Read time: 6 mins
One of the first tests of New York’s ambitious climate plan didn’t go well, as the New York Public Service Commission voted on January 16 to raise electricity rates on customers by $1.2 billion over the next three years to help Consolidated Edison, or Con Ed, pay for new natural gas pipelines and infrastructure.
New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) targets 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To meet those goals, any new gas infrastructure constructed now and in the future would have to be retired well before the end of its useful life, becoming stranded assets.
Thomas Harding, in The Guardian, on surviving the loss of his teenage son.
Jason McBride, in Toronto Life, with a profile of the inimitable flu shot crusader Jill Promoli.
Jane Coaston, in Vox, on the conspiracy theories fuelling New York’s exploding antisemitism.
Palantir has tried to downplay its role in ICE’s detainment and deportation of immigrants for years, but Alex Karp said the quiet part loud at Davos.
Space Force is going to use the Starfleet insignia as its symbol because of course it is.
Twenty years ago, the singer’s sophomore album gave the middle finger to the limitations placed on Black music. It was also a means of healing.
Taylor Swift’s recent disclosure about her struggles with disordered eating exemplifies the impact of idle body commentary.
For many evangelical supporters, Trump’s rhetoric on abortion makes his history of divorces, affairs, lies, and sex scandals fade into the background.
Read time: 9 mins
When a pair of Ninth Circuit Court judges ordered dismissal of a landmark youth climate change lawsuit last week, they concluded that the U.S. government may be harming the nation’s youth through its fossil fuel-based energy policy, but that courts cannot stop that harm. “Rather, the plaintiffs’ impressive case for redress must be presented to the political branches of government,” Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote in a split 2-1 decision dismissing Juliana v. United States.
The decision to dismiss Juliana without a trial raises troubling implications about the state of America’s constitutional democracy and the role that courts can play in harming, rather than protecting, the public interest, according to legal and scientific experts.
There are more effective ways to assuage your beef-eating guilt than to buy local.
The blast at a manufacturing facility left two dead and shifted homes off their foundations.
The rapper-turned-actress’ career is a case study of how an oversimplified view of representation can fall short.
Schiff & Co. unloaded around 50 video clips on Wednesday alone — about three times as many as were shown in 1999 when former President Clinton was impeached
A large, slowly spinning disc of ice appeared in the South Thompson River near Kamloops, B.C. this week, attracting attention from locals and scientists. (Photo: Ivan Petrov)
The South Thompson River in Kamloops B.C. has been attracting attention this week from scientists and curious passersby alike thanks to the appearance of a strange new feature: a large, slowly spinning disc of ice.
Estimated to be about 40 metres in diameter, the ice disc, which was first spotted earlier this week, is thought to have been caused by a fateful collision of factors, including temperature and the fluid dynamics of the river itself.
Left to right: Matt Maddaloni, David Steele, and Adam Walker with the RCGS flag at the Dieppe Sump, the deepest known point of Bisaro Anima cave. (Photo: Robin Munshaw/Pegleg Films)
More than two years have passed since our landmark expedition that confirmed Bisaro Anima to be the deepest cave in Canada — and, in fact, north of Mexico. Subsequent expeditions in 2018 and 2019 discovered added length and slightly more depth, logging a new figure of 674 metres. And all starting from an insignificant slot entrance that could have been lost amongst the more than 150 sinks and holes and 14 caves we have found so far on the Bisaro Plateau.
Darkest Hour was on, so I was able to watch this great scene again today:
Read time: 13 mins
On February 15, 2018, a fracked natural gas well owned by ExxonMobil’s XTO Energy and located in southeast Ohio experienced a well blowout, causing it to gush the potent greenhouse gas methane for nearly three weeks. The obscure accident ultimately resulted in one of the biggest methane leaks in U.S. history. The New York Times reported in December that new satellite data revealed that this single gas well leaked more methane in 20 days than an entire year’s worth of methane released by the oil and gas industries in countries like Norway and France.
The cause of this massive leak was a failure of the gas well’s casing, or internal lining. Well casing failures represent yet another significant but not widely discussed technical problem for an unprofitable fracking industry.
Here’s some tweets that I have been enjoying today:
An incorrectly assembled whippet. pic.twitter.com/CVAAOL3efV
— Jonathan Best (@jonnnybest) January 18, 2020
No matter the size, cats will be cats😂 pic.twitter.com/EXaVWGNGaa
— Akki (@akkitwts) January 16, 2020
There are 2 types of dogs… pic.twitter.com/mFIQE91JCu
— viralvideos (@BestVideosviral) January 22, 2020
Read time: 10 mins
Back in April last year, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency decided it was “not necessary” to update the rules for toxic waste from oil and gas wells. Torrents of wastewater flow daily from the nation’s 1.5 million active oil and gas wells and the agency’s own research has warned it may pose risks to the country’s drinking water supplies.
On Tuesday, a major new investigative report published by Rolling Stone and authored by reporter Justin Nobel delves deep into the risks that the oil and gas industry’s waste — much of it radioactive — poses to the industry’s own workers and to the public.
“There is little public awareness of this enormous waste stream,” Nobel, who also reports for DeSmog, wrote, “the disposal of which could present dangers at every step — from being transported along America’s highways in unmarked trucks; handled by workers who are often misinformed and underprotected; leaked into waterways; and stored in dumps that are not equipped to contain the toxicity.”
Additional documents obtained by Nobel and shared with DeSmog show that a report prepared for the American Petroleum Institute (API), the nation’s largest oil and gas trade group, described the risks posed by the industry’s radioactive wastes to workers as “significant” in 1982 — long before the shale drilling rush unleashed new floods of wastewater from the industry — including waste from the Marcellus Shale, which can carry unusually high levels of radioactive contamination.
A superior mirage near Airdrie, Alta. on Jan. 19, 2020. (Photo: Chris Ratzlaff)
“My very first thought was, where did that wall come from?”
So says Chris Ratzlaff, an Alberta photographer and stormchaser, of the strange, shimmering apparition he saw on Jan. 19 from his home in Airdrie, Alta.
“I was just doing some work around the house when I looked out the window and saw a line across the horizon that certainly wasn’t there previously.”
Ratzlaff tweeted a photo and a couple of videos of the phenomenon, which he identified as a fata morgana — also known as a superior mirage.
Rather than call out the specific paper that led to this blog post (I also don’t want to add to its Altmetrics), just a question.
If your systematic review findings demonstrate that a particular supplement/food/diet led to an average total weight loss of 0.7lbs is it appropriate to describe that effect as significant even if statistically you believe you’re able to make that claim?
Personally, I don’t think so.
Especially not when we’re discussing food, because as Kevin Klatt recently pointed out on his blog, there are no food placebos. and as John Ionnidis pointed out, we eat thousands of chemicals in millions of different daily combinations which markedly challenges our ability to conclusively opine about the impact of any one food.
Worse though, is the fact that the media (both traditional and social), won’t bother to qualify their enthusiasm when describing these findings and instead will report them as beneficial, significant, and important, as of course will PubMed warriors.
So how to fix this? Perhaps including a qualifying, “but not likely to have any clinical relevance” statement in the abstract might lead to more balanced media coverage (or less media coverage ) which in turn would be less likely to report significant but clinically meaningless outcomes as important, which ultimately would be good for science and scientific literacy.
Read time: 13 mins
As 2020 begins, the impacts of climate change have become increasingly clear around the world. The new year started amid devastating wildfires, tied to the worst droughts Australia has experienced in hundreds of years, which encircled much of the continent. So far, 29 people have been reported dead. A University of Sydney professor estimated the number of animals killed likely tops one billion.
Today’s climate impacts have been shaped heavily by actions taken during the last 10 years, particularly in the U.S., where the climate benefits of coal power plant retirements were undermined by the rise of natural gas. Global carbon emissions had leveled off in the middle of the last decade, but began to climb again in 2017, breaking records anew each year since.
Over the past decade, as the climate crisis worsened, hundreds of drilling rigs dotted both the Permian Basin’s desert expanses in Texas and the Marcellus Shale’s Appalachian hills, grinding through rock to reach oil and gas trapped in brittle shale deep underground. In that time, the U.S. smashed global records for the production of oil and gas — two of the three fossil fuels most responsible for the ongoing climate crisis.
And at the same time, the last decade’s rush to drill continued to prove spectacularly unprofitable. The year 2020 arrived amid tens of billions of dollars in new fiscal write-downs and losses for oil drillers and fracking firms. Moody’s observed that oil and gas debt defaults represented 91 percent of the country’s total corporate debt defaults during the next-to-last fiscal quarter of the decade.
As the new decade starts, it’s worth taking stock of the last decade’s rush to drill and frack for oil and gas and to consider what we now know about how the costs of climate change have begun piling up at increasing rates over the past 10 or so years.
Photo: Baffin Paddle & Climb 2019
For the 90th anniversary of Canadian Geographic, we asked a panel of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s Explorers-in-Residence and Honorary Vice-Presidents to give us Canada’s greatest explorers, dead or alive, mariner, mountain climber, polar trekker, anthropologist or astronaut. The only condition? Their picks must have been born in Canada or lived here long enough to qualify for citizenship by today’s standards.
I used to be totally against them. It was always some no-talent eight year old plinking out a ghastly version of Chopsticks and you can’t tell them they suck or STFU! because their parents will get upset and report you to the facility staff becau…
Read time: 8 mins
On the afternoon of January 15, activist Diane Wilson kicked off a San Antonio Estuary Waterkeeper meeting on the side of the road across from a Formosa plastics manufacturing plant in Point Comfort, Texas. After Wilson and the waterkeeper successfully sued Formosa, the company agreed to no longer release even one of the tiny plastic pellets known as nurdles into the region’s waterways. The group of volunteers had assembled that day to check whether the plant was still discharging these raw materials of plastics manufacturing.
Ughé Blackstock, in STAT, on why black academic physicians like her are leaving their positions.
Sam Brennan, in Fit Is a Feminist Issue, on how she watched Brittany Runs a Marathon so you don’t have to.
Virginia Sole-Smith, in Elemental, asks whether the fitness industry and body positivity can co-exist?
Read time: 14 mins
Help us choose the cover of our upcoming issue of Canadian Geographic. Vote Now!
And don’t forget to sign up to always be notified by email when covers are being voted on!
Read time: 8 mins
You don’t have to look far to find misinformation about climate science continuing to spread online through prominent social media channels like YouTube. That’s despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are driving the climate crisis.
A new report by the global activist NGO Avaaz reveals that, despite YouTube’s pledge to combat misinformation, the popular video site owned by Google has failed to crack down on this problem when it comes to climate change. Videos containing false or misleading information on climate change continue to reach millions of users through YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. Furthermore, ads — including those from major brands and environmental groups — displayed on these videos provide a monetary incentive, not only to YouTube, but to the videos’ creators to keep promoting fringe theories contrary to scientific reality.
Taxes work to decrease purchasing, and the higher the tax, the greater their impact. Period.
Which is why it’s always struck me as odd when people question whether or not sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes would affect SSB purchases (and consequently consumption).
But let’s leave that odd debate aside for a moment. If the goal of SSB taxes is to decrease added sugar consumption (which it explicitly is, while it is explicitly not about weight loss as societal obesity is not singularly caused by SSB consumption, and decreasing SSB consumption is healthy at every weight), it would appear that SSB taxes will decrease sugar consumption even if they don’t decreasing purchasing.
Because when SSB taxes are enacted, the beverage industry reformulates its products.
And at least according to this bulletin from the World Health Organization, they do so not insignificantly!
Of the 83 products they surveyed in both 2014 (before the SSB tax) and in 2018 (after the SSB tax), the mean sugar content decreased by 42% (from 9.1 g/100mL to 5.3 g/100m) while the mean energy content decreased by 40% (from 38 kcal/100mL to 23 kcal/100mL). Putting this into the context of a standard 355ml can – that would represent 2.45 fewer teaspoons of sugar and 53 fewer calories per can.
And this was in response to a fairly nominal tax. Presumably larger taxes would drive larger (or more expansive) reformulations which of course would also be coupled with decreased purchasing.
All this to say, this is yet another reason why if you’re living somewhere without an SSB tax, my bet is that it’s a matter of when, not if, you will be.
Read time: 6 mins
By Joe Smyth, Energy and Policy Institute. This was originally posted on the Energy and Policy Institute.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley and Moody’s Investors Service expect that more electric utilities will accelerate their transition away from coal, with major financial benefits for both ratepayers and shareholders.
In a research report last month titled “The Second Wave of Clean Energy,” analysts at Morgan Stanley explained how “the surprisingly low cost of renewables” will drive utilities to close most of the remaining U.S. coal plants over the next decade. Replacing coal with cheaper renewable energy could save electricity customers as much as $8 billion each year, according to Morgan Stanley:
Many Canadians are giddy at the prospect that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could be moving to Canada, injecting some razzle dazzle to the sprawling, bone-chillingly cold country. https://t.co/3HH575a6EK
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) January 11, 2020
Well, I’m not exactly giddy, but I am excited. I think it will be great if Harry and Meghan and little Archie moved to Canada.
For decades, if not a century+, Canada has provided protection for eminent persons visiting Canada. Ex-US Presidents, European royalty, etc. The political right either has amnesia or thinks Harry and Meghan are a great distraction from their boring leadership contest. #cdnpoli
— Diane Marie (@DianeMariePosts) January 13, 2020
Unskilled foreigners seek move to Canada #Megxit #meghanharry https://t.co/R9SK6OIrO2 pic.twitter.com/Uz5iCJ1a1x
— The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) January 13, 2020
Read time: 4 mins
This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup.
Two new studies on denial came out last week. While they’re not exactly breaking new ground, confirmation is always nice.
The first is a literature review led by Stanford’s Gabrielle Wong-Parodi that examines psychological studies on climate denial in the U.S. and found four big lessons for appealing to conservatives. Although the press release is promisingly headlined as “pathways to changing the minds of climate deniers,” we remain skeptical that there’s any real way to change a denier’s mind. After all, if they were open to change, they wouldn’t be deniers!
Brett Martin, in GQ, profiles the inimitable Larry David
Elizabeth Wurtzel, in Medium, discussing her life’s final year
Helen Branswell, in STAT, with the story of how scientists on 3 continents together produced an Ebola vaccine
Read time: 7 mins
Industry groups including oil and gas trade associations were quick to pile on the praise following President Trump’s announcement Thursday, January 9 of major overhauls to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The 50-year-old bedrock environmental statute requires federal agencies to review the environmental impacts of major actions or projects, and has been a key tool for advocacy groups to challenge harmful infrastructure, from fossil fuel pipelines to chemical plants.
And in the Trump administration’s hasty efforts to assert “energy dominance,” judges have halted fossil fuel projects on grounds that the government did not adequately consider how those projects contribute to climate change.
Read time: 3 mins
Every Friday for the last seven weeks, actress and activist Jane Fonda has held a rally and act of civil disobedience in front of the U.S. Capitol, calling for action on climate change. Each week she’s been joined by different celebrities, journalists, and activists. Previous weeks have seen actors such as Law & Order‘s Sam Waterston, Fonda’s co-star in Grace and Frankie, Lily Tomin, and Lincoln’s Sally Field, to name a few.
This final week in Washington, D.C. did not see Fonda get arrested like five of the previous weeks. In her stead, West Wing‘s Martin Sheen and Joker‘s Joaquin Phoenix were arrested and ticketed in an act of civil disobedience alongside hundreds of other activists.
For years, people have been asking us to create clothing branded with the name and Compass Rose logo of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society. We listened, and are thrilled to announce that our online Society Shop is now live with a number of your m…
So last week saw the Canadian launch of timbits cereal and as evidenced by the number of people have sent press releases about it to me, not everyone is pleased.
Timbits, for readers who don’t know, are donut holes from Canadian donut chain giant Tim Hortons.
People are upset because apparently this sugary cereal is over the top and somehow extra wrong or extra awful.
Tim Horton’s certainly isn’t in the business of protecting or promoting public health. Nor is Post Foods. Nor should anyone expect either to be.
Presumably the sugar is a concern for people, and at 17g per cup (4.25 teaspoons), it’s definitely not an insignificant amount, but it’s not more than many other sugary cereals, and is in fact less than Post Raisin Bran which packs 24% more sugar at 21g (5.25 teaspoons) per cup.
All this to say, it’s difficult to get angry with Tim Horton’s or Post Foods for trying to sell food as selling food is literally their only job, and frankly this food isn’t any worse than comparable foods they’re already selling.
So what should the cereal aisle make people angry about?
How about laxity in advertising laws that allows for cartoon characters to be festooned on boxes of sugary cereals and prey on children? Or laxity in front-of-packaging laws that allow Froot Loops boxes to brag about their whole grain or vitamin D content? Or the failure of our government to create a front-of-package warning system like the one that was enacted in Chile.
What would life in Canadian cereal aisles look like if we followed Chile’s lead?
Here’s Frosted Flakes before and after Chile’s laws came into effect
Sure looks great to me.
(And for the grammar police, ‘donut’ is how Tim Horton’s spells doughnut)