Climate Change Haunts This Year’s Pumpkin Crop

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill in August making pumpkin pie the official state pie. But climate change — which Rauner has not publicly acknowledged is a thing — may be a big part of the reason that some Thanksgiving tables lack the holiday classic this year. 

The canned food industry expects pumpkin yields to be down by as much as half for 2015 due to high rainfall this summer in Illinois, where 85 percent of pumpkins consumed in the U.S. are grown. This year’s pumpkins are likely to be gone after Halloween.

Don’t worry. Pumpkin spiced lattes will not be affected. Starbucks says the beverage contains 2 percent real pumpkin, but spokeswoman Holly Hart Shafer said the beverage chain has stocked up on pumpkin puree. 

But the pumpkin shortage has become a concern for other companies that rely on a strong crop. 

“We have never seen growing and harvesting conditions like this,” said Paul Bakus, president of corporate affairs for the global food giant Nestle, at an an event focused on climate change last week. “If you want a pumpkin, you better get it now.”

Nestle’s Libby brand accounts for 80 percent of the world’s canned pumpkin. Roz O’Hearn, Nestle’s corporate and brand affairs director, told The Huffington Post the company believes it will have “enough pumpkin to meet the needs presented by the fall holidays.” But it won’t have much, “if any at all,” reserve stock to carry into 2016.

Bakus wasn’t directly saying that climate change has caused the pumpkin shortage. He was highlighting how companies like Nestle rely on normal weather patterns to produce food — weather patterns that are increasingly unpredictable due to climate change.

Rainfall in Illinois has increased by about 10 percent to 15 percent over the past century, according to state climatologist Jim Angel. Scientists have linked major precipitation events like the June rains to rising surface temperatures, which are caused by burning fossil fuels.

Tim Reinbott, superintendent and research associate at the University of Missouri’s Bradford Research Center, grows pumpkins at his facility. He explained that heavy rains that started in May delayed pumpkin planting in the Midwest by about two weeks. Then growers had to plant in wet soil, which meant the pumpkins’ root systems couldn’t get the oxygen they needed.

Another big problem was that periods between rains were longer and drier, so when crops needed more precipitation later in the summer, farmers had to irrigate. Reinbott said he’s been growing pumpkins for 30 years and has never had to irrigate crops like this year. Still, yields were low and the pumpkins were about two-thirds their normal size.

Reinbott said that kind of uncertainty is enough to keep him up at night. He said he’s concerned about all major crops in the region, especially soybeans, for which he said farmers in the lower Midwest are also expecting a 50 percent reduction in yields due to the heavy rains.

“Pumpkins are nice and pretty and everything, but soybeans are where you get your money, and those were really hurt this year,” Reinbott said.

Meanwhile, Rauner, has dodged questions about climate change and whether human activity contributes to it. He was asked about climate change in a debate a year ago against then-Gov. Pat Quinn (D). Rauner would say only that he supports all forms of energy production.

Rauner’s office did not respond to a request for comment on climate change and his state’s pumpkin troubles.

Also on HuffPost:

(function(){var src_url=””;if (typeof(commercial_video) == “object”) {src_url += “&siteSection=”+commercial_video.site_and_category;if (commercial_video.package) {src_url += “&sponsorship=”+commercial_video.package;}}var script = document.createElement(“script”);script.src = src_url;script.async = true;var placeholder = document.querySelector(“.js-fivemin-script”);placeholder.parentElement.replaceChild(script, placeholder);})();

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

from Green – The Huffington Post

Shark Bites Surfer On Oahu’s North Shore

HONOLULU (AP) — A 25-year-old Oahu man has been bit by a shark while surfing on Oahu’s North Shore.

Honolulu Emergency Services Department spokeswoman Shayne Enright said the attack happened near a popular surfing spot known as Leftovers, about 3 miles away from the famed Banzai Pipeline.

Enright said a 911 call was received at 10:25 a.m. and the victim was already on the beach when rescue crews arrived.

The man had an injury to his left leg and cuts on his hands. The man was transported to Queens Medical Center for treatment in critical condition.

Enright said another surfer was with the man and helped him back to shore after the attack. There, people put the man on a surf or paddle board and used a leash as a tourniquet.

Also on HuffPost:

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

from Green – The Huffington Post

Tanzania Arrests The Notorious ‘Queen Of Ivory’

Tanzania took an important step this week to combat the ivory trade and save the African elephant.

The country’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit on Thursday arrested a string of high-level ivory traffickers accused of illegally smuggling elephant tusks from East Africa to East Asia. Among those arrested was Yang Feng Glan, a 66-year-old Chinese native known as the “Queen of Ivory.”

Tanzania has accused Yang of smuggling 706 elephant tusks, weighing about 4,200 pounds and worth about $2.5 million, according to The Citizen, a local newspaper. She faces up to 30 years in prison, the U.S.-based watchdog Elephant Action League reported.


For centuries, elephants have been slaughtered for their tusks, which are then made into jewelry, ornamental carvings and chopsticks. The worldwide ivory trade has largely been responsible for a dramatic decline in the number of elephants. In 1800, there were an estimated 26 million of them in Africa, according to National Geographic. By 2007, the population was down to roughly half a million.

In 1989, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species classified the African elephant as an endangered species and banned the trade in elephant ivory in certain countries. Some African nations saw fewer elephant killings after the ban, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service noted, although the war against ivory poaching and trading was hardly won. In 2012, s0me 35,000 African elephants were destroyed for their tusks, the Humane Society International reported. Between 2009 and 2014, the number of elephants in Tanzania fell by a whopping 60 percent, from 109,051 to 43,330.

The Obama administration issued an executive order officially banning the commercial ivory trade in the United States last year. In June, the U.S. destroyed over a ton of elephant ivory in New York City’s Times Square to send a warning message to poachers and traders around the world.

Although China has also made public shows of destroying elephant tusks and ivory carvings, the country is believed to be the world’s largest consumer of illegal ivory. In September 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to work with the U.S. to impose “nearly complete bans” on the ivory trade. While this was hailed as a significant step, some critics argued that it might not be enough, as many Chinese people still see ivory ornaments as status symbols

Yang is “thought to be most notorious ivory trafficker brought to task so far in the war against elephant poaching,” the Elephant Action League wrote. The league noted that she has allegedly been involved in the Tanzanian ivory trade since at least 2006 — a trade that encompasses poachers, Chinese-owned companies and high Chinese society in Tanzania. 

The Elephant Action League hopes that Yang’s arrest will bring others in the illegal industry closer to justice. “Finally, a high-profile Chinese trafficker is in jail,” league co-founder Andrea Crosta said Thursday. “Hopefully she can lead us to other major traffickers and corrupt government officials. We must put an end to the time of the untouchables if we want to save the elephant.”

Also on HuffPost:

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

from Green – The Huffington Post

The Case For an International Oxygen Tax

How to save the world from CO2 heating? Pay those who create oxygen! That’s right. We consumers who are using up oxygen and creating this surplus of carbon must pay people to keep their forests, jungles, living oceans for the oxygen they grow. Because by creating oxygen they are sequestering CO2. We must all pay for that carbon we are creating. And we all need the oxygen they are creating.

But good luck on making this happen in the present set-up. Honestly, why would anyone limit their carbon-creating economies when they are the basis of “advanced” countries’ wealth? Why would General Motors or Russian gas oligarchs turn off the tap that feeds them? Why would China abandon the extraction of African resources, or India not buy the enormous coal deposits it seeks to tap next to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, earth’s largest living organism?

Why would the settler in the Brazilian jungle forbear from cutting down his patch to create fields so he can grow and sell soy beans and cattle for burgers at McDonald’s? Why would the Palm Oil Kings of Borneo cut their palms down and start returning their carbon-creating monocrop to the carbon-sequestering diversity of jungle? I mean, they’re probably all nice people, but they’re not stupid. They have to make a living in the economy and the activities it rewards.

The time of asking everyone — and especially Developing World political leaders — to Do The Right Thing for us addicted Industrial World polluters is over. It won’t work. Especially when industrialized countries are the greatest per capita consumers of oxygen and creators of CO2 (the U.S., with a twentieth of the world’s population, still consumes a fifth of the world’s energy).

The fact is, no-one has the financial incentive to expand oxygen creation or lower carbon production. Just as the early European settlers in North America or Europe or Argentina or Australia or New Zealand had no incentive to not cut down the forests and create farms, 200 years ago, so today, peoples in the tropical regions especially, along with global fishing nations like South Korea and Japan, survive by exploiting the bejeebers out of all the resources Mother Earth has to offer.

I spent one holiday at my cousin Bob Rayson’s farm in Bordertown South Australia hauling out stumps from the myriad trees he had spent his entire lifetime cutting and burning down to create fields for sheep.

The problem is that fish, sheep, cattle, tapioca, oil have value we recognize. Their producers and exploiters are paid in dollars and cents for producing them. We assign value to the Brazilian farmer’s soy beans. We reward him in money for the burger meat his cattle provide.

But the jungle he’s about to cut down? Oh no. We won’t assign value to his little portion of the Lungs of the Earth and the work it does right now, creating the oxygen we all need, flourishing as jungle, forest and ocean ecosystems, pumping out oxygen and sequestering the carbon that’s threatening to kill us.

What must we do to turn this around?

We must provide a positive incentive — yes, money — to pay those who grow…oxygen! Just like oil, soy beans and tapioca, oxygen is a commodity, a limited commodity. It needs to be produced! Nurtured, valued, grown, like all other commodities essential to our survival.

How? Tune in to the next blog.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

from Green – The Huffington Post

Listen to the Poorest to Make the Sustainable Development Goals Work

Bill Gates recently referred to the precarious way many of the worlds poorest people support their families — through their small farms — as a “high wire act.” So many variables can thwart their harvest and drag them and their families back into poverty. Maybe there is an attack of pests. Maybe they can’t afford fertilizer. Maybe the rains just don’t come.

At One Acre Fund, we witness stories like these all the time. Take the story of Yovita, from the Iringa district of Tanzania. She not only supports her daughter, but her younger sister and niece as well. “Since I cannot control the rain, my harvests are fluctuating as they solely depend on rain. That means, if there is not enough rain, I am likely to harvest little or harvest nothing,” she said. She has also struggled to afford improved seeds and fertilizer, and it takes her eight days to prepare her one acre of land for planting with a hand hoe. Even when she does have crops to sell, transport to market is scarce and expensive because the roads from her village are treacherous.

We help 280,000 farmers just like Yovita all across East Africa. We give them credit to access to high-yielding hybrid maize seed and fertilizer, which is delivered to a convenient location, within walking distance of their village. We also provide agricultural training on the best farming techniques, and connect them to local markets in order to sell more produce at a better price. Since we have been working with Yovita, she has earned enough to build a new house for her family.

Agriculture Is a Common Thread Throughout the SDGs

Smallholder farmers like Yovita stand at the nexus of some of the most crucial Sustainable Development Goals, which are officially adopted by the United Nations this week. When farmers improve their harvests, they can improve their incomes and pull themselves out of poverty (Goal 1). They also start producing surplus food for their neighbors, eradicating hunger in their community (Goal 2). They can afford to send their children to school (Goal 4) and when the farmers are women, which many are especially throughout sub-Saharan Africa, gender inequality can also be addressed (Goal 5). Crucially, if we are reaching smallholder farmers with improved seeds that will grow even when rainfall is scarce, or even when plains are flooded, this will also help them overcome the challenges that climate change poses (Goal 13).

We asked Yovita what she wanted the SDGs to do for her. This is what she told us. The top of her wish list is for her government, NGOs and the private sector to provide irrigation systems. This would take away one of the most variable of threats to her “high-wire act” of managing her farm: rainfall. Second, she asked for better access to markets. “If I increase my crop yields and I don’t know where I can sell them, I will not be able to make high profits from my products, and I will still be a victim of poverty my entire life,” she said. Finally, she wants to put down her hand hoe for life. She told us that access to better technologies such as tractors or power tillers would be a game-changer for her production.

Farmers are Counting on the SDGs to Make a Difference

Yovita isn’t the only farmer we spoke to. The global agriculture coalition Farming First has collected ten farmer stories from around the world, from Bangladesh to Benin who all talk about the interventions that their governments, NGOs and the private sector could make to bring them closer to meeting many of the SDGs, and towards a more prosperous future. You can read all ten stories, and the actionable ways these farmers can be empowered to reach several of the SDGS here.

The key difference between the new Sustainable Development Goals and their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is the overarching view that developed nations need to play their part towards a better global future as well. We hope that governments, the private sector, and other NGOs from powerful nations listen to what smallholder farmers, that represent the world’s poorest, believe can make the SDGs move from a vision to reality.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

from Green – The Huffington Post

Congress-backed Interstate Oil Commission Called 911 When I Came To Ask About Climate

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On October 1, I arrived at the Oklahoma City headquarters of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)  a congressionally-chartered collective of oil and gas producing states  hoping for an interview.

Photo Credit: Steve Horn | DeSmog

There to ask IOGCC if it believed human activity (and specifically oil and gas drilling) causes climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, my plans that day came to a screeching halt when cops from the Oklahoma City Police Department rolled up and said that they had received a 9-1-1 call reporting me and my activity as “suspicious” (listen to the audio here). 

What IOGCC apparently didn’t tell the cops, though, was that I had already told them via email that I would be in the area that day and would like to do an interview.

That initial email requested an opportunity to meet up in-person with IOGCC’s upper-level personnel, a request coming in the immediate aftermath of its Oklahoma City-based annual meeting, which I attended. After the cops came to the scene and cleared me to leave, I sent a follow up email to IOGCC outlining the questions I would have asked if given the opportunity to do so.

Days later, IOGCC finally responded to those questions and told me its climate change stance. Well, as you’ll see later, they kind of did.

“Closed Business”

I was no stranger to IOGCC to begin with, which exists due to an act of Congress in 1935.

Indeed, the compact had granted me a press pass to attend and cover its industry-funded extravaganza that took place in the days before. I also attended its 2014 annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio and did a 41-minute interview with Carol Booth, IOGCC’s communications manager, while there. 

According to the Oklahoma City Police officer who arrived and held me for about seven minutes to ask me questions and do a background check on me, IOGCC had “closed business” that day, though that was neither posted on its front door nor anywhere online. It is also not listed as a state holiday on the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s website and it is not a federal holiday.

Why’d they close business, then? I asked IOGCC.  

“Mike and I gave the staff a couple of days of R&R [rest and recovery] after a weekend and late nights associated with our Annual Meeting (and 80th Anniversary),” Gerry Baker, associate executive director of IOGCC, told DeSmog via email. “We’ll be closed again tomorrow [Friday, October 2], but will work on a response to your questions next week.”

Late Night Parties

Baker’s response makes some sense, at least in so far as late nights go.

The IOGCC meeting agenda featured an opening night reception on the 50th and top floor of the Devon Energy Center, a second night industry-funded reception at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel located two buildings away from Continental Resources’ corporate headquarters and across the street from that of SandRidge Energy, and a third night secretive dinner at Café Do Brasil that went unlisted on the public agenda and I found out about by hanging out on the sidelines of the annual meeting.

Closing Luncheon Ceremony; Photo Credit: Steve Horn | DeSmog

IOGCC’s Oklahoma City meeting also featured industry-funded breakfasts and lunches.

Photo Credit: Steve Horn | DeSmog

Fleeing the Scene

But Baker’s claim that no one was in the office seems suspect for two reasons, both centering around the two cars parked at IOGCC’s office when I arrived. Both of those cars, it turns out, were owned by IOGCC staff members I had emailed before showing up.

One of them was owned by Carl Michael (“Mike”) Smith, IOGCC executive director, confirmed to me by the officer who held me temporarily.

“Mike called about you being suspicious out here,” the officer told me. “I don’t have a choice about what people call 9-1-1 about.”

Smith was the assistant secretary of fossil energy for the Bush Administration Department of Energy from 2004-2006, as well as Oklahoma’s former Secretary of Energy. He is also listed as a senior advisor for the lobbying firm Abraham Consulting LLC, owned and run by former Bush Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham.  

Carl Michael “Mike” Smith; Image Credit: IOGCC

The other car present was that of Carol Booth, the IOGCC communications manager. When I was held by the police officer, I overheard via his intercom system that it was her car parked in the back of IOGCC’s office, which someone at the Oklahoma City Police Department’s office confirmed to him by looking up her license plate in a database and reporting it back to him.

While Booth was still seemingly at the office when the officer arrived, Smith had already fled the scene in his car, doing so out of the side-door attached to his office while I stepped away from the building for a second to take a phone call before the cops arrived.

Baker told DeSmog that the cops came on their own volition and not because IOGCC called 9-1-1.

“Due to the location of the IOGCC office, which is adjacent to the Governor’s Mansion property, there are sensitivities about who is in the area,” said Baker. “Oklahoma City police officers often keep track of who’s using the property for obvious reasons.”

But I was told by both the officer and Oklahoma City Police Department staff members that the 9-1-1 call came from the IOGCC office address. DeSmog has requested the call log from the incident in question from the Department and will publish it here when we receive it.


IOGCC and Climate

Smith also wrote us a letter on IOGCC’s climate change stance, copying the IOGCC chairwoman and co-chairmen on it, explaining that it “does not have a position on climate change” and is “not part of conversations on climate change.”

Mike Smith IOGCC Climate Change Letter

Image Credit: Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission

Historical records obtained by DeSmog, on the other hand, sing another tune about where IOGCC stands on climate change.

In 1998, IOGCC passed a climate change denial resolution stating that “there is continuing scientific debate as to what the impact of increasing contributions of greenhouse gases would be on the climate,” even issuing a press release after it passed.

Then in 2002, IOGCC invited prominent climate change denier Bjørn Lomborg to speak at its annual meeting and sign autographs of his then-new book “The Skeptical Environmentalist.”


But what exactly is IOGCC and why do they — and their stance on climate change – matter anyway?

Officially, IOGCC is a collective body of top-level state-level oil and gas industry regulators and permitters, not to be confused with environmental regulators. Though in the case of some states, such as North Dakota, agencies have a dual mission of permitting oil and gas drilling, as well as protecting the environment. 

Chartered by Congress in 1935, IOGCC’s existence has flown under the radar for 80 years by most.

Meanwhile, its meetings and the organization’s existence serve as ground zero for industry influence-peddling. A case in point: 39-percent of attendees present at its Oklahoma City meeting worked for the industry, according to a roster obtained by DeSmog and the majority of its members at-large work for the industry

IOGCC, like the more well-known American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), passes model resolutions at its annual meetings. It also brings together regulators, industry executives and lobbyists under one roof to do networking and rub elbows with one another.

At its most recent meeting, IOGCC presented two draft model resolutions, one of which would leave regulating methane emissions ensuing as a result of shale oil and gas drilling to the states as “the proper authority to encourage capture of methane emissions.” That resolution, published here for the first time, does not mention climate change a single time even though methane is a greenhouse gas 86-105 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

IOGCC Methane Resolution

Image Credit: Steve Horn | DeSmog

Its other draft resolution introduced in Oklahoma City, which calls for states to have authority over federally-controlled conservation areas in order to do oil and gas drilling, also fits within its broader “States First Initiative” push.

Shadow Lobbying Organ?

IOGCC has a rich history of serving as a key apparatus through which the oil and gas industry flexes its muscles.

It has done such a good job of doing so, in fact, that in 1978 then-U.S. Department of Justice attorney Donald Flexner — now working as a namesake of the powerful firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP – wrote and testified in front of Congress that IOGCC should no longer exist as a compact because it does “essentially lobbying work.” 

IOGCC Lobbying

Three years later in 1981, instead of heeding Flexner’s counsel, Congress decided to stop reauthorizing IOGCC every three years and instead introduced an amendment giving it de facto permanent reauthorization


For an entity of its clout, the public knows very little about IOGCC’s inner-workings. And that’s not without reason.

For example, IOGCC has responded to an open records request sent by DeSmog by claiming a wholesale exemption to both state-level and federal-level open records laws because they are an interstate compact and not a government agency, even though its own by-laws claim its records are open to the public.

Interstate compacts, over 200 of which currently exist, can exist due to a clause in the U.S. constitution reading, “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.” 

Meanwhile IOGCC’s own website describes it as a “multi-state government agency,” IOGCC staff members use “” email accounts, and its office is located on property given to them by the Oklahoma government and located adjacent to the Governor’s Mansion. Current IOGCC chairwoman Mary Fallin, Oklahoma’s Republican Governor, lives in said mansion. 

IOGCC Office Oklahoma City

IOGCC office located next to Governor’s Mansion; Image Credit: Google Maps

IOGCC tried — and failed – to use the cops as its private security service. It was a maneuver symbolic of the group’s propensity for secrecy when it comes under scrutiny. 

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

from Green – The Huffington Post

Watch Humpback Whales Frolic Beneath The Northern Lights

This footage of the aurora borealis is spectacular on its own. Add a pod of playing humpback whales to the ethereal glow and we’re at a loss for words. 

While testing new camera equipment, a Norwegian photographer managed to capture nature at its most breathtaking.

The gorgeous footage was shot recently on the northern Norwegian island of Kvaløya, which translates to “Whale Island” and is no stranger to whale sightings. This time of year is considered ideal timing to catch the aurora borealis, which most frequently appear between September and March. 

According to Harald Albrigtsen, the photographer, the encounter wasn’t even a once in a lifetime experience: he saw the whales playing under the lights two nights in a row.

I suddenly came across a group of humpback whales that were playing in the Northern Lights,” Albrigtsen told NRK, a Norwegian broadcasting service. “I went back the next day to see if I could come closer. After a few hours I had almost given up, but then they showed up again.” 

If you need us, we’ll be booking our tickets to Norway. 

Watch the full footage below:

Also on HuffPost:

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

from Green – The Huffington Post

Environmental Care , Web Insights and Emerging Trends

Wolf Is My Soul

Odds and ends ~ My Life

Dark Matter Space

Seeing Future in Space

Carter Vail

Mistress of the Macabre, Siren of Sci Fi and Femme Fatale of Fantasy


Come for the sass, stay for the class


Literature, books , sport and whatever intrigues me

Sherlockian's Blog

We have moved to


Jln Gereja Moria RT25 RW06 Kelurahan Liliba Kupang NTT


Influencing Empathy & Compassionate Understanding of Shared Spirit

Don Lichterman

The Angriest Guy In The World

Olivia Blogs

Fashion, Beauty and Travel Blog.

Morning Story and Dilbert

inspiring, encouraging, and best read with a cup of coffee or tea and an occasional kleenex

Comics Grinder

comics, pop culture and related topics


A Shelter Dog Finds Her New Home

Time for Action

Small acts of resistance will make a differance


Working together to make the world a better place to live! A fine site

Vegan Lynx

In memory of Marius, the murdered giraffe

Arlin Report

Telling You What The News Won't.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 269 other followers