Monthly Archives: May 2012
The Union of Concerned Scientists has just published a report outing corporations that publicly back action on global warming, while quietly bankrolling climate change denier groups.
While the report acknowledged that not all corporations are engaged in this sort of Jekyll & Hyde behavior, it says many have adopted a strategy that “allows companies to maintain a public image of climate consciousness while, behind the scenes, undermining climate science and policy in powerful ways.” The report goes on the say:
While all companies in our sample stated they were taking voluntary internal action to reduce carbon emissions, half of them also misrepresented some element of established climate science in their public communications.
It’s worth pointing out that several of the two-faced companies profiled in today’s report are key partners and benefactors of the country’s biggest environmental groups. Companies like ExxonMobil Corp., General Electric Co., and Alcoa Inc. have bankrolled nature centers, conservation projects and public education campaigns, among other things. (For more details, check out my book.) Companies often spend more money publicizing their environmental projects than they spent on the good works in the first place. In contrast, you seldom hear much about the money channeled to groups such as the Heartland Institute that continue to claim climate change is a hoax.
You can find the report here.
My latest post on The Atlantic’s Cities website explores geo-medicine, a new field that uses GIS mapping to correlate environmental conditions to health risks like heart attacks and cancer. There’s even a free app that allows you to map the types of toxic exposures in everyplace you’ve ever lived and correlate them to the likelihood of developing cancer or dying of a heart attack.
Beyond charting the potential for your own personal doomsday, however, geo-medicine has many other applications: It can allow doctors to zoom in on a patient’s life to create a geographically enhanced medical history. Or it can zoom out to give public health officials, city planners and activists detail-rich insights on how to improve the well-being of entire communities.
Check out my story and let me know what you think!
The Potomac is the nation’s most imperiled river, according to a report issued today by the nonprofit group, American Rivers.
The river, which supplies drinking water to five million people in the Greater Washington region, suffers from a bad case of runoff from laws and factory farms, alike. those woes have turned the Potomac into a spawning ground for so-called “intersex fish” – male fish born with ovaries. Yikes! Scientists have linked the chemicals in lawn fertilizer and “chicken litter” (manure produced in large quantities at the region’s poultry farms) that get washed into the waterways where they wreak havoc of fish reproduction and create habitat-crippling dead zones bereft of oxygen, among other things.
The Washington Post today notes that U.S. Congress has failed to act despite growing evidence that what’s happening to the fish may be a disturbing sign of the human health implications. In fact, sentiment on Capitol Hill is moving in the other direction with Republicans periodically launching attempts to roll back the Clean Air Act, reporter Darryl Fears notes, quoting environmentalists.
The landmark federal law, which turns 40-years-old this year, has led to major improvements in the health of the nation’s waterways, experts say. At the time of its passage in 1972, some U.S. rivers were such reeking open sewers that they sometimes caught fire. Nevertheless, the Potomac is one of ten that continue face the most serious ongoing problems.
Besides the Potomac, today’s top ten list, of sorts, includes the following:
- Green River (which runs through Wyoming, Utah and Colorado)
- Chattahoochee River (Georgia)
- Missouri River (nine states in the central United States)
- Hoback River (Wyoming)
- Grand River (Ohio)
- Skykomish River (Washington)
- Crystal River (Colorado)
- Coal River (West Virginia)
- Kansas River (Kansas)