Photo Credit: Marc Ching

Here at Planet Experts, we like reporting good news. We like it when countries unanimously vote to improve their sustainability goals and when presidents fight for cleaner air regulations for their citizens. But sunny as those stories are, all we do in those cases is reflect that brightness. Our real job in this news business is shining lights on stories that don’t see the sun. And if we do our job right, the horror and the outrage of our readers is worth the change that it engenders.

These are the three stories we reported this month that need more eyes, and more outrage.

3) The Porter Ranch Problem Is Not Going Away

When methane began spewing out of a natural gas well in Los Angeles’ Aliso Canyon, every major news network covered the story. While methane is not immediately harmful to human health (unless you’re trapped in a room with it), it did cause the neighboring residents of Porter Ranch nosebleeds, headaches, nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath. And from an environmental standpoint, releasing 62 million cubic feet of methane into the atmosphere every day for several months was wildly at odds with California’s otherwise progressive climate action strategy.

The pollution was bad, having to relocate Porter Ranch homeowners was bad, the whole situation was bad. But once the well was sealed, the story largely died down in media outlets. But the story isn’t over. Reporter Greg Schwartz followed up on the aftermath of the Aliso Canyon leak and discovered that the residents of Porter Ranch are still looking for justice.

Jennifer Milbauer speaking at the Break Free rally in downtown LA, May 14, 2016. (Photo Credit: Greg Schwartz)

Jennifer Milbauer speaking at the Break Free rally in downtown LA, May 14, 2016. (Photo Credit: Greg Schwartz)

Jennifer Milbauer and others have joined together to protest natural gas development and demand further investigation into the health effects of methane exposure. “It’s heartbreaking when your child tells you they’re scared to live in your home,” Milbauer told a crowd of protesters last month. “We have 4,000 people still out of their houses and when they come back they get headaches and nosebleeds… so I want to call on our elected officials… to stand up to the $11 billion beast that is SoCal Gas and shut it down!”

In the second part of Schwartz’s investigation, he uncovers a political and bureaucratic runaround that seems to do everything but help Porter Ranch find closure.

2) Dogs Are Being Brutally Tortured in Asia

In June, Marc Ching and his Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation joined Planet Experts. Marc has dedicated himself to shutting down the brutal dog slaughterhouses that supply the Asian dog meat trade. In these places, dogs are sadistically tortured, and Marc has spoken about seeing dogs literally crucified to walls with nail guns, beaten, burned alive, hung and vivisected.

Incredibly, the torture is a fundamental part of the dog meat trade, due to the belief that torture actually improves the flavor of the meat and can bestow health benefits to the consumer. This month, Marc and other activists shut down six dog slaughterhouses in China and are calling on anyone who can help give the rescued dogs a loving home.

Marc Ching with the rescued duck and lamb. (Photo courtesy of Animal Health and Wellness Foundation)

Marc Ching. (Photo courtesy of Animal Health and Wellness Foundation)

Marc’s quest to shut down the slaughterhouses comes at great personal risk to himself, and he has been threatened and assaulted in his attempts. The videos he shares are hard to watch, but Marc’s story, and the story of these dogs, needs to be told.

1) Land Activists Are Being Murdered in Latin America

In Nicaragua, Colombia and Peru, native activists are being murdered for speaking out against the exploitation of their land. Sadly, this deadly phenomenon is not new, and is only getting worse over time. Last year, Planet Experts spoke to Andrew Miller, the Washingtion, D.C. Advocacy Director for Amazon Watch, on the terror perpetrated against native Amazonians.

“The degree to which they are defending their communities and peoples, indigenous (and other grassroots) leaders find themselves in direct conflict with powerful economic and political interests,” said Miller. “If you don’t go for the carrot (often involving selling out for pennies), prepare for the stick… Brazil, Peru, and Colombia are amongst the most deadly countries for environmental and land rights defenders.”

Honduran activist Berta Caceres was killed. Photo via

Honduran activist Berta Caceres was killed in March. Photo via

Miller added that violence is carried out against indigenous peoples “with virtual impunity” due to corruption and the increasing crackdowns on government protest.

This month, staff writer Nick Marinoff reported that native killings are up 60 percent from where they were last year. “High levels of corruption in Latin America and weak rule of law means many [land development projects] get the green light and perpetrators of violence get away with killings,” said Global Witness campaign leader Billy Kyte. “Governments and companies are more and more brazenly killing environmental activists.”

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