Tag Archives: Fossil fuels

US Gas Flaring Releases Five Times More Methane Than Previously Thought

“This study adds to the growing body of research that tells us that the oil and gas industry has a flaring problem,” said Jon Goldstein of EDF, which conducted related research on the practice.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 9-29-2022 by Common Dreams

Natural Gas flaring in West Texas oil field. Photo: Jonathan Cutrer/flickr/CC

Flaring, the process of burning natural gas escaping from fossil fuel wells, releases five times more methane than previously believed, according to an analysis of most U.S. operations, published Thursday in the journal Science.

The study, led by researchers at the University of Michigan, is based on data collected during 13 flights over three years at the Bakken oil and gas field in North Dakota as well as the Eagle Ford and Permian fields in Texas—which collectively have over 80% of all U.S. flaring operations. Continue reading

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Rallies Across Africa Demand Global Action, Climate Justice Ahead of UN Summit

“The urgency of the climate crisis cannot be understated, particularly here in Africa, which is the region most vulnerable to climate impacts,” said one campaigner.

By Brett Wilkins  Published 9-23-2022 by Common Dreams

Ugandan climate activists demonstrate in Kampala on September 23, 2022. (Photo: Hilda F. Nakabuye/Twitter)

Thousands of African activists and members of communities on the frontlines of the worsening climate emergency turned out Friday to call on world leaders—who will gather in Egypt in November for the United Nations Climate Summit—to urgently address a crisis that disproportionately impacts their lives.

Demonstrators took to the streets, public spaces, and even waterways in countries across a continent that’s responsible for just 4% of global greenhouse emissions to demand climate justice and an end to fossil fuel exploration and extraction ahead of the U.N.’s COP27 conference, scheduled to start November 6 in Sharm El-Sheikh. Continue reading

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‘Earth Is Now Our Only Shareholder’: Founder Gives Away Patagonia to Save the Planet

“Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people,” said Yvon Chouinard. “We are going to give away the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet.”

By Jessica Corbett  Published 9-14-2022 by Common Dreams

“We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact,” Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard wrote in a letter explaining his family’s ownership decision. (Photo: Patagonia/Facebook)

Patagonia founder and “reluctant billionaire” Yvon Chouinard just raised the bar for corporate action on the fossil fuel-driven planetary emergency.

The 83-year-old, his wife Malinda, and their adult children, Fletcher and Claire, gave away the company, valued at about $3 billion. The rock climber-turned-businessman explained the decision in an interview published Wednesday by The New York Times, along with a letter on the outdoor clothing retailer’s website. Continue reading

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‘Hidden Killer’: Experts Urge Action After Study Shows How Air Pollution Causes Lung Cancer

“If you want to address human health, you have to address climate health first,” said Charles Swanton, who led the research team.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 9-11-2022 by Common Dreams

Steam rises from the cooling towers of the Jänschwalde lignite-fired power plant—which is to be taken off the grid and shut down by 2028 as Germany phases out coal. Photo: Julia Seeliger/flickr/CC

Experts emphasized the importance of more ambitiously addressing air pollution from fossil fuels after the presentation of a new breakthrough on lung cancer in Paris on Saturday.

Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute and University College London (UCL) shared their findings—part of the TRACERx lung study funded by Cancer Research U.K.—at the annual conference of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

“Our study has fundamentally changed how we view lung cancer in people who have never smoked,” said Cancer Research U.K. chief clinician Charles Swanton, who led and presented the research.

The way air pollution causes cancer differs from cigarettes and sunlight. Tobacco smoke and ultraviolet light damage the structure of DNA, creating mutations that cause cancer. Air pollution causes inflammation in the lungs, affecting cells that carry mutations.

“Cells with cancer-causing mutations accumulate naturally as we age, but they are normally inactive,” Swanton explained. “We’ve demonstrated that air pollution wakes these cells up in the lungs, encouraging them to grow and potentially form tumors.”

The team analyzed 463,679 individuals from England, South Korea, and Taiwan, and examined lung tissue samples from humans and mice following exposure to particulate matter, or PM2.5—air particles that are no larger than 2.5 micrometers in diameter.

They found higher rates of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutant lung cancer—and other types of cancers—in people who lived in areas with higher levels of PM2.5 pollution. They also found that, at least in mice, blocking a molecule which causes inflammation and is released in response to PM2.5 exposure prevents cancers from forming.

“According to our analysis, increasing air pollution levels increases the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma, and cancers of the mouth and throat,” noted Emilia Lim, co-first author and postdoctoral researcher at the Francis Crick Institute and UCL. “This finding suggests a broader role for cancers caused by inflammation triggered by a carcinogen like air pollution.”

“Even small changes in air pollution levels can affect human health,” she said, adding that 99% of the global population lives in areas that exceed annual World Health Organization (WHO) limits for PM2.5, “underlining the public health challenges posed by air pollution across the globe.”

The WHO—when updating guidelines on air quality last September for the first time in over 15 years—warned that “the burden of disease attributable to air pollution is now estimated to be on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diet and tobacco smoking, and air pollution is now recognized as the single biggest environmental threat to human health.”

While most of the human population is exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution—which is tied to other health issues including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), dementia, and heart disease—research has repeatedly shown it’s often worse in the poorest communities.

One 2021 study found that air pollution reduces the average global citizen’s life by over two years. Citing an estimate that it is tied to more than eight million deaths worldwide per year, Swanton called air pollution a “hidden killer,” according to Agence France-Presse.

Swanton stressed in a statement that “the same particles in the air that derive from the combustion of fossil fuels, exacerbating climate change, are directly impacting human health via an important and previously overlooked cancer-causing mechanism in lung cells.”

“The risk of lung cancer from air pollution is lower than from smoking, but we have no control over what we all breathe,” the scientist said. “Globally, more people are exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution than to toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke, and these new data link the importance of addressing climate health to improving human health.”

“It’s a wake-up call on the impact of pollution on human health,” he told The Guardian. “You cannot ignore climate health. If you want to address human health, you have to address climate health first.”

Tony Mok of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who was not involved in the study, similarly said in a statement that “as consumption of fossil fuels goes hand in hand with pollution and carbon emissions, we have a strong mandate for tackling these issues—for both environmental and health reasons.”

Like the scientists who conducted the study, Mok also pointed out how it could help with the prevention of lung cancer among nonsmokers.

“This research is intriguing and exciting as it means that we can ask whether, in the future, it will be possible to use lung scans to look for pre-cancerous lesions in the lungs and try to reverse them with medicines,” Mok said.

“We don’t yet know whether it will be possible to use highly sensitive EGFR profiling on blood or other samples to find nonsmokers who are predisposed to lung cancer and may benefit from lung scanning,” he added, “so discussions are still very speculative.”

Suzette Delaloge, head of the cancer prevention program at France’s Gustave Roussy institute, was also not involved in the research but discussed it with AFP in Paris this weekend.

“The study is quite an important step for science—and for society too, I hope,” she said, noting that it was “quite revolutionary, because we had practically no prior demonstration of this alternative way of cancer forming.”

“This opens a huge door, both for knowledge but also for new ways to prevent” cancer, added Delaloge. “This level of demonstration must force authorities to act on an international scale.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
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If you thought this summer’s heat waves were bad, a new study has some disturbing news about dangerous heat in the future

Parts of China suffered through a monthslong heat wave in summer 2022.
China Photos/Getty Images

David Battisti, University of Washington

As global temperatures rise, people in the tropics, including places like India and Africa’s Sahel region, will likely face dangerously hot conditions almost daily by the end of the century – even as the world reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, a new study shows.

The mid-latitudes, including the U.S., will also face increasing risks. There, the number of dangerously hot days, marked by temperatures and humidity high enough to cause heat exhaustion, is projected to double by the 2050s and continue to rise.

In the study, scientists looked at population growth, economic development patterns, energy choices and climate models to project how heat index levels – the combination of heat and humidity – will change over time. We asked University of Washington atmospheric scientist David Battisti, a co-author of the study, published Aug. 25, 2022, to explain the findings and what they mean for humans around the world. Continue reading

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90% of Marine Species Face Extinction Under Emissions Status Quo: Study

While the research predicts “a potentially bleak future for many marine species,” the authors say it “also measures how much our oceans and the life within them stand to benefit from both climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

By Julia Conley  Published 8-22-2022 by Common Dreams

Various fish including bigscale soldierfish / ‘ū’ū (Myripristis berndti), Moorish idols / kihikihi (Zanclus cornutus), and a masked angelfish (Genicanthus personatus) swim in a small outcropping of coral on a reef in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Photo: Andrew Gray for NOAA/flickr/CC

A new study details the disastrous consequences that would result for marine life across the world’s oceans if current levels of fossil fuel emissions are maintained, with up to 90% of ocean species facing extinction.

Daniel Boyce, a research scientist at Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia, Canada, led the study examining 35,000 species of marine flora and fauna as well as bacteria and protozoans, devising a new analytical tool called the Climate Risk Index for Biodiversity (CRIB). Continue reading

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Kids Born Near Fracking Sites 2-3 Times More Likely to Develop Leukemia: Study

Exposure to fracking and its effects is “a major public health concern,” said a study co-author.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 8-17-2022 by Common Dreams

An oil rig is couched between a field of celery and broccoli near Santa Maria, CA. Photo: Faces of Fracking/flickr/CC

Adding further evidence of the negative public health impacts associated with planet-heating fossil fuel pollution, new research published Wednesday found that children living in close proximity to fracking and other so-called “unconventional” drilling operations at birth face significantly higher chances of developing childhood leukemia than those not residing near such activity.

The peer-reviewed study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, examined the relationship between residential proximity to unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD) and risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood leukemia. Continue reading

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‘Big Win’ for Public Lands and Climate as US Judge Reinstates Coal Lease Ban

“It’s past time that this misguided action by the Trump administration is overturned,” said one environmental campaigner.

By Brett Wilkins  Published 8-12-2022 by Common Dreams

Surface coal mine in Gillette, Wyoming. Photo: Greg Goebel/Wikimedia Commons/CC

Climate and Indigenous activists on Friday applauded the reinstatement of an Obama-era moratorium prohibiting new coal leases on all public lands until after the completion of a thorough environmental review.

Brian Morris, chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Montana, issued an order reinstating the 2016 moratorium, which Ryan Zinke, former President Donald Trump’s disgraced interior secretary, reversed the following year. Continue reading

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Inside the Democrats’ climate deal with the devil

The new climate package furthers the US’ most profligate pastimes: drilling oil and driving big cars

By Aaron White  Published 8-2-2022 by openDemocracy

Senator Joe Manchin Photo: Third Way Think Tank/flickr/CC

Last week, Joe Manchin, the West Virginia senator whose decisive vote in the evenly split upper house has led some to brand him ‘President Manchin’, and Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer surprised even the most clued-in political junkies by announcing support for a climate bill that had been declared dead just several weeks before.

The 725-page legislation seemed a brief respite from a summer of extreme weather – a brutal heatwave and flooding across the US – as well as soaring inflation, a cost of living crisis and radical Supreme Court rulings that overturned abortion rights and limited the regulatory power of the Environmental Protection Agency. Continue reading

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Indigenous-Led Blockade Demands Biden Declare Climate Emergency, End Oil Leasing

“Native land back in native hands, we are not your sacrifice zones!”

By Jake Johnson   Published 8-1-2022 by Common Dreams

A demonstrator is suspended from a tripod structure in front of the Interior Department in Washington, D.C. on August 1, 2022. (Photo: About Face: Veterans Against the War/Twitter)

An Indigenous-led blockade outside the U.S. Department of Interior early Monday morning called on President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency and halt all new fossil fuel projects, a demand that came as the White House and Senate Democrats are pushing legislation that could unleash a flurry of drilling activity on public lands and waters.

“Native land back in native hands, we are not your sacrifice zones!” declared the Ikiya Collective, which helped organize the direct action. Continue reading

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