Mike Gaworecki

How Tropical Deforestation Is Driving the Rise of Infectious Diseases

There’s already ample evidence of the ways environmental degradation can contribute to the spread of infectious diseases, and now a recent study provides an example of how the disruptions to an ecosystem caused by deforestation and other land-use change can help spread a bacterial pathogen.

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Is Your Retirement Fund Contributing to Deforestation and Climate Change?

Even as a new administration hostile to efforts to combat global warming is poised to take over the White House, climate activists in the U.S. are continuing to push for action in myriad and sometimes even unexpected ways. For instance, you may not realize that saving for your golden years could have an impact on the global climate, but a movement is currently underway to make the retirement funds relied on by millions of Americans free of any connection to deforestation and associated carbon emissions due to investments in palm oil producers.

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U.S. Gov't Pressured Cameroon to Approve Destructive Oil Palm Development for Agribusiness Land Grab, Documents Reveal

Cables obtained by the non-profit Oakland Institute through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that U.S. government officials pushed the Central African nation of Cameroon to approve a deeply controversial oil palm development owned by Herakles Farms despite full knowledge of the project’s negative impacts on the environment and local communities.

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Presidential Hopefuls Who Deny Climate Science Can Forget About Winning the Latino Vote

Presidential hopefuls looking to win the Latino vote know they need to take a thoughtful approach to immigration policy, but it turns out it’s just as important that they support efforts to protect the environment and combat climate change.

According to a new poll, 90 percent of Latinos are in favor of strengthening the Clean Water Act, 85 percent want reduced smog and air pollution and 78 percent want more clean energy. Meanwhile, some 80 percent of Latinos say it’s important for the President and Congress to address immigration reform.

Pollsters also found that Latinos are far ahead of other Americans in terms of awareness of the science of global warming, which is bad news for any candidate denying climate science while looking to win over Latino voters.

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How Oil Trains Drive Environmental Racism

People of color and low-income communities are bearing a disproportionate burden of risk from dangerous oil trains rolling through California, according to a new report by ForestEthics and Communities for a Better Environment.

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California Finds Several Negative Impacts of Fracking, Approves Offshore Frack Jobs Anyway

California regulators released a final environmental review yesterday that found fracking has “significant and unavoidable impacts” — less than a week after they approved nine new offshore frack jobs.

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Fracking Flowback From California Oil Wells Contains High Levels Of Carcinogenic Chemicals

Adding to the already lengthy list of reasons to be concerned about the disposal of oil industry wastewater in California, the Center for Biological Diversity says it has found dangerous levels of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals such as benzene and toluene in fracking flowback.

Flowback is a fluid that floats up to the surface of fracked wells that contains clays, dissolved metal ions and total dissolved solids (such as salt) in addition to chemical additives used in the fracking process.

As such, flowback is a component of oil industry wastewater, and one of the chief reasons why the wastewater must be disposed of in a very cautious manner.

In California, where the toxic and cancer-causing chemicals were found to be present in flowback by the CBD, oil industry wastewater is not, unfortunately, disposed of in a cautious manner.

The most common wastewater disposal method is to inject it underground. It was recently revealed that California regulators have allowed hundreds of injection wells to pump wastewater into aquifers protected under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Regulators also permitted thousands more wells to inject fluids from “enhanced oil recovery” techniques like acidization and cyclic steam injection into protected aquifers.

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Free Trade Deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership Are Bad News For Climate Change

President Barack Obama could not have signaled more clearly in his 2015 State of the Union address that he intends to fight for his legacy on climate change in the face of a hostile, anti-science GOP-led House and Senate.

But it was what the President didn’t mention that could negate his climate legacy: free trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership that undermine local efforts to lower emissions, projects like Keystone XL that lock us into decades of continued dirty energy use, and the exporting of American-made coal, crude oil and natural gas to overseas markets.

Which is not to say that every policy position Obama laid out regarding energy and the environment entirely matched his lofty rhetoric about climate change.

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5 Top Clean Energy Stories of 2014

The steady march of renewable energy, primarily wind and solar, toward mainstream usage continued apace in 2014.

Here are the top 5 clean energy revolution stories of the year:

1. Solar And Wind Continued To Surge In The U.S. In November 2014, nearly three-fourths (71.82%) of the 873 megawatts (MW) of new electricity generation capacity installed in theU.S. was powered by wind and solar, according to data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Clean energy installations kept up at a furious pace this year, with renewable sources providing the majority of newly installed electricity generation capacity in nine of the past 11 months.

The Obama Administration has made renewable energy targets a key aspect of the emissions reductions it hopes to achieve with the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, but those targets have been criticized as not nearly ambitious enough. Many states like California, Colorado and Hawaii, have already set their own goals that meet or beat those proposed in the EPA's plan. Local governments in cities like Austin, TX and Burlington, VT are committing to strong clean energy policies, as well.

Perhaps they're inspired by the example set by countries like Scotland, which has shown that it is possible to generate more than enough electricity to meet all household needs via renewable sources.

Renewable energy (including water, wind, solar and geothermal sources) now accounts for more than 15% of total installed generating capacity in the U.S.

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What Americans Don't Know About Climate Change Can Be Very Bad For Their Health

When it comes to the health impacts of global warming, Americans are woefully uninformed.

In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, only about one in four can even name a health problem associated with global warming that their fellow Americans might be suffering from.

Only 14% of Americans are aware of one of the most obvious health impacts of all the global warming pollution that has been dumped into our atmosphere: respiratory problems like asthma and other lung diseases. A mere 6% make the connection between illness, injury, and death resulting from extreme weather events and climate change.

Less than 5% of Americans could name any of the other consequences to human health from global warming.

Perhaps that’s no surprise, given that the survey also found 70% of Americans have given “little or no thought” to how global warming could affect human health in the first place.

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