Josh Schlossberg is an investigative journalist, horror author and former environmental organizer who lives in Denver, Colorado. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Biomass Monitor, a subscription-supported publication that bills itself as “the nation’s leading publication investigating the whole story on bioenergy, biomass, and biofuels.” In early September 2018, I was visiting Colorado and met up with Josh. We talked biomass, “renewable” energy, wildfires, politics and activism. What follows is a partial transcript, edited for clarity.
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Biodiversity / Biodevastation
Stories about Biodiversity and Biodevastation.
Years ago, I recalled standing on the Arctic Coast in Alaska’s Arctic Wildlife Refuge looking south across the coastal plain towards the Brooks Range. One of my impressions was that I saw what the Great Plains might have looked like in the days before livestock. To me, it was the lack of fences which was one of the most remarkable features of that place.
Yet fences are so ubiquitous that they are virtually invisible to most people—until you are someplace like the Arctic Coast where they don’t exist. Fences run across even some of the most remote parts of the West.
The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman claims to have invented the idea of the Green New Deal in 2007. He’s back to enlighten us about what it should mean now.
Friedman deserves credit as one of the few mainstream pundits who takes climate breakdown seriously. But mainstream methods created the problem, they won’t solve it.
Like most people I once viewed dead trees as an indicator of some presumed problem in the forest—that a ‘healthy” forest was one with a minimum of dead trees and largely free of wildfire, insects, and disease. Oh yes, I knew that a few snags were good for woodpeckers, and as a fly fisherman I understood that trout tended to be found hiding behind logs in the stream. I suffered from the same cultural bias as most people and thought that large numbers of dead trees meant that the forest was “out of balance” or “sick.” But the more I studied ecology, the more I questioned these assumptions.
The researchers used information from the U.S. Geological Survey on the quality of groundwater across the country and looked specifically at salinity — how salty the water is. “We looked basin by basin at how that depth of fresh and brackish water changes across the United States,” says McIntosh.
The results were about half as much usable water as previous estimates. That means that deep groundwater reserves are not nearly as plentiful as we’d thought in some places.
That’s important because when shallow groundwater reserves become depleted or polluted, the strategy so far has been to drill deeper and deeper wells to keep the water flowing.
But we may not always be able to drill our way out of water shortages.
In the early 1970s, when a young Elem girl started to have convulsions a local doctor said were caused by mercury poisoning, the Elem realized there might be a connection between the high rate of health problems in their small community and the mine next door.
If you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening to the nonhuman life forms with which we share this planet, you’ve likely heard the term “the Sixth Extinction.” If not, look it up. After all, a superb environmental reporter, Elizabeth Kolbert, has already gotten a Pulitzer Prize for writing a book with that title.
A UN Special Rapporteur who last August joined two colleagues in sounding an urgent alarm about the plight of Fukushima workers, has now roundly criticized the Japanese government for returning citizens to the Fukushima region under exposure levels 20 times higher than considered “acceptable” under international standards.
Tthe Gates Foundation recently started Ceres2030, a Cornell University-based project to capture the science and drive the policy agenda of agriculture and development. Ceres2030 has purchased a forthcoming special issue of prestigious Nature magazine that it will populate with articles and authors of its own choosing. These articles will in turn be used for future media and policy work. The evidence so far is that the goal of Ceres2030 is not sustainability but to spearhead chemical-intensive and GMO agriculture in developing countries.