In 50-49 vote, US Senate says climate change not caused by humans

The Senate rejected the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change, days after NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2014 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth.

The Republican-controlled Senate defeated a measure Wednesday stating that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, offered the measure as the Senate debated the Keystone XL pipeline, which would tap the carbon-intensive oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The Senate voted 50-49 on the measure, which required 60 votes in order to pass.

“Only in the halls of Congress is this a controversial piece of legislation,” Schatz said.

The chairman of the environment committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is an enthusiastic denier of climate change, saying it is the “biggest hoax” perpetrated against mankind.

“The hoax is there are some people so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change the climate,” Inhofe said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “Man can’t change the climate.”

The Senate, with Inhofe’s support, did pass a separate measure saying that climate change is real — just not that human activity is a cause. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., was the only senator to vote against it.


Study: Small farmers produce 80% percent of the world’s food, and the do it with less than 25% of the world’s farmland

The share of farmland tended by small farmers is shrinking. The land is changing hands. Although small farms are more productive than large farms and tend to grow food products–they produce 80 percent of the world’s food–they are being swallowed up by large corporate farms that grow high-profit crops for export markets. The land left to the largely food-producing small farms is currently only 24 percent of fertile land, and that number is declining sharply.

“Over the past decades, small farmers have been losing access to land at an incredible speed,” Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN, told The Speaker. “If we don’t reverse this trend we will not only have more hungry farmers in the future, but the world as a whole will lose the capacity to feed itself.”
GRAIN investigated land use data worldwide to understand the global and specific trends currently taking place with regard to farmland.

“What became very clear from our research is that increasingly fertile farmland is being taken over by huge industrial operations that produce commodities for the global market, not food for people,” Hobbelink told us. “Small farmers, who continue to produce most of the food in the world, are being pushed into an ever diminishing share of the world’s farmland.

“This trend has to be reversed if we want to be able to feed a growing population,” he said.


Radical, Civilly Disobient, Solar Powered, Laundry Drying Apparatus

Scientists predict global warming will end Utah’s ski industry

The greatest snow on earth could be in danger, according to an environmental advocate and writer who spoke to students at Weber State University Tuesday about the effects climate change will have on snow and the ski industry.

By the end of the century, some scientists predict Utah will no longer be a skiing destination, because global warming will prevent snow from falling and in turn will affect the ski industry...



We Buy An Obscene Amount Of Clothes. Here's What It's Doing To Secondhand Stores.

We love getting new stuff. According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the U.S. generates around 25 billion pounds of brand-new textiles per year (around 85 percent of that eventually heads for landfills). Goodwill, Salvation Army and other secondhand stores get the remaining 15 percent, which certainly adds up.

One New York City Salvation Army store received about five tons per day in 2012. Last year, Salvation Army locations across the country took in 80 million pounds of clothing overall, according to Tim Raines, marketing manager for the organization. While stores aren't exactly complaining -- there are other avenues for excess textiles than resale stores, after all -- the sheer volume of discarded, yet still wearable, fashions illustrates the way we view clothing these days: totally disposable.



Graphene: A Next Generation Material

Graphene is pure carbon in the form of a very thin, nearly transparent sheet, one atom thick. It is remarkably strong for its very low weight (100 times stronger than steel) and it conducts heat and electricity with great efficiency. While scientists had theorized about graphene for decades, it was first produced in the lab in 2003. Because it is virtually two-dimensional, it interacts oddly with light and with other materials. Researchers have identified the bipolar transistor effect, ballistic transport of charges and large quantum oscillations.

Graphene research has expanded quickly since the substance was first isolated in 2004. Research was informed by theoretical descriptions of graphene's composition, structure and properties, which had all been calculated decades earlier. High-quality graphene also proved to be surprisingly easy to isolate, making more research possible. Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene".

The global market for graphene is reported to have reached $9 million by 2014 with most of these sales being concentrated in the semiconductor, electronics, battery energy and composites industries.


World's largest solar farm is up and running in California

The world's largest solar plant is up and running in California, with the completion of Topaz, a 550 megawatt plant; the Topaz solar project completed its final 40-megawatt (AC) phase, reported Greentech Media, making history not only as the first 500-megawatt plus solar farm to come on-line in the U.S. but also as the largest solar plant on-line in the world. Reports are talking about a plant with 9 million solar panels installed across 9.5 square miles...



Canada's process to protect endangered species is failing, study finds

The Canadian government may be shirking its legal responsibility to protect endangered plants and wildlife, a new study suggests.

Scientists found that 86 per cent of legally protected species in Canada either maintain the same level of risk or have deteriorated over time.

"What's at risk is biodiversity in Canada," says Dr. Brett Favaro, a research scientist with Memorial University's fisheries and marine institute, in an interview with Quirks & Quarks. "Extinction is forever ... If something goes extinct, this is millions of years of evolution that we're losing."...





"Perhaps we should never procure a new suit, however ragged or dirty the old, until we have so conducted, so enterprised or sailed in some way, that we feel like new men in the old, and that to retain it would be like keeping new wine in old bottles." --Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Returning Salmon and Black Friday Curbing Consumerism

Salmon return to UK rivers after conservation projects

Many rivers in the UK that were once famed for their salmon saw them disappear but now they are coming back as conservation projects prove to be a success...



Miracle Farms, a 5-acre commercial permaculture orchard in Southern Quebec, Canada


Renewable energy has overtaken nuclear to become Scotland's largest source of electricity

New data, published by the trade representative body Scottish Renewables on Thursday, shows that the renewables sector generated 10.3 terrawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in the first six months of 2013, compared to 7.8 TWh from nuclear power stations.

"This is a major milestone for Scotland as renewable energy has overtaken nuclear for the first time to become Scotland's largest source of electricity," MacKenzie said in a statement released Thursday...



Black Friday may actually help to curb overall annual consumption

Researchers claim the frenzy and excitement of the holiday season makes us all a little crazy. But that might not be a bad thing for our financial lives.

Now, this will sound a bit weird on the eve of Thanksgiving, but researcher Dan Ariely says, the holiday shopping season actually works overall to curb consumption.

But it's possible that if we didn't have this holiday season, the way shopping would work is we would buy a little bit more throughout the year, but it would accumulate to being more than what we shop for right now...



Louis CK on Evironmentalism and The Development of Human Civilization


A little extra humor



Unburying Streams and Saving Bees

Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels

For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas. That day appears to be dawning.

The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas. Utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the American Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant...



More from Grenoble: Europe's first ad-free city


In New Drainage Projects, Long-Buried Urban Streams See the Light Again

Innovative techniques that mimic nature help restore open waterways, prevent pollution, and create habitats for animals.

As in many places, one tributary of the Broad Branch stream had been forced underground around the turn of the century, through a program designed to rid Washington, D.C., of surface water. At the time, malaria was a major killer, and cities around the world were draining any kind of standing water or "swamp," out of both a fear of mosquito-borne disease and a desire to create more land for development.

Burying streams created other problems, though. When the little stream and its tributary in the Rock Creek area of northwest Washington were channeled into a buried pipe, they carried away not only the runoff from this leafy section of the city but also pollution, which would make its way to the beleaguered Chesapeake Bay. Other cities saw similar problems. What's more, paving and piping often make flooding worse.

That's why in recent years many cities have been undoing the past century's drainage projects, uncovering or "daylighting" buried streams...



Ontario to restrict use of pesticide linked to bee deaths

The Ontario government plans to restrict the use of a class of agricultural pesticides linked to the widespread declines in honeybees and other pollinators.

The move is opposed by the province’s chemical and agriculture industries, which say neonicotinoid pesticides are vital tools that growers of corn and soybeans use to protect their harvests from yield-destroying insects.

The pesticide, which renders plants toxic to pests, has been blamed for the deaths of honeybees and other beneficial insects that are responsible for pollinating one-third of the food we eat...



Polluting Industries Say Sky Is Falling as EPA Proposes Stronger Ozone Standards

These days we hear a lot about greenhouse gases—carbon and methane—and not so much about ozone. But that doesn’t mean that the smog-causing pollutant is no longer a problem. And this morning U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy announced new standards for reducing ozone in the atmosphere.
In an editorial We need tougher ozone standards, published in CNN Money, McCarthy said that the EPA will propose lowering the current air concentration of 75 parts per billion, set by the Bush administration but never enforced, to 65-70 parts per billion, and will take public comments on setting a standard as low as 60. She said that states will have until 2020-2037 to meet the new standards, depending on the level of each state’s ozone issues.



That looks pretty darn sustainable

Grenoble Bans Ads and Fake Coal Facebook Campaigns

French city Grenoble bans advertising in favour of trees

The French Alpine city of Grenoble has decided to pull its advertising panels and to replace them with trees. The city, which has a Green Party mayor, announced on Monday it would not renew its contract with France-based global advertising giant JCDecaux, whose panels are omnipresent in French urban areas.

Grenoble is the first European city to renounce the revenue from billboards in public spaces – Grenoble earned some 645,000 euros in 2014 – in favour of making the city a greener space for residents...



Capitalists are destroying capitalism along with the planet

“Forget everything you think you know about global warming. The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon — it’s about capitalism,” warns Naomi Klein in “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate.”

“The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.”

Capitalism has failed America? Yes. Global warming is the result of capitalism’s failure. And, Klein writes, “the market has not — and cannot — fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.”

Capitalism is the problem. And unless we “embrace radical change ourselves ... radical changes will be visited upon our physical world,” warns Klein, echoing this earlier warning from Pope Francis: “If we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us!"....



"I Haven't Made Any Trash In 2 Years. Here's What My Life Is Like"

My name is Lauren. I'm a 23-year-old girl living in NYC and I don't make trash. For real. No garbage bin, no landfill. Nada.

I know what you are thinking. This girl must be a total hippie. Or a liar. Or she's not real. But I assure you, I am none of those things. Well, except for real.

I didn't always live what some call a "zero waste" life.

But I started making a shift about three years ago, when I was an Environmental Studies major at NYU, protesting against big oil, and president of a club that hosted weekly talks on environmental topics. In my mind I was super environmental, or as my grandma called me, a real "treehugger." Everyone thought of me as the sustainability girl, so that meant that I was totally doing my share for the earth, right?




Big coal fakes social media campaign to pressure G20

With clean energy booming and the world increasingly acting to reduce carbon pollution, big coal is getting desperate.

The world’s largest coal company, Peabody Energy, has seen its fortunes crash in recent years. With the help global PR giant Burson-Marsteller—infamous for its handling of the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak in Bhopal and its strong historical tobacco industry ties—it is now scrambling to rebrand its dirty product as “good for humanity” with a new social media campaign.

Unfortunately for anyone who takes Peabody at its word, scratch the surface of this campaign and it is very clear that the overwhelming majority of its supporters appear to be bogus...



Canada's largest urban farm feeds the needy

Grow Calgary is an 11 acre farm run with 15 different kinds of veggies, run entirely by volunteers with all the food going to the food bank.

Grow Calgary Website





Convivial Degrowth and Fighting Sleep

Yes, the Obama administration's green loans are unprofitable. They should be.

Think about why the government makes loans to businesses in the first place. We already have banks and venture capitalists that will fund technologies that are likely to make a profit. The main reason to get the government involved is to fund moon-shot developments, to fund research into those technologies that aren't profitable — or at least not yet.

Historically, the US government has been pretty good at that. From nuclear energy to the internet to literally thousands of other discoveries, government science funding has been enormously productive and beneficial to both business and society. The Energy Department's loan program fits right in with that tradition. With climate change a major threat to civilization, clean energy technology needs to be developed as fast as possible. Thus, a loan program directed at long-shot green tech is an excellent idea. It's not going to solve climate change by itself, obviously, but it's still a solid plan...



Down With Sustainable Development! Long Live Convivial Degrowth!

The term sustainable development rapidly gained wide-scale acceptance, with the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development just one of the many (inter)governmental or top-down bodies that have set up in the past three decades to include environmental goals in planning and policy.

However, according to Federico Demaria, author and member of Research & Degrowth in Barcelona, the idea of sustainable development is based on a false consensus. Once this term and its underlying situations are properly deconstructed, Demaria tells IPS, “we discover that sustainable development is still all about development. And that is where the problem lies.”...



Sleep is the enemy of capital

Sleep is an uncompromising interruption of the theft of time from us by capitalism. Most of the the seemingly irreducible necessities of human life – hunger, thirst, sexual desire, and recently the need for friendship – have been remade into commodified or financialized forms.

Sleep poses the idea of a human need and interval of time that cannot be colonized and harnessed to a massive engine of profitability, and thus remains an incongruous anomaly and site of crisis in the global present. In spite of all the scientific research in this area, it frustrates and confounds strategies to exploit and reshape it. The stunning, inconceivable reality is that nothing of value can be extracted from it...



U.S. BMW plant supplies 50 percent of its energy using landfill gas

Since 2003, BMW has collected and compressed methane gas found in the nearby Palmetto Landfill. By converting “trash to treasure,” the gas turbines power almost 50 percent of energy needs at the plant.

The system, which features a 15-kilometer pipeline connected to the assembly plant, has reduced CO2 emissions by 92,000 tons per year and has saved the carmaker an estimated $5 million in energy costs per year...



Why Install Renewable Energy When Your People Can Sit Suffering & Unemployed?

Why would anyone want to make a switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy? Sure, that would help address global warming, but what other effects would it have?

For sure, a major effect is that your city and country would have less of that precious air fragrance known as pollution. For that matter, your water would also be lacking in that special something. That means fewer birth defects, fewer premature deaths, less cancer, less asthma, fewer heart attacks, and less overall suffering. Serious, who wants that!

The economy wouldn’t escape the wrath of renewable energy growth either. Since each dollar invested in renewable energy means more jobs than a dollar invested in fossil fuels, that means that the number of people who get to stay at home poor and stressed thanks to being unemployed would decrease...



A GREEN CITY, hopefully a glimpse of the future

Solar Parity and Lead Poisoning

Solar is approaching parity in several key markets

Data from renewables consultancy, Eclareon, shows that solar is becoming price competitive in many countries, but the target is a moving one
Eclareon has put out a number of reports on solar “grid parity” and “generation parity” this year. In the most recent one, Eclareon examined utility-scale “generation parity” potential in five countries – Chile, Italy, Mexico, Morocco and Turkey – as well as the US state of Texas...



How graywater could be a conservation method for the masses. (But isn't.)

Round Rock is far from unusual. Despite persistent drought across much of Texas, most cities do nothing to promote graywater reuse as a conservation method, letting billions of gallons of usable water go down the drain and on to expensive and energy-intensive sewage treatment plants. Even for committed conservationists and tinkerers, Texas government, which is not known for over-regulation, often stands in the way.

Every time you take a shower, use the bathroom sink or run a load of laundry, the resulting graywater—as distinct from “blackwater,” which has come into contact with human waste—could be diverted to water your lawn or irrigate a tree. A typical household produces 100 gallons of usable graywater per day, enough to replace 10 to 25 percent of potable water use on an average landscape, according to the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center.



 Okanagan Fruit Tree Project brings in more than 36,000 pounds of food from backyards

By the time Kelowna’s fruit-picking season ends this weekend, the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project will have harvested more than 36,000 pounds of fruit for more than 30 food banks, soup kitchens and social service agencies.

Even more amazing than the amount of fruit collected is that most of it would have dropped and rotted in backyards if not for the efforts of Casey Hamilton, a graduate student at the University of B.C. Okanagan. Hamilton founded the fruit tree project in 2012 and collected 5,000 pounds of fruit with the help of about 70 volunteers.

But she had barely scratched the surface.

The Okanagan is the most productive fruit-growing region in Canada, and what began as a committee of the Central Okanagan Food Policy Council quickly took on a life of its own. Hamilton organized 85 picks this season, in backyards and a handful of orchards, exceeding the project’s goal of 25,000 pounds of fruit by more than 10,000 pounds...



An Urban Farm Designed To Make One Thing: A Grilled Ham And Cheese Sandwich

In an Amsterdam experiment that pushes the limits of urban farming, a group of young artists explored what it takes to make a simple lunch truly from scratch. After buying pigs and cows, planting a field of wheat, waiting for nine months, and spending 35,000 euros, they finally got to eat.

The Sandwich Factory (De Tosti Fabriek) sowed a small field of wheat in central Amsterdam in February last year and then built a barn for two pigs and two cows (pairs, so as no animals would get lonely). For seven months, the group fed the animals and mucked out stables. By August, they were harvesting grain and grinding flour.

It was all in pursuit of a simple "tosti," a classic grilled sandwich that can be found in any Dutch bar or cafe...



'Little Things Matter' Exposes The Big Chemical Threat To Children's Brains

Tiny amounts of lead, chemical flame retardants and organophosphate pesticides, among other toxins, course through the blood of nearly every American. But just how much worry is a little poison worth?

A lot, especially when considering the cumulative effects of this chemical cocktail on children, warns a video unveiled Thursday during an environmental health conference in Ottawa, Canada. The seven-minute project, "Little Things Matter," draws on emerging scientific evidence that even mild exposures to common contaminants can derail normal brain development -- lowering IQs and raising risks of behavioral conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD...



On the topic of chemicals...



Digging Graves and Cord Cutting


Don't Rake Your Leaves, Scientists Say

The National Wildlife Federation is encouraging people to leave the leaves. On its website, the NWF says dry, dead leaves are important habitats for all kinds of critters.

Butterflies, salamanders, chipmunks, box turtles, toads, shrews, earthworms, and other creatures live, lay eggs in or eat from leaves, according to NWF's plea with the public to let the leaves stay where gravity left them...



Farming of the Future

Japanese technology giant Toshiba has unveiled a huge factory farm where it is growing various types of lettuce leaves without sunlight or soil for sale in its new healthcare business. Located in disused 21,000-square foot electronics factory in Yokosuka, Toshiba claims to have created a perfect ‘germ free’ environment where it will grow three million bags of lettuce a year.

Completely cut off from conditions outside the temperature and humidity controlled isolation tank, lettuce inspectors wear full body suits while making notes on the quality and growth of the leaves on their tablet computers in order to prevent the air around the plants becoming contaminated...




Growing Winter Crops

Based on how many unproductive patches of dirt you see in winter time (doing nothing but sitting and waiting for spring), it would seem most folks think you can't grow food during the winter. Well, guess what? You totally can; it's not even that difficult  (unless you live near the arctic circle). To enjoy fresh vegetables in December all it really takes is a little know how - and maybe the odd piece of construction...



Harkin On Keystone: Let's Stop 'Digging The Graves Of Our Grandchildren'

"Every dollar that we spend on fossil fuel development and use is another dollar we spent digging the graves of our grandchildren," the Iowa Democrat told reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday afternoon. "And I'm not going to be a part of it anymore. I'm through. That's just how strongly I feel."

"I know we can't solve it overnight, but we have to be on a steep glide-path in getting rid of fossil fuels as a source of energy," he said...



Cord cutting accelerates as 150,000 cancel TV service

Cord cutting is accelerating as more people in the U.S. turn to Internet services such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube to watch their favorite programs.

About 150,000 pay-TV customers canceled video service in the three months that ended June 30, according to estimates published on Friday by Leichtman Research Group. Pay-TV systems lost 25,000 subscribers during the same time period last year, Leichtman said.

Sony, satellite-TV provider Dish Network and other companies have announced plans to start pay-TV systems that transmit channels over-the-Internet and offer smaller, less-expensive bundles. Sony and Dish said their aim is the attract younger consumers who have so far never signed up for traditional cable TV service...



BIZARRO - by Dan Piraro


Gillette gets a less than optimal response on Facebook -

Reduce consumption. Keep It Simple.


Failed Pipelines and NFL Farmers


There’s growing evidence that global warming is driving crazy winters

Back in 2012, two researchers with a particular interest in the Arctic, Rutgers' Jennifer Francis and the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Stephen Vavrus, published a paper called "Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes." In it, they suggested that the fact that the Arctic is warming so rapidly is leading to an unexpected but profound effect on the weather where the vast majority of us live -- a change that, if their theory is correct, may have something to do with the extreme winter weather we've seen lately...



Worm Farming: How to Vermicompost

Composting using worms comes with a lot of benefits to soil health. Put those little guys to work.



Once a $37 million center, Jason Brown gave up NFL for farming

Brown played for the Baltimore Ravens and St. Louis Rams from 2005-11. In 2009, his five-year deal with the Rams for $37.5 million made him, at that time, the highest-paid center ever. He made more than $25 million from that contract and despite not even being 30 and having interest from other NFL teams after the Rams cut him, he gave up football. He wanted to get into farming....



Amazon Vows to Run on 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Apple made the pledge. So did Google and Facebook. But Amazon stayed silent.

Over the past few years, Apple, Google, and Facebook pledged to run their online empires on renewable energy, and considering how large these empires have become—how many data centers and machines are now required to keep them going—this was a vital thing. But despite pressure from the likes of Greenpeace, the environmental activism organization, the other big internet name, Amazon, didn’t budge.

That all changed on Wednesday. With a post on its website, Amazon’s cloud computing division—Amazon Web Services—said it has a “long-term commitment to achieve 100 percent renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint.”...



Keystone XL pipeline bill fails to pass US Senate by 1 vote

The US Senate failed to fast-track the Keystone XL pipeline project, falling one vote short of breaking a filibuster against the bill, which would have allowed the transport of crude oil from Canada's tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico.

The bill failed despite garnering 59 “Yes” votes to 41 “No” votes. All Republican senators voted “Yes,” and they were joined by 14 Democrats. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who co-sponsored the bill, needed one more vote to pass it but could not persuade another Democrat to go along...




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