WilderUtopia.com regularly posts links to articles, photo essays, features, and documentaries from around the web that illuminate the challenges to coexistence between city and wild, developed and developing, human and other.
Dr. James Hansen wrote: “The environmental impacts of tar sands development include: irreversible effects on biodiversity and the natural environment, reduced water quality, destruction of fragile pristine Boreal forest and associated wetlands, aquatic and watershed mismanagement, habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, disruption to life cycles of endemic wildlife particularly bird and caribou migration, fish deformities and negative impacts on the human health in downstream communities.
“Now I will demonstrate why we should never burn tar sands oil…” READ MORE…
Demonstrators, including Canadian activist Naomi Klein (fouth from left), hold up signs in front of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 2, 2011, to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline project in the US, and the Tar Sands Development in Alberta Canada. (Luis Alvarez/AP)
WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department says TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline poses no major risks to the environment and will not spur further oilsands production in Alberta, moving the controversial project one step further to a final decision by the Obama administration.
The State Dept. report was not a surprise to the American environmental movement, for whom opposition to the pipeline has become a passionate rallying cry in the aftermath of failed climate change legislation last year. (Photo: Ben Powless for Tar Sands Action/CC BY)
Insisting repeatedly that its long-awaited assessment was “not a rubberstamp,” the department’s Kerri-Ann Jones said Friday there’s no evidence the pipeline will significantly impact the six U.S. states in its path as it carries crude from northern Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas. READ MORE…
Details are still sketchy on exactly how an oil pipeline buried under the Yellowstone River in Montana ruptured and spilled at least 42,000 gallons of oil, but indications so far point to river flooding as a likely contributing factor, revealing a largely unaddressed climate-related risk to energy infrastructure.
A rupture in the planned Keystone XL pipeline could release up to 6.9m US gallons into the very same Yellowstone river, a nightmare scenario far outstripping the present spill, a new report warns.
The river level, running well above flood stage, may have scoured the riverbed and exposed a pipeline, operated by Exxon Mobil Corp., that was supposed to be buried more than five feet out of harm’s way. Once it was exposed, any debris carried along by the river could have struck the pipeline and caused the leak. The immediate question arises of how likely such an event may be at the thousands of other pipeline river crossings around the country. And with climate change likely playing a role in changes to extreme weather events like those that have caused flooding through the first half of 2011, some experts say a warming climate could be putting pipelines at higher risk for more accidents like this one. READ MORE…
In the Arctic, melting sea ice during recent summers has allowed a passage to open up from the Pacific ocean into the North Atlantic, allowing plankton, fish and even whales to into the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific.
The discovery has sparked fears delicate marine food webs could be unbalanced and lead to some species becoming extinct as competition for food between the native species and the invaders stretches resources.
Warming ocean waters are causing the largest movement of marine species seen on Earth in more than two million years, according to scientists. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias, file)
Rising ocean temperatures are also allowing species normally found in warmer sub-tropical regions to into the northeast Atlantic. READ MORE…
Hot Particles From Japan to Seattle Virtually Undetectable when Inhaled or Swallowed
A TEPCO recalculation shows a dramatic increase in the release of hot particles, though original estimates of xenon and krypton releases remain the same. This confirms the results of air filter monitoring by independent scientists.Fairewind’s Arnie Gunderson says that people in Fukushima are breathing in 10 hot particles per day which only decreased to 5 per day in Seattle. These can lodge in lungs, digestive tract or bones and over time can cause cancers. They are too small to be detected on a large radiation detector. READ MORE AND SEE THE VIDEO…
The largest wildfire in Arizona history engulfing several deserted towns, forcing thousands of people to flee and leaving 600 square miles (1,550 square km) of pine forest blackened. NASA images show smoke billowing across the Southwest all the way toward the easern seaboard.
Motown faces up to a smaller future.
Efforts underway to fix the Motor City, including a new light rail and “right-sizing”; A new land bank could make use of some of the 42,300 city-owned parcels of land, spurring job development, green space, and urban agriculture. A city without a single national grocery chain has more than 600 community gardens, so why not turn a food desert into an example of food self-sufficiency? Rather than being a cautionary tale of hubris and decay, Detroit could shed the carapace of its history and be a model of sustainability and progress for other postindustrial cities.” READ MORE…
Japan’s Nuclear disaster should serve as a wake-up call for the United States.
Now that many Americans have stopped paying attention to Japan’s nuclear catastrophe, shocking new details about its severity are finally coming to light. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently revealed that the cores of three of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station’s reactors started to melt within hours after the loss of offsite power, right after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Tokyo Electric Power, which owns the wrecked reactors, has announced that the accident probably released more radioactivity into the environment than the Chernobyl debacle. That would make it the worst nuclear accident on record. Meanwhile, a nuclear waste advisor to the Japanese government reported that about 373 square miles near the power station — an area roughly 17 times the size of Manhattan — may now be uninhabitable.
The Fukushima accident should be a wakeup call for the United States to address the hazards posed by our own dangerous spent fuel pools at nuclear reactors. They are a time bomb. READ MORE…
By Damien Cave
Two architects, Delfín Montañana and Elías Cattan, submit a visionary plan to Mexico City planners that includes bringing the Río Piedad back to life and revitalizing the city with green public spaces along its waters. Damien Cave reports for the New York Times.
Their proposal would “restore at least three rivers, replacing busy roads with a ring of water and parks around the city center. A few lanes for cars would be allowed on the outer edges, but walking, bicycling and mass transit would take precedence. There would be fish and birds living in the river, and driving across to the urban core would mean paying a congestion tax. READ MORE…
|AP / Lori Mehmen|
|Global climate change has made for freak storms and more intense weather. Here, a tornado touches down in Iowa in 2008.|
Michael Scott Moore: California’s High-Speed Railway Won’t Go Nowhere – Germany’s system started in the provinces and now is fast and efficient, criss-crossing the nation,” Miller-McCune.com, May 25, 2011.
Reactor 4 is leaning and might collapse…from RT interview with Robert Jacobs
In a stellar op-ed in the May 1st edition of the New York Times, renowned pediatrician and anti-nuclear activist, Dr. Helen Caldicott, calls on doctors to act against nuclear power. As she writes: “There’s no group better prepared than doctors to stand up to the physicists of the nuclear industry.” The article concludes: “Physicists had the knowledge to begin the nuclear age. Physicians have the knowledge, credibility and legitimacy to end it.” Read the full article. Dr. Caldicott is the founding president of Beyond Nuclear and currently heads the Helen Caldicott Foundation for a Nuclear-Free Planet.
Chris Busby on Russia Today – “Can’t Seal Fukushima Like Chernobyl, it all goes into the sea…”
Every year, the Wixarika (Huichol) indigenous people of central west México walk 500 km to the sacred land of Wirikuta, where according to legend, the sun was born. Here, they collect jíkuri (peyote), carry out rituals of purification and come into communion with their gods, who give them blessings and guidance. In this way, they conserve their culture, maintain harmony with nature, and uphold a thousand-year-old tradition.
After Reactor No. 4 blew up at Chernobyl power station on April 26, 1986, the resulting disaster took two years and 650,000 people to clean up. Except it will never really be cleaned up. Nuclear fallout and waste can be moved and sequestered, but not deactivated. Even today the meltdown at Chernobyl leaks radiation through cracks in the vast “sarcophagus” of steel and concrete that was intended to seal it. The whole area around it is still deeply, if unevenly, contaminated.
Video from Ace Hoffman on San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station:
Los Angeles Times: “San Onofre Wave Plan Churns Up Worry,”, March 30, 2011.
Firm wants to put thousands of hydrokinetic electricity generators in the surf off San Onofre, San Diego County, California.
Consider Japan’s dependence on nuclear energy. No other country in the world has had a direct experience of nuclear attack. And few other countries sit atop such seismically active tectonic plates. Yet, even as earthquakes repeatedly struck the island and hundreds of thousands of hibakusha struggled with the after-effects of radiation exposure from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, Japan embarked on a massive nuclear energy program. It built 54 nuclear reactors, which generated nearly 30 percent of its electricity needs. The government planned to increase the share provided by nuclear energy to 40 percent by 2017 and 50 percent by 2030.
The unleashed isotopes of concern from the damaged Japanese reactors – Iodine-131, Cesium-137, Strontium-90 and Plutonium-239 – are well known to the Marshall Islanders living downwind of the testing sites at Bikini and Enewetak atolls in the central Pacific, following sixty-seven A- and H-bombs exploded between 1946-58. In fact, it is precisely these isotopes that continue to haunt the 80,000 Marshallese fifty-three years after the last thermonuclear test in the megaton range shook their pristine coral atolls and contaminated their fragile marine ecosystems.
The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.
Former Secretary of State George Shultz and San Francisco hedge fund manager Thomas Steyer are resurrecting the successful alliance between clean-tech businesses and environmental groups that defeated Proposition 23 last November. The new non-partisan group, calling itself “Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs,” will support the rollout of new regulations under the state’s ambitious global warming law, which survived the initiative that would have delayed its implementation.
A bill is currently moving through the Legislature to require a third of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources. Brown has placed a new emphasis on rooftop solar arrays, saying that 12,000 of 20,000 new megawatts of renewable energy could come from such locally generated sources.