As I have done in the previous blogs, I want to pass along several bits and pieces of environmental news culled from the pages of the monthly Sierra magazine. I will begin with the bad news first, because there is always some of that, and end with the news that provides a glimmer of hope for the planet.
Under the heading of “so what else is new” we find that 55 percent of the Republicans in Congress still deny climate change — and those people are all heavily supported by Big Oil. In the House, there are 128 climate deniers out of the 233 Republicans; in the Senate there are 30 climate deniers out of the 46 Republicans. Those deniers in the House collect $231,000 in contributions from Big Oil (as contrasted with $69,000 for the non-deniers). In the Senate, the deniers collect $699,000 whereas the non-deniers collect $171,000. I suppose we should be grateful that there are some who collect contributions from Big Oil who are willing to admit the truth that stares them in the face. But the correlation between the amount of money from Big Oil and the denial of the truth about our planet is stunning when seen in such detail.
To continue with the bad news for the moment, I shall simply list some of the items Sierra tells us will bring us “Up To Speed” about what’s going on in the world the past couple of months.
Ecuador has abandoned its pledge not to drill for oil in remote Yasuni National Park in the Amazon rain forest.
Fracking is now linked to an increase in U.S. earthquakes — as is geothermal power production.
High fertility rates in Africa have led demographers to revise their estimates of peak world population upwards. They now expect there to be 11 billion people by the end of the century — up from 7.1 billion. (I find this particularly unsettling since, as I have said in the past, I consider the population explosion the fundamental problem facing humankind, and the root of most of our other problems.)
Tons of radioactive water from Japan’s crippled Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant have leaked into the Pacific Ocean.
And now for some Good News!
The United States has installed 10 gigawatts of solar capacity, though it still trails Germany, Italy, and China.
The White House has re-installed solar panels put in place by Jimmy Carter and removed by Ronald Reagan.
The World Bank has declared that it will sharply restrict funding for the new coal-fired power plants in developing countries.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank has declined to fund a huge new coal plant in Vietnam on environmental grounds.
The Bureau of Land Management lease sale for 149 million tons of coal in the Powder River Basin failed to garner a single bid!
So, just when we are about to tear out what little hair we have left, we see faint signs that all humans have not lost their minds. Just remember what Red Green says: “we’re all in this together.” And “Keep your stick on the ice”!