EPA to Halliburton: Raise Your Right Hand

a natural gas well using hydraulic fracturing

It's not just a drilling rig, it's a fracking rig, and it can make your water flammable.

Halliburton, the world’s second largest oilfield services company, is not in the habit of having to answer to the United States government. Thus, typically, it ignored a request from the Environmental Protection Agency, back in September, to share information about the chemicals the company routinely injects into this country’s underground water sources in order to retriever more natural gas out — a process called hydraulic fracturing. Continue reading

Heading for the Last Roundup

Dumping chemicals on genetically mutilated plants, once the leading edge of industrial agriculture, may soon be its last ditch..

Of all the destructive scams perpetrated by industrial agriculture. none has been more profitable, or more destructive, than the massive Roundup round-robin perpetrated by Monsanto for 40 years. Now the scam appears to be falling apart. This is a story with the global reach of the housing bubble, all the inventive greed of the sub-prime mortgage stampede, and the tender mercies toward fellow humans of a Bernie Madoff, that now appears to be heading toward a Wall-Street-style meltdown. Continue reading

In a Maryland Village, The Street Not Taken

Urban sprawl

Against an ocean of urban and industrial sprawl, a tiny town (not pictured here) offers resistance.

Is it, as the town’s mayor and the Washington Post calls it, “the greenest street on the East Coast?” Or is it a tiny Band-Aid on an enormous, cancerous tumor? We’ll report, you decide.

The street in question, in Edmonston, Maryland (population1500), is three quarters of a mile long. It has just been re-engineered to be “green” with a year-long, 1.3-million-dollar project that was funded with stimulus money. Continue reading

Whistling Past the Oil Field

World energy demand is skyrocketing. Supplies are running out. Official response: not to worry.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says the world is going to need one-third more energy, primarily from oil and coal, by 2035, as demand from China, India and the Middle East continues its dramatic growth. Most objective students of the world’s fossil fuels do not believe that the sources of that energy exist.

In its annual report titled World Energy Outlook, the IEA said “It is hard to overstate the growing importance of China in global energy markets.” Continue reading

The Continuing Assisted Suicide of the Chesapeake Bay

Exploited for decades as food source, sewer, dump and playground, the largest estuary in the world is near death.

Since the 1970s, Maryland, Virginia and the Federal government have from time to time announced new initiatives to “clean up” the Chesapeake Bay. The term is quaint, and brings to mind activities like hauling old tires and discarded refrigerators out of the water. Would that it were that easy. Continue reading

Obama Offers Unilateral Compromises

Why is this man compromising?

In his first national radio address after receiving what he called a “shellacking” by voters, President Obama said he would be willing to compromise with Republicans who, since his election two years ago, have refiused to compromise on anything; and who, in the days leading up to this election, chorused their intention to refuse to compromise on anything in the future. This raises the question: what is Obama’s strategy here? Continue reading

Threats to the World’s Food Supply Proliferate


The future for those who rely on industrial agriculture is not pretty.

The relentless assault on the food supplies of the world by industrial agriculture and its consequences continues unabated, and largely ignored. Recent developments involving principal staple crops include:

Bananas. Banana wilt disease continues to decimate the staple crop of East Africa, ravaging the plant relied upon by large populations in Uganda, Rwanda, western Kenya and Bukoba in north-western Tanzania. The disease, which is on a rampage because of the global industry’s insistence on using a single strain of banana (the Cavendish), is adding its threat to food security in a region where severe drought has reduced the production of maize, beans and milk. Continue reading

Genetic Defects Increasingly Apparent

I have taken a certain amount of flack for presuming to argue, in Brace for Impact, that genetic engineering has not been a success, that it indeed cannot be a success, and presents terrifying dangers to the web of life and to human well- being. So it is gratifying to have the New York Times confirm many of my arguments.

In the book I argued that the mis-named practice of genetic “engineering” has nothing to do with precise manipulation of genes, but is in fact a crap shoot in which scientists create new viruses and loose them on cells to see what happens. Once in a while, in the manner of a roomful of monkeys at keyboards, something meaningful results, such as a tomato with a fish gene that allows it to tolerate cold. For this we risk the escape into the world of a mutant organism of unknown capabilities.

Millions of dollars in advertising, bought by corporations that enjoy billions in revenues and research grants because of their genetic ambitions and pretenses, convince us that someone, somewhere, sometime soon, is or will be enjoying the fruits of this ultra-modern technology. Yet there is no objective evidence that this is so. Continue reading

Risky Business: Another Well Blows

Little noticed in the shadow of the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil eruption, the blowout of a natural-gas well in Pennsylvania last Thursday — after the failure of its blowout preventer — spewed gas and toxic chemicals for 16 hours before being brought under control. A single spark near the scene could have turned the event into a headline-grabbing conflagration that would have brought unwelcome attention to another unfamiliar new technology being used to get at previously inaccessible gas deposits. Continue reading

Signs and Portents Ignored

Deepwater Horizon on FireThe more things change, etc. Now in the aftermath of the Gusher in the Gulf (more delicately branded as the “Gulf Oil Spill,” as if it were more like a teacup knocked askew than an ocean destroyed) the people who did it, and the people whose job it was to prevent it — the same people who previously told everyone that it could not happen — are shrugging their shoulders, rolling their eyes and saying, “Who knew?”

In the aftermath, it is becoming clear who knew, as The New York Times recently reported: Continue reading