Can achieving net-zero emissions address climate-induced disasters?

The post Can achieving net-zero emissions address climate-induced disasters? appeared first on Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Lawsuit to Protect Arctic Polar Bears From Oil Drilling Launched Against Biden Administration

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent this week to sue the U.S. Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for allegedly failing to adequately protect polar bears from a Western Arctic exploration project. Under the Endangered Species Act, a notice of intent is required 60 days before the pursuit of a formal lawsuit.

The 88 Energy’s Peregrine Exploration Program, a five-year oil and gas exploration project that would run almost year-round and cause “near constant air and vehicle traffic, and other drilling-related activity” was approved by the outgoing Trump administration, the press release said. The company still needs approval from the Biden administration before drilling any new wells. Located in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve along the Colville River, the project would include the construction of roads and aircraft runways and cause disruptive noise pollution in polar bear habitats.


“Every new oil well in the Arctic is another step toward the polar bear’s extinction,” Kristen Monsell, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in the press release. “Biden should be phasing out oil and gas activity in the Arctic, not flouting key environmental laws to let oil companies search and drill for more oil in this beautiful, increasingly fragile ecosystem.”

The population of polar bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea area is the most fragile population in the world, with only around 900 bears. Studies predict unless greenhouse gas pollution is immediately and drastically reduced, most subpopulations of polar bears in the world, including that of the Southern Beaufort Sea, will become extinct this century, and perhaps even as early as mid-century, the Center for Biological Diversity stated in the notice.

The excessive noise caused by the drilling-related activities can cause the polar bears to stop feeding, interfere with their movements or even frighten mothers and cubs so that they leave their dens, according to the press release.

“At the very least, before allowing any additional activity under the Peregrine Exploration Plan to occur, BLM must engage in formal [Endangered Species Act] consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to carefully analyze the impacts of such activities on polar bears and must ensure that the proper take authorizations are in place,” stated the notice of intent, as The Hill reported. “Failure to do so would constitute a gross dereliction of the agency’s legal obligations and deprive polar bears of vitally important protections.”

The project’s dangerous greenhouse gas emissions would also exacerbate the melting of sea ice, further affecting the polar bears’ habitat, according to The Hill. A recent study cited in the notice indicated that for every metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted there was a sustained loss of three square meters of September Arctic sea ice. The notice stated that, as greenhouse gas emissions keep increasing, it is projected that during the summer there will be almost no ice in the Arctic by 2040.

“Polar bears shouldn’t have to suffer from yet more noisy, harmful oil drilling. Letting the oil industry ramp up drilling is also fundamentally inconsistent with addressing the climate crisis. Arctic drilling has got to go,” Monsell stated in the press release.

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8 Environmental Instagram Accounts You Should Follow

Social media is no longer just a place for sharing selfies or pictures of puppies. Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook have become important sources of information; nearly half of American adults report getting at least some of their news from social media.

These platforms have become especially important for social movements, including environmentalism. We spend hours on our phones every day, and following a few reliable, informative accounts can give us some new perspectives on environmental issues while we’re scrolling.


Check out and follow these Instagram accounts to get some information about the environment on your feed.

1. Chicks for Climate

Don’t be fooled by the beautiful, colorful graphics: this account shares serious and alarming information about climate change that we should all be paying close attention to.

Like the name implies, Chicks for Climate focuses on the intersection of environmentalism and feminism, and discusses how climate change and gender issues are intertwined. They urge followers to consider how 80% of people displaced by the climate crisis are women, and that climate change might worsen access to reproductive health care and abortion.

The account posts information about politics and current issues in shareable infographics, including environmental topics like soil biodiversity, light pollution, and rewilding. Their posts put politics and science into perspective, like COP26 and the recent IPCC report, what increments of warming would mean for drought and habitat loss, and the contribution of food waste to global emissions. Chicks for Climate takes strong, science- and evidence-based stances on these issues and many others, and is a crucial source of environmental news for your feed.

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2. Imperfect Idealist

For sustainable fashion tips and reviews of sustainable brands, check out Imperfect Idealist. Lily – the voice behind the account – shares advice with her followers on balancing an interest in fashion with a commitment to sustainability. She reminds us that, while buying nothing is the least expensive and best choice for the environment, there are reasonable alternatives.

Her posts discuss fast fashion, overconsumption of clothing, exploitation of garment workers, and waste in the fashion industry. She also acknowledges the many nuances of shopping ethically – including the cost of responsibly-produced clothing – and offers solutions, like how to make clothing last, repurposing clothes you already have/hand-me-downs from family members, and finding your own unique style without resorting to buying all the latest trends. Watch her videos for tips on how to adjust your mindset and think about what you buy and the value you’ll get from it.

Her website links to longer blog posts about the topics she discusses on her profile and a directory of ethical + sustainable brands.

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3. Max La Manna

Chef Max La Manna is committed to plant-based, waste-free cooking; instead of composting parsley stems, he’ll blend them right into a pasta sauce. He inspires viewers to get creative and cook with whatever they have around.

La Manna shares his own recipes that rescue soon-to-be tossed food or vegetable scraps, like dinner rolls made from leftover potatoes, carrot-top pesto, croutons and French toast from stale bread, and fried rice with broccoli stems. He also develops vegan versions of traditional meat dishes like Bolognese, paella, holiday roast, butter chicken, meatballs, and beef stir fry. The highlights on his page feature breakfast, appetizers, main dishes, and dessert, so you can easily scroll through for meal ideas.

“Small day-to-day changes may seem insignificant but they each have an impact,” said La Manna in an interview with lifestyle magazine Square Mile earlier this year. “It’s often not what we say, but what we do, that can make the greatest environmental change.” Along with his book, More Plants Less Waste, which was named Most Sustainable Cookbook in 2020 by Gourmand, La Manna also has a series with BBC Earth called Regeneration: Food.

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4. Isaias Hernandez

Isaias Hernandez breaks down environmental topics in short informational videos, like, “Why can’t we just throw trash in volcanos?” or “Is stick or spray deodorant more sustainable?” (the answers are always much more complicated than you’d think).

He also talks about current events – like the recent deadly tornados in Kentucky – and highlights how social issues like migration, income disparity, and race are all intertwined with the climate crisis. He discusses his own experience as a queer person of color in the climate/sustainability world, and draws attention to the disparities in outdoor culture and environmental NGOs for POC and LGBTQ+ individuals. His swipe-through posts contain digestible information on complex issues – like why younger generations have climate anxiety, the impact of climate change on property values, traditional ecological knowledge, why honey isn’t vegan, and how to navigate climate doomism.

Hernandez is also a seasoned forager and shares tips for finding and preparing beautiful, photo-worthy mushrooms.

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5. Reduce Waste Now

We all need some easy tips for reducing waste in our daily life. The simple graphics on Reduce Waste Now show “things you can rent rather than buy,” “how to properly discard a pizza box,” “using the end of your peanut butter jar,” “home appliances that use energy when turned off,” and “how long these items take to break down in a landfill.”

Many of the posts include tips for preventing food waste – like how to restore wilted greens, how to properly store fruits and vegetables to extend their life, and reusable alternatives to disposable products – or how to reuse items, like turning a tank top into a tote bag or old tights into hair ties. They also share lots of “old me vs. new me” posts to teach viewers how to change their daily habits, like repurposing lemon peels for a homemade cleaner instead of throwing them in the compost, or opting for laundry soap powder instead of detergent in plastic jugs.

Learn from the posts, or visit the Reduce Waste Now online shop of reusable items for daily living.

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6. George Lee

George Lee – also known as Chez Jorge – shares videos featuring his own vegan Asian and Asian-inspired recipes, especially Taiwanese dishes. Lee created his page during the coronavirus lockdown in the spring of 2020 to share his daily meals, but soon began experimenting with making familiar Taiwanese dishes with plant-based ingredients, and has since dedicated himself to vegan cooking.

His mouthwatering videos featuring vegan takes on classic Asian dishes – like his Korean-inspired spicy chicken sandwich made with oyster mushrooms, vegan milk buns using the Yudane method, dan dan noodles, vegan sukiyaki, cauliflower katsu curry (katsukare), and Taiwainese three-cup tofu – will inspire you to try them for yourself.

Lee shares these recipes and more by category on his website, and is currently writing a vegan Taiwanese cookbook to be published by Ten Speed Press in 2023.

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7. Intersectional Environmentalist

Intersectional Environmentalist centers around BIPOC and other historically excluded voices in the environmental community. Their posts connect climate issues to historical oppression, and feature environmental activists of diverse backgrounds to share their perspectives.

The group recently launched “IE School” – a series of IG Live lectures by environmental experts, including sessions on-campus organizing, infrastructure, and the basics of environmental justice, among others – to help followers “deepen [their] understanding of intersectional environmentalism.” IE School focuses on making this education accessible and sharing different understandings of environmentalism from communities that have been historically excluded.

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8. Minimalist Baker

Embarking on a plant-based diet can be daunting; you might have a hard time imagining giving up the delicious dishes you’re used to making, spending lots of money on specific ingredients, or dedicating hours to making meals taste flavorful as you’re still learning the tricks of vegan and vegetarian cooking.

If so, check out Minimalist Baker, which shows how plant-based eating can be simple, and shares recipes that use only 10 ingredients, 1 bowl, or take less than 30 minutes to prepare, making vegan and vegetarian food much more accessible and realistic.

Even more recipes are available on their website, which allows users to filter by season, dietary restrictions (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, refined-sugar free, etc.), cuisine, recipe type, and “simple factor” (time and ingredients required). Try their plant-based winter dishes like red lentil chili, candied nuts, wild rice salad, or vegan mushroom stroganoff.

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Linnea graduated from Skidmore College in 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Environmental Studies, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Most recently, Linnea worked at Hunger Free America, and has interned with WHYY in Philadelphia, Saratoga Living Magazine, and the Sierra Club in Washington, DC.

Can achieving net-zero emissions address climate-induced disasters?

The post Can achieving net-zero emissions address climate-induced disasters? appeared first on Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Peter Dykstra: Important environmental passings in 2021

As we turn the page on 2021, let’s look back at people we lost last year who left their mark on the planet (for better or worse).


E. Bruce Harrison

In 1962, he was a Mad Men-era PR executive for the Chemical Manufacturers Association, where he led a relentless attack against the book Silent Spring and its author, Rachel Carson. The book’s thorough accounting of the consequences of the pesticide DDT mark it as arguably the greatest environmental book of all time.

He went on to a lucrative career as the “father of greenwashing” according to enviros and “the father of Green PR” according to industry. Harrison died in January at age 88

Paul Crutzen 

Crutzen was the last survivor of the trio of scientists awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discoveries linking stratospheric depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer to the growing use of chlorofluorocarbon chemicals. He died in January, age 87.

Sandy West

Heiress to the Pittsburgh Paint & Glass fortune, West spent nearly all of it protecting Georgia’s Ossabaw Island from development. Comfortable with her public image as an eccentric, West rankled other environmentalists by working to protect Ossabaw’s ravenous wild hog population.

The hogs ate or trampled much of Ossabaw’s natural beauty. Sandy protected both the good and bad of Ossabaw Island till her death in February, age 108.

Rush Limbaugh

Say what you will about Limbaugh, he had a profound impact on the feelings of tens of millions of Americans about the environment and “environmentalist wackos.” Limbaugh was a prime misleader on climate change whose finest moment, IMHO, was in May 2010, when he told his audience that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was an inside job, caused by said “wackos” as a fundraiser. He lost a long battle with lung cancer in February, age 70.

George Shultz

Secretary of State for Presidents Nixon and Reagan, Shultz was a late-in-life convert to clean energy, energy efficiency, and action on climate change. He died in February at age 100.

John W. Warner

The courtly five-term Senator from Virginia died in May, age 93. By one measure, he was a lousy environmentalist, with a 22% lifetime voting score from the League of Conservation Voters. But he co-sponsored the first Senate climate change bill with Joe Lieberman, and after leaving the Senate, Warner devoted much of his energy talking about climate change as a global security issue.

Prince Phillip 

Philip was not only the Queen’s wingman, he was President of the World Wide Fund for Nature for 15 years. He advocated for endangered animals and habitats, and his son Prince Charles continues to do so. In addition to the high visibility of the Royal Family, one can safely assume that both the Queen’s Consort and the Crown Prince might be pretty good fundraisers when called upon. His Highness was 99 when he died in April.

A.Q. Khan 

Of all those on this list, A.Q. Khan will almost surely have the longest and deepest impact on the human condition. He is also almost surely the only physicist who stands as a national hero in his own country, Pakistan. When rival India detonated its first atomic bomb in 1974, Khan led Pakistan’s effort to catch up, which they did in 1998. In the meantime, Khan had also become the world’s foremost sieve of nuclear secrets.

Fledgling nuke weapons programs in Iran, North Korea, and Libya launched in part thanks to Khan’s leaked information. Libya’s program died when dictator Moammar Khadafy was overthrown. Prospective nukes in the hands of either Iran or North Korea still pose a terrifying global risk.

Khan died of COVID-19 complications in October, age 85.

Robert H. Grubbs

Grubbs shared the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his advances in “Green Chemistry.” He was 79 when he died on Dec. 19.

Environmental activists 

And while the final numbers won’t be in for a while, 2021 is expected to be another brutal year for environmental activists in the developing world. The group Global Witness counted 227 deaths last year – mostly unresolved murders.

One of the most notorious of past murders drew a step closer to justice in 2021, though. Berta Cáceres led opposition to a hydroelectric dam project in Honduras up until her 2016 murder. This past year, the former head of the hydro project was arrested and convicted of masterminding her killing.

Peter Dykstra is our weekend editor and columnist and can be reached at pdykstra@ehn.org or @pdykstra.

His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher Environmental Health Sciences.

Banner photo: Sandy West. Credit: ossabawisland.org/)

New Local Laws Aim to Stop Rising Evictions

Dozens of cities and states are enacting new laws to protect tenants facing eviction, aiming to stem a tide of new cases and offer renters more ways to settle conflicts with property owners.

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