Regulars and Shorts

Green Bits: September 2013

By Pax Rasmussen

News & ideas for a healthier, more sustainable future
by Pax Rasmussen

Nobody wants your dirty coal

Last month, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a lease sale for 148 million tons of coal, located in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. They didn’t get a single bid. Apparently, the cost of mining the coal exceeds what selling it could likely make. Is this the beginning of the end for coal? Hope so!

Slow the frack down

Dropping prices and disappointing wells are causing a sharp drop off in fracking exploits around the country. Gas and oil deals in North America (including fracking) dropped 52% in the first six months of this year. Apparently, the improvements in fracking technology got a lot of prospectors excited, but the wells just haven’t panned out (they’re costing more to operate than what they earn). I hate to revel in schaden­freude, but this time it’s justified!


A driving concern among the classes

According to a study in the Proceedings National Academy of Sciences, your rage toward the rich douchebag who cut you off in his Porsche is well placed. Yep, science has proven that rich folks really are bigger jerks than the rest of us.

The study shows that people driving luxury vehicles are much more likely to ignore people in crosswalks and to cut off other drivers in traffic. Why is this the case?

The authors of the study offer this by way of explanation: “Upper-class individuals’ relative independence from others and increased privacy in their professions may provide fewer structural constraints and decreased perceptions of risk associated with committing unethical acts.”

On a different note: Rich folks also suffer from different toxins than you and I. According to a study from the University of Exeter, upper-class folks have higher levels of mercury, arsenic, cesium and thallium (mostly from fish and shellfish), where as people from lower classes have higher levels of cadmium, lead and BPA (from smoking and canned food).,

Best idea of the century

The people at, the climate action and justice organization, have a fantastic idea: Instead of giving hurricanes and extreme storms generic names (i.e. Katrina), name them after obstructionist and climate-change-denying lawmakers! They’ve set up a website where you can petition the World Meteor­o­logical Organization to change the way they name storms. Just imagine: “Damages are estimated in the hundreds of millions as Michelle Bachman comes ashore!”



The big picture of factory farming

If you’ve ever doubted the numerous articles CATALYST has run about the the importance of small-scale farms and urban agriculture, check out these aerial photos of industrial agribusiness sites. Huge portions of our landscape now look like horrible, infected wounds. Some of the bright colors are pretty—but those colors come from chemicals and algae/bacteria blooms. Not good, folks.


This article was originally published on August 30, 2013.