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Chemically Altered

Synthetic chemicals permeate the environment to such an extent that they have changed the chemistry of our planet.

We are in the midst of a vast, unplanned experiment. During the past century we have created tens of thousands of chemicals that previously existed nowhere on Earth. With them we have intentionally transformed the material world, creating countless useful products that are now hard to imagine life without. But these chemicals are also changing the world in ways that extend well beyond their intended design. A great many, it has been…
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by: Elizabeth Grossman – Spring 2013

Re-Reading Silent Spring

Fifty Years after its Publication, Rachel Carson’s Book Remains All-Too-Relevant

Fifty years ago this week, The New Yorker began publishing Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. A series of three articles — excerpts from the book that would be published that September — appeared on June 16, 23, and 30, 1962 under the banner…
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by: Elizabeth Grossman – June 22, 2012

Smoke Jumpers

With global action on reducing CO2 emissions all-but-stalled, governments focus their energy on another global warming pollutant: Black Carbon

International negotiations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and slow global warming are stuck in a stalemate. Many people in the United States – the world’s biggest economy and one of the planet’s top per capita greenhouse gas emitters – continue to doubt the reality of manmade climate change. After a brief dip during the financial crisis, CO2 emissions are on the rise again. Many climate scientists and policy-makers fear that the world’s…
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by: Elizabeth Grossman – Summer 2012

Murky Waters

“A deathtrap of mucus gashing through the water like flypaper.” That’s how Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia, describes the effect of the oil and gas from last summer’s disaster on the delicate marine organisms that inhabit the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. When BP’s Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig exploded on April 20, 2010, Joye’s research team was among the earliest on the scene…
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by: Elizabeth Grossman – Summer 2011

“Welcome to Shale Country”

Is the debate over the merits of shale gas being bought?

On December 11, New York Governor David Paterson issued an executive order that prohibits hydraulic fracturing, the drilling method being used to extract natural gas from the state's Marcellus shale, until at least July 1, 2011. Hydraulic fracturing – hydrofracking as it's…
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by: Elizabeth Grossman – December 14, 2010

Where’s the Deepwater Horizon Oil?

Microbes are busy, and oil is dispersed but far from gone

The BP/Deepwater Horizon well is now capped but it will be sometime before we understand where the nearly 5 million barrels of oil that gushed from the ruptured well have gone. On August 2nd, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released…
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by: Elizabeth Grossman – August 25, 2010

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Despite a flood of information about the Gulf spill, there’s very little understanding of its impacts.

Deepwater Horizon Unified CommandCleanup workers are getting little clear information about the dangers of exposure to oil and dispersants. After more than 100 days of disaster news stories, countless press conferences, and regular updates on government websites, we still have very little real understanding of the Deepwater Horizon blowout’s impacts – short- or long-term – on the ocean ecosystem, Gulf Coast communities, or response workers. Environmental-monitoring data released by federal agencies and…
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by: Elizabeth Grossman – Autumn 2010

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