Julie Dermansky's blog

Making Visible the Globe-warming Gases of the Permian Fracking Boom

Read time: 10 mins
Sharon Wilson with her FLIR camera at a fracking site and a methane flare in the background

There is an LED sign at a Chase Bank in downtown Midland, Texas, the heart of the Permian Basin, which quantifies the current oil boom. It alternates between current rig count, the price of oil, and the price of gasoline. On October 30, the day I arrived, the sign informed me there were 1,068 drilling rigs across the United States, of which 489 — nearly half — are in the Permian Basin.

Though the flashing sign is meant to celebrate the fracking boom, Sharon Wilson, Texas coordinator of Earthworks, sees it as a warning sign of the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Man Whose Mexico Beach House Was One of Last Standing After Hurricane Michael Calls out Climate Denier Politicians

Read time: 9 mins
Hurricane damaged sign that below says 'there is always hope'

In Mexico Beach, Florida, Russell King’s house is the only beachfront property that survived Hurricane Michael with little damage. But the fact it survived the latest record-breaking hurricane doesn’t give King peace of mind. Can it withstand the next storm that comes its way?

Climate scientists predict that storms will continue to intensify, and King takes this to heart, worrying the next one could take down his house. I met King on October 14, four days after Hurricane Michael made landfall and wiped out a large portion of Mexico Beach, a small town on Florida’s panhandle. The storm swept into the area with winds of up to 155 miles per hour (mph), just two shy of reaching a Category 5 storm designation

Despite Lingering Land Dispute, Louisiana’s Bayou Bridge Pipeline Is Nearly Complete

Read time: 7 mins
Excavator moves earth to make way for the Bayou Bridge pipeline in the Atchafalaya Basin

High water in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin and direct actions against the Bayou Bridge pipeline threaten to further delay work on the pipeline. However, it likely will be finished before the company’s pending legal challenges, including its most recent one over illegal construction, are settled. 

South Carolina Still Grappling with Historic Flooding from Florence, a Storm Worsened by Climate Change

Read time: 7 mins
April O'Leary kayaks to her flooded home in Conway, South Carolina

South Carolina was spared the worst of Hurricane Florence’s fury when the storm made landfall in North Carolina on September 14, but did not escape its catastrophic impacts. Nearly two weeks later, the state was still contending with historic flooding. 

Residents of Louisiana’s Cancer Alley Join Climate Movement In Call For Environmental Justice

Read time: 7 mins

On September 8,  “Rise for Climate” events took place in 95 countries around the world, pressing leaders to take action on climate change and other environmental issues, a week before a global summit on climate change in San Francisco.

Thousands turned out at over 800 actions spearheaded by 350.org, an environmental advocacy group,

Alaina Boyett, a member of 350 New Orleans, a local affiliate of 350.org, organized two events dubbed “Rise For Cancer Alley.”  Over 100 people were in attendance, which pleased Boyett. “Today Cancer Alley residents got a chance to tell their stories to a larger audience,” she told me, which was her goal. “I wanted to amplify the voices of people who often don’t feel they are being listened to.” 

Supercharged by Pollution, Florida’s Toxic Algae Crisis Continues Unabated

Read time: 8 mins
Fish kill on South Lido Beach, Florida.

Covering stuff up doesn’t make it go away,” said Lilly Womble, an 18-year-old on vacation on Florida’s Sanibel Island. The island is world renowned for its sea shells but that day we were watching employees from the Sanibel Moorings Resort pull a sheet over a dead loggerhead sea turtle on the beach behind the hotel. One of the men covering the turtle said that people had seen it long enough, and he didn’t want it to scare kids.

I think it is better if kids see what we are doing to the planet,” Womble told me. “Maybe seeing the dead turtle will make them pay attention to the environment.” Her 9-year-old sister Ellie agreed, adding that “covering the turtle won’t stop other turtles from dying.”

Earlier that day the sisters had been on a charter fishing boat 10 miles off Sanibel Island’s coast, where they saw lots of dead fish, large and small, and another dead sea turtle floating on the Gulf of Mexico’s surface. Though they caught some fish, their father, an avid fisherman, had his daughters throw them back. He explained to them that it may be years before marine life can recover from the impacts of the ongoing explosion of toxic algae that already has killed hundreds of tons of fish and other sea life washing up on Florida’s southwest coast.

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