Clean | Green | Sustainable

Archive for the ‘Unsustainable’ Category

Hundreds arrested in sustained White House tar sands pipeline protests

Posted by Matthew Koehler on September 1, 2011

David Dougherty with The Real News takes a very good in-depth look at the continuing White House protests and the environmental and social issues surrounding the Alberta Tar Sands and the Keystone XL pipeline. Protesters are demanding that President Obama use his veto power to halt proposed expansion of Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Canada, through Montana and the Great Plains, and then down to refineries in Texas along the Gulf of Mexico.

Also, I just ran across this new report (download pdf) from Oil Change International called Exporting Energy Security: Keystone XL Exposed.

Posted in Climate Change, Economy, Energy, Green jobs, Obama Administration, Unsustainable | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hillary Clinton’s State Department Oil Services and Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

Posted by Matthew Koehler on September 1, 2011

Produced by Mark Fiore, this short animation is a not-so-far-fetched parody of Hillary Clinton’s State Department Oil Services and the influence of oil industry lobbyists on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline permit decision. For more information, visit http://www.desmogblog.com/tarsands.

Posted in Climate Change, Energy, Forests, Obama Administration, Unsustainable | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Activists protest tar sands, Keystone Pipeline and megaloads at MT Capital

Posted by Matthew Koehler on July 12, 2011

According to the Great Falls Tribune:

“More than 100 environmental activists from across the country descended on Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s office Tuesday to demand that he rescind his support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline and the Exxon Mobile megaload transportation project.

Schweitzer met with the rowdy group of activists in the reception room of his office, but refused to meet their demands. Activists from Northen Rockies Rising Tide, Earth!First and other environmental groups said last week’s rupture of an Exxon Mobile pipeline that fouled dozens of miles of the Yellowstone River downstream of Laurel is a prime example of why Schweitzer should “toss big oil out of Montana.”

Great Falls Tribune reporter John S. Adams is on scene and, according to his Montana Lowdown blog, will “have more on this as the day goes on, including photos and video from today’s protest in Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s office.”

On Monday, Adams took a deeper look into the issue with his post, “Schweitzer still supports oil sands/Keystone XL despite tough talk on Yellowstone oil spill.”

Posted in Climate Change, Coal, Energy, Unsustainable | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

HuffPost: Senators Back Delay In Crackdown On Fees That Yield Billions For Banks

Posted by Matthew Koehler on March 16, 2011

As reported by Zack Carter of the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, a group of nine senators led by Montana Democrat Jon Tester put their names behind legislation to delay the Federal Reserve’s upcoming crackdown on the “swipe fees” that banks charge merchants for processing debit card transactions — a huge moneymaker for the banking industry whose continuation is at the top of the industry’s lobbying wishlist.

Retailers complain that the costs of high swipe fees, also known as “interchange” fees, hurt their business and are ultimately passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices. A provision in last year’s financial-regulatory overhaul requires the Fed to limit such fees, and in December, the central bank proposed a rule that would cap the levies at 12 cents per transaction, a nearly 73 percent drop from the current average of 44 cents per transaction.

Merchants and financial reform advocates celebrated the move, but the banks are obviously loath to give up such a big piece of any revenue stream, let alone the swipe fees that industry analysts at The Nilson Report estimate yield $1.35 billion every month, or $16.2 billion per year. (Half of that total, according to Nilson, goes to just 10 banks.)

Tester’s bill, the Debit Interchange Fee Study Act, would postpone the regulation for two years’ worth of further evaluation — and chances for the bank lobby to erase it entirely….And while Tester and Corker were issuing their statements, the American Bankers Association was holding a meeting on lobbying at the D.C. Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Chinatown. At the meeting, which HuffPost attended, the banking group’s COO, Michael Hunter, coached a packed ballroom of community bankers on ways to convince key lawmakers and staffers to support the bill. The Senate bill and its House companion, Hunter said, were the ABA’s top legislative priorities for the coming year.

Posted in Economy, Unsustainable, US Congress | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Is the essential being destroyed to produce the superfluous?

Posted by Matthew Koehler on March 4, 2011

That’s the central question asked in a new film Forests by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, who was appointed by the United Nations to produce the official film for the International Year of Forests.

Following the success of Home, which was seen by 400 million people, Arthus-Bertrand began producing a short 7-minute film on forests made up of aerial images from Home and the Vu du Ciel television programmes.

“Over the past 60 years we have inflicted more rapid degradation on the planet than in all of human history. When forests are cleared it is not just animals that are in danger. Is the essential being destroyed to produce the superfluous?”

I’m certainly nothing more than a causal film viewer; however, some of the footage in Forests, where Arthus-Bertrand takes us into the canopy of forests around the world, is just mind-boggling and appears three-dimensional. Enjoy all this green on another gray Montana day!

Posted in Climate Change, Economy, Forests, Sustainable Solutions, Unsustainable | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Opinion: Wilderness and Overpopulation

Posted by Matthew Koehler on March 3, 2011

(The following essay was written by Howie Wolke, a Montana-based wilderness guide/outfitter and long-time advocate for wilderness and other wild habitats. Wolke is the author of two books, “Wilderness on the Rocks” and “The Big Outside,” which he co-authored with Dave Foreman. This essay originally appeared on the blog of Wilderness Watch – mk.)

Nobody knows how many species inhabit this lovely green planet, but estimates range from 10 to 30 million. Yet just one of these species, Homo sapiens, now consumes or otherwise utilizes over half of the plant biomass produced each year on Earth, funneling it into an ever-expanding human population plus related support structures and activities.

Nearly 7 billion humans are creating the greatest mass extinction event since the late Cretaceous Era, when an asteroid crashed into the Earth. As the Earth’s human population grows at the rate of about 76 million additional humans per year, we alter the Earth’s climate, deplete its fisheries, pollute its atmosphere, oceans, rivers and soils, and continually carve civilization into its remaining wild habitats. Overpopulation is at the root of nearly all of our problems, yet few work to tame this beast. That includes the U.S. government, which has no population policy.

Here in the United States, we are slowly increasing automotive fuel economy and building better energy efficiency into new structures. Renewable energy industries are growing. Yet in 2010, we spewed out more carbon and methane than ever before. Why? It’s simple. The technological gains are being overwhelmed by population growth (over 300 million and increasing).

Historically, as humanity grows and spreads, true wilderness has been the first thing to go. Forest are cut, soils plowed, prairies and deserts fenced and over-grazed, rivers dammed, and various habitats are dug up and drilled for oil, gas, coal and metals. Also, millions of miles of roads and highways dissect the landscape. And of course, cities and suburbs sprawl across the planet, gobbling up habitat like a hungry teen-ager gobbles up lunch.

In the U.S. south of Alaska, about 9% of our total land area remains in a wild or semi-wild condition; that is, it’s roadless and more or less natural in chunks of 5,000 acres or larger. About 2.5% of the landscape is protected as designated Wilderness. Yet even as the National Wilderness Preservation System grows, the overall amount of wild country shrinks, as unprotected wildlands in the United States and around the globe succumb to the ever-expanding human hoard.

Population growth also lowers our expectations for wild places. As humans experience increasingly crowded and unnatural living conditions, they settle for “wilderness” that’s decreasingly wild. As wilderness becomes less wild, so does the human soul. Daniel Boone probably wouldn’t consider much of today’s wilderness to be very wild. Nor, I suspect, would Teddy Roosevelt. Nowadays, even tiny chunks of degraded wildland – for example, over-grazed areas infested with exotics – are viewed by many as “wilderness”.

In the past, I have referred to this phenomenon of decreasing expectations as “Landscape Amnesia.” As ensuing generations experience less wildness and increasingly unnatural landscapes, they begin to collectively forget what real wilderness and healthy habitats are. So we settle for wilderness that’s less wild than ever before. Designated Wilderness becomes less wild and more impacted by the expanding population’s increasing pressures and demands. It is the inevitable result of population growth.

If you read Wilderness Watcher or the Guardian, you know that overcrowding, overgrazing, motor vehicle incursions, illegal water and other construction projects, predator control, pollution and various attempts to manipulate natural processes plague designated Wilderness, and they increase as population grows.

Obstacles to halting and reversing population growth are formidable. For one thing, the momentum of population growth IS the history of our species, so concurrently we tame, subdue and subjugate wild nature partly because we know no other way.

Many on the political left view jobs and social issues as more important than the environment; they miss the numerous connections to overpopulation. And they oppose the tough immigration policies that could halt continued growth (in the U.S. today, population growth is mostly a function of immigration) in the United States. Meanwhile, the political right worships at big industry’s altar of growth at all cost. In addition, religious fundamentalists of nearly every ilk believe that it is their duty to overwhelm all others with their progeny.

And the environmental movement, at least here in the U.S., remains oddly silent on overpopulation.

The solutions to overpopulation are no secret. Economic policies based upon stability, not perpetual growth, are essential. Better health care and education plus political and economic empowerment of women – especially in poorer countries – are equally important. Family planning services must be integral, safe, and available to all, everywhere. Also, men must assume greater responsibility for their obvious role in population growth. In the United States, immigration must be brought under control. We also need to create tax and other economic incentives for smaller families. But none of this will happen if overpopulation continues to elude the discussion.

Until overpopulation is recognized, the United States and many other nations will continue to fail to develop and implement population policies, and humans will continue to obliterate not just wilderness, but most remaining natural ecosystems on Earth. Oh well, it’s obvious that humans can endure in horribly over-crowded, polluted, denuded and impoverished squalor. That’s proven each day in many corners of the world. The flip side of that problem is that so many other forms of life cannot.

Posted in Unsustainable, Wilderness | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

New poll shows western voters support environmental protections

Posted by Matthew Koehler on February 24, 2011

A new bi-partisan poll of inter-mountain West voters shows that a strong majority (77%) believe that environmental standards and a strong economy can coexist. The findings, from the first-ever Conservation in the West Survey, reveal differences and many points of agreement among voters on issues such as conservation, regulations, renewable energy and other environmental issues.

The poll, conducted by Lori Weigel at Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm) and Dave Metz at Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a Democratic firm), measured environmental attitudes of 2,200 voters in the five Western states January 23-27, 2011. The survey is being released by the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project, which, for the past eight years, has worked to increase public understanding of vital issues affecting the Rockies through annual report cards, free events, discussions and other activities.

“This research underscores an interesting and important trend in these five states,” said Walt Hecox, Ph.D., professor at Colorado College and director of the State of the Rockies Project. “While there are differences of opinion on a range of issues, there are true common values shared between each state, including a commitment to protect the important natural resources that make this region so unique.”

Click here to view the executive summary or entire report.

Below are some interesting Montana-specific findings, especially in the context of the current gutting/eliminating/slashing of environmental protection laws and regulations by the GOP majorities in Helena.

As part of efforts to improve the state economy and generate jobs as quickly as possible, some people have proposed reducing protections on land, air and water that apply to major industries, including construction and agriculture. Would you prefer that:
• Montana reduce protections for land, air and water that apply to major industries: 20%
• Montana maintain protections for land, air and water that apply to major industries: 73%

Even with state budget problems, we should still find money to protect Montana’s land, water and wildlife.
• Strongly or somewhat agree: 81%
• Strongly or somewhat disagree: 16%

We should ensure that undeveloped, public lands in Montana are kept in their natural state.
• Strongly or somewhat agree: 75%
• Strongly or somewhat disagree: 20%

We need to do more to ensure oil, gas and mining companies follow laws protecting our land, air and water.
• Strongly or somewhat agree: 76%
• Strongly or somewhat disagree: 22%

Posted in Climate Change, Economy, Energy, Sustainable Solutions, Unsustainable, US Congress | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Missoula Indy: GOP lawmakers wage war on MT’s enviro laws

Posted by Matthew Koehler on February 17, 2011

Today, the Missoula Independent’s Matthew Frank has an excellent, in-depth article looking at the sorry state of affairs within the 2011 Montana legislature concerning a little something called “the environment.” If you enjoy breathing air, drinking water, eating food and viewing wildlife in a non-Chernobyl, non-Bhopal sort of way, make sure to give this article a read…and take the appropriate actions.

Posted in Climate Change, Coal, Economy, Energy, Unsustainable | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »