Above the Fold: Biblical floods; Booker bill

News that drives the discussion, hand-picked by our journalists and researchers

Top news of the day for Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017


1. Today's top read: "Biblical prophecy of the apocalypse"

Inside Climate News went to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia—an evangelical mountain town that suffered a terrible flood in June 2016 in which eight people died in the town of 2,400.

In the flood, residents saw the hand of God. "I'm a firm believer that God tells us in the Bible that he will warn us through signs in the sky," Kathy Glover told ICN reporter Meera Subramanian.

Where does this faith fit in with the realities of climate change?

Read the full story from Inside Climate News.

2. Driving me crazy.

Nations around the world are tackling car emissions:

  1. Singapore announced plans to crack down on cars starting in 2018. Roads already account for 12 percent of the city-state's total land area. (Source: Bloomberg)
  2. Drivers with older diesel or petrol cars in London now have to pay a daily charge just to drive in the city. (Source: Guardian)
  3. Electric carmaker Tesla announced plans to build a car factory in Shanghai. (Source: Los Angeles Times)
  4. 12 cities— Paris, Los Angeles, Mexico City, London, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Quito, Vancouver, Milan, Seattle and Auckland—pledged to buy only zero-emissions buses starting in 2025. (Source: Next City)

These announcements come as a study in the journal Ecological Applications found that car pollution may be killing salmon.

And, with perfect timing, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency posted a notice this weekend that it plans to repeal emission standards for truck components. The rule, mostly embraced by the trucking industry, was aimed at decreasing toxic air pollutants and climate-warming emissions.

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

3. Oh dam ... where's the weed?

One common theme of the recent spate of hurricanes was overwhelmed, strained dams. The US has:

  • 90,500 dams
  • Most are more than 50 years old
  • More than 96 percent are either privately owned, or by local governments, utilities.

The Bureau of Reclamation is tasked with looking at these old dams and seeing what needs to be done—redesign, removal, expansion, etc—as climate change makes extreme flood events more common. The agency is also tasked with studying another climate-induced water problem: droughts.

E&E News reports that Trump wants to zero out the budget, likely because it's a) an Obama program, b) grew out of a climate adaptation strategy.

Arizona-based cannabis king, American Green, the largest publicly traded US marijuana company, might be paying attention. The company purchased the tiny California town of Nipton–population fewer than 20 souls—in the Mojave Desert and plans to rely on groundwater for a new pot-themed resort. The question in the drought-riddled state: should aquifers be tapped so bongs can be packed?

Full story from Water Deeply.

4. Political pullout prompts protests.

After government scientists were stopped from presenting climate change research at a conference in Rhode Island on Monday, protesters descended on the event. "This type of political interference, or scientific censorship — whatever you want to call it — is ill-advised and does a real disservice to the American public and public health," Sen. Jack Reed (D), Rhode Island's senior senator, said at the conference opening.

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

5. The Book on environmental justice.

Flanked by community leaders, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker introduced the Environmental Justice Act of 2017, designed to "strengthen environmental justice protections for vulnerable communities."

"Many communities across the country are facing environmental and public health threats that for too long have gone unaddressed, seemingly only noticeable to those who deal with the effects on a daily basis. These communities are often communities of color or indigenous communities, and they tend to be low-income," said Sen. Booker.

"This is unacceptable and our bill is an important step in changing this reality."

You can see the full bill here.

There are no Republican co-sponsors, however, and the legislative tone hasn't been one of enviro protections.

More analysis on the bill from local outlet NJTV News.

6. Keep an eye on the EU ...

They're about to decide on the fate of the controversial weedkiller glyphosate, which comprises about a quarter of herbicide sales in the world.

An EU ban would have wide-ranging impacts on global agriculture. The Guardian has a primer on what's at stake.

And for a much longer glyphosate read, check out Carey Gillam's new book, Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science.

Here's an excerpt.

7. Toxics roundup.

  1. North Carolina's science board meets to figure out the state's chemical problem, specifically with a Teflon-based chemical called GenX found in the Cape Fear River. (Source: Fayetteville Observer)
  2. A University of Wisconsin-Madison lead scare on campus is over. (Source: Wisconsin State Journal)
  3. Lead-testing kit maker receives warning from feds after inspection. (Source: Reuters)
  4. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) calls on the Senate to reject the nomination of Dr. Michael Dourson to lead the EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. (Source: The Hill)
  5. A University of Michigan study find that coal is much more toxic in the long term than fracked gas. (Source: R&D Mag)

8. Economic environments.

Yes! Magazine sits down with Raj Patel to discuss capitalism, our "drive for cheapness," and his new book The History of the World in Seven Cheap Things.

"... the struggles of activism in Black Lives Matter are linked to the struggles of activism in 350.org, which is linked in turn to the struggles of activism in certain parts of Slow Food, is I think the contribution that we wanted to make," says Patel.

Read the full QA here.

In other de-growth news, China continues its strict crackdown on coal plants, steel mills and other polluters.

The New York Times reports the effort is "so broad that it is starting to affect markets."

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