A rewriting of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, A DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE is a global-participatory film from the team behind CONNECTED. With music by Moby and directed by Tiffany Shlain, it is an exhilarating montage of user-generated videos and graphics, a global mash-up demonstrating the vast potential of creative collaboration in the 21st century. A DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE is the first film of a new short film series called Let it Ripple: Mobile Films for Global Change.
9/19/2017 — Bloomberg News — The age of batteries is just getting started. In the latest episode of our animated series, Sooner Than You Think, Bloomberg’s Tom Randall does the math on when solar plus batteries might start wiping fossil fuels off the grid.
[Editor’s note: I imagine that this same development will be the end of nuclear power as well.]
A new report from the world’s leading body on climate change says we could see catastrophic global warming by 2030, and climate scientist Michael Mann says their predictions are too conservative
Visit https://therealnews.com for more stories and help support our work by donating at https://therealnews.com/donate
03 March 19
s the bankrupt federal felon Pacific Gas & Electric desperately hiding something very deadly at its Diablo Canyon Power Plant? Will we know by March 7, when the company wants to restart Unit One, which is currently shut for refueling? Will YOU sign our petition asking Governor Gavin Newsom and other officials to inspect that reactor before it can restart?
In 2010, PG&E blew up a neighborhood in San Bruno, killing eight people.
In 2018, it helped burn down much of northern California, killing more than eighty people. The company has now admitted its culpability in starting that infamous Camp Fire and has questioned its own ability to continue to operate.
On February 6, it incinerated five buildings in San Francisco.
The company is bankrupt. It has been convicted of numerous federal felonies. It actually has a probation officer.
But the real terror comes at its Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors, nine miles west of San Luis Obispo on the central California coast.
The reactors are embrittled. They may be cracked. As with the gas pipes in San Bruno and the power poles in northern California, PG&E’s maintenance at these huge reactors has been systematically neglected.
But the company does NOT want the public to inspect them. WHY?
New York Magazine — July 2017
We published “The Uninhabitable Earth” on Sunday night, and the response since has been extraordinary — both in volume (it is already the most-read article in New York Magazine’s history) and in kind. Within hours, the article spawned a fleet of commentary across newspapers, magazines, blogs, and Twitter, much of which came from climate scientists and the journalists who cover them.
Some of this conversation has been about the factual basis for various claims that appear in the article. To address those questions, and to give all readers more context for how the article was reported and what further reading is available, we are publishing here a version of the article filled with research annotations. They include quotations from scientists I spoke with throughout the reporting process; citations to scientific papers, articles, and books I drew from; additional research provided by my colleague Julia Mead; and context surrounding some of the more contested claims. Since the article was published, we have made four corrections and adjustments, which are noted in the annotations (as well as at the end of the original version). They are all minor, and none affects the central project of the story: to apply the best science we have today to the median and high-end “business-as-usual” warming projections produced by the U.N.’s “gold standard” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
But the debate this article has kicked up is less about specific facts than the article’s overarching conceit. Is it helpful, or journalistically ethical, to explore the worst-case scenarios of climate change, however unlikely they are? How much should a writer contextualize scary possibilities with information about how probable those outcomes are, however speculative those probabilities may be? What are the risks of terrifying or depressing readers so much they disengage from the issue, and what should a journalist make of those risks?
I hope, in the annotations and commentary below, I have added some context. But I also believe very firmly in the set of propositions that animated the project from the start: that the public does not appreciate the scale of climate risk; that this is in part because we have not spent enough time contemplating the scarier half of the distribution curve of possibilities, especially its brutal long tail, or the risks beyond sea-level rise; that there is journalistic and public-interest value in spreading the news from the scientific community, no matter how unnerving it may be; and that, when it comes to the challenge of climate change, public complacency is a far, far bigger problem than widespread fatalism — that many, many more people are not scared enough than are already “too scared.” In fact, I don’t even understand what “too scared” would mean. The science says climate change threatens nearly every aspect of human life on this planet, and that inaction will hasten the problems. In that context, I don’t think it’s a slur to call an article, or its writer, alarmist. I’ll accept that characterization. We should be alarmed.
A forest garden with 500 edible plants could lead to a sustainable future.
Video from National Geographic.
Instead of neat rows of monoculture, forest gardens combine fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables together in one seemingly wild setting. This type of agroforestry mimics natural ecosystems and uses the space available in a sustainable way. UK-based Martin Crawford is one of the pioneers of forest gardening. Starting out with a flat field in 1994, his land has been transformed into a woodland and serves as an educational resource for others interested in forest gardening. This short film by Thomas Regnault focuses on Crawford’s forest garden, which is abundant, diverse, edible, and might be one answer to the future of food systems.
Book Review by Gene Knudsen Hoffman — Summer 2002
There is a way the world can change from war to peace, from hatred to love. It requires a lot of effort, a lot of understanding, and it begins at home.
For centuries we’ve been told to practice it, that it’s healing for ourselves and the other, that it’s a way to manifest love and courage. It brings peace to the participants. It is a brave and noble thing to do, and — it can be very costly, costly to pride, to arrogance, to fear, to hate.
Michael Henderson has written the definitive book on it and it’s called: Forgiveness. Of it Desmond Tutu wrote, “A deeply moving and eloquent testimony to the power of forgiveness in the life of individuals, of communities, and between and within nations. It effects change — a powerful book.”→ «Michael Henderson’s
Forgiveness: Breaking the Chain of Hate»” class=”more-link”>
Forgiveness: Breaking the Chain of Hate»
The award-winning atmospheric scientist on the urgency of the climate crisis and why people are her biggest hope.
Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She has contributed to more than 125 scientific papers and won numerous prizes for her science communication work. In 2018 she was a contributor to the US National Climate Assessment and was awarded the Stephen H Schneider award for outstanding climate science communication.
In 2018, we have seen forest fires in the Arctic circle; record high temperatures in parts of Australia, Africa and the US; floods in India; and devastating droughts in South Africa and Argentina. Is this a turning point?
This year has hit home how climate change loads the dice against us by taking naturally occurring weather events and amplifying them. We now have attribution studies that show how much more likely or stronger extreme weather events have become as a result of human emissions. For example, wildfires in the western US now burn nearly twice the area they would without climate change, and almost 40% more rain fell during Hurricane Harvey than would have otherwise. So we are really feeling the impacts and know how much humanity is responsible.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 1.5C report in October. A month later, the US federal government’s climate assessment – to which you contributed – came out. How did these two massive studies move our understanding along?
These assessments are important because there is a Schrödinger’s Cat element to studying climate impacts. The act of observing affects the outcome. If people aren’t aware of what is happening, why would anyone change? Assessments like these provide us with a vision of the future if we continue on our current pathway, and by doing so they address the most widespread and dangerous myth that the largest number of us have bought into: not that the science isn’t real, but rather that climate change doesn’t matter to me personally.
Read more at The Guardian
From the Editor, Dennis Rivers:
It feels time for a great awakening of reverence for life. One thing that amazes and terrifies me about the Sixth Mass Extinction now underway is the suicidal element in runaway industrialism: as we kill the living land and sea with our pesticides, herbicides and industrial wastes, we and everyone we love will also die. It seems to me that the blindness of greed can turn into a kind of suicidal mania.
In the face of this madness, I find myself practicing what feels like a new meditation mantra for our time:
“May every heart
be filled with infinite kindness,
including your heart and mine,
and reaching out in widening circles.”
In this and similar practices may we find the strength to change our ways and nurture (rather than destroy) the web of life.
Here is a CNN documentary on the topic:
By Juan Cole — truthdig.com — Sept 9, 2018
Environmental activists protested Saturday in 90 countries and 800 cities across the globe and the United States against inaction on the climate crisis in the runup to a major climate conference in San Francisco. Wednesday’s conference was organized by California Gov. Jerry Brown in the wake of President Trump’s violation of the Paris Climate Accord. The events were organized by 350.org and allies among non-governmental organizations.
Many of the rallies or demonstrations explicitly rejected the president’s high-carbon policies.
Global carbon dioxide emissions have continued to rise since the Paris accord, to 32.5 gigatons last year, though the rate of growth has slowed because of all the wind farms and solar panels people have installed around the world. Humans burning coal, gas and petroleum release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a potent greenhouse gas that is heating the earth but also having other dire effects.
Free PDF Book from World Bank — 2016
SUMMARY: Ending poverty and stabilizing climate change will be two unprecedented global achievements and two major steps toward sustainable development. But the two objectives cannot be considered in isolation: they need to be jointly tackled through an integrated strategy. This report brings together those two objectives and explores how they can more easily be achieved if considered together. It examines the potential impact of climate change and climate policies on poverty reduction.
It also provides guidance on how to create a “win-win” situation so that climate change policies contribute to poverty reduction and poverty-reduction policies contribute to climate change mitigation and resilience building. The key finding of the report is that climate change represents a significant obstacle to the sustained eradication of poverty, but future impacts on poverty are determined by policy choices: rapid, inclusive, and climate-informed development can prevent most short-term impacts whereas immediate pro-poor, emissions-reduction policies can drastically limit long-term ones.
Article from the US National Academy of Sciences — August 6, 2018
Will Steffen, Johan Rockström, Katherine Richardson, Timothy M. Lenton, Carl Folke, Diana Liverman, Colin P. Summerhayes, Anthony D. Barnosky, Sarah E. Cornell, Michel Crucifix, Jonathan F. Donges, Ingo Fetzer, Steven J. Lade, Marten Scheffer, Ricarda Winkelmann, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.
PNAS August 14, 2018 115 (33) 8252-8259; published ahead of print August 6, 2018 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1810141115
Edited by William C. Clark, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved July 6, 2018.
ABSTRACT — We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. We examine the evidence that such a threshold might exist and where it might be. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values.
Good overview plus special focus on Permaculture in tropical climates.
Click here to download free PDF — 48MB may take a few minutes to download.
The aim of this book is to offer knowledge and practical techniques for environmental rehabilitation and sustainability, strengthening community resilience and local economies. The contents of the book are based on concepts of deep ecology, the interconnectedness of our environment and culture, and the principles and ethics of sustainable community development.
Combining traditional techniques for providing natural resources, food, shelter, and energy with modern sustainable practices, the techniques outlined in this book provide integrated, practical solutions for challenges being faced by community members and farmers throughout Indonesia today.
This Resource Book for Permaculture has been developed using simple language and many detailed illustrations to ensure that the information contained is accessible to all those interested.
This book is made available by kind permissions of the IDEP Foundation.
By Lachlan McKenzie with Ego Lemos.
In the small town of Riverton at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island is Robert and Robyn Guyton’s amazing 23-year-old food forest. The 2-acre property has been transformed from a neglected piece of land into a thriving ecosystem of native and exotic trees where birds and insects live in abundance. Robert and Robyn are a huge inspiration to us, not only for their beautiful approach to healing the land and saving heritage trees and seeds, but for the way they’ve impacted on their local community.
They’ve operated an environment centre in their town for over 20 years, where the community comes together to learn and discuss, buy produce and sit by the warm fire over a cuppa. We’ve even heard of folk who’ve up and moved to Riverton because they’re so inspired by the Guytons!
Support Happen Films: http://patreon.com/happenfilms
March 31, 2017, by Kieran Cooke
from Climate News Network
A new book suggests that, as a result of our actions,
we are contemplating our own extinction.
Image: Alessandro Pautasso via Flickr
Human mistreatment of the planet is ushering in another era and it is not going to be pleasant, according to Clive Hamilton’s latest book.
LONDON, 31 March, 2017 – Clive Hamilton’s book Defiant Earth – the fate of humans in the Anthropocene is not for the faint-hearted. Basically, its thesis is that the Earth – and us along with it – is going down the tubes.
Our rampant, irrational use of the planet and its resources, including our exploitation of climate-changing fossil fuels, means we are interfering and upsetting the functioning of the Earth system that sustains us.
“This bizarre situation, in which we have become potent enough to change the course of the Earth yet seem unable to regulate ourselves contradicts every modern belief about the kind of creature a human being is,” says Clive Hamilton, professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Australia.
read rest of article on Climate Change News Network…
Article by David Korten in Tikkun Magazine — January 2018
Read article in PDF format…
During the past century, we humans have become a truly global species with both the ability and the imperative to choose our common future by conscious collective choice. Growth in our numbers and the destructive power of our economic and military weapons of mass destruction creates the necessity. Advances in communication technology that link us into a seamless web of global communications and in biological and ecological sciences that deepen our understanding of what life is and how it organizes give us the means.
A Species in Terminal Crisis
The unfolding collapse of three critical systems puts our common future at serious risk.
- Environmental Systems. Lead indicators include climate change, loss of fertile soil, diminishing supplies of clean freshwater, disappearing forests, and collapsing fisheries. All are a result of an increasing human burden that human numbers and consumption place on a finite planet. Per the Global Footprint Network, we humans are consuming globally at a rate 1.6 times what Earth can sustain. Everything above 1.0 comes at the cost of diminishing Earth’s ability to sustain life and in turn drives a violent competition for what remains and a growing flow of desperate refugees.
- Social Systems. In 2010, the combined wealth of the world’s richest 388 billionaires equaled the combined wealth of the poorest half of humanity—3.5 billion people. Now, just 7 years later, it takes the combined wealth of only the 8 richest billionaires to equal the combined wealth of the world’s poorest 3.6 billion people. The combination of extreme inequality and environmental displacement undermines human well-being, institutional legitimacy, and the social fabric of families and communities. The violence driving massive numbers of refugees from the Middle East is a direct consequence.
- Governance Systems. The legitimacy of political and economic institutions that demonstrate their inability to address the above environmental and social crises is disintegrating. This gives rise to political demagogues who exploit the resulting fear and uncertainty.
These three system failures are interlinked, self-imposed, and threaten our species viability. All are a direct consequence of a takeover of our access to the essential means of living by global corporations that value life only for its market price, promote the idolatry of money, and sponsor those politicians who equate the corporate interest with the human interest. Awareness that something is going badly wrong is sweeping global society, but with limited understanding of the nature of and reasons for the cultural and institutional system failure now playing out. Lacking such understanding, we look for solutions that tinker at the margins of a failed system grounded in false assumptions and values in the hope of making it slightly less destructive.
Our hope for a viable human future depends on a deep system transformation supportive of an Ecological Civilization that brings people and planet into balance, nurtures innovation and creative expression, and provides all people an opportunity for material sufficiency and spiritual abundance.
More: Read entire article in PDF format…
Please support Tikkun Magazine for making articles like this one available free of charge.
April 5th, 2017
Brooke Havlik, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, 212-961-1000 ext. 320, email@example.com
New York, NY — As President Trump moves to shrink federal budgets at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and altogether eliminate EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, New York City Council voted today to protect low-income New Yorkers and communities of color, who bear the disproportionate burden of environmental injustices, such as air pollution and its associated health problems. The council passed two bills, The Environmental Justice Study Bill (Intro 359) and The Environmental Justice Policy Bill (Intro 886A), which will provide the city and all New Yorkers more information to identify and address these injustices.
The Environmental Justice Study Bill (Intro 359) will amend the city’s administrative code to require that a citywide study of potential environmental justice communities be conducted. The results of this study will be made available to the public and placed on the city’s website. The Environmental Justice Policy Bill (Intro 886A) amends the city’s administrative code to require city agencies to develop plans to address environmental injustices in communities of color and low-income communities. The plans must be in consultation with these communities, and establishes and environmental justice advisory body, comprised of EJ advocates, to work with the city on identifying and addressing environmental injustices.
WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s Deputy Director, Cecil Corbin-Mark said, “The New York City Council just sent a big message to our city and the entire country—environmental injustice is real and it matters. These bills will provide NYC a comprehensive legislative strategy to address environmental injustices throughout the city of New York, and will serve as a model for other cities in a Trump era, when we know local action will have a huge impact on community health and reducing health disparities. We especially want to send our gratitude to Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Barron, Council Member Constantinides, Samara Swanston, Counsel to the Environmental Protection Committee, and Indigo Washington, Legislative Director to Council Member Inez Barron for all their hard work and support on making these two groundbreaking bills happen.”
Council Member Costa Constantinides of Queens Council District 22 and primary sponsor of Intro 359 said, “As the recent executive order on climate shows, the Trump administration will choose fossil fuels over our public health and safety. It’s up to cities to make combating climate change and reducing pollution a top priority. By voting on this legislative package, we show that New York is leading the way. We are the first city in the nation to pass any piece of environmental justice legislation since the Trump inauguration and the only city in the nation to pass environmental justice legislation this comprehensive. For far too long, environmental justice communities have had more sources of pollution and fewer environmental amenities in their neighborhoods, leading to adverse health effects. This legislation will work to make our city services more equally and fairly distributed. I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for her support and my colleague Council Member Barron for her partnership.”
read online at original page…
CSA (Citizen Science Association) is excited to once again partner with SciStarter to present Citizen Science Day 2017!
This month-long series of regional events is a chance to celebrate and bring attention to the ways that everyone can engage with science to make a difference in the world – whether that is helping find a cure for disease, using data to address sources of air pollution, or making discoveries of new phenomena in our backyards or in space. #CitSciDay activities will commence on Saturday, April 15th and will continue into May. Celebrations will culminate with activities held at the Citizen Science Association Conference, including a May 17th Hackathon at the University of Minnesota, a Friday night Science Cafe style event (featuring screenings from The Crowd and The Cloud) for presenters and the public, and a family-friendly Science Festival at the Science Museum of Minnesota on Saturday, May 20th.
We invite citizen scientists and project leaders from around the world to celebrate citizen science during this time. Events during 2016 celebrations included BioBlitzes in National Parks and community green spaces, transcription challenges at local libraries, citizen science hikes, science festivals, workshops, and more! Even if there isn’t a local event planned in your community, you can participate in one of SciStarter’s thousands of citizen science projects on topics ranging from Astronomy to Zoology.
[Editor: Find an event or post an event at the “SciStarter Events Calendar” here.]
SAN FRANCISCO and CHICAGO (March 30, 2017) — President Donald Trump’s actions this week to reverse the steady progress being made in confronting the challenge of climate change are not only alarming and dangerous; these actions are immoral.
“Religious and spiritual communities and people of conscience across the earth must commit themselves to work together to stand against the President’s irresponsible and unethical actions…actions that threaten human beings everywhere, that endanger living beings across the globe, that put the earth at peril,” argues Dr. Larry Greenfield, Executive Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Interfaith Power & Light and The Parliament of the World’s Religions have joined together to express deep concern over the Trump Administration’s deceptively-titled Executive Order on “Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” and join with people of faith and conscience within the United States and across the world to protest the President’s actions.
Based on a flawed understanding of both economics and science, the President’s action compromises Americans’ health and safety, damages our economy in both the short and long term, and undermines our children’s future wellbeing and security.
The Executive Order blatantly and callously plays on real fears and economic pain while it puts the benefit of a few of the richest Americans ahead of the needs and rights of the vast majority and offers no real solutions or help to those in economic distress. Its purported “benefits” are ephemeral, exaggerated or nonexistent.
→ «Interfaith Organizations Protest the President’s Executive Order on Coal and Environmental Rollbacks»" class="more-link">
By Juliet Eilperin, Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson — March 31, 2017 — Washington Post
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new, more detailed plan for laying off 25 percent of its employees and scrapping 56 programs including pesticide safety, water runoff control, and environmental cooperation with Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
At a time when the agency is considering a controversial rollback in fuel efficiency standards adopted under President Obama, the plan would cut by more than half the number of people in EPA’s division for testing the accuracy of fuel efficiency claims by automakers.
It would transfer funding for the program to fees paid by the automakers themselves.
The spending plan, obtained by The Washington Post, offers the most detailed vision to date of how the 31 percent budget cut to the EPA ordered up by President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget would diminish the agency.
The March 21 plan calls for even deeper reductions in staffing than earlier drafts. It maintains funding given to states to administer waste treatment and drinking water. But as a result, the budget for the rest of EPA is slashed 43 percent.
By Victoria Herrmann — March 28, 2017 — from www.theguardian.com
As an Arctic researcher, I’m used to gaps in data. Just over 1% of US Arctic waters have been surveyed to modern standards. In truth, some of the maps we use today haven’t been updated since the second world war. Navigating uncharted waters can prove difficult, but it comes with the territory of working in such a remote part of the world.
Over the past two months though, I’ve been navigating a different type of uncharted territory: the deleting of what little data we have by the Trump administration.
At first, the distress flare of lost data came as a surge of defunct links on 21 January. The US National Strategy for the Arctic, the Implementation Plan for the Strategy, and the report on our progress all gone within a matter of minutes. As I watched more and more links turned red, I frantically combed the internet for archived versions of our country’s most important polar policies.
I had no idea then that this disappearing act had just begun.
Since January, the surge has transformed into a slow, incessant march of deleting datasets, webpages and policies about the Arctic. I now come to expect a weekly email request to replace invalid citations, hoping that someone had the foresight to download statistics about Arctic permafrost thaw or renewable energy in advance of the purge.
By John D. Sutter – CNN.com – Updated 8:53 AM ET, Tue February 28, 2017
Climate change may seem like a complicated issue, but it’s actually simple if you understand five key facts, according to Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.
They are: 1. It’s real. 2. It’s us. 3. Scientists agree. 4. It’s bad. And: 5. There’s hope.
Yet, far too few Americans get it.
That became more painfully apparent to me this week when Yale University researchers released data and maps that detail American attitudes on climate change. The data, which are based on surveys and modeling by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, do show there is broad agreement in the American public on the solutions needed to fight climate change and usher in the clean-energy era. The most striking example: majorities of people in every single congressional district support setting strict limits on carbon dioxide pollution from existing coal-fired power plants, according to the research. And this despite the fact that many Republicans and US President Donald Trump say they want to ax an Obama-era regulation — the Clean Power Plan — that aims to do just that.
Still, there remain big pockets of climate confusion — perhaps denial — across the country, especially when it comes to climate science. Narrowing this info gap is particularly critical now since President Trump has denied the science of climate change and has promised to enact policies that can be expected to dirty the air and intensify warming.
To that end, here is a geographic look at five key climate facts.
Cat Johnson – Christian Science Monitor.com – January 30, 2017
Cool Block is an initiative that helps neighbors connect with each other, share resources, and collaborate on climate and disaster resilience projects.
In her 30 years of working in the sustainability sector, Sandra Slater has learned quite a bit about human behavior, including the idea that just giving people information doesn’t inspire a change in behavior.
“If you just go in and say, ‘Let’s lower your carbon footprint,’ it’s a nonstarter,” Slater says. “You have to go in with other motivators.” She says people are looking for social connection, meaning, purpose, safety, and efficacy.
Slater is the Northern California director of the Cool City Challenge. It’s a program of the Empowerment Institute, a consulting and training organization that aims to reduce the carbon footprint of cities. The group also runs Cool Block, an initiative that helps neighbors connect with each other, share resources, and collaborate on climate and disaster resilience projects.
A Cool Block project starts with the simple act of someone reaching out to his or her neighbors.
“We say this is the most radical intervention ever designed – knocking on your neighbor’s door,” says Slater, explaining that in most cases, people are glad they’ve been asked to participate.
BY EMILY ATKIN — March 9, 2017 — New Republic
As many conservatives see it, environmental science is an enabler of dreaded government regulation. When enough studies show that there is no safe level of lead in water, then we have to regulate lead pollution. When scientists agree that mercury pollution can effect developmental health, then we have to regulate mercury. And when scientists agree that excessive carbon emissions threaten public health and welfare—well, you get the point.
An obvious solution, for those seeking to avoid such regulation, would be to prevent that science from seeing the light of day. That’s exactly what Lamar Smith, a Republican congressman from Texas, is trying to do. On Thursday, the House Science Committee passed two of Smith’s bills: The Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act (HONEST Act) and the Science Advisory Board (SAB) Reform Act. Combined, they would significantly change how the Environmental Protection Agency uses science to create rules that protect human health.
The HONEST Act is essentially a re-brand of Smith’s notorious Secret Science Reform Act, a bill that would have required the EPA to only use scientific studies for which all data is publicly available and the results are easily reproducible. The SAB Reform Act would change the makeup of the board that reviews the “quality and relevance” of the science that EPA uses: Scientists who receive EPA grants would be forbidden from serving, while allowing the appointment of industry-sponsored experts who have a direct interest in being regulated—so long as they disclose that interest.
When President Donald Trump took office in late January, his administration began tweaking the language on government websites. Some of the more prominent changes occurred on Environmental Protection Agency pages—a mention of human-caused climate change was deleted, as was a description of international climate talks. The shifts were small, but meaningful; many said they signaled a new era for the EPA, one in which the agency would shy away from directly linking carbon emissions to global warming and strive to push Trump’s “America First” message.
Those initial tweaks were documented by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, a group of scientists and academics who spend their free time tracking changes to about 25,000 federal government webpages. On Tuesday, they shared their latest finding with the New Republic: The EPA’s Office of Science and Technology Policy no longer lists “science” in the paragraph describing what it does.
“This is probably the most important thing we’ve found so far,” said Gretchen Gehrke, who works on EDGI’s website tracking team. “The language changes here are not nuanced—they have really important regulatory implications.”
The EPA’s Office of Science and Technology has historically been in charge of developing clean water standards for states. Before January 30 of this year, the website said those standards were “science-based,” meaning they were based on what peer-reviewed science recommended as safe levels of pollutants for drinking, swimming, or fishing. Since January 30, though, the reference to “science-based” standards has disappeared. Now, the office, instead, says it develops “economically and technologically achievable standards” to address water pollution.
“It is, in the deepest sense, a privilege as well as a duty to have the opportunity to speak out — to many thousands of people — on something so important.”
“Life and Reality are not things you can have for yourself unless you accord them to all others,” philosopher Alan Watts wrote in the 1950s as he contemplated the interconnected nature of the universe. What we may now see as an elemental truth of existence was then a notion both foreign and frightening to the Western mind. But it was a scientist, not a philosopher, who levered this monumental shift in consciousness: Rachel Carson (May 27, 1907–April 14, 1964), a Copernicus of biology who ejected the human animal from its hubristic place at the center of Earth’s ecological cosmos and recast it as one of myriad organisms, all worthy of wonder, all imbued with life and reality. Her lyrical writing rendered her not a mere translator of the natural world, but an alchemist transmuting the steel of science into the gold of wonder. The message of her iconic Silent Spring (public library) rippled across public policy and the population imagination — it led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, inspired generations of activists, and led Joni Mitchell to write a lyric as timeless as “I don’t care about spots on my apples / Leave me the birds and the bees / Please!”
A woman scientist without a Ph.D. or an academic affiliation became the most powerful voice of resistance against ruinous public policy mitigated by the self-interest of government and industry, against the hauteur and short-sightedness threatening to destroy this precious pale blue dot which we, along with countless other animals, call home.
Carson had grown up in a picturesque but impoverished village in Pennsylvania. It was there, amid a tumultuous family environment, that she fell in love with nature and grew particularly enchanted with birds. A voracious reader and gifted writer from a young age, she became a published author at the age of ten, when a story of hers appeared in a children’s literary magazine. She entered the Pennsylvania College for Women with the intention of becoming a writer, but a zestful zoology professor — herself a rare specimen as a female scientist in that era — rendered young Carson besotted with biology. A scholarship allowed her to pursue a Master’s degree in zoology and genetics at Johns Hopkins University, but when her already impecunious family fell on hard times during the Great Depression, she was forced to leave the university in search of a full-time paying job before completing her doctorate.
By JIM DWYER FEB. 28, 2017 – New York Times
The view to the south from the Empire State Building on Nov. 24, 1966, one of New York’s worst smog days. Credit Neal Boenzi/The New York Times
Once upon a time, you could touch the air in New York. It was that filthy. No sensible person would put a toe in most of the waterways.
In 1964, Albert Butzel moved to New York City, which then had the worst air pollution among big cities in the United States.
“I not only saw the pollution, I wiped it off my windowsills,” Mr. Butzel, 78, an environmental lawyer, said. “You’d look at the horizon and it would be yellowish. It was business as normal.”
The dawning of environmental consciousness in the United States during the 1960s led to a national commitment to clean air and water with the creation, in 1970, of the Environmental Protection Agency. It came not a moment too soon for New York City, not to mention the nation.
Today, the future and mission of the E.P.A. are in doubt as President Trump is reported to be calling for the agency’s budget to be cut by 24 percent, a reduction of more than $2 billion. Mr. Trump has also instructed the agency to undo certain regulations protecting waterways. He is expected to issue an order reversing rules to curb planet-warming gases from coal-fired power plants.
It’s worth reflecting that New York City before the E.P.A. and the movement it represented would be almost unrecognizable in 2017.
In the 1960s, my playmates and I stopped everything when it began “snowing” ash from incinerated garbage. We chased tiny scraps of partly burned paper that floated in the air as if they were blackened snowflakes. According to a study published in 2001, the quantities of lead in the sediments of the Central Park Lake correlated strongly with the vast quantities of particles emitted from garbage burned in Manhattan during the 20th century. The study found 32 garbage incinerators that were operated by the city, and 17,000 others in apartment houses.
California can require Monsanto to label its popular weed-killer Roundup as a possible cancer threat despite an insistence from the chemical giant that it poses no risk to people, a judge tentatively ruled Friday.
California would be the first state to order such labeling if it carries out the proposal.
Monsanto had sued the nation’s leading agricultural state, saying California officials illegally based their decision for carrying the warnings on an international health organization based in France.
Monsanto attorney Trenton Norris argued in court Friday that the labels would have immediate financial consequences for the company. He said many consumers would see the labels and stop buying Roundup.
“It will absolutely be used in ways that will harm Monsanto,” he said.
After the hearing, the firm said in a statement that it will challenge the tentative ruling.
Critics take issue with Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, which has no color or smell. Monsanto introduced it in 1974 as an effective way of killing weeds while leaving crops and plants intact.
In his Tuesday night speech, President Donald Trump made reference, as he often does, to regulations that have killed American jobs.
This is an oft-used argument on the right — so common, in fact, that it is now taken as a kind of foundational truth, one that is simply self-evident, requiring no evidentiary support. It is one of the conservative economic catechisms (taxes slow growth, rich people create jobs, regulation kills jobs) that’s been repeated so frequently that even mainstream reporters tend to simply assume their truth.
But, at least in the case of the environmental regulations Trump is specifically attacking, it isn’t true. There is no consistent evidence that environmental regulations cause long-term changes in overall employment.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Citizen suits come in three forms.
First, a private citizen can bring a lawsuit against a citizen, corporation, or government body for engaging in conduct prohibited by the statute. For example, a citizen can sue a corporation under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for illegally polluting a waterway.
Second, a private citizen can bring a lawsuit against a government body for failing to perform a non-discretionary duty. For example, a private citizen could sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to promulgate regulations that the CWA required it to promulgate.
In a third, less common form, citizens may sue for an injunction to abate a potential imminent and substantial endangerment involving generation, disposal or handling of waste, regardless of whether or not the defendant’s conduct violates a statutory prohibition. This third type of citizen suit is analogous to the common law tort of public nuisance. In general, the law entitles plaintiffs who bring successful citizen suits to recover reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs.
Dennis Rivers — September 11, 2004 article in the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper
A few months after 9/11, a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks visited La Casa de Maria Retreat Center, near Santa Barbara, and I went to meet them. At the time, still reeling from the emotional impact of the 9/11 attacks, I found myself feeling somewhat at odds with these maroon-robed visitors. The monks seemed to me to be living in their little cocoon of Buddhist spirituality. I wanted them to respond more visibly to the tragic history that was unfolding on the stage of the world. I asked one monk (who happened to be from England) what he thought of the events of 9/11. He very quickly and assuredly said “There are no accidents in life. Every effect has its cause.” And that was it. Case closed. This, I thought, was the most wooden answer any human being could have given to my question. Had he no heart, this fellow so sure of himself, so sure of his doctrine? He seemed to be implying that the 9/11 victims has somehow caused their own suffering. In a very un-Buddhist mood, I wanted to shake him, to tell him to wake up and respond to the suffering of people in the real world. Several years have gone by, and I have had plenty of time to sort out my angry reaction to this monk. And to see that there was a deep truth in his response, although perhaps not the one that he intended at that particular moment. I am not sure that at the individual level of one human being, that every single effect has an individual cause. As with molecules, there seems to be a lot of random chaos at the individual level; “Brownian motion,” they call it. And, in relation to people, all teachings of morality and personal responsibility imply that our every action is not mechanically determined by what happened before it. There is room for both effort and accidents. At the group level however, how events get caused seems much more bound by the law of karma. Individual molecules may randomly jump around a lot but at the group level, every effect has a definite set of causes. Water, all those molecules put together, boils because you put the pot over the flame. It is not an accident. And in relation to 9/11, we are now slowly realizing that this tragedy was not a random event, not a bizarre aberration. For the past half-century the United States has been following policies in the Muslim world that seem to me to almost guarantee an explosion sooner or later. While very few, if any, of the individuals in the World Trade Center on 9/11 had anything to do with the formulation of those policies, they were like molecules of water in the pot put on the stove, as are we all. This leads to one of the most painful paradoxes of our time. No one deserves to die such a fiery death as the 9/11 victims; and on the other hand, none of us can completely insulate ourselves from the consequences of the actions taken in our name. It is now widely recognized that the United States has grievously antagonized and agitated the Muslim world, especially in the following six ways:
- In the 1950s we overthrew the elected government of Iran and supported the return of the Shah, whom the Iranians did not want back. The Shah ruled with an iron hand, and the Iranians have not forgotten who gave him to them.
- For the sake of commercial gain, political advantage, and cheap oil, we have accepted and supported military dictatorships in countries throughout the Muslim world, from Nigeria to Indonesia, all the while preaching democracy and respect for human rights. When Saddam Hussein (who stayed in power with U.S. help) gassed his own people in the 1980s, we did not protest, because at that moment it was politically inconvenient for us to do so.
- In the 1980s we poured billions of dollars in arms and support into Muslim hate groups in Pakistan, to support an armed campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan (we called them “freedom fighters,” at the time). Afghanistan was ground to pieces between the armed might of the Soviet Union, and the armed might of our CIA-backed legions. One scholar has noted that there had never been a global Muslim jihad movement until the CIA funded one.
- While various U.S. administrations have tried to play a mediating role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we do not seem to have any real principles that we will stick to. We also continue to give and lend billions of dollars in military aid to Israel, encouraging the military-might-is-the-only-answer wing of Israeli politics, alienating Muslims around the world and cutting the ground out from under our role as mediators.
- For most of the past century the United States has been the largest arms exporter in the world. We invent and sell various instruments of death to everyone who will buy and look the other way as they kill one another. Although the United States is the most influential country in the world, we exert no moderating influence on the arms trade. Thus, governments around the world, including those of Muslim countries, spend money on arms instead of on the real needs of their peoples, breeding poverty, corruption and resentment.
- We also export an endless stream of violent movies and TV shows, showing people just how to use those guns, bombs, missiles, bazookas, and God knows what else, to solve every problem. Our strong tradition of moment-to-moment freedom of expression makes it almost impossible for us to think about the long term consequences when free expression glorifies people killing each other. At the risk of offending just about everybody, I must confess how deeply convinced I am that the “Terminator” movies, and their blood-drenched ilk, are the theory, and 9/11 is the practice. Do we really want to teach people around the world that killing is fun? How many more Columbines and 9/11’s will it take to get us to look at the shadow side of our own freedom?
- The sorrow of 9/11 is, at the deepest level, of our own making.
- We can live differently, in relation to the world, and set different forces in motion.
Dennis Rivers is a writer/teacher/peace activist who lives in Santa Barbara, teaches communication skills at the Community Counseling Center, and edits several large public service web sites (including coopcomm.org, nonukes.org, and turntowardlife.org). He received his MA in interpersonal communication and human development from the Vermont College Graduate Program, after studying sociology and religious studies at UC Santa Barbara, and theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. His books include The Geometry of Dialogue, The Seven Challenges Workbook, Prayer Evolving, and, most recently, Turning Toward Life., an exploration of reverence for life as a spiritual path. The full text of all of Dennis’s books can found on the web by searching on Google for Dennis Rivers plus the full title of the book.
By: Oliver Milman — From: www.TheGuardian.com — March 3, 2017
Planned cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency are set to fall heaviest upon communities of color across the US that already suffer disproportionately from toxic pollution, green groups have warned.
Donald Trump’s administration is proposing a 25% reduction in the EPA’s $8.1bn budget, eliminating nearly 3,000 jobs and several programs including the agency’s environmental justice office. Funding for the cleanup of lead, marine pollution, tribal lands and the Great Lakes region faces severe cuts, while climate initiatives are earmarked for a 70% budget reduction.
The environmental justice office is tasked with bridging the yawning disparity in pollution experienced by black, Hispanic and low-income communities and wealthier white neighborhoods. It provides grants to communities to mop up toxins and rehabilitate abandoned industrial facilities that are invariably found in poorer areas.
In the final months of Barack Obama’s administration, the EPA unveiled a new effort to tackle lead poisoning, air pollution and other problems suffered by communities of color situated next to waste treatment plants, smelters and other sources of toxins. But this plan will be cut down in its infancy should the environmental justice office be dismantled.
I, your editor, was on a conference call with the NRDC this afternoon, March 3, 2017. It was very informative. They are doing amazing front-lines litigation for the natural world (and I include humans in the natural world).
They are putting together “talking points” for the public to help tell the story of why the EPA is important. It will include this fact: the EPA spends in 1.5 years what the military spends in 1 day.
This fact would make a great political cartoon. (Send one to us if you draw one.)
Please consider this point when you hear of “money saving” tactics by the current government.
Which way conveys the message best to you?
The military spends in 1 day what the EPA spends in 1.5 years.
The military spends in 1 day what the EPA spends in 18 months.
The military spends in 1 day what the EPA spends in 216 days.
The military spends in 24 hours what the EPA spends in 5,184 hours.
The military spends in 1 hour what the EPA spends in 216 hours.
Military = one day $ : EPA = 18 months.
EPA = 18 MONTHS : Military = 1 DAY
EPA takes 18 months to spend what military spends in 1 day.
The EPA spends in 1.5 years what the military spends in 1 day.
The EPA spends in 18 months what the military spends in 1 day.
The EPA spends in 216 days what the military spends in 1 day.
The EPA spends in 5,184 hours what the military spends in 1 day.
The EPA spends in 216 hours what the military spends in 1 day.
The future of the EPA is uncertain
by Alessandra Potenza Feb 28, 2017, 8:00am EST
Children play in the yard of a home in Ruston, Washington, while a smelter stack showers the area with arsenic and lead residue in 1972.Photo by Gene Daniels / US National Archives Children play in front of a smelter pumping lead and arsenic residue in the air of Ruston, Washington; a woman holds a glass of black, undrinkable water from her well in Ohio; and the view from the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan is so hazy with smog that the New Jersey skyline is impossible to see. These scenes were captured in the early 1970s as part of a project, called Documerica, that was commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency to document pollution in the US. Today, the photos show what America looked like before environmental protections were put in place — and they serve as an important reminder of why we need those protections.
Today, the future of the EPA is uncertain. The new EPA leader, Scott Pruitt, has made a career out of suing the agency for its environmental regulations, working hand in hand with the fossil fuel industry. President Donald Trump is expected to drastically cut the EPA’s budget and workforce, as well as roll back many of the regulations that empower the agency. And a bill meant to terminate the EPA by December 2018 was recently introduced in the House by three Republican congressmen.
But most ordinary people haven’t forgotten life before the EPA — and the majority of them don’t want these cuts to the agency. More than 60 percent of Americans want to see the EPA’s powers preserved or strengthened under Trump, according to a Reuters / Ipsos poll released last month. And it’s not just liberals, either — almost half of Republicans wanted the EPA to continue in its mission as well. Only 19 percent of Americans would like to see the agency “weakened or eliminated.”
“There’s tremendous public support for clean air and clean water, and the basic mission of the agency is tremendously popular,” Paul Sabin, an environmental historian at Yale University, tells The Verge. “People are counting on the government to provide those protections.”
Colleagues remember Steve Wing as a different kind of scientist — one who believed advocacy and participation should be at the heart of scientific research.
“Community participation was central to the approach [Wing] believed in,” says Phil Brown, a member of the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council. “[He believed] community residents were usually the most reliable discoverers of problems.” Wing was an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill until he died in November 2016. As a public health researcher, he advocated the use of community-based participatory research (CBPR) and sought to involve communities threatened by environmental hazards in every step of the research process. Brown says that Wing’s dedication to CBPR serves as an example to other researchers who see their advocacy and research as intertwined.
For 20 years, Wing worked with the people living near large farming operations in North Carolina’s hog country. With more than 2,100 hog farms, North Carolina is one of the largest pork-producing states in the country. Farms are concentrated in the eastern portion of the state, where most divert pig waste to open-air lagoons. When hurricanes hit, the lagoons overflow, spilling untreated hog waste into rivers, lakes, and backyards. When they’re working as intended, the lagoons contain the waste in deep pits that turn pinkish-purple from bacteria, emit toxic gases, and seep into groundwater.
Hog manure is poisonous stuff, but prior to Wing’s studies in the area, not much research had been done on the impacts of pig waste on human health. “People living around animal operations were seeing changes in their well water and smelling odors,” says Naeema Muhammad, co-director of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN). Locals felt their concerns were ignored by area officials with ties to industry, says Muhammad. So they approached Wing to design a study on the health impacts of the farms.
To help build trust, community members were treated as co-researchers. That research partnership produced studies that found pollution from large hog operations was associated with increased blood pressure, respiratory symptoms, and stress. Another study found Black, American Indian, and Hispanic North Carolinians were more likely than White residents to live within 3 miles of an industrial hog farm.
Collaboration didn’t end once the study results were published. Wing brought the data back to the community. “People became more aware [of the health risks],” says Muhammad. “This was information that could help them.”
In a 2015 interview for North Carolina Health News, Wing explained why he believed collaborative research is important: “The research questions we choose and the studies we conduct respond to the needs of government or industry — basically, the organizations that have money to spend on research,” he said. “I became interested in the idea that there are problems that wouldn’t be identified by the authorities, that we could learn about if we just listen to the people who are exposed.”
YES! Magazine – Issue 81, Spring 2017
It’s time to look up, look around, and take note because the planet and democracy need you
Up against the White House’s “alternative facts” and attempts to hide climate data, can new allies—citizens and science—prevail against politicians and corporations?
After he moved to London in his early 20s, Luke Howard became obsessed with the weather. Howard had a day job running a pharmacy business in the 1790s and early 1800s, but he spent a lot of his spare time staring at the sky. He collected a set of makeshift weather instruments—glass thermometers; a hygrometer (to measure moisture in the air) cobbled together from a wire spring and a strip of whalebone; and a barometer attached to an old astronomical clock that he bought secondhand and repaired himself. He and his business partner, William Allen, started a science club of a dozen or so members, all men, who met in each other’s houses to give talks about a range of subjects like chemistry, astronomy, and mineralogy. When he was 30, Howard presented to the group three names he had come up with for different types of clouds—cirrus (from the Latin for “curl of hair”), cumulus (referring to a pile), and stratus (a “horizontal sheet”). The talk was a hit, and he published a version of the lecture a year later in a science magazine. And the names stuck: Howard’s cloud categories are still used by professional meteorologists.
This was science in the late 18th and early 19th centuries—a buzzing world of nerds and amateurs trying to document the workings of the world in their spare time. It was less an institution than a labor of love, like sculpture or poetry. London was a kind of hub, full of scientific societies and clubs—they were like the maker faires, the do-it-yourself collectives, the hack-a-thons of the Enlightenment. In the United States, there was a flurry of interest in collecting plant and animal specimens and documenting the natural history of North America. The barriers of the time kept certain people out of science. (There were few scientists of color, although women managed to push their way into influential scientific circles in Europe and America, and Black inventors made important technological contributions in the United States.) Still, the technology for making scientific observations was cheap, much was unknown, and nearly anyone with the means available could make a major contribution.
Then, somewhere between the late 19th and mid-20th centuries, science took a turn. As it became more powerful, sophisticated, complicated, and better funded, it disappeared behind the walls of ivory towers and corporate labs. Since the 1970s, support for science has become a partisan issue in the United States, as conservatives’ faith in science keeps declining. Fifty-eight percent of Europeans say they can’t trust scientists because they are too influenced by corporate money. Science culture is now elitist, say its detractors.
Have we forgotten what science is actually for?
President Trump’s decision to constrain and muzzle scientific research signals an important milestone. The War on Science has shifted into high gear. This is a fight for our future, and scientists as well as citizens had better prepare for what is coming next.
At his confirmation hearings last week, the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt unveiled the new language of this war—a subtle, yet potentially damaging form of science skepticism. Manmade climate change, he says, is “subject to continuing debate.” There is reason to be concerned about methane released by fracking, but he’s “not deeply concerned.” And research on lead poisoning is “not something [he has] looked into.”
These might sound like quibbles compared to the larger cultural and political upheavals happening in America today, but collectively, they add up to something big.
The systematic use of so-called “uncertainty” surrounding well-established scientific ideas has proven to be a reliable method for manipulating public perception and stalling political action. And while certain private interests and their political allies may benefit from these tactics, the damages are something we will all have to face.
Make no mistake: the War on Science is going to affect you, whether you are a scientist or not. It is going to affect everything—ranging from the safety of the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the kind of planet we live on. It will affect the kinds of diseases we get and the medicines we can use. It will determine our safety and security, and the privacy of our data and personal lives. It will dictate what our kids are taught in our schools, what is discussed in the news, and what is debated in the halls of Congress. It will affect the jobs we have, the kind of industries that thrive here, and what powers our economy.
Jayme Fraser, The Missoulian.com – Feb 20, 2017 Updated Feb 22, 2017
HELENA — Dustin Monroe held up an old Gatorade bottle filled with orange, oil-contaminated water and implored Montana legislators to approve a bill that would ban fossil fuel pipelines from crossing under rivers and lakes.
“How many of us in this room would drink this?” Monroe, CEO of Native Generational Change, asked the House Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications Committee during a hearing for House Bill 486 on Monday.
The measure would ban pipelines with a diameter of 10 inches or greater from going under navigable water bodies and establish construction requirements for them to cross above ground, including rules on casings and leak detection. The new regulations would apply to fossil fuels such as crude petroleum, coal and their products.
The bill’s introduction comes after several major spills into Montana rivers over the last decade, ranging from Glendive to Billings. And it comes as the nation debates the best methods to transport crude oil, what risk to water sources is acceptable, and how far tribal sovereignty extends when projects cross aboriginal lands that are no longer tribally owned, as was the case outside Standing Rock where thousands have gathered for months to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline.
By Stan Meiburg, Acting Deputy Administrator, US Environmental Protection Agency
Dec. 20, 2016 — Unedited copy — Reproduced with permission from here.
At EPA, we can’t protect the environment alone. Environmental protection belongs to all of us, and participating in environmental science is one way that members of the public can have an impact. Citizen science broadens environmental protection by enabling people to work together with government and other institutions toward shared goals.
In citizen science, members of the public participate in scientific and technical work in a variety of ways, including formulating research questions, conducting experiments, collecting and analyzing data, and solving problems. In particular, community citizen science addresses questions defined by communities and allows for community engagement throughout the entire scientific process, empowering people to ask their own questions, collect their own data, and advocate for themselves.
→ «Environmental Protection Belongs to the Public: A Vision for Citizen Science at EPA»" class="more-link">
Why ‘Climate Kids’ vs. Trump is no ordinary lawsuitTwo days after the election of Donald Trump, 21 plaintiffs aged 9-20 won a court ruling that may be just as important as that election in determining our future. As the world hurtles into climate catastrophe, the decision by Judge Ann Aiken in the federal district court in Oregon sets the stage for a momentous trial of our right to a stable climate – and the constitutional obligation of the United States government to protect that right.
Now President Donald Trump has been named lead defendant in the suit. Trump has not only denied the reality of climate change, he has also defied the authority of the courts to enforce other rights of persons – witness his claim in court that his travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries is “unreviewable.” The “climate kids” case Juliana v. United States is shaping up to be not only a historic trial of the culpability of the U.S. government for destruction of the earth’s climate, but of the power of courts to protect our rights.
“No ordinary lawsuit”
As Judge Aiken emphasized, “This is no ordinary lawsuit.” The youth’s suit, supported by the nonprofit Our Children’s Trust, challenges decisions “across a vast set of topics” — decisions like “whether and to what extent to regulate C02 emissions from power plants and vehicles, whether to permit fossil fuel extraction and development to take place on federal lands, how much to charge for use of those lands, whether to give tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry, whether to subsidize or directly fund that industry, whether to fund the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure such as natural gas pipelines at home and abroad, whether to authorize new marine coal terminal projects.”
The climate kids assert that government decisions on these topics over many decades “substantially caused the planet to warm and the oceans to rise.” They draw a “direct causal line” between the government’s policy choices and “floods, food shortages, destruction of property, species extinction, and a host of other harms.”
Since Trump’s election, scientists have been scrambling to save climate change data sets. And one Michigan graduate student thought the more copies, the better.
It wasn’t long after President Trump took office that chaos took hold at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Throughout his campaign, Trump promised to rid mostly the country of the agency, leaving just “little tidbits left.” He wasted little time.
Out of the gate, Trump’s transition team was set to remove former President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and other climate data, reported InsideEPA on Jan. 17. Trump officials told EPA staff on Jan. 24 to remove the agency’s climate change page from its website, according to Science. The next day, EPA staffers were told to hold off. Then, two days later, the words “climate change” were erased from the EPA site altogether. Then they were back.
Many scientists didn’t wait to find out what was up, what was down, or what was going which way. At risk was years of data on greenhouse gas emissions, temperature trends, sea level rise, and shrinking sea ice – data essential to our understanding of the enormous environmental shifts our planet is undergoing. Worldwide, they scrambled to capture the information from the websites of the EPA, NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the United States Geological Survey. Hackathons were organized to download the data to university servers and sites like DataRefuge and the Internet Archive for the fear that Scott Pruitt would be confirmed as head of the EPA; he was confirmed by the Senate on Friday.
SierraClub.org – February 15, 2017
…What can environmental groups and all people who care about the environment and public health do in response?
States, governments, and the EPA aren’t the only ones who have the power to protect the environment. Citizens can take action, too. The nation’s environmental statutes have citizen suit provisions such that aggrieved citizens can bring enforcement actions—essentially stepping into the shoes of the federal government.
“The citizen suit provisions have two prongs,” says Richard L. Revesz, the Lawrence King Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at New York University School of Law, where he directs the Institute for Policy Integrity. “Citizens can sue polluters for violating the environmental standards that apply to them. If the EPA or a state doesn’t bring enforcement actions against a polluter [that is] emitting more air pollution than is permitted under the regulation, some affected individual can bring a suit to compel a source to comply with its regulatory obligations. The second is that EPA under the statute has various non-discretionary duties. That is, it’s required by statute to take certain actions, and if it doesn’t do them, that’s another possible reason for citizen litigation. Citizens can then sue to compel EPA to carry out a non-discretionary duty under the statute.”
Should Pruitt, if confirmed, try to reverse years of advances in environmental protections, the nation’s environmental advocacy groups stand ready to act, says Pat Gallagher, director of the Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program.
Christian Science Montor — February 20, 2017
Faced with the possibility of cuts to research agencies and fears about suppression of data, attendees at Sunday’s rally added their voices to a growing chorus of concerned scientists.
FEBRUARY 20, 2017 —As temperatures climbed above the 50 degrees F., on Sunday, many Bostonians enjoyed the February weekend outdoors on the city’s bike trails and waterfronts. But for those who gathered in Copley Square downtown, the unseasonable warmth was just the latest evidence of their cause for concern.
“Climate change is not a controversy,” read one sign at yesterday’s “Rally to Stand Up for Science,” which drew hundreds to the historic downtown plaza. Other slogans were more lighthearted, arguing that “Trump’s team are like atoms – They make up everything.”
Whether the signs provoked laughs or stoked outrage among onlookers, the rally’s attendees shared a sense of concern for the future of scientific research in the United States – particularly climate science – under President Trump. Sunday’s protest added to the growing movement of scientists across the country who are voicing activist views on the Trump administration’s emerging policies.
Wheel of the World video — 1 hourVijali Hamilton has dedicated her life as a peacemaker. Beginning in 1986, when she became inspired by a dream and was prompted to embark upon a quest for global peace, artist Vijali Hamilton traveled from one country to another, leaving behind magnificent environmental stone sculptures as a gift to the communities in which she lived. As Vijali collaborates with diversified communities she utilizes her skills as a filmmaker, sculptor, musician and author to further her quest for world peace. Her journey ranged from India, Tibet, China, Siberia, Japan and the Middle East, to Senegal, Native North America, and the Andes and Amazonian region of Ecuador and continues on today and into the future. In each locale, she develops community-based performance ceremonies in which are heard the voices of traditional peoples rising clear and strong. Vijali’s collaborative creative approach in each community makes these artful and spiritual events into expressive forums for voicing their resident’s hopes and their fears. In Vijali’s recent feature film “Wheel of the World, One Woman’s Creative Journey for Global Peace” she goes on to address the concerns of our times, calling for the world to join hands as one earthly family and walk lightly on our planet while in harmony with nature and one another. Learn more about Vijali at WorldWheel.org.
Eugene, OR – On April 8, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin of the federal District Court in Eugene, OR, decided in favor of 21 young Plaintiffs, and Dr. James Hansen on behalf of future generations, in their landmark constitutional climate change case brought against the federal government and the fossil fuel industry. The Court’s ruling is a major victory for the 21 youth Plaintiffs, ages 8-19, from across the U.S. in what Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein call the “most important lawsuit on the planet right now.” These plaintiffs sued the federal government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, and their right to essential public trust resources, by permitting, encouraging, and otherwise enabling continued exploitation, production, and combustion of fossil fuels.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Philip Gregory with Cotchett, Pitre, & McCarthy of Burlingame, CA, said: “This decision is one of the most significant in our nation’s history. The Court upheld our claims that the federal government intensified the danger to our plaintiffs’ lives, liberty and property. Judge Coffin decided our Complaint will move forward and put climate science squarely in front of the federal courts. The next step is for the Court to order our government to cease jeopardizing the climate system for present and future generations. The Court gave America’s youth a fair opportunity to be heard.”
This news item is from www.OurChildrensTrust.org.
Some extraordinary phenomena have taken place in recent times; Hurricane Katrina, the heat wave of 2003, polar bears swimming in search of ice and vast swarms of insects enveloping an African village. But are these isolated incidents or are they omens of a greater global change?
Sir David discovers that the world is warming at an unprecedented rate, and finds out why this is now far beyond any normal allowance for cyclical fluctuation. But are humans to blame? These changes are already in motion whatever we do now, but Sir David believes that we may be able to act to prevent a catastrophe. People around the world are having to adapt their way of life as the climate changes; the Inuit in the Arctic whose hunting is now limited, the Pacific island inhabitants forced to move as their homes disappear beneath the waves, and the Siberian homes slowly sinking into the permafrost. Sir David investigates some of the possible scenarios for the future, including rising sea-levels, insect plagues and an increase in diseases.
All rights: BBC