Category Archives: environment

Paul Hawken interviewed…

at World Changing.


Stewart Brand interviewed…

by Yale’s Environment 360.

Good question: What year will coastal property values crash?

And as usual, Joe Romm has a good answer.

I heard Ed Mazria give a talk at the RESNET conference a few weeks ago, and he had some great and startling slides showing many cities before and after see level rise. It’s so dramatic, but it seems to be so far outside our imagination that there isn’t much response, other than amazement. I wonder when the response will turn to OH SHIT. That’s when property values will crash.


Unclean coal

Another stark reminder that there is no such thing as clean coal:

Coal Ash Spill Revives Issue of Its Hazards (NYT)


KINGSTON, Tenn. — What may be the nation’s largest spill of coal ash lay thick and largely untouched over hundreds of acres of land and waterways Wednesday after a dam broke this week, as officials and environmentalists argued over its potential toxicity.

Federal studies have long shown coal ash to contain significant quantities of heavy metals like arsenic, lead and selenium, which can cause cancer and neurological problems. But with no official word on the dangers of the sludge in Tennessee, displaced residents spent Christmas Eve worried about their health and their property, and wondering what to do. (more…)

Add sanitation to the list…

From Green Car Congress:

Behind Food, Energy and Climate Crises Looms Water and Sanitation

Modes of sanitation for the global population. Click to enlarge. Data: SIWI.

The World Water Week in Stockholm concluded with 2,400 scientists, leaders from governments and civil society declaring that slow progress on sanitation will cause the world to badly fail the Millennium Development Goals while weak policy, poor management, increasing waste and exploding water demands are pushing the planet towards the tipping point of global water crisis.

This theme of the 2008 World Water Week was “Progress and prospects on water: for a clean and healthy world”. Eight workshops had two parallel directions. One set were sanitation-related and referred to safe handling of human excreta; the other related to water-carried pollutants and how to address water pollution abatement, wrote Professor Malin Falkenmark of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) in a summary of the week.

The scale of the sanitation issue is “unbelievable” wrote Falkenmark. Out of a world population of 6.7 billion, only 1.1 billion have access to conventional sewage. Three billion use other types of toilets from pit latrines to poor flush/cess pits, while the remaining 2.6 billion use simple open defecation.

Why is sanitation so fundamental? Beyond human dignity and defecation security, the main reason is that human health critically depends on safe handling of human excreta—the origin of pathogen-related diseases. The disease link makes sanitation and hygiene nothing less than an imperative for any society to function properly.


Chinook Salmon invade South America

(from WorldChanging):
 Salmon-MapChinook salmon were introduced to southern South America about 25 years ago to be farmed, but they have not surprisingly escaped, and have now established themselves in the streams of Chile. This will cause unknown ecological consequences to Chile, but it also shows how resilient salmon can be in establishing a population in a new environment–a lesson that indicates that if the river environments of the western US can be restored, that the salmon population could also recover.

The human impacts of energy development–the case of Wyoming

Last year Alexandra Fuller had a remarkable article “Boomtown Blues” in the New Yorker about the effects of natural gas and oil development in Wyoming on the people and environment. Sobering story about how companies move in to rural areas and bring jobs and workers, but also drugs, alcohol, and prostitution.  Unfortunately I didn’t catch it in time to get a link to the on-line article (here is the abstract). I was thinking about it again during my trip last week to Ecuador, where hydroelectric development causes social and environmental distruction. Turns out Fuller has a new book out called The Legend of Colton H. Bryant which is the story of a young man who is killed working on a gas rig, and the New Yorker article is derived from the book. Fuller also has an op/ed article in the New York Times about Wyoming and energy development, and there is also a NYT article about her and the book.

I hope the complete New Yorker archive is on-line soon, because this is the kind of article I’d like to forward to my friends in Chile and Ecuador–it’s an American story of the downside to energy development–trading environment for jobs is not healthy for families or long term economic well-being. I’ll also put the book on my list.