South Pacific subtropical gyre.
Conducting the first ever sampling of the southern gyre, the research team, led by 5 Gyres Institute Executive Director Dr. Marcus Eriksen, “recorded increased density of plastic pollution with an average of 26,898 particles per square kilometer, and a high of 396,342 km/m2 in the center of the predicted accumulation zone [based on ocean current models].”
“Without a doubt, we have discovered a previously unknown garbage patch in the South Pacific Subtropical Gyre,” said Dr. Eriksen.
Also, a recent investigation by a team of Australia researchers found that “humans have put so much plastic into our planet’s oceans that even if everyone in the world stopped putting garbage in the ocean today, giant garbage patches would continue to grow for hundreds of years.” No matter where plastic garbage enters the ocean, the group said, it will inevitably end up in any of the five ocean basins.
Not that we should be complacent, however. In any case, we could perhaps harness the genes of these resilient corals and engineer stronger ones. But that may take time, funding, and public support - all of which are sadly in short supply.
The Tar Sands Blockade has launched a “die-in” at the TransCanada offices in Houston, Texas to protest the Keystone XL pipeline.
Activists in Massachusetts have also engaged in direct action in TransCanada’s office telling stories of the Keystone’s destructive consequences.
Solidarity actions are currently taking place all over the country today, including right now in Detroit & tonight in Austin.
From the Tar Sands Blockade: “This action kicks off a new phase of the Tar Sands Blockade targeting the corporate and financial infrastructure behind the Keystone XL pipeline. TransCanada’s pipeline uses seized land to transport toxic tar sands oil through Texas and Oklahoma communities, in order to export it from Houston ports. These dangerous business practices and the backlash from communities across the country make this pipeline a toxic investment for our state and TransCanada’s corporate lenders.”