Category Archives: Environmental News

The Horrifying World of Water

Access to clean, safe water is something most of us in the United States take for granted. Turn on the tap, there’s clean water. It’s not something you really have to think that much about. When you really look into things, however, the state of our water supply isn’t as great as you might think.


The privatization of water supplies is a huge problem throughout the world. This article on Truthout is quite eye opening. The privatization of water in many countries has made water too expensive for many people and caused small farms to fail due to the lack of water.

Bit by bit, it’s happening in the United States too. There are some very interesting reports to read about this at Food and Water Watch.


If you pay much attention at all, you know that water pollution is a big issue also. From the Pacific Garbage Patch to dead zones in the Gulf, to medications found in tap water, keeping our water clean is a major problem.

Water pollution isn’t just about having clean water to drink, of course. It’s about plants, fish and wildlife. It’s even about having water to play in. Ever hear about beach closures due to water pollution from storm runoff or broken sewer pipes? It’s perhaps a small part of the problem, but one you may have encountered in your own life.

Movies to Watch

If you want to learn more about what’s happening with our water supply, you should watch Flow or Tapped the Movie. They both get into the problems our water supply is facing, especially privatization and pollution.

Not that it’s just a problem in the United States, as some of the links I’ve provided show. Water privatization and pollution are global issues, and very much in need of your attention.

Time For Action on Clothianidin Pesticide

I’ve posted in the past about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in bees, but I haven’t paid much attention to the topic lately because I haven’t seen much going on. That said, it’s clearly still a problem when you take a look at the losses beekeepers are suffering in their colonies. That’s why beekeepers are petitioning the EPA to suspend the use of Clothianidin, a pesticide which is suspected to be at least a partial cause of CCD.

The trouble is that it’s really hard to say if Clothianindin is the problem or no, as testing on it may have been poorly designed. That said, some beekeepers say they have greater losses than usual when they bring their bees to crops treated with Clothianindin. Obviously, that’s suspicious to them.

The worst part is that the EPA is already aware of problems with Clothianindin. It’s less risky to agricultural workers, fish and wildlife than other pesticides, but they don’t feel the situation merits a ban at this time.  It has, however, been banned in some European countries.

While it’s likely that Clothianindin is not the only cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, it looks as though it’s probably a factor, and that’s worth considering. If you want to do something to help, there are a few things you can do.

You can get involved with groups such as the Pesticide Action Network. They have suggested actions you can take, such as contacting Congress.

You can also make sure your property is friendly to bees. Have a variety of flowers available to them, and don’t use pesticides in your own yard. Native plants are best for bees, but you can always grow a garden for your family while attracting bees. It may not sound like much, but it’s one of the best things you can do directly for the bees in your area.

Black Friday Lines – and People Complain About Occupy Protesters

I’ve been hearing quite a bit about Black Friday lately. You can’t help it if you pay attention to just about any news source around here. People lined up days in advance, skipping their family’s Thanksgiving dinner just to get deals on whatever they’re after.

All I can think is about how much people complain about Occupy protesters sitting around too much. I’d sooner do that than spend days in line to buy something. At least they’re making a statement about a cause they believe in, hoping to make the world a little better, rather than spending days camping out to buy more things.

Admittedly, camping out for Black Friday is not without risk. You could get pepper sprayed by a fellow shopper apparently wanting to get ahead in line. You could get trampled by the crowds. Horror of horrors, you could miss out on whatever it was you’d hoped to buy. You just don’t know.

Personally, I can think of better uses for my time. Sales happen other times, and some patience can get you a really good deal with less trouble. I value my time too highly to trade days of my life for even a few hundred dollars saved.

Just think of what you could do with that time that others spent in Black Friday lines. I mentioned the various Occupy protests, but you certainly don’t have to join them. You can pick your own cause to support.

What Are You Really Criticizing When You Complain About Business Practices?

A lot of people don’t like it when they hear you complain about business practices. You say businesses should pay their fair share of taxes or should limit their waste and emissions, they hear you saying that business is evil. How do you get people to hear what you’re really saying when you criticize a business?

It isn’t easy at times. Some people treat any criticism as an inappropriate attack on business, even when you see your statement or complaint as a reasonable thing to expect of businesses.

I’ve seen people claim, for example, that environmental regulations are too hard on businesses, and that regulations should be done away with or decreased so that businesses can earn more. Some of them truly believe the free market will take care of those messes without government oversight, completely forgetting the disasters and messes that encouraged lawmakers to create the regulations in the first place.

Sure, a business can say that it could save a lot of money if it didn’t have to obey so many environmental regulations. The problem is that the rest of us would pay the cost in terms of health and a sometimes seriously damaged environment. Look at what happened at Love Canal, for example.  Then consider that the economic benefits of environmental regulations are believed to significantly outweigh the costs.

I’ve seen too much of what happens when greed outweighs sense for a corporation. I worked at Home Depot when I was in college, at a time when they weren’t hiring so many retired contractors to work there, so the employees weren’t as knowledgeable as the company’s reputation made many customers think. Sure, the company saved money because they could pay less experienced people less, which looked good on the bottom line for a time, but they lost a lot of business because customers got frustrated with employees who had no idea how to help them. I suspect that’s a part of what allowed Lowe’s to get so bug.

Obviously, that’s not an environmental example, just something I saw personally and my own interpretation of it. I could be way off base, but I doubt I am.

That kind of situation had an impact much faster than can be seen with most environmental impacts. Some come about quickly, sure, but they don’t usually impact the company’s bottom line so directly or right away. That makes it easier to ignore, and that’s why I believe in environmental regulation. These costs shouldn’t be external to the company that created them.

I believe that there are significant problems with the way many modern corporations are run. For what it’s worth, I don’t consider them “people” either. The problem I have is that corporations consider the benefits to shareholders above all things, above the employees, above the community, above the environment, above the nation. I don’t think that’s a good thing at all.

I believe that businesses have a responsibility to the society they are in. That means paying taxes. That means considering the overall impact they’re having, not just the money they pay out to employees, executives and stockholders, but paying reasonable taxes and not creating a mess of the area they’re in. I really don’t think that’s unreasonable to ask.

Corporations aren’t people, but it’s about time we quit treating them as spoiled children, allowing them to have their way, and start expecting them to act more as responsible adults. They need to clean up their messes without complaint and pay their share of the expenses of the country that is their home.

What Is Ocean Acidification and Why Should You Care?

Anyone paying attention at all these days has heard of global warming or climate change. It’s a big deal to some, complete nonsense to those who don’t believe in it. Climate change is only a part of the problem, however. Ocean acidification is a related problem, and quite serious. So what is it? Why does it matter?

Ocean acidification is the result of the ocean absorbing carbon dioxide.  It does this normally, but as the amount of carbon in the atmosphere increases, so does the rate at which the ocean absorbs it. This is not a good thing overall, although photosynthetic algae and sea grasses may do better.

But shelled sea life suffers tremendously. More acidic sea water slowly dissolves their shells. This can impact the entire food chain, as many creatures eat shelled sea life, and of course many people do as well. Ocean acidification may result in the failure and erosion of coral reefs as well, with all that implies for the creatures which have evolved to live in them, whether or not they have a shell.

The plastic pollution in the ocean also increases the acidity.

It often amazes me how little ocean acidification is discussed when people talk about carbon emissions. It’s one of the most important impacts to consider. The oceans are big, but there’s only so much they can take, and this is something we can measure. The current increase in acidity is 30%, with the potential for the ocean to become more acidic than it has been in 20 million years.

A billion people worldwide rely on the ocean as a source of protein. It’s not a small matter to find a replacement for that. The impact of acidification may have been seen already in the Pacific coast regions of North America, where shellfish beds have been failing. The pteropods which are a basic food source for many fish and whales are decreasing in number. This isn’t just a guess. We can see it happening.