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Big Food and Chemical Corporations Spend Millions to Attack Organic
Report exposes growth in front groups and PR spin to win over skeptical consumers
In response to skyrocketing growth in organic and non-GMO food sales, food and agrochemical companies have spent millions of dollars over the past several years on stealth communication campaigns designed to defend industrial agriculture, sway opinion leaders and win over skeptical consumers, according to a report released by Friends of the Earth.
The report, "Spinning Food: How Food Industry Front Groups and Covert Communications are Shaping the Story of Food," documents unprecedented levels of spending from front groups, trade associations, anti-GMO labeling campaigns, federal check-off programs and vast corporate marketing budgets aimed at defusing public concern about the risks of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture ...Full article
Catawba College Completes Phase I
of Premier Solar Project
Phase I of Catawba College's solar installation is complete. It will ultimately provide nearly one megwatt of solar electricity for the campus. The 8 new solar electric systems will produce more solar electricity than that produced by all the other colleges and universities in North Carolina combine ...Full article
What Does 'Low Dose' Mean When It
Comes to Exposure to Toxic Chemicals?
A major study reveals how exposure to over 80 different chemicals could have synergistic impacts on the development of cancer.
The chemicals that we're exposed to in our daily lives are often approved by the government under the assumption that they're safe in small doses, even over a long period of time. We now live in a world where exposure to a large variety of chemcials is unavoidable.
Think about a simple picnic in a city park. The air you breath is filled with particulate matter from car exhaust, the landscaping was likely treated with chemical fertilizers and weedkillers, the plastic surrounding your food and drink items might contain BPA or phthalates, your drinks could contain preservatives, the antibacterial spray you use on your hands after eating might contain triclosan and the sunscreen you apply on your skin probably contains nanomaterials. Now extrapolate that scenario to each and every activity you partake in on a daily basis ...Full article
New York Formalizes Ban on Fracking, Ending 7-Year Review
After a 7-year environmental and health review that drew a record number of public comments, NY formalized its ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
"After years of exhaustive research and examination of the science and facts, prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative," Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said in announcing the decision. "High-volume hydraulic fracturing poses significant adverse impacts to land, air, water, natural resouces and potential significan public health impacts that cannot be adequately mitigated." ...Full article
Earthquake Spike Pushes Oklahoma to Consider Tighter Fracking Regulations
Decision comes after recent uptick in temblors - 35 of at least 3.0 magnitude
Oklahoma has been hit with 1 - 2 earthquakes a day since drilling operations began in 2009 and is now considering tightening regulations on its oil and gas industry. After years of officially denying that injecting wastewater produced by fracking deep into rock beds could be the cause of the state's increased earthquakes, Oklahoma officials finally admitted a link ...Full article
The Future Is Here: Google Is Turning
An Coal Plant Into A Clean Energy
Powered Data Center
An old coal-burning power plant slated to close in October has been given new life thanks to Google, which recently announced plans to build its first U.S.-based data center in 8 years on the grounds of Alabama's Widows Creek power plant.
The data center will eschew the power plants's history in favor of renewaable energy, with Google pledging to run the 350-acre facility entirely off of either solar or wind power (or a combination of both). Google's data centers in both Iowa and Oklahome already run entirely off of wind power ...Full article
What's Really Warming the World?
This chart will silence your friends who make excuses for climate change.
What's Killing the Babies of Vernal, Utah?
A fracking boomtown, a spike in stillborn deaths
and a gusher of unanswered questions
A midwife come under attack after she starts asking questions about dead babies in a Utah fracking town.
Every night, Donna Young goes to bed with her pistol, a .45 Taurus Judge with laser attachment. Last fall, she says, someone stole onto her rance to poison her livestock, or tried to; happily, her son found the d-CON wrapper and dumped all the feed from the troughs. Strangers phoned the house to wish her dead or run out of town on a rail. Local nurses and doctors went them one better, she says, warning pregnant women that Young's incompetence had killed babies and would surely kill theirs too, if given a chance ...Full article
Federal Oil and Gas
Royalty and Revenue Reform
When the federal government last changed its royalty rate for oil and gas production on America's public lands, Standard Oil's monopoly has only recently been broken, Ford's Model A still had not rolled off the assembly line and the 20s had just begun to roar. In the 95 years since the Mineral Leasing Act first set the federal royalty rate for oil and gas at 12.5%, the policies have remained firmly fixed in the past. As a result of the federal government's failure to modernize its oil and gas program, the U.S. taxpayers are losing out on more than $730 million in revenue every year ...Full article
Fracking Linked to Low Birth Weight Babies
Expectant mothers who live near natural gas fracking site may be at increased risk of having babies with lower birth weight, according to a new study of birth rates in Pennslyvania.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Publc Health analyzed nmore than 15,000 birth records of babies born between 2007 and 2010 in three of the state's southwestern counties. The study included more than 500 gas wells drilled during the same period.
The scientists found that women who lived close to a high number of fracking sites were 34% more likely to have babies who were "small for gestational age" than mothers who did not live near a large number of well ...Full article
Study Says Outdoor
Green Spaces Make Kids Smarter
As Albert Einstein once said, "Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better."
The study assessed whether exposure to green space improved cognitive development in children. Researchers tested the cognitive development of 2,593 school children, ages 7 to 10. the result was theat the greener the area surrounding a child's home, commuting route and school, the more likely the child was to have improved memory. Greeness also decreased inattentiveness ...Full article
Pope Francis's Eight Major
Messages in His Own Words
In his sweeping encyclical, the pope appeals to humanity to face the global climate change crisis.
In a document remarkable for its depth, Pope Francis unveiled his long-awaited encyclical on the environment, in essence calling on humanity to address a climate and environmental crisis that calls for global action. The nearly 200-page treatise stretches far beyond a usual enclyclical. documents meant to steer church teaching for the world's 1.1 billion Catholics. It instead addresses the entire global community in a harsh critique of modern life, calling for reassessment of lifestyles and politics and economics that have let to the climate change that threaten us all ...Full article
Startling Link Between Pregnant Mother's Exposure to DDT and Daughter's Risk of Breast Cancer
Banned by the US in 1972, the insecticide DDT is best know as the impetus for the modern environmental movement. Since Rachel Carson's bestseller Silent Spring sounded the alarm about the poisonous effects of the chemical on wildlife, the environment and human health, numerous studies have linked it to birth defects, miscarriage and reduced fertility.
The EPA classifies DDT as a "probable" carcinogen. A new study pubished in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinoloogy and Metabolism found a startling link between preganat women exposed to DDT and the breast cancer risk to their daughters ...Full article
McKibben to Obama: You still have time to be a climate champion — but not much
To read Bill McKibben's letter to President Obama click here
The More They Dig, The More They Find: DDT Cleanup Continues For Mid-Michigan Town
Federal and State officials are making progress cleaning up harmful chemcials in St. Louis, Michigan, but more work remains and there is no comprehensive health study.
School athletic grounds are being dug up after it was discovered they too are contaminated with DDT and despite wildlife deaths and lawns being contaminated to levels deemed harmful to humans, no one is conducting health testing on DDT exposure in the community.
St. Louis has long dealt with contamination left behind by the Velsicol Chemical Corp. (the corporation who threatened to sue Rachel Carson), formerly Michigan Chemical, which manufactured pesticides until 1963 and abondoned loads of DDT, which was banned 40 years ago ...Full article
The Virtuous Cycle of Green Revolving Funds
Higher education is entering a new era for philanthropy. The emphasis is on investment-based, hands-on, solutions-oriented, and program-related projects. Green revolving funds, which invest in on-campus efficiency projects, are an emerging philanthropic investment strategy.
Many boards are establishing green revolving funds to stimute progress on integrating energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, cost savings, revenue generation, and financial transparancy. This approach can help institutions save money and advance sustainability, while upholding their core values ...Full article
Climate Change is Latest Threat for Struggling Red Knot Bird Species
For thousands of years, red knots have made one of the greatest migrations in the animal kingdom — more than 9,000 miles each spring from the southern tip of South America to the high Arctic tundra of northern Canada.
The knots' numbers have dropped off about 80% since the early 1980s, experts say. The reasons have included the catching of horseshoe crabs that lay eggs the birds eat north of Virginia, Atlantic beachfront construction that destroys feeding spots, and hunting in the tropics.
Now red knots have a new problem — climate change. Here's what's happening
7 Important Ocean Trends,
and What We Can Do About Them
More than 70% of the Earth's surface is covered in water.
About 97% of it exists in our oceans.
But the oceans aren't just full of aquatic creatures and colorful coral that comprise the perfect snorkel scenery. Major problems lurk on top of, and especially beneath the surface — problems that need our attention. That's why we need World Oceans Day ...Full article
The Global Warming 'Hiatus' Never Actually Happened, Study Says
Researchers say rate of warming has not declined in the last 15 years, contradicting a landmark UN report.
Global warming hasn't slowed down — we were just measuring it wrong, according to a new study published today in the journal Science.
In 2013, a landmark UN report on climate change described a strange contradiction: greenhouse gases were still on the rise, but Earth's surface temperatures hadn't increased as fast as expected. Researchers have spent years trying to explain this phenonmenon, dubbed a "global warming hiatus," while skeptics have seized upon it as evidence that warnings about human-driven climate change were overblown. But a new report suggests that there is no significant decrease in global warming over the last 15 years ...Full article
University of Hawaii Regents
Approve Fossil Fuel Divestment
The University of Hawaii Board of Regents has voted to divest the university's $66 miilion endowment from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas companies.
The divestment task group was comprised of faculty, students, administrators and board members. The result was a superb collaborative effort and the final outcome represented the best of shared governance ...Full article
The Changing Carolina Coast:
Managing the Threat of Rising Water
North Carolina's most recent Sea-Level Rise Report is the product of decades of tidal gauge data, computer modeling and hundreds of years of collected scientific expertise. But Jon Britt doesn't need all that to tell him the water's getting higher. He just needs to look out his back door.
"if you look out to where the extended breakwater is, that helps protect us against the storms. The beach was probably beyond that," Britt says, pointing out across the Currituck Sound. "Probably 20 feet beyond that. This little hut that we're standing in right now, it used to be a long way to the water." ...Full article
Surge in Renewables Remakes
California's Energy Landscape
Thanks to favorable geography, innovative government policies, and businesses that see the benefits of clean energy investments, California is closing in on its goal of generating a third of its electricity from renewables by 2020.
Solar farms are blooming across California's deserts, wind turbines are climbing the Sierra and photovoltaic roofs are shimmering over suburbs as a clean energy rush is transforming the Golden State so quickly that nearly 25% of its electricity now comes from renewable sources with new facilities coming onlihne at a rapid rate ...Full article
Coal on the outs at Asheville, NC Plant
Coal will no longer be the cornerstone of power production in Asheville when Duke Energy completes a newly announced $1.1 billion plan to retire its coal-fired power plant and construct a natural gas plant and solar farm in its place.
Despite increased production, pollution is expected to decrease. Mercury output will be eliminated, sulfur dioxide will decrease 90 to 95%, water withdrawal by 97%, water discharge by 50% and nitrogen oxide by 35%. Carbon dioxide emissions will decrease by about 60% per-megawatt-hour ...full article
To Fight Bee Decline, President Obama Proposes More Land to Feed Bees
The Obama administration hopes to save bees by feeding them better
A new federal plan aims to reverse America's declining honeybee and monarch butterfly populations by making millions of acres of federal land more bee-friendly, spending millions of dollars more on research and considering the use of fewer pesticides ...Full article
Audubon's Birds and Climate Change Report
314 Species on the Brink
Shrinking and shifting ranges could imperil nearly half of U.S. birds within this century.
Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change. Their work defines the climate conditions birds need to survive, then maps where those conditions will be found in the future as the Earth's climate responds to increased greenhouse gases ...Full article
Mapping the Dangers of Fracking
It feels like spring only just arrived, but soon it will be the official start of summer. National parks and forests across the country will welcome millions of hikers, campers, photographers and others. People looking to leave home for a whie and enjoy America's natural beauty.
But oil and gas corporations want to visit U.S. public lands for a very different reason: to profit off their oil and gas reserves via fracking ...Full article
Inspiring Action on Climate Change and Protecting America's Birds
What can I do? That's the question Audubon hears most frequently when people learn that there may be no Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore or Common Loons in our northern states by the end of the century. After decades of study, scientists have found that if climate change continues on its current trajectory, 314 U.S. and Canadian bird species could lose 50% or more of their current ranges by the year 2080 ...Full article
Four New Universities Join the
Rachel Carson Campus Network
Featured Campus: Elon University
Elon University in Elon, North Carolina, hosted RCC President, Dr. Robert K. Musil, for a week this May as a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow and has joined the Rachel Carson Council Campus Network.
Over the past decade, under the leadership of President Leo Lambert, Elon has emerged as a leading liberal arts college known for global engagement, student success, sustainability, and the beauty of its campus. Elon has grown rapidly, adding LEED-certified buildings while maintaining classic collegiate architecture ...more
Advocacy Group Offers U.S. Testing for Herbicide Feared Linked to Cancer
An advocacy group seeking a ban on the world's most widely used herbicide said it is launching a U.S. public testing project to gather data on detectable levels of the herbicide in drinking water, human urine and breast milk.
Feed the World, the group behind the effort, is offering test kits that can be ordered for $119 each on its website, feedtheworld.info, and sent to a central laboratory for processing ...Full article
North Carolina Residents Worry Over Tainted Water From Nearby Coal Ash Pond
After state regulators began telling people who live near Duke Energy coal ash ponds that their well water was contiminated, some residents said their worst fears are being confirmed. The State Department of Environment and Natural Resources said that test of 87 private wells near 8 Duke palnts across North Carolina showed results that failed to meet state groundwater standards ...Full article
The Unseen Slaughter Under the Sea
Imagine there's a fence running through the wilderness and that each animal that passes by—deer, bear, bison— is in danger of getting its head stuck in the chain link and starving to death. The happens every day in the world's oceans as lost, abondoned, and derelict fishing gear trap countless numbers of marine animals for years, decases and perhaps even centuries ...Full article
More Than 70% of U.S. Adults Concerned About Global Climate Change
Survey Touches on Leadership, Household Choices, Pope Francis
A first-of-its-kind survey from the RC Campus Network member school Saint Leo University's Polling Institute shows that 73% of adult Americans responding are concerned about global climate change. 33% reported being very concerned, and 43% said they were somewhat concerned ...more
Study Links Widely Used Pesticides to Antibiotic Resistance
Glyphosate, 2,4-D, and Dicamba found to affect bacteria inways that could promote resistance to common antibiotics.
A study published by the American Society of Microbiology's journal mBio has linked glyphosate and 2 other widely-used herbicides-2,4-D and dicamba-to one of the most pressing public health crises of out time: antibiotic resistance ...Full article
U.S. Coal Sector in 'Structural Decline',
Financial Analysts Say
Over 200 mines shut down and industry loses 76% of its value in 5 years, report finds.
The US coal sector is in a "structural decline" which has sent 26 companies bust in the last 3 years, according to financial analysts.
A report for the Carbon Tracer Initiative found that between 2011 and 2013 at least 264 mines were closed. The world's largest private coal company, Peabody Energy, lost 80% of its share price. These declines were in spite of the Dow Jones industrial average increasing by 69% in the same period ...Full article
Health Agency Says Widely Used Herbicide Likely Carcinogenic
Herbicide, glyphosate, is sold by Monsanto under Roundup™ brand. The World Health Organization (WHO) agency recently said that the herbicide widely marketed by Monsanto Co. likely has the potential to cause cancer in humans. Consumer and environmental groups have long warned of health problems that they say could arise from applying the weekiller on farms ...Full article
Don't Drink the Water
In 1991, the EPA Learned That There Were Toxins in a Mountain Stream. But Nobody Told the Family That Owned the Property
Terry Rice lives in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, about 10 miles outside of Asheville, in a cabin his grandfather build by hand. The Rices drew their regular water supply from a spring just a few hundred yards behind the cabin.
In 1999, a visiting friend volunteered to clean out the spring. He was shocked when he climed down to the water and saw dead plants and an oily liquid near the surface and a diesel-like odor ...Full article
Better Air Quality Helps Lungs Grow, Science Shows For the First Time
A groundbreaking new study has found that long-term improvements in air quality are associated with better respiratory function in children during critical growth years. The study, published on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, looked at lung development in children ages 11 to 15 in Southern California over the course of the last two decades as air pollution controls significantly improved air quality. It is the first time that researchers have shown that better air quality leads to the direct improvement of lung development in children ...Full article
Miami is Already Sinking Under Rising Sea Levels
You don't have to look 85 years into the future to see what a sinking world looks like — you only need to look as far as Miami ...Full article
Pig Poop Fouling North Carolina Streams
Streams near large factory pig farms have high levels of bacteria. Health groups are raising a stink.
Few people know the pig business like North Carolina's Don Webb.
Webb raised pigs in Wilson County, North Carolina, until, in the late '70s, residents told him the smell near his farms was unbearable. He tried some solutions. They didn't work ...more
Chesapeake Bay Recovering But Still Under Stress, Report Finds
(Reuters) the ailing Chesapeake Bay is slowly recovering from pollution and overfishing but still has problems that include a drop by half in a key segment of the blue crab population, a report on the largest U.S. estuary said. The health snapshot from the Chesapeake Bay Program said the 64,000-square-mile watershed covering 6 states and the District of Columbia was threatened by rising sea levels, warmer water and urban development ...Full article
U.S. Interior Department Plan: Open Atlantic Coast to Offshore Drilling
The Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's new five-year offshore drilling strategy calls for opening the offshore stretch from Virginia to Georgia, an area the energy industry says could hold large amounts of oil and gas.
The Obama administration proposes an unprecedented opening of the waters off the Atlantic coast for oil and natural gas drillin
Looking Ahead... News and Events
- 05/21/15: Rachel Carson Council President Events
RCC President Upcoming Events
RCC President Dr. Robert K. Musil will be lecturing and book signing in the following locations:
- US Fish and Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, WV
- St. Vincent College, Latrobe, PA
- Baltimore Bird Club, Baltimore, MD