Over the past 100 years, levels of carbon in the atmosphere have risen 30%—to 393 parts per million. One thing that has kept global warming in check is that the oceans absorb a third of that carbon dioxide. Until recently the process of oceans soaking up our excess CO2 was considered beneficial. But the 22 million tons per day of carbon dioxide that the oceans are taking up is beginning to wreak havoc on ocean ecosystems. Scientists are discovering that all this carbon dioxide is causing the ocean to rapidly acidify, changing ocean ecosystems in profound ways.
HARVEST THE WIND: An Interview with Author and Environmental Lawyer Philip Warburg
Wth the rising threat of climate change and the steady depletion of fossil fuels, wind power is arguably the only renewable energy resource ready to meet a significant portion of our energy needs. Yet on a national level, the United States has failed to make a meaningful commitment to support further development of wind's full potential to generate electricity. Wind power does not only meet resistance from the fossil fuel industry.
It used to be that when people talked about the "Big One," they were referring to the next giant earthquake along the San Andreas Fault, that in the parlance of the time, might cause California to fall into the ocean. It turns out that the fault to watch is the much longer and potentially damaging Cascadia Subduction Zone, a fracture in the earth’s crust roughly 60 miles offshore, that starts just north of the San Andreas Fault in northern California and runs all the way to northern Vancouver Island. This fault generates a monster earthquake about every 500 years. The last time it shook was in 1700 and there is roughly a 30 percent chance that just such a disaster could happen within the next fifty years.
Over the past several decades, U.S. industries have injected more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth, using broad expanses of the nation's geology as an invisible dumping ground. No company would be allowed to pour such dangerous chemicals into the rivers or onto the soil. But until recently, scientists and environmental officials have assumed that deep layers of rock beneath the earth would safely entomb the waste for millennia
On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Abrahm Lustgarten, whose recent series of articles for ProPublica, investigates a legion of problems and potential catastrophes inherent with the practice of pumping deadly toxins beneath the surface of the earth.
Johnson Creek flows 26 miles from its headwaters near the Sandy River to its confluence with the Willamette River, passing through five cities (Gresham, Portland, Milwaukie, Damascus, and Happy Valley) and two counties (Clackamas and Multnomah) along the way. Once a favorite camping and fishing spot for Native people, the creek was degraded by decades of abuse when white settlers took over the landscape. For years, Johnson Creek was known primarily as an eyesore that frequently flooded. Over the last few decades a growing number of people have become determined to right past wrongs in the Johnson Creek Watershed and return the creek to something of its former natural glory.
TEN YEARS AFTER THE BISCUIT FIRE: A RETROSPECTIVE IN A SUMMER OF FIRE
In mid July of 2002 a series of lightning strikes ignited a number of small fires in some very remote mountainous areas of SW Oregon. The fires merged into what became known as the Biscuit Fire, the largest fire that year in North America. Burning across an area of over 500,000 acres it was the largest fire in Oregon history - until this summer. Once the fire was extinguished political conflagrations erupted over how to manage the fire-affected wilderness landscape. Those arguments are still echoing ten years later as we experience another summer of extreme wildfires across the West.
Portland has long been a center of ad-hoc urban agriculture. For many decades, Portlanders have grown vegetables in their backyards. Over the past 30 plus years, community gardens have sprung up where people without adequate yard space can also garden. And now an increasing number of folks are raising livestock in town as well. The City of Portland has supported in theory this booming movement of farmers' markets, community gardens, backyard farming, community supported agriculture and food buying clubs. But zoning code regulations have not kept pace and in many cases are cumbersome or contradictory.
At 6:30 in evening on Hiroshima Day this month, the Chevron Oil Refinery in Richmond exploded in a massive fire, spreading a mushroom cloud of thick black smoke over the homes and gardens of the residents of this marginalized community. That night thousands of people flocked to local hospitals complaining of respiratory problems. No one seems to know what toxins were contained in that dark cloud that settled over the city for a couple hours, before the winds changed and the toxic cloud dispersed above more affluent communities. In the aftermath of the fire which burned out of control for over six house, Richmond residents not only worry about the toxins they may have inhaled during the fire.
Rebroadcast of program originally aired on 3/7/2011
Until World War II, Odessa was one of Europe's great multicultural cities, a place of optimism and light. For nearly a century its colorful street life inspired poets and writers like Alexander Pushkin, Mark Twain and Isaac Babel. It was also a major center of Jewish culture, and by 1941 Odessa had 200,000 Jews living within its bounds—over a third of its population. But by the end of the war there were only 48 Jews left. Many had perished in a gruesome—but still largely unknown—episode of the Holocaust.
The storm surge generated by Hurricane Sandy, flooding significant areas across Greater New York and New Jersey, demonstrated that the specter of climate change and the disasters it will wreak are now upon us. As the Northeast engages in a slow recovery from the storm's damage, a debate is now raging about how to prevent similar destruction from the inevitable next super storm.