The Shutdown and the Environment

This week's investigative reporting, analysis and environmental news.
The Revelator

No. 64, Jan. 24, 2019

Hello Revelator readers,

How is the ongoing government shutdown affecting the planet? There's been a lot of concern about what isn't being done during the shutdown, like proper staffing at national parks and important scientific research, but equally troubling is what is being done. It's become clear that the administration is using the shutdown to cater to special interests like the oil and gas industry while there is limited oversight and with suspect use of funds. Read more about these troubling activities.

In other news, worrying new research finds that surface waters in many parts of the U.S. — and around the world — have become saltier and more alkaline from road salt and other sources of pollution. This would be bad on its own, but the salt is also moving heavy metals and other contaminants into rivers and reservoirs — similar to what happened in Flint, Michigan. Read all about this emerging threat, and what we can do about it.

Speaking of water, have you heard of the Pantanal? The world's largest tropical wetland, located in South America, is critical for fighting climate change and protecting endangered species. But it's also under threat from ongoing development. Read more about the race to protect it.

Finally this week, what's the best way to stop climate change? A new book argues that it's a Swedish energy technique called kärnkraft — which we know as nuclear power. We talk about why that probably isn't a good idea (and it's not what you might think).

Subscriber bonus: The Wild 5

Let's go a little deeper. Here are five additional stories we're watching this week.

1. What's happened to those responsible for the water crisis in Flint, Mich.? Very little so far, despite 15 people being charged three years ago.

2. A new Department of Defense report highlights national security risks from climate change but has been criticized for being short on critical details to tackle the problem.

3. A project that aims to clean up plastic waste floating in the ocean threatens to kill the neuston, a diverse ecosystem that lives on the surface of the ocean and provides refuge and food for myriad animals.

4. A federal judge has halted the Trump administration from processing permits for offshore seismic testing during the shutdown.

5. If we want to help protect the planet, we're going to have to change the way we eat, reports an international team of scientists.

How has the shutdown affected you?

Has the shutdown affected your job or your local environment? Drop us a line. We want to hear your stories.  

Coming up:

We have a ton of great articles and essays coming your way in the next few weeks, including an important look at the effectiveness of certain types of environmental messages.

Look for our latest links in next week's newsletter — or follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the headlines as they go live. We share other interesting news there, too!

That's it for this week. As always, thank you for reading.

John Platt

John R. Platt
Editor, The Revelator


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