This list ain’t gonna be pretty. Here at Planet Experts, we reported on some pretty lousy environmental shenanigans in June 2016. This is our list of the seven worst ways humans wrecked (or are planning to wreck) the environment in the last 30 days.
Pixar’s latest animated delight, Finding Dory, dropped this month. In advance of that light entertainment, the Center for Biological Diversity dropped this sobering fact: If you buy a Dory for your kid, you are not helping the ocean in any way. Blue tangs must be caught in the wild, and to do that fishers will use cyanide that kills coral and other animals. It’s also devastating to the local ecosystem, as we saw back in 2003 when millions of people bought clownfish after seeing Finding Nemo. It ruins their native coral reefs, so don’t do it!
“Every 2.5 minutes, the American West loses a football field worth of natural area to human development,” write the scientists at Conservation Science Partners. This month they and the Center for American Progress released a study that traces the progress of human development across 11 Western states. Foresting, agriculture and urban sprawl are all diminishing the natural ecosystem and fragmenting habitats. Pretty soon the planet’s going to look like Coruscant, folks, and not in a cool way.
A lawsuit has been brought against the Oregon Department of State Lands, claiming that the Department violated the law when it sold a 788-acre parcel of the Elliot State Forest to Seneca Jones Timber Company. The Forest is a 93,000-acre state forest where hikers, campers, hunters and fishers have long enjoyed its freedom and beauty. “[W]e believe the state of Oregon acted outside the law when it privatized this swath of the Elliott State Forest,” said Robin Meacher, wildlands campaign director with Cascadia Wildlands. “Oregonians are now met with ‘no trespassing’ signs upon entering this part of the forest, and that should be reversed by the court so that public access is maintained.”
4) We Continued to Let Bomb Trains Imperil the Public
Early this month, multiple oil tankers derailed in Oregon and went ablaze in the Columbia River Gorge. Despite the increasing frequency of oil train derailments and explosions, new federal regulations will allow puncture-prone tank cars to remain in service for up to 10 years! Meanwhile, newer tank cars are being moved at speeds well in excess of their puncture resistance. Now a massive $210 million oil-by-rail terminal is being planned for Vancouver, Washington, and city attorneys are staunchly opposed to it. “[The project] constitutes a clear and present threat to human life and health,” they wrote, and risks “significant environmental impacts and harm.”
Roughly one-third of all food produced is thrown away, which amounts to an estimated $940 billion in waste every year. As staff writer Jed Wolf explains, “These unused calories slurp up about a quarter of the total agricultural water footprint, spew out roughly eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and (like your mother told you) could be used to feed the 795 million people who go hungry each year.”
It’s been little more than a year since a corroded pipe in Santa Barbara leaked 143,000 gallons of crude oil onto San Refugio State Beach, and now 700 more barrels (or 29,400 gallons) have spilled in Ventura County. Turns out, Crimson Pipeline, which operates the Ventura pipe, has spilled approximately 7,453 barrels of hazardous waste since 2006 and ruined $5.8 million in property already. This month we also learned that the federal government permitted more than 1,200 offshore fracking operations in the Gulf of Mexico between 2010 and 2014, resulting in more than 76 billion gallons of waste fluid being dumped in the waters.
Since last year, Amazon Watch has diligently followed the mounting trainwreck that is Chevron. This month, the worst thing the oil giant did was fail to inform the residents of Richmond that its refinery was going to let off a massive flare (scaring residents who suffered an explosion at the refinery four years prior). But the bigger and more disturbing story is how the corporation skirted its legal responsibilities after dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic waste in the Ecuadorian jungle. When it realized it was going to have to pay for its crimes, Chevron sold off its assets and fled the country. Now, however, Canada’s Supreme Court has rallied behind the Ecuadorian villagers affected by Chevron’s waste and has allowed them to sue the company for $11 billion in damages. While it seems Chevron is closer than ever to reaping what it has carelessly sown, it is a shameful indictment of the international community that it took so long to get to even this point.