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Jobs at risk as south Wales coalmining site faces closure

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/06/12 - 8:29am

Nant Helen opencast site near Neath to be closed on environmental grounds

A coalmining site in south Wales is facing closure after the Welsh government used new powers to force it to halt on environmental grounds.

More than 150 jobs at the Nant Helen opencast site near Neath are under threat after the Labour-led administration stepped in, arguing that keeping the coal in the ground was in the best interests of the people of Wales.

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Categories: Environment

Russia's Putin Declares State Of Emergency After Fuel Spill In Arctic

NPR News - Environment - Fri, 2020/06/12 - 4:12am

The accident, 20,000 tons of diesel fuel spilling into a river, took place at a power plant in a city north of the Arctic Circle. Local officials face criminal charges for their slow response.

Categories: Environment

Amsterdam plants mini-gardens around bins in drive to cut littering

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2020/06/12 - 2:12am

Idea is being trialled at 17 sites after experiment with artificial grass reduced litter by half

Mini-gardens are being planted around street bins in Amsterdam in an experiment to test whether they will dissuade people from carelessly littering near them.

The trial will be conducted at 17 sites over the next three months. An earlier experiment using artificial grass at the base of 150 bins was a partial success, reducing the dumping of rubbish in the immediate vicinity by around half, but the plastic turf soon became tatty.

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Categories: Environment

Climate crisis to blame for $67bn of Hurricane Harvey damage – study

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 10:00pm

Exclusive: new figure far higher than previous estimates of direct impact of global heating

At least $67bn of the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 can be attributed directly to climate breakdown, according to research that could lead to a radical reassessment of the costs of damage from extreme weather.

Harvey ripped through the Caribbean and the US states of Texas and Louisiana, causing at least $90bn of damage to property and livelihoods, and killing scores of people.

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Categories: Environment

Santos $3.6bn Narrabri gas project formally backed by NSW government

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 9:15pm

Federal energy minister Angus Taylor welcomes decision but farmers say they have been ‘betrayed’

A contentious gas development at Narrabri, in north-west New South Wales, is a step closer to going ahead after being formally backed by the Berejiklian government.

The state Department of Planning, Industry and Environment on Friday said it had referred the $3.6bn project, proposed by the oil and gas giant Santos, to the state’s Independent Planning Commission and recommended it be approved with what it described as strict conditions.

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Categories: Environment

Glencore's $1.5bn coalmine a step closer after Queensland grants special status

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 8:17pm

If greenlit, Valeria open-cut coalmine would dig up 20m tonnes of the fossil fuels over 35 years

The Switzerland-based mining company Glencore will push ahead with a proposed $1.5bn open-cut coalmine after the Queensland government announced it had granted the project special status on Friday.

The Queensland government’s decision will bring environmental and other assessments for the mine, which would dig up 20m tonnes of the fossil fuel annually for 35 years, under the office of the state’s coordinator general.

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Categories: Environment

EPA Orders Amazon And EBay To Stop Selling Bogus Coronavirus-Fighting Products

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 7:18pm

On Thursday the EPA ordered the e-commerce giants to stop selling a list of unregistered and misbranded products, some of which contained toxic chemicals like methylene chloride and chlorine dioxide.

(Image credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Categories: Environment

Let's get political...

The Field Lab - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 5:38pm
I have never had any respect for the White House Press Secretary - no matter who is in office.  They are nothing but a whore for their boss and they will double down on every lie.  It's only fitting that Trump's looks like... A. a prostitute, B. a porn star, C. a blow up doll.  93,100,74,0,B
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Revealed: more than 1,000 metric tons of microplastics rain down on US parks and wilderness

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 11:30am

A survey of 11 remote western locations found that, over a year, the fragments had traveled through the atmosphere like rain or water particles

Microplastic particles equivalent to as many as 300m plastic water bottles are raining down on the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree and other US national parks, researchers have found.

In a survey of 11 remote western locations, also including the Great Basin and Craters of the Moon national parks, researchers discovered more than 1,000 metric tons of microplastic particles that had traveled through the atmosphere like rain or water particles.

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Categories: Environment

What Happens When Sea Otters Eat 15 Pounds of Shellfish A Day

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 11:02am

The return of sea otters to historic habitats can restore ecosystems and bring economic benefits, but hungry otters can also threaten the food security of remote indigenous communities.

(Image credit: Ted S. Warren/AP)

Categories: Environment

Adani mine: three major insurers to have no further involvement in coal project

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 10:30am

AXA, Liberty Mutual and HDI will not provide future policies to the Carmichael coalmine after previous cover expires

Three major insurance groups that provided cover for parts of the Adani coal project in Queensland have said they will not provide future policies to the project.

AXA XL, Liberty Mutual and HDI have told Guardian Australia they will not have any further involvement in the project after previously providing insurance cover that has now expired.

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Categories: Environment

'Surprisingly rapid' rebound in carbon emissions post-lockdown

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 10:30am

Busier roads to blame, with fears of worse to come as workers shun public transport

Carbon dioxide emissions have rebounded around the world as lockdown conditions have eased, raising fears that annual emissions of greenhouse gases could surge to higher than ever levels after the coronavirus pandemic, unless governments take swift action.

Emissions fell by a quarter when the lockdowns were at their peak, and in early April global daily carbon dioxide emissions were still down by 17% compared with the average figure for 2019, research published last month in the journal Nature Climate Change found.

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Categories: Environment

Indigenous-run firm behind Collinsville coal-fired plant says Coalition used it 'as a pawn'

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 10:30am

Shine Energy, run by Indigenous traditional owners, is yet to receive $4m in funding and doubts support is genuine

The company behind a proposed new coal-fired power plant in Queensland has questioned whether the Coalition used it as a pawn to help win last year’s federal election, saying it is yet to receive $4m in funding and doubts whether support for the project is genuine.

Shine Energy, run by Indigenous traditional owners from Birri and Widi country, said it was not confident it would get the promised funding for a feasibility study into a 1,000 megawatt coal station at Collinsville despite four federal ministers releasing a statement in February confirming it had been awarded.

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Categories: Environment

Canadian conservation officer fired for refusing to kill bear cubs wins legal battle

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 10:20am

Casavant shot mother black bear under province policy but was suspended and eventually fired for not killing cubs

A conservation officer in Canada who was fired for refusing to kill two black bear cubs has won a protracted legal battle over his termination.

“I feel like the black clouds that have hung over my family for years are finally starting to part,” Bryce Casavant told the Guardian. “But the moment is bittersweet – my firing should have never happened in the first place.”

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Categories: Environment

The UK's barn owls are growing in number – and for once it's thanks to humans

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 3:00am

Up to 80% of these distinctive birds now nest in man-made boxes, though encouraging them to set up home takes time, finds one Guardian writer

My mum fist-pumped when I told her I had seen a barn owl using a nest box on our farm. She has been trying to coax them in since she moved here 35 years ago. 

There were signs the owls might be thinking of settling down – we found a pellet (regurgitated fur and bones from rodents) at the base of a nest box in February and splatters of poo below another box. Then last week the eureka moment came when one flew out of a box. 

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Categories: Environment

X marks the spot: treasure hunters in shock after reported $2m find in Rocky Mountains

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 2:30am

Reactions to the announcement by eccentric millionaire Forrest Fenn that his hoard had been found range from surprise to delight and disbelief

Treasure hunters have reacted with shock, delight and disbelief to the news that a chest containing gems, gold and antiques worth up to $2m has reportedly been found in the Rocky Mountains.

“I’ve had every emotion under the sun,” said Sacha Dent of Kansas, who dedicated years to a quest that resulted in the deaths of up to five people.

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Categories: Environment

Yosemite Welcomes Back Visitors After Coronavirus Closure

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 2:00am

Yosemite National Park reopens Thursday after nearly three months of closure because of the pandemic. Local businesses are beginning to reopen as well, and many visitors are eager to return.

(Image credit: Ezra David Romero/CapRadio)

Categories: Environment

Backlash grows over Greek energy deregulation law

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2020/06/11 - 12:00am

Campaigners fear damage to protected regions by companies exploiting their resources

The Greek government is facing growing opposition over a controversial environmental super-law passed when debate and public consultation were curtailed by lockdown measures imposed as a result of the pandemic. 

Resistance has intensified as part of a grassroots revolt over legislation that critics contend will irrevocably change the face of Greece. 

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Categories: Environment


The Field Lab - Wed, 2020/06/10 - 11:53am
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Superfood Security is a Seed Away: Doug Fine’s AMERICAN HEMP FARMER is here.

Doug Fine - Mon, 2020/04/13 - 2:54pm


Doug Fine’s AMERICAN HEMP FARMER is here.

As are many of us, I’m feeling grateful for a lot of things at the moment. In particular, I’m sure glad it struck the three-years-ago-version-of-me as a fun idea to write an optimistic, humorous book that also provides a blueprint for establishing food security in your backyard.

For whatever reason, folks seem to want “funny” and “uplifting” at the moment. And laughing your way to food security? Seemed like a pleasant route. Still does. I’m doing it today – my fingers are still dank with humus as I type. Hemp farming is pretty easy, it attracts bees, and it’s all around about the most fun you can have outside the bedroom.

What I’m describing (and living) is  my new book, AMERICAN HEMP FARMER. It details a season in the burgeoning and newly-legalized hemp industry from a regenerative farmer perspective. The premise is this: a billion-dollar industry is great, but only meaningful if the actual farmers benefit at the retail level from the hemp renaissance.

For customers, the  win-win is that regenerative farming modes result in by-far the best hemp products. It’s not even close. Like fresh squeezed OJ beats frozen concentrate. All while sequestering carbon.

Turns out we have friends in low places. In nurturing a hemp field, we’re not the only species midwifing our hemp crop by planting time. To name one of a few hundred million, I recently gathered and brewed some fluffy white steaks of my watershed’s mycelium allies (fungus), which my family and I applying to our preseason soil in a compost tea this week.

Which leads to the core reason I wrote the book, from the introduction:

Six years ago, a bear fleeing a wildfire in our New Mexico backyard killed nearly all of my family’s goats in front of our eyes. It wasn’t the bear’s fault: he was a climate refugee. It was June of 2013, and drought had weakened the ponderosa pines and Douglas fir surrounding our remote Funky Butte Ranch. Beetles took advantage, and all of southern New Mexico was a tinderbox. Ho hum, just another climate event that until recently would have been called a “millennial” fire.

That’s the paramount reason I’m an overworked employee of the hemp plant: The people I care about most are one blaze away from joining the world’s 20 million climate refugees. At least I get the pleasure of putting “goat sitter” under occupation on my tax form.

The conflagration convinced me that I had to do something, personally, to work on this climate change problem. After some research about carbon sequestration through soil building, it became clear that planting as much hemp as possible was the best way to actively mitigate climate change and help restore normal rainfall cycles to our ecosystem.

This is why I treasure much more than just hemp’s flower gold rush (CBD, CBG, etc.). I also love hemp seed’s superfood and hemp fiber. It’s why I carry a 3D printed hemp plastic goat nearly everywhere I go.

A biomaterials-based economy doesn’t just perform better in our stuff, it means goodbye Pacific Garbage Patch. That is, when everything, even our batteries, is compostable or reusable (I mention batteries because next-generation hemp-based supercapacitors are discussed in AMERICAN HEMP FARMER).

We actually have been given a realistic opportunity to bridge humanity’s climate stabilization mission with its digital trajectory. In AMERICAN HEMP FARMER, I endeavor to connect the dots in my work, my food, and my whole life, with the thinking that if enough of us do the same, humanity’s got a shot in this here bottom of the climactic ninth.

It’s a solution-based book. Which is to say, it’s chock full of my own mistakes, as well as the triumphs and travails of many of my regenerative farmer friends and colleagues. Michael Pollan argues that we have co-evolved with certain plants, including cannabis. To be sure, hemp/human relations do go back 8,000 years. AMERICAN HEMP FARMER broaches the proud history of government-supported Hemp For Victory gardens going beyond the well-known World War II “Hemp For Victory” effort, all the way back to George Washington himself: in fact, at Mount Vernon last fall, I helped harvest the first hemp crop since President Washington’s time – I did this in colonial clothing and with (trust me) a very sharp sickle.

And that was before nutritionists knew about hemp’s ideal Omega 9-6-3 balance, high mineral content, and rare amount of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) — a fatty acid associated with anti-inflammatory properties, Whereas my family’s own hemp diet once bankrolled the Canadian economy, for the past there years it’s been free. Hemp got federally legalized in the 2014 Farm Bill, and I and my sons get in the soil at this time every year and grow it ourselves. In AMERICAN HEMP FARMER, you’ll even read about a study that indicates a hemp diet might combat obesity.

Sowing hemp is pretty easy, and the harvest is both copious (around 1,000 pounds per acre) and extremely delicious. And I eat a lot of it. Easily a cup a day. As do both my human kids and my goat kids. Indeed it’s very hard to keep the goats out of the field. Hemp seeds are an essential part not just of my family’s health maintenance plan, but of our food security plan. And anyone can do it.

AMERICAN HEMP FARMER is available everywhere now in book, e-book and audiobook form (I narrated the audiobook, which was super fun). And I hope that you find yourself at once giggling and learning as you read it. You can order it here.

Please feel free to share this Dispatch with your friends, family and professional networks. It would be great for folks everywhere to know that not just food security, but superfood security, is a seed (and a permit) away.

Meanwhile, it’s spring on the Funky Butte Ranch, and as AMERICAN HEMP FARMER advises, I’ve got my own hemp permit application filed, I’m building soil (just as the Funky Butte apricots burst into bloom), and I’m ready to grow another scrumptious crop. I like the feeling of knowing my family will thrive for another year no matter what.  When you read AMERICAN HEMP FARMER, you’ll see that you and yours can too. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy.

Some reviews follow below, and I’m sending immense thanks for your support/ in ordering this book and telling your friends. OK, I’m off to the field to dump more goat poop and alfalfa on the soon-to-be-planted Funky Butte Ranch hemp field

-Doug Fine

Funky Butte Ranch, New Mexico

April 13, 2020


Book Doug’s Live Event here.

 Subscribe to the Dispatches From the Funky Butte Ranch newsletter and follow Doug on Instagram and Twitter @organiccowboy



American Hemp Farmer would have been in George Washington’s library. President Washington grew hemp and was a passionate, regenerative agriculturist. Washington sought advice from those that practiced their trade. Doug Fine‘s American Hemp Farmer is a scholarly, practical and impeccably enjoyable work and a must-read for those who cultivate hemp or are interested in leaping in.”  –J. Dean Norton, Director of Horticulture, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate.

“With American Hemp Farmer, Doug Fine shows he is not just our preeminent hemp author, he is one of the most important authors of our time. As I’ve watched him leap between tending goats on his Funky Butte Ranch and hemp fields in Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and who-knows-where else, it sometimes occurs to me that he might be the most interesting man alive. The resulting book is an absolute must read.  –Eric Steenstra, Executive Director, VoteHemp

“A fantastic piece of Americana that shows the way to a sustainable future.” -David Bronner, CEO, Dr. Bronner’s Soaps

“I hope every hemp farmer and policymaker reads this book carefully. It details a roadmap for success, for farmers and the planet. And that’s probably because Doug doesn’t just write about hemp, he lives it.” —Cary Giguere, State Hemp Program Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

                                  Further Praise for Doug’s Work
“Fine is a writer in he mold of Douglas Adams.” —Washington Post

“Fine is Bryson funny.” —Santa Cruz Sentinel

Doug has written the best book of the year and a blueprint for the future of America.”                       –Willie Nelson

About Doug Fine

Doug Fine is a comedic investigative journalist, bestselling author, and a solar-powered goat herder. He has cultivated hemp for food, farm-to-table products and seed-building in four U.S. states, and teaches a college hemp class. Willie Nelson calls Doug’s work “a blueprint for the America of the future.” The Washington Post says, “Fine is a storyteller in the mold of Douglas Adams.”  A website of Doug’s print, radio and television work, United Nations testimony, Conan and Tonight Show appearances and TED Talk is at dougfine.com and his social media handle is @organiccowboy.

Book Doug’s Live Event here.

 Subscribe to the Dispatches From the Funky Butte Ranch newsletter and follow Doug on Instagram and Twitter @organiccowboy

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs
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