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First look at new NASA satellite map reveals global carbon dioxide hotspots. NASA

Planet Breaches 410 ppm for First Time in Human History

By Lauren McCauley

The amount of carbon in the Earth's atmosphere is now officially off the charts as the planet last week breached the 410 parts per million (ppm) milestone for the first time in human history.

"It's a new atmosphere that humanity will have to contend with, one that's trapping more heat and causing the climate to change at a quickening rate," wrote Climate Central's Brian Kahn. "Carbon dioxide hasn't reached that height in millions of years."

The milestone was recorded Tuesday at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii by the Keeling Curve, a program of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego. Since the planet reached the dangerous new normal of 400 ppm last year, scientists have warned that that the accelerated rate at which concentrations of CO2 are rising means that humanity is marching further and further past the symbolic red line towards climate chaos.

What's more, as Aarne Granlund, a graduate student researching climate change at the University of the Arctic, pointed out, the recording was taken before carbon levels are expected to reach their annual peak, meaning they could soon notch even higher.

But despite the unprecedented threat, climate action has ground to a halt in the U.S. under the leadership of President Donald Trump and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, forcing campaigners and concerned citizens to take to the streets in droves to prompt the government to do something to address the threat of planetary devastation.

Saturday's March for Science saw tens of thousands of people rally in Washington, DC and across the world to send a message to the Trump administration that governance should be based on research and facts—not ideology.

Speaking at the march in San Diego, Ralph Keeling, director of the CO2 program at Scripps whose father founded the Keeling Curve, gave an impassioned speech on why legislators need to abandon the partisan effort to stymie environmental legislation, declaring: "The climate change debate has been over for decades."

Now, infused by the energy of the March for Science, campaigners are gearing up for next weekend's Peoples Climate March with a week of action that centers on creating a just transition away from fossil fuels.

"The Peoples Climate March is the next step for the March for Science, a call to get more engaged in our political system, to confront power and to demand solutions," explained May Boeve, executive director of 350.org.

"The demands we will put forward—respect for Indigenous peoples, investments in communities on the front lines of the climate crisis, transitioning from fossil fuels to 100 percent clean energy economy that works for all and more," Boeve continued, "highlight the intersections between our different struggles and the common solutions we can work for together."

Dubbed "From Truth to Justice: Earth Day to May Day 2017," the more than 50 events in the lead-up to Saturday will include strategy sessions, a massive youth convergence, the introduction of a 100 percent Clean Energy Bill in Congress and non-violent direct actions.

On Friday, activists will form "Mother Earth's red line" on the Capitol lawn to symbolize the multiple lines that must not be crossed by corporations and governments in the increasingly severe climate crisis, organizers said.

"This is about strength in unity; diverse groups of people are coming together like never before and are creating a red line of protection against capitalism, militarism and racism," said Kandi Mossett, Indigenous energy and climate campaign organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, one of the group's organizing the direct action. "We are here to push for solutions like Indigenous rights, divestment and renewable energy as we continue to fight for a just transition away from a fossil fuel based economy."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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The Prirazlomnaya platform is the first Russian project for developing the Arctic shelf. Credit: Gazprom

Exxon Seeks to Bypass U.S. Sanctions to Drill in Russia

By Nika Knight

Exxon is applying for a waiver from the U.S. Treasury Department to bypass U.S. sanctions against Russia and resume offshore drilling in the Black Sea with the Russian oil company Rosneft, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Among those charged with deciding to grant the permit is Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon who previously oversaw the company's Russia operations.

"Ka-ching! Payout time," tweeted Rachel Maddow in response to the Wall Street Journal report.

Exxon was previously granted a permit to bypass the sanctions in 2014. Tillerson has said that he would recuse himself from Russia-related matters for two years as Secretary of State.

The permit application also comes as calls grow for a government shutdown over the ties between Trump advisors and Russian officials. The FBI is currently investigating the Trump campaign's Russia connections.

And beyond the Trump campaign's apparent Russia ties and the implications of Tillerson's potential role in granting his former company the permit, environmentalists also pointed out the devastating climate impacts of further drilling in the Black Sea.

"If the Trump administration allows Exxon to move forward with extreme offshore oil drilling in Russia despite sanctions, the United States Congress must resist," said Greenpeace USA climate liability campaigner Naomi Ages in a statement. "Removing barriers to Exxon drilling in the Russian Black Sea with a state-controlled company like Rosneft would not only jeopardize global progress on climate change and provide momentum for a similar waiver in the Russian Arctic, it would also send a message to Russia that it can intervene in any country, including the United States, with no consequences."

"Members of Congress must stand up for the separation of oil and state," Ages urged.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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EPA Chief: U.S. Should 'Exit' Paris Climate Deal

By Nadia Prupis

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt on Thursday explicitly called for the U.S. to remove itself from the Paris climate agreement, one of his strongest remarks yet expressing his opposition to the landmark deal to keep global warming below 2°C.

"Paris is something we need to look at closely. It's something we need to exit in my opinion," Pruitt said in an interview on Fox & Friends.

"It's a bad deal for America," he said. "It's an 'America second, third or fourth' kind of approach."

The Trump administration has already taken steps to undo landmark climate regulations, such as the executive order President Donald Trump signed last month that called for repealing former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which requires states to slash emissions and was a central component of the U.S.'s plan to meet its Paris goals.

Pruitt said adhering to the global climate treaty would cost American jobs, a claim which environmentalists—and, increasingly, even fossil fuel companies—say is wrong.

Nathaniel Keohane, the Environmental Defense Fund's vice president on global climate, told InsideClimate News that "[p]ulling out of the Paris climate accord would damage the U.S. more than it damages the Paris agreement or climate action globally."

"American leadership on climate is the key to attracting jobs and investment in the industries and sectors that will define the 21st century," Keohane said.

Tiernen Sittenfeld, senior vice president for government affairs for the League of Conservation Voters, added, "Even for Scott Pruitt, this is outrageous and beyond the pale."

"The U.S. helped to lead the world on this treaty and it's clear that other countries are moving ahead because they see the incredible opportunities it offers," Sittenfeld said.

Kim Glas, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups, also said Thursday, "Administrator Pruitt's statements are unsurprising. He just can't seem to grasp what the vast majority of Americans and scientists have already figured out: climate change is real, it is happening now and human activities are causing it."

The Paris agreement "is a good deal for America," Glas said. "It will help ensure that America leads the way globally in creating quality jobs designing, manufacturing, and installing the clean energy technologies needed to reduce the carbon pollution that is driving climate change."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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Art Cullen, editor of the Storm Lake Times, is hugged Monday by his son, Tom, a reporter for the newspaper, at the newspaper office. Art Cullen won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Photo credit: Dolores Cullen / Storm Lake Times

Family-Run Paper Wins Pulitzer for Exposing Big Ag Corruption

By Nika Knight

Prestigious Pulitzer Prizes on Monday were awarded to investigations that tackled President Donald Trump, Big Ag and international offshore tax havens, rewarding reporters that took on today's powers-that-be.

The Pulitzer Prizes this year came "in the face of a combative stance from President Trump, who has called the news media 'the enemy of the American people,'" as the New York Times noted.

The prize shed light on a small family-run paper in Iowa that tenaciously challenged large agricultural corporations over water pollution. The Storm Lake Times forced documents to be released that showed powerful agricultural interests were funding a local county's attempt to quell a lawsuit over nitrogen runoff from farms contaminating drinking water.

Art Cullen, the paper's editor, slammed the close financial ties between Big Ag and county government in editorials described by the Pulitzer Committee as "impressive" and "engaging," while also highlighting the catastrophic effects of nitrogen pollution. In one editorial, for example, Cullen wrote:

Anyone with eyes and a nose knows in his gut that Iowa has the dirtiest surface water in America. It is choking the waterworks and the Gulf of Mexico. It is causing oxygen deprivation in Northwest Iowa glacial lakes. It has caused us to spend millions upon millions trying to clean up Storm Lake, the victim of more than a century of explosive soil erosion.

Everyone knows it's not the city sewer plant causing the problem. And most of us recognize that this is not just nature at work busily releasing nitrates into the water. Ninety-two percent of surface water pollution comes from row crop production.

The Washington Post's David A. Fahrenthold also won an award for his persistent investigations into President Donald Trump's claims of charity donations throughout the 2016 campaign. The Pulitzer Committee described Fahrenthold's reporting, which revealed that the president's charitable donations frequently fell far short of his claims, as "a model for transparent journalism."

In addition, an international collaboration between McClatchy, the Miami Herald and the International Consortion of Investigative Journalists that resulted in the landmark Panama Papers investigation into offshore tax havens was awarded the prize for Explanatory Reporting.

The Guardian listed the wide-ranging ramifications of the revelations contained in the Panama Papers:

Iceland's prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson was forced to quit after it emerged that his family had sheltered cash offshore. There were demonstrations in Argentina and a small war in Azerbaijan, initiated—some believed—to distract from revelations concerning the president and his daughters.

In China, censors blocked the words "Panama Papers" and jammed the website of the Guardian. In Russia, aides to Vladimir Putin fumed about a western "spy" conspiracy after it emerged that Putin's oldest friend, the cellist Sergei Roldugin, had about $2bn flowing into a network of British Virgin Islands companies.

The founders of the Panamanian law firm, Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, were arrested in February. They are currently in jail on suspicion of money laundering following a coordinated swoop by prosecutors across Latin America.

Other notable prize winners include Eric Eyre of the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia, for his investigative reporting on the state's opiod crisis and the pharmaceutical corporations fueling it; the staff of the East Bay Times in Oakland, California, for their coverage of the "Ghost Ship" fire and city officials' failure to take action that may have prevented the tragedy; and the New York Daily News and ProPublica for an investigation into the New York Police Department's abuse of eviction rules that led to calls for citywide reform.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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Naomi Klein: 'No Is Not Enough'

By Andrea Germanos

How did a man like Donald J. Trump get to be president? And how on Earth can his dangerous agenda be fought?

For those burning questions, a forthcoming book described as "the toolkit for shock resistance" could well be an indispensable resource.

Authored by award-winning author and investigative journalist Naomi Klein, the book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, will publish in the U.S. on June 13.

"Trump is extreme, but he's not a Martian," wrote Klein. "On the contrary, he is the logical conclusion to many of the most dangerous trends of the past half century. He is the personification of the merger of humans and corporations—a one-man megabrand, with wife and children as spin-off brands."

A website for No Is Not Enough says the book:

Reveals, among other things, how Trump's election was not a peaceful transition, but a corporate takeover, one using deliberate shock tactics to generate wave after wave of crises and force through radical policies that will destroy people, the environment, the economy and national security. This book is the toolkit for shock resistance, showing all of us how we can break Trump's spell and win the world we need.

In the wake of Trump's election, Klein, while accepting the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize, also offered her thoughts on the factors that paved the way for the real estate mogul's rise to power and the strategies needed for a movement to rise against Trump (as well as other Trump-esque figures).

"If there is a single overarching lesson in the Trump victory, perhaps it is this: Never, ever underestimate the power of hate, of direct appeals to power over the 'other' ... especially during times of economic hardship," she said.

Another takeaway, she continued, is that "four decades of corporate, neoliberal policies and privatization, deregulation, free trade and austerity" have ensured ongoing economic pain and in turn, enabled the rise of faux-populists like Trump.

An additional lesson is that "only a bold and genuinely re-distributive agenda has a hope of speaking to that pain and directing it where it belongs—the politician-purchasing elites who benefited so extravagantly from the auctioning off of public wealth, the looting of our land, water and air and the deregulation of our financial system."

"If we want to defend against the likes of Donald Trump—and every country has their own Trump—we must urgently confront and battle racism and misogyny in our culture, in our movements and in ourselves. This cannot be an afterthought, it cannot be an add-on. It is central to how someone like Trump can rise to power."

Klein, whose other works include No Logo, This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine, also recently joined The Intercept as a senior correspondent. There, she is tasked with monitoring the "shocks of the Trump era." Days after Trump's inauguration, she wrote that his administration:

Can be counted on to generate a tsunami of crises and shocks: economic shocks, as market bubbles burst; security shocks, as blowback from foreign belligerence comes home; weather shocks, as our climate is further destabilized; and industrial shocks, as oil pipelines spill and rigs collapse, which they tend to do, especially when enjoying light-touch regulation.

All this is dangerous enough. What's even worse is the way the Trump administration can be counted on to exploit these shocks politically and economically.

This is the first time one of Klein's books will be published by the independent, Chicago-based Haymarket Books, which has delivered works by esteemed authors including Noam Chomksy, Howard Zinn, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Winona LaDuke.

Dave Zirin, sports editor at The Nation, tweeted of the pairing of Klein and Haymarket: "A match made in radical heaven."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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Judge to Exxon: Explain Where Those Wayne Tracker Emails Went

By Andrea Germanos

A New York State judge on Wednesday ordered ExxonMobil to turn over a year's worth of emails it now admits it lost from an alias account used by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he was CEO of the company—a "bombshell" revelation, according to a lawyer for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who's investigating the oil giant's climate cover-up.

Schneiderman's office discovered Tillerson's 2008-2015 use of the email alias "Wayne Tracker" to discuss climate change and other matters as part of its ongoing probe.

Exxon previously blamed the email loss on a technical glitch.

"Exxon has failed to produce management documents from critical time periods when Exxon is known to have been formulating and publicizing key policies and related representations regarding the company's resilience to the impacts of climate change and climate change regulations," Schneiderman said in a letter to the court, according to Bloomberg.


Justice Barry Ostrager of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan "ordered ExxonMobil Corp. to work with New York's attorney general to recover lost emails" and gave the company until the end of the month to produce the documents, Reuters reported.

Ostrager also "ordered Exxon to deliver sworn statements and records from its staffers responsible for monitoring the 'Wayne Tracker' emails, so state investigators could determine how they were lost," the New York Post wrote.

Greenpeace USA said the order was "a step in the right direction."

"Exxon has withheld information from the public for long enough. It's time for the oil company to come clean in the courts about what it knew about climate change and what it withheld from the public and shareholders," said Greenpeace USA climate liability campaigner Naomi Ages.

"Justice Barry Ostrager took a step in the right direction by asking Exxon to be transparent with Attorney General Schneiderman," she continued. "This country needs more attorneys general who, on behalf of the people, are ready to face off with one of the biggest polluters in the world."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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Photo credit: Terje Rakke/Nordic Life, Visitnorway.com

And, the Happiest Country in the World Is ...

By Andrea Germanos

Norway now holds the title of the world's happiest country, according to a new report that also outlines how Republican proposals to gut safety nets, enact tax windfalls for the rich and attack public education—as well as bipartisan failures in terms of the global war on terror and campaign finance—are making happiness further out of grasp for those in the U.S.

The finding comes via the fifth edition of the World Happiness Report, which ranks 155 countries on the variables of income, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption and generosity. It was produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a United Nations initiative and was released Monday, the International Day of Happiness.

Norway now holds the number one spot, booting Denmark from the ranking it held for three of the past four years. Norway came in at number four last year.

Joining Norway in the top ten slots are, in order, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. It's the same group that made up the top ten countries last year.

Like the other top four countries, Norway ranked high in caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance.

At the other end of the spectrum sit Rwanda, Syria, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central Africa Republican, which rank lowest on the happiness index.

According to lead author John Helliwell, also an economist at the University of British Columbia in Canada, Norway is "a remarkable case in point."

"By choosing to produce oil deliberately and investing the proceeds for the benefit of future generations, Norway has protected itself from the volatile ups and downs of many other oil-rich economies. This emphasis on the future over the present is made easier by high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance. All of these are found in Norway, as well as in the other top countries," Helliwell said.

As for the U.S., it has slid down one spot from last year, coming in at number 14 and the country, the report says, is "a story of reduced happiness."

Study co-author, economist and Sustainable Development Solutions Network Director Jeffrey Sachs wrote that the U.S. suffers not from an economic crisis but a "multi-faceted social crisis."

It is made clear, he writes, by "worsening public health indicators"; "plummeting" trust in government; and "astronomical" income inequality, with "the rise of mega-dollars in U.S. politics" and the "deterioration of America's educational system" helping to fuel "destruction of social capital."

Further abetting that destruction has been the country's reaction following the Sep. 11 attacks, which, Sachs wrote, "was to stoke fear rather than appeal to social solidarity" and begin "an open-ended global war on terror, appealing to the darkest side of human nature."

Though the country's "social crisis is widely noted, [...] it has not translated into public policy." Rather, he continued:

Almost all of the policy discourse in Washington, DC centers on naïve attempts to raise the economic growth rate, as if a higher growth rate would somehow heal the deepening divisions and angst in American society. This kind of growth-only agenda is doubly wrong-headed. First, most of the pseudo-elixirs for growth—especially the Republican Party's beloved nostrum of endless tax cuts and voodoo economics—will only exacerbate America's social inequalities and feed the distrust that is already tearing society apart. Second, a forthright attack on the real sources of social crisis would have a much larger and more rapid beneficial effect on U.S. happiness.

Addressing the crisis entails enacting campaign finance reform; reducing inequality by expanding the social safety net and funding of health and education; "improv[ing] the social relations between the native-born and immigrant populations"; moving beyond the post-9/11 fear campaign (which he writes, President Donald Trump's "Muslim bans" have been a manifestation of); and making a commitment to improved quality education for all.

"As demonstrated by many countries, this report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations," Sachs said to the Associated Press. "It's time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let's hold our leaders to this fact."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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G20 meeting.

U.S. Forces G20 to Drop Mention of Climate Change in Joint Statement

By Nadia Prupis

Finance ministers for the Group of 20 (G20), which comprises the world's biggest economies, dropped a joint statement mentioning funding for the fight against climate change after pressure from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

A G20 official taking part in the annual meeting told Reuters that efforts by this year's German leadership to keep climate funding in the statement had hit a wall.

"Climate change is out for the time being," said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin stressed that the move did not mark the end of the road for the statement. The G20 is scheduled to meet in full in July in Hamburg.

"There can be a way to overcome disagreements today—that is, not writing about it in the communique," Sapin told reporters on Friday. "But not writing about it doesn't mean not talking about it. Not writing about it means that there are difficulties, that there is a disagreement and that we we must work on them in the coming months."

The statement does mention the need to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, but overall the language appears weaker than previous communiques, critics said.

Bloomberg reported:

The 23-page draft, obtained by Bloomberg News, outlines how the most prosperous nations can lead by example, cutting their own greenhouse-gas emissions, financing efforts to curb pollution in poorer countries and take other steps to support the landmark Paris climate accord.

"The link between global warming and the organization of financial markets and even the organization of the global economy" is particularly important for France, Sapin said in Baden-Baden. "We'll see whether there'll be agreement with the U.S. administration, but there can be no going back on this for the G-20."

At the last G20 meeting in July 2016, the group's financial leaders urged all countries that had signed onto the landmark Paris climate accord to bring the deal into action as soon as possible. But President Trump, who has referred to global warming as a "Chinese hoax," took office vowing to remove the U.S. from the voluntary agreement.

On Thursday, a day before the finance meeting, the Trump administration unveiled its "skinny budget" proposal, which included a 31 percent cut to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

As Friends of the Earth senior political strategist Ben Schreiber said at the time, "With this budget, Trump has made it clear that he is prioritizing Big Oil profits over the health of the American people."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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