40 Communities Worldwide Organize Actions to Protest Dirty Energy and Highlight Urgent Need to Address Climate Change
Solidarity actions are taking place in more than 40 communities around the world protesting dirty energy and spotlighting an urgent need to address the climate crisis during the week of action Nov. 14 to Nov. 20. Following a summer of unprecedented extreme weather and the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy the Tar Sands Blockade, a sustained direct action campaign based in Texas against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, has called for this week’s actions.
The closing of the hottest year on record and this summer’s dangerous extreme weather demonstrate that communities all across the world are already experiencing the effects of a rapidly destabilizing climate system. These actions are part of a burgeoning movement of activists who are self-organizing in their neighborhoods, schools and community centers to draw the connections between the ever-more reckless extraction of energy by the profit-driven fossil fuel industry and climate impacts already on their doorsteps. They are building the resilient and resistant communities needed to ensure all people and the planet are healthy and thriving.
Climate change continues to put a disproportionate burden on low income communities and communities of color around the world, and this weeks events highlight this struggle as locals rise up to defend their homes from climate chaos. These events serve as a reminder that we are part of a growing movement to demand climate action. Get ideas for your own local action here.
“Communities around the world are working together to expose the threat that the fossil fuel economy poses to families everywhere,” said Arielle Klagsbrun of Missourians Organizing for Empowerment and Reform. “As extractive industries grow increasingly desperate for profits, corporations like Peabody Coal and TransCanada are resorting to the most dangerous of energy reserves, like hydro-fracking, tar sands exploitation and mountain top removal coal mining.”
On Nov. 14, nine members of Rising Tide Vermont interrupted a Shell Oil executive while he was speaking on a panel about Big Oil in the Niger Delta. Activists shared testimony from Niger Delta community members suffering the impacts of Shell Oil operations on their homeland. Shell Oil has a long-standing relationship with Nigeria’s various military dictatorships and has been implicated in the genocidal devastation of ecosystems and communities in the Niger Delta. They also read statements from members of communities in Nigeria, Alberta, facing toxic tar sands extraction.
On Nov. 14, more than 30 people gathered in Helena, Montana’s Constitution Park to support the venerable U.S. tradition of civil disobedience. Immediately before an omnibus court hearing for the 23 people arrested during last August’s peaceful protests against coal exports at the Montana State Capitol in Helena, the group gathered with signs reading “Support the Coal Export Action 23” and “No More Coal Exports.” Several people addressed the crowd, including some of the 23 who had been arrested in August. “I came to Helena, to my own statehouse and got arrested because it looks to me like there is no more time for writing reasoned letters to the editor or having meetings with the politicians,” said Linda Kenoyer, describing why she participated in last summer’s civil disobedience. "The time has come to put my body on the line, to risk my safety and clean record if that’s what it takes to get someone’s attention.” View more photos and read about the action on Coal Export Action’s blog.
On Nov. 14, hundreds marched through the streets of Manilla, Philippines toward the U.S. Embassy to call for urgent action on climate change. Rising sea levels caused by climate change are a matter of survival for the thousands who live along the coastline of this island nation. Marchers connected the dots on climate change and other climate super powered storms like Hurricane Sandy with their signs. The march featured street theater and giant puppets organized by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice as part of the Global Week for Climate Justice, which listed Tar Sands Blockade’s Mass Action on Monday Nov. 19 as part of their global week of action.
On Nov. 15, four people were arrested for shutting down an American Petroleum Institute luncheon in the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. Yesterday's action, in solidarity with Tar Sands Blockade, was in response to Hurricane Sandy and the newly approved Parkway Oil Pipeline that would endanger the cities beloved Lake Pontchartrain. New Orleans residents understand what the impacts of climate change mean for the health and safety of their community. The climate super powered storm of Hurricane Sandy serves as an all too familiar reminder of the devastation these more frequent storms will bring to the most vulnerable families around the globe. Yesterday, more than a dozen organizers marched in the streets and shut down the American Petroleum Institute's luncheon to protest Big Oil’s stranglehold on our economy and our livable future. They chanted: “No pipeline! No tar sands! No destruction of Louisiana land!”
Here is a sampling of upcoming events this week:
Sunday, Nov. 18: More than 3,500 people are expected to rally at the White House to call on President Obama to reject the permit for the Keystone XL northern segment. Event organized by 350.org, Sierra Club and other allies.
Monday, Nov. 19: Dozens of community members will rally in Nacogdoches, Texas to oppose the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from endangering their homes. Tar Sands Blockade will be taking nonviolent direct action to halt its construction.
Monday, Nov. 19: Community organizations in St. Louis are taking action to target JP Morgan Chase for bankrolling the tar sands extraction. Event organized by Missourians Organizing for Empowerment and Reform, and Climate Action St. Louis.
Monday, Nov. 19: Residents of Salt Lake City are performing theatrical exhibitions outside the Bureau of Land Management for its approval of public lands for the first tar sands mine in the U.S. Event organized by Peaceful Uprising and Utah Tar Sands Resistance.
Tuesday, Nov. 20: In London, UK Tar Sands Network, Rising Tide UK and others will protest a meeting of Canadian Tar Sands executives, banking industry representatives and government leaders meeting to discuss further expansion of Alberta tar sands extraction.
More events are on the map in these locations: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; Norman, OK; Charlotte, NC; Denton, TX; Eugene, OR; Middlesex, NY; Corvallis, OR; Seattle, WA; Fairfax, CA; Bridgeport, CT; Bloomington, IN; Burlington, VT; Helena, MT; Nashville, TN; Cincinnati, OH; Port Townsend, WA; Jefferson, NH; Santa Clarita, CA; Albany, CA; Burlington, VT; New Orleans, LA; Salt Lake City, Utah; Austin, TX; Eureka, CA; Portland, OR; Denver, CO; Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; London, UK; Minisk, NY; Astoria, OR; Wilton, NH; Swarthmore, PA; Philadelphia, PA … and counting!
“It’s encouraging to see these solidarity actions spring up across the globe in response to the escalating devastation of climate change,” said Nicole Browne of Tar Sands Blockade, who helped put out the call for the solidarity actions. “From the Alberta tar sands to the forests of East Texas and all around the world, these actions give hope to people everywhere who are defending their homes from reckless energy extraction that is fueling climate chaos.”
Clearly widespread adoption of renewable energy must be a top priority for all nations. Help encourage the U.S. Congress to expedite renewable energy by signing EcoWatch's petion that demands our leaders take seriously the energy and climate crisis, and immediately work to implement the policies to move our country toward a sustainable future.
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For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That's because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans.
What Is PTSD?<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">PTSD</a> can occur when someone is exposed to extreme exposure traumatic experience. Typically, the trauma involves a threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence. Along with war veterans, it happens to refugees; to victims of gun violence, rape and other physical assaults; and to survivors of car accidents and natural disasters like earthquakes or tornadoes.</p><p>PTSD can also happen by witnessing trauma or its aftermath, often the case with <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd" target="_blank">first responders</a> and <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-many-faces-anxiety-and-trauma/202006/invisible-wounds-the-frontline-heroes" target="_blank">front-line workers</a>.</p><p>All this adds up to tens of millions of Americans. Up to 30% of combat veterans and first responders, and 8% of civilians, <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/essentials/epidemiology.asp" target="_blank">fulfill the diagnostic criteria for PTSD</a>. And that criteria is not easily met: symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive trauma memories, difficulty sleeping, avoidance of reminders of trauma, negative emotions, and what we call "hyperarousal symptoms."</p>
Fireworks Can Trigger Flashbacks<p>Hyperarousal, a core component of PTSD, occurs when a person is hyper-alert to any sign of threat – constantly on edge, easily startled and continuously screening the environment.</p><p>Imagine, for instance, stepping down the stairs in the dark after hearing a noise; you're worried an intruder might be downstairs. Then a totally unpredictable loud sound explodes right outside your window.</p><p>For people with PTSD, that sound – reminiscent of gunfire, a thunderstorm or a car crash – <a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">can cause</a> a panic attack or trigger flashbacks, a sensory experience that makes it seem as if the old trauma is happening here and now. Flashbacks can be so severe that combat veterans may suddenly drop to the ground, the same way they would when an explosion took place in combat. Later, the experience can trigger nightmares, insomnia or worsening of other PTSD symptoms.</p><p>Those of us who set off fireworks need to ask ourselves: Are those few minutes of fun worth the hours, days, or weeks of torment that will begin for some of our friends and neighbors – including many who put their lives on the line to protect us?</p>
Who Else Is Affected?<p>Millions of others, though not diagnosed with PTSD, may similarly be affected by fireworks. <a href="https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics" target="_blank">One in five Americans</a> have an anxiety disorder, many with symptoms of hyperarousal. Also impacted are those with autism or developmental disabilities; they find it difficult to cope with the noise, or just the drastic change from life routines. Then there are people who have to work, holiday or not: nurses, physicians and first responders, who have to be up at 4 a.m. for a 30-hour shift.</p><h3>How to Reduce the Negative Impact</h3><p>There are ways to reduce how fireworks affect others:</p><ul><li>For those with PTSD, the unexpected nature of fireworks is probably the worst part. So at least make it as predictable as possible. Do it in designated areas during designated times. Don't explode one, for instance, two hours after the designated time window. And avoid setting them off <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/04/fireworks-ptsd-fourth-of-july-veterans-shooting-survivors" target="_blank">on the 3rd</a>. People are less prepared then.</li><li>If you're aware that a veteran or trauma survivor lives in the neighborhood, move the noise as far as possible from their home and give them prior warning. Consider putting a sign in your front yard noting the time you'll set the fireworks.</li><li>Remember, it doesn't have to be super loud to make it fun. Consider using <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/504964-its-time-for-silent-fireworks" target="_blank">silent fireworks</a>. And you don't have to be the one who lights the fireworks. Simply enjoy watching while your city or township does it safely.</li></ul>
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By Jeff Berardelli
For the past year, some of the most up-to-date computer models from the world's top climate modeling groups have been "running hot" – projecting that global warming may be even more extreme than earlier thought. Data from some of the model runs has been confounding scientists because it challenges decades of consistent projections.
International Effort to Evaluate Climate Models<p>For the past 25 years the international community has been evaluating and comparing the world's most sophisticated climate models produced by various teams at universities, research centers, and government agencies. The effort is organized by the World Climate Research Programme under the United Nations World Meteorological Organization.</p><p>Climate models are complicated computer programs composed of millions of lines of code that calculate the physical properties and interactions between the main climate forces like the atmosphere, oceans, and solar input. But models also go a lot further, incorporating other systems like ice sheets, forests, and the biosphere, to name a few. The models are then used to simulate the real-world climate system and project how certain changes, like added pollution or land-use changes, will alter the climate.</p><p>Every few years there is a new comprehensive international evaluation called the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). In the sixth such effort, known as CMIP6 and now under way, experts are reviewing about 100 models.</p><p>Information gleaned from this effort will act as a scientific foundation for the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) next major assessment report, scheduled for release in 2021. The goal of the report – the sixth in 30 years – is to inform the international community about how much the climate has changed, and, importantly, how much change can be expected in coming decades.</p>
A Conundrum Emerges<p>Over the past year, the CMIP6 collection of models being reviewed threw researchers an unexpected curveball: a significant number of the climate model runs showed substantially more global warming than previous model versions had projected. If accurate, the international climate goals would be nearly impossible to achieve, and there would be significantly more extreme impacts worldwide.</p><p>A foundational experiment in every report addresses "sensitivity": If you double levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) that were in the air before the Industrial Revolution, how much warming do the models show? This doubling is not expected for a few more decades, but it is a quick way to communicate the critical role of greenhouse gases in changing the climate.</p><p>The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 35% since the 1800s because of the burning of fossil fuels. As a result, global temperatures have already increased by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit.</p><p>In the first IPCC assessment report, published in 1990, the answer to that question about the impact of doubling carbon dioxide gave a fairly wide range of results – between 2.7-8 degrees F of global warming. Since then, four more assessments issued six to seven years apart reached nearly the exact same conclusion on sensitivity.</p><p>But that sensitivity may, for the first time, change significantly in next year's assessment. Why? Because starting last year, numerous models in the CMIP6 collection displayed even bigger spikes in temperature upon doubling of CO2 concentrations. We're in serious trouble if the climate sensitivity falls in the mid or upper range of the previous assessments. But if the new, higher estimates are correct, the impacts on civilization would be catastrophic.</p>
In the above CarbonBrief interactive visualization, the bars offer a comparison in the range of sensitivity in the CMIP5 models (gray) and CMIP6 models (blue).
New and Encouraging Evidence Is Emerging<p>At first, scientists were uncertain whether the new model runs were on to something, so the international modeling community dug in to produce multiple studies. The results are not yet conclusive, but a gradual collective sigh of relief seems to be materializing.</p><p>"Evidence is emerging from multiple directions that the models which show the greatest warming in the CMIP6 ensemble are likely too warm," explains Dr. Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.</p><p>For example, <a href="https://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/esd-2020-23/" target="_blank">a study</a> released April 28 evaluated the past performance of the models making up the CMIP6 ensemble. The team assigned weights to each model based upon historical performance of their warming projections, weighing the poorer performing models less. By doing so, both the mean warming and the range of warming scenarios in the CMIP6 ensemble decreased, meaning the warmest models were the ones with weaker historical performance. This result supports a finding that a subset of the models are too warm.</p><p>That conclusion is supported by another new study evaluating one particular model – the Community Earth System Model (CESM2) – that showed greater warming. Using that model, the researchers simulated the climate in the early Eocene era, about 50 million years ago, when rainforests thrived in the Arctic and Antarctic. The CESM2 simulated a historical climate that seems way too warm compared with what is known about that era from geological data, indicating that the model is likely also too warm in its future projections.</p><p>Two other recent studies of the CMIP6 models being evaluated use clever analysis methods to <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/esd-2019-86/&sa=D&ust=1589209938203000&usg=AFQjCNHYwFB-1KqndGfJ4sXdrrm9DpbLaQ" target="_blank">narrow the range</a> of future warming projections and also <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/12/eaaz9549&sa=D&ust=1589209938203000&usg=AFQjCNEhKY1YZ19qgjSZ_hJM14JmzqXOXw" target="_blank">reduce the projected warming</a> of the CMIP6 models by 10 to 15%.</p><p>Through the intensive research spurred by the CMIP6 climate-sensitivity curveball, scientists have been able to turn a confounding challenge into a confidence builder, providing even greater certainty than they had before in both the abilities of the climate science community and in the computer models used. Moreover, the experience has helped unearth uncertainties remaining in the modeling process.</p><p>Experts conclude much of this uncertainty probably lies in the complexity of clouds. "We have been looking as a community at why the models with greater warming are doing what they are doing – and it's tied to cloud feedbacks in the southern mid-latitudes mostly," explains Schmidt.</p><p>In fact, <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/26/eaba1981" target="_blank">a new study</a> addressing the increased sensitivity was published in Science Advances stating, "Cloud feedbacks and cloud-aerosol interactions are the most likely contributors to the high values and increased range of ECS [sensitivity] in CMIP6."</p>
Understanding the Complexity of Clouds<p>It's long been known in climate modeling circles that cloud processes and interactions are a potential weak link for climate modeling. That reality has been brought front and center by the urgent challenges posed during this CMIP6 evaluation period, but the current evaluation of models also provides an opportunity for discovery and improvement.</p><p>Cloud complexity comes from the reality that clouds have a multitude of sizes, altitudes, and textures. Some clouds cool Earth by providing shade, reflecting sunlight back into space. Others act like a blanket, trapping heat and warming the world.</p><p>Given that about <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/icesat_light.html" target="_blank">70% of the globe</a> is covered by clouds at any given time, it's no surprise that they play an integral role in regulating the climate. The challenge is to figure out which types of clouds will increase, which will decrease, and what the net effect will be on cooling or warming as the climate changes.</p><p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0310-1" target="_blank">One study</a> last year reached an alarming conclusion: Left unchecked, the release of CO2 into the atmosphere may lead to a tipping point where shallow low clouds disappear – leading to runaway, catastrophic warming of nearly 15 degrees F. While scientists see that outcome as only a remote possibility, it drives home the urgent need to better understand clouds.</p><p>"We have a saying at NOAA: It isn't rocket science – it's much, much harder than that," quips Dr. Chris Fairall, ATOMIC's lead investigator. "One of the major problems for modeling is there is not clean separation of scales." The photo below is one that Fairall took from the NOAA P-3 aircraft.</p>
Investigating the Secrets of Clouds<p>To address the urgent question about the dynamics and role of clouds in a warming world, NOAA and European partners launched their ongoing research effort unprecedented in scale. The U.S. contribution, ATOMIC – short for Atlantic Tradewind Ocean-Atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign – is an international science mission that was featured recently on "<a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/video/study-aims-to-examine-links-between-climate-change-and-clouds/" target="_blank">CBS This Morning: Saturday</a>."</p>
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