Category Archives: Technology

US House Applauded for Approval of ‘Sweeping’ Provisions That Target Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’

As part of the annual defense spending bill, lawmakers passed several amendments on PFAS, including one that would designate them “hazardous substances” under the Superfund law

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-12-2019

The U.S. House just passed several measures targeting so-called “forever chemicals” that experts warn have likely contaminated the drinking water of millions of Americans. (Photo: Bart/Flickr/cc)

Public health and environmental advocates celebrated a victory Friday as the U.S. House approved an amendment in the annual defense spending bill that would designate a class of “forever chemicals” as “hazardous substances” under the federal Superfund law.

The amendment was one of several provisions targeting toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—collectively called PFAS—that the Democratic-controlled House passed this week as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. Continue reading

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Call to Action by Journalists, Academics Urges Americans to Use ‘All Nonviolent Means Necessary’ to Shut Down Trump Detention Camps

“From abolitionism to Standing Rock, Americans have come together time and again to defy horrific injustice. Now, as the government tries to normalize concentration camps, it is time like never before to target those responsible.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-9-2019

“Inspired by the civil rights movement, ACT-UP, and early labor struggles, we must employ every nonviolent tactic at our disposal to oppose this institutionalized criminality,” states the call to action. (Image: NoMoreConcentrationCamps.org)

A group of nearly two dozen prominent journalists, academics, and activists Tuesday called on Americans across the nation to use “any nonviolent means necessary” to force the closure of President Donald Trump’s immigrant detention facilities.

“We are calling on all people of conscience to shut down the concentration camps on the U.S.-Mexico border,” reads the call to action, which was backed by renowned linguist and dissident Noam Chomsky, environmentalist and author Naomi Klein, Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill, and others. Continue reading

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Retired oil rigs off the California coast could find new lives as artificial reefs

A school of juvenile bocaccio in the midwaters of Platform Gilda, Santa Barbara Channel, Calif. Scott Gietler, CC BY-ND

Ann Scarborough Bull, University of California, Santa Barbara and Milton Love, University of California, Santa Barbara

Offshore oil and gas drilling has been a contentious issue in California for 50 years, ever since a rig ruptured and spilled 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude oil off Santa Barbara in 1969. Today it’s spurring a new debate: whether to completely dismantle 27 oil and gas platforms scattered along the southern California coast as they end their working lives, or convert the underwater sections into permanent artificial reefs for marine life.

We know that here and elsewhere, many thousands of fishes and millions of invertebrates use offshore rigs as marine habitat. Working with state fisheries agencies, energy companies have converted decommissioned oil and gas platforms into manmade reefs in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Brunei and Malaysia. Continue reading

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Citing $69 Trillion Price Tag by 2100, Moody’s Warns Central Banks of Far-Reaching Economic Damage of Climate Crisis

“There is no denying it: The longer we wait to take bold action to curb emissions, the higher the costs will be for all of us.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-3-2019

Arid soils are shown in Mauritania in 2012, when crops failed because of a severe drought which led to a food crisis that impacted millions of people across West Africa. (Photo: Oxfam International/Flickr/cc)

Noting previous warnings that the human-caused climate crisis could cause trillions of dollars in damage to the global economy by the end of the century, a new report from Moody’s Analytics explores the economic implications of the international community’s failure to curb planet-warming emissions.

Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi told The Washington Post—which first reported on the new analysis—that this is “the first stab at trying to quantify what the macroeconomic consequences might be” of the global climate crisis, and it comes in response to European commercial banks and central banks. The climate emergency is “not a cliff event. It’s not a shock to the economy. It’s more like a corrosive,” Zandi added. But it is “getting weightier with each passing year.” Continue reading

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‘We Need to Ban Fracking’: New Analysis of 1,500 Scientific Studies Details Threat to Health and Climate

“The data show that fracking impairs the health of people who live nearby, especially pregnant women, and swings a wrecking ball at the climate.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-19-2019

“There is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly and without imperiling climate stability upon which public health depends,” according to a new analysis. (Photo: Wendy Shattil/Bob Rozinksi/Creative Commons)

A comprehensive analysis of nearly 1,500 scientific studies, government reports, and media stories on the consequences of fracking released Wednesday found that the evidence overwhelmingly shows the drilling method poses a profound threat to public health and the climate.

The sixth edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (the Compendium), published by Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York, found that “90.3 percent of all original research studies published from 2016-2018 on the health impacts of fracking found a positive association with harm or potential harm.” Continue reading

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Horror on the Border: Slew of Recent Incidents Highlight Human Rights Crisis

More bad news from the southern border

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-14-2019

There has been a steady stream of heartbreaking news at the southern border under the President Donald Trump administration, including the jailing of children and deaths of detained migrants.

Five stories in just the last several days punctuate the crisis: Continue reading

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“This Is What Fascists Do”: Trump Attempted to Suppress State Dept Analyst’s Testimony on Climate Crisis

“This is as damning as it is shameful.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-9-2019

State Department intelligence analyst Rod Schoonover’s testimony was nearly suppressed last week by the Trump administration. Schoonover testified before a House committee about the national security risks posed by the climate crisis. (Photo: Environmental Change and Security Program/Flickr/cc)

The Trump administration issued one of its most blatant attacks on climate science this past week when it tried to stop a State Department employee from testifying on the climate crisis, reports showed on Saturday.

As the Washington Post reported, intelligence analyst Rod Schoonover’s testimony was submitted to the White House for approval ahead of his planned appearance before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. His remarks focused on the national security risks posed by the climate crisis. Continue reading

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Alarm as Trump Energy Dept Redefines ‘High-Level’ Nuclear Waste to ‘Low-Level’ in Order to Save Disposal Costs

“If you’ve got a problem with radioactive waste, you could clean it up, a costly and onerous process, or you could just change the definition of it. Guess which one the Trump administration has decided to do?”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-6-2019

The Savannah River Site in South Carolina is one of three Defense Reprocessing Waste Inventories where the Department of Energy will be reclassifying nuclear waste as safer than it has for decades, allowing the government to dispose of the waste more easily and potentially posing a risk for the surrounding environment. (Photo: Savannah River Site/Flickr/cc)

In a move that will roll back safety standards that have been observed for decades, the Trump administration reportedly has plans to reclassify nuclear waste previously listed as “high-level” radioactive to a lower level, in the interest of saving money and time when disposing of the material.

The Department of Energy (DOE) plans to observe a new interpretation of which nuclear waste qualifies as “high-level waste,” which must be disposed of deep underground to avoid contaminating the surrounding environment. Under the new standards, radioactive materials at three nuclear sites will be classified as low-risk, enabling officials to dispose of the waste in shallow pits. Continue reading

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‘Single Most Important Stat on the Planet’: Alarm as Atmospheric CO2 Soars to ‘Legit Scary’ Record High

“We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-5-2019

Photo: Martin/flickr

In another alarming signal that the international community is failing to take the kind of ambitious action necessary to avert global climate catastrophe, NOAA released new data Tuesday showing that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels—which environmentalist Bill McKibben described as the “single most important stat on the planet”—reached a “record high” in the month of May.

“The measurement is the highest seasonal peak recorded in 61 years of observations on top of Hawaii’s largest volcano and the seventh consecutive year of steep global increases in concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2),” NOAA said in a statement on Tuesday. “The 2019 peak value was 3.5 PPM higher than the 411.2 PPM peak in May 2018 and marks the second-highest annual jump on record.” Continue reading

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‘Existential’ Risk of Climate Crisis Could Lead to Civilizational Collapse by 2050, Warns Report

“The world is currently completely unprepared to envisage, and even less deal with, the consequences of catastrophic climate change.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-4-2019

The Holy Fire, Lake Elsinore, California. Photo: slworking2/flickr

Even by the standards of the dire predictions given in climate studies, this one’s extreme: civilization itself could be past the point of no return by 2050.

That’s the conclusion from Australian climate think tank Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, which released a report (pdf) May 30 claiming that unless humanity takes drastic and immediate action to stop the climate crisis, a combination of food production instability, water shortages, and extreme weather could result in a complete societal breakdown worldwide. Continue reading

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