Tag: Climate Emergency

Golf Courses and the “Good Life” May Kill You

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 12, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

You do not need to be a character in a Lifetime movie to be poisoned by arsenic. Same goes for some other deadly chemical. Just spend time on a golf course or near one. Contrary to what golf affocinadios claim, golf courses are not good for the environment even though many of the courses look like a cross between Xanadu and Shangri La. Pesticides, herbicides, rodenticides and other chemicals abound on golf courses, according to Fred Siegel’s book Environmental Hazards: Are you Exposed?, and they seep into the soil and run off onto property nearby.

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Heart of the matter. In reality, golf courses are not any different than nuclear sites, chemical dumps, and most any other place where toxic chemicals are dumped, buried, or deposited. What makes them more troubling, perhaps, is they masquerade as environmental improvements. 

For example, on Long Island, 52 golf courses applied 192 different pesticides containing 50 different active ingredients, Siegel writes, and it was later found that these courses averaged 7 pounds of pesticides per acre when the national average was 1.5 pounds per acre. 

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In Virginia, the Battlefield Golf Club was built out of 1.5 million tons of toxic coal ash, and its owners sued Dominion Resources for selling them the coal ash laden dirt used to build the golf course. The course is situated in a planned community, and the EPA deemed the water underneath the course contaminated. A contractor hired by Dominion found more than double the acceptable limits of arsenic as well as high amounts of chromium, lead, beryllium, magnesea, and zinc. One of the developers sued Dominion for contracting kidney cancer, and 383 residents sued for over $1 billion in damages. URS Corporation, the company Dominion hired to test the course, found the course was basically an “open dump”. The groundwater under the course threatened the aquifer supplying water to all the residents. 

In Cape Cod , the Conservation Law Foundation sued Willowbend Country Club for dumping toxic nitrogen pollution into the water. 

These are but a few examples, but this is happening everywhere. And very few people living near golf courses are ever asked (or told) about it. Most troubling is that children are the most vulnerable. But, for whatever reason, golf is associated with the “good life,” but sometimes the “good life” will kill you. Talk about a farce.

How this impacts you personally. Maybe you do not golf or think you live near a golf course, but golf courses are everywhere and often near bodies of water. Their chemicals spread through the water and the air like so many other toxic sites in America. They may look pretty, but they are heavily polluted and pose risks to those far beyond their borders. 

If you live in North America, you live near a golf course more than likely.

What you can do. There are a few things you can do. Never play golf, or, if you have, stop playing. Refuse to live on or near a golf course. Show up at zoning meetings open to the public, and say you do not want developers building golf courses in your town. It may not work, but, if enough people speak up, perhaps it will slow their growth.

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Next Steps

Golf is tied to the chemical industry, so fighting golf course development is really about stopping chemical companies such as Dow Chemicals from polluting. To that end, people can:

  • Contact their local, state, and federal officials and complain about golf course development, which is really golf course pollution;
  • Find out which chemical companies manufacture chemicals used on golf courses and protest these companies as well as boycott them; 
  • Google golf course lawsuits, and read more about them. If you do, you will realize these cases are no different than coal ash in North Carolina or the Hanford superfund site. 

Golf courses are the same as any other environmental problem, but they are not as obvious until you learn all about the toxic chemicals necessary to keep them looking pristine. And people should not have to be poisoned, get cancer, and die just because looks can be (and are) deceiving. You shouldn’t have to die for a cliche to be true. 

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Russian Roulette | Great Pacific Garbage Patch 2X Size of Texas Keeps Expanding

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 17, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) floats, swirls, and grows in the North Pacific between Hawaii and the coast of North America. It is 1.6 million kilometers around (about 1 million miles), which is three times the size of France and two times the size of Texas. It weighs roughly 80,000 tons, and the only way to view the massive expanse is through photos from space. Discarded fishing lines, nets, and other fishing equipment comprise about half of the mass of the GPGP. Used plastics coming from land make up the vast bulk of the rest of the GPGP. According to the acclaimed documentary, Midway: Message from the Gyre, 136,000 seals, sea lions, and whales are killed each year from the GPGP. Beaches of islands in the vicinity of the GPGP are littered with dead bird carcasses, which are filled with plastics from the patch. If you think you are not affected by this, you are wrong because eventually these plastics will end up on your plate through a process known as bioaccumulation where the plastics pass to organisms and then to humans. And 84% of the plastics contain at least one toxic, cancer causing agent, which makes eating seafood like a game of Russain roulette.

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Heart of the matter. The GPGP is a giant succubus due to its two gyres that constantly move and suck plastic into it, most of which comes from land (Note: when this article was written 6 years ago, it was believed 80% of plastics came from land. That number is probably somewhere in the 55% range because the amount of nets, fishing line, and other debris dumped by fishermen was, perhaps, underestimated.). And it has formed since the 1970s. Think of it as a blackhole on Earth that sucks in millions of tons of plastic and then spits it out killing animals, destroying the ecosystem, and killing humans.

By 2050, production of plastics is expected to quadruple. By the way, it takes plastic 100,000 years to decompose. In other words, this thing is a long term monster, which is why since 2013 an effort known as The Ocean Cleanup has been underway.

How this impacts you personally. You are already ingesting this stuff if you eat seafood, or at least you will be, so it is affecting you. And this is based solely on what you eat. This does not even begin to examine the problem of the toxins in these plastics, damage to the oceans, and greenhouse gasses released. This beast hits from all directions. 

Sadly, it is only one part of a problem that keeps compounding and joining with other environmental disasters such as nuclear spills, toxic water, forest fires, and any other myriad problems we hear about and likely dismiss daily. A great discussion of all these problems can be found in the book Environmental Hazards: Are you Exposed? by Fred Siegel.

What you can do. The easiest thing people can do is reduce the amount of plastics they use. This includes plastic bottles, straws, bags, toothbrushes, and other inorganic materials. It is about consumption, the less people consume the better off everything will be. It is that simple and that difficult.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

The easiest thing people can do is reduce the amount of plastics they use. This includes plastic bottles, straws, bags, toothbrushes, and other inorganic materials. It is about consumption, the less people consume the better off everything will be. It is that simple and that difficult.

Next Steps

  • Stop using plastic bottles, straw, bags, and toothbrushes;
  • Start your own local environmental group; 
  • Research the GPGP and consider donating to the cleanup. You can follow the Ocean Cleanup on Twitter; and
  • Contact your local, state, and federal officials and let them know you care about this topic. 

All of these stories are bleak, but that does not mean people should fail to act. The problems persist because people do not modify their behavior. A few small, deliberate acts can make all the difference and begin the process of lessening the environmental blight human beings inflict upon the Earth.

Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this civilization-destroying threat.

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Fear Waterspouts and Climate Change Calamities

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 7, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

Waterspouts can suck marine life out of the ocean and toss it onto land. And waterspouts can do the same thing with hazardous chemicals on the ocean floor such as 27,000+ barrels of DDT recently discovered off the coast of Los Angeles. Fortunately, this has not happened yet, but it certainly could especially since more and more waterspouts are popping up all over the world due to an increase in severe weather caused by climate change. Any potential calamity climate change may (will) create is not a “what if?” question. The better questions to ask are “how bad?” and “when?”

Heart of the matter. Every week new stories come out about toxic chemicals that if somehow dislodged will kill people, destroy wildlife, wreck plantlife, and otherwise decimate ecosystems. Often these chemicals do cause the problems predicted. 

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Whether it be forest fires in California, toxic algae in Florida, Superfund sites throughout the United States (Hanford Superfund site in particular), Camp Jejune poisonous water, Keystone Pipeline, and other things that are unknown, calamities are everywhere. Most recently, a previously unknown future source of calamity emerged. Specifically, tens of thousands of barrels of DDT dumped off the coast of Catalina Island were discovered. 

On the other side of the Pacific, Tokyo Bay now has coral growing in it, something previously unthinkable because the water was not warm enough. 

In the Great Lakes, 2020 was known as “Great Waterspout Outbreak of 2020.” Forty-one waterspouts popped up in Lake Erie in one day alone. In Louisiana, in 2020, 5 waterspouts occurred in one place. While these events may appear unrelated, they are, in fact, quite related because they are either caused by climate change or they exacerbate problems both known and unknown related to climate change.

How this impacts you personally. The skeptic will argue waterspouts have been discussed for hundreds of years, long before climate change was a huge issue, and they are not a climate change problem. Waterspouts are not new, but one thing is certain: Severe weather will only get worse with climate change, and, regardless of whether that causes more waterspouts, a largely warm water phenomenon, do you really want waterspouts blowing tanks of DDT out of the water in Southern California and smashing them against the rocky coastline? 

Just to give an example of how bad DDT is for the environment, 25% of California’s adult sea lions have cancer largely due to pollution from waste dumped by Montrose Chemical. Montrose dumped the DDT off the coast of Los Angeles. This is in addition to a 34-mile stretch of toxic chemicals dropped in the ocean, which is designated a Superfund site. 

The point of all of this is: whether it be waterspouts blowing toxic waste, leaking nuclear waste, or whatever other disaster waiting to happen, climate change marches on affecting all of us no matter what we believe. Literally and figuratively it is “pick your poison.”

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What you can do. Of course this sounds bleak because it is. We live in a time where life is like the opening montage of an apolocapolitic movie. But all is not lost (not yet). We can still reduce our carbon footprint by consuming less plastic, planting trees, taking reusable bags with us to the store, and other little things along the way. These small steps can make a huge difference.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

Next Steps

  • Examine and lessen your plastic use; 
  • Read about ways you can reduce your carbon footprint (you are doing that here);
  • Care about the environment even when you think stories are from far away places that do not affect you because everything is connected; and
  • Contact your state, local, and federal officials, and tell them you care about climate change.

Waterspouts, DDT, dead sea lions, and coral in Tokyo Bay should concern everyone because they are symptoms of a planet in a climate crisis. There are multiple “canaries in the coal mine,” and they are singing loudly, begging us to do something before we are all wiped out. 


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Biomass Industry Poses a Greater Threat Than the Coal Industry

Washington (GGM) Analysis | April 23, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

Biomass sounds like a living blob slithering its way towards New York City in a bad sci-fi movie. The reality may be worse. Proponents of the biomass industry will call this fearmongering and argue biomasses are carbon neutral and “green.” But the biomass industry involves chopping down vast swaths of trees, turning them into pellets, and shipping them to Europe where they are burned for energy. In other words, it is deforestation on a massive scale, and anyone who knows anything about climate change knows deforestation is one of the major causes of climate change. So how can a practice which is so harmful to the planet — more harmful than the coal industry which releases less carbon than burning trees — be at the same time beneficial? It cannot be whatever anyone claims to the contrary. 

Heart of the Matter 

If the U.S. Congress and other international lawmakers are to be believed, then it is through a metamodernist suspension of disbelief because the notion that deforestation and burning a source of energy more pollutive than coal is somehow “green”  is an absurd notion. 

The biomass industry is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it hails mainly from the American South where twenty-three wood mills devoted to biomass exist. Trees are grown, ground up, turned into wood pellets, and shipped to Europe to be burned for fuel under the auspices that this power is as clean as solar and wind power, which is as ridiculous as it sounds. While proponents of the biomass industry claim they plant trees to replace the felled trees, those trees cannot make up for the mature trees lost, trees that have absorbed carbon dioxide for decades. This is especially true considering the Paris Climate Accord cites deforestation as a major driver of climate change and a barrier to the ambitious emissions targets for 2050. 

Proponents of the biomass industry also ignore the desolate landscapes it leaves and tons of “waste wood” (wood that is left behind and cannot be used). While they claim to replant trees, this is often not done, and the saplings are not nearly as useful as trees that are decades old. 

How This Impacts You Personally

Whether the issue is nuclear waste, toxic water from chemical leaks, or  toxic algae from phosphate deposits, the way this impacts you personally is it is bad for the environment. And that is bad for you. In this instance, trees reduce carbon dioxide, which makes the air more breathable, the planet less hot, and the world cleaner. All of these things benefit everyone regardless of what people believe.

What You Can Do

It is important to learn as much as possible about this topic as it is not going anywhere. A multibillion dollar industry based in the United States, which supplies energy for Europe will not go away gently. Climate activist Greta Thunberg certainly sees the problem:

Think about what paper products you use and how to reduce that consumption. Recycling is not the answer as very little of what is recycled is reused. It is more important to not use paper or fuel sources that are derived from burning trees. 

Next Steps

  • Reduce your consumption for paper and paper products;
  • Stop using plastic bottles and other plastics; 
  • Do not burn wood; 
  • Learn about and try to use solar and wind power;
  • Find out what companies use wood as a source of energy and do not use them;
  • Contact your local, state, and federal representatives and tell them you oppose the biomass industry.

Energy is important for so many reasons, but there are better sources than the biomass industry. We need more —not less — trees in the world, and everything must be done to make sure the reckless and dangerous biomass industry does not continue. 

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

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Bitcoin’s Carbon Footprint May Destroy the Environment

Washington (GGM) Analysis | April 8, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.” China poses military, economic, social, and environmental threats to the entire world. Yet, with the myriad threats it poses, one threat it has awakened, Bitcoin, threatens to shake — and possibly destroy — the environment. Although Bitcoin requires the most advanced computers performing dizzying calculations, it needs unfathomable amounts of energy, and that energy comes primarily from fossil fuels in China, namely coal.

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Heart of the matter. For years Bitcoin appeared to be a passing fad and something many people were only vaguely aware of, but it is here to stay as is other cryptocurrency. And most of it is constructed or “mined” in China, which requires tons of hardware that needs energy. In China, that energy is supplied by coal based power, according to a February 5, 2021 CNBC article. Bitcoin is the 9th most valuable asset in the world, and it requires more energy than New Zealand. In fact, if Bitcoin were a country, it would rank 31st in the world for energy consumption, according to a March 19, 2021 Independent article. Although Bitcoin has been around since 2009, its energy use came to the forefront in 2017, but, since that time, its energy use has quadrupled since then.

Proponents of Bitcoin, as cited in the Independent article, argue Bitcoin is “moving” towards “renewable energy,” and it will one day be a leader in renewable energy. Little evidence exists of these assertions. What is apparent, however, is the cryptocurrency market, led by Bitcoin is growing. As a currency it is attractive because its so-called block chain technology makes it unique, tough to steal, scarce, and easy to spend. The downside of that is the creation of cryptocurrency or “mining” requires computing power and vast energy sources. That computing power mainly comes from China, which relies heavily on coal however advanced their society may be. And that is a huge problem for the environment no matter how proponents want to spin it.

How this impacts you personally. If you are worried about food shortages, pandemics, cities under water, droughts, or most any other calamity flowing from climate change, then the growth of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies should worry you because they rely so heavily on fossil fuels, namely coal. Until Bitcoin derives its energy from renewable energy sources, it will continue to be an environmental threat, a threat that grows larger as the demand for Bitcoin increases.

What you can do. The best way to lessen the Bitcoin environmental threat is not to buy stock in the company. Another way is not to use the currency or be involved in “mining” it. In addition, tell people it is a threat because many people are probably unaware Bitcoin poses such a threat.

Next Steps:

  • Learn as much as possible about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies;
  • Do not purchase Bitcoin stock shares or fractions of shares; 
  • Learn more about renewable energy; and
  • Contact your local, state, and federal officials and let them know how you feel about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Keystone Pipeline Closure Means Less Toxic Oil Spills

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 27, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

The average person not well versed on the policy and science surrounding the Keystone Pipeline likely knows it is over 1,000 miles long running from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska, and it frequently spills. It takes no more knowledge than these two facts to realize the Keystone Pipeline has always been a problem, and its closure benefits the world. 

Heart of the matter. The Keystone Pipeline pumped 800,000 barrels per day of carbon intensive “tar sands” oil from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska. The unrefined oil was then sent to Texas to be refined. According to a Vox article from March 18, 2021, Indigenous peoples from Alberta use the river, Athabasca River, that is used to mine the oil, which creates toxic waste that hurts the wildlife and pollutes the groundwater; the problem is not only environmental, though, as transient workers are linked to the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, a crisis worth of much more discussion than is the purview of this article. 

The same Vox article also notes the environmental  problem certainly is not limited to Canada as, most notably, in 2017, in South Dakota, 210,000 gallons of oil leaked. The problem is so bad that the Supreme Court blocked the building of the pipeline over water until a full evaluation of bodies of water could be done. Since it appears the demand for that kind of oil is dropping and in light of the environmental and safety issues caused by the pipeline, it makes clear closing the pipeline was the correct choice. 

How this impacts you personally. Perhaps the greatest threat posed by the Keystone Pipeline centers around the risk to the water supply. Specifically, in Nebraska near the Keystone Pipeline sits the Ogallala Aquifer, which is the largest freshwater aquifer in the United States. If an oil spill occurred near this aquifer and the water supply contaminated, it may affect the entire country with catastrophic results. In other words, it could potentially affect the entire United States water supply were the Keystone Pipeline still in existence.

What you can do. As with any fossil fuel, the less people use them, the better off the environment will be. This is why it is so important to develop alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, and electric power. People can do small things to lessen dependence on oil such as turn off lights when not in use. Consider carpooling, walking, or taking the bus when you go places. There are many small things, but the more people do these things the better off everyone will be. 

Adding composting worms to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

Next Steps:

  • Lessen your “carbon footprint” by taking small steps such as drinking from reusable bottles, cutting off lights, carpooling; 
  • Learn about the Keystone Pipeline and other oil pipelines; 
  • Consider purchasing an electric car; and 
  • Contact your local, state, and federal representatives to let them know you support green laws and regulations.

The Keystone Pipeline is shut down (for now), but that does not mean a new president will keep it shut down. Ultimately the dependence on fossil fuels is up to us, and, if we modify our behavior, it can go a long way to ending our dependence upon these fuels and greatly benefiting the environment in the process. 

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Worse than Snakes and Alligators: Florida’s Toxic Algae Blooms Spell Death

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 20, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

All this time people believed Florida’s snakes and alligators might kill them, when, in reality, the toxic algae blooms are the real threat. For two decades, Florida has struggled to control blue green algae that periodically covers the bottom of Lake Okeechobee, which threatens the state’s tourist industry as well as the once pristine coastline and waters. The blooms are fueled by phosphorus, a key ingredient in fertilizers used on nearby farms and ranches in Orlando and Kissimmee. The algae has killed millions of fish, hundreds of manatees, and it causes ALS and Alzheimers and even death in people. The algae is only getting worse, in particular since 2016, and climate change exacerbates the problem.  

The heart of the matter. The problem mostly comes from 50,000 metric tons of phosphorus carpeting the bottom of Lake Okeechobee. Phosphorus flows out of the lake through rivers and streams and into the Atlantic Ocean all along the coast killing wildlife and putting a damper on tourism with its guacamole like sludge.

While the problem did not originate in Lake Okeechobee, as it likely came from farms and ranches along the Kissimmee River, the lake is the eye of the storm that threatens everything living in Florida. Considering algae thrives in heat, Florida’s problem (ultimately everyone’s problem) will only grow worse if drastic steps are not taken soon. 

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How this impacts you personally? Cynics may see this as akin to “save the rainforest,” which we certainly should do, but they cannot deny that this affects them personally. It does if they are concerned about dying, or, should they be lucky enough to survive, getting Alzheimer’s or ALS. The problem has gotten so bad that the State of Florida has twice declared states of emergency in 2016 and 2018.  Even Governor Ron DeSantis (no big friend to the environment or mask wearing) is concerned, enough so that he made cleaning up the toxic algae a focal point of his campaign, and he created the South Florida Water Management District, which is charged with protecting the water in 16 South Florida counties.

Of course, none of this will matter if something is not done to fix the pipes and sewer systems, which are rotting, and, from 2009-2019, released 1.6 million gallons of waste into the state’s estuaries. This waste also helped fuel the algae blooms, lest the state’s farmers and cattle ranchers think they are being unfairly picked on about this crisis.

Maybe you do not care about Florida, and you think the state only matters as a backdrop for Carl Hiaason novels. Yes, it is a great setting, but it is a HUGE state. And Florida’s problems usually become everyone’s problems.

What can you do about this? While you may not live in Florida, this still affects you. Perhaps you should consider not eating beef as much of it comes from Florida, and, as the algae shows, it is terrible for the environment. You may also want to consider donating money to organizations devoted to the clean up of the algae, or, you can Google “Florida’s toxic algae blooms” and see what else you can figure out.

Next Steps

  • Stop eating beef (or do not eat so much of it);
  • Consider your own carbon footprint and how this adds to climate change, which affects Florida and wherever anyone lives;
  • Donate to groups that help clean up the algae and the damage caused by it;
  • Contact your local, state, and federal representatives and urge them to pass environmental legislation and create regulations that actually protect and clean up the environment.

All of these problems seem so ominous because they are, but they are only going to get worse if people refuse to do anything.

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Hanford Superfund Site, Part 2: Worry About It for 24,100 Years

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 13, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

Do you ever think about the vastness of space? Or do you ponder if the universe never ends and is expanding for eternity? On a more personal level, perhaps Earth will be destroyed by an exploding star one day. Maybe you worry about such things, but here on Earth there are known threats, namely the Hanford Superfund Site that will be a problem for possibly 24,100 years, which is the half-life of Plutonium contained on the site, the source of Plutonium used to make the atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki that ended World War II. And the Hanford site is filled with Plutonium, which is buried in 177 storage tanks within sight of the Columbia River.

Heart of the Matter. Climate change has been exacerbated by the oil and coal industries. Nuclear energy appears to some a more viable alternative. Hardly. The Hanford Site shows this to be a faulty premise, especially when you consider what happens when the radioactive waste leaks into the ground and into the water. Because it happened in May 2017 when the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, which holds rail cars full of solid waste, collapsed releasing tons of radioactive waste into the water and soil. Then in December 2018 radioactive dust was released from the site into the air. These are but a few of the problems, and it does not take a complex understanding of climate change and nuclear waste to imagine the scale of the problem.

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How this impacts you personally? The chemical names are long, and the science is hard to follow. But the main reason people should care about the Hanford Site is a shot-glass of liquid out of one of the underground tanks is enough to instantly kill everyone within 100 yards. Of course the tanks have a history of leaking. In fact, whether or not this waste contained in 177 tanks leaks further may depend upon if the concrete that makes the tanks and the caulking that glues the tanks together can hold up long term.

As stated in the first article on this topic, there are 56 million gallons of high-level nuclear waste, made up of 1,800 chemicals. Right now 700,000 gallons of waste are classified as high-level, and that may leak into the Columbia River. And these chemicals will be around for thousands of years. If the tanks crack or otherwise fall apart, there is enough waste to wipe out civilization, a process that will surely be hastened by climate change if something is not done.

To bring this down to a more personal level, this waste causes and has caused bone cancer in many of the people, who live near the site. Imagine if this waste were spread on a wider scale, which could easily happen if it seeps into the groundwater, burns due to a forest fire, or some other calamity such as a flood occurs, all of which could be caused by climate change.

What can you do about this? Of course this problem is almost metaphysical because it will last for so long it is beyond comprehension, and it is on a physical scale that is difficult to grasp. But Congress controls the budget for the cleanup and containment efforts, so it really matters who is in Congress. It cannot be people against regulation, who care nothing for the environment. That will not work at all because it will only increase the risk for everyone. If you do nothing else, think about this when you vote next time.

Next Steps

  • Learn more about this problem. Check out the Hanford Challenge.
  • Educate yourself on nuclear waste.
  • Learn more about climate change.
  • As always, contact your local, state, and federal officials, in particular, Congress people, who may vote on legislation that affects Hanford and other sites like it.

The Hanford Site will likely always be a problem, but people can take steps to make sure the problem is contained. If it is not contained, it will be a disaster of cataclysmic proportions.

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Hanford Superfund Site: An American Chernobyl Waiting to Happen

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 4, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

Before COVID-19 hit some Americans probably believed a magic forcefield shielded the country from events other less fortunate nations endured. Not anymore. In the fall of 2019, critics scoffed after watching the hit Netflix show, Cherynobyl, that Cherynobyl could not happen in the United States because Americans would be too well prepared. The Hanford Superfund nuclear site in Washington state has 56 million gallons of waste from plutonium, will take 50 years to clean up, and has caused cancer, dementia, and death. Ronan Farrow called it in a 2016 article, “an American Chernobyl.”

Heart of the Matter. The American government built the Hanford site in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project. It later produced the plutonium that was used in the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, which ended World War II. At one point, it produced two-thirds of the plutonium in the United States, which resulted in 56 million of gallons of waste, waste that still exists and has leaked into the ground and water for decades, earning it the description, “the most toxic place in America.”

Gallant Gold Media is prepping to plant a forest in North Dakota to remember those we lost to covid, thanks to the generosity of ranch owner Byron Richard. Join us in GreeningUp to help US hit our Paris Agreement targets. CLICK to see details.

How this impacts you personally? Since 2010, 640 gallons per year of radioactive nuclear waste have been leaked from the Hanford site. Of course, this is just an estimate, and the U.S. Department of Energy improperly recorded or did not record many radioactive waste spills. Some of the waste reached the Pacific Ocean via the Columbia River 200 miles away, killing all of the fish in the river along the way.

In fact, in 2013, the governor of Washington admitted one tank was leaking up to 300 gallons of radioactive waste per year. The company in control of cleaning it up knew about the leaks and did nothing. This means thousands of gallons of radioactive nuclear waste are still out there spreading all over the country, which affects all of us. 

If you still are not convinced, the pollution is airborne as well.

The waste produced “air toxins,” which have spread to Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Colorado. These toxins along with others in the area surrounding Hanford have caused cancer, dementia, thyroid disorders, and other handicaps. 

Again, these are the things that we know about, and much is not known since private contractors and the United States government lied about it and covered it up for decades. Sadly, sites that take fifty years to clean up do not stay self-contained.

What can you do about this? So much damage has already been done, but that does not mean it needs to continue. The Trump administration created a rule that deemed 90% of the waste at the Hanford site low-level, a rule the Biden administration is trying to change.

What you can do is think before you vote. Learn the candidate’s stance on the environment, in particular clean-up issues and regulatory issues. Try and learn as much as you can about these issues. This is one of 4,000 superfund sites in the United States. Learn about the ones around you, and see if there are any groups you can join. These problems are not going away by themselves:

Next Steps

While, contrary to what Jay Gatsby said, we cannot change the past, at least we can try and clean it up.

  • Join groups advocating for cleaning up your local Superfund site(s);
  • Educate yourself about climate change and other environmental issues;
  • Contact local, state, and federal officials about environmental issues; 
  • Be skeptical of what the government does or does not tell you.

Hanford is terrible, but that does not mean it has to stay that way even if it takes 50 years to clean it up.

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Fairfax Ninth Grader Places Second in Well-Timed Science Experiment

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 20, 2021 by author and journalist Noreen Wise

Gallant Gold Media is very excited to report that Julia Victor, a ninth grader at W.T. Woodson High in Fairfax, Va, placed second in her unique and timely science experiment, which is part of the build up to the annual Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair. We’ve been following Julia’s progress since October 2020 as she’s made her way through this intricate labyrinth of competing in a science fair during a global pandemic with schools closed and students distance learning. Julia was determined to find out which NoVA natives store the most carbon, and whether shrubs can stores as much carbon as trees, so she decided to conduct her own science experiment to discover the answer. We were impressed with Julia’s original idea that ties closely with the international greenup movement, that of planting lots of trees and nature to restore our habitat. Julia has taken it to a new level, though. She challenges us to be strategic about what we plant as we all strive to find more ways to store more carbon to reduce global warming.

Meanwhile, President Biden, on behalf of the United States of America, officially reentered the 2015 Paris Agreement yesterday, Friday February 19, 2021. The ultimate goal of the Paris Agreement is to become carbon neutral. Carbon neutrality will be accomplished through the global framework established within the Paris Agreement — an international treaty on climate change signed by more than 196 countries. The Paris Agreement outlines a combination of aggressively cutting carbon emissions on one side of the coin, while simultaneously boosting carbon sequestration on the other. Substantially increasing carbon sequestration will be accomplished most notably by a significant increase in soil health as well as the restoration of our habitat, particularly trees and shrubs… and as Julia has proven with her science experiment, the right native trees and shrubs make a difference.

What’s the heart of the matter? The hard truth is that in order for us to hit the targets outlined for the US in the Paris Agreement, we each have to do our own little bit, by lowering our individual and household carbon footprint, as well as by storing more carbon in our yards (ie, planting more trees, shrubs, flowers and ground cover, and improving soil health through the diversification of the species we plant, as well as composting and biochar). To make this simple, the easiest way to process our individual contribution in reaching the US target, is by living a sustainable lifestyle and planting smart.

Gallant Gold Media is planting a forest in North Dakota to remember those we lost to covid, thanks to the generosity of ranch owner Byron Richard. Join us in GreeningUp to help US hit our Paris Agreement targets. CLICK to see details.

The Paris Agreement measures the contribution each country is making in its effort to curb global warming. It checks to see if countries are doing their “fair share.” The expectation is that large countries like the United States, one of the largest contributors to global warming, will reach the highest level of effort, that of “Role Model.” Currently, the United States is ranked at the very bottom, Critically Insufficient. The following are the Paris Agreement levels of contribution:

  • Role Model
  • 1.5° Paris Agreement Compatible
  • 2° Compatible
  • Insufficient
  • Highly Insufficient
  • Critically Insufficient

The term “role model” is what immediately comes to mind when I think of Julia and her science experiment. Julia’s findings highlight that quality matters, especially when available land to plant is constrained. Although, if possible, a high quantity of high quality plants, sure would help the US make up for lost time. (Click here to read the details of Julia’s experiment.)

I asked Julia if she would be so kind to walk us through the science fair process. In her own words:

“The virtual science fair included only students from my school as a preliminary level. It was all grades, so most of the participants were older than me. There were 7 categories ranging from micro-biology to computer science. I was in the environmental science category and placed second. Environmental science was the largest category with around 25 students in it. The top three projects in each category move on to the regional fair. The school-wide science fair was set up so each student could present their pre-recorded video to three judges and then answer questions. As it started, it became clear that coordinating around110 students and all the judges would be difficult. The links for the judging rooms were broken and it was too much for the coordinators to fix. Eventually, they gave up on the judging rooms, and the judges reviewed the projects and videos by themselves. Overall, the setbacks didn’t affect the quality of the science fair too greatly.” 

Ninth grader, Julia Victor’s 25 seedlings planted and tested to find out which NoVa native species stores the most carbon.

Now that you’ve placed second, Julia, what’s the next round all about?

“The next round will be very similar to the school-wide science fair, except it will be better coordinated. It uses an online program made for science fairs and programs like this. It has the same process as my school’s fair. It has a video presentation stage and then a synchronous time for questions. The fair will include all of Fairfax County Public Schools so it will cover much of Northern Virginia. I’m not sure the exact number of students participating, but I know there will be hundreds of them. Due to the virtual setting, the fair is not hosted by a specific school, but by the school district. There are many different types of awards at the regional fair. Depending on the award, students may move to the state-wide science fair, or even straight to the international science fair (Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair).”

And the winners are…

We have our work cut up for us that’s for sure. Biden committed to being at net-zero no later than 2050. But many of our allies have been working at a brisk pace these last 4 years while we’ve been slumped on the sidelines. Our allies have submitted new pledges that will hopefully bring out the best in the US as we reach higher and rush faster. Julia’s experiment gives us a new lens to use. Let’s be smarter about what we put in the ground, so we can build that all important ladder to pull ourselves out of this hole we jumped into back in 2017 when we exited the Paris Agreement.

  • EU has now pledged to cut emissions from the 1990 level by 55 percent by 2030. Insufficient.
  • UK is striving for a 68 percent reduction from the 1990 level by 2030. Insufficient.
  • Canada has pledged to come in at 30 percent below 2005 level by 2030. Insufficient.
  • Costa Rica and Bhutan are both ranked highest on the main list. Compatible.

Congratulations, Julia! Best of luck in the next round.

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