Tara Lohan

Why America's Deadly Love Affair with Bottled Water Has to Stop

This spring, as California withered in its fourth year of drought and mandatory water restrictions were enacted for the first time in the state’s history, a news story broke revealing that Nestlé Waters North America was tapping springs in the San Bernardino National Forest in southern California using a permit that expired 27 years ago.

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The Big Reason Why America Is Turning to Renewable Energy

Deborah Lawrence had been watching a once-empty parking lot near Midland-Odessa, Texas, fill up with idled drilling rigs usually at work plumbing for oil in the nearby Permian Basin. In January she noticed 10 rigs, then 17 a few weeks later. As winter turned to spring, the number climbed to 35.

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How Solar Can Help Power Nepal’s Relief and Recovery Efforts

Many of Sandeep Giri’s coworkers still feel the ground beneath them shaking. They are scared to step inside their homes. And those are the lucky ones who still have homes.

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Is Solving Climate Change as Simple as Sucking Carbon Out of the Air?

It sounds almost too obvious. But we may be able to stave off some of the major effects of catastrophic climate change simply by sucking out of the air the vast amounts of carbon dioxide we’ve been spewing for decades. It’s not a new idea, but it’s one that has never been economical. Until now, perhaps.

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5 Most Toxic Energy Companies That Are Controlling Our Politics

Editor's note: This article was first published in November 2011. 

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Meet the Woman Who Has Taken Her Fight Against Fracking to the Ballot Box

A block from Rebecca Claassen’s home is a sliver of paradise. Mountains stoop nearly to the water’s edge. Lanky palm trees pitch gently in the breeze. Herons stand statue-still in the dunes. Rebecca has stolen a few moments with her daughter here at Carpinteria State Beach, 12 miles south of Santa Barbara.

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Meet One of the Most Interesting Candidates on the November Ballot

A black 1957 convertible Jaguar cruises up the California coast on Highway 1, hugging the sea. Ocean lathers the rocks. The car heads north between Big Sur and Carmel with the top down and the radio on. The handsome driver, wind in his hair, is Clint Eastwood.

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5 Shocking Places Where Fracking Is Taking Off

By now, many people have heard about the booming Bakken Shale in North Dakota where there is a mad rush for oil, enabled by the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a practice that pumps millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand underground to break rock and release hydrocarbons.

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Why Fracking Is the Cause of a Growing Number of Road Fatalities

Lighting your tap water on fire might be the most highly publicized effect of living near fracking operations, but methane migration that causes such explosive problems is sadly just one small issue. Last summer I visited fracking-impacted communities across the country, including California, Colorado, Wyoming, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. One of the most pervasive problems people shared was the dangers posed by increased truck traffic—just getting to the grocery store, for some, was becoming a terrifying experience.

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How Fracking Is Exposing People to Radioactive Waste

There isn’t a lot of good news about fracking lately. Another train with volatile fracked crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale exploded in Lynchburg, Virginia igniting a ball of fire on the surface of the James River. Accidents involving these “bomb trains” are becoming commonplace. So are recent studies indicating serious health risks  from fracking and reports linking fracking to earthquakes.

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We're Constantly Bathed in Artificial Light -- Is it Wreaking Havoc on Our Health?

If you live in the developed world, darkness can be hard to find. Our plugged-in, 24-7 lifestyles deliver a barrage of not just technology, but also light. All the time. And this may have negative health consequences that scientists are only just beginning to understand.

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King Coal Is Dying a Slow Death in America

You’ve seen the photos or read the stories. In some of China’s cities you can’t even see the sun. People walk down the streets wearing surgical masks. Tourists pose for photos in front of fake landmarks since the real ones are obscured. China’s economic salvation might end up its undoing... and ours. The country’s prosperity is clouded in a thick haze of smog belched from coal-burning power plants. 

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California Gov. Jerry Brown Faces Protests Over Fracking as Epic Drought Looms

California Gov. Jerry Brown is having a hard time maintaining his green image. Like President Obama, Brown has stumped about the dangers of climate change and the need to take action. But Brown’s message runs afoul of his own actions to open California to more oil and gas drilling enabled by hydraulic fracturing and other extreme extraction methods.

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Fantasizing About California, or Already Here: 5 Shocking Drought Facts to Make You Rethink the Golden State

There are likely a lot of East Coasters wishing they lived in sunny, dry (and comparatively warm) California right now. But Californians know their weather is anything but a blessing these days with a drought that’s being called “unprecedented.”

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Obama's Weak Enviro Agenda Is Suicide for Humanity -- Here's the Stark Future We Face

Are there any self-respecting environmental organizations out there that are still behind President Obama? After his State of the Union on Tuesday it's hard to imagine there could be. In his address, Obama proudly declared, "The 'all the above' energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades." 

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5 Reasons the West Virginia Chemical Spill Should Concern You, Regardless of Where You Live

Most of us in the U.S. are lucky enough to have clean water come out of our taps every day; so lucky that we often don’t think about where our water is coming from and who's in charge of making sure it’s safe.

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The 4 Big Dangers of Fracking

By now you’ve likely heard that the U.S. is expected to overtake Russia this year as the world’s biggest producer of oil and gas. The surge in production comes from a drilling boom enabled by using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, along with, in many places, horizontal drilling. These technologies have made previously inaccessible pockets of oil and gas in shale formations profitable.

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10 Companies Vying for 2013 Corporate Hall of Shame: What’s Your Pick for the Worst Offender?

Monsanto is a tough act to follow. When it comes to despised companies, it's set the bar pretty high. Last year the company claimed the top prize in Corporate Accountability International’s Corporate Hall of Shame. That may have had something to do with Monsanto evangelizing toxic chemicals, bullying small farmers and steamrolling GMO right-to-know legislation.

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The 10 Biggest Polluters of the Industrial Age

An article published by Richard Heede in the journal Climatic Change tracks the biggest polluters of the industrial age. Heede’s research looked at CO2 and methane emissions from 1854 to 2010 and found the biggest polluters were 90 corporate and state-owned companies that produce fossil fuels and cement.

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6 Ways to Spark the Clean Energy Revolution

This week Filipino diplomat Yeb Sano moved an international delegation to a standing ovation and many to tears as he issued an emotional plea to world leaders to take meaningful action on climate change as his country dug itself out of the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan. Since so little has been accomplished through international climate talks over the last decade, it’s easy to dismiss that avenue as a lost cause.

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Holy Moly: Did the Pope Just Come Out Against Fracking?

Not to be outdone by folk rocker Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls who recently said, “Fracking is a huge, huge problem,” Pope Francis seems to be joining a growing global anti-fracking movement.

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Do We Have All the Renewable Energy We Need to Power the World?

The environment is one bad news story after another. The Pacific Ocean is warming at a rate faster than anything seen in the last 10,000 years and we may have the warmest Arctic in the last 120,000 years. We’re told to brace for more and worse droughts, floods, heat waves, and storms. Coastal communities may disappear from rising seas, entire island nations are going under. If that all weren’t bad enough, there is a global wine shortage.

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Keystone XL Fails the Climate Test -- See the Proof for Yourself

The Obama Administration can pass the buck or blame Congress for innumerable failures to not act to protect the environment. But when it comes to the ever-important Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, it’s in Obama’s hands entirely. For years now, concerned individuals have pushed Obama to deny the KXL permit. The issue of a spill is not an if, it’s a when. And the extraction, processing, transporting, and burning of tar sands will be a climate nightmare. 

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Think a New Economy Is Possible? Meet the Man Already Making it Happen

Standing in front of a crowd of hundreds at Oakland, California’s Grand Lake Theater, Rob Hopkins shows a picture of a butcher shop in a small town in Northern Ireland. A row of hams hang in the window, the door is cracked open, welcoming, a passerby walks his dog. Just another example of a successful small town business, vital for the local economy. Right? Except, Hopkins explains what you can’t immediately see when you glance at the image. The store is real, but the window display is a fake—it’s simply photoshopped posters plastered over the glass. The local business has gone under, the shop is gutted, but those organizing the last G8 meeting of the world’s most powerful countries that met in Northern Ireland don’t want to be reminded of this and they sure don't want the media to see it. So the truth has been glossed over, obscured. 

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How Factory Farms May Be Killing Us

What would our healthcare system look like if we couldn’t perform surgeries, administer chemotherapy, replace joints, treat diabetes? It would be the end of modern medicine as we know it. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control warns we could be headed toward that very future. 

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5 Things You Should Know About Colorado's '1,000 Year Flood' (with Jaw-Dropping Photos)

Colorado’s Front Range has been ravaged by heavy rain and flooding since last week, with 15 counties now impacted: Boulder, El Paso, Larimer, Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Fremont, Jefferson, Logan, Morgan, Pueblo, Washington, and Weld counties. Updates on the number of fatalities and missing is being updated but the latest reports are eight dead. More than 11,000 people have been evacuated and many thousands more are waiting for help.

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Extreme Energy Extraction Roadtrip - The Scary Ways We're Ruining the Country to Get Fossil Fuels

The view from a Cessna reveals some dirty secrets. Flying at 2,000 feet above the forests of Appalachia I can see what the steep, tree-fringed roads fail to show: unnatural flat tops, seams of coal exposed like black-topped runways, impoundments of foul water perched above homes and schools. A naked honesty is revealed. This is what we have done, what we continue to do. We deface the mountains, denature ecosystems.

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Take a Frightening Tour Down America's 'Climate Change Highway' [with Slideshow]

Editor's Note: View a slideshow at the end.

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Are We Trading Our Health For Oil in New, Fracking-Induced California Gold Rush? [With Slideshow]

Editor's Note: This article was produced as a project for the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, a program of USC's Annenberg School for Communcation & Journalism. View the slideshow at the end.

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Boomtown USA: 10 Photos from the Oilfields of North Dakota's Bakken Shale

Editor’s Note: Tara Lohan is traveling across North America documenting communities impacted by energy development for a new AlterNet project, Hitting Home. Follow the trip on Facebook. All photos below by Tara Lohan/Meghan Nesbit.

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